‘What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?’ These words, penned by a pervert looking into the ladies compartment, remind us that we need to take a break from our hectic lives and soak in some culture before the Shiv Sena bans it.
Think about it. When was the last time you had a culturally stimulating experience? (And no, admiring the pattern of Manoj Tiwari’s shoulder-hair does not count.) Last week, I’d had enough and decided it was time to do something classy – something that would engage the intellect.
So I went to a beer festival.
I’m referring to Oktoberfest Mumbai, which is the poor man’s version of Oktoberfest Munich – the world’s biggest display of public urination.
Here’s a brief history of the German festival: Once the German king got so drunk, he marched into Poland… oops, wrong story! Anyway, it was decided, as per the Treaty of Versailles, that Germany would hold a beer festival every year, where it would be compulsory for them to – and this is the tough part – actually laugh and show real emotion.
The Bombay event took place at the Royal Turf Club, also known as the ‘You Burbie Types Will Never Get Membership Here, Haha’ Club. It was a great set-up: a huge air-conditioned tent, with pretty women flitting about, while some withered old men sat a few feet away, gambling on horses with their insulin money. All in all, it was a nice and tranquil Sunday afternoon.
Then they served us the beer, thus smashing tranquillity to pulp with a giant mug.
(Note: I do not completely remember what happened that evening. The following has been pieced together from friends’ accounts and photos that should never be made public. Think Ghajini, but with more hair.)
We’d been promised authentic German entertainment, which began with a performance by that famous German, Gary Lawyer. Anyone who has been to a concert in Bombay in the last century will have encountered this man singing Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s my Life’ with the enthusiasm of Nitin Gadkari at a buffet.
However, the music doesn’t matter when you’ve downed a truckload of nuclear-powered German beer. What is important is that you maintain decorum at all times. For instance, with French and German people sitting nearby, you must never stand up on a table and do a Hitler impression. Furthermore, Adolf was NOT a red-nosed reindeer.
Also, going up to a German bartender and yelling out ‘Aye Hans! Beer de!’ is rude. (Not all German men are called Hans. Some of them are called Fritz.) All of this constitutes a major ‘faux pas’ (French for ‘We’re too lazy to say the whole word’)
In my defence, idiocy seems justified when there are enough people doing it. And honestly, it was amazing to see thousands of Mumbaikars under one roof, singing, dancing and acting like they were in the climax of a Sajid Khan film.
Celebrations like these are rare here, what with public entertainment being restricted to events like the now-cancelled Kala Ghoda Fest, or – if you like getting molested – religious festivals.
That’s why I hope Bombay gets to see more such events. Although, can we get the Shiv Sena to ban Gary Lawyer?
(Note: This is my HT column, dated 24th Oct 2010)