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Archive for December, 2012

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.”
– Charles Dickens

Festivity is in the air with the onset of December with Christmas meaning different things to different people in our community.

For children, it is the magical period of their childhoods; a time to soak up the simple joys that the festive period offers, experiences to savour and cherish for the rest of their lives. Decades later, when they grow up and enter the realms of everyday reality, perhaps the only magical aspect left in their lives might be the memories from such Christmases.untitled

For adults, the days stretch into a long sequence of bargain-sales, last-minute shopping, gift-wrapping, cooking and entertaining. It is also the time when the annual review of family gatherings and rituals are made with most sticking to the usual traditions to keep the peace and some marching defiantly to their new-found independent tune of celebrations, devoid of family influences.

For office-goers, a time to revel in the joviality and shenanigans of the Christmas work parties where occasionally one is left to rue over the aftermath. The parties continue year after year, never failing to create newer work legends and thus leaving the gossip mills churning until the next party.

For the religious, it’s the time to renew their faith and rejoice in the stronghold of their traditional beliefs. Even the ones who sit on the fence where religion is concerned get carried away by the winds of festivity, their ambivalence and indifference temporarily shelved till December is over.

Even those who do not partake in the festivities look forward to this period for the opportunity to break the monotony of their daily grind. There are holidays to be enjoyed, the usual migratory trip to be made, time to catch up with families or even simply money to be earned.

This quintessential festival, especially when celebrated by the mainstream community is not lost on anyone. However fraught one’s nerves are, however stretched one’s purse is – the season, in whatever way it pans out is still an embodiment of celebrations of some kind. Scratch the surface and you will see lingering beneath the colour of any skin the anticipations of this festive season.

Setting aside the celebrations and the rampant consumerism, what’s more remarkable about this period is the benevolence and magnanimity in the air; you will find people around you unusually full of optimism and cheer. Differences are temporarily set aside, acrimony cloaked by neutral feelings, random acts of good-will cropping up everywhere you turn. The entire community remains buoyed up during this period and the world definitely seems a better place to co-exist with compassion and humanity being the motto of the day.

But what really contributes to this welcome change in people’s attitudes around this time? The spirit of the festive season naturally but this does not materialise out of thin air, does it? It would be shallow to attribute everything to the materialistic aspects of the celebrations – the presents, the food, the booze or the bonuses.

What we seem to forget is that it is us, the people themselves and what we bring to the celebrations that make up the very essence of the festive season and the benevolent atmosphere associated with it.
Sadly all this lasts only temporarily; while the wrappings are swept away, the tinsel taken down and the grease from the dishes washed away, so does the spirit of the festival fade away. We wait for another year for the revival of the Christmas spirit.

With too many odds stacked against us and with the likes of natural disasters, freak accidents, undeserving ailments and trigger happy crazies intruding our lives, maybe we have to remind ourselves that our lives are not etched in stone. Not everyone is forever around for another Christmas; perhaps we need to practice that Christmas spirit more too often!!!

Season’s greetings to all!!

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Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

-Oscar Wilde

 While everyone whinges about the summer heat, I revel in the glorious warmth that seeps into my aching bones when I step outside.  I feel several kilos lighter shedding the jackets and cloth layers that have become an extension of me ever since I moved to Horsham.  Of course in summer, I will end up sporting a “less cream in my coffee” complexion given how easily the sun roasts one here, but even that will not sway my allegiance to the camp that prefers the heat to the cold.

But more than “feeling” weather, I am also inundated with “hearing” about weather. Everywhere I go, I find that weather is the most popular topic on the conversation charts.  Of course, when you see me refusing to shed my bulky jacket and sport it as a second skin for ten months in the given year, I do personally get a lot of conversation about weather directed at me.

But then I do a lot of “talking” about weather too.  Naturally, no surprise there given that weather is one of the most widely spoken topics in most countries out there, but personally I don’t remember this being the situation for me always.  However if Oscar Wilde were to overhear me talking today, he would rue the heavens or the very same weather that becomes the brunt of every conversation I have been making for years.

When I first arrived in Australia and my husband was helping me settle down, he used to say if I found myself running out of things to talk with others, I can always switch to weather. Fresh from spending a couple of years in the UK, he used to rave about how weather was an awesome ice-breaker and conversation filler.  Of course I looked at him as if he was crazy – why would anyone talk about the weather when there were so many interesting things to talk about?

I came from a country where we talked about everything but weather, at least from what I remember. We would probably comment on how hot or humid it was and then would rush on to other topics.  There was always something to talk about – even the dreary everyday life of a second cousin twice removed would keep the conversation in full-swing but never would weather rear its head conspicuously.

Even though I reluctantly submitted to my husband’s grooming of me in the local conversation etiquettes, I soon found out he was not only right but that his advice stood me in good stead.  When I got tired of explaining over and over to perfect strangers (while waiting for public transport), about the little “bindi” that Indian women sport on their foreheads or when I ended up losing my audience quickly, even the most sympathetic ones, with my non-stop whinge about being homesick, I quickly learned to switch to weather for a respite.

Of course over time, weather and I became best buddies, especially when I discovered I couldn’t do sports-speak or politics around the office water-cooler chats or at Christmas dinners, given my disinterest in the former and indifference towards the latter.

Even when Queensland’s weather didn’t give me much to talk about given that it was very similar (but less humid) to what I had experienced in India and that it was mostly glorious and still is when it is not Noah’s country out there, I still persisted.

I persevered in regurgitating oft-repeated weather stories from different countries, despite most of them being second-hand experiences – no surprise I became the social queen of floundering conversations!!!

While I stayed in Europe, of course, I ended up having no dearth of conversation.  I spent two winters in abject misery, mostly room-bound because of extreme weather and probably subjected whoever was listening to me to twice the misery of hearing me talk about it.  Given that it was also my first experience with snow and having never mastered walking on snow and more likely never invested in sensible footwear, I had enough stories to keep the crowd entertained with my frequent episodes of landing on my bottom and paying homage to the snow.

Then came the big move to Horsham and I guess I haven’t stopped talking about weather.  Every turn of the weather – be it icy cold winds or the freezing winters or the raging summers, I have something or the other to talk to people about.

By now, you must be definitely getting the gist of what I am saying when I say I talk incessantly about weather.  Well, haven’t I ended up writing an entire post on weather when I could be talking about a million other things?

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