Thursday, 9 July 2015

ALCOHOL AND WOMEN IN INDIA


Here, in Spain, I drink a beer, a sangría, a margarita or a mojito whenever I want to. I have one (or more) at a pub or bar, or I go to a supermarket and buy as many as I wish. And the same happens with the rest of alcoholic drinks. You just go, get them and drink them. It doesn't matter if you are male or female, young (over 16) or old. Nobody thinks of you as being loose or a drunkard!
 
In India it's different! The concepts of alcohol and women don't match! Indian girls might drink alcohol, but they cannot be seen in public buying it.
 
Drinking alcohol is perfectly legal, though there are dry days. These days are specific days when the sale of alcohol is banned. Consumption in the privacy of your home is permitted. Most of the Indian states observe these days on major national festivals and around voting days. In Andhra Pradesh these are Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti.
 
Much of Indian drinking is done on the sly and off the books! In big cities it's easy to spot the off-licences. In these offies you can find different plonk, beer, Western booze, and so on. But in a small village it's a different kettle of fish! In villages men get loaded on home-brewed hooch; they spend hours throwing booze down their necks. The men I saw celebrating Vinayaka Chavithi were second to none in being trashed!!! Nothing compared to how teenagers get in the famous Spanish drinking binges!

But it's unthinkable that a woman goes to one of the hidden spots where booze can be bought.
 
 
Alcohol consumption among women in India has been on the rise lately due to the changing sociocultural milieu. The statistical data for women remain vague, though. Seeing a woman glugging any kind of booze would mean a social stigma for life. Not to mention if she was having a fag at the same time!!!
 
Every now and then, my friend and I had a drink while in Punganur. Nobody knew I drank alcohol; they'd have gone aghast and looked at me in horror if they'd known! I had my first beer after a month and I can say it tasted heavenly! It was a sort of odessey to find them! Due to the circumstances my friend had to get someone to sneakily buy them.



That's why every time I went on a trip, anywhere, I stored up on booze. I remember going on a booze hunt in Pondicherry. As this city has a special administration status due to the fact that it was a French colony, you have to go through customs when leaving. Bottles clanked conspicuously in my suitcase, but, I don't know how, I managed to get through.

Mind you! We needn't go to an AA meeting! We just had a dozen beers, some wine and a bottle of vodka in a year! We just felt like indulging in some spirits every now and then, not to get hammered, but to do something different. (In Europe we have a drink just to socialize).

It was because of this lack of practising that I had the worst hangover in my life on 1st January after a New Year's Eve with just one beer and two screwdrivers. I recall everybody coming to my room to wish me "happy new year" and me pretending to be perfectly well!
 
Anyway, good memories (despite the aftereffects)! But I prefer the freedom we have in Spain to crave a drink without being included in the "loose women" list.