Ale or Lager? Delhi has come a long way baby!

Last weekend in Delhi was not just a rich sports filled day with Monte Carlo becoming a good hunting ground for the prancing horse (Ferrari yes!) who finally made it to a 3rd on the podium closely followed by Massa at 4, but also the T20 finals between Hyderabad and Bangalore giving enough respite to what could have been an otherwise tension filled evening between old rivals Delhi and Bombay were they to come face to face in this seasons IPL.

I found myself in Delhi's cool(!) Sports Bar enjoying the race with friends amidst lively conversation. And soon after the race we moved to a Bavarian beer bar where we were joined by more friends given the popularity of IPL and the finals. This place promised very fresh beer…and the music blasting from within was enough to set us all on our feet!

And so pitcher after pitcher, the evening had begun in true earnest. The beer was indeed fresh. Retaining the original taste from the tap right till the serving mug reached the halfway mark. Unlike the bottled or canned beer which loses much of its original character. There’s this issue of varying temperatures and a host of other factors like the quantity produced and the way in which it is transported etc. so is my guess. Which is why the bar was thronging with ex-pats and Indians alike all rubbing shoulders and exchanging smiles with strangers as the beer went down smoothly and the music was electric! And by now Kumble’s men had restricted Gillys boys for inside 150!

The evening was setting firmly in place for all of us, amidst loud chatter, food plates being passed around, with difficulty being able to hear ones own voice forget hearing the others we still were chatting with one another and communicating with the giant screens pushing the adrenalin even higher ball after ball , and all this was taken farenhites further with the romance of beer ... at that a fresh one right at the source:)

There was lots to experience - endless variety of brews made from just four ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast. One could choose from a selection of draft beers (made from rice or wheat or germ flour) or even a glass of ale or lager or dark beer or wine or mixed drink of your choice We were nicely settled at a vantage point to view the screen and the game, and the taste of pumped up music and the microbreweries, craft beer or brewpubs all added the right dosage of magic to an evening which was anyways glorious given the high of betting on the right team or the right score or the right batsman! Nothing can replace a great live performance – and we all loved the great show that Gillys boys put up in the second innings!

From the frosty mug to the dark long-necked glass different folks were enjoying the most tasteful journey of this sunset yellow or dark brewed indulgence. But naturally, it occurs to me, to popularize a new concept such as fresh beer brew the beerbar management rightly combined cricket frenzy with the merriment of beer. It generated a lot of buzz in this outsourcing and software hub, dotted by malls and shopping plazas.

Kumbles men crumbled, the DJ went many notches louder on his music rack, the beer was smooth and quite tasty. The calorie content, I’m told, was lower than bottled beer. The ambience was great. The friends were a riot to be with. What else could one ask for after the grunge of a work filled week?


I love Paris

I will try and recollect my first images of Paris here, because those images vary to a very large extent, now that I have been a regular to Paris.

Paris is a pretty small city compared to many other European capitals. The Govt had mooted an idea of extending its boundaries to the suburbs in order to make a “Greater Paris” area, aka London, but this seems to be stuck in the pipeline despite President Sarkozy taking this on himself and making it a priority!

We reached Paris on a warm sunny day. The trees were alive with new leaves, people were seated on sidewalk cafes chatting amicably, and drinking in outdoor terraces – window gazing and ambling lazily on the streets – it’s easy to love spring in Paris. I absolutely love this city. A thriving megapolis Paris also has many hidden treasures. We discovered this cute little village like lane where we strolled along under blossoming trees and a canal cris-crossing at intervals never once being cut off by any vehicular traffic. Now that is never possible in a Bombay:)

The slight nip in the air saw the evenings receive light showers. That made it comfortable if you are snug in a jacket to walk about with pleasure. I was warned well in advance that I was not likely to find any food (veg) to my liking, so I was so well prepared to last out on bread and cheese that when I stumbled on eateries I was so gloriously delighted to find great tasting veg food! Minus the French onion soup though!

On a wintry afternoon I discovered the crepes guy making hot crepes that melted in the mouth with maple syrup – o so so so yum! Meethinks the French spend more time eating compared to any other country including Italy. Not surprising, giving the gourmet foods on display and the glorious cheeses and wines! But the one thing that stood out for me was the formal attitude of the waiters and waitress in the patisseries and cafes and lounges and restobars. I've never come across one with an attitude that could be described as remotely 'casual'. Always propah, always formal stiff and starched- a sunny smile could do wonders in the winter chill am sure:)

I was also warned about the rude French folks who would neither be helpful nor polite. And of course that they wouldn’t speak English no matter what! And once again I was so pleasantly surprised. They spoke English, they were courteous, charming and above all very helpful. Wonder why the Parisians have earned themselves such a -ve brand equity.

Anyway moving to what is an absolute must in case you are visiting for the very first time, take in this gorgeous city at face value. It is indeed the land of romance and love – and you will find young and old smooching, hugging, holding hands, in a tight clinch anywhere and everywhere. Lovely isn’t it!:)

Ok coming to the sites and sounds- of course the Eiffel Tower, is a must see, this colossal landmark, although initially hated by many Parisians, is now a famous symbol of French civic pride. It looks beautiful at night when lit

Notre Dame Cathedral, this famous cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture (12th century marvel), stands on the Île de la Cité is the symbolic heart of the city.

Luxembourg Gardens, are a beautiful 25 hectares green oasis on Paris’s fashionable left bank showing off many statues, fountains and flowers, it is one of the most popular destinations for relaxation.

Louvre Palace-Museum, home to Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. The Louvre is more than simply the largest museum in the world. The stones of the building are a collective symbol of French identity. It has an unparalleled collection of items covering the full spectrum of art through the ages of 800 years of history. There is much to see here, please wear sensible shoes for the immense lengths you will be walking here.

Arc de Triomphe, This world-famous landmark structure has served ever since the days of Napoleon as a symbol of victory for triumphant French troops returning home.

Pantheon, this ancient church is the resting place for many of France's greatest heroes.

If you like some expensive entertainment, the Lido on the Champs Elysées is a good choice. We went to the show Bonheur, which is still playing. I guess you can compare it with the Moulin Rouge, but it's better actually.

I've been to both and the Lido is more glamorous and there are more dancers. You really can't compare the show - it's just different. In the Lido the stage moves all the time. They have great dancers, clothing, light, water and even a real horse in their show.

It costs a lot of money, but for the Lido is more worth it than the Moulin Rouge.

And once you have done all these- make sure you eat in the sidewalk cafes, sip wine in the evenings at restobars, lounge about in some cozy cafes and bars, explore the cuisine and try your hand at new foods, get yourself going on the Parisian culture of etiquette and fine living:)

Its always au revoir for Paris for me – goodbye till we meet again:)


Window seat blues

Do you carry your fave soft toy or fave jeans or fave perfumes when you travel? Well I have always carried my music for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise. My collection is a rather eclectic one, those who know me disregard my playlist and those who don’t, find new music they’d like to know more on.

Thank God for music portability in today’s age. As am not sure how I would have passed my most idyllic moments on a beach or walking in the greens! Music is not just a passing fancy with me, but has been a constant companion during my travels and bedtime. I have to date lost 3 i-pods in transit due to tiredness and sleepiness, but that does not deter me from buying the 4th i-pod or a scandisk as a back up to ensure I have music at all times when traveling.

I remember traveling on a holiday from Bangalore during early days on a scanty budget. Accompanied by a bag loaded with treasured cassettes, I found myself on a bus heading to Goa. I realized if I am not listening to music (I was never big on boy bands but always heavy on rock!! Floyd, Muddy waters, Doors!) the journey (bus drive) would become torturous and unending misery for me. And that’s dangerous as I can so easily spoil my fellow travelers joy! Left alone to myself with my music and my window seat I was happy to take in the sights and sounds of the beautiful coastal drive.

Many a conversations during travel have begun with music. Learning from a fellow traveler on jazz and its origins, to playing my music in shacks in Goa because the shack owner is running low on ‘rock music’, helps befriends strangers and start easy friendly conversations on holidays. Many a times I have voluntarily shared music on my travels. And sometime when lyrics are translated for my benefit (because I don’t understand the language) it does not deter me from appreciating the pain in the music. Blues can embrace and envelop you because of a common understood message.

Essentially music goes wherever I go. It maybe the naughty voice of Sunidhi Chauhan or the dancing vocals of Shakin Stevens or Shakira, or the calming voice of A R Rahman or the vibrant rhythms of Buddha Bar, Jamiroquai or Enigma –music always comes in handy on travel, and helps me relate to people, especially when I am miles away from home