In conversation with Chilai Kalan

`They say I am old now but that is not all'

Salt N' Pepper


It took me a whole month to prepare for an interview with Chilai Kalan. My editor had advised me to wear suitable clothes to prevent myself from freezing during the interview. I decided to wear six fleece lined trousers and after numerous forays to the Sunday ‘flea’ market I landed a suitable jacket for the occasion.
“I will show you an asli cheez,” the redda wallah had said as he dug out a heavy ‘North Face’ jacket from the pile on his hand-cart, “Edmund Hilary Sahab wore it when he climbed the Mt. Everest!”
I was impressed. “Really! But how do you know it belonged to him?”
“I found his wife’s picture in one of its pockets!”
I am not a suspicious person by nature but then there is no harm in making things sure so I asked him, “And how do you know that it is Edmund Hilary’s wife’s picture?”
“Of course because I found it in the pocket of his jacket!” he said with a touch of sarcasm. I blushed at my stupid question and hurriedly paid him before someone else would take away the famous jacket.
So there I was all prepared for the big day. “Excuse me sir,” I hailed Chilai Kalan just as he prepared to leave after handing over charge to his wife Chilai Khurad alias Chila Bued.
Chilai Kalan turned and gave me a stare cold enough to freeze the blood in my veins, Hilary Sahab’s jacket notwithstanding! White hair and beard made of frost and with features chiseled out of a glacier, he looked powerful even as he was bent double with age and had to lean on a walking stick (which was actually a mega-sized icicle!).
“Yes?” even his voice was frosty.
“I would like to interview you for this newspaper I work for.”
He nodded a curt go-ahead.
“Sir you really managed to chill our bones this season,” I started off in a flattering manner trying to thaw out the chilling chap.
Chilai Kalan : You haven’t seen half of it. In my younger days I could freeze the water boiling on your stoves.
Me: That’s what our grandparents keep saying. So you admit that you have grown old.”
CK: Well yes of course. But it isn’t only that… (I waited for him to elaborate but he didn’t).
Me: Where do you go after you leave this place?
CK: To Siberia, Alaska and ultimately to the North Pole where my whole clan lives.
Me: Clan?
CK: Well there is my brother Father Frost who operates in Europe and then there is Ded Moroz who lives in Russia and then there are others. Even Santa Claus is a distant relative.
Me: They must be pretty powerful, this Father Frost and your Russian cousin.
CK: Not half as me.(He grinned) They can bring down temperatures to minus 30 or less but here in Kashmir I manage to bring life to a standstill with far less severe cold.
Me: Why is it that nowadays it snows pretty less as compared to previous years? Our elders say that in previous times 4-5 feet of snow used to be the routine.
CK: Well they say I am old now but that is not all that is to it. My cousins out there in Europe and Russia are far older than me. It is just that I took pity on you people lacking as you do even the basic facilities to face me. And then again I found that I was becoming a patron saint of the corrupt and the black marketers. These engineers! They draw hefty snow clearance bills with the negligible snow that you get nowadays. If I give you heavy snowfalls like old they will gobble down half of the state budget!
Me: When are you handing over the reins to your son Chila Bacha?
CK: Over my dead body! This new generation and their fancy ideas! Why must snow always be white, he says. If he had his way he would ensure that snow is multi-coloured to attract more tourists! Speaks of reversing the trend; let’s have winters in June like Australia he says. Chila Bacha indeed! The fellow was born with a silver icicle in his mouth so sooner or later he will take over and then he will go around saying that he would rather have been a heli-skier! You see he is far closer to his sister – my estranged daughter Bahaar – who brings warm winds from the mainland… (His tone became quite mournful) They will confine me to a refrigerator one of these days with global warming and all that… (The frost that was his shaggy eyebrows fell off and I could see that a small puddle had formed near his feet.) Look what you have done now! I am melting! I must be off before I make an emotional fool of myself.
He got up. I hurriedly took out my camera to freeze the historic moment but Alas the camera itself was frozen and didn’t function!
This seemed to restore Chilai Kalan’s spirits. With an amused chuckle he said, “Proves you can’t write me off yet!”
He turned and hobbled away. I looked lovingly at his retreating figure for say what you will about the old fellow wasn’t it is he who always gave us our winter vacations!

(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at

Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 3 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST

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