I don’t remember ever thinking as hard for a Gurinder Chadha movie. The unspoken rule is to not google. But thankfully before long someone brings up Fleabag andYes Minister. The former I love because it gives me opportunity to gab and the latter because it leaves room (a hall, really, with terribly high ceilings) for me to listen. Christmas at twenty-four hundred metres is an entirely different feeling—you don’t need this fine mulled wine to know it. Nothing defines this zeitgeist better than three full-grown men with three completely different dispositions, squeezed into a sofa.
Kakarkot glows anew with the vitality of our hosts at the Nine Furlongs Estate, suffused in a warm orange. For three days we have seen the Christmas tree in a corner of the dining area pine for a gathering like this; at last it gets the spectacle it wanted. True to her promise, our host has done a hearty Christmas feast for our last night in Binsar. Her friends have some sort of an agreement on taking no offence no matter how nasty the banter between them gets. Narendra, whom the mere title of General Manager does grave injustice, is just the kind of person who has an endless list of book and movie recommendations. It’s just the kind of evening the posters said will warm up your cockles—approximating pretty much the ideal hygge environment.
In what is the agreed-upon definition of reality, there’s a good 19 days before Christmas will arrive in our respective cities (it’s the same city, actually, for all of us). But you do know that Christmas, like all good events to look forward to, is a feeling, don’t you? That is despite not witnessing a White Christmas, which we are told is a sight unlike another here. But so is the staggering smoked ham is treating us to. It has a pineapple glaze that has evidently done a good job of offsetting the innate saltiness of the meat. The brandy butter on the side is an ephemeral kind of joy that needs composure lest one start drooling in the middle of slathering it on top of that splendid-looking gammon. But if you want the fatty portions, please get carried away—it's just a night. The other reason is that there's some nice jelly, too. The subtle umami hit is balanced nicely by the carrot-and-beans salad on the side.Ham is a classic Christmas delight that many often dub old-school and antiquated (“Dickensian” is my favourite). But trust me, tucked away in the hills in a 19th-century cottage as we are, existing under the gossamer layers of the scarily sublime night sky, having just read a news piece about a man-eating leopard at large not too far away, a Christmas feast like this could do wonders to your hot-weather phalanges feeling blue from a sudden drop in the temperature. Just don’t go crazy clicking pictures of the table like a zombie-tourist—the soup will go cold quicker than that disappointing night-mode picture on your phone will be saved.
Having taken my neckwarmer off before the second helping of the ham, and wait with bated breath for dessert. It is chocolate lava cake with ice cream—a combination that hardly ever disappoints. We hungrily polish it off over more banter, and like agreeable guests, our friends take our farewell. We follow closely behind, stepping out under the terrifyingly vast night-sky pierced by a million stars, for a digestive night stroll.