Country roads.....take me the place...I belong...!!!

That was the song I was humming as I drove along a highway soaking in the beauty of the nature around me. We, i.e. my wife, my friend and his wife, were on our way to Sula Wine Yard. We had been planning a weekend getaway for a long time, but unfortunately due to various other engagements it was getting delayed. So finally, last Saturday at around 8:30 AM we set off for Sula. Some amount of research on Sula had helped us form an idea about what to expect - both on the way (particularly during monsoons) and at the vinery.

We took the Mumbai-Agra Highway from Mulund and kept going straight on the highway, crossing Igatpuri on the way. The view was really breathtaking!! Wide exapnses of greenery left a soothing effect on the eye (now I understand why mom used to tell me look at trees and greenery instead of the TV). All along the way we saw innumerable hills - small medium and some huge ones - their caps shrouded by a mysterious looking sheets of cloud. The romantic in me was spurred to life by the scenic delight.

We took a half-hour break at a small, sleepy looking dhaba (roadside motel) to have a breakfast of poha, batata vada and steaming hot cups of tea. In spite of the break, we reached Garware junction in Nashik in four hours. After the hustle of life in Mumbai, Nashik was a welcome break. We had arranged for accomodation in Ginger Hotel which turned out to be much more value-for-money than other costlier hotels that I have stayed before.

We had lunch and were itching to get our tounges wet with Sula wine. A short 10 minutes drive (you need to ask directions for it though) took us to the vineyard. It is a rather small yard (35 acres there, though they have another 350 acres in some other place in Nashik). For Rs.150 we got a small tour of their facilities where the entire process of crushing, sedimenting etc. happens. Many might find that intriguing, but I have to confess I was more interested in the wine tasting session. There were six different varities of wine that we were given to taste, of which I liked just the last one - Sula Late Harvest.

Me and my wife with the yard in the backdrop

After the tasting session, we sat on a terrace restaurant overlooking the yard and a natural lake skirting the yard and sipped on wine that we bought there. A heady concoction of wine made me feel really happy. After an entertaining three hours we drove back to Ginger and started with another session of drinking - this time however it not wine, but something stronger.

I would not get into the details of what later in the evening but this trip is going to go down as a supremely enjoyable trip that I have had in a long time. This is a place I must recommend everyone who are looking for a refreshing change from the boredom of everyday city life.

To Sula!!!

Indian media - I hang my head in shame

Author: Som / Labels: , , , , ,

On the first day of June, around 8:30 in the morning I was having breakfast before leaving for office, with an eye on the television. I came across a news channel airing some news of one lady who was murdered.

The anchor, a vociferous young man, announced that this seemed to be another dowry death case in the Delhi region. As I took in a mouthful of porridge I thought how common a phenomenon had 'dowry-deaths' become. But what I heard and saw next apalled me like it never had ever in my life!!

On the TV screen appeared a man, who was apparently a relative of the deceased, carrying a sweet looking kid - a boy all of 5 years of age. To my surprise it was not the relative being interviewed. Instead, it was the kid who had a mike thrust in his face. The unabashed reporter was asking him - 'Mummy ko kisne mara (who killed your mother?)' to which the innocent little kid replied with a heavenly smile 'Papa (Father)'! I couldn't but gulped in a lump that had formed in my throat. The poor little kid obviously did not realize the magnitude of what had happened in his life.

We have seen such media atrocities earlier too, even depicted in the movie Mumbai Meri Jaan where a reporter, played by Soha Ali Khan is shown to have lost her fiance and her own channel builds a primetime program on her loss and grief. Even standup comedian Raju Srivastav had made fun of how a reporter asks a person stuck in a flood 'Aapko kaisa lag raha hai (how does it feel?)'.

But what I saw that morning was a new low. Oh, and as if that was not enough, another channel aired a half hour program with the kid only in the evening!

I hang my head in shame. How lower can we go from here?

Racist attacks on Indian students in Australia

Author: Som / Labels: , , , , ,

Racism Downunder

Have you seen the picture of this young man before? Probably yes ... because our friends in the media relentlessly flashed the photo of this poor man's battered face for a few days till it was stale news.

Does it evoke any feelings, questions or thoughts in you? If not in anyone else, it surely has evoked a thought in me. I have one simple question for all my respected readers - is it worth young lives to move to a foreign country for higher studies?

As I type in this post, I see on the TV that there's yet another case of attack on an Indian management student. I learn from the news channel that in the last one month, there have now been ten attacks on Indian students in Australia. Today - 5th of June - the Australian authorities, it seems, have accepted that there are racial motives behind these attacks. This prompted me to do a quick search why 90,000 students from India flock to Australian shores every year for higher education and on the quality of Australian education system compared to other countries like United States, United Kingdom, France and Singapore.

I came across this post in a blog:

  • As reported in the Sun today, a study by demographer Bob Birrell of Monash University, “more than one-third of foreign students graduating from Australian universities, mainly Asians, have such poor English skills they should never have been admitted”.
  • "Overall, 34% of the graduating foreign students offered permanent residence visas last year did not have competent English... [Bob Birell] said he believed the study to be representative of all foreign students, partly because Asia was a major source of fee-paying overseas students for Australian universities. “It does raise questions about university standards.
After some more search I stumbled across a probably not-so-surprising revelation that Australia is not on the top of the list of destinations for higher studies among aspiring students. It seems that those who fail to get admitted or cannot afford education in those countries turn to Australia. I am not quite certain of the veracity of this information.

But the above notwithstanding, do you agree to the fact that the Indian education system is so lacking that one needs to move to a foreign country? Are our management schools, engineering and medical colleges and all other educational institutions so worthless that one has to set sail to foreign lands for acquiring a higher degree?

Everyday I come across the profiles of so many people who have completed their education in India - and they are successful; success as measured by money, position, power and status. Why did they not choose to go outside the country? I know some of you would argue that there is a whole lot of successful people who have acquired their degrees from abroad - but does that demean the quality of education in India?

I don't agree! What I can agree to is that there is a serious shortage of specialized degrees in India. Lets say, if you want to get a advanced degree in International Marketing, you probably wouldn't find an Indian institute offering such a course. But even that is catching up now. And more importantly, these are things that you learn on the job rather than from a text book environment.

On a personal front, I have had the opportunity to work for durations ranging from a few weeks to a few months in at least six countries across the world, India included. From the experience I have had in all of those countries (I will name the continents and not the countries - North America, Africa, Middle East, South East Asia and the sub-continent) I swear that I would be more than happy to remain rooted to my country.

What do you have to say?

My first blog entry - introducing myself

Author: Som / Labels: , , ,

Everyday there are so many things that happen around us. Television, radio, newspapers and so many other media keep bombarding us with what is happening across the length and breadth of the country - some inspiring, some encouraging, some shocking, some depressing and some others outright ridiculous. Add to that all that we see, listen and experience in the daily course of our lives ... we meet different people, we witness numerous incidents, we overhear or participate in various conversations ... Basically, each living day of our lives we act as a veritable information soaking spunge. Needless to say, not all of the above are to our liking or taste - at least that's the case with me and I am sure I am not alone!

I would have to confess that sometimes strong emotions are evoked and I look for a medium of expression. What better than the Internet to help me in my endeavour. Unfortunately I really didn't come across such a no-strings-attached platform. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we can have a place to just write our hearts out, take out all our anxiety, joy, frustration, anger.....

I welcome you to my blog Voice of India.

In this blog you will find various topics that I will be posting periodically along with my thoughts (even I need to express myself right!!). Come in, choose your topic and pour your heart out.


~~~~~If you wouldn't write it and sign it, don't say it~~~~~
Earl Wilson