Most of my Goan friends make a list of gifts they would like to have at Christmas: caju feni, mandolin, xacuti, a free meal at Goa Portuguesa, a complimentary ticket on a Bombay-Mapusa bus, the driving out of all outsiders from Goa (except foreign tourists), banning the Konkan Railway, a seat at Fatoda Stadium when the Dempos are playing, a return to the old days ("Not like old times, man!").
I am making my list for Divali:
An ID card for the elections without having to go once again for my photograph and being told it cannot be taken because of several technicalities.
A decoder for Star Movies.
A bottle of scotch, so long as it is not Spey Royal, which tastes like an adulterated bottle of Director's Special.
Syndicates for this column that can out-syndicate Khushwant Singh's syndicate. So far the only other paper this column appears in is a Marathi daily called Aaj Dinank and that is gratis.
A change of jobs with Rajan Bala so that I can follow the West Indies around the country, and be paid for it.
A book voucher of substantial amount at Crosswords.
A City Bank International Credit Card (not valid in India and Nepal) with the office paying the bills.
An oblique though complimentary reference to me in a Shobha De novel that friends will instantly recognise and say, "Why, that is our friend..."
A Premier 118NE in exchange for a Maruti 1000.
The opening of branches of some of the better suburban restaurants in the city, instead of the other way around. For instance, Gajali and Venue.
The reopening of Gourdon's at the old rates.
Breaking my leg and being forced to lie in bed for six weeks watching TV and re-reading all the James Hadley Chase novels. And, at the end of six weeks, being able to move about, run, jump, without the slightest sign of distress.
Take a holiday in Kashmir in mid spring and staying in a houseboat on Dal Lake. If an exciting though perfectly safe encounter with militants is involved, that would be a bonus. But I am not including it in the list.
To actually believe that Grover's wines, Chougule's champagne and Vijaya's cheese are almost as good as anything that France has to offer.
To find a shop that sells white towel shirts.
To be able to consume all the sweets and dry fruits that are sent to me for Divali without upsetting the stomach.
To have work in New Delhi so that I can fly up and down (not air-dash) and feel important.
To be offered a pair of Bally shoes (Rs. 6,998) and refuse them with a no thank you.
To bop on the head the next Goan who returns from Goa and, when I ask him, "So how was it?" replies: "Not like old times, man."