Sunday, May 29, 2011

Barley and Me

A couple of months ago at Munich, Germany.....

Sunday Mornings are often colder than weekdays and the process of getting out of bed makes you act like a tortoise who is not interested in any kind of race for that matter! However as a true devout whose commitment was unquestionable, I did not think twice before waking up when the clock struck six...

It was dark and chilly outside...It does not matter when your faith is strong and unwavering....I took a quick shower as the urge to get there as soon as possible was overwhelming...At 6:30 am I started my brisk walk towards the holy place… It was overwhelming to be part of the august gathering of people who were marching along to offer glowering tributes at the shrine...It actually reminded me of what it really means to be part of it...About sharing happiness and sadness...about touching people’s lives...and about forgetting... Being someone who hates to be late, I was glad that I could sit right in front along with passionate gathering... Glancing at the faces around me I realised how over blown were talks of atheist’s taking over the world... There was a collective sense of hope...and an electric vibrancy in the air...I wondered, wasn’t it amazing that thousands of people sacrificed a lazy sunday morning to be part of this be part of something truly special...At precisely 8:30 am after a long wait, when the first german frau wearing a dirndl and holding 8 mugs of beer arrived...ten thousand devotees from around the world at a beer tent for Oktoberfest had the widest glee’s in the whole world!!


The crowd roared in unison… The blessed moment we all waited anxiously had truly arrived.

Oktoberfest is as important to Bavarians as yeast is to Bread! The annual event which attracts the faithful from around the world does bear justice to the magnetic reputation it has. I had tried to get into one of those tents with my friends on a Saturday morning and we had to return disappointed as we underestimated the strength of people who took the pilgrimage…So it was with brahminical devotion that we made our second attempt that Sunday morning. What makes Oktoberfest amazing is the fact that it proves wrong a myth that Germans are cold (well the beer is…J), unsocial and hard to have fun with… I can imagine why Oktoberfest may not be as great in a place like Brazil coz we expect the Brazilians to be fun loving people… The first Mass (1L mug of beer) is drunk by the locals with all the stereotypes typically attached to Germans… People talk in hushed tones at the tables as if they were discussing the second quarter results of an IT firm! The first Mass is usual the tonic what the Germans need to shed that inhibition to talk to strangers and start singing and dancing.

Besides your friends you would often have random strangers sitting beside you...In the beginning the strangers start talking to you in German and you reply in a mix of broken German and English...However after the second Mass I faintly remember that we had a deep and intellectually stimulating conversation in Malayalam... Schmidt chetta, if you are reading this, Kottayam is not a 10 minutes bus ride from Bombay as I had claimed that day.

Although I don’t remember much of Schmidt, I do remember the beautiful german ladies whose appetite for beer can only be topped by Kalmadisque penchant for buying expensive refrigerators! Most of the local girls wear the German version of chattayum mundum called the Dirndl which actually is cool and pretty. And the guys wear the lederhosen which can make your Levis denim look cheap...As the drinking and the music continues you could occasionally see some daredevils grabbing the attention of everyone in the tent and proclaiming his/her attempts to drink the one litre mass in a single gulp which is by no means a small feat...The crowd cheers such daredevils but usually fizzles into good hearted boos when they fail... The local Bavarians look at in amusement when outsider’s attempt that and fail gloriously and later as a sort of vindication they show the tourist’s how it is done...Believe me these guys have tummy’s as big as a fuel tank of a decent sedan.

The mood in the tent gets progressively jovial over time and the real fun starts when the music begins...Almost everyone in the tent are up on the benches with hands on each other’s shoulders and sing passionately beer songs...

Allee Allee Allee Allee Allee

eine Straße, viele Bäume,

ja das ist eine Allee

Allee Allee Allee Allee

It is an amazing feeling when a group of people who did not know each other a few hours ago start showing camaraderie like they were best buddies in town...People take photos with each other bridging nationalities and although there are sporadic cases of bad drinker’s creating havoc, most people in general are jovially happy and soaking the moment...The beer girl’s (actually middle aged women) make sure that the ale is supplied at the tables with precision typical of Germans. You look at in awe how they hold 8-10 glass mugs each containing a litre of beer which is a feat in itself...Besides the beer they make sure that the revellers are supplied with roasted chickens, steaks and pretzels... It was really hard for us to leave the tent afternoon as the atmosphere is something which you don’t want to run away from...Unfortunately we had to catch the train to Hamburg and we did not want to end up as beer corpses (as the locals describe the passed out fellas).

Over the years and places I have been in Germany, it was easily one of the best experiences I had...As we came out of the tents and marched to the exit, I thanked the beer gods for the pilgrimage I could make... The satisfaction of being at the holiest of shrines…of having tasted the beer which might have inspired hundreds of poets and writers…Schmidt did tell me that I am a blessed man having come all the way from Kottayam…duh...He was drunk it seems!!….But as I strolled out, the true sign of being blessed was charmingly displayed in that outrageously zigzag spaghetti walk to the train station…or as I prefer to call it ….my Beer Ballet!

Monday, May 09, 2011


“The bitch will behave nicely today and looks a lot better than the bitches we have seen in the country.”

Although I was startled for a few minutes to hear this on primetime television while I was making tea in the kitchen, it brought immediate relief when I heard the next sentence…

“The bitch will have something for both the batsman and the bowler”

First I wondered whether it was my new TV who’s crystal clear and some Ph.D. lingo technology was working way too precise for comfort. But later when I saw Sivaramakrishnan the commentator still praising the bitch I kinda assumed it was the bitch of his tone which was creating all the trouble...And as marketer’s try hard to sustain the interest in cricket from the giddy successes of world cup and however I try, the whole IPL feels like a bad hangover … or rather a drink too soon after a binge party!

I had managed to insulate myself from the advertising blitzkrieg by subscribing to the HD telecast and I saved myself the trauma of watching Akshay Kumar who seemed to have tried a thousand times to say Mannapuram Gold and failed miserably at it…I was equally glad that I could skip those Idea-No Idea ad’s where creativity was as lacking as hair on post-world cup Dhoni…While the telecast did not save me from the Sidhu talk which probably was like one of those sufferings you go through to finally enjoy the good things in life, I really enjoyed watching the World Cup on TV.

Since I had never here been during IPL in the past years, I really wanted to watch atleast a few matches to get the gist of it. Infact what amused me more than cricket was the marketing machinery which displayed endorsements that could actually bring more than a chuckle …It was amazing to see the plethora of sponsors ranging from cement manufacturers, marble sellers, liquor makers and even tea manufacturers. Well infact the sponsors also taught me that White Mischief was a cheer leading group and not a detergent manufacturer as I presumed. At times you would see one of those “Thank you *tournament sponsor* for everything!” placards and wonder…Seriously? It’s like a Mc Donald’s ‘I ‘m loving it’ ad in an Udupi restaurant!

For many cricketers from abroad the IPL is more like the onsite trip folks in IT would love to have… I can imagine KieronPollard’s mom packing tortilla chips and himself smuggling in a good bottle of Jamaican rum when he left the West Indies shores. After a few weeks in India he would upload pictures in Facebook with Album names like “Rocking in Fort Kochi” and photos of him probably eating naan and butter chicken at Mohali...Status updates like “Missing Barbara” instead of Barbados would make sure his relationship got fireworks.

As these phoren cricketers take work in IPL, we can see that jobs are lost back home. Offshoring meant that expensive local talent lost job and had to engage in alternative professions like commentary! On the bright side some visitors did really indianize beyond recognition… Shane Thakur Warner has got such a tan now that he can camouflage easily in the Rajasthan deserts. Cameron White even got his name changed to Cameron Brown. And so can Vettori easily pass of as the tired and overworked resident doctor at St. John’s medical college. Lasith Malinga whose hair locks are considered a national asset in Sri Lanka and infact even causes the stock markets to plunge every time he passes by a hair salon has now become part of folklore in Mumbai.

But alas after a few matches in IPL I think I have had enough of it…It has now become like the 8th season of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. You know it was good in the beginning and now getting somewhat ho-hum…There is something discernibly lacking in how the game is showcased this time around…Or maybe am someone who likes the good old test cricket with its broad culinary experience involving lunch, drinks, tea and all…team jersey’s devoid of the overdose of advertisements and where passion amongst the cricketers are real and where the lady at home could do some bpitch talk with her friend about a husband who spends five days watching cricket all day…….. Have a nice week ahead folks! :)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Genesis- The true story

Place: Somewhere in Middle East.

Time: A couple of thousand years ago…

It was a weekend and actually one of the first considering the almighty himself had only recently declared it so… And after Adam reached home from work and plonked himself on the couch at his cave aptly called Legend of Rocks, he uttered what several billion people did ever since…”Thank God its Friday!!” But before he could grab a bottle of home made beer which he had carefully brewed, someone shouted from inside…. who else could it be...but Eve………

Eve: “Adam…Honey...lets go shopping...we are running out of fruits”

Adam: “oh…c’mon...can’t we just order it from”

Eve: “you don’t understand Adam…we need to have something fresh…bio-fresh...could you just get ready fast!!”

Eve pestered and coyly managed to get Adam drop his weekend plans…

Adam: “Okay...if you say so sweetheart…”

Getting ready was easy those times as nobody had to change clothes after getting back from work. Life was so different from current times…Those days Man and Woman took the same time to get ready….But there was a minor aberration that day…

Adam: “Did you see my fig leaves somewhere??”

Eve: “Eh…why do you need them anyways??”

Adam: “I just get the feeling we might need em today!!”

Eve: “okie dokie…it must be somewhere...i ll get it”

After walking a couple of kilometers….they sighted a beautiful gate above which was written.…

“The Garden of Eden” *Today’s offer…Apples!!*

Eve’s joy knew no bound and she pestered Adam to the shop…But Adam reminded her of the fatwa issued by the almighty…But in an unprecedented move they went inside and plucked an apple. Life changed ever after. This historic shop lifting incident documented in a holy book gives insights into why women love shopping and men don’t.

Over thousands of years the fig leaves graduated to products from L’Oreal and wardrobes from Louis Vuitton. Men were forced to buy products from Gillette and had to stop hunting for wild boars under the pretext of wildlife protection. These drastic evolutionary changes also resulted in man adapting to the new way of life. God who was very well aware of the plight men were going through did occasionally make products like I-phone, Bluetooth headsets and play stations. Though I believe those were mere ploys to make men come of their caves.

I have had the" joy" of shopping (hic hic) with woman of all ages starting from kids, to friends and my mom. And each expedition only left me bewildered about this ritual called shopping and associated social conventions... The sort of magnetic attraction which effortlessly bring a lady close to a product at the shop shelf has not been construed inspite of widespread attempts to explain so...Infact Noam Chomsky considers it as the most fascinating phenomena and ranks it close to “The Big Bang Theory” among controversial topics of all times. So next time guys, when you go shopping with someone and end up bewildered thinking why it happened to you… Don’t try to fight it… It is a phenomenon which has been entrenched and perfected over centuries …right from the days of Adam and Eve… Surrender yourself to it....