fiction or fact

Six customised cocktails for the litfest season

Why drink the same old when you can drink the same new?

It’s going to be litfest season again, folks.

The vegetable dye kurtas have been altered, Nehru vests shaken out, dangly earrings polished and ethnic printed cotton saris with Durga-pattern borders starched.

As we speak, writers – big, small and morbidly obese – are preparing to hurtle through space towards places as diverse as Jaipur and Jagarlamudi, Ranchi and Ramagundam, to adorn stages, mics in hand, and talk without pause about their books past, present and post-apocalyptic future.

Book lovers, on the other hand, while pretending to listen in rapt attention, are preparing for when it’s their turn to do this.

Publishers and organisers, for their part, are laughing quietly in the wings, saying “What morons!”

Diverse as their goals may seem, what is the one thing that unifies them all? I mean other than their need for instant fame, glory and big money.

Alcohol, of course.

So, without further ado, some copyright-free cocktail recipes for the Literary Season.

The Whisky Sourgrapes

(for rejected writers)

Ingredients
2 oz spurious Black Label whisky
1 oz lemon juice squeezed fresh using rejected manuscript
1 teaspoon sugar (or artificial sweetener skimmed off any Delhi book blurb)

Preparation
Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker, fill with ice, shake vigorously and rant about the callousness of publishing houses for 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a sour pesticide-coated grape, say, “f#@k you, publisher, I’m uploading this for free on Amazon,” and pour down the hatch.

The Publisher’s Punch

(for the published writer)

Ingredients
2 oz dark rum (if you have white rum, stare hard at it, your mood will turn it dark)
2/3 oz of fresh lemon pulp made by beating lemons viciously with your unsold copies
A dash of bitters (if you’re out of bitters, don’t worry, a smidgen of aggrieved, dissatisfied, disgruntled, sullen, petulant or splenetic will do just as well)

Preparation
Pour ingredients into shaker filled with ice. Shake well like you did when you waited for your editor for five hours in the Delhi cold. Pour into large glass filled with ice. Add bitters or synonym thereof. Garnish with shreds of marketing plan sent by publisher for your book. Quaff and punch nearest wall repeatedly till your fingers break so you’ll be unable to write for some time.

The Mai Typo

(for the young, devil-may-care editor/publishing professional)

Ingredients
1 oz dark rumm (Or is it ‘rum’? Who gives a rat’s ass?)
1 oz amber rum (ditto. LOL! BTW, WTF is an Oz? Sheesh!)
1 oz fresh orange juice (from tetra pack, who the f#@k has the time to squeeze?)
1/2 oz (1 tablespoon) Cointreau (oooh, French, so sexy! Luv French fries!)

Preparation
Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker in a seductive manner, pout, take selfie/video and post on Twitter, Instagram and FB with #litfesttimes #feelingawesum #muah...add ice cubes, put one more pic with #chillin’ #feelinawesum...then strain into a glass filled with ice cubes, curse those bastard writers and their flood of bloody books, book, books, goddammit, and down in a single gulp.

The Bong Island Iced Tea

(to be had in groups constituting Lahiris, Roys, Ghoshs, etc)

Ingredients
1 part bodka (distilled from Bengal potato)
1 part kali mata (the traditional liquor of Calcutta, before you get your knickers in a bunch)
200 grams powdered hilsa bones
2 parts rosogolla syrup from KC Das
1 splash Coca Cola

Preparation
Mix ingredients poignantly together over ice in a lyrically translucent glass that is on the verge of breaking (while speaking animatedly in Bengali). Then pour tragically into earthen shaker and give it a brisk, profound shake. Pour ambrosia back in an achingly beautiful manner into the glass. Make sure there is a touch of fizz on top. You know only too well – alas! like love and life – it, too, is ephemeral. Sigh. Garnish with lemon. Wait for redemption.

The White Rush-In

(for the All-is-Fair-in-Love-and-Lit type)

Ingredients
2 parts coffee liqueur (anything dark will do, actually, like old engine oil)
5 parts vodka
3 parts cream (with extra whitener)
1 tube Fair & Lovely

Preparation
Pour coffee liqueur or dark brown substitute first into a colonial-style glass. Because it deserves to be at the bottom. Pour vodka next. It forms the necessary boundary. Pour cream last so it rests comfortably on the platform provided by the dark liqueur without actually touching it. Under no circumstances will you stir. For brown has to remain at the bottom. Apply Fair & Lovely generously to yourself and share drink with favourite gora author sahib who’ll teach you all you need to know about India.

The Gimlet Eye

(for the writer/reader with vision)

Ingredients
1 part sweetened lime juice
4 parts gin
2 crushed Adderall/Ritalin pills

Preparation
Pour gin, lime juice and powdered pills into cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously. Pour into thick-bottomed glass. Drink in one gulp and seamlessly use bottom of glass like a telescope to scout area for celebrity if you’re a reader, and anyone who can get you a fellowship / grant / award / review / article / sale / sex / shoulder rub (in that order) if you’re a writer. Abandon current company and hurtle towards target.

Honourable mentions

The Screwriter, The Royalteeny, The Die Query, The Print Julep, The Preorder Colada

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli is the author of three books and a play. His new novella, The Sentimental Spy (Juggernaut) is available as a phone download. His next book may be released via your microwave or Kohler’s Intelligent Toilet depending on who pays him more.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.