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The festive chaos of Christmas in Delhi

It wasn’t my idea to go but there we were, the ten of us in Delhi, staying in a large and lovely borrowed house of friends who fortuitously were away in the USA.

080115IMG_0673 (4)We always like our Christmas rituals. On Christmas Eve stockings were hung up as usual (do the youngest two grand children still believe in Father Christmas or are they stringing us along!!!). As usual we all read a page of ‘The Night before Christmas’ aloud to the group.

Christmas preparations have not been easy this year. So many presents to bring with us; not just for our family, but for the Indian family, the servants in two households and then the puzzle of what to give to the fourteen year old wife of the Nepalese cook in the family house? Lots of sorting and labelling and organising of presents before we could go to bed.

All our family came to our bedroom at 7.45 am on Christmas Day and stocking presents, directly from Father Christmas, were opened by the grand children.

Sushma, the cook and Namita, the maid cooked our breakfast and were delighted to be given presents which they refused to open in front of us.

After more excited present opening but for me anguishing as three outfits were the wrong size or ‘not my style’.

080115IMG_0708 (4)Umesh the driver, complete with Christmas present, took us to Saket Mall, a seriously grand and expensive shopping centre opposite where we were booked for our Christmas lunch.

Delhiites love to party and Indians appear to love the festivities and prettiness of Christmas. Lunch was at Barbeque Nation which was highly decorated; we all had Santa hats and the staff sang something which could have been Christmassy! We had Indian food some of which we barbecued ourselves.

After lunch the 20 of us were about to leave for the family home in Defence Colony but Aloke the well intentioned and enthusiastic nephew announced that he had to get Anjuli a book for her birthday the following day. Despite our protestations, my daughter, her husband and 2 of the children and of course I, followed him into the amazing Shopping Mall which couldn’t have been more seasonally glitzy. We fought through thousands of shoppers and reached the bookshop on the third level.

Great; now we could go home! Aloke told us to meet him on the main road. This meant finding our way over the enormous crowded car park in the cold foggy, smoggy Delhi air, battling over two lines of chaotic traffic to wait on the other side. A striking example of rich and poor. This was poor. We waited impatiently for 40 minutes in front of a shabby village with cows and cow pats everywhere with honking hooting traffic dangerously close to us in our festive outfits and silly shoes which were so wrong amongst the pot holes and dusty litter strewn over the edge of the road. My daughter was crosser by the minute; ‘not what I wanted for Christmas Day’.

Eventually, poor, apologetic Aloke appeared and it was not too long before we were heading for the family house. The traffic as dense and noisy as ever.

080115IMG_0920 (4)Back at last! A most welcome cup of tea and then it was the presents round the tree to be distributed. This, it appears was my job being the senior daughter in law. Now it was a different, happy chaos. Paper, presents everywhere. The little 14 year old wife of the cook was delighted with her pretty bag, hair brush and slides from England. The grand children had been keen to buy her gifts; her situation was unimaginable to them. Sadly it seemed they rapidly accepted her position as chapatti maker and sous chef.

The rest of the day passed happily with games, charades, singing, guitar playing and dinner. Daughter was happy again!

A memorable Christmas Day! But Christmas in 2015 will be spent in England.

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