When winter comes...

I have known colder winters in Delhi than the one this year, but none as prolonged. There were many winters when the water in the marble fountain in my ancestral home (now Kerala House, on Jantar Mantar Road) froze to a solid block of ice. But all this was over by the end of January. Gardens and round-abouts were full of different varieties of flowers. Flowering trees were shedding their leaves and donning new foliage. This year too although nature has followed its annual routine, the chill of winter has not loosened its grip — and it has extended its stay much more than normal.

 We burnt Lohri, Singing ho, ho, ho. And we ate rewaries and gajak, and as scheduled, on Basant panchmi we wore yellow turbans and dupattas in honour of the mustard flower and flew kites. Nature took no notice of our subservience to it. And to this day I spend my evenings by a blazing wood fire and sleep under a heavy quilt with a hot water bottle.

What happened to the theory of World Warming? Weather pandits told us that glaciers are melting and soon ocean levels - will rise and drown islands and lands just above sea level. We will lose the Andamans, Lakshadweep and low lying land in West Bengal. Bangladesh will lose more. None of this has happened nor shown signs of happening. Doom sayers have been proved to be ignorant liars. So let us relax and enjoy life till it lasts.

Omar Khayyam

At one time I used to know quite a lot of verses of Scott-Fitzgerald’s translation of Omar Khyyam’s verses in Persian. Then Urdu, mainly Ghalib, took over and Omar faded out of my memory. One verse defied time because it sums up all I wanted from life:

A book of verse beneath the bough
A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou
Singing in the wilderness.
Ah! wilderness is paradise enow.
Then others came back to memory! To start with the first two verses of the anthology:
Awake! for the morning in the bowl of night
Has flung the stone that puts the stars to fight
And lo the hunter of the East
Has caught the Sultan’s turret in a noose of light
While life’s left hand was in the sky,
I heard a voice within the tavern cry
Awake by little ones before life’s liquor in its cup be dry
And finally the summation of life:
There was a door to which I found no key
There was a veil beyond which I could not see
Talk awhile of thee and me there was
Then no more of thee or me.

Limericks

Things are getting bitter;
So, the PM is on Twitter.
Will it salvage
His former image
And restore his lost glitter?

As an author, Rushdie is admired
But for Jaipur festival, he was fired.
As far as publicity is concerned,
Every one discerned:
He got much more than he desired.

The General’s age is confusing every one;
Whether it is nineteen fifty or fiftyone.
With such raising of rabble
And avoidable squabbles,
How the war is going to be won?
(Contributed by J K Mathur, Lucknow)

Santa’s moustaches

Santa was standing before a shop in Connaught place with his well oiled and curled moustaches. An English lady traveller liked his well-set moustaches very much and asked him, “Will you like to sell your moustaches? These look very beautiful.”  Santa replied, “Why not my dear lady. I will only charge 50 pounds for this deal. The lady agreed and gave Santa a 50 pounds note. Santa went inside the shop and brought a small lock of black hair and gave it to the lady. The lady was shocked and shouted, “What is this! You are cheating me. Your moustaches are wellplaced at your lips.” Pointing towards his moustaches, Santa replied, “Madam! This is only a show room. I have brought the product from the store.” The lady accepted the plea of Santa and left for the next shop.
(Contributed by Ram Niwas Malik, Gurgaon)

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