14 June, 2011

The First Rule Of Biere Club

We hadn't even been in Bangalore 24 hours when we managed to make it to southern India's first microbrewery, the Biere Club. The Indian beer market is a virtual monopoly dominated by Kingfisher. The traditional slim selection makes an American long for even the choice between Coors, Pabst, and Budweiser. So it was shocking to learn that just a month ago a friend of my cousin had started the Biere Club, a European style pub featuring handcrafted beers and offering Bangalore another spot to socialize and drink.

The placed was packed, especially for a Sunday night, as we stood around waiting for a table that could accommodate 7 of us (no family outing is small). It was hard to tell whether the crowd was developing a taste for complex beer, or if they were just enjoying the latest venue to see and be seen. The clientele was young, reflective of the increasing number of single people earning good incomes thanks to the IT boom. And the attire was noticeably Western. It appears that with wealth and social status comes a desire to look American, at least in fashion. And it doesn't help that the television shows I've seen advertised are Keeping Up with the Kardashians and that show about the former Playmate turned mom who can't get by on her youth any more. Regardless, it was a familiar looking crowd, despite being halfway across the world.

The brews on tap were a cloudy Hefeweizen and a rusty Vienna Rye Lager. The former was good, and surprisingly unique considering how many wheat beers we've tasted. The latter was better and reminded us of Hamburg, although it's completely unfair to compare it to an ancient German recipe.

But the point of all this is that as the pints flowed, our theory of Saving The World One Beer At A Time seemed to take form as the conversation turned to our project. The major insight offered to us is that the quality of education in villages is a sliding scale between poverty and connectivity. A village that is poor, but has access to major towns, can be better served than a village that has wealth but no accessibility. And so the problem becomes much deeper (which was to be expected) than simply improving education or creating wealth. Instead, we will have to understand how all facets of rural life comprise the overall situation of their children, as well as what they are capable of after being educated. Which is just fine since even though education was our simplest in, we have many more questions and partial thoughts flying through our heads.

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