The tipsy drink!

I am on a WhatsApp group in which all the members are engineers that too with more than 45 years of experience. Most of them have retired. But the fun part is a couple of them who are active in business have the maximum time available with them to contribute to the group. Their favourite subject being liquor! Why would professional, educated and almost retired persons be interested in talking about alcohol all the time? I call this irrational thinking.  

What is the origin of alcoholic drinks?  As mentioned in Wikipedia, “discovery of late Stone Age jugs suggests that intentionally fermented beverages existed at least as early as the Neolithic period (Cir. 10,000 BC). Many animals also consume alcohol when they get a chance and are affected in much the same way as humans, But humans are the only species known to produce alcoholic drinks intentionally.” Humans are the species who make alcoholic drinks for their own consumption. There are three broad classes of drinks beers, wines and spirits!  

Alcohol is consumed socially in many cultures. An alcoholic drink contains ethanol. Alcohol is manufactured by fermentation of grains, fruits, or other sources of sugar. Alcohol consumption has an essential social role in many cultures. In many cultures, alcohol is consumed by both women and men. Nations have laws controlling the production, distribution, and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol consumption is legal beyond a certain age in most nations. Many countries have tried to ban alcohol consumption but have miserably failed.  

Alcoholic drink is an addictive drink. Taken in small quantities, it makes a person euphoric, but in larger quantities they are depressants. In many countries, wines are consumed with food, but spirits are consumed before the meal. After meal brandies and cigars are also part of the of the culture. 

Just for fun, I will share with you my alcohol experiments. When I was studying engineering, I used to live in hostels. At the end of any term, there would be a “Wet Party”; we friends used to meet and take alcohol. (It was an open secret but an illegal act) In those days, I never drank alcohol and had only one more friend to give me company. After drinks, there would be a procession to go out for dinner; friends used to be in the state of, a bit drunk to thoroughly drunk. One of us would be in the front and the other at the back to control the band. The surprising part was that the friends used to listen to us. This continued for a few years, and later we could get a friend’s house for the parties and were not required to go out for dinner. Two of our friends would always get drunk, vomit, and the story continued.  

After I started working, I tasted my first drink, a whiskey; I never liked alcohol. Later I switched to Vodka for a different reason. I rarely drank it, poured it away and would get a Sprite. Nobody noticed. I used to take a couple of government inspectors for lunch; as long as they got their quota of beer, they did not bother what I drank. One of my colleagues was a chain smoker and used to drink a lot during office parties. His wife and Jaya were colleagues. His wife would tell Jaya that her husband was the most humble man in the world. She would tell Jaya, “He never drinks and smokes!” I knew that love was blind, but I never knew that love killed your sense of smell. 

Once I was in Germany in the dead of winter. We went to our hosts’ home; they owned a winery too! The lady was charming, and she gave us so many small shots to test, I almost got drunk with wine. Luckily, as soon as I stepped out of their home, the biting cold hit me, and I was normal in a minute. Now, I take wine, once in a while, especially if I am in foreign countries. But alcohol never brought irrational behaviour in me. I had a close friend who loved his drink, but never have I seen him getting even close to being drunk!

I will share with you some amusing anecdotes and information about alcoholic beverages. How did the word Cocktail come in use? People have been mixing any ingredient in hard liquor for a long time. But the name cocktail has come up in the last two hundred years. 

Cocktail 

During the early 17th century, a horse, with a docked (cut tail) tail, was said to have a “cocktail.” Thoroughbreds did not have docked tails.  When a regular horse was entered into a race, its cocktail was observed – and became a term synonymous with an adulterated horse. There is a tradition to drink alcohol during horse races; the word “cocktail” was soon used to mean an adulterated spirit, alcohol mixed with something. Well, I thought a cocktail was something fancy. Nowadays we get mocktails also. These are the drinks like cocktails but do not contain hard liquor. Looks like businessmen are exploiting the fancy names for the purpose of business.  Mocktails are also expensive!  

Booze 

The word booze has its origin with the meaning “alcoholic drink”. Initially, it was spelt as “bouse”. The word booze is said to have a Germanic origin, but there is still a doubt about its real origin! Three words from which the word booze has come are “bausen” in German, Dutch word is “busen”, and the old Dutch word was “buise”. The last word means drinking vessel.  The majority think that the word from booze originated is “busen”. 

Toast 

Toasting has some believable and some questionable origins. Two people clinked their glasses in such a way that their drinks got mixed. This ensured that you were not being poisoned. Another story that comes out is that the wines in olden days were not of good quality, they were acidic. A toast was physically put inside the wine. This toast would absorb the acid from the wine and improve the quality of the wine. Toasting many people at a party is also used for drinking excessive alcohol without seeming to do it purposely. Toasting is just an excuse!  

Let me share with you a sad story. I had a friend who was a company secretary. We used to attend meetings and would share rooms. Once after a cocktail party, we came back to the guest house. He had consumed about five whiskeys. At the guest house, he asked me, “Pramod my doctor has told me to take a shot of brandy before sleeping. Take with me if you have crossed 35.” I was 36 then. He consumed the whole quarter bottle of brandy and ….. He slept through our meeting the next full day! Poor fellow ultimately died of alcoholism.

Coming back to the original discussion of how people nearing seventy remain so much interested in alcohol that they keep on discussing the subject on and on. Once some of my friends went out for dinner. Out of ten, eight drank alcohol, and all drank them in large quantities. Liking a drink is one thing but drinking alcohol in excess at the age of seventy is something different. At this age something can suddenly go wrong with the body and results can be devastating.

So let us give a toast to wise people who will switch to drink booze in moderate quantities! Remember, when you say, “I need that one shot of xxx every night,” (and take it) you are an Alcoholic!

Cheers! Bottoms up!

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

Five Season’s of Beauty!

There are different ways of naming seasons, people, trees. Seasons in India are Summer, Monsoon and Winter. People are described by their heights, their likes and dislikes. Some are coffee folks and others are tea folks. Some are beer guys or wine folks. Some love whiskey and others like their Vodka or Rum! Some are morning types and others are night owls! Trees are classified as coniferous, perennial, shady and so on. My favorite method of differentiation of people is based on the seasons they like.

Seasons based on Calendar are winter, spring, summer and autumn. In tropical areas the seasons are only two, wet and dry seasons. But in India seasons are Summer, Monsoon and Winter. Monsoon season is very different in India. When did I really start understanding seasons? I was in school maybe 5th grade and one day I needed an umbrella to go to school as I had exams on that day, hence I needed to go to school. This thing had never happened before so when it rained, I simply used to skip school if it rained heavily.

Names of seasons are also used to describe somethings in our life. Winter of discontent, there is a spring in his stride, are some of the terms come to mind. Summer of discontent is another term, that is used. What do these indicate? Winter of discontent indicates that bad days or times are at an end and they change for better, in the form as spring is coming soon! Summer of discontent is the term used when unhappiness or sadness of life is at the peak! Spring in stride indicates the fresh air or exuberance.  The reappearance of robins. The disappearing snow.  The longer hours of daylight. The emergence of flowers.

I started thinking in terms of Indian seasons, am I a summer guy or a monsoon guy or a winter guy. In India, the weather conditions are different in various parts, simply because of hugeness of the country. In summer, we have temperatures nearing 50 deg C in certain areas to minus 10 deg C in cooler climates in winter. Monsoons can bring rains to the tune of 1200 cm in a season. Weather in the country can be moderate to extreme like the human beings. Pune, where I normally live, is known for moderate weather, all the seasons are comfortable. Has that made people in Pune reasonable people? Does extremism or moderation in people happen because of the weather? I think it does. I am talking of general populace and not the wrong kind of people! Wrong kind of people are omni present where ever they want to be, irrespective of seasons or weather.

Summer, for me is lovely Alphonso Mangoes, Sugarcane Juice, Raw Mango Panna a kind of home-made sherbet! In childhood, it also meant school holidays, round the day playing cricket, table tennis and badminton! I used to live in Mumbai in those days. Once in a while there used to be a trip to relatives’ homes in Bombay or sometimes to Pune. That was the farthest we would travel in those days. There were no summer holiday trips to cool climes. Those were outside means of our family. And did I enjoy my trip to Pune by train? Eating Batata Wada (a potato patty) at Karjat!  That used to be the high point of the journey! End of summer also meant excursion to markets with mom to get new school uniforms especially when I out grew the older uniforms! Then of course there would be a trip to stationery shop to buy new notebooks. Followed by a session of covering the notebooks with brown paper, followed by sticking the labels for the names! Of course, there used to an occasional day of punishment when we overdid things! There used to be pinching of small coins from home to drink ice cold lemon sherbet on cricket ground.  But now in golden phase life things have remained more or less same but with one big difference. Diabetes makes things a little bit tricky for Mangoes and Sugar cane juice!

Monsoon in Mumbai and Pune are totally different. Most of the monsoon, one could manage without an umbrella in Pune! In Mumbai, many times it hardly mattered whether you wore a raincoat or had an umbrella; you would get drenched. Weather in Pune in Monsoon would bring a bit of chill but in Mumbai you were not sure whether you got drenched in rain or sweat! In Mumbai, going to Marine drive to walk on the sea wall, with heavy rains with heavy rains lashing and sea waves crashing on the wall! Oh, what fun we had! Mumbai’s rain fury is seen to be believed! As the British say, it rains Dogs and Cats in Mumbai, sometimes. Though it is a bit difficult to handle, it should be enjoyed at least once. It should be added to your bucket list. One day, I had pinched some coins from home and it was raining heavily. Heavy rains could sometimes create havoc in Mumbai. This was great opportunity to come home, from school,  ( we used to lie about lack of buses) walking in heavy rains and on the way, going to our favourite restaurant to eat a Dosa! That was the biggest heist in our lives!

Winter, of course is a special season for Pune. Cool breeze, some mist, some fog, everybody going around in their woolens with seniors using mufflers and woolen caps! Drinking hot tea with Salty biscuits at the road side kiosk was equivalent of reaching the heavens! In my younger days, Pune would almost shut down around 7 pm, like it happens in cold climates. I remember that my grandfather used go to sleep at 7 pm! Going up the hills in winter was another of past time in Pune. In all my stay in Mumbai, I was required to wear a sweater may be a few times but in Pune, for 2 ½ months sweater was a must!

Which is my favourite season? Cool climates are what I love the most but then monsoon chill in Pune is also great fun and as temperature don’t go down like in winter. Recently in Switzerland, we were caught in Bern, with reasonably cold weather accompanied by a light drizzle. We were geared for both rain and cold but found it very difficult to handle it!  That is when I realized that I love dry cold and not wet cold! I love winters in Delhi too but these days pollution has made things tough to enjoy. So finally, I am a winter guy, in hot countries!

Folks, there is one season that we forgot! Its season of love! Well, romantic love is what I am talking about. This is one season that never goes away, its beauty never feds!  It has its own low tides and high tides! All the things mentioned above, get turbocharged when you are in the love season! Seasons of nature and season of love merge. The season of love never changes into next season, but has its ups and downs! This has its highs and lows! But how many of us are lucky enough to have season of love in the life, throughout life? Season  of love in life, is a great elixir and is supported by small doses of nectar provided by the natural seasons! Lets get a bit philosophical. Do you have five seasons in your life?

I will share with you a lovely Hindi film song. It talks of natural seasons and the season of Love! Enjoy!