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Top-shelf rant

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One of my recurrent peeves with bars down under is how so many of them misuse their ‘top-shelf’.

And it is not just restricted to local pubs, but many of the classier, up-market establishments are guilty as well.

The ‘top-shelf’ is supposed to be reserved for the superior quality (and thereby more expensive) spirits and liqueurs; your single barrel Bourbons, single malt Scotch, XO and above Cognacs, premium vodkas and such. Hence the term ‘top-shelf drink’, as opposed to ‘well-drinks’ (cheaper liquors that lie in the well of the bar and is easier for the barmen to get to).

A simple storage space for Smirnoff Vodkas is not what the top-shelves are for. Yes, I have seen that for real.

Worse still, as I spotted last night at a trendy local bar, a top-shelf should  not be used to display beer-bottles – unless it is a beer-bar; at least not Matilda Bay brews (which mind you are quite decent brews); but especially not…….. Corona Extra Light !!!!

I have vented before about the puzzling fascination Aussies seem to have for this watery ghastliness, especially with the insufferable lime wedges. At least there is no accounting for bad tastes.

But to place the stuff on a top-shelf is pure sacrilege.

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1: note that at a newsagent, the word has different connotations.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

July 10, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Possibly useful trivia….

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Offered in response to this story, which seemed to have caught the fancy of several on the desi blogosphere and specifically for those more familiar with the US lingo: in the land down-under, thongs does not refer to the undergarment but to a pair of flip-flops/chappals/sandals.

So if you ever hear an Australian girl say she is planning to wear her thongs – don’t get any ideas.

Similarly, if a guy happens to mention it, don’t judge too quickly.

(as aside, for the few regular visitors (?), I am alive and well: shifted my base – in fact, from one coast to another – so settling in etc. Regular rantingprogramming to resume shortly).

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

June 20, 2008 at 1:49 am

Australianniversary….and a move (yet again!)

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Last week (18th of May) to be exact, marked our anniversary of stay Down Under; a good time, I suppose, to reflect upon the upon the differences in lifestyle, attitudes, career-prospects etc. between the USA and Australia.

Unfortunately, a further move within Australia – this time to the west coast of the country, Perth – is keeping me busy. So longer posts, piling up in the drafts folder, will have to wait a while.

Meanwhile enjoy a few pictures of a recent storm that passed through.

(click for full views)

Compare to images on a clearer day.

Meanwhile, I just realised that in the last 15 years or so, I haven’t lived at any one address for more than two years! The modern nomad ?

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

May 24, 2008 at 6:34 am

Posted in Australia, Life, Personal

FCB: A non-religous Easter and a Scotch-based drink

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In which Friday Cocktail Blogging makes a (hopefully) stealthy return (just like a much too drunk husband enters the bedroom after a nite out with the blokes ? [1] ) Written while copiously consuming the drink mentioned below and the hi-fi belting out classic Ghazals such as Main Nashe Mein Hoon, Hungama Kyon Hai (Thodisi Jo Pee li Hain), (you get the drift) etc……..

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It’s a long weekend here down-under, with both Good Friday and Easter Monday being holidays (in Tasmania, they even take Easter Tuesday off)! What tickles me however, is the notion I gathered over the close-to-an-year I have been here; that the Aussies are really not that religious. At least not in the open, in your face, all too preachy manner of the US religious right. The Oz attitude towards religion is like most other things in their life: it is something that exists in the world, something to tolerate while getting on with the important stuff like cheap-beer chugging, bbq-ing and general partying.

Therefore, they make the best of it – by taking holidays and grabbing a chance to get pissed. Even as I type, I can hear shouts of drunken revelry in nearby apartments no doubt celebrating the crucification in some weird manner.

And in my mind, the current prevalent images of Easter are formed – not by resurrection, or even the colored eggs - but by the posters plastered all across the university: Enticements to attend weekend parties in which ‘Easter’ bunnies in their coquettish garbs are the focal point (for example see this).

Compare this state of affairs with the US, where during my first six years in New York state, we did not even get Good Friday holidays (a big surprise to us initially as it used to be holiday in ‘secular’ India as well).

Anyhow, I am attempting to make the best of the situation, even with the temporary pseudo-bachelorhood state [worthy of a separate post by itself].

Add to this, it is the colorful festival of Holi in India.

So really, little excuse not to drink. And overall, a good reason for the FCB to return.

In that spirit, recently we have been trying out cocktails with Scotch. Now, if it is a single-malt Scotch, then mixing a nip with anything other than a hint of H2O, is pure sacrilege. However, if it is blended malt that you have in the kitchen cupboard, then be a bit adventurous, and venture with some of those juices and liqueurs. In particular, I have realised that the orangy flavor of Triple-Sec/Cointreau goes well with Scotch. So here goes a recipe, which is sometimes referred to as the High Voltage, while I have named it as:

The Confused Scotsman

  • 2 parts Scotch (I used Ballantine’s 12-year old blend)
  • 1 part Triple-Sec (1.5 if you like it sweeter) [recommended you use regular Triple-sec rather than Cointreau, which will make it much too sweet)
  • 0.5-1 part lime fresh lime juice (depends on taste and tartness of the lime)
  • Soda water for topping

Mix all ingredients except Soda water in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously (and I mean vigorous). Strain into a old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Top with Soda water. Now I actually prefer it without the soda-water, especially if the lime if fresh enough and the mix has been shaken well enough, but the choice is yours.

Goes well with ghazals with a romantic/unrequited-love/pining theme or even an old film-noir [or, as in my case, reading hard-boiled police detective stories set in Edinburgh].

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[1]: Yes, my metaphors suck.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 21, 2008 at 9:37 am

Regular programming….

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…..such as it is, will resume soon. As in posts/rants/reviews on topics other than cricket.

As the all-mighty Lord (apparently prodded by the Dictator, who for some peculiar reasons thinks much too highly of American Football) pointed out, this blog has been possessed by cricket in recent times.

Should we blame the partisan Aussie media? Should we blame Harbhajan Singh’s itchy armpits ? Should we blame the streaker ? Or, the obnoxious weeds ?

Nah ! Just Blame Canada…….

Speaking of which, here is the best rendition of the song, IMHO:

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 6, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Weeding Monkeys

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Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma.

Names I had not even heard of before this Aussie summer. But names that should come up frequently if this recently concluded series is any indication.

And if people had told me back in January that this combination was going to win India its first ODI tournament in Australia in a gazillion years of trying, I’d have asked for a puff on the obnoxious weed they were smoking.

But it was the youthful energy of these guys along with the likes of Gambhir, Uthappa, Sreesanth, Dhoni etc., and the prescence of just one ‘senior’, the evergreen Sachin Tendulkar that lifted the CB Series trophy at the Gabba last Tuesday. And in the process they have also made me (and a few other bloggers) eat a humble piece of my own words.

But I hardly care, I will write down those words and eat the paper too; after a long, tumultuous summer, we gave it to the mighty Aussie – winning on the field and delivering a bitter taste of their own medicine off it. And that just warms the cockles of my heart.

Back in late January however, it had begun real badly – a total rout in the 20/20 at MCG. But then, slight flashes of brilliance in bowling and batting at the rain-soaked GABBA encounters, followed by a good win at the MCG, and then losses to Australia in games that could have been won, a trundling win against Sri Lanka, followed by an emphatic one. Still, it seemed we were consistently doing what we do best: being inconsistent.

And then something happened: Mathew Hayden, FSM’s gift to the foot-in-the-mouthers, came on a Brisbane radio show and graciously expressed his opinions on gardening, demonstrated his acute grasp of the Indian accent, and shared his pugilistic fantasies of beating up young kids. In the same breath, he also mentioned something like ‘Indians are always losing…..’.

The rest, as they say is history. After that interview, Australia promptly lost three in a row. Over the two finals, Harbhajan Singh, the bete noire of the Australian cricket team, public and particularly the media, took the wickets of Symonds twice, Hayden once and had a hand in the run-out in another.

Irony, divine justice, karma, call it what you will. And to top it all, Sachin Tendulkar, long castigated for never winning it for India ‘when it mattered’, joined the party and played two highly innovative innings.

All followed by wonderful celebrations; and especially, as I mentioned before, the wide eyed innocence of the small-town boy, Praveen Kumar, while accepting the MoM award. (the other great moment was in the first final at Sydney, where Yuvraj and Harbhajan started a bout of mock boxing after Hayden’s dismissal).

A special salute to Captain ‘Uber-Cool’ Dhoni.In situations where Dravid would have frowned deeply, Ganguly thrown fits, Dhoni calmly – with nary an expression on his face – handed the crucial last over to Pathan. It was a strange decision given Pathan was certainly the worst bowler on display through the day, but he repaid the confidence. Since being appointed 20/20 and ODI captain, it has been a good season for Dhoni. Most of his decisions regarding player selections, backing of youngsters (a point he did not forget to make during the presentation speech) paid off handsomely – they may not in future – but his unflappability under pressure has me impressed [1].

So once again, here is to the young lads in blue ! Cheers !

(Picture: Cricinfo)

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[1]: As if I required more reasons to like Dhoni, read about his departing words to the Aus media. Very cheeky :)

“There was a time when it seemed like he was like Michael Jackson, the way the media were following him,” Dhoni said before flying out of Australia with the Indian team.

“I think it would have been better if they (Australian media) stuck to cricket.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 5, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Harbhajan Hilton

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Heard on ABC Radio last night:

Comm1: ” Has Paris Hiton and Harbhajan Singh ever been seen together in the same room  ? “

Comm2: ” Dunno, why ? “

Comm1(trying not to choke laughing at his own PJ) : ” I always see Harbhajan shopping……I believe he is Paris Hilton in disguise…”

Comm2(giggling like a teenaged girl on her first champagne): ” Quite a good bowler….Paris Hilton “

I groaned loud enough  to cause a blip on my patch-clamp recordings.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 4, 2008 at 5:50 pm

Posted in Australia, Fun

Yahooooooooooooooooooooo!

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We win the series. Who would have thunk ?

Possibly, the most touching moment:

Praveen Kumar is the Man of the Match for his four wickets and he looks a bit embarrassed, all beams he has to be taken on to the stage by his captain, Dhoni, a touching moment. He takes the cheque and runs back off the stage, grinning, still embarrassed.

UPDATE: 

Here is the video of the post-match ceremonies. The Praveen Kumar moment is about 1:40 into the video:

Here is another one:

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 4, 2008 at 7:42 am

Posted in Australia, Cricket

Tagged with , , ,

The Scratchy Itch…

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While the Sydney Morning Herald continues to embarrass itself by its near apoplectic harping on the ‘scartching’ non-issue (see the previous post), one of its writers, Greg Baum, cuts through the crap (via):

“There are a lot of young people sitting here, and it was inappropriate,” one spectator told The Age. “If he wants respect, he has to treat others with respect.” This spectator, who was so concerned about young people and so insistent on the need for respect, was sitting in a crowd that in chorus was calling Harbhajan a “wanker”.

Another spectator complained in the Herald Sun that Harbhajan spat in his direction, six or seven times. “Spitting is not on in my book,” he said. “That’s a bit out of line.” This spectator, who was so upset by Harbhajan’s demeanour, was wearing a fluorescent green T-shirt inscribed: “Monkey see … monkey do.” (link)

The clincher:

And the idea of a sporting crowd staking a claim to the high moral ground is absurd.

Make no mistake. Harbhajan has been here long enough, and seen and heard enough, to know better.

If he did make monkey gestures towards the crowd on Sunday, he knew what he was doing, and should be sent straight home and told to stay there

Well said !
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PS: At the same time, I find BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah’s retort “Let Australia come to us and see what the crowd might do.” in extremely bad taste. This is borderline hooliganism. But do we ever expect any sensible action from the BCCI ?

PS2: Inspiration for the title goes to Naked Cricket’s comment.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 3, 2008 at 6:24 pm

Dont scratch yourself….

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….err in the arm-pits. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the gesture is racist (apparently a monkey taunt) !!!!

Check for yourself and judge:

I won’t be defending Harbhajan if indeed he made monkey taunts, but if this is the picture that forms the basis of their accusation, it is a very weak one.

[Not justifying anything, but apparently the crowd was also having quite a go at him with shouts of 'wanker' (typically Australian) to 'knob head'/'cut your hair', a reference to his Sikh religion. Classy stuff.]

The Aussie press has really gone ballistics after their invicible team lost last night. Most of the reports keep focusing on meaningless stuff like how much the Indians celebrated e.g. how Yuvraj and Harbhajan cheekily started a mock shadow boxing round after Hayden was out (hilarious stuff IMO), rather than the game itself.

W hat a bunch of sore whiners.

Take this absurdity from Malcolm Comm whose list of Harbhajan’s past trangressions include:

Others included poking his tongue out in a one-day match against SriLanka and running most of the way to the boundary during the SydneyTest before doing several awkward rolls after dismissing Ricky Ponting

Now you cant stick your tongue out ?!! What about Brad Hogg then ?

And of course, Peter Lalor is at it again, this time raking up a bunch of pathetic excuses for Ricky Ponting’s slump in form.  I am too tired to fisk him, but Mohan at i3j3Cricket has done a pretty good job.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 2, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Stay classy, Matthew Hayden (updated)

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Updated: Here is the actual mp3 of the Hayden interview from Bisbane’s triple M (via). Apart from the comment on Harbhajan, Hayden mocks Ishant Sharma, mimicking an Indian accent, while inviting the 19-year old into a boxing ring. As I said, real classy behavior from one of the seniormost Australian players.

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  Matthew Hayden, otherwise known as a god-fearing, church-going bloke, and a celebrated cook who also opens the batting for Australia, obviously does not feel that dissing and bad-mouthing your opponents in public is anything that Christ wouldn’t approve of.

Matthew Hayden has stirred already troubled waters by calling Harbhajan Singh an “obnoxious weed“, a comment that will only serve to further deepen the animosity between the two sides which has surfaced during India’s current tour.

In the same breath he says:

Hayden played down the incident, accusing the Indians of complaining because “they are losing every game they are playing,”

Erm……even forgetting that India won two games recently againt Sri Lanka, Hayden obviously has a very short memory of his own team’s performance. Btw, Hayden also says that Harbhajan “has been charged more than anyone that’s ever played in the history of cricket.” which is a blatant lie (also consider that Hayden’s captain, Ricky Ponting, has the same number of charges as Harbhajan).

Finally, Hayden is even gracious enough to offer some advice to young Ishant Sharma (who was fined in the last match for helpig a lost Andrew Symonds find his way to the dressing room):

“He is just young. I have said to him many times, ‘You are 19, take it easy’,” Hayden said. “At the end of the day he is 19, why doesn’t he just worry about his bowling for a while?”

What a novel idea ! Wonder if Hayden will heed his own saying and worry about bludgeoning bowlers out of the park rather than talking up shit.

Eventually, it is unfortunate how all these slanging matches are deflecting attention from some fantastic cricket this summer. I am pretty pissed off (at both sides) to the extent I am considering not going to the stadium to watch the second final at the ‘GABBA. Saves me money and the headache you get from drinking XXXX all day.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

February 26, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Oscars

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Love it, hate it, disrespect it, but can’t ignore it. Its time again for the pomp and glamor of the most celebrated of cinematic awards, the Oscars. Last year I managed to live-blog the event, suggest cocktails, offer a roundup etc – all thoroughly entertaining.

Unfortunately this year, I am further removed from the action, at work and even if I wasn’t, would you beleiev it, there is no live telecast in Australia !!! How rural.

Anyway, hope Jon Stewart does a good job of hosting. He did okay two years ago, and I suppose he could not do anything worse than Ellen Degeneres did last year.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

February 24, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Posted in Australia, Films

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