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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014
Spectator: Ho, Ho, Ho
Seema Goswami, Hindustan Times
December 20, 2012
First Published: 18:22 IST(20/12/2012)
Last Updated: 18:28 IST(22/12/2012)

Sometimes I wonder just how stupid we were as kids to actually believe in Santa Claus.

Wasn’t it obvious that the fat Indian man (who looked suspiciously like Uncle Chatterjee from next door) with the fake white beard couldn’t possibly have travelled down from the North Pole in his reindeer-driven sleigh? Did we ever stop to think why every shop we visited while Christmas shopping had a Santa Claus who looked completely different from the one before? Or did we just willfully ignore all these alarm bells because we needed to live in a world where Santa came around annually bearing gifts that we had longed for the entire year.

New Neck Please! I wish to get a new neck. Yes, this one has given me great service for many decades but it is beginning to look a bit tired now
I like to think it was the latter. And so, in the same child-like spirit, I decided to compile a list of all the things that I would like Santa to bring me this year. So here it is: my own Christmas wish list (in no particular order of importance)

A longer attention span. I’d like to revert to the days when I could watch a movie without feeling tempted to tweet my views about it half an hour into the show. I’d like to read a book without stopping to dip into Facebook to see what my friends are up to. And I’d really like to be able to finish my writing without breaking off every 15 minutes to ‘research’ something on the Net.

An Internet connection that times out automatically. I often wonder how people procrastinated in the days before the Internet was invented. How did they waste time before the Google search engine came along? And by ‘people’, of course, I mean myself.

I have lost count of the number of hours I have wasted on news sites, on following threads that lead me into the darker corners of the Net, and looking through picture albums of people I barely know. And given my complete and utter lack of self-discipline, the only thing that will free me is a Net connection that turns itself off when I am unable to do so.

High heels that I can walk in without throwing out my back, crippling my knees, and mutilating my feet. Yes, I know every woman always insists that her stilettos are comfortable enough to run in; but believe me, she lies. The pair of high heels – and I mean really high heels – that both look and feel good are yet to be invented. Which is why I am pinning my hopes on Santa.

A machine that exercises all my muscle groups for me. Come on, admit it. You’d like one too. Just imagine the joy of lying supine, reading a book or listening to music, strapped to a contraption that stretches your hamstrings, tones up your abdomen, tightens your bum, and elongates your legs, without your ever having to make any effort whatsoever. Bliss!

Around The World: I want a magic carpet that whisks me away to Venice every January
A new neck: Yes, this one has given me great service for many decades but truth be told, it is beginning to look a bit tired now. So tired, that it can barely keep my double chins in place. (And if I am wishing for things, how about a brand-new jaw line as well, all taut and jowl-free? And all the hair I have lost since my 20s, in its original black colour.)

A magic carpet that whisks me away to Venice every January. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Why January? Isn’t it cold as hell? And raining? And flooding, thanks to the acqua alta? Yes, right on all counts. And yet, that is the month that Venice appears most magical to me. There are no hordes of tourists jostling you aside in Piazza San Marco.

The streets are deserted so that you can actually gaze on undisturbed at the many architectural gems carelessly displayed on them. And the hotel rates are, relatively at least, affordable.

A device that wipes my memory clean of all my favourite books so that I can discover them anew. I can still remember the joy I felt when I read my first Elizabeth George or Donna Leon.

I had to restrain myself from calling up all my friends late at night and sharing my discovery with them. It’s been a long time since I felt that way about a book (the last time was when I devoured Hilary Mantel’s marvellous Wolf Hall in one big gulp) and I miss that slow burn of excitement that comes with stumbling upon a bright new literary star.

A time machine to whisk me back to my college classroom. All those great writers and poets I read then in my English literature course – William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, James Joyce, Charles Dickens, John Donne, T S Eliot – would make so much more sense to me now that I have lived a little.

Follow Seema on Twitter at twitter.com/seemagoswami

From HT Brunch, December 23

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