The Telegraph
Saturday , December 1 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Yuletide spirit comes to roost with stars & bells
- The advent of winter means a deep and dark December, but Shillong chooses to dress up for Christmas

A shop in Shillong sells Christmas decorations. Telegraph picture

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I'm telling you why…
Santa Claus is coming to town

Shillong, Nov. 30: Come December, and the promise of Christmas waves a benevolent wand over the Scotland of the East, especially in capital Shillong, where the Yuletide spirit seems to have already ushered in an yearning for Santa Claus.

If homes are yet to sport the star of Bethlehem at the front door, the evening star beyond the hills dispels the sense of chill by shining on shops in the busy Khyndailad area (Police Bazaar), which has already put on sale gifts and decorations in varying degrees.

For the past many years, the stall owned by Arpit Agarwala has always been the first to set the Christmas tone. The songs played at this stall appear to be an endeavour to inculcate a warm Christmas spirit among the thousands of shoppers who throng this busy lane. It is almost as though Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer will come prancing to the medley of Christmas tunes, bringing Santa with him.

There is an increasing number of modern day parents who may longer fancy the idea of purchasing Christmas decorations to enliven the family atmosphere. But their children are reluctant to allow them to travel back home without procuring at least a modicum of baubles and stars to brighten the home and hearth.

Stalls decked up with festive decorations usually turn into centres of attraction for children who also await Santa Claus with eternal joy and expectations in their youthful hearts.

While there is no space for bargaining in the stall run by Agarwala, the owner claims that the items are affordable to all and sundry. “Although customers cannot bargain for the price, we have ensured that the items are within the reach of people from all walks of life. The idea is that people, including the not-so-well-off, should experience the gift of Christmas,” Agarwala smiled.

As someone who has witnessed the ever-changing landscape and the needs of the people, Agarwala said high-end customers are now looking for hi-tech objects like computer projectors instead of the traditional decor.

“There are high-end customers who come to us looking for such hi-tech devices to enliven the Christmas atmosphere. Technology has played a role in changing the habits of the people. But we seldom promote the sale of such devices as we want people to savour these traditional decorating items,” he stated.

The shopowner said the sales are likely to pick up around mid-December like in other years. “But for the past few years, sales are usually stable, although we tend to expect more. But for us Christmas is always bigger than the Pujas or Diwali,” he said.

In anticipation of a “white Christmas”, as has been the tradition for years, most of the localities within the city will soon be organising “cleaning drives” where walls will be whitewashed, drains unclogged and weeds rooted out.

The warm Christmas spirit is already here, although subtly. But it will surely surge in the days ahead.