The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Horse sense

I know it’s the time for reflecting on the year past and the year ahead, but suddenly I’ve been reminded of the here and now. This is a horsy time of year. Now, I don’t mean people horsing around in the spirit (or under the influence of spirits) of New Year revelry, but the equine species.

Last week, horses made news for all sorts of reasons — and most of it was uncomfortable reading or viewing. The most disturbing concerned a horse called It’s My Style, said to be a docile horse with the Kolkata Mounted Police (KMP). The poor beast bleeding from an injury, bolted over the AJC Road flyover after throwing off her rider.

It’s a double tragedy, for horse and rider, but aren’t they both victims of a system whose sun should have set with the Raj' The KMP, a second report alleges, is under-staffed or rather, under-horsed. With the result that even sick horses are forced out on parade. Of course, we can all understand that these imposing beasts tower over football and cricket fans who might otherwise go berserk. But shouldn’t there, in this day and age, be other, more practical, methods of controlling crowds'

The right night

Recently, ghazal moghul Jagjit Singh sang love songs at The Taj Bengal for a chilling cause. With one lakh women being sold into the flesh trade in India every year, the action taken by the NGO Apne Aap Women Worldwide, is timely. Started a year ago by Emmy-winning documentary-maker Ruchira Gupta, its mission is to end trafficking of women and children and to assist those who are trapped in the gross ‘industry’ of selling their bodies.

There was no missing the irony. Jagjit Singh’s immortal love songs resounded during an evening meant to end man-woman relationships where love has no place. Corporates, diplomats and activists came together to try and prevent girls at risk in Topsia from being trafficked. The gathering included the consul-generals of the United States of America and Nepal, film stars Arjun Chakraborty and wife Nilanjana, Rupa Ganguly and painter Wasim Kapoor. Calcutta seemed to revel in one of the first cool evenings this year with an assortment of jaamevars.

Maiden victory

True to Calcutta’s spirit, two of its most celebrated clubs, the Tolly and CC&FC have this friendly tradition of playing each other once a year at golf — at the Tolly — and cricket at the CC&FC. The tradition is even more heartening since many participants are members of both clubs and have to decide their loyalties for this match, which is then played with feisty spirit.

Showing some consideration, CC&FC is known to play its Saturday side. The 25-over match is always, but always, keenly fought. Last week, Tolly turned history on its head by walking away with the honours, beating CC&FC at its own game. Tolly’s 176 in 24 overs and 5 deliveries was helped by the spirited chip-ins from the captain, Deb Mukherjee, Calcutta’s super cop Murlidharan, golf pro Inderjit Bhalotia, Arunava Chakravarti, Kiran Desai of Tata Tea and Navendu Mathur. CCFC’s 176 runs in 25 overs came with good help from Subroto Das and Sunny Puri while Abhijeet Mazumdar captained. Sorely missed on the Tolly team were Ashok Malhotra, Ranadip Moitra and Joydeep Mukherjee.

The smallest party

You don’t have to take a survey to guess the most common question for December. It’s the perennial, “What’re you doing on New Year’s Eve'” If I’m honest, left to myself, the answer would be, “Nothing”.

Of course, “nothing” doesn’t mean an absence of things to do and be done. What I really mean is that we’re staying home. If that’s a surprising answer, consider this: New Year’s Eve parties are festive, and they can be great fun, but don’t you sometimes catch yourself thinking you’d rather be elsewhere' Don’t you sometimes think, is there more fun happening somewhere else' Is it possible to be partied-out'

We’ve had five consecutive years of big, big bashes. The Millennium shindig at a mansion in Scotland, two years in the Far East, and last year, a blast at ITC Sonar Bangla, complete with sumptuous barbecue and a cutting-edge fashion show.

This year, the Born To Party club will be throwing its bash at the ITC Sonar Bangla Sheraton lawns, with a theme based on the movie, The Matrix. The Tolly Club will be hosting its signature bash… and so will the Saturday Club… and the RCGC and many many more parties to the midnight hoot of steamers.

I’d like to attend them all, but since that would be crazy, this year, forget the hype, we’re reverting to type. Just the two of us and a gourmet meal. Six courses that neither of us has ever cooked before — three by me and three by my man. There might be some mistakes, but I know there’ll also be some wondrous winners. Add some fine wine, champagne at midnight, beeswax candles, dressing up just for each other, and you have a great evening.

Jagjit Singh performs at The Taj Bengal

Just do it

So what’s the second-most common question to be heard this month ' You got it: “What’s your New Year’s resolution'” But hey, put the New Year on hold. Before the old one slips out, and the new one comes trumpeting in, there are things I have to do this year.

Like, catching up on Kevin Spacey’s weird thriller movie, The Life of David Gale; reaching for the book I’ve been meaning to start for a while, Plato Not Prozac; listening to Alicia Key’s latest album. And making more time for my best friend. Because that’s what happens — the year sneaks away, almost unnoticed and there is so much still to do. And don’t you just hate to leave so much undone this year and burden the next with all that extra baggage.

Time management would be among the toppers on my list. Investment in relationships would be another. Making the effort to keep in touch with old friends. Just one call a week to someone who’s slipped off the speed dial on my cell phone might make a difference to both our lives.

And here’s one that my mentor laid on me: make time to do something for somebody less fortunate. A thing that is its own reward. To paraphrase Nike — Just do it.

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