I know who wrote the Indian Constitution. I remember the creator of our National Anthem. But I have no clue who invented Dry Days. For the ignorant, dry days are when Bombay’s social life becomes like Gujarat’s (though Mr Modi would argue that his Prohibition State has way more fun — no late night police raids, no 2 am breathalyzer tests, and sweet lassi is infinitely more nourishing than a Single Malt).
Last week, we were inflicted with three back-to-back dry days. So it’s Friday evening, I just saw Amazing Spiderman, (with those 3D glasses that make you look like the villain Ajit in Zanjeer). I needed just one pint to get over the dizziness of those skyscraper swoops that Spidey takes.
I walked unsuspectingly into one of Churchgate’s Chinese Food restaurants. A young Chinese waiter, a worked out Mao Tse Tung lookalike, asked what I’d like. “A Chicken Wanton Soup and a beer,” I replied. “Soup, yes, beer no,” he answered curtly, with a hint of that slightly judgemental, ‘Man, you should be like me — 1,000 push-ups daily and pure soya diet’ tone.
“Why no beer?” “Dly day” “Why dly...sorry dry day?” “Ekadeshi,” he shot back, with that, ‘You Indians are even crazier than us Chinese’ facial expression. I exited the restaurant hurriedly and headed to the eatery no. 2. I repeated my request to the Maitre D. “No beer, no alcohol, sorry sir,” he informed me cheerfully.
“But beer is not really alcohol, it’s like vegetarians eating eggs,” I attempted to reason. The steward responded with a sweet, ‘I appreciate your logic, but I have my instructions’ smile. Then he added, “Tomorrow dry day also. Thane elections. And day after — Bhayander Teachers Union strike.” I left and decided to try my luck one final time at a bar that has a 24/7 board that read ‘We serve alcohol even on dry days’. “Uh I’d like a beer please,”
I asked the bartender. “Sir, please show me liquor permit.” I triumphantly showed him my slip of paper. He inspected it and then said — “No beer sir, dry day.” “But why did you ask me for my permit then? And your board says otherwise,” I said. “Yes sir, but that was before all this police raids. Instead, I can give you Virgin Sex on the Beach. Want to try?” “I don’t want a virgin sex on the beach.” “It is very good mocktail, all teenagers, and foreign embassy peoples are liking.” “I don’t want a damn mocktail!”
The bartender then leaned over and told me confidentially, “I make other drink for you, saab. Not on menu. It is my bartender’s special, it gives solid kick, like Red Bull only. Kaafi punch hai, taste karo.” He handed me a brown coloured, angry looking concoction, with a plastic hockey stick stirrer dangling from the side. “Is there a name for this frightening looking drink?” I enquired. “Yes, sir, it is named Dhoble’s Double Trouble.”
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those f the paper.