Well not so much Christmas miracles as much as heartwarming Christmas stories. Nothing miraculous happened in either case. (Except maybe the first. Where perhaps murder was avoided. But I am speculating.) Story 1:
So this happened to a friend's cousin. Or vice versa. But I am not making this up. It really happened. And it happened approximately an year or so ago.
This banker fellow has just moved to London from South Africa. Johannesburg to be precise. Now the locals call the city Jo-burg, but in tourist literature and travel agency brochures, Johannesburg is referred to as the murder capital of the world. (In the same, but much more ominous, way that Thrissur is referred to as the cultural capital of Kerala. Or Aurangabad is known by children all over Aurangabad as the optic fibre capital of India.)
So bad are things in Jo-burg that you can't call yourself a true-blue local till you've been murdered in the city at least thrice.
Ha. Dark comedy.
But uniquely for this banker chap he manages to live in Jo-burg for several years without once ever have been mugged or stabbed or ambushed.
So imagine his surprise when just a few days after relocating to London, presumably to help his bank further bankrupt this country, he is ambushed by a mugger somewhere near Shoreditch. (Shoreditch might sound exactly like the sort of place where you go to get mugged. But in fact it is an up and coming bohemian organic free range district. All the muggings in London actually happens in the Goldman Sachs building.)
In order to avoid racial or cultural stereotypes I'd rather not mention that the mugger was a massive, black dude with a voice so deep that only adults would be allowed to swim in it.
I reproduce the conversation for your benefit:
Mugger: Hey man. Hey. Give me all your money.
Banker: What the...
Mugger: I want all your money. Now. Now.
Mugger: I'll kill you man.
Banker: Ok wait. I've just moved to London. I don't have any money. And I just have cards. Take my phone if you want.
Mugger. Show me your phone...
Mugger. What the @#$% is that thing? That doesn't look like a phone...
Banker: No no. It is. It is an iPhone...
Mugger: Don't @#$% with me. It doesn't have any buttons...
Banker: It doesn't need any. You can just touch it to do stuff...
Mugger: Show me...
Bewildered by the turn of events, the banker gives the mugger a quick three-minute demo of the device.
Banker: And one more thing...
Banker: It also has a camera and GPS...
Mugger: Man! I've never seen such at thing. This is awesome man...
Banker: Take it... Please don't hurt me.
Mugger. No man. I love this thing. We're friends now. You've showed me this cool thing man. I can't just take it from you. Let me pay you for it.
Banker: *WHAT THE...*
Mugger: Wait here. Let me go get some money. Don't go anywhere.
Banker: Go anywhere it seems!!! Ha ha ha. Of course not. I am now here till further notice. Feel free to take your time.
Mugger jogs away to get cash.
As soon as the mugger is out of eye-shot, the Banker evaporates.
Moral of the story: Steve Jobs delivers us from all evil.
My brother-in-law is a very honourable man. Yes he is a banker, but he compensated nicely this year by gifting me a wonderful coffee machine. Which he stole from his office.
So last February he is on a plane to India. To get married. On the aircraft he is seated next to a 10-year old Sikh boy. They get talking and B-I-L learns that the boy was born in Jallandhar but has spent all his life in the UK. And holds a British passport. So he speaks both fluent Punjabi and fluent Contemporary Desi-Brit English.
Regular English: Mind the gap
Contemporary Desi-Brit English: Mind the gap innit?
Shortly before landing in Delhi the cabin crew distribute those disembarkation forms. Which, as you are aware, is a vital element of our national security strategy. For instance if a terrorist is found to have entered the country via air, the airport security officials can immediately jump to action. They can thwart the terrorist by taking large bundles of used disembarkation forms and throwing it at him.
So the 10-year old boy asks B-I-L for his help in filling the form:
Boy: Can you check if I have filled in this form correctly innit?
B-I-L: One moment... Ok. You have a problem. You've filled in your British passport number. But here you've checked the box which says that you are an Indian citizen.
Boy: Yes. That is correct. Innit?
B-I-L: Ah. But that is not correct. Do you have an Indian passport?
Boy: No. I have a British one ...
B-I-L: Phew. Ok, so no. In which case you must fill in that you are a British citizen.
Boy: So what if my passport is British? I feel Indian. I am Indian. I consider myself an Indian citizen innit.
B-I-L: But it doesn't work that way. You may feel like it. But you have a British passport.
Dejected, the boy reaches for his ballpoint pen and pokes B-I-L in the eye with it.
B-I-L: HEY! Yes. Indian citizen. Yes. Go ahead.
Moral of the story: Passport is a state of mind.
Isn't your heart warmed by these touching, warm stories? Mine surely is.
Seasons greetings old chaps. Hope your holidays are wonderful and 2011 is full of joys and delights and satisfactions and prosperity. Innit.