Vantage point

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Augustravelogue 2

The next stage of the trip took place in two different countries. One was Austria, where we had an event at the Swarovski Crystal World near Innsbruck, and the other was Abu Dhabi where we had an 18 hour stopover.

Austrian landscape is visibly prettier than German. I have often used the term "feels like being inside a picture postcard" but never have I meant it as seriously as when I use it to describe the beauty of Austria. Granted, I saw only a small part of the country, but I have falled in love with it and surely return, in much more romantic company, to explore it further. Swarovski KristallWalten, i.e Crystal World, is a museum type thing with the central theme being, obviously crystals. The whole Crystal World is very fact one of the first exhibits is a Dali creation. It has to be experienced rather than described. The IBM event had a performance by Sunil Pal, an extremely talented comedian who has made his name on the Great Indian Laughter Challenge recently. His jokes were original as well as up-to-date, with several gags aimed at recent phenomena like the Mumbai Flood, Abhijit Sawant, etc. The guy is a natural performer, and is destined for big things. If I may take a detour here, the Laughter Challenge is a great concept, as it takes the off-the-beaten-path track of promoting comic talent, and not singing talent which sixteen million other shows do. There is a great deal of comedy talent in India which, if mined properly, will reap rich dividends.

We lament how Indian sitcoms are puerile when compared to American and English sitcoms, but we ignore the fact that most great sitcom creaters have been successful stand-up comics. These stand-up comics make a living performing at Comedy Clubs. Sadly, the Comedy Club phenomenon does not exist in India. There has been a boom in the restaurant business, but there exist only a handful of restaurants where comedians perform. With the emergence on shows like the Laughter Challenge, hopefully there will be a pool of comic talent which will then encourage entrepreneurs to set up Comedy Clubs.

Back to the travelogue then. We left Germany, and arrived in Abu Dhabi for an 18 hour long stopover. The city is spic and span, well laid out, opulent, but seems to lack a "punch". I did not go to Dubai, and spent my time wandering around Abu Dhabi. The heat was extremely sapping, reminiscent of the hottest days in Lucknow, and every few minutes we would be seeking the refuge of AC shops or malls. My conspiracy theory is that this stopover was put in place only to make us appreciate the weather of Mumbai, instead of cribbing about it, which we would have surely done had we landed directly after the comfy climes of Germany. Arriving on a mildly rainy morning after having spent a day in the searing Abu Dhabi heat made us compare Bombay to a hill station, something that happens only once(if at all) in a blue moon.

Thus ends the travelogue. Normal broadcasting, I mean blogging, will resume in a day or two. There's lots to write about. The latest happenings in Shivsena, the Old Trafford test (about which interestingly, updates were appearing more frequently on CNN than BBC World in Germany), the modification in the Hindu Code Bill to correct the inheritance issue. Watch this space.