"It was a late evening in 2002...having got some funding and even more importantly, official leave from college on the pretext of inviting various colleges to our yearly college fest, 5 of us friends found ourselves at the thallaserry side of the Mahe bridge...with excitement building up we started crossing it...On reaching the other side we were officially into Mahe and it was like what Alice would have felt when she came out of the rabbit hole into the Wonderland...or maybe when one enters Las vegas...It was a sight for sore eyes...All around us were flashing colorful neon lights on top of shops of all sizes ranging from multi storied buildings to small sheds where the owner cant even sit...all selling one single thing...Liquor ! That too at the cheapest rates available in and around the state of Kerala, in bottles of all imaginable colors and shapes..."
Some call it heaven...some call it hell...i call it necessary evil to get some friends to talk... :-)
For good or bad, social drinking has become an integral part of life...when old friends meet or when new friends are being made, the eternal bottle has become the epitome of an ice breaker.
Below are the random memories that come to my mind :
The fondest memories of mine are the weekend get together we used to have in our hostel...Imagine a hill with a church and two bungalows as the sole buildings on it. In one the local priest lived with his family and in the other, we 40 odd guys lived. Behind the 2 buildings was the rising hill and nestled in between was a cemetery. It was here that we used to have our meets. Either there used to a specific reason for this like discussing on the ‘socio-political’ atmosphere in college or we used to simply make one up just to have it !
No meeting was complete without the accompanying camp fire, the wood for which came from a small ‘locked’ shed of the church which was full of old broken furniture…we had even torched one of the wooden cots given by the college for this !
The local brands guzzled with gusto in those days will surely send chills down the spine of the same guys in the present times and the parody songs sung around the fire in pitch black nights in freezing temperatures still ring in our hearts…
My first and last Outdoor catering assignment:
In the brief time I spent in the Hotel Mgmt institute in Kovalam, I got only once a chance to take part in an outdoor catering assignment. So on a weekend me and my friends went to Ashok beach resort, the only 5 star hotel in Trivandrum at that time, for a banquet function arranged for some all India medical conference.
The jobs where simple: dust the cutlery in the storage room, man the food counter and man the bar counter. Since I was a non drinker, the guys told me to choose the other two jobs. The next six hours saw me dusting the cutlery from the huge storage rooms and placing them for the dinner. After 6 hours of this, I asked for a change and got the serving counter. Boy was I in for a surprise! I don’t know if it was the nice atmosphere of cool windy evening in the beach resort, or was it the chance to be with old friends, or whether it was the free liquor, but people were attacking the bar counter with a vengeance. All around you could see passed out people and busy servers like me collecting glasses from them or serving them fresh ones.
Once we collect the glasses, we pass through a long corridor and then enter into the cleaning room where we deposit the glasses. Now there were lots of half empty glasses placed by guests all over the banquet hall and in the garden adjacent to it. Our manager had told us that no glass should be seen unattended and the guys took it literally! Guests would have a sip or two, put the glass down for a second and turn around only to find the glass gone. The long dark corridor turned into a free for all party for all the servers who ensured the glasses always came out empty into the cleaning area.
At the end of the day, it was time for the payment and the manager told us to stand in a queue to collect the pay check but there was a catch. The procedure was simple: walk up to him, blow air to his face and collect the money :-)
Luckily he wasn’t smelling for ice cream (no empty ice cream cartons left the food counter where I was present) and I successfully passed his test and got the first hard earned money of my life: 125 bucks for 12 hours of work!
First and second Semester results are out !
Being the first batch of the college, not having seniors resulted in us not understanding fully the hardships of having back logs. Result? Mass failings in the first and second semester exams ! One of the well meaning teachers of our college came to the hostel that night to see how we guys where handling the harsh results of the first year of the course and to help alleviate the tension if any. Instead the teacher entered to find a big party going on and to top it one of the guys offered him a drink to join the festivities!
This also marked the beginning of the trend of purposefully ‘leaving’ the last paper of each semester. We used to mark big red tilaks which where symbolic representations of the fact that we were undertaking mass flunking…At this time when I write this, I sincerely thank God that he ensured we all out grew these things and completed the degrees in time…but still when I see a group of guys walking with tilaks, I cant help but go back to those days in the college rest room were we got ready with our tilaks.
A hartal called by some party found all of us sitting in the hostel with nothing to do. No CD shops to rent the vcd player and tv, no beverage shops to buy liquor and even the 2 sole theaters in Munnar where closed. A local person from Munnar known to us said he can get Spirit (a form of Arrack) for us. He kept his word and got us 5 liters of it !
Due to shortage of big tumblers, it was diluted in 2 buckets with 30 odd eager hands holding glasses waiting expectantly. The evening found almost everyone passed out in their rooms…
I can remember lot more incidents but that’s for another time…
I would like to stress that none of the guys turned into chronic drinkers and with the current work pressures, the daily drinkers of yesteryears now drink 2/3 pegs on weekends and talk with gleaming eyes about those golden days …
I am sure that any one who doesn't know me very very well, wont believe that i don't take liquor...And you too, after reading this blog would be of the same opinion... I don't blame you...My colleagues give knowing smiles when i don't take one, thinking i don't drink in official settings...new friends think i drink only with my close friends...some think i stopped after years of 'enjoyment'...During college days, our neighbors use to say that my 'plum' look was a direct result of guzzling beer...heck, even my current house owner in Chennai asked my room mates on the first day itself " Our Monu looks like a pal of the bottle,eh?"...
My decision is not due to religious pulling nor is due to some high moral thoughts...i am over weight and have perfected the art of making bad habits, so i don't want any new ones...period.