Ingrid Bergman’s Lips – The Education Of Jiggy (Part 2)

Jiggy got down from the car into the bright and green and fresh surroundings of Wai MIDC. It didn’t look like an industrial zone at all. There was too much green, and because industrialization automatically meant (in most minds) deforestation, the sight looked very strange to Jiggy. He was gestured to enter the factory where they manufactured the “first and finest” strawberry wine he had heard so much about.

He was escorted by the driver into the factory, where Charlie waited patiently for him. They shook hands firmly and measured each other up.

“Welcome to Wildberry Jiggy. I am Charlie.” Charlie said.

“Thank you Charlie, I am Jiggy.” said Jiggy, reintroducing himself. For no reason comprehensible.

Both walked into the factory where Charlie started explaining how wine was made, in detail. He took him to the place where they stored the fresh fruit. They walked into the temperature controlled room where fresh strawberries peeked from the top of the boxes they were held in. Jiggy salivated just at the sight of them. Maybe chai-biscuit isn’t the best tasting thing in the world. Maybe it holds far better surprises.

“Can I taste?” Jiggy asked.

“Of course! As much as you want!”

Jiggy contemplated taking a few of them and shoving them in his pockets, after he was done gorging on them, that is.

Picking up the signal as if he was the NSA, Charlie said,” Just as a gesture we will let you take a small box of them. Until them you are free to eat. “

Jiggy picked a full fruit from one of the cartons. It has the red shine so attractive; it seemed like the succulent red of a beautiful woman’s lips. Full lips.Strawberry-fruit-34914838-1600-1064

Jiggy bit into it and had to slurp to keep the juice in. ‘Strawberry or French kiss?’ thought Jiggy. The tang, the sweetness, felt so good. He realized how cheap the synthetic versions of the flavor, so omnipresent in the market nowadays, tasted like. This tasted like heaven. Or Ingrid Bergman’s lips.

The problem Jiggy realized is that all thought of gorging on it had disappeared from his mind. Fruit tasting like this should be treated with respect. Charlie saw the look of respect reflect from Jiggy’s face.

“You liked this?”

Jiggy nodded, like an innocent girl on her wedding night.

“Wait till you drink the wine. THAT’S the real deal.”

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Chai-biscuit and Wine-shine – The Education of Jiggy (Part 1)

Yesterday, we had an interesting visitor. A thin man-boy, tall, fair and a shock of thick moustache, the kind that traps the froth from the top of a frappuccino. The kind of moustache boy-faced adults grow to look of legal adult age. Their defence against suspecting ushers in movie halls checking if the movie-goer is an adult or not. This man had a laid back attitude that comes with either heavy self-assurance, or a heavy bank balance.

The fellow was wearing black and white checkered pants under a tight floral shirt that accentuated his paunch, and those pointed leather shoes which could easily be used as murder weapons to stab a person to death. He also wore a thick bracelet of gold and a chain around his neck too. Our Unassuming Secretary went to greet him.

Unassuming Secretary : “Hello Mr. Jignesh Shah, welcome to Wildberry, my name is Sheetal.”

Self-assured Man: “I prefer to be called Jiggy. Nice to meet you too.”

Unassuming Secretary: “Sure Jiggy, our Marketing officer will be with you shortly. Can you wait in his cabin?”

The Unassuming Secretary escorted Mr. Shah to Marketing Officer’s cabin and gestured him to sit on the chair facing the Marketing Officer’s bigger chair.

Jiggy Shah: “Can I get some chai? And can you increase the AC?”

Unassuming Secretary: “Of course.” Jiggy Shah: “And some biskoot also…..gudday!”

Not-So-Unassuming-Now Secretary: “Sure sir.” Chai-Biskoot Mr. Shah did not look even close to sweating, but our sweet Secretary complied and called for a tea and turned up the AC in the cabin. Then she let the Marketing Officer know that the appointment was sitting in the cabin, where he was clearly checking out the interior design, the décor, touching things. Nodding in approval at some places, shaking his head in disapproval at some.

The Marketing Officer was now interested in meeting with the person even more now. Our Marketing Officer himself got the tea and Good Day biscuits for Mr. Shah. Mr. Shah’s handshake was enthusiastic, partly because of the tea and his favorite biscuits it seemed. He had the same look of glee in his eyes when a pubescent youngster lays his eyes on his first playboy centerfold.

Marketing Officer: “How may we be of service to you Mr. Shah?”

Jiggy Shah: “Please call me Jiggy.” Mr. Shah was relishing the tea-softened biscuits.

Jiggy Shah: “I want to know about the wine-shine you are making.”

Marketing Officer: “We are launching the finest and purest strawberry wine in India. But there are many winemakers in India, what interested you in us?”

Jiggy Shah: “Once I had straaberry kreem. I liked it. We go to Mahabalesswar a lot. I like hoarse riding too.”

Marketing Officer: “What about this wine would you like to know?”

Strawberry-cream Jiggy looked flummoxed by the question, not knowing what to ask, quite figuratively caught with his pants down, with a chai-biscuit in his hands. Marketing Officer understood and nodded. “Let’s start with the beginning.” And the education began…

First Drunk

There is always something special about doing a thing for the first time and if it’s pleasant, we reminisce the moment for the rest of our lives. For example: First Kiss, First Bungee Jump, First Lottery Win, First Cricket Bat, the first time we achieve something worthwhile and of course, our First Drink. The feeling inside, while we are drinking for the first time; that tinge of excitement, since we really don’t know what to expect: how it feels to drink, unless… we lift our glass and drink!

Being a ‘First Drunk’!

After that, it becomes a story.

Funny. Not so funny. Memorable.

And we are willing to share it with anyone who has showed, sometimes unknowingly, an inkling of an interest.

Today, we will tell you two such stories, two wonderful experiences, according to their own admission, of two very lovely people.

Rajgopalon Krishnan
Age: 33

Raj, as he is fondly called by his friends, was 26 when he tasted Red Wine. He just had got promoted and wished to celebrate. So he called the friends one by one.

“Let’s not care about the budget,” he hollered on the phone, “Let’s drink.” throwing his Indian middle class caution to the wind. Friends, being well wishing and appreciative couldn’t help themselves anymore. The hope of free drinks had made everyone very enthusiastic.

The Hidden Place on Koregaon Park road was the place.

Once they reached there and were seated, a long discussion ensued, about the impending order of the drinks.

Atul was a pro.

He suggested something which was difficult to pronounce and impossible to spell.

Anish, the semi-pro, seconded it.

The others were yet to experience wine. They felt relieved that the decision had been made for them, their ignorance about wine remaining unknown to all. Their support for Atul and Anish was as genuine as the occasion demanded.

The waiter brought a red wine. Everyone waited with bated breath. The bottle was showed off like cherished photograph in an old album. It glowed against the table light heightening the anticipation. Even the uncorking was elaborate as if it’s a celebration in itself.

Red Wine

The drink was poured. The clink was made. Raj’s ongoing success was insured with heartfelt wishing and blessing.

Raj drank it and was speechless. The aroma of it, the taste of it, how it changed its texture every second inside the mouth, how it remained there lingering. Taking him to a completely different zone altogether. An unusual silence fell over the table. As if the drink sort of calmed them down.

Raj felt so entirely different and classy that he could drink three glasses of wine slowly.

Nowadays, he is such a fan that he spends first 10 minutes in every fine dine restaurant he goes to, searching for a sommelier. And, in case, the blessed soul is employed there and appears to meet him, Raj asks him with a confidence of a new convert, “May I have a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, please.”

Haripriya Sampathnarayan
Age 29

Haripriya is one such lady who always wishes to surprise her loved ones; pleasantly of course. On her first anniversary she took her husband to Raigad Fort on foot as she is fond of trekking. Boy, was the poor man surprised! The first anniversary is always a memorable moment. Haripriya made it kind of unforgettable.

During the second anniversary Haripriya faced with a full blown dilemma. To go or not to go. To a trek again. Her husband, a lot wiser, was not co-operating. He said, “The client is mean, the boss is thick, I can’t escape, honey, no matter how much I wish to.” He looked helpless in his earnestness. Helplessness doesn’t move Haripriya. But the logistic problem of dragging an unwilling adult man was enormous. She gave up. Though only partially.

She called up Shruti. Yeah, the same Shruti, the classy and sophisticated lady from our second blog. You see, when someone is up for some mischief, Shruti insists to be a partner in that crime. That’s her standing request.

Shruti said, “One word. Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. Sorry, three! Who cares?”

The husband, Harish, was a teetotaler. The celebrated white wine was a little beyond him. But who could refuse a wife on an anniversary, especially when she could let go her cherished dream of climbing tall hills together. And Harish was particularly hoping to bask in an after dinner spousal warmth.

Haripriya said- the disappointments from the ‘couldn’t be’ adventure still lingering in her tone- “I haven’t drank before. You haven’t drank before. So, we are in it together. Like the last year’s trek.”

Harish’s calf muscles and other precious bones and body parts, now recovered, yet with painful memories woke up startled and whispered, “Take it. Please take it. You ‘ve got a far better deal.”

White Wine

The drink was poured. Harish was hopeful. He had read somewhere women become a little more receptive to ideas after a drink or two. It’s time to test the theory.

To make a long story short. Harish liked the wine. The buzz that came flying inside the head was never too much, never too quick. The taste and the afterglow he felt was quite nice too. Most probably it was the same with Haripriya. To the shrewd accountant eyes of Harish, his wife was responsible for more than half of the spending of the evening.

What happened afterwards? We almost shouldn’t say. But, Haripriya slept. No, really. She actually, peacefully slept. So did Harish. A little unwillingly though.

Who knows, next anniversary they might rather climb Kalsubai. Nothing could be said just right now.

New Year Dining & Wining (Without whining)

It’s that time of the year to make wonderful plans and lighten up as the first day of the year dawns. The heart yearns for memorable moments together with families and friends. The resolutions are made; even when one apprehends that they may not last even a week. Of course, getting together will invariably mean eating together and drinking together. Where is happiness without it? Deciding what to eat and what to drink and which one goes well with which ones: that part is tricky. In an Indian context, it’s trickier. Not because we don’t have ancient treaties deciding about it for us (we have many for other worldly matters, like stars and sex), not because we don’t like Chinese, Italian or Continental (We do. We love them.) Just that if someone in the house feels that extra craving for Biriyani, it’s almost a sin in our country to deny her, her blessed portion. Then the important question is which drink will go with it.

Now, let’s not take a long time to decide. Let us go through two quick recipes to tempt you enough to give them a try. One European and one Indian.

Pasta and Strawberry Wine:

The other day, Shruti, our whimsy friend, rang up and asked “Heya, I wish to go to such and such a place where the climate is chilly and the atmosphere is New Year-y, and the foods and drinks served are the best. Advise.” I paused a little and took a deep breath, hanging the ladle in my hand mid-air. You see, I had to be a little careful about suggesting something to Shruti. She is not only whimsy; but also claim herself to be classy. One bad advice may mar my reputation forever. I dodged the dilemma with, “Can’t suggest any. Not offhand. But if you are willing to cook a little, come to our Mahabaleshwar farm. We will have Pasta and Strawberry Wine.

The Recipe:

Ingredients: 

Fresh Tomato, Sausage, and Pecorino Pasta

Cooking Instructions:

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.
Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage.
Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes.
Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 2 tablespoons cheese, salt, and pepper.
Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and basil.

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There, you have your Pecorino Pasta. Eat hot and slowly with little sweet sips of ‘Come On Charlie!’

Biryani and Strawberry Wine:

Now, everyone is not Shruti. Not that they don’t claim themselves to be classy. For some, Indian food is Indian food. And, so many of us are vegetarian. For them here is a great recipe for Veg Biryani.

Ingredients: 

Basmati Rice, cauliflower- cut into small florets, carrots- peeled and cut into small cubes, green beans- trimmed and halved, olive oil spray, sliced onion, curry paste, mustard seed, chopped fresh coriander, flaked almonds, lemon.

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 190C/ Gas mark 5. Steam the cauliflower, carrots and beans for 4 minutes, or until just tender but with a bit of bite.
Spray a pan with a little oil, add the onion and fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until softened and turning golden brown.
Add the curry paste and fry for a further minute. Add the rice and mustard seeds and mix well to coat.
Tip into a lightly oiled baking dish, pour over the hot stock and stir together.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid is almost absorbed.
Stir in the steamed vegetables and cook for 5 minutes more.

Vegetable-Biryani-

As your Veg Biryani is ready, open a bottle of ‘Come On Charlie!’ and enjoy a duet of hot and spicy rice and sweet bodied taste of pure strawberry wine.

If you have happened to find, “Come On Charlie!” on both the occasion, please understand, it has to be so. It is THE finest and purest strawberry wine available in the country and it compliments both the Indian and Continental gourmet meals perfectly well.

Hello World!

Hello World! Is not what one is supposed to say when one is born in the virtual world, on www?  Then again, in the physical world, a newly born child doesn’t speak. It cries. The tender sound which could be a little harsh sometimes is the sign of its vitality. A healthy sign, people say. We are not newborns. We; the Founders, the Winemakers, the Marketers, the Distributors, the Plant Workers; even yours truly, the Blog writer, we are way past of our legal drinking age. But our conception is a newborn. India, the country of Beer Drinkers, Rum Drinkers, Whisky Drinkers, Feni Drinkers, Dawa Drinkers, Tadi Drinkers, Mahua Drinkers, and ubiquitous Country Liquor Drinkers, will produce the Purest and Finest Fruit Wine in the World. That’s the DREAM!

So, the next time you’re in a French Vineyard, or in an Italian one, looking at the acres of plantation, the sophisticated attached plant, the devotion of the wine making families and then wondering will this high art ever reach the Indian shore… well, you have set yourself up for a pleasant surprise.

And the surprises will be unfolded on the blog. And our journey too. And all the joy and the agony associated with it. We will laugh aloud with all of you sharing the good things of life and will cry openly in your midst in creative desperation. Is not cry a sign of vitality?

Hello World!