Thursday, April 03, 2008

O Parmanand !

Now don't talk to me about the polar bear
don't talk to me about the ozone layer
ain't much of anything these days, even the air
they're running out of rhinos - what do I care?
let's hear it for the dolphin - let's hear it for the trees
ain't running out of nothing in my deep freeze
it's casual entertaining - we aim to please.....
Dire Straits..My Parties

Many a blogger would write enthralling posts about their PMS, their mood swings, bad days at office, a secret being pondered upon if at all to be shared or not, and such existential angst. (I've astutely observed that a majority of these is distaff, but that's neither here nor there.) Then there are many who will gallantly rally on for the Tibetan cause and make a case against Amir Khan's decision of torch-running. Much do I admire their sincere efforts towards shaping public opinion and start a raging debate. Personally speaking, I've reached an age most events don't touch me much anymore (excluding ,of course, "Team India" being routed for 76 in 20 overs, I'm still reeling in horror over that ) , expressing opinions no longer seems a priority (actually I've been taking a long hard look inwards to determine if I have an opinion on Tibet and Amir at all, and the jury is still out)

Thus, the only sort of writing I can attempt can be either anecdotal or about trivial experiences and thoughts. Speaking of which, last night, at a party, a good deal soggy, we were revisiting the Ghost of Tom Joad, oops, Parmanand. One of our elderly colleagues told this story. This gentleman, let's call him RK because that's his real name, was in engineering college with a Parmanand, a very sincere and hard-working student. This is by far a minority group in engineering colleges across India, most people should agree. Our RK boss, one of the smarter majority, did not and still does not believe in work. (don't we all love him?) He just got to be a good pal of Parmanand, and for those four long years, happily leaned on P to glide through batteries of project work, thesis papers, tech labs and.... you get the picture. The day they were passing out, P said to RK, RK old man, now you're going out into the big bad world, fending for yourself, sweating your ass off for a loaf of bread. Prepare for work, bro, cause where'll you find another Parmanand ? To this RK answered, dear P, you may not believe it, but there are myriad Parmanands out in that big bad world, one just has to find one's own Parmanand to lean on.

And RK is still making do. Nay, he's thriving. He's given a new turn to this simple story. In his postulate, Parmanand is not a mere mortal. P is a way of being. जीवन प्रतिनियत एक खोंज है अपने परमानंद का। Life, as he sees it, (and it's so easy to see, all of us can) is one's constant journey towards finding a Parmanand for every situation, every problem, every requirement. In the process, one may even have to transiently assume the role of someone else's P. The roles are shifting, but the matrix encompasses all.
Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. Thus spake Morpheus. In my ears. Dizzy after having had too much to drink. O Parmanand, where art thou?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

KK Is Paris?

Had anyone read this earlier post? Now it seems, Kareena Kapoor is out to vindicate my earlier observation and openly demonstrating her "Paris"ian intentions. Pic courtesy Tashan album inlays. Listening to the music of Tashan.
The title song is quite interesting and a completely new kind of sound for some yrf production. Chhaliyan and Falak Tak are predictable. Dil Haara, like so many other Sukhwinder Singh hits, forceful and involving. Rest of the tracks might take a little longer to grow on one's ears.
What's your take?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Heart of the run
(Of grain whiskeys and Royal Bhutan)

The desired spirit is called ‘the middle cut’ or ‘the heart of the run’ and starts to come through as the alcohol content reaches about 75 percent. The heart of the run is the only part of the distillate that will become whiskey. 20 minutes into the second and final distillation the heart of the run start to come through. This so called ‘heart’ is the only part of the distillation that is used. The process of collecting the ‘heart’ takes 3-4 hours. The alcohol concentration of the heart is between 60 and 72 percent, and has an average concentration of 68 percent. This raw spirit is cut with water to 63.5 percent, which is considered to be the optimal strength for the spirit to interact with the casks during storage.

One has sampled some sacrosanct single malts( few and far between), some just about palatable single malts, some hallowed big names of blended scotch, some overhyped BAD blends, some surprisingly good underrated ones, and more than anything else, stuff that barely escape being in the hooch category, in one's not so illustrious career.
G-E-L-E-P-H-U. Name rings a bell? Nope?
This blogger has written about the distillery there and it's products. Much as the prime offering is a well known brand in certain circles (picture right), this correspondent found CSJ an average whiskey with unusually strong flavors and a fast-acting blend. This is the best they have on the shelves, priced at about $10 a 750ml. However, the whiskey I really want to discuss here is the ambitiously named "Bhutan Highland". The label honestly says it's a grain whiskey, as opposed to "blended scotch malts", whatever that means in these parts. With a curious looking yellow ribbon tied around the neck of the bottle. Dirt cheap, just above $4 for the same quantity. For that kind of pricing alone, my friend and I had at first taken it for modified tharra. Grave mistake it would have been.
Don't know if it was the cute ribbon, the honest proclamation, or the lighter color of the fluid that made me buy a bottle. For the next three evenings, my friend had I, over diverse terrain, in extremities of weather, under various states of physical exhaustion, have only happy happy memories of the whiskey to recount. Ah, the clarity it struck you with! The energetic delivery! The effortless follow through! I rate it none inferior to Ishant Sharma.
Fooling apart, what I seriously felt about the spirit is :

a) That it's obviously a single grain whiskey, technically, from only one distillery and all, much in the mold of the eminent Cameron Brig or, Invergordon, none of which I've had the pleasure of tasting.
b) The gelephu people, who had a quality whiskey on their hands( blame it on the fabled highland spring waters or the quality of Bhutanese hop) didn't go the fancy maturation in wooden cask route, which explains the absurdly low price. It was bottled fresh off the distillery, like many other whiskey makers in Asia do.
On the third evening, when we finally and truly realized the enormous potential of the whiskey (by which time the bot was empty too) we wanted to travel to Gelephu, kiss the hand of the brewer and congratulate him, and urge him to barrel his fine produce for at least six years before bottling. Then he could give m/s Whyte & Mackay a run for their money.