Sunday, November 20, 2011

We Need a Brew Pub in Hyderabad...

I was lamenting with a dear old friend in Southern California about the lack of good beer and craft ales here in India.  I would cut off a pinkie-finger for a decent India Pale Ale!! ...strange anomaly ain't it?  No IPA in India!  I guess it really isn't that strange, because real IPA back in the day was shipped TO India from England...and it was an ale that was heavily hopped to make it last during the journey around Africa.  

Truly, though...the beer sitch here is pathetic... Kingfisher draft (lager) is drinkable - but the bottled stuff is poison.  There are a few other Kingfisher products (Kingfisher "Blue" isn't bad - - but I've only had it in Pune and Delhi.  Around there (especially at the golf course, we mostly drink Tuborg and Carlsberg....but there is also an Indian-made Budweiser and sometimes Heineken and Corona available (for a price)...but nothing with any real flavour.  

As for opening a brew-pub, although the idea sounds awesome, the truth is that bringing in grains, malted barley, hops, etc. is so closely monitored and taxed it's pretty much illegal.  As a matter of fact, the whole alcohol situation here is closely monitored (controlled) by the state government - in this case: Andhra Pradesh.  

Taxes on beer/wine/booze, especially imports, are excessive... We can now get Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Bombay (or is it Mumbai?) Sapphire, most Johnny Walker products - you gotta be willing to pay top rupee ...NO California/French/Euro wines (only Oz, S. Africa)... A brew pub would be huge here.  The best beer I've had since I've been here was draft Guinness in Bangkok and - - last trip to Pune for golf we found THIS:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Banjara Hillbillies Update - LIVE at Beyond Coffee

Performing live in front of a crowd is always fraught with challenges and difficulties.  Especially one filled with rambunctious kids screaming and running around.  Here, The Banjara Hillbillies, Hyderabad's ONLY Bluegrass Band, practices John Prine's "Paradise" - one of the new additions to our live set.  

The sound quality is not great, and the camera battery went dead in the middle of the second chorus, but I thought it captured all of the problems of performing live in just a short 1:28!!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hyderabad Golf Update....

I have really fallen down on the job, haven't I??  I think I'm something like four-months behind in my blog-posting!! I have our trip to the Maldives to write about...our trip to Bangkok with "Jay Laurila the Vanilla Gorilla"...and our last minute trip to Goa!!  We're also trying to book a trip to Singapore for Thanksgiving and we're almost booked with our African Safari to Kenya and Tanzania over Christmas and New Year.  It's not an excuse, but over the past several weeks, I've been trying to finish up with our Flintstone's Men's Club Match Play League before I leave for vacation... 

It's an interesting format.  Nine-hole, match-play, two matches if you play 18-holes.  We had eight Flintstones in the league, but two dropped out due to health reasons...and one other fellow stepped in to fill that final spot.  It's been a hard-fought set of matches - and - although I started slowly... I'm pretty sure that I secured first-place in my division when I won today!! The story of the victory I will relate in detail (below)...but it was a classic match-play war!! As of this morning, all my rounds are now complete...including a split with an Aussie named Gabriel (which didn't count because he had to withdraw!) and an injury withdrawal from an Indian guy named Suresh - he had an oblique-muscle strain on the second-shot of our match and went down like he was shot!! Another match that did not count!!

All of the matches I was in were hard-fought and close...any one of them could have gone either way. Especially with a fellow 16-handicapper named Satish (what a battle!!) and Sakaar - who I had to give one-shot-per-side (two days of nine-holes each - - only a few bad shots separated us! )...and truly a see-saw battle and probably the most enjoyable matches I have ever had in my life (a 35-foot birdie putt by him that I will never forget!!) Hopefully my 3-3-0 on the front and my 4-0-2 on the back will secure me enough points to make it into the next round. 

I leave for Pune (PRONOUNCED POO-NAH - not "POON") on Friday for an Indian golf safari where I will be playing Oxford, the Poona Club and Aamby Valley Golf Club.

As for today's round....

In this tale, I wish in NO WAY to denigrate my new friend Sakaar or his golf game...he is a gentleman and a good golfer who tested me to my limits on both of our nine-hole matches this week. Any hole or either match could have gone a different way. I missed some short putts (so what else is new??) and he had some bad bounces today...

Here is the brief tale of how our match ended today...I should have been three-up and none of this would have mattered...but the greens were sanded and plugged for aeration and a bit of a mess....that's no excuse...both of us made some stellar putts, as well as missed a few...

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - - AERATION ALERT!! If you're planning to play Boulder Hills in Gachibowli in the next week....they have plugged and sanded the greens and they are a disaster!! Anyway - - here's today's story:

#1 1-up #2 1-up (Sakaar stroked and I held him off!) #3 AS (great birdie-putt by Sakaar after a great tee-shot) #4 AS #5 1-down (Sakaar had an amazing sand-save and I missed an easy putt to square it) #6 AS (I played really well and made par!) NB - "AS" means "All Square" or "tied".

Now it starts. File this one under "Never Give Up"!! #7 (Par-5 - uphill) We both hit decent with my 3-hybrid and he hit driver....I hit first from the middle of the fairway. I hit the same club and pull it badly into the brush on the left. I put a provisional in play and cranked it even higher up the hill with a wicked yank! I drop another and finally split the fairway - - but unless I manage to find my original ball - - I'm laying SIX and he hasn't even taken his second shot!! He hits a rescue-club a little off the toe and ends up in the right rough, about 165 yards from the green. I go over and I FIND my first ball - - and I declare unplayable and take a drop. I decide to play it save and hit a five-iron back into the middle and leave myself about a shot I am laying three and he's inside of me laying two. I crush one that comes up short...leaving me about a 50-yard chip to the elevated green. 

Sakaar has no reason to lay-up - - he's got a stroke on me and he's easily in range of the green. He takes the rescue-club and....comes up a bit short. BUT!! He hits the rock in front of the green and the ball bounces forward and to the right - - probably in the bougainvillea behind the green. I leave my pitch-shot just a little short...but I'm now there in FIVE. We get to the green and search for his ball and never found it. He has to go back to the 165-yard spot and hit again. He does...and slices it a ships over a flat rock to the right of the green and lands in some thick nasty rough. Now we're both there in five...but - I'm on the front of the green and he's in the sh$t e. He hits a pretty good shot but leaves about an 18-footer to make 7. I choose to putt up the hill to a blue-flag and hit it well....left myself a 3' gimme which he graciously gave me. I'm down in 7. he missed his putt and took an 8 - and I won the hole with a double-bogey from out of the brush!! I am 1-up with two-to-play.

All I have to do is win the par-three #8 and I win!! We both hit good shots ...but I'm in the garden-spot...with a 15-footer up the hill for birdie, from just off the green. Sakaar is about 35-40-feet to the left of the flag (red flag - short and right) I come-on to the green and leave myself a deadly 18"-er for par... Sakaar takes a long time to line his putt up - - the greens are in terrible shape because they have been plugged and sanded over the last 2-days. He lets it rip and - - - the ball finds its' way through he sandbox and the freshly-drilled holes...and he drains it...right into the cup for birdie!! The match is all-square coming into the tough 9th and final hole! 

On #9 it's Sakaar's honors - and, walking up to the tee-box - I see that he has a five-iron in his hand for the lay-up. I know this is the smart-play and I grab my 5-iron as well. He hits a smooth lay-up to about 20-yards before the creek. I hit my 5-iron REALLY good...but it's towards the looked as if I took one hop and right into the hazard!! We pass his ball to check on mine...and - - miracles of miracles - we see it!! There it bounce took me to the other side of the creek by about 5-yards!!

We go back to his ball which has a good lie - - but it's a little tight....not much turf on the short-side of the creek/hazard. I don't know what club he chose....but it was obvious he was aiming left toward the 100-yard stake to take the water out of play and lay-up. He's been hitting the ball great all day, so there is no reason to suspect that he would do anything else. 

And he proceeds to chunk a fat-one about 40-feet and directly into the creek!!!!

Obviously not a happy-camper - he takes his drop on the tee-side of the creek (we still haven't gotten to my ball!!)....and whacks it about 30-feet ahead with another chunky-monkey!! He is laying 4 and I'm still laying one! I get to my ball and take the safe-route...I take an 8-iron and lay-up to about 90-yards. Laying-four, Sakaar grabs the rescue-club and gives it a mighty whack!! It comes up short of the green....hits a rock on the edge of the lake and bounces God-only-knows looked like it went into the bushes up by the clubhouse!! I hit a gap-wedge on...and - - when we can't find his ball...Sakaar graciously concedes the match... 1 and 0 for me!

I enjoyed my two nine-hole matches with Sakaar very, very much. Had he hit a decent second-shot on #9 things could have ended all-square just like the day before!

I will try to post at least the Maldives trip and link to our Facebook Photo Album.  Perhaps I'll get a chance to write about Bangkok, too.  We are still loving India....miss all of you in the U.S.

Much love!