While not always the case, for many of us that chose to embrace the world unfettered by the borders of our birth… we give up a few things along the way… like the right to vote.
Many Manitoba provincial and Canadian federal elections ago I lost the right to exercise my democratic ‘right.’ And while I may have lived a decade + in India, that alone would never bestow any rights to participate in elections here.
Yet if I COULD vote who WOULD I vote for??
- A right that can tolerate atrocities against an entire religious community?
- A now notoriously corrupt party with a slightly more centre left legacy?
Til date, it is hard not to hold a highly cynical very disengaged perspective of Indian politics. And then along came the “Aam Admi Party” who did the unthinkable… take the wide-spread frustration with corruption and communal politics to create a 3rd option. Adopting the symbol of the humble broom… AAP aims to sweep away corruption with a different set of ideals.
“… The common people are fed up with the politics of the BJP and the Congress which is slave to religion, caste and region… This is a fight of principles and against corruption,” said Mr. Kejriwal.
They may not succeed or deliver on their promises and while they haven’t won the recent election in Delhi, the AAP has gone from nothing nine months ago to 28 of 70 seats.
“It is a historic win, but not of the Aam Admi Party (AAP), but the common man of the country. And the fight to make the country corruption-free and provide a clean and good governance will go across the country in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections,” said party’s convenor Arvind Kejriwal.
So today, I’m just a tiny bit less cynical… maybe there is hope for what is supposedly the world’s largest democracy. I’ll watch from the sidelines and see what comes next…
Any thoughts on walking away from participating in a democratic process? Elections in other parts of the world? Or the recent ones in India?
- AAP to play the role of constructive opposition: Kejriwal (thehindu.com)
- New Indian party claims revolution in the air as Congress vote collapses | World news | The Guardian (theguardian.com)
- Dance of Democracy (midnightbreakfast.wordpress.com)
Him - Jeet is an old friend of my partner – known for his edgy poetry, blistering guitar, funky offbeat and outrageous approach. His book Narcopolis was short-listed for the 2012 Man Booker prize and draws one into a different side of Bombay – its addictions, predilections and transformations in the 70s and early 80s.
Her – I first met Suman on Boxing Day (26 Dec 2010) at an evening gathering of music and merriment in Bandra. Her quirky style and powerful talent blew everyone away – blues, jazz scatting, opera, Hindustani classical… she effortlessly slips between styles seducing and conquering them all.
Them – Together they are a combustible combination… flirting and bending musical styles, mocking and breeching boundaries of conventions, creating a sexy groovy sound that is uniquely theirs.
The CD – Before the final mixing, we first heard one track when Jeet popped home to wrestle with the balance between guitar and vocals… the sneak peak made me into a fan long before the official release.
The opera – Their mini opera-noire brings a lyrical conversation between a soprano and a ghost about God, murder and showbiz. (PS Try to ignore the ubiquitous street traffic sounds) ”“
Check out the following for more… especially their music through their website…start with “In the Morning” and listen to the whole album!
- YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/sridharthayil
- MySpace https://myspace.com/sridharthayil
- FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/Sridhar.Thayil
- Website http://stincmusic.com/
Rolling Stone Magazine India calls them “two of the most uninhibited people that ever came together to play with music”. S/T has played at stages such as the Great Escape (Brighton), the Southbank Centre (London), Galle Literary Festival (Sri Lanka), the Prithvi Theatre Festival (Mumbai) etc. Their interviews and performances have aired on the Strand- BBC World Service, the Nikki Bedi Show- BBC Asian Network, FlyTV- Brighton etc.
What do you think?
This is part of a series of tasting notes from a monthly private whisky club in Mumbai, India. This session is was a special event focused on Irish whiskey.
Tasting Notes from 21 Nov 2013
We departed from our usual format in honour of a couple Irish lads from Jameson. Our evening included Irish whiskey history, making, trivia and tales– including a sniff of malted vs unmalted barley, new make spirit from pot vs column still.
The whisk(e)y sampling began with a blind tasting of American, Irish and Scottish:
- American – Unmistakable bourbon stamp – sugary sweet with banana on the nose, taste of dried fruit with the ripe banana even more pronounced, and finish? Practically none! Add water? Same but diluted…
- Irish – Nose sweeter with caramel, apricot and a hint of pine nut. The taste was honey sweet, sherry smooth with cherries and a touch of leather. As for the finish? Again, nothing much really. And water? Just too light…
- Scottish – A contrast with a dusty muddy nose with a bit of peat sneaking in. A bit harsh on the palate. Finish slightly smoky, chewy but then dashed off after a brief appearance. Add water? Brought a flash of spice but washed out the hint of peaty smoke.
Before the revealing, we had a chance to guess? Did we get them? Pretty much!
- American was Jack Daniels
- Irish was the entry-level Jameson
- Scottish was Black Label known in these parts ie India as ‘good’ whisky (naturally not our merry gang!)
Quick studies that we are, appreciated the ‘point’ which is that Jameson is the cheapest of the trio with value for money for a decent drinkable dram. With the pre-amble over, the real event began, and we dropped any pretence of blind tasting this session to dive into sipping, swilling and savouring no less than 6 Irish whiskies:
Jameson Original 40%
It was suggested by the Jameson lads that in addition to what we noted in the blind tasting, we should find a bit of nutty vanilla too. Also shared it is typically 5 – 7 years though no age is provided.
- Our verdict? Certainly light and sweet, the kind of whiskey you aren’t adverse to mixing or for some, just knocking back.
Jameson 12 Year Old Special Reserve (Formerly known as Jameson 1780) 40%
- Nose – Sherry dried fruit, raisins, like an apple pie or crumble
- Palate – Cherry with the sherry even more pronounced than the Jameson Original, a bit of pine nut.
- Finish – One single note – nothing more. Certainly not the vaunted “warm long finish” however at least it didn’t disappear almost instantly like its “Original” cousin.
- Our verdict? Again, value for money, pleasant, decidedly on the sweet side.
Jameson Gold Reserve (uses virgin American oak) 40%
- Nose – Sweet bourbon style, light
- Palate – Hint of pepper
- Finish – Not quite a bourbon finish
- Our verdict? It is a bit confused… not quite a bourbon yet trying to be… honestly? If you really are in the mood for a bourbon, just get a bourbon! However if you don’t mind a bourbon twist in your Irish whiskey, enjoy!
Jameson 18 Year Special Reserve 40%
- Nose – Sweet, creamy, full-bodied
- Palate – Leathery, overripe peach, scent of rubber, hint of coffee
- Finish – Warm.. remains and stays… with a slightly woody, bitter kerela finish
- Our verdict? Certainly the most interesting of the Jameson’s sampled and one heck of a good whiskey. While most enjoyable however has some tough competition in this pricier bracket.
Green Spot 40%
- Nose – Creamy caramel, tarka, fresh green apples – tart and sweet combine
- Palate – Black peppercorn and rose sherbet, bringing together both sweet and spice
- Finish – Chewy, warm with a little spice, yet not as complex as Yellow Spot
- With water becomes lighter with a delightful toasted nut finish – delightful.
- Our verdict? While Yellow Spot remains one of our favourites, Green Spot more than holds its own. It is also value for money and an excellent example of what a single pot still can produced.
Redbreast 12 year cask strength 57.7%
- Nose – Burnt rubber, bold, fruit cake chock full of raisins, dates, nuts, apples
- Palate – Follows through with its promise, adding cinnamon to the dried fruit and a roasted woodiness
- Finish – Stays keeping you cosy warm, like Christmas time, curled up by the fireside sipping spiced mulled whiskey,
- Add water? Even sweeter with spicy delight
- Our verdict? Ooooohhhhh the Redbreast definitely caught our attention and appreciation! This is certainly one worth revisiting.
Favourite dram sampled? Redbreast
Value for money and flavour? Green Spot
Hit of the evening? Our guests from Jameson who brought an interesting departure from our usual approach
And the biggest surprise? That any of us were still standing by the end of the evening – let alone able to enjoy the fabulous Parsi bhonu that followed our sampling!
- Whisky Tastings (17 Oct 2013) – Balvenie Triple Cask, Wasmund’s, The Speyside
- Whisky Tastings (19 Sept 2013) – Glenturret, Auchentoshan, Kilchoman Machir Bay
- Whisky Tastings (22 Aug 2013) – Glen Breton, Bruichladdich, Bunnabhain
- Whisky Tastings (18 July 2013) – Glenlivet, Edradour, El Dorado
- Whisky Tastings (20 June 2013) – Oban, Deanston, The Six Isles & Yellow Spot
I was an 80′s punk rock teenager who sported spiked hair, delighted in the unconventional, read voraciously and snuck into bars to see bands way before I was legal drinking age. We weren’t the Nazi skinhead types – instead our agenda was ”Ban the bomb” and an intolerance for intolerance - finding it absurd that anyone would have a problem with same- sex partnerships or different cultures, communities and traditions mixing, mingling and blending in new and fascinating ways.
There were a few films and books that not only had an impact, they spoke to us even across continents:
- My Beautiful Laundrette was one such film that connected… with the phenomenal Daniel Day-Lewis
- To then have it followed by Sammy and Rosie Get Laid with the gorgeous Roland Gift? Come on!
- And London Kills Me…? The street life link and efforts to turn things around had a familiar feel tho my suburban upbringing sheltered from 1st hand experience…
- Then came the Buddha of Suburbia - both the book and somehow managing to get hold of the BBC TV series
- Fast forward a few years to when My Son the Fanatic came out. I had just returned from living in Delhi the first time…
So when my partner said “Oh by the way hon, they’ll be a couple more people coming for dinner… Hanif and…” Stop! As in Hanif Kureishi?! Flashback as 20+ years melted away and was instantly inundated with a flood of memories of the 80s and early 90s.
Is there any author / screen writer / set of films that triggers a different time for you?
Let me close with a fine piece of 1980s pop with the Fine Young Cannibals …..
Now living in Paris, Fatou’s singing, guitar, dancing and theatricality was mesmerizing. Her sound clearly reflects her Wassaoulou tradition in a folk pop way that deftly weaves a bit of funk, jazz and rock for good measure.
It’s been some time since we’ve seen such a brilliant performer – not just musically talented but also puts on a show. Warms up the audience, charms, beguiles, engages, captivating one and all completely. A born story-teller, she spoke of war, women’s rights, and embracing the world traveling by choice or forced by circumstance.
One of the most entertaining numbers was when she decided to teach everyone the different dance styles of Africa and proceeded to go region and country by country demonstrating each with such joy and abandon!
A video of one of her better known songs:
For more music and information, check out:
Now Fatou was WELL worth seeing. Pssst! Folks in Canada, she’s coming there early 2014 so don’t miss!
We’d missed a few good bands that came to town in the last few weeks with the uncertainty of return dates for the Jakarta project… so decided enough was enough… time to get out!
The Tour is to promote her new CD – Shadows.
So here goes the song everyone kept asking for over n over:
And “everything at once”
And “Trouble is a friend”
For more music and information, check out:
- SoundCloud http://soundcloud.com/user760623
- Website http://lenkamusic.com/
- FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/lenka
Can I admit something though? I’ve enjoyed her songs every once and awhile… a little light ‘happy fix.’ However an entire evening of just such darn cute happy stuff? Well… let’s just say my inner grumpiness was going into diabetic shock with all the sugary sweetness and light!
One of the things about living in India (and many other parts of the world!) is there can be a casual impromptu approach to popping over to someone’s home.
The other night was such an evening where my partner bumped into a friend when he was out, so the friend came home to savour a couple single malts, nibbles, music and conversation for a few hours. It was a relaxing, thoroughly enjoyable and completely unplanned evening.
However after he left, we had an unexpected guest… who stayed for the night.
Now that doesn’t normally happen in such an impromptu way and in this case, what was most unusual is our guest was not of the homo sapien variety. Nope! We had what we think was a young pied cuckoo also known as a “Monsoon” or “Courting Cuckoo” as they make their appearance around monsoon and have a distinctive mating call.
The little fellow initially seemed a bit distressed at having flown into our home. My partner gently caught him and then released him outside… only to have him come right back!
Eventually we decided to let it be. And our guest decided to stay. Flitting around, settled in, and certainly seemed to enjoy perching on top of our bookshelf and art.
We went to sleep…
In the morning, the little one was still there. Greeting me with a cheerful chirp. Flitted around a bit and seemed quite curious about my morning routine.
However it turns out our guest is camera-shy. At the point I grabbed my camera, I managed to get only one shot before it blithely went to our balcony, for only a moment perched on the grill rungs, then flew off!
With nary a thank you for spending the night. I tell you, the manners of house guests these days!
Clutching passport, Emirates 1st class ticket, bags, grab a trolley, rush into the new international terminal. Hurrying up, navigating security check of ID and ticket at the entrance, finding where our check-in counter is… impatiently waiting…
Except it’s actually a fake ticket, fake flight and in reality just a fascinating simulated airport experience!
I, along with some 1600 others, spent our Saturday helping test out the new Mumbai International airport terminal. When my friend asked if I could play the role of a weary jaded international passenger… the obvious response was ‘Hell ya!’
And that I did with other friends – including one who got to pretend to be sick. Except she actually was sick with a slight fever and generally feeling crappy. I, naturally, got to play the role of a concerned friend, yelling at the poor lady trying to check us in while the systems were down as we waited and waited for medical attention. I used my imperious best ”This is simply not acceptable! Who is your superior?” All duly recorded on camera… I groan to think of how my manufactured nastiness will become fodder for training years hence on how to placate upset travellers.
For those not familiar with Mumbai’s airport - there are a few interesting elements to keep in mind. While the volume of passengers for the international airport may not seem like much in the global rankings, it is quite remarkable considering both domestic and international share one main runway in the middle of Mumbai’s suburbs.
Mr GVS Reddy, developer of the project has been quoted as describing the complexity of building a new terminal while both the existing airports remain fully functional as being akin to “… conducting an open heart surgery on a marathon runner, when he is in the middle of a marathon.”
With a vision of making the airport one of the best in the world, Terminal 2 has been built with a four-level terminal with an area of over 4,39,000 sq. mts. With new taxiways and aircraft parking designed to cater to 40 million passengers annually, it certainly has promise.
One of the walls which is 1.2 km in length and 18 feet in height will have the largest public art programme in the world as 6,000 pieces of Indian art from the 8th to the 19th Century will be curated on these walls. The sneak peek was definitely one of the highlights and while none of the photos below are mine (yes - I strictly followed the ‘do not photograph’ policy of the test participation rule), there were definitely a few highlights and lowlights.
Highlights? The flower ceiling lights and art – don’t miss the wrestler’s (ahem) torso with a reasonably endowed ‘package’ in a bright red loin cloth! (Again.. apologies no pics!)
Lowlights? The lack of power outlets in boarding gate, longish walk from arrivals to immigration and the toilets. I’m sorry but in a new airport, who on earth decided to have stairs to the Indian toilet leaving zero room for a strolly? Bad enough with the Western style toilet which is also small and where your bag can perhaps perch on your lap, but I’m sorry, squatting and holding a carry-on bag do NOT work!
All in all it was a fun but exhausting day. Who knew it would be so tiresome to pretend to be traveling!
- Economic Times: Mumbai’s Airport’s T2 set to outshine Delhi’s T3
- Rediff: Swanky T2 Terminal
- Wikipedia: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
"Have you heard? Dave's moving to Egypt."
"Does he speak Arabic...?"
"No, but he's good with languages, he'll just pick it up!"
I take it we're all familiar with this conversation.
OK, let me hand it to you straight: A language is not a bunch of keys you've just dropped onto the floor or a box of washing powder. Nor is it a venereal disease.