Party and don’t tell – how Kolkata is socialising in the new normal – Times of India

Kolkata News
Night clubs are yet to open their doors and watering holes are still dry. But Kolkata’s party scene has unlocked in the form of house parties and staycations. It’s not just the party venues that have changed in the new normal. Now, party peeps prefer to keep their plans and pictures away from social media, perhaps to avoid controversy or being judged as the city has seen a series of high-profile cases in the last one month, including that of Sujoy Prosad Chatterjee.
Sujoy, who had been active in the social circuit, reportedly travelled to a resort near Santiniketan with a group of friends and organised a soiree there. While he did share a few updates of his trip online, post his hospitalisation, residents of the village took to social media to reveal how some of his guests had also tested positive and called him ‘irresponsible’. Speaking to us from the hospital, Sujoy said, “It is heartbreaking to see some of my friends testing positive too. I know the pain of this ailment. I also believe that this is not the time for witch-hunt. I am constantly in touch with the resort I went to. So far, people who came to my immediate contact have tested negative.”

While the medical fraternity has questioned the safety of such social gatherings, it that has not held back those who are desperate to reclaim their pre-Covid normalcy. From private catering to smaller groups of guests, here’s how they are doing it.
Away from social media glare
Gone are the days when celebs would put up every little update on social media. The fear of being trolled for socialising amid the pandemic is keeping them from sharing much online. Actress Richa Sharma, who recently rang in her birthday with some friends, chose not to post anything online. “Three to four of my friends suddenly dropped by and I couldn’t say no. We had a small party in a large room and maintained the required distance. While I am quite active on social media, this time I avoided posting anything simply because I did not want people to judge me and my friends and then troll us unnecessarily. Everyone on social media tends to share their opinion on others’ lives without actually knowing the reality,” she says.
Similarly, actress Debleena Sen, who recently organised a bachelorette party for one of her childhood friends, has refrained from sharing much on social media lately. “Since my friend’s wedding will strictly be a family affair, some of us can’t attend it. So, we went to a nearby resort with some food and booze to celebrate. All of us stayed home during the lockdown, so we thought it was safe for us to meet up. The reason why none of us posted anything on social media is that I have seen some of my friends get trolled by the ‘online righteous squad’ and we did not want any unsolicited advice from them,” she says.
Multiple parties for different guests
To avoid large gatherings, some are dividing their guests into small batches and celebrating with them in different time slots. For her birthday party, entrepreneur Johane Mantosh made two guest lists. One with her girl gang and the other with everyone else. “I hosted two parties on separate days to avoid too many people getting together. For those who were reluctant to come, I told them there was no pressure and I respected their decision. Wearing masks and gloves was a must at my party and we got the venue thoroughly sanitised and fumigated. I did whatever I could to keep things safe,” she says.
House parties on in full swing
From lip-smacking food to fancy cocktail premixes and booze, F&B outlets and apps are home delivering all the ingredients to make your house party a grand success. Some five-star hotels also send their chefs to your home for a unique experience. “We introduced the chef-at-home service in June and the response has been fairly positive. However, it is solely availed by people hosting social events like engagement and birthday parties. There is another option of bulk order for six to 10 people. On an average, we get 10 such orders per week, apart from the smaller deliveries,” says Chef Sharad Dewan, who is associated with a hotel on Park Street.
Staycations are in
Besides house parties, several youngsters are also taking a breather by heading to nearby resorts for staycations. “We see a lot of young couples or groups of friends come over for a couple of nights. The bookings are higher for the total lockdown days. A day before lockdown, guests start arriving post lunch and then spend the next day or two here. Not just the common people, even celebrities drop in,” says a spokesperson of a heritage resort near the city, adding that they recently hosted Raima Sen, who extended her stay at the property after completing her shoot and was later joined by her friends. Going by the trend, these properties have introduced special offers and deals for lockdown days.
‘Socialise, but not at the cost of your safety’
Dr Binayak Deb, consultant cardiologist at a city hospital, said, “We are now in the fourth phase of unlock and theatres and auditoriums are likely to reopen soon. People have started to accept the new normal. While it’s time we learnt how to live with the virus, one must never forget to follow all the basic safety guidelines while socialising. It’s important to stay safe and keep others around you safe as well.”
Party only with a small group of reliable and responsible people

  1. Choose a well-ventilated place
  2. Do not remove your mask for chatting
  3. Masks should be taken off only while eating or drinking
  4. Sanitise yourself and encourage others to do the same

Celebs remain cautious
Koneenica Banerjee, actress:
I have been receiving some invitations, but I politely turn them down keeping the safety of my daughter Kiah and aged parents in mind. While I respect my friends’ decision of catching up with each other and I miss chilling with them too, I cannot put my family at risk. My friends respect my decision too. According to my doctor, this situation is going to continue for a while now, so I will avoid taking any risks.
Parambrata Chatterjee, actor:
Right now, I am busy shooting and I have reserved the risk of being exposed to a slightly bigger gathering only for my work. I have been to a couple of house parties recently. Everywhere, social distancing was strictly maintained. And when I say parties, I mean small adda sessions with just two or three of us. Even on my birthday, two-three friends came down for dinner. But we all are careful about taking safety precautions.