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   And, as is, my practice, a special X'mas story for.... (December 24, 1985)

And, as is, my practice, a special X'mas story for all the children were being told that Santa Claus was coming to Bombay. Not on X' mass eve or X' mass eve or X' mas day, but very soon after that…. On December 27. And all the children said, "Hurrah," and they looked at the sky to see Santa Claus come flying in with his circus.

And some children, those who are always asking questions and want answers asked their parents where did Santa Claus stay when it was not X' mas and he was not coming to Bombay. And the parents told them that sometimes he stayed here and sometimes in New Delhi, but mostly abroad, in Tokyo Hanoi, Moscow, New York, etc.

Meanwhile, Bombay was being prepared to welcome Santa Claus. The airport was being painted and Mahalaxmi railway station was being painted for the first time in hundred years and they (or rather Akbarally's who have the biggest X' mas sales in Bombay) were putting new road-dividers and Marine Drive was getting a new hedge.

Because it was said Santa Claus liked everything nice and clean and if anything did not appear to be so, he would get angry. Though this Santa Claus looked such a nice fellow, always smiling, that it was difficult to think he could get angry.

All the godfathers of Bombay were put in charge of arranging things for Santa-Claus. Chief Minister Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar was put in charge of listening to all the emissaries of Santa Claus who were coming from Delhi and telling him what to do, and Dr. Rafiq Zakaria was put in charge of making X' mas cars, and Mr. Jawahrlal (such a nice name!) Darda, in charge of feeding Santa Claus and all his jolly men (though they said Santa Ciaus himself are very little), and Mr. Moti Daryanani of arranging an exhibition of industrialists whose business premises had not been recently raided, and Mr. Murli Deora of issuing statements to the press.

And Mr. Deora, being Mr. Deora, kept telling all the children not to be afraid and that Santa Claus and his men were not going to come and eat them up. And in fact, he told them all that they should enjoy the visit. Though how the children could enjoy the visit, when all the parents were insisting on taking them a safe distance out of Bombay was not clear.

But at the Brabourne Stadium, they were digging the ground and sinking structures into it and erecting a shamiana of gunny bags and transplanting several large X' mas trees, and making arrangements for a gala X' mas party. Only it was one of those parties where children were not to be allowed.

For that matter, their parents (including young Sohrab's father) were not being allowed at the Mahalaxmi racecourse. And when people asked why Santa Claus should require the entire racecourse, they were told – "To house his reindeers, my dears."

 
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