For some people – if not the large majority – the last month of the year is a time for hard thinking on what 2016 has meant for them. In terms of money spent and the benefits derived from the family budgets, it must have been a well-planned exercise till the developments after 8 November upset all calculations. One could be wondering whether it was such a good year after all. Potato and vegetable prices have remained at prohibitive levels without any sign of coming down despite the arrival of winter. Surveys made in the markets from Tollygunge to Shyambazar would find vendors casting doubts about whether the situation will improve in the weeks to come. The footfall may have come down appreciably or the quantities purchased may have been rationed. But that has nothing to do with prices. The cash crunch over the past month has kept people away from splurging on all kinds of consumer luxuries from garments to electronics, from weekend vacations to candlelight dinners. But December also means a great deal of fun for everyone in the family that no one would want to miss. The tight conditions in the market may have come just at the wrong time but that doesn’t mean that it is all over for those who are preparing for the grand celebrations towards the end of the month.
Already there are many shows lined up for the carols that children love to sing. The tensions of the final examinations are over. Schools utilise this time for these pleasant experiences. And it is not just in schools that the ever popular Christmas tunes echo far and wide. Hotels are inviting groups of schoolchildren for carol evenings as part of their winter celebrations. Similar scenes are witnessed in clubs where children of members assemble for evenings that bring back fond memories of their parents. December is the month when male fashions are expected to be on display. Smart jackets and pullovers add a lot of colour to occasions that have corporate interests. But this is the wedding season as well. Along with the traditional outfits that women love to display while the soft notes of the shehnai are heard, the men arrive in designer shawls that are equally pleasing to the eye. It is not so cold as to require heavy woolens. But what is to be done with all the attractive winter garments in the cupboard?
It is time to display them proudly while the weather is just right for fun and games all over the city. The Maidan is crammed with impromptu cricket tournaments and the lawns of the Victoria Memorial come alive with young friends whose pockets can at best afford the phuchkas being sold outside and the steaming hot coffee that adds thrill to the long adda sessions. December has never been short of entertainment. It could be a group tour to the Alipore zoo or a river cruise with a sumptuous meal. One can only hope that the winter joy will not be tarnished by the unforeseen accidents like the need to stand outside an ATM outlet for hours. Come what may, the winter festivals will be held. Kolkata should wear the joyous look that makes December so exciting.