The other day I got an interesting telephone call from Karachi. The caller, who happens to be an old school fellow of mine, appeared very upbeat and it took me a few seconds to make sense out of what he was saying. It transpired that winter, albeit temporarily, had finally come to Pakistan’s bustling port city filling the residents of this metropolis with excitement.

I can fully reciprocate and resonate with the sentiment from Karachi, as I passionately love cold weather. Some people tell me that this is aberrant behavior that runs through my family and it is this very streak that has prompted me to take up residence amidst the pine clad suburbs of the Federal Capital. I counter attack by telling my critics that they are leading monotonous lives devoid of frosty evenings warmed by crackling log fires and the fun filled ritual of a bonfire.

Now I consider myself a bonfire specialist – this being a qualification acquired after repeated failures, singed fingers (and sometimes eyebrows) and the ability to take jibes from friends. This week’s column is therefore in public interest so that my readers are saved the pains of learning the art of bonfire making from scratch.

The first step in making a successful bonfire is to select a suitable spot. Such a spot can usually be found in the lawn or backyard. Now if you happen to live in an apartment, you can always invite yourself to the spacious premises of a friend or relative. Such an invitation will serve a dual purpose – first it will secure a venue and second (depending on the temperament of the premises owner), it may absolve you from financing the event.

The next move should be to dig a fire pit in the middle of the lawn blissfully ignoring the killing looks directed your way by the host as his expensive turf is destroyed. In case your uncanny foresight has warned you of some violent reaction then it may be prudent to visit the ironmonger and purchase a portable receptacle and stand for lighting your fire.

Next, collect dry firewood by chopping down the dead tree growing in the neighbor’s yard or if you are the meek type, visit the nearest ‘taal’ or wood pile establishment for obtaining the required amount of logs at a cost. Stack the wood in the receptacle in a manner so that it resembles a wigwam. There is no bar however, in mimicking the design of the house your irritating neighbor lives in. Now comes the most critical and dangerous part of the whole ritual i.e. kindling the wood. You are best advised to ensure that your life policy is paid for and a first aid box with plenty of ‘burnol’ is at hand.

Once you have a fire going merrily, do ensure that it continues burning by periodically tossing more wood on it. You can do it the boring way by carefully placing the fuel in a dignified manner or (subject to the type of company that may be present) flamboyantly aim the logs at the fire and toss them in. I however, take no responsibility for untoward consequences, while engaged in this latter practice.

A bonfire by itself will amount to nothing without a few sideshows. So do stick to tradition and arrange a BBQ in close proximity. Follow up the juicy grilled meat by mouthwatering ‘gaajar ka halwa’ and salted Kashmiri Tea. Complete the setting by asking talent within the family to do an impromptu rendition of some popular songs and if cornered to perform yourself, rush into the house on the pretext of answering an urgent call from your boss.

See off your guests and clean up the bonfire venue by packing leftovers and taking them home. Do make it a point to check your e-mail for a bill asking you to reimburse damage to the lawn or flower beds, where the bonfire was held. It would be best to ignore such mails and calls that are apt to follow. In an ideal situation take a few days off and go to the hills.

The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. His forte is the study of History.