Special: Christmas in London

All I want for Christmas is for kids everywhere, to stay warm and safe

—Laxmi Hariharan

Christmas at school,meant singing out of tune Christmas carols, playing minor roles in Christmas plays, and surreptitious sips of Goanfeni, with bites of guava cake at Aunty Rita’s.


Later in my teenage years it meant wandering around Bandra; the only part of Bombay that seemed to dress up in Christmas colours, with tinkly Christmas songs playing over the loudspeaker as my sister and I wandered around Elco Arcade trying to figure out which pair of jeans would be most flattering to wear to college. I used to vaguely then, dream about a Christmas in a far away land with real snow, real pine Christmas trees, and if I imagined hard enough, even a chubby, Santa sliding down the chimney to leave gifts in my Christmas stocking overnight.

Today, in London, Christmas starts early November right after Halloween and lasts all they way drunkenly into the New Year.Weirdly it also means the annual trek back home, to escape the same cold winter wonderland I once dreamed about; to bask in temperatures that never fall below the late twenties in Bombay.

This year though, for the first time in decades a confluence of stars and planets have conspired to keep me in London for Christmas and I am going to confess I am totally enjoying every minute of it. So, I thought I’d make a list of ten things I love about Christmas in the Big Smoke.

  1. The fake tinsel, the red and green wrapped Christmas puddings, and the Baileys Irish Creams’, special Christmas packaging making its appearance in supermarket aisles in early November
  1. The ‘can you believe another year has gone by already?’groans from friends. Read in between the lines—”can we go to the bar and drown our sorrows?”
  1. The lights strung across Piccadilly Circus and central London, that really mean Christmas is here!Christmas_2 
  2. The gentlemen wearing a red and white suits,who begin to make an appearance on the tube. No kidding. They do take themselves seriously.
  1. Those red cups at Starbucks (not!) But the marketer in me bows to the success of this gimmick. And, that is how you go about creating a story when there is none else to tell, people.
  1. The whatsapp groups, already buzzing with families exchanging where they are going on a family holiday this Christmas. Choose the most exotic, distant warm, place and voila, I promise that neighbour you hate most, will be heading there over the New Year.
  1. Planning a vegetarian Christmas lunch. Uh! Can tofu or perhaps butternut squash, stand in for the Turkey, you think?
  1. Trying to find Christmas gifts for the little nieces. The one time in the year I come face to face with the reality of how much Disney still rules the lives of kids, everywhere on this Frozen planet. 


  2. The Christmas pudding doused in brandy and set on fire, only to be consumed after the Christmas dinner.
  3. And finally this year I am not buying any Christmas gifts for myself. I have donated the money instead to the cause of refugees still stuck in the Jungle outside London. So many of them will be facing their first European winter, not in the safety of a warm home that I was lucky to have, in my first year here in London. I hope I can help some of the children there find some warmth this Christmas.

And you? How did you spend your Christmas wherever you are?




Laxmi Hariharan is the author of the awardwinning Many Lives Series. Follow her on twitter @laxmi or join her list at http://bit.ly/NewsletterLH to get a free copy of the Ruby Iyer Diaries.





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