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Hello, What Will You Have?

| Updated: December 26, 2021 11:36

I write this maiden column from the lovely land of Gujarat, quite a surprising choice for some, to spend a Christmas eve.

One because it is the first and only State of India that has had a prohibition rule since its inception in 1960; meaning alcohol consumption without a government permit can land a person in jail. For locals, surprisingly, the government permit is available only if there are medical reasons and you also must be rich. Doctors in Gujarat are quite innovative and if your income tax returns have been filed diligently for the last three years, government officers dole out permit don’t bother to scientifically question why a man with liver issues need four bottles of Laphroaigh or some fine and rare Macallan every month. Of course, while Delhi and Maharashtra keep on fighting on whether the right age to allow drinking should be 21 or 25; Gujarat is sorted out. Only those above 40 can drink officially. Remember the word. Officially.

But the reason why spending Christmas or New year in Gujarat could be a good idea is that this place is rich. The private parties are much better here, believe me, than the ones held in those wobbly little four Bombay styled BHKs with terrace or those expansive Chhatrapur and Mehrauli farmhouses, where there is constant unexplained fear in the air and mind. Will someone start shooting randomly? So unlike Mumbai and Delhi, this place is quieter, calmer, and weatherwise much pleasant than Bombay or Dilli during winters. Also, there is little or no show off. At least 40 per crowd could be wearing a sexy strass without scrreaming that

Especially, if you are lucky and your host has a nice hideaway farmhouse in North or Central Gujarat, you can expect blue bucks, the largest species of Asian antelopes called nilgais to drop in to your party. Its illegal to eat nilgai meat in India but if you have been to Texas, you know how this lean meat, much similar to veal meat is popular. Black bucks are also roasted alive, we are told.

In short, Gujarat is not as dull as you think except that being a non-drinker in otherwise dry Gujarat is looked upon with much contempt and a peculiar type of antagonism. Yes, in this dry State, at parties, you are expected to drink.

And if you dare to say no to a drink, it is when problems begin, and manners go for a toss. This is a very Desi problem not limited to Gujarat.

When it comes to men, we often find those who do not drink too cunning and hideous or the opposite. Dull, boring and “out of place”.

When it is a woman, especially a woman dressed in Westerns or sporting a non-Indian short spunky hairstyle, judgements flow in easily thrown on the floor. “Why is she not drinking with us”.

Hello, let us be awesome with non-drinkers. Let us not be judgemental. When it’s a man and he refuses; eyes are casually rolled. “Why you cannot control. Come on Mister, we are very close group, like family only. It is okay if you get drunk and behave drunkard for a night”. What the hell and this gentleman who blabbers this, with a few masalas: the Pan Parag, Rajnigandha types twitched stained mouths laughing around ear splittingly, has not yet touched his first drink too. Like every good Indian, he is just desperately trying to be a good host. But the manner stink. When it’s a woman, there are multiple judgements. “Women who drink Whiskey and laugh loudly are easily available”, an army officer’s snooty wife who doesn’t know the difference between a Jodhpur and a Jam Jar Gin Morus LXIV says sipping the cheapest red wine on the party menu. She may get attention of some desperate housewives, who indulge in vodka and iced tea in their kitty parties, “but in afternoon only when Mister is in office”. “She was very chaalu first and I have seen her drinking like a fish, a bored woman may explain. “Shark. She drank like a shark. But maybe now she wants to get married”. Hello, who gives these Indian aunties to issue certificates and judgements so casually?

Manners. If someone says he or she does not want to drink, accept it without any comments or judgements. Requesting the guest, “ek to chalega” is not hospitality, it is bad manners. Simply tell the guest who non alcoholic drinks you have and move on without asking reasons.

Your guest does not owe you an explanation whether he or she or they are trying to lose weight, have a medical condition, are going through recovery or simply find you a boring company to drink with.

They may just like the food you serve and are at your party just because they admire your dog. Leave them and be awesomely nice when someone says no, they don’t want a drink. Offer them a quirky fruit juice or that sparkling soda from that new SodaStream Fizzi. They will fall in love with your nature and come for your party to really enjoy. Not for the dog, at least.

See you next week.

You can write to me at MissManners@vibesofindia.com

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