Rahul da Cunha: On a dark, daroo-less highway
So, the Supreme Court ruling to shut down liquor shops along national and state highways, reminds me a bit of demonetisation – if the latter destabilised an entire economy to catch a few black money hoarders, the former affects the livelihood of thousands, to stop a few drunk drivers.
This is the 'baap' of all needles in a haystack.
(Ironically, even the well-meaning dude who filed the PIL, didn't foresee the rum...sorry...ramifications.)
So, Gurgaon, which became Gurugram, is now renamed Gottadrivemilesforadrink. Rajasthan has rechristened its 'highways' as urban corridors. And Goa has closed down indefinitely until further notice.
But, I digress. Bigger issues concern me, dear reader.
I own a series of 'hard drinks' establishments on many arterial roads that link to highways — all the way from our Eastern Express Highway, stretching to all the circular roads in Chandigarh, and to the Moradabad-Chandausi-Badaun Road.
You could call me a Liquor Baron in danger of becoming liquor barren.
Some of these establishments are fully stocked booze shops, selling everything from arrack to Absolut. Some are shady country bars, where everyone behaves like Keshto Mukerjee. And some are shack like 'addas' where foreigners on extended road trips, stop and swig a pint of beer.
I have a multi-cuisine set-up just outside Noida. One section is a males-only "Bablu and Chunu Restaurant & Bar", complete with tangdi kebabs and Patiala pegs.
Connected to it is the respectable Family Room, called 'Pinky Dining Hall', which serves the aforementioned tangdi kebabs but virgin Patiala pegs, with exotic names like Tejwinder's Tipple.
(It's another matter that I have a cow shed in the back offering fresh 'doodh'. So, if a weary traveller-cum-teetotaller wants to ingest milk instead of a martini, then he can be satiated).
Yesterday, three UP state government officials appeared at my doorstep, armed with their measuring tapes. First of all, they thought my 'cow shed ' was an abattoir and tried to close me down.
"Gentlemen, this is my cash cow," I tried to reason "Arrey! You said, 'cash cow'. You are receiving cash because of these cows?" they demanded.
"It's a phrase..." I attempted to explain. "And, why transaction is in cash? Why not digital?" I looked out at the arid landscape, wanting to say, 'Moron saab, there is no water here and you expect there to be wifi?" Anyway, back to the issue at hand. My Family Room, serving non-alcoholic mocktails, is built at exactly 506.33 metres from the Faridabad-Ghaziabad highway.
On the other hand, the 'adda' section, where my male patrons get drunk, is at 465 metres.
"You will be required to shut down the premises," the officials threatened. 'But, why the whole restaurant…the alcohol section is inside the boundary of 500 metres by 35 metres! The officials were 'thoda confused'.
"Sir, we didn't come to shut your 'sharaab ka adda'. It's your Family Room, we wish to down the shutters on. You are disallowed from serving meat."
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at email@example.com