Tuesday, April 07, 2015


It was the summer of 99, with overcast skies and whirlwind memories of the first two years of our marriage. We had broken beds and kitchen tables, shattered glasses and got new ones. Blue, this time. Casement memories blocking the sun in brilliant hues of gold and blue, too. Yes, from newspapers blocking glass windows, we had moved to full-length curtains that gingerly kissed the floor. And a giant air cooler where we kept our pet mosquitoes, floating, dead. It was the right time to uncork a bottle of wine, we thought. Never having bought wine before, the only parameter was affordability; so a long, green bottle of Riviera found its way home one evening as we rubbed our hands in anticipation of a celebration like never before. 

Blue glasses from Good Earth, gifted by Punita​. A green bottle. Yes the white wine served at British Council was superb, we agreed, as it made us forget which passage Sashi Tharoor read out from, or the wisdom about love and longing Vikram Chandra shared. It was good, so white it is, although a cheaper version. OPEN IT ALREADY, wilya! 

Open? The bottle presented us with quite a tough challenge, with a smug little cork on top that seemed intent upon sitting there for good. How do you uncork a wine bottle, by the way? The bottle openers were of no help, and we had never heard of a corkscrew. Not to be deterred by this challenge (and having the dubious distinction of having sawed the legs off the hostel warden's bed), we brought out the hammer and a screwdriver. What was a mere cork in the face of a couple of devious minds from Banaras with clear intent? It gradually disintegrated and started going down the neck of the bottle, deeper and deeper, until we heard a pop! The night was young, a battle was won, and although we had to strain the residual pieces of the resilient cork from the wine, the white did taste good after all.

This is in memory of the cork which we preserved for a long time after that, and finally let go along with the chipped blue glasses after about 16 years. Also in memory of the bed, the bamboo table, and the air cooler, which we sold to the ironing guy for five hundred. The brilliant hues of the casement that faded, the Indian wine that got pushed over by French and South African, the hammers and screwdrivers that were forgotten with an abundance of corkscrews, and the evenings that became rarer as the books gathered dust. So, let's make an evening of it soon, and raise a toast to the brave cork that posed a tough challenge to our ignorance.

"Nice one, but aren't you forgetting something?"
"Umm, what exactly do you mean? It was really the summer of 2000, and not 99, but Summer of 2000 doesn't sound so nice as a Facebook post, does it?"
"I mean the savior in the form of Tropicana black grape juice?"
"Are you sure I should mention it? Isn't it a tragic end to an otherwise nice story? The fact that we couldn't have the strained wine without mixing it with grape juice?"
"Let's just be honest about it."

As you say, then. I'll go gather some firewood and you rustle up something for us.