MY NEW-YEAR-EVE WALK 2023 – Guest Contributor Satish Bhatnagar, Ph.D.
For the last 20-25 years, I have been walking on the sidewalks of different sections of the Strip during the New Year Eve (NYE). Strip is a specific 5-6 mile long piece of Las Vegas Boulevard, the main arterial road of Las Vegas. As a matter of fact the growth of metropolitan Las Vegas can be measured by commercial developments on both sides of Las Vegas Boulevard. My reason for starting this annual walk has been very simple. If nearly half a million people converge to Las Vegas from all over the US and around the world to party and rejoice here, then I, its resident, should not deprive myself of this euphoria.
Often, some friends or relatives join me. This year, I was alone rubbing shoulders with throngs of revelers. Being in a crowd is a complex psychological phenomenon. As far as the NYE crowd is concerned, it is unique. The collective tempo starts rising in anticipation of the midnight hour. Often, the crowd becomes unruly. This disruptive behavior of the crowd is a natural limit – it is simply orgasmic. After witnessing it once, I stopped staying out that late. Lately, I am there around sunset time and leave it after 2-3 hours.
There are vibes that you feel in a crowd whether you are in a concert venue, sports stadium, Kumbh Mela or in a political rally. The point is that in the present digital life, monotony is the arthritis of the body and mind. It has to be shaken off periodically. That is one of my ways of doing it besides international travels. This year, I was lucky to find a parking space on the 6th floor of the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino. It took me 20 minutes to cover a distance of a quarter mile in a long bumper-bumper traffic. But I stayed cool, as once, I got into an accident due to my impatience.
The up and down walk to Fontainebleau Hotel & Casino was very refreshing – incredible larger than life visual images, new sounds and smells, plenty to eat and drink. Yes, there was so much to touch around, but off limits, untouchable! The most unbelievable feature was that I hardly heard the English language spoken. The atmosphere was a babble of languages. Of course, women of all ages were outdoing each other in showing off their skin. For me, it was cold – my bare hand missed wooly gloves.
Fontainebleau is the newest and the tallest hotel and casino in Las Vegas. It is standing on the ground where two or three smaller casinos thrived for decades. That is what life is all about – old yielding to new. The paradox of life is that the new starts becoming old soon after it opens up.
My walking makes me forget that I am walking. I enjoyed the art, architecture, displays and New Year gaiety of the people inside and outside the casinos – no inhibitions. Yes, security was there in the uniform as well as in plainclothes. In Treasure Island, there were signs and posters about a beer served with two pieces of fish and French fries – my favorite. But I did not yield to this temptation. In congested driving conditions, a state of tipsiness could easily lead to a fender-bender accident. Not only, have I to stay sharp while driving, but I also watch for erratic drivers.
On returning home around 9 PM, the first thing I did was to shower and feel fresh. Then I made it up to the treat, missed in Treasure Island, with a beer and a big breaded piece of Tilapia fish. The fireworks and festivities on the birth of a New Year are more enjoyable on TV. About the three attached pictures: one was taken from a walkway bridge to capture heavy traffic, the second of a section of the Strip, and the third of a three-storey tall chandelier in Fontainebleau.
Satish C. Bhatnagar, January 01, 2024
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