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This was one miserable winter

columns Updated: Jan 23, 2011 01:36 IST
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh
Hindustan Times
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I can’t recall a winter in Delhi when I felt as miserable than the one we have lived through this time. It was not entirely due to the temperature. I remember during my school days we lived in a house on Jantar Mantar Road which is today Kerala House. We had a marble fountain in the front garden. On some days during December and January the water froze to ice. Also, we have had fogs or heavy mists. I quite enjoyed the winter months. I don’t do so any more. It must be because I’m now in my late 90s and my blood is not as warm as it was. I keep cheering myself, repeating: ‘If winter comes, spring is not far behind.’ By Republic Day, on January 26, signs of spring are visible: all kinds of flowers in full bloom in our parks and roundabouts and we put away our winter garments till late autumn. Till then it is hot water bottles in my bed and heaters glowing round the clock, log fires every evening. And misery all the time.

I notice changes that have taken place over the years. There was a time when overcoats were the most important and other winter garments — cardigans and sweaters — a must. Today you hardly see anyone wearing an overcoat, and cardigans and sweaters are fast disappearing. This is due to the discovery of thermal underwear. You can wear them as shirts and leggings and need nothing more to ward off chill. Thermal garments have revolutionalised winter fashion. “No weather is bad, when you are suitably clad,” said Arthur Gutterman. I am as suitably clad as I could be but nothing cheers me up. I sincerely hope next winter I will be in some other part than Delhi.

A phenomenon that baffles me is that this winter many cities in the plains like Delhi, Amritsar and Chandigarh were colder than Shimla which is 6,000 feet above sea level. And Bhatinda froze to zero degree.
the sarkari files
Sikand Shukla of Allahabad has sent me a parody of Robert Frost's ‘Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening’. It makes good reading.

Whose jobs are these, don't want to know
Paid heavily each month without fail though;
Boss hasn't time for looking here,
To see on the files the dust grow.
My ballpoint pen may think it queer,
To start without an envelope near;
Between the nods and a handshake
The file progresses in minutes mere.
Boss gives his head a vigorous shake
To ask if there is any mistake;
Some part of my earnings he does reap,
We all have and eat our cake.
The chair is cosy and files in heap
But I have a family to keep;
And hours to sleep before the nation's leap
And hours to sleep before the nation's leap.

Fogged Out

Sohan, while out driving one morning, lost his way in heavy fog, since the visibility was down to nearly zero. To be safe, he decided to closely follow a car that was driving in front of him and, when it slowed down, overtake and ask the driver where they were. The car in front, after driving for some time, suddenly stopped without any warning, causing Sohan’s car to bump into it. The driver of the car got out and started shouting at Sohan. “It’s not my fault,” Sohan shouted back. “How can you stop so suddenly, without giving any indication or warning?” The driver of the other car looked at Sohan queerly, and asked in surprise. “You want me to give an indication that I am going to stop inside my own garage?”

(Contributed by Rajeshwari Singh, Delhi)

ON FINALITIES
The differences between complete and finished are:
When you marry the right one, you are complete...
And when you marry the wrong one, you are finished...
And when the right one catches you with the wrong one... then you are completely finished!

(Contributed by Vipin Buckshey, Delhi)