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World changed when you partied
- NEW YEAR FIRSTS: CAS comes in, so do women cabbies in Dubai
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Jan. 1: “Shame” cards replaced greetings cards and Kashmiri shikaras floated on a Chandigarh lake. Women drove taxis for women on Arab streets and an Indian woman headed the BBC. And some people actually tried to stop the New Year from arriving.

While most of you were out celebrating like every year, the world witnessed many firsts on New Year’s Day, quickly marking a change from 2006.

Teething trouble: The conditional access system (CAS) was launched in swathes of south Calcutta today, but the pay channels had gone off the air the day before. It forced cable homes to miss Priyanka Chopra and Bipasha Basu swinging on Sony, spoiling the New Year’s Eve fun somewhat. Consumers and the industry woke up with a headache today as only 10,000 of the 300,000 homes have bought set-top boxes, necessary to view pay channels under the new regime.

South Delhi was in the same boat, dithering over whether to buy the boxes or switch to direct-to-home, but go-getter Mumbai decided quickly and queued for the gadget this morning.

... bye-bye

Fresh passport: Tens of thousands in Bulgaria and Romania partied like never before, singing, dancing and drinking to celebrate their countries’ entry into the EU. “When midnight struck, my heart leapt,” 14-year-old Romanian Alex Berha said as the skies exploded with fireworks.

New gear: Dubai handed its citizens a New Year gift: a fleet of pink, women-only taxis. The 50 cabs have pink roofs, pink seats and other features to give them a “feminine look”, and have women drivers.

Women scored a first in the BBC, too, with Indian-born haematologist Dr Chitra Bharucha taking charge as its acting chairperson. It is a first also for any Asian. The BBC Trust, which Bharucha heads, took over the management from the BBC board of governors from today.

Mission impossible: But trust the French to say “non” to everything. Some 600 people gathered in Nantes to protest the new year’s arrival, shouting “No to 2007!”

“The world must stop this mad course towards the future. We demand the governments of the world and United Nations declare a moratorium to stop this December 31,” a man said. But 2007 arrived all the same and the crowd switched to “No to 2008!” Some people just don’t give up!

Party-poopers: Some employees of national carrier Indian, on a relay hunger strike for the past nine days, took the novel option of sending “shame” cards to management officials for not implementing a wage and promotion agreement.

Hong Kong and Britain told smokers, “The party is over.” The Chinese city banned smoking in indoor public places, including bars and restaurants. The UK raised the legal age for buying tobacco from 16 to 18, but the rule will come into effect only on October 1.

Chinese President Hu Jintao didn’t want to spoil anyone’s party but, for the first time, he chose to sound a warning against terrorism.

Festival time: Chandigarh launched wooden Shikaras, a hallmark of the Dal Lake, in its Sukhna Lake. Nepal kicked off year-long celebrations at Pokhara to “popularise” the lake resort like never before. It drew 1 lakh visitors.

Non-stop effort: For Mustafa Arif, it had to be something new every day of the year. The poet and Ramayan scholar today set himself the task of writing a poem a day on Amitabh Bachchan through 2007. He has already done Atal Bihari Vajpayee, publishing the 365 poems under the title Dharti Par Hai Atal Mahaan.

Constants: But some things didn’t change. A passenger on the Delhi-Howrah Janta Express was robbed in Kanpur after being served spiked sweets, and the security forces shot two militants dead in Kashmir’s Baramulla. Fog again disrupted flights in Delhi, slashing visibility to near zero.

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