Brewing A Trend !




“Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” -Benjamin Franklin

Puneites certainly seem to reverberate the words of Franklin. Be it the lagers, ales or draught, the varied types of beers are finding an increasing number of takers among the beer connoisseurs in the city.

For many beer drinkers, choosing a beer isn’t purely a matter of taste- it’s about place , taste and connection. It’s thrilling to visit a brewery and enjoy a mug of beer with the people who have made beer just a few yards away from the place they are serving it.

Indians aren’t exactly beer guzzlers. For the longest time it has been just another buddy drink among youngster during the hot summer months or a beverage quaffed in solidarity during a game. In fact, for Indians beer has always been more of an appetizer that is relished before a meal.

With 70 per cent of the population of the Indian liquor market preferring hard liquor, leaving the following for beer at only 30 per cent. However, over the past five years, the trends are changing-beer cafes and breweries  are mushrooming fast. The sway towards the golden ale has been dramatic.

“The combination of good beer, great music  and delicious snacks makes these places a perfect hangout spot for youngsters,” says Rupali Suri, a graphic designer.

A report by a global market research company Euromonitor states that ,”Beer clubs and microbreweries are expected to expand their reach and even target second and third tier cities all over India…premium and handcrafted beer have strong potential for growth.”According to industry estimates, the market for such handcrafted beer ranges between Rs. 75 crores to Rs. 125 crores.

Today, beer drinkers are a much more discerning lot than they were in the ’90s, with more sophisticated palates and the savvy to know. For the uninitiated, a microbrewery crafts beer that is fresh and known for its unique taste, colour and strong character.

“The ambiance of microbreweries is  inviting and different. The different beers and exciting starters are perfect for an  relaxed evening with friends,” say Vivek Nair, a 23-year-old MBA student.


The Concept of Micro-breweries:

Doolallys Brewery in Pune

The beer-on-tap concept is slowly catching up in India. The approximate cost of starting a microbrewery on an average  is Rs. 6 Crores.

A microbrewery or a brewpub by western definition brew beer in small quantities on premise, typically 1,000 litres per batch and then serve them fresh on the tap to consumers. It takes about seven hours to brew each variety of beer using imported ingredients.

Getting a microbrewery license is a uphill task and is very time consuming.”Liquor is now a state matter and so you need to get a license to start a brewery,” says Suketu Talekar, co-owner of Doolallys’s in Pune. He added that without the license it is impossible to produce and sell beer on the premise.

With Pune set for the new brewpub revolution, the winner is clearly going to be the beer drinker.

Let’s drink to that !

Leave encashment a distant reality for teachers

Margaret Carvalho (name changed), a retired teacher from a reputed English medium school in Pune has reached the end of her tether running to and fro from the Zilla Parishad to encash the ‘earned leave’ she accumulated over the 26 years of her teaching career.She retired from service in October 2010 and has accumulated 117 days of earned leave.

The Maharashtra Government passed a resolution for encashment of earned leave as per the revised 6th pay Commission on 10th December, 2010. This resolution is applicable to every teacher who has retired from his/her duties from 1st January, 2006. However, the act is still to come into effect.

Every company has policy which allows its employees to apply for different types of leaves based on their requirement such as Earned leave, Casual leave and Sick leave. As the name suggest, Earned leave or ‘privileged leave’ is earned by the employee who is in service. However, if a person wishes not to use these leave he/she may encash it at retirement. However, most private organizations ask their employees to use these leaves and most of them have made rules which do not allow for carry forward of these leaves to the next year.

“It has been three years since the Government has passed this resolution but what’s the point if it isn’t applied?,” questions Mrs. Carvalho. She has approached the school principal regarding this matter.” I have even approached the Zila Parishad but they don’t seem to know anything regarding this,”she adds. Stephanie Dias, Principal of St. Anthony’s School near Sholapur Bazaar in Camp claims that so far no retired teacher from her school has received this benefit of encashing their earned leave.”The resolution is yet to be enforced by the Government, we haven’t received any notification on it,” says Dias. In October, 2012 the University of Pune scrapped the encashment of Earned Leaves for the retiring varsity teachers.

The Supreme Court (SC)had ruled that the employees of colleges affiliated to state recognised universities aren’t ‘government servants’ and that they are not governed by the rules for state employees. They are autonomous. Thus, a large number of colleges, which are affiliated to universities in Maharashtra, cannot burden the state government with the leave encashment amount that they have paid to their teachers and staff on superannuation or when they leave the job.

Education activist Mumtaz Peerbouy says , ” Many times the Government makes provisions and passes the GR, but the bureaucracy doesn’t allow it to be implemented.” She adds that, “Having a provision on paper and having a provision in practice are two different things”.

However, Shivaji Daudkar , Head of Education Board in Pune had a different story to tell. “I haven’t received any complaints so far about this provision not being implemented,” he said. He added that he will look into the matter to ensure everything is functioning smoothly.

With teachers’ unions erupting in protest across the city, Margaret Carvalho is yet another example of an individual fighting bureaucracy that has corruption at it’s every rung.

While authorities find new ways to fatten their pockets, hundreds of Margarets across the country fight to claim what is rightfully theirs.

“I have only heard about the watershed management”

The lush green hills you pass as you approach the small village of Dolasane , in Ahmednagar district will make you wonder if this was the same place which was under severe drought last year. The area reflects the success of the watershed management programme initiated here. But when you enter the dreary village of  Dolasane you realize that the grass is not all that green in reality.

Waiting In Hope: Suganda Lokhande is still to reap the benefits of the watershed programme
Waiting In Hope: Suganda Lokhande is still to reap the benefits of the watershed programme

The village is yet to recover from the shackles of the drought. Fifty-five year old Suganda Lokhande has been trudging to and from the nearest water body daily for as long as she can remember. Her day starts early as early as 5.30 in the morning. She has no tap in her house and is forced to walk for miles daily to get water for drinking.

“I have only heard about the watershed management,” she says adding that it hasn’t really benefitted a landless villager like her. Widowed two years ago, she is left to fend for her son and two daughters.

Suganda Lokhande is not alone. With water hard to come by, the women of the region invariably have to make the rounds of the village well to fetch water for their families. Finding enough water for family chores in the dry summer months was even harder. They have to depend on tankers for water.

Due to the shortage of water, Suganda is forced to seek employment outside the village.” I work as a daily wage labourer in the neighboring villages,”  she says adding that she earns Rs. 150 for an entire days  work. As the other villages are 30-40 km away from Dolasane, Suganda pays the pick-up  van Rs. 40 daily  for transportation.

Outside the village saw a small shop selling Idea SIM cards. Strangely we live in world where people have more  access to mobile phones than to  safe drinking water.

Iftar in Pune’s Cantonment Area

{Photos: Violet Vaz}

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As the sun sets on Pune and the muezzin’s call for the evening prayer rings out signifying the end of the day’s fast, the party begins in Camp situated in the heart of Pune city.
The Streets of Camp come alive with the sights, smells and sounds during the month of Ramadan. It’s fascinating to watch small stalls come alive in every street and lane, lit up by yellow flood lamps selling mouth watering delicacies.
Those who love food should come and indulge in the tandoori, beef dalcha, chicken kadi ghost, mutton rashid and treat themselves to a variety of faludas and kheer.
When in Camp, surrender yourself to your senses and you won’t be disappointed.

An Open Letter to Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden | Image courtesy: The Guardian
Edward Snowden | Image courtesy: The Guardian

Dear Edward,

I have always wanted to visit Moscow and not just move around as a ghost in the transit lounge at the Sheremetyevo Airport where I understand you are as I write.

So as you enjoy a glass of Smirnoff and anxiously wait to see whether it will be Havana or some small island you’ll be jetting off to next, I hope you spare some time  to read this letter. I promise to keep it brief.

Firstly, a belated happy birthday to you! I hope you made a wish that day. It must have been hard not being able to celebrate this day with your family and friends. But from where I stand, it looks  more of a choice than circumstance. I’m sure you saw this coming.

I personally think what you did was really brave. By telling the world that the NSA is eavesdropping on them is something that came as a huge shock. After all no one likes ‘ Big Brother’ monitoring their every action.

I’m sure you must have done a lot of thinking before you gave up  your $200,000 per annum salary, you perfect life in Hawaii with your girlfriend Lindsay Mills and your freedom as a US citizen. What surprises me is that your stupendous act of self-sacrifice did not evoke huge public adulation from a nation that prides itself on allowing its citizens equal rights and freedom for all.

What continues to baffle me is that despite the US betraying their EU allies by bugging and eavesdropping on their EU meeting, almost all the EU countries have rejected your asylum plea. While countries may be having their own agendas it is the public who is the most violated. Citing security reasons for tapping into our phones and emails is simply not justified. What about our right to privacy?

As an aspiring journalist myself, I have learnt so much from you. I have also opened my eyes and observed how media houses across the globe  are reporting on you. Newspapers and T.V channels in the west have been skewing the bias away from you by labeling  you as a ‘traitor’ and ‘stateless pariah’. The recent decline in articles and news on you strongly shows that much information is being withheld from us.

But  Edward, hold on there! Do not give up on your ideals. As one of my favourite authors, J.K Rowling quoted, ‘It’s our choices that show who we truly our far more than our abilities.’  So as you await your boarding flight all I want to say is good luck to you and take care of yourself. Your bravery and courage to stand by decision has inspired this Indian girl.

Violet Vaz


The ‘ugly’ side of Bollywood

Bollywood stars , the male breed in particular have been ruling the hearts of millions, for years. They have always made the headlines for their on-screen antics,  larger than life portrayal of the good guy who can romance the most prettiest  girls , single-handedly take on a army of thugs and save the damsel in distress.

Their charm and on-screen heroics makes you fall in love with them. Awe-struck fans worship them and look up to them as role models.


The Khans who rule Bollywood: Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan


Earlier it was Dilip Kumar , Dev Anand , Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan  who were hugely popular during their respective eras. Today we have the Khan quartet Salman, Shahrukh, Aamir and Saif followed by the Kapoors , Ranbir and Shahid ruling  Bollywood and living the good life.

But life is far from normal from what our ‘good guys’ portray on the big screen.

Shahrukh Khan’s  bawl last year at the Wankhede stadium was uncalled for and tarnished the image of the ‘King of Romance’. He faced severe opposition from the late Shiv Sena Supremo, Bal Thackeray when he made statements supporting  Pakistani players  to participate in the IPL.

Sanju Baba , who won our heart with his outstanding performance in Munnabhai is presently doing time at Pune’s Yerawada jail  after being convicted in the 1993 Mumbai blast  for illegal possession of weapons.

Boom ! Bang ! Dishoom! is the sound we hear as Salman Khan pulls the trigger to kill  a baddie on-screen. However, off screen too he has pull the trigger killing blackbucks and chinkaras (Indian gazelle), both of which are protected animal. But  it doesn’t end there. On July 24, a session court  framed fresh charges against the Bollywood hunk for  culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the 2002 hit and run case where  under the influence of alcohol ran over people sleeping on the pavements. If convicted for this charges he could face ten years of rigorous imprisonment.

The list goes on.  Sex, drugs, casting couch.. Bollywood has seen it all.Controversies will always be a part and parcel of Bollywood. However, the off- screen antics of stars can make or break their image. The audience savours the on -screen vengeance of a ‘good guy’. But sadly these men are not heroes in their real lives. Looking up to them as role models is simply atrocious !

Lost & forgotten, Telegram bids adieu



The Telegram is dead, Long live the Telegram

Today, July 15 marked the end of the 163-year-old telegram service in India. Once hailed as the harbinger of news to the people, the telegram will now  disappear into the horizon forever.

There was a time when the arrival of telegram, also popularly known as ‘taar’ could make anyone’s heart skip a beat. It was one of the fastest means of communication in the country. Since then, the telegram has lost its relevance with the advent of technology. With the rise of the internet and social media like Twitter, Facebook and e-mail the world was able to connect within a few seconds and thus turned the poor telegram into something totally obsolete.

It was started in the year 1850 on an experimental basis between Kolkata and Diamond Harbour. The following year  it began its services in the British East India Company. It was only in 1854  that the service was opened  to the public. It was of such importance in those days that the revolutionaries fighting for India’s independence would often cut off the telegram lines to prevent the British from sending key information across cities.

There is no denying that even  Bollywood was greatly influenced by the Telegram. Many times the entire plot of the film would change on the arrival of a message through ‘taar’. Such was its impact! The telegram at a funny side to itself too. Many-a-times, people would write to their homes informing their family about their return and they themselves would reach before their telegram even arrived.

Incurring huge losses over the years, the Indian-state owned telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited [BSNL] finally decided to stop offering  telegrams. Nearing  its death ,thousands of citizens visited the 75 offices across the county to pay their final respects, hailing Morse’s greatest contribution to science. It was a first time visit for many who wanted to send a telegram to their loved ones just for keep’s sake. The last telegram sent was ‘bye bye’.

Sadly, perhaps today’s 3G and 4G generation won’t feel the loss of the telegram. The world has changed so much that we are now connected 24/7. However, human emotions have not  yet evolved: being connected is not the same as feeling a connection. RIP telegram.