The great Indian cocktail…

If there is one thing that perplexes me about the Indian society, it is the heady mix of the movers and shakers, the hobnobbing gliterrati of Bollywood stars, politicians, cricket players and corporate moguls. Shaken yet stirred, this elite group is seen everywhere. Somewhere strewn in this recipe is the media which assures that the elite ingredients are strained into a chilled martini glass and served to the gullible us. No matter how intriguing and classy some of these cocktail recipes sound, all of them land up tasting and looking like re christened jal jeera.

Take the IPL for instance, the much talked about sporting event that this country waits for every year. Our fixation for cricket is such, that we have reformatted the traditional Grandmother recipes to suit the taste buds of generation Y, the millennial dudes and dudettes. The old format is mashed and blended into a limited version to be hastily served after office hours to the thirsty audience who lap up the drink to the reverberating beats of Sivamani’s drums and shaking hips of scantily clad cheerleaders. This cocktail also quenches the thirst of millions of men who laze on their couches with their fat paunches munching masala peanuts and chiken tikka. The wives of such men get some respite during the IPL season and are able to catch up on sleep and gossip, if not they join the husbands on the couch and display irritating enthusiasm while the children run around in parks in gaiety, abandoning their homework as mums and dads are fixated with their IPL agendas. The IPL remains the biggest Indian hoopla created as millions of Indians remain trapped in a hypnotic state by the team’s cheerleaders, flowing beer and the glamorous team owners than the actual team themselves. The flamboyance of Mallya is as infectious as the controversial Red chillies kkk..k..kkk..icking team. Chennai cements itself in the hoopla as firmly as Shetty’s tantalizing royal form does. Ambani means business as usual while Preity becomes the de facto bahu of Punjab with or without openNess. Delhi remains a serious center as much as Deccan remains a chronicle of it’s times.Then we have the players, some who have happily retired from the test or one day format or both and take a new avatar in the 20 over format. Laughing all the way to the bank are the owners, players , TV channels. The loudest giggle undoubtedly comes from the bar tender, the one who created this heady mix, Lalit Modi. High on the cocktail he has created, he flips the mixer in the air, catching it with one hand behind his back and madly slurping to every drop that falls on his face as the mixer somersaults in the air. One shot of franchise fees, one shot of broadcasting revenue shaken with a bit of ticket sales and sponsorships makes a lip smacking Modi cocktail. Bring it on!

The IPL is one big fat cash cow. And then there is an auction of the team cows. The best description that accurately sums up the auction process was by Mr Pritish Nandy ” like the auction of cattle at Pushkar”. Pushkar replaced by a five star hotel where corporate moguls contend with ambitious stars in choosing the fattest cow of them all. There are some holy cows that bear an iconic status and are not part of the cattle class auction show, they call them iconic cows. What a load of bull. Following each of these events is the media, giving all these ingredients more than their due share of importance and making the IPL more entertaining than any circus. Last year the IPL circus was not able to perform in India because there was another entertaining event in town that was hogging the lime lights, the general elections, so the troops moved to South Africa. As expected the show ran to full houses in S Africa too albeit Akon’s performance at the closing ceremony was pathetic with or without his “smack that”.The IPL is an entertainment show and cricket is one small part of what makes it. The format has been craftily designed to play on gullible sentiments, after all the subcontinent is rabid about cricket and equally rabid about Bollywood, so shaking these two fat chunks into one drink can intoxicate the viewer like no Long Island iced tea can. Somehow, no highball in India tastes so and they land up tasting like the local jal jeera with a bit of arrack squeezed in it. When there is a plethora of the same thing that is forced on me, I hardly savor it, I just swallow it. There are many other cocktails made with similar ingredients, some not as complete as the IPL, some partly complete. Film stars dab in politics, sports stars dab in films , politicians dab in sports , film stars dab in corporate deals, politicians dab in media and so forth. With due credit to all their worth, our society is controlled by such ingredients. It is very difficult for the common man to be heard above this great Indian drunk hullabaloo that dictates this society. Awards and rewards are given to the prominent, over and over to the point of making us sick.

Then there is wine. Clean, sharp, sparkling and undiluted. There are many unsung heroes, who quietly do their jobs , who quietly help people , who go unnoticed. The deeds of such people are sweeter than wine and whose faces are lost in the crowd. Each unnoticed red grape in our society is priceless, let this tribe continue to grow in undiscovered vineyards under the warm sun amidst the sound of happy, buzzing bees. We continue to savor this wine and we do not need any bar tender to serve it. This wine is the sweetest and our mirth is infinite, we remain sober despite cupfuls. In parting, a poem on sobriety from Yeats –


Come swish around, my pretty punk,
And keep me dancing still
That I may stay a sober man
Although I drink my fill.

Sobriety is a jewel
That I do much adore;
And therefore keep me dancing
Though drunkards lie and snore.
O mind your feet, O mind your feet,
Keep dancing like a wave,
And under every dancer
A dead man in his grave.
No ups and downs, my pretty,
A mermaid, not a punk;
A drunkard is a dead man,
And all dead men are drunk.


13 Responses to “The great Indian cocktail…”

  1. I had commented about this heady cocktail on AB’s blog. But I must agree that your piece is the work of a true connoisseur. So let us raise a toast to that.

  2. Salman Shahid Alvi Says:

    A melange of cricket and bollywood works perfectly for the entertainment of cricketoholics…..

    BTW Sharmila,I would love to hear your say over the issue of Pakistani players in the IPL auction….justifiable or not???????

    • Salman – The IPL is a circus with some key ringmasters. There will be many conspiracy theories going around. If the players were not selected on the basis of merit, it is fair. If the omission occurred due to other motives, it is not. With cricket, one can never be sure.

      • Salman Shahid Alvi Says:

        Well,obviously the rejection was not based on merit.We would have loved to see some Afridi power on Indian grounds.There was more of political influence than personal choice that caused for the dropping of Pakistani players.

        It was just a pathetic move i would say……..

      • Salman – Cricket has lost it’s charm. It is not what it used to be. Good cricket has no barriers, sadly, it has all changed.

      • Salman Shahid Alvi Says:

        Ya so right you are Sharmila.Its no more a gentleman’s game…..

  3. Indian taste is so bizarre ! same old jal-jeera and circus ! like a child !
    they can never appreciate a crisp wine or champagne until they grow up and come out of their infantile attitude.

  4. I know ! I know what exactly you mean thats why i said so….

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