One of the good things about Mumbai is that it gives you the opportunities to create a career in the field of your interest. It’s not always easy, if you are trying to make it in a niche industry. Old traditions and habits come in the way of youngsters trying to break into such industries. With our society still being a male dominated one, women often face such barriers. But age and sex can never stop you from doing something you love to do. And this spirit is highlighted by our today’s featured writer, Karina Aggarwal, who writes about alcohol on her website Gigglewater411. Discovering Mumbai proudly presents the lady whose knowledge of spirits will leave you spell bound!
`Karina, 25, who hails from the southern city of Hyderabad, moved to Mumbai seven years ago to pursue a degree in English literature, anthropology and psychology from the prestigious St. Xavier’s institute. She decided to opt for English literature and Anthropology because both Hyderabad and Mumbai didn’t offer anything close to what she really wanted to do, which was to become an Egyptologist. After college she spent some time working for organizations like NDTV and Times of India (TOI). Post TOI she decided to dive into journalism and enrolled for one year post graduation course at Xavier Institute of Communications. After completing her PG she started working for a publishing house, writing for two magazines an alcohol & beverage magazine and one on photography.
“Growing up, with family in Goa, there was always alcohol around me and so it wasn’t a novelty. I would see beautiful bottles of wine and liqueurs and if I ever wanted to taste, I would be given a sip,” says Karina. She might not have been particularly interested in it early on, but being from a family that travelled a lot and had members living abroad, she was very aware about a lot of things related to spirits. This translated into her job writing about alcoholic beverages. Taking up the assignment meant researching and reading a lot of interesting stuff about alcohol. Soon she started developing a thirst to learn more as she felt that knowing the story behind a particular drink improved the whole experience when she went for tastings or met brand ambassadors of brands.
|India's first Gin and Tonic bar at Arola|
Her developing interest in alcohol meant that while researching for her articles she would wander off in search of interesting stuff about alcohol. She found herself getting lost in collecting these tit bits about spirits. However her employer being a B2B magazine, she could not use a lot of the quirky stuff that she would find on the net for her articles. Karina started putting such stuff on a blog. That’s how GiggleWater411 was born. After quitting her full time job, she started working seriously on the blog since the start of this year. The response has been fabulous and has brought with it many other writing opportunities. About two months ago she decided to convert her blog to a website.
So what can you expect to find at Gigglewater411.com? The site has many sections like Bar reviews, Brand reviews, features and news. Karina also runs contests for brands on her site to keep the readers engaged. Her last contest was for Fratelli wines, which is one of the most promising Indian wineries around. A personalized bottle of Fratelli’s limited edition Reserve blend ‘Sette 2009’ was gifted to the winner. If you like cocktails, then you should check out the recipes section which has some great cocktail recipes for you to try.
|The limited edition Sette 2009 wine by Fratelli|
Another interesting section on the site is ‘Meet the Mixologist’ where she features interviews of bartenders and brand ambassadors. She also has a section called ‘Spotlight’ which is like an advertorial section for brands. Her website still has a blog like feel and that is the way she wants to keep it. None of the features or reviews are paid for. Apart from Gigglewater she is currently writing for Conde Nast Traveller, GQ, Luxpresso and for Liquid which is a renowned magazine in the alcohol space. Gigglewater is not her sole focus as it is her writing work elsewhere that pays for all the bills.
Karina’s biggest challenge however is her age and the fact that she is a woman. Many times when she walks into a room for an event people give her that inquisitive look, “Often they wonder if I am old enough to be there!” says Karina. It’s a challenge and often she has to prove to people that she knows what she is talking about. But Karina has no qualms about it. She knows she is young and has a long way to go and lots of things to learn. She doesn’t pretend to know things she doesn’t and also doesn’t shy away from asking questions; after all she will grow only by learning more and more. She wants to focus on her work without bothering about what people have to say about her age or sex.
Karina has big plans for Gigglewater, “There are a lot of things that I want to do with it,” she says. One of the things that she is looking to begin soon is organizing events. Through Gigglewater she’s looking at being a beverage events facilitator. Right now she is in talks with few people for this. She is hopeful that things will fall into place soon. To sign off we asked her to recommend some good bars in the city, “The beer selection at The Pint Room, some of the beers that they have you won’t find anywhere else. Sammy Sosa has some good ones too, for a great price. The Gin and Tonic menu at Arola, it’s the first Gin bar in India. Ellipsis, they have pricey but good cocktails.” As for her personal favourite drink, “At home with friends, I prefer Old Monk with coke and lime. At a pub I would pick a pint of beer,” says Karina.
It’s encouraging to see young people breaking into the domains generally reserved for a more mature population. We hope Karina’s work will inspire other young women to take up careers in niche areas. Go break the glass ceiling, ladies!
If you are interested in alcohol and want to know more about it, then do check out her website – Gigglewater411