What a year… one none of us would like to repeat.
Late 2019 when I made the big move to Europe, it was under the assumption that I would regularly shuttle back and forth between my home in Mumbai, India and my new home in Nürnberg, Germany. As my husband adores Europe, has even toured Germany extensively, it was reasonable to think he would come as often as his hectic filming and performance schedule permits.
Sure we were struggling a bit on the visa front, but that would get sorted soon enough and the years being a cross-continent commuting couple would fly by! Or so we thought…
The year began optimistically… we celebrated quietly with friends in the country and I was so proud of achieving 1,000 blog posts! However what I didn’t share was shortly afterwards, how sick both I and my mother-in-law were… she was in ICU for weeks (thankfully recovered!) and I somehow managed to get (I thought) well enough to keep my scheduled flight back to Germany.
January’s posts were nearly all written during my December break. February mostly sharing past experiences. Then there were months of silence. Why?
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that wasn’t a mere nasty flu that knocked me out in India, getting “better” but then radically worse in Germany – bronchitis which became pneumonia which so badly impacted my lungs that I needed to go on steroids and, for the first time in my life, used an inhaler…? Then even once I could get out of bed, still took so incredibly long to fully recover… even after months, I barely had the energy to get through the work week to find my weekends disappeared into a blur of exhausted nothingness.
By now, unless you’ve been completely disconnected from all media, it is pretty clear what this all meant.
As the months progressed and COVID changed all our lives completely… it became increasingly obvious that all attempts for me to return to India was proving impossible and equally, my husband was unable to get a visa to come to Germany. By summer, we needed an alternate plan. Enter late August a Bollywood film… they chartered an entire plane and sequestered actors and crew in a Glasgow hotel for months… recreating Delhi, Lahore and Dubai airports in Scotland! Ah… the magic of cinema!
After his 2 week quarantine, I was able to join my husband… To be in Scotland for the 1st time after years of exploring whiskies was a dream come true! However naturally nearly all distilleries were shut… only a few had recently re-opened their shops and even fewer had limited pre-booked tastings. No official tours were permitted. Still, I managed to pop over to Glengoyne for their “malt master” experience and we took a memorable day trip to Isle of Arran to spend a little time at Lochranza and Lagg distillery.
Even better was our next few weeks in the UK with an unforgettable “honeymoon” courtesy of dear friends – both in their lovely London home and their Georgian manor just outside of Bath. Full credit to my malty companion for rekindling the love of exploring drams… together we enjoyed an exceptional evening with The Whisky Exchange’s Sukindher Singh and four delightful sessions of minis:
- That Boutique-y Whisky Company Chinese New Year Quintet
- Summer (mostly) European whiskies
- Dunkerton Drams
- American minis
This malty merriment continued in Germany as I went straight from Frankfurt airport to Ziegler distillery with the German Sharing Angels. Something that now seems almost impossible but true! I haven’t yet shared this experience… think of it like ‘hoarding’ to bring out in the leanest months…
Determined to not lose momentum, a trio of Whisky Ladies of Mumbai found ourselves in Europe, so we decided to launch of our European chapter. We’ve successfully held five virtual sessions already!
- 1st session with a Chorlton Trio
- 2nd session with Chorlton’s Duo plus Whisky Warehouse No. 8
- 3rd session with North Star’s
- 4th session with North Star’s Speyside. Auchroisk and Glenturret
- 5th session exploring Maison Benjamin Keuntz with even more notes to come after we revisit with the folks behind the whisky creations
Spurred by this, I audaciously ordered a German based bottler’s whisky advent calendar – Vita Dulcis. Unbelievably I managed in December to get through all 24 miniatures – though it must seem like I’ve been ‘spamming’ all who follow this blog – apologies for that!
What next? As I write, I still don’t know if I will be able to get on a plane home to India. Our original plans for Dubai with family were dashed. Then the new strain from the UK wrecked havoc on my effort to get to Mumbai for Christmas… Just as finally one impediment has been solved – my Indian visa – the ability to actually use it is proving challenging.
However I remain ever optimistic and am thankful for all that we have – a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and sufficient means to indulge in the occasional dram or two. This is far more fortunate than many in the world today… So wishing you and yours a significantly better 2021!
Curious to know more? Check out recent Whisky Lady’s 2020 semi-monthly summaries:
- Whisky Lady – Sep to Oct 2020
- Whisky Lady – June to Aug 2020
- Whisky Lady – Mar to May 2020
- Whisky Lady – Feb 2020
- Whisky Lady – Jan 2020
- Celebrating 1000 whisky posts!
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Here’s to a brighter 2021!
Happy New Year! Slainte!