…is my two front teeth, as the song goes. For now I have a temporary denture filling in the space left by an extraction which was performed consequent to certain unwholesome dental events outlined in a previous column. But it’s a little loose, so sometimes in the course of eating a sandwich I will suddenly notice my fake front teeth embedded in it, which is startling, and makes the sandwich too chewy.
But while I certainly hanker after a permanent bridge, there is another thing I’d like, if Santa is listening and can hear anything over all the Christmas jingles echoing around the world. And that is a permanent remedy for writer’s block, which is one of the severest and most debilitating forms of constipation known to mankind.
I’ve tried everything: watching television, cleaning the house, lots of lipstick, exercise, meditation, change of scene, various musical backgrounds, yoga, screaming, stamping on my laptop, sending my laptop for repairs. What will eventually break the spell is a matter of maddening unpredictability. Sometimes, at the end of a six-hour torture session at a café, during which I’ve fruitlessly spent thousands of rupees on food and fortifying beverages, four hundred words will suddenly gush out in the space of a few little minutes just as I’m beginning to shut down my computer, as if the world is trying to tell me that there’s no point trying too hard.
I hope his little elves will find a way of sticking this gift into a stocking. By the way, have you noticed the little elves wearing fur-trimmed red hats with pompoms, and selling xmas paraphernalia on the streets? It would be less surreal if it weren’t traffic lights in New Delhi, and if the elves didn’t look so postcolonial, and if it weren’t so darn warm. And while the sight is weird, it as nothing to the sight of Akshay Kumar in a Santa suit doing a Jingle Bells bhangra on television.
My favourite Santa, though is the Dutch one David Sedaris describes in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (which is a book everyone should read). He’s much more interesting than the fat old fellow with the compulsive laugh.
The Dutch Saint Nicholas is very thin, used to be the bishop of Turkey, and now resides in Spain. He arrives in a boat, transfers to a white horse, and travels, according to the natives, with “six to eight black men”, though nobody seems to have any idea why—it seems that the black men used to be personal slaves but, following a political climate change, are now just good friends. Earlier on, Saint Nicholas and his friends also used to kick bad children and beat them with a switch, but in these kinder, gentler times, they just pretend to kick them. If the kid is a real monster, though, they stuff him or her in a sack and take him or her back to Spain, presumably for more beatings/pretend kickings.
Anyway, if it turns out that all the Santas have better things to do than help me out with my deadlines or beat me with a switch, I won’t be too upset, because I already have at least one nice present. Someone emailed me an Advent Calendar, counting down to Christmas. The first slide is a pious cartoon of jolly houses and Christmas trees and reindeer and stars and Santa and what not. The other twenty-four slides show young men of wondrous build, photographed in poses symbolic of the fact that they left their clothes somewhere else. It is very restful to the eyes, and, if you ask me, displays the right kind of holiday spirit. Merry Christmas.