Let me at the outset say that the certified drowner of sorrows and the uplifter of spirits – alcohol, is a subject of personal informed choice. But a certain contradiction has been brewing in my head for days.
The recent point blank killing of a toll booth employee by a drunken youth stirred up terrifying images of Jessica Lall who was also killed for refusing to serve a drink. Tippling and temper do go hand in hand. A few swigs and voila, one is either all bindaas and euphoric or angry and irrational.
But the paradox is that there are innumerable liquor shops on one side of the highway, and cops waiting to pounce with the deadly breath analyzer on the other. News is that Pizza Hut outlets will soon offer beer and wine on their menu. Good. With fast-food outlets, pubs, and neighborhood liquor shops, all offering an array of intoxicants, every gulp in a public space is weighed with some sense of responsibility. Some recognize the fact yet some don’t.
Do not drink and drive says the sign board. The million dollar question is, “who then drives the car home?” Hire a driver you say. Well, while the sahib was guzzling away, what stops the driver from some merry making?
I wish to share an anecdote here. In an Emirates flight my fellow traveler was served unlimited drinks by a smiling air-hostess with all the professionalism at her disposal. The tipsy gentleman perhaps got sozzled after a few shots and in a fit of inebriation repeatedly winked at the air-hostess. As soon as the flight reached Mumbai he had to undergo an alcohol test. After testing positive he was handed over to CISF. Fine, the guy transgressed the line by a mile but why serve unlimited drinks in- flight?
Eight out of ten times, offensive behavior is attributed to in-flight alcohol consumption. It is like offering the traveler unlimited porn (American Airlines) and then expecting him to regard the woman next to him as a nun.
Imagine the air hostess asking, “Sir what will you have? Some coffee, tea, wine or porn?”
How many lone travelers would come up with, “I would prefer some lime juice. And only family channels for me sister.”
Air-France has an all male crew on duty in the first-class section when Dominique Strauss Kahn is travelling. Statements from Air-France said that this decision came after an intoxicated Kahn had propositioned several women crew members.
This inexplicable mindset cannot be attributed to illiteracy, unemployment, frustration or age. It transcends all barriers. Again some are responsible drinkers yet some aren’t.
According to an article in ET, a study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers analyzed preventable causes of death in the US and they found a mixed bag of results. First the good news. Tippling allegedly averted 26,000 deaths each year from heart attacks, diabetes and strokes. No, don’t go for that glass as yet. Flip the coin and the redemption becomes damnation. The same data was offset by 90,000 deaths due to liver diseases, accidents and other ill effects of liquor.
Dorothy Parker, a poet said, "I love to drink Martinis/Two at the very most/Three I am under the table/Four I am under the host." The key word seems to be moderation.
Dorothy Parker also said, “Drink and dance and laugh and die, Love the reeling midnight through, for tomorrow we shall all die”.
It makes sense but where, when and how much remains equally significant. When the ex IMF chief can transgress all lines, lesser mortals intoxicated with false notions of power have extra responsibility to drink but not get drunk.
But my question remains. Who steers the car away from the cops safely back home?