Beatles’ music. Trains. Countryside. Any connection? Not for some.Well, I strongly feel that there are certain common emotions that all of these three evoke; nostalgia and romance being just a couple of them! And yes, all of these complemented by a silly yet so content smile on the face. So what prompts me to write a post, that too my first one, with a mention of the above?
It is the month of August. As I travel through the western countryside to my hometown, I am suddenly woken up by the shrilling voice of the train attendant who offers me a cup of tea. I opt for coffee instead. As I sip into this perfectly brewed cup of Arabica beans (premix can make any novice a barista, that’s for sure), a thought suddenly crosses my mind-What if I was offered a Pinot Grigio instead? Or maybe a Steen? But what the hell is a Pinot Grigio anyway? Is it some medicine or a poisonous substance? Maybe a banned drug? And could Steen be a gentleman’s name whom I met in the streets of Europe?
For someone whose life revolves around drinking grapes, he would not have to practise his Google-ing skills to check if the above is some typo. For him, swirling and sniffing are two of the most important exercises in life that only take him further onto the path of attaining Nirvana. And if by now you still haven’t figured out what am I bragging about, there are only two possibilities you are reading this post- a). You have landed on this page by mistake, thanks again to your few kind words fed as prayers to the ‘holier than thou’ Google b). Four asterisks describe more things and situations in your everyday life than all those other letters waiting to be exploited for a more beautiful and complex thing that man has been trying to perfect for ages now. I am talking about Wine; the mystical beverage which after years of being critiqued and written about, still remains so intriguing that it has the potential to surprise everytime you hear the cork pop out!
Please excuse me for getting carried away but this is what this wonderful potion can do to you! Coming back to my thought, do I sound like a dolt who is too ambitious and refuses to see the reality? The Railway Minister at least would think so. And if numbers are what you consider important for substantiating an argument, I stand to lose. With per capita consumption of wine in India being a meagre 10 ml. (as quoted in a national daily in 2008) and the laws of the land not very supportive of ‘indecent proposals’ such as mine, this appears to be a farfetched dream. But what if this was actually true? Okay, we boast of running a ‘Palace on Wheels’ with a fancy bar stocked up with some sexy booze and the oh-so wealthy tourists and patrons, but isn't that about it? Instead, think of a time when every train here could be similarly allowed to serve a limited selection of wines. If this beverage is fast occupying shelf space in modern retail and also experiencing phenomenal growth despite the presence of our beloved spirits like whisky (the king like status it enjoys I guess, is because of its intoxicating properties than anything else), then why am I fool? I mention the word ‘limited selection’ above because changes just don’t come about overnight. Hence, going slow would be the right approach, growth shall follow
Imagine having a sommelier (a professional wine waiter) on board who offers his assistance to choose the best wine suited for your palate, that too with your favourite Indian food and all of this as you travel through the infinite and untamed countryside! Order wine by the glass or simply pick the bottle that you really liked last time but couldn’t make up your mind on having more of it. Choose from a crisp white to a lovely dessert wine as you exchange business cards with fellow wine lovers or maybe share stories of your travel to a wine country during summers! If this is not good enough, then how about purchasing wine merchandise like customised corkscrews, wine labels with your name or even 15 cl bottles to take away as souvenirs. Given the value seekers we Indians are, are we ready to shell out money for such a service? Agreed- all of these would come attached with a high price tag but will any government be so kind to offer this stuff as gratuity? I doubt, unless you have paid first class like fare of a domestic flight! The conclusion- there are certain things which only a Master Card can buy...Bad jokes aside and talking about costs, such a proposition is certainly an expensive one but not unaffordable or unimaginable. With Indians becoming big spenders and all the regular news about the fast emerging, high spending middle class, things which were only a luxury a few years ago have become necessities. And there has to be some reason why India is such a darling for so many FDIs and big MNCs who get the stock market graphs moving in snake-like patterns!
So all sounds good and we are ready to accept the change. But as always, there are two sides of the coin and ignoring the negatives would only be unintelligent on our part. Binge drinking can well result in free flow of swear words across all directions with people eventually indulging in stupid acts like those of violence. Not only is this a nuisance to the fellow passengers but also questions our dignity as ‘responsible individuals’. Also, given our social fabric where alcohol is still a taboo and as some conservative political purists would love to argue, drinking in a public premise could well set a wrong example in front of the minors, the future of our country. Still, these ill effects do not curb the optimist in me. We are a young, progressive nation where dissemination of correct knowledge and proper guidance with some strict surveillance, can simplify things and help convert this ‘foolish’ thought into reality. So what are we waiting for? It is time that some influential individuals put forth a strong step and lobby this in front of those in power so that we get exposed to this absolutely delightful world where red and white mean so much more than just being colours! Let us all “Come Together...Right Now”