Diapers don’t disappear. They are changed!

Do we all desire change? or do we accept change when it is thrust upon us? Do we actively seek to change what we are uncomfortable with, or live with it until change happens? Do we change because we perceive that the grass is greener on the other side, or is shown to us to be greener, or do we change because it is in our DNA, given that nothing remains the same from our birth to our death? our shape, our size (we grow to our full size and then become smaller and frailer as we age), our thoughts, our behavior, our dependency, our activities, and activism –  everything we know changes because of the biological changes within us – something we can’t really stop except with death. Is change then logical? or illogical? Inevitable or should we make it happen? In modern parlance, change is like the diaper I guess – it has to be changed once you feel uncomfortable. Its change is both inevitable and willed into happening.

There is also climate change which is the antithesis of the changes we experience – It changed it because of our activities and activism, and now we want to change it back to its original. Remember the Bell Bottom and long hair fashion we had? Well, it’s slowly coming back! We have a number of conferences in which climate abuse is justified because we are doing it for the greater and long-term good of mankind – to debate how far back we want to go to change what we ourselves changed by our actions. So, either way, change is the name of the game. if you can’t play by its rules, change the rules!

Speaking of Climate Change, according to a BBC report, Plane spotters spotted a total of 182 cargo aircraft carrying helicopters and vehicles for motorcades, private jets ferrying world leaders and passengers from and to the Prestwick and Edinburgh airports. ‘Flights produce greenhouse gases – mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) – from burning fuel. These contribute to global warming. Emissions per kilometer traveled are known to be significantly worse than any other form of transport. The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says 2.52kg of carbon dioxide is emitted for every liter of aviation turbine fuel burned. The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says 2.52kg of carbon dioxide is emitted for every liter of aviation turbine fuel burned. Therefore, this flight would produce 5.9 tons of CO2. However, BEIS recommends that to “capture the maximum climate impact” of flights, CO2 emissions figures should be multiplied by 1.9 to reflect the effect of non-CO2 emissions released by planes at high altitudes, which, scientists say, increase the warming effect. Therefore, the total emissions for this flight would be 11.3 tons of CO2 equivalent, and with a capacity of nine, each passenger would be responsible for 1.2 tons on their journey’.

Now do the math, and if you are mathematically challenged, but not spatially, just imagine the scale. Then they debated in huge airconditioned halls for 5 to 6 days whether to phase down or phase out coal usage, all the while not aware that they were phasing up the climate change! These are the contradictions we live with and learn to enjoy because they bring a smile to our face and to the Oh!-zone layer above us!

There are also things that we may want to change because of one or all of the above reasons? Things given to us at birth, because we could not read the fine print? I’m not sure how many of us realize, all that we claim to be ours and defend with all our might against perceived or real invasions – our name, our nationality, our religious persuasion, our community, our family, and even our birth location and birth date were given to us by others. We have no control over any of them. They are given to us, and we accept them as our own because we have no choice – at the time. In time we grow comfortable with them – if we don’t face any adversity from them, and then later, we don’t want to change it at all – that goes against our natural DNA; either that, or we are not allowed to, by a variety of obstacles, not the least of which are the fringes of society – on the outside looking in –  being trolled, killed or because of legislation and its hassles.

But temptations will always be there to evaluate the strength of the fence on which we set. It requires a steely resolve our part or somebody else’s part to ensure we don’t cross it to see if the other side of the fence has more pros than cons than our side of the fence. It would involve getting out of our comfort zones and doing what the world frowns on – like migration, conversion, a change of name affidavit, abdication, and disownment; is it because it affects their sense of orderliness, of sameness, of mundanity and the fact that we are disrespecting what we were given at our birth by our elders and they begin to fear the impact upon them. We were warned against change, but we couldn’t read the fine print of the agreement. it was right at the bottom of this huge agreement we signed at birth!

So, we are right to change, and we have the right to change – we can and yet we can’t in some things, because the government wants to protect our inherent freedoms via a notice board. Great Idea. If the bored notice, then they will protect our freedom to change, by changing our freedom to change.

This is the essence of the newly passed legislative bill, the LA Bill No. 50 of 2021 – The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021. It is brought into the legislative domain because its “expedient” to do so – Para 2 of the intro to the bill reads as follows: “A Bill to provide for the protection of the right to freedom of religion and prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means. Whereas it is expedient to provide for the protection of the right to freedom of religion and prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, or by any fraudulent means and for the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.

And this is what the Collins dictionary says about the word ‘expedient’. It’s a COUNTABLE NOUN [usually singular] “An expedient is an action that achieves a particular purpose but may not be morally right”. But it may well achieve its purpose hopefully, of arresting change or the change-makers – more likely the latter!

Nevertheless, the wording of the Bill is really impressive. A lot of demanding work and thought (not statistics though) must have gone into it. Given our pre poll and post poll scenarios, I was wondering whether we would have a more mature democracy if a similar bill were brought forth with the words religion substituted by voting – this  is not a freedom we get at our birth, but something we get at age 18, or the birth of our constitution (whichever is earlier) even before we are old enough to choose a life partner! That’s the reason perhaps why governments don’t last long unlike marriages! The younger you are, the wiser you are, but not in all matters.

Anyway, the first part will possibly read like this! Seems relevant!

Short title and commencement.-(1) This Act may be called the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Voting Act, 2021.

(2) It shall come into force at once.

  1. Definitions.- (1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,-

(a) “Allurement” means and includes offer of any temptation in form of ,-

(i) any gift, gratification, easy money, or material benefit either in cash or kind.

(ii) employment, free education in school or college run by anybody; or

(iii) omitted; or

(iv) better lifestyle, governmental displeasure or otherwise; or

(v) portraying another political persuasion in a detrimental way; or

(vi) glorifying one political persuasion or leader against another.

(b) “Coercion” means compelling an individual to act against his will by the use of psychological pressure or physical force causing bodily injury or threat thereof.

(c) “Conversion” means renouncing one’s political persuasion ( to which one was affiliated in letter or spirit) and adopting another one.

(d) “Force” includes a show of force or a threat of injury of any kind to the person converted or sought to be converted.

(e) “Fraudulent” means and includes impersonation of any kind by false name, surname, religious symbol or otherwise.

(f) “Form” means a form appended to this Act.

(g) “Institutions” means and includes all legal entities, including political missionaries, Govt. agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations, and such other organizations.

(h)“Mass Conversion” means where two or more persons are converted.

(i) omitted

(j) “Original Political Persuasion” means political persuasion to which a person had an affinity before conversion.

(k)“politics” means any organized system of election and voting or political organization, as prevailing in India or any part of it, and defined under any law or custom for the time being in force.

(l)“Political Convertor” means a person of any political persuasion who performs any act of conversion from one political persuasion to another. and by whatever name he is called such as Leader etc. ,

(m)“Undue Influence” means the unconscientious use by one person of his power or influence over another in order to persuade the other to act in accordance with the will of the person exercising such influence.

  1. Prohibition of conversion from one political persuasion to another political persuasion by misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement .- No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one political persuasion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by any of these means or by the promise of marriage, nor shall any person abet or conspire such conversion

You could do the rest yourself! The bill is available for viewing on the website That way it wouldn’t be a conversion to my illogical way of thinking. You could then choose to put it on the Notice Board!!

Enjoy your week and the weekend. That freedom is yours, definitely!


This Article is written in the lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents or take its contents as a serious treatise on any subject. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured its purely coincidental.

Image by Clker & Merio  

Wave, Ripple or Tipple – what’s your preference?

Arre Bhai, when everybody is writing, speaking, deliberating, and offering unsolicited advice about it, why not I?

Omicron – Will it cause a wave or a ripple? If it’s a wave, can we generate elect-ricity from it or can we be a part of the ripple effect? That’s a question that most of those in power are trying to find the answer to – and rightly so perhaps – it’s the key to the future – their future.

What spreads faster than omicron? News about Omicron. Which Countries have it, and in what number? Which states have it? Is it milder or wilder than Delta or the original that was made in China and didn’t last awfully long? As usual! Well, it’s still a shy teenager – So wilder but milder? that’s the general verdict. Teenagers are not what they used to be…They are mostly immobile, ironically because of the mobile! But not this one. It travels widely via mobile!

Indeed, this meme going around on WhatsApp, the highly recommended, global, but mostly Indian open University, captures it all. It goes like this:

“I 100% support mandatory vacations for everyone. If anyone refuses, then they should be FORCED”

and in small print:

“If you read vaccination instead of vacation, then there’s nothing more to say…”

And then there is the headline: “If given, the booster must be a different vaccine: view in the top expert body”. Well, it’s important to make hay when the sun shines – Gotta spread the moolah around. Right? It’s one way of encouraging R&D. Covid is a common man’s pandemic has vast untapped potential, unlike HIV, which even after 37 years of its discovery, has not found a cure nor a vaccination because of it’s limited by transmission methodologies! Covid has learnt its lesson!

There may not be another opportunity unless one is created, but the experience of this one – will it inspire another one? it’s a whole new segment of business like the internet, mobile, and the cloud, in that order.

And then there are the death-defying costs of Omicron – There’s a funeral in India, and the only son is abroad. All the diagnostic labs, their vendors, and their value chain – hospitals and hotels are positive about it – but he evaluates negative abroad 72 hours prior to departure, on arrival at the airport, after 8 days, and then when he crosses state borders – both ways, again 72 hours prior to the departure, at the airport and on arrival at his original port of boarding. And he would be out of pocket by almost Rs: 25000 @Rs3000 per nose and throaty tickle and with nothing left should he evaluate positive at any one port of call. Despite all of that, omicron still travels on a plane! or does it have its own wings?

But the general trend among nations – even if it’s their own is: If you are a sicko, we don’t want you, because we can’t afford you. But you’ve got to spend your own money to find that out, tell them, and then remain a caged parrot – replacing the original one defined by the Apex Court – for a while. Not even in your own cage, in someone else’s gilded one, but at your cost. No wonder the parrot has learned all the swear words so quickly. And if you are an African parrot, which genetically are the best, well, it’s a live stream…

Despite the omicron debate overtaking the airwaves, a lot went on last week in the nation and in the world. Russia Putin a word in India for its arms industry. What about us? the US asked! Silence, not science, silenced them. In the meanwhile, Biden warned Russia to not put in its hand in Ukraine, “U can’t” Biden said. But Putin is Biding his time. That’s the state of play geopolitically. But it does not matter to us. What matters to us is the Elections, Elections, Elections, Elections, Elections!

All this was very confusing and even more confounding! But I had occasion to put all these confusing thoughts aside for a while as I attended an alumni meet at which memories – both repressed, aging and some, even engaging – were expected to flow as easily as the cocktails or maybe because of them. Clarity was the name of the game. But all we got were mocktails. At first, I thought it was because of the skewed gender ratio at the table. The key was in the spelling I guess –  The gents were in a minority. So, without much ado I kept quiet. It’s an important minority credo. Its called the silence of the lambs…

But a clarification was soon forthcoming from unexpected quarters – pun intended. There was an election around the corner. But the spirit is missing, I said, and I can’t understand why. Then someone explained. Counting must be in a logical sequence not random – like the count of sheep while going to sleep. I still didn’t understand. And I said so. That’s the spirit I was told.  The spirit is in the Elect-h-ral.

The discussion then was, naturally, mostly rational – Mocking each other – until it turned to pass-outs. Who passed out when? That worried me. Was this some kind of new epidemic that had gone on for ages and we had not noticed? It was an annual feature from what I was hearing. But then how were we all seated around a table in 2021 = Who revived us? With what? Certainly, all of us had passed before we passed out? Doesn’t matter now. The next stage is Pass on…the salt, please. Must enjoy the phase between pass out and pass on! YOLO!!!

It’s a happy note on which to leave you to ponder. But there is one better that has just come up. We were not part of the Universe for 21 years – we were totally independent of it – part of the non – aligned movement – when suddenly we re-found our part in this great big entity, through Harnaaz Sandhu who was crowned Miss Universe 2021 at the 70th Miss Universe 2021, held in Eilat, Israel, 21 years after Lara Dutta won the title in 2000.

If her victory smile did not enthuse you, rest assured nothing will – at least not until next week when you will, I am sure, smile again.

Au revoir


This Article is written in the lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured its purely coincidental.

Image by Gerd Altmann 

Deadlines are for the living, the dead just lie!

Writing a column against a deadline is difficult week after week. It makes you weak; unlike other activities that make you stronger, because, while it may strengthen anticipation in the reader, it only triggers apprehension in the writer, which as doctors will know acts as a stress cluster rather than a stress buster. What will I write about? Can I find a topic that is not Taboo? that does not hurt someone’s sentiments?

That’s a tough ask because almost everything and everyone is Taboo now a days… or hurts a sentiment that band – aid can’t heal, even it is wash proof. Nor can laughter.  It requires lots of ‘’paperwork’’. Paperwork in Courts, sorry Quotes. This is a characteristic of a natural democracy that is learning to be undemocratic. A democracy in letter (plenty of them) but not in spirit – that is because in some areas it is banned (Spirit) and in others it is prohibitively expensive to imbibe? Where there is spirit, the truth manifests?

Can I find a topic that does not do either of the above and still keep it alive? That is the dilemma everyone who writes faces these days… And the other of course is finding a reader that goes beyond WhatsApp to open a link received on it or actually does make (not find) the time to read. But by then, his glasses are so tinted, that it would require a law to enforce plain glasses as supplied by the manufacturer.  Only columnists understand the word deadline – maybe those who have to file their income tax returns too. And those whose time is up to marry. Mainly because of the first part of the word. If you don’t, you are dead or will soon be. Deadwood. I got the spelling right, it’s not Dawood.

But deadline has altogether another meaning when you are in the firing line as some were last week. It’s the same feeling the barrel of a gun has when its trigger is pulled, the Whoosh, the burn and then the numbness. Of course, there is the five course EQ menu for dealing with the aftermath – denial, anger, bargains, depression and finally acceptance of the fact, that denial, anger, bargains, and depression of the trigger is what caused the tragedy that we must now accept. Mistakes happen, but the dead don’t come alive. There is no second take. So, no escape there… But a column can, even when we write about the dead. In fact, it is only then that it comes alive. Is it the dead that keep us alive? is that why we find the news channels and the news portals full of the dead?

Is that why the obituary page is the most read page on any medium? What feelings do we generate within when we read those announcements? Of sadness? hardly; of bewilderment? maybe (especially if young by our standards); of curiosity? Certainly, of hope? surely – we missed out, didn’t we? no fear of losing out (FOMO) on what awaits us in the beyond there. Otherwise, it’s our constant companion!

It’s all about expectations – of yourself, of those who have reserved space for you in their publication and those who have done the same in their calendars and their mind… never mind.

The only topic that I could find this week that is assuredly not taboo is death. Even its opposite, Birth is taboo, because it has a lot to do with how many births and who is giving birth. Death on the other hand, symbolizes peace and should be given the Nobel peace prize. It aids population control and climate change and all that is good, except when it comes about at the end of a gun or a knife or a blunt object preferred by Agatha Christies characters! And then we are surprised, anguished and appropriately numbed for a while. Speaking of which, in a surprise visit, James Bond came in from Russia with love (and omicron) to put in a word about setting up a factory that manufactures rifles that cannot be trifled with! It’s a new variant…that’s the dominant word of today’s vocabulary.

There are many variants of death that are emerging and require genome spacing – they are becoming too frequent.  This headline is for real: Boy, mother behead sister, click selfie with head in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad and this one: Sri Lanka man lynched in Pak: Autopsy tells tale of brutality. But amid this gore, the peeled eyeballs are aplenty. Its why I said, the dead keep us alive with their instruments of death even.

Let me be honest as I don’t know any other way. I’ve overcome this week’s difficulty with difficulty and its time to give myself some self-love. Not a selfie, but true genuine appreciation. And I bet you won’t grudge me that.

Stay alive until next week. Don’t worry ill find something to write about other than Death before the Dead lie; Deadline! Sorry, I don’t know how I get these important spellings wrong.

Deadlines are for the living. Always. The Dead only lie. They tell no tales unless you investigate!


This Article is written in the lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured its purely coincidental.

Image by cadop

The real Christmas tree

Santa would come. I was certain; I was 36, and I still believed Santa would come and I would get a glimpse of him. Crazy? Maybe, maybe not. I didn’t think I was crazy.

I had insisted that we set up a real Christmas tree instead of the artificial one with lights that we used to put up. And that’s when the fight began. But in the end, I won the argument after conceding that it would be just for this year and this year alone.

But the way my family looked at me as I stayed awake on Christmas Eve and revelled in the joy of finding gifts at the foot of the tree the next morning, ones that I had placed myself, for my wife and 2 kids gave me the clear message that I was crazy. So be it.   I had valid reasons to be crazy!


As far as I can recall, it all began when I was a child of seven years, the age when you begin to understand where you’ve come from and where you are going; your advantageous position in the family as an only child.  Often I would use my single child status to my advantage, but there were other times when I found the overbearing display of affection overwhelming.

I am digressing. It was the beginning of the Christmas week, and for me, the most exciting time of the year. You know what added to the excitement? My dad was down from Dubai. He would come once in two years at Christmas time and I loved it.  He was so full of energy and fun, that I loved being around him. And of course every time he came, he would bring chocolates and presents. Oh! What fun it was; I also loved watching Mum covertly, the quiet affectionate disciplinarian she was – maybe I loved her more maybe because of it, I still don’t know –  as she watched us wistfully from the doorway of our 2 bedroom second floor rundown apartment as Dad and I planned the setting up of our Christmas tree.  It was the first time I would be a part of the Christmas tree committee! Earlier, I was kept out as I was considered too small.

With Dad in town and it being Christmas week there were several visitors, mainly my Dad’s brothers and sisters and my cousins trouping in and out of the house. It was a ritual that was enacted whenever Dad was in town.  I enjoyed my cousins’ company and missed them when they didn’t come over during the rest of the year for a variety of reasons, some of which I am just beginning to understand.

The family get together every alternate Christmas, was like a fiesta. I enjoyed every moment of it. But it was the time I also became aware of the tension in my Mum. It was not very visible on her face, except occasionally, but would often spill over into arguments when Dad and Mum were alone. Often about expenses, and the additional work involved in entertaining guests that would stop over, only because dad was in town. But I guess that’s how the cookie crumbles everywhere.

But the Christmas spirit overcame everything I guess. It was time to set up the Christmas tree; with Dad in town, my older cousins were around to help and often there were shouts of where’s this, where’s that amid the constant chatter of my mum; “Don’t dirty the floor now, take out all the debris; if you dirty it, you have to clean it up. It was so exciting for me especially, and my cousins too, to be a part of this chaos; young as we were, we enjoyed ferrying stuff they wanted from where they told us it would be.. We felt we were in the thick of it…

But I do recall that I was a wee bit disappointed, when I compared the real tree we had set up  with our neighbours trees, all lit up at night, their houses even.  I could see them from our balcony. They shimmered and flashed and looked so inviting for Santa.

Maybe I was too young, but I decided I would ask Santa, not for the tricycle I saw my friends use, but the gift of a new big Christmas tree with lights – just like the neighbours!  I decided to ask Dad first. He would know if it was the right thing to ask Santa. He knew everything I thought.

Not only that; also because he was the one who went out into the small plot of vacant land in the neighbourhood armed with a scythe and brought it home, on his shoulder. When I told Dad that I would ask Santa for a new big Christmas tree just like the neighbours, he said knowingly, Aaron, he won’t bring that kind of a tree; those are artificial trees, and Santa loves real trees”.

But what about those in their houses I asked plaintively. Dad replied, “Santa did not bring those trees, they are from the local market and Santa may skip their house on the way, but he won’t skip ours, because he loves real trees; you ask him for a toy;” Then can I ask him for a tricycle Dad?”, I said disappointed. “Not this time Aaron. He must be already on his way. It’s ok even if you don’t ask him anything. He knows what you want, and he will bring something for you for sure. He will not skip our house, because we have a real Christmas tree”.  How do you know Dad?

He told me? So you have seen him Dad? I asked curiously. Mum says the real Santa Claus remains invisible to children because the children will trouble him if they see him. Your mum is right son, he does, but two years ago we had this real tree remember? And he stayed a wee bit longer admiring it, and I caught him just as he was leaving. What did he say Dad? He said, I shouldn’t have stayed this long, but I love real Christmas trees and I miss them when I’m travelling. But now I’m visible, I better move on and he disappeared.

I believed him. I always did. He was my hero. He knew what Santa loved. And I was sure that that night Santa would come tonight too and I would see him. Because we had a real Christmas tree!.

We lived on the 2nd floor of a small two bedroom apartment that over looked a side street. The building was rather run down, but my parents then had no immediate plans to change it. They couldn’t afford to do it;  that much I had gathered from eavesdropping on conversations’ between mum and Dad.

On that Christmas Eve though my cousins and their parents stayed over and I knew there would be no arguments, so no tension – My Dad and Mum would be on their best behaviour! But I was not about to be. I wanted to see Santa and nothing in the world would stop me from doing that. I believed that he was invisible to children only because they slept through his visit which was very fleeting and light of foot.  Today I was determined to stay awake. I was certain he would come, and it would be more than the fleeting visit he normally made, because we had a real tree and I would see him, because we had a real Christmas tree, not those fancy artificial ones in the neighbourhood.

Since they was limited space in the house, it was decided that we children would sleep in the hall near the Christmas tree. But this decision it appeared had been taken after a lot of debate between our parents. Their concern? How would Santa stay invisible as he left his gifts? They decided that the best way for that to happen was to put us kids to sleep early, even as they partied on into the night!  So an early Christmas done, followed by kisses and hugs and a light dinner – the feast was slated for the next day – we were herded off to sleep. But did we want to go to sleep? Not at all. They screamed and when that didn’t work, they cajoled and threatened us with informing Santa that we were misbehaving and switched off the light in the living room.

 Our Christmas tree had no lights, so it was close to pitch dark, save a  sliver from under the bedroom door as they continued to party inside – quietly. An hour later they came to check on us, using a torch. My cousins had fallen asleep. I was tired from the days excitement and the strenuous game of gully cricket, my cousins and I had played, but lay still with eyes closed, but wide awake as the they shone the torch light on my face.  I was the one they worried about, the one who could potentially be a whistle blower, if I found out that Santa was not invisible.   

When they left the room, I quickly opened my eyes, and looked around. It took a while to adjust to low visibility. But I knew Santa had not yet come – there were no gifts under the tree, and besides I had been awake the whole time…. I couldn’t see the clock, and though I was told that Santa comes at Midnight, I didn’t think it possible; with so many houses to visit – is it possible I thought? I might have to stay awake the whole night was the last thought I had before I fell asleep, driven it seems by some unseen force.

I don’t know what time it was, when I fell asleep, but I woke up with a start. I thought I heard a sound.  A thud sort of. Santa? It was pitch dark, the bedroom lights were off and there were no lights on the Christmas tree. The curtains were drawn, but not fully and the flash of the neighbours coloured Christmas lights snaked through the gaps.  

I looked back at the Christmas tree – and there were gifts for all of us under the tree, their wrapping paper glinting the flash of the neighbours Christmas lights.  Santa had come and gone. I cursed myself, for falling asleep and missing his visit. But wait. What was that sound I heard? That thud? Followed by another I thought, but then it became faint when I woke up. Was it a dream, was it real? I didn’t know. On an impulse I ran to the window and looked outside. 

And there was Santa sitting majestically in his reindeer chariot; I could see the reindeer straining to go. It seemed that the chariot was floating on clouds; He was all he was made out to be – Roly Poly and with a white flowing beard; others, adults must have seen him several times to copy his avatar down to a T I thought.

 Just then Santa looked up. Our eyes met but only for brief second. But it was enough for me. His were blue, piercing and I don’t know why – I just felt a deep love sweep all over me. It was the greatest moment of my life. One that remains deeply etched in my memory.    

I was excited and was about to wake up everyone and drag them to the window to see Santa, when in a whoosh of snow that blinded me, he moved off, and all I could see was the dark dreary dirty road that we had played cricket on earlier that day.

5 years later

Once he left, and there was nothing left to see, I went and quietly lay down in my place and for some strange reason, despite the excitement of actually seeing Santa, I fell asleep. I never told anyone about seeing Santa. For one,  they would not believe me and another, I wanted it to be my secret. I thought I would see him again the next year – I had insisted that my Mum find a way to put up a real Christmas tree, as Dad was not around, and I did stay awake at least upto midnight or a little thereafter when I fell asleep. He must have paid a fleeting visit, because I found my gift under the tree. But I never saw Santa again.

The following year I recall, Dad, when he came from Dubai, was very excited. He had brought both a new Christmas tree and Christmas lights and was very proud about it. But I did not allow him to set it up. Despite all the trees in the vacant plot being cut down to make way for Christmas was the most exciting time of the year for me I insisted he find a tree and bring it home. I gave him his own argument. Santa loves real Christmas trees. Finally he swallowed his pride, and made me tag along as he went to an acquaintance’s house to bring a real Christmas tree.  I did not even allow him to use the Christmas Lights he had bought with much sacrifice I gathered, but relented after he told me that Santa is getting old and he needs the lights to see!

Of course, Dad never knew the real reason for my insistence. But that year, I stayed awake throughout the night and waited for Santa. And I saw him. It was my Dad dressed up as Santa who I saw placing the gifts under the tree! I could make out from his walk and his eyes that flashed as he turned away from the Christmas tree. They were not the same eyes that looked into mine that night 5 years ago.

That day my whole world came crashing down.  My belief in my dad especially. He lied to me. And I was angry. Angry as hell. But for some reason or the other, the moment these angry thoughts hit me, the vision of Santa looking up at me from down below killed them all. It was definitely real. It cannot have been anything else. And my anger evaporated. I now knew who Santa was. But did I really? I still believed he would come. After all we had a real Christmas tree didn’t we? And so I insisted that every year we set up a real Christmas tree. 

But my relationship with my parents changed.  I would always double down on whatever my parents told me. After all they lied to me once, didn’t they? And too about Santa.

2 years later

I recall that as I started school, in the neighbourhood school, which was pretty upmarket (I didn’t know it then of course) but had the advantage of proximity, which is critical in a big city, I found that my being  a single child constrained my ability to make friends, to share, to collaborate, and sometimes even cooperate. I was labelled by my teachers as an introvert. And my mum was concerned. I did not have many friends and was considered a loner – it was school and back and back to school again. Who’s your best friend in school mum would ask after the teachers told her all about my asocial behaviour at school at PTA meets, and I would say no one. All are my friends. That’s what I told myself even when it was not true.  This continued through all of my first four years of schooling and possibly only got worse as I got older. But my academic grades, gave me an upper hand and possibly a stiff upper lip.

But it was in the second Standard, when I was all of seven years old, that I began to overcome these constraints. Possibly with the help of repeated advice and reasoned logic imbued from my mum and teachers, the principal even, in a limited way and learnt how to effectively manage both school and home in different ways, and I was now rather adept at it which thrilled my mum no end. I could make out from the way she spoke to me, the compliments I got, when I told her that I shared my favourite cutlets with a classmate or gave my extra pencil to my bench mate, because he had not brought his. But as I look back I don’t think it was Mums approval that motivated me. Maybe it was inherent?  Nah I don’t think so. But there seemed a co-incidence. It was the year that I saw Santa.

School, is that never ending chore that needed to be done. Enjoyable if you think it’s enjoyable.  Over the years, the school had grown on me and now in the 10th standard, I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Christmas time – there were friends, few not many, lots to do, and things to achieve.  Which I did, most of the time. There were disappointments and pressure from teachers and peers, but I coped as best as I could. And when I couldn’t, or felt the pressure I relied on Santa. Santa I would say, come on come over and help me out. And he would, quietly and invisibly. And in my mind’s eye I could feel his presence, his piercing blue eyes looking into mine, telling me things will be fine.

But, maturity has its pitfalls too. As I grew older and more aware of the differences in gender, income, lifestyles and beliefs, I realised that I was somewhere on the middle of the social totem pole. Often I would be left out of gang trips to the nearest sweet shop on the opposite road, trips to the local fair and sleepovers I only heard about, maybe because of my introverted attitude or more likely, my social status, which perhaps fell below the expectation of the sleep over gang.

But this clarity of vision allowed me to see that I had classmates that were below me on the totem pole too and my self-pity would vanish when I saw their circumstances, which they bore with fortitude and a smile. Arun and Andrew, were from a different neighbourhood, but seemed to find it difficult to bring a full meal in the noon and what little they had brought they had cooked themselves. I knew this because we often ate together and I would share my favourites with them Often I would find that they didn’t have a text book, or their homework incomplete, because of their finances and their part time work after school at a neighbour’s bungalow and we were good friends. The three of us formed our own gang and we are friends to this day. Another classmate, Anusuya, a tall petite girl for her age, already filled out, and her friend Aruna who seemed to prefer to join our gang rather than her all girl gang that seemed above me on the status ladder. We didn’t have sleep overs and stuff, but we were good friends, but with limited knowledge of each other’s personal lives.

I was getting ready to go to school one morning in the week leading up to Christmas – the gang had planned a treat – we would share what we could from our pocket money, with Anusuya and Aruna putting in the balance – they offered to do so – when mum received a phone call. It was unusual for Dad to call so early, but then he was getting ready to travel back home.

She said hi David, screamed and dropped the phone. I was on the way to the kitchen carrying my empty breakfast plate.  I dropped it and ran to her. What happened? What Happened? I asked. She was crying. What Happened Mum Tell me I said. She couldn’t protect me. She said Dad has died in Dubai.  My whole world came crashing down, just as when I saw him place the gifts under the Christmas tree. Was it a lie? No it must be real. And it was.

The next ten days, till his body arrived were a blur. Mum and I were devastated, but we pulled through with the constant stream of visitors and relatives, many of whom stayed over.  I often turned to my vision of Santa and implored him to bring Dad back for Christmas. But there was no answer. My friends were my only source of comfort.

Dad’s funeral was held on Christmas Eve. That day I fought with mum. It was a fierce fight. I insisted on a Christmas tree, a real Christmas tree, without the lights – I never told her why. Finally she agreed. The gang went over to Anusuya’s house – it was a big one with a huge compound a little distance away from our apartment – and cut a branch of  a tree brought it over and set it up. I stayed away.  There were angry looks all around, but I didn’t care. All I knew was Santa would bring Dad back on his sled.  Funeral over, we returned home.  I stayed awake the whole night. Santa never came, there were no gifts under the tree. Neither did Santa bring Dad back. It seemed to me that Santa had abandoned me and I cried inconsolably.

One year later.

It was a difficult year, finances had dried up.  I was now in the 10th standard. Loans had piled up, some of which mum didn’t know about apparently. She began to share her doubts and pain with me. Dad was no longer around and I had in her eyes, to take on the mantle.  If things continued like this I would have to discontinue my studies and work she said. I found this very hard to digest. I loved school and I knew by then that I had it in me to make it big. Mum herself had tried to find a suitable job, but with her lack of professional skills, other than her culinary skills, she found one hard to come by.  But she did take a few small orders here and there and had gradually built up a small list of satisfied customers. I stayed home and helped her out when required. But it was not enough. There was too much debt piled up and all our relatives had abandoned us.

By the time Christmas approached we were getting disheartened. It was going to be an empty Christmas without Dad! We had never once, not put up a Christmas tree and this year, I was faced with a dilemma. Should I put up a tree? Should I not? Why should I? Santa had abandoned me totally hasn’t he?  But as Christmas approached, something deep inside kept insisting I should not break the tradition. I again approached Anusuya and the gang for help and this time I helped set it up in our living room.   

At School, things were changing, Christmas was evolving from Carols and cake to Christmas celebrations with a Secret Santa, a game in which everyone gets to play Santa, but secretly. I loved Santa, and playing him, even secretly was a fantasy I had indulged in before. But could I afford to? Given my domestic situation. I was glad when the teacher announced that the upper limit for gifts would be Rs: 100. But to my dismay, I got to play Santa to, of all people in my class, Anusuya. She was my friend and I liked her a lot, and maybe, just maybe, I also had a wee crush on her, but what gift could I possibly give her? She seemed to have everything.  Over and above I could not afford even Rs: 50, let alone 100.

I was in a bind. I decided to bluff my way through. In any case it would be anonymous and it couldn’t be that she received no gift. The teacher would investigate and put two and two together. That would not do.. I found an empty pen box, and some old but still sparkling wrapping paper at home. I wrote a small chit – “This box is full of love. Santa Claus”, wrapped the box, ribboned it, took it school put her name on it and dropped it into the sealed box. 

On Christmas Eve,  during the last period of the class, the box was opened and everyone scrambled to get their gifts from the box – The teacher gave strict instructions – the gifts were not to be opened in the class. I was relieved. My gift was neatly wrapped and ribboned and my name was neatly written across it. The handwriting looked familiar, but I couldn’t figure out who it was.  I took it home and opened it…it was a beautiful pen, a parker that must have cost more than 100 Rs: And then I realised whose handwriting it was  – Anusuya’s. I cried.

I was moping and feeling guilty… when the doorbell rang, Mum opened it and it was Anusuya. Normally she was accompanied by Anshu, and had come home only once before, during my dad’s funeral, but this time she was alone. She must have found out, I thought, how I don’t know, it was supposed to be secret.  

After pleasantries, Mum left us alone and went into the kitchen… Anusuya said,  “Aaron I have an empty box, that seems full – it is heavy. I know it’s you who was my secret Santa. I just came to say thank you”.

I couldn’t stop the tears. They were in free flow. She put her hand on my hand and held it till I stopped crying. Mum heard me sobbing, and came out of the kitchen.

She sat down in the chair opposite and waited for me to stop crying. Didn’t say a word. And then she asked Anusuya what happened, worried that we may have had a tiff. Anusuya explained.  She also said that she understood our circumstances and spoken to her parents and they were looking to see how they could help. Really? I looked again at the Christmas tree behind Anusuya and saw Santa. Really saw him.

Covid, conversions, conversations, and coins!

“OMicron! Thou art still small, invisible, and shapely (round is a shape) with modern coloured spikes in your hair, designed by China’s (?) best hairstylist, and yet you can drive the worlds health ecosystem – its hospitals, its pharma, oxygen and vaccine manufacturers, and retailers, its people (there are those that charge double their normal consultation fee if they have to see a Covid Patient, with Omicron will it triple? it may require a booster shot), its insurance, its diagnostics and even its undertakers to unfathomable profits even as you control the worlds travel, tourism and population like no known contraceptive or population policy drafted by a single (as opposed to a married man) can!. Indeed, you are superhuman. Change is your only constant. And for us, your change is our only constant. Even the bus conductor is envious of your wallet, not just the Bata shop owner.

You are so dangerous, you spread through news channels and social media, and WHO ever, rather than medically and we still don’t know where you were born or where you are headed. But you seem well traveled, knowledgeable about human habits and habitats and of course its climate, despite its change that everybody is trying to fight through conferences that debate “phase out” and “phase down” like grammar Nazis, comfortable in the knowledge that the debating room is climate controlled through air conditioners. Its beside the point that Air cons are the “Charles Shobraj” of Climate Change! While they control the climate within, you can literally hear them say Oh Micron, from where did you come?

Are we perhaps wearing our masks wrong? Should we cover our Eyes and Ears rather than our noses and mouths? So that we can’t see or hear you sticking your spike into our cell (phone) or into our business? Shouldn’t matter much, as it is no longer there, at least not as or where it used to be…” so lamented the beleaguered human being, who is lucky that he still feels human in the turmoil around him.

We are forced to lament because of conversion by the original virus and the conversations about it. The virus changes its nationality and allegiances every six months, and we don’t or can’t do anything about it. Thankfully, it treats humanity as one – no caste, no creed, no language, no nationality. It’s a world citizen but called an anti-national everywhere it goes. Nobody welcomes it with an open nose and mouth, so the Virus converts itself into new strains, which do not need a nose or a mouth, induced perhaps by parts of the body that were previously anathema to it. It knows it should not be seduced and convert itself, but as soon as it sees a place where it is welcome, feels at home, feels joy and peace in its mission, a place where it feels it can thrive, it converts itself to suit that part and attaches itself fiercely to this newfound hope of survival. Can’t ban that because it is acting of its own free will. And even a mob cannot stop it without getting infected. That is quite an achievement. Isn’t it? It enjoys the freedom of expression that even we humans don’t have. Because even if it hurts our ever-sensitive sentiments, we cannot afford to get sentimental about it. We have to try and ignore it as much as we can; but can we, when we are prisoners in our own cell (phones)?

Can try though – maybe if virtual or real conversations are banned too then we won’t hear about it? What’s one more ban when we have so many already… Covid and its various avatars have already enforced bans on gatherings, schools, colleges, public functions, pools, gyms, parlors – the list is endless. But it hasn’t stopped the virus’s conversion and the conversation around it. Can’t even make jokes about it. Nobody laughs except OMicron! That’s why perhaps most comedians retire early…at least the ones that can still make us laugh at our two selves – the one on Facebook and the one in the mirror!

Speaking of conversations, according to the constitution of India, great conversations are supposed to happen in parliament, the repository of the historical and amalgamated wisdom of India. But conversations take place more outside than inside for some reason. Maybe, because to have a conversation, there has to be a listener and a speaker. One of them has converted to the other. So does only a speaker exist?

In fact, besides listening and trying to understand what the speaker has to say there are several other elements that are involved in a decent conversation according to changingminds.org – Asking: Engaging and seeking information; Informing: Giving information; Asserting: Stating something as true; Proposing: Putting forward argument; Summarizing: Reflecting your understanding; Checking: Testing understanding; Building: Adding to existing ideas; Including: Bringing in others; Excluding: Shutting out others; Self-promotion: Boosting oneself; Supporting: Lending strength; Disagreeing: Refusing to agree (without being disagreeable); Avoiding: Refusing to consider argument; Challenging: Offering new thoughts to change thinking; Attacking: Destruction of their ideas; Defending: Stopping their attacks; Blocking: Putting things in the way of their arguments. Now which of these other elements are missing or are prominent by their presence? Not a tough question at all and you’ve got a whole week to come up with an answer…

It’s not just the virus and the listener (can find very few these days) that are converting themselves. Currency is in on the game too. First, there were coins that have converted themselves into bitcoins. They too are invisible, they have as much an affinity for human beings as does OMicron and they too are banned! They keep your wallet light but valuable, but they are held by a foreign hand, which means no revenue, no control, but also no promises to pay the bearer the sum of… under the signature of… and a picture of….  So be careful. Once bitten you’ll be twice shy!

But then, forbidden fruit is that much sweeter! The value of forbidden goods is always 2x or more of its original value. It’s the conversion rate! It’s already chained to the block and that’s why perhaps it needs to be blocked and will be, until you pay to release it! But the conversions don’t stop there. Even our assets have converted into NFTs after an uncomfortable existence here on earth. NFTs? Non-Fungible Tokens. They’ll never get spoilt because the fungus can never get to them, unlike your other assets. They are the silver lining in somebody’s cloud – you can buy them with your bitcoins but don’t bite off more than you can chew! And they are digital assets. That means you can only see them like you do some of your best friends – on your electronic devices! That’s devious don’t you think? Right now, these NFTs are mostly works of art -literally; but soon, who knows soon even your house and your corporate brand and teams may be NFTs like the stars in the sky. Now you see them, now you don’t!

This piece was all about the power of the invisible on our lives because the visible are losing their influence. It’s the cloud and not the sun that matters. Keep your head there, but your feet on the ground…

Let not your judgment be clouded.

Until next week then…


This Article is written in the lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental.

Bitcoin Photo by André François McKenzie on Unsplash

Coin Photo by Dan Dennis on Unsplash

Corona Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Conversion Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Conversation Photo by Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash

NFT Photo by Alexander Ant on Unsplash