Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Of Merkel, beer showers and Amsterdam

A waiter accidentally spilled five glasses of beer down Angela Merkel’s back last week. I empathise with the German Chancellor because I know exactly what she went through.

Flashback to June 2005. Amsterdam was hosting the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards and as a rookie reporter, I had done precious little in terms of exclusive celebrity interviews.

Bollywood stars were closeted in their hotel rooms or were at rehearsals for the big day; only a few known faces were hurrying through city streets -- and they were not interested in speaking to me.

Disheartened, I joined a group of Indian journalists going for a drink that evening. We walked past cobbled streets to an alfresco eatery near the red-light district of De Wallen. Since it was chilly outside, we occupied the only table inside the coffee shop. I ordered chocomel (don’t ask; being a teetotaller even in Sin City baffles most people). I was the only one to opt for chocolate-flavoured milk; the others wanted beers.

The waitresses were dressed in Bavarian-inspired outfits. I watched as one of them, a pretty blonde with her hair in plaits, moved towards us balancing a huge pitcher of beer. Perhaps it was her ankle-length skirt, or maybe the treacherous carpet, but the next thing I knew -- I was drenched in beer.

I remember glancing at her face. The waitress was frantic. There was a flurry of hands, cloth towels and apologies. I was helped out of my dripping jacket as my stunned companions watched -- and then giggled.

I don’t remember much after that and was too embarrassed to care. I think we got a round of beers and a glass of chocomel on the house. My leather jacket had the worst of the encounter though. It reeked of alcohol for days, and fellow passengers on the flight home gave me weird looks.

As for Merkel, she handled it much better than I did. She regained her composure after the beer bath and went on stage as scheduled. It’s not something she’ll easily forget though. It’s the same for me. The sights and sounds of the Amsterdam trip may have faded into the background but my beer shower memory remains. Cheers to that.

(Contest entry for )

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