By Suresh Nair Opening Doorz Editorial | December 23, 2016

A move to a cashless economy, serpentine queues at banks and no cash in the ATMs.  What do you expect Santa to do with not a ‘clause’ to help him out? Suresh Nair bumps into the harried old man at the airport and overhears his tale of woe!

It’s not easy being Santa Claus this year. Firstly, there was the problem of hiring the eight flying reindeers that would pull his sleigh. None of them had a bank account! Except Rudolph, who being a 20th century inclusion to the gang, was pretty hi-tech. He had a debit card!

It’s another story that his nose had got redder by the relentless visits to the ATM—he had to use his ‘smelling machine’ to punch in the numbers, only to be told there wasn’t any cash in the dispenser!

Santa was left high and dry. Time was running out, kids in India were waiting for him. He chose the next best option: He booked a cheap flight to India, which he realised wasn’t all that cheap. Nobody had warned Santa that airline operators, everyday, are finding newer ways to sneak in a hidden cost. So there he was, squeezed into a middle seat that he had to pay for—the only solace being the guys on either side of him had paid a little more to get the window and aisle seats.

Then came the in-flight menu where the sandwich and coffee threatened to slash his bank balance by half. But nothing had prepared him for the shock that awaited him at the toilet: the door just wouldn’t open unless he swiped his debit card!

When the flight landed, Santa found himself in even more trouble with his luggage. Someone had tipped off the government that Santa was carrying disproportionate assets.

The customs official took out a portable sewing machine from Santa’s gift bag. “Who’s this for?” he asked. Santa shrugged. “It’s for someone who claims there will be an earthquake if he opens his mouth.” He starts singing a song, “Hoton ko sew lo tum…” The official put it back in the sack and pulled out a bunch of pencils with erasers. Santa laughed, “It’s for the RBI officials so that they can keep writing new rules and erasing them!” Again, Santa breaks into a song, “Kora kagaz tha declaration form yeh mera, ab phas gaya poora paisa tera!”

Santa was immediately taken into an interrogation room where he was made to sit for hours answering questions about how he could have shopped so much when there was a cash crunch in the country. “But I’m Santa Claus,” he protested.

One of the interrogators took strong offence to his name. “Santa?” the guy snapped. “Is this a joke?” Santa shook his head. “Nahin, lekin naam Santa hai to thoda hasee mazaak toh banta hai! And he belted out his trademark laughter: “Ho ho ho…”  This got him into further trouble. The official was furious. “This is too much! Arrest him!”

Thus, Santa Claus ended up in jail.

He begs them for one phone call. The interrogators agree. He calls up Rudolph, who flatly refuses to help. “I’m busy, Santa. Thanks to you, I’m now under scrutiny of the Income Tax department for not paying Service Tax!”

(Suresh Nair is a scriptwriter of movies like Namastey London, Singh Is Kinng, Kahaani and Airlift).


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