With the beginning of December, we are in winter, global warming or not, and though (much to the disappointment of my younger boy) there is no snow in Lahore, it has become cold. And for me, the cold has shown itself not just in the sniffles which I have known since childhood, and which I assume to be a natural sign of winter, but in rheumy eyes. Well, Ive had rheumy eyes before, but its only since last winter that theyve become a problem. Since these watery, reddish and itchy eyes are associated in literature with old people, I suppose theyre not just a sign of winter, but also of the fact that Im growing old. Nothing wrong with growing old as such; indeed Robert Browning said, Grow old along with me/The best is yet to be. Apart from Browning not having suffered from rheumy eyes, what else can we conclude? That the weather in Lahore has suddenly gotten very dry. In fact, that dryness is the reason why theres so much flu going around these days. But apart from the flu its also caused me to have rheumy eyes. Though its not related, the construction of another overhead bridge on the Ferozepur Road has caused me a lot of agony, what with the construction work occurring at the same time as the work on the Canal and the huge traffic jams that result. Of course, Im not blaming my rheumy eyes on the road construction work, but the agony of one is greatly enhanced by the other. Rheumy eyes have been around for a long time, for even the Greeks experienced it, and gave rheum its name. Rheumatic fever and rheumatoid arthritis are among the other things that rheum is linked with. Rheumatic fever is like an illness which affects the heart, skin, brain and joints. While rheumatic fever is basically a childrens disease, rheumatoid arthritis affects the aged. So if Im past the age where I have a relatively high chance of rheumatic fever, Ive reached the age where I would suffer rheumatoid arthritis. Well, so far Ive got no joint pains, though this is the weather for them. But I do have rheumy eyes. And whats worse, I dont think theres any relief, at least not until theres some rain. And I dont know if youve noticed, thereve not been any winter rains so far. They are predicted for later this month, but so Far they havent taken place. As for the construction of another overhead bridge goes, Im for it, but I must admit that so much time is lost during the construction that I wonder how much time will be gained when it is over. And the pace is so frenetic that weve hardly had time to draw breath from the Kalima Chowk overhead bridge, that weve got the overhead bridge being built at the Canal-Ferozepur Road junction. And as the bridge construction goes, the absence of rains is something of a relief, for apart from the slowdown that occurs because drivers dont entirely trust their tires, and because of the mud in which our roads become enmired, there will be the construction work, which will not stop, just slow down and become very muddy. As winter progresses, the days get shorter, and Christmas approaches. As the Quaids birthday falls on the same day, we will also have Quaid Day on December 25. Well, that particular holiday will fall into another of our great winter traditions, school winter vacations. I wonder whether the Raj gave vacations in the increasingly forlorn hope that their Hindu, Muslim and Sikh pupils would celebrate Christmas. Well, they might not celebrate Christmas, but they certainly celebrate the New Year, and I might hasten to add, very rudely indeed, almost as rudely as they celebrate Eid Miladun Nabi, with Indian songs and crackers. I dont know what is the fun in that, but I assume the Lahori lout knows, for he is addicted to this mode of celebration, unless of course he is on a motorbike, doing stunts, which he reserves for crowded roads on Independence Day. And it is the young Lahori lout who celebrates, not us oldsters with rheumy eyes. (Of course he grows up into an oldster with rheumy eyes, but that is well into the future.) Were too busy blinking out the rheum, and trying to take cover from the crackers and such marks of celebration. And we dont like Indian songs very much, even when played from a regular sound system in a drawing-room, rather than from a boombox in a trailer stuck in a traffic jam on The Mall. Boomboxes come mostly from Dubai, where the President is, even though better. I hope he doesnt join the list of exiles, nor tries to run the Presidency from abroad, though after the examples of Altaf Hussain, then Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, sandwiched by Iskander Mirza and Pervez Musharraf, we shouldnt be surprised. And it was perhaps only right that the President should use his absence abroad to avoid submitting a reply to the Supreme Court, for it is necessary that he should choose self-exile rather than answer to a court. Are we destined to see him fight for re-election from abroad? A combination of the courts and the PPP could do it.