Chandler came back home because he could not make himself spend Christmas in Tulsa - alone, away from Monica and his friends. Perhaps I am not as strong as him and I do miss going home during Durga Puja quite a few times and so Chandler remains a hero in my eyes. But for me even Christmas is big – I have probably spent more Christmas at home than any other festival and given that we have a strong missionary influence on our education, Christmas meant something special as we grew up. On the last school day before the Christmas vacations, we would have an elaborate function with Christmas Carols and plays and then we would come home to cakes from Nahoums. The plum and the fruit cakes were the ones to die for. And somehow, magically they tasted better at Christmas.
This Christmas I was all set to spend in Mumbai. The midnight mass was becoming a regular fixture, unless of course I was in Hyderabad meeting people important to the important people in my life. (That line almost had an Inception-isque tone to it!!!) Anyway, I was about to meet Sheila, someone would have been brave enough to go with me. And then suddenly I had to travel to Bangalore on work. Frankly, I did not mind. This was one city where my Christmases had been spent dressed up as Santa. And while I can’t be the Grand Old Man again, I thought it will not be bad to see Christmas outside the IIMB campus.
And when you walk all around your favourite places in the city with one of your closest friends, Christmas indeed seems magical. In fact, two of us felt that we were back to the place where it all started. And Christmas just got better on Boxing Day. I managed to have the most awesome Bisibelle Bhath at another friend’s house, after having successfully travelled to Yellhanka and then realizing Yellehanka is not Hebbal as much as the auto driver and the bus conductor would want to make me believe. And finally to top it all off, the Christmas weekend dinner was at Sues, the only Caribbean restaurant I have ever liked with possibly the best Christmas Plum Cake I have had this year. See real food is as important as food for thought :)
The funny part is that the only city I have seen embrace Christmas in its entirety is Calcutta. Both Mumbai and Bangalore seem to be trying hard to show they celebrate Christmas but a few Christmas trees and thin Santas in malls don’t make Christmas. So it was left to me to find my own Christmas in Bengaluru.
My idea of Christmas is essentially Roman Catholic and often I am guilty of pre assuming that everywhere it will be the same and as I walked across the roads in Bangalore in the hope of hearing the bells of a Midnight Mass I figured how good the human race was adapting customs.
Recent reports in the newspapers seem to suggest that this is the time when India spends more than even Diwali. Perhaps it’s true. The temperatures bring down the rage that boils within this tropical country for most part of the year and the mood all around seems to be cheerful. People spend; in fact the Indian today is not afraid to spend and retailers and manufacturers across are trying to get a pie of this ever increasing rate of consumption.
But Christmas is so much more than consuming. To me Durga Puja is about the celebration of family and the triumph of Good over Evil; Diwali is about homecoming and celebrations and Christmas is always about being thankful for what we have received throughout the year, including the socks that Santa used to fill up regularly and religiously every one of my growing years.
I called up Mom the night before Christmas saying that she needs to hang my standard socks in my room while I would be doing the same in my room in Bangalore. Santa did visit Calcutta but skipped Bangalore. And I was really upset with the Old Man. Then Mom gave the perfectly logical reason. Santa has to now bring gifts even for my niece and he is not getting any younger. He would rather travel to three places for my niece than two for me. And I think that’s perfectly logical. Anyway given the Metro in Bangalore and Mumbai, I would not want his poor reindeers to get lost in this maze.
Merry Christmas everyone.