Celebrations are for everyone

Sweet and sour

Religious holidays are celebrated by men and women who subscribe to their religion while others are mere spectators.

So Diwali or Holi are celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs and Gurpurbs only by Sikhs. Muslims have three Eids - Eid ul Fitr, Eids - Zuha or Bakr and Eid-e-Mihand Nabi. They are celebrated by Muslims only. Christmas is ostensibly Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It has come to be universally celebrated. No matter what one’s religion may be.

In the urban West, a month or more before Christmas, people go on shopping sprees to buy presents for members of their family and close friends. Shopping malls are brightly lit up and remain open late into the night and consumption of liquor goes up. On Christmas eve they drink to excess; on Christmas day they hog themselves like pigs. The next day children open their boxes (hence Boxing Day) which they are told were brought by Santa Claus on his reindeer driven sleigh. He came down chimneys of homes to hang presents on Christmas Trees.

Being uncertain of celebrating another Christmas, I decided to celebrate it as best as I could. I was given a two-feet Santa Claus in his usual red-and-white. At the press of a button, its eyes lit up, it began to dance and sing Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells. Where do you think this semi-religious creature come from? It was made in Communist China. They also manufacture Ganpatis for India. Truly had Karl Marx said religion is the opiate of the people. China produces the opium, the rest of the world takes it. However, let me continue my tale. I also got a miniature Christmas tree with sparkling leaves, six coloured candles were lit on mouth piece. A huge papier mache bell hung down from the fan.

We started off playing recordings of Christmas carols: Noel! Noel! Born is the King of Israel; silent night, Holy night and dozen more sung by the boys of King’s college Cambridge.

Then we ate a lavish meal of Turkey (the tastiest meat in the world) and brandy-soaked Christmas pudding from hotel Le Meridien from where I get it free - courtesy its proprietor Mrs Charanjit Singh. The one thing I had overlooked was hanging a mistletoe on the door. You are allowed to kiss anyone you like under it. Nevertheless, I did so without the mistletoe. So farewell Santa Claus in case I do not see you anymore.

Killing cancer

I have known Minakshi Chaudhury for quite some time. She and her husband dropped in my home when I was in Kasauli in the summer. She was determined to give Himachal Pradesh, her home state, its rightful place on the map of India. She wrote several books on the subject, including Ghost Stories of Shimla Hills, Love Stories of Shimla Hills, Whispering Deodars and many more, when I received her latest Sunshine: My encounter with Cancer (Rupa),I got a nasty shock.

How could a chirp, cheerful young woman be afflicted with a disease which often kills its victims? I was vastly relieved when I read that treatment of her breast cancer has proved successful — She is rid of it. I am sure all her readers and admirers will wish her a long and happy life.

One for the lost friend

Sukhwinder and Dukhwinder were close friends. They used to meet at a bar every evening, occupy the same table, sat opposite to each other, and ordered two glasses of raw rum and drank them in one gulp and walked away.

This continued for some years. One day while stepping out of the bar after drinks, Sukhwinder collapsed. He was carried to the station sick quarters. The doctor attending declared him dead.

Dejected,  Dukhwinder went alone to the bar next evening and ordered two glasses of rum. When the waiter placed to two glasses of rum on the  table Dukhwinder first sat on Sukhwinder’s chair, drank the rum and then came to his chair and drank his glass. Waiter out of curiosity asked him, Sir, what is this? To that Dukhwinder replied: Sukhwinder is no more, he expired yesterday, so I have to continue drinking his quota first and then mine; otherwise his soul will never rest in peace. This continued for a year.

One evening he entered the bar and ordered only one glass. He sat on Sukhwinder’s chair drank it and got up to leave the bar. Waiter again asked him Sir, why only one glass today? To that Dukhwinder replied, “I am expecting a call from Bade Miyan (The Almighty) at any moment, so before that I want to get rid of all my vices. Alcoholism being one of them I have stopped drinking from today. Henceforth I will come to the bar every evening to drink for Sukhwinder only.

(Contributed by Kotian, Udupi)

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