The Christmas season takes a while to really get going in Mumbai – unless perhaps you live in Bandra. In South Mumbai, the Marine Plaza hotel put up the annual Christmas display over its portico just last week. This year it’s a Santa in a broken-down Maruti, being drawn by reindeer. Rather appropriate in a time of recession, and very environment-friendly, I should think. Think of all the savings in carbon emissions! Although, a car over a portico instead of under it…I don’t know. Last night, children were selling Santa hats with blinking lights at the crossroads near Churchgate station – the final sign that Christmas is just around the corner.
Perth, on the other hand, has been spreading the Christmas cheer for the last two months. Coles has had mince pies and marzipan-topped cakes on its shelf for months now. I never realized there were so many ways to bake a Christmas cake. Tree ornaments were on sale in David Jones way back in October. I should have done my shopping then, because there wasn’t anything left by the time I made up my mind that my Mumbai tree could do with a decoration or two from Australia. The one side-effect of all this early festive spirit is that I’m heartily sick of Kenny G’s carols…much to my brother’s disappointment. There can be too much of a good thing.
I rank Perth somewhere between Mumbai and Singapore in terms of Christmas dressing up. The city’s Hay St. and Murray St. malls were decked with Nativity scenes, and a couple of giant angels hung over the crossroads – the place where angels are most needed, if it had been Mumbai. Perth traffic, even in the Christmas season, is very law-abiding. The most traditional decorations were at London Court, which had wreaths bearing “Seasons Greetings” messages. One entertainer was singing loud karaoke carols. She sounded terrible enough to scare the Christmas spirit out of a shopper, but still there was more Christmas in the air than there is air in Mumbai.
I was on a mission to find the perfect Aussie Christmas tree ornament. I have now made a New Year resolution not to embark on such futile quests. I did discover ornaments from Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and China. I decided to present my family with lamingtons and Midsomer Murders instead.
So what does Mumbai offer in comparision? Well, there’s nothing much to compare really. I wake up to the music of a road being drilled. No angels watch over Nariman Point. Worst of all, there isn’t even the suggestion of a nip in the air. Still, there is something on offer. The best decorations in town are probably at the Palladium in Phoenix Mills. The “Christmas tree” there is festooned with golden masks – not sure why, but it looks good. And of course, there’s always a healthy dose of Christmas cheer to be found at Gaylord’s bakery. As I watch my brother photograph the blue-hatted marzipan snowman topping a rather expensive plum cake, I finally feel it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.