Law and order on a starry night
New Year's Eve in Sydney felt like some latter-day wave of immigration onto the shores of Australia:come one, come all and come build this country
| Fireworks over Sydney © Getty Images|
To write about the fireworks display in Sydney on New Year’s Eve is nearly futile. Really it just has to be seen. We were right at the harbor in North Sydney for it, a piece of good fortune at par with being dropped on 99 when a maiden Test hundred beckons.
But for 15 minutes, to celebrate the end of the decade, the night sky exploded with colour and shape and hope. The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House stood proud in the backdrop though possibly bored for having seen it before. At times it was like being at those 3-D movies; sparklers bloomed out of the sky, right at you, coming closer and closer and yet not coming close at all. What anyone on hallucinogens might make of it I only wonder. The night might change their heads forever. It’s difficult not to feel good about any year that begins like this.
But almost as impressive was the aftermath.
I’m not sure how many people were out on the streets last night, but from where we were, it felt like some latter-day wave of immigration onto the shores of Australia: come one, come all and come build this country.
An eminent local remarked when the night was young that Australia is probably over-regulated, a nanny state. When we got into the harbor the sentiment felt right. Crowd control security felt brusque and officious. People were trying to have a good time and nobody likes checks on a good time; many barricades were up and many people couldn’t get to the harbour.
But as we made our way home when the night was older, a happy flipside emerged. With so many people drunk, the queues at the nearest train station were still orderly. A security MC (a fine title for a rapper) kept the crowd informed, with good humour, of the train times. Many were
drunk, many were more and yet a broad order remained. There was no stampede as the station doors opened, no riots.
Security or control staff were stationed along the way to help anyone and everyone find a way back and probably even talk to anyone who told them they loved them and they never loved anyone more and that this year, really, was the year things were going to change and did they tell them that they loved them?
To maintain order on this kind of night, to prevent any major catastrophe when the mix is so volatile takes some doing. We got back safe as I imagine the vast, vast majority of people did. Maybe over-regulation is not such a bad thing. The flipside is chaos and attractive as that is, it
is also exhausting.
Osman Samiuddin is the former Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo