It’s about 2.30 am when that call is made to the neighbourhood wine shop. A rushed voice on the other end of the phone says, “Old Monk nahin hai… aur bolo?” No one could possibly be that inebriated. What does that even mean? That’s as outrageous as saying Delhi ran out of drunks and molesters, at the same time. “Madam… distillery change ho gayi hai, for teen to chaar months, no getting Old Monks,” claims a man at Deepak Wines, Bandra, rhyming unintentionally. This is the store that is known for delivering orders to a moving car or a bench at any suburban promenade. Just saying.
Wine shops don’t usually run out of what is reported to be the third largest selling dark rum in the world. But apparently, some have. Each subsequent call led to a series of conspiracy theories in murmured tones. Juben Wines in Juhu claims, “Yes, we were facing some issue with the supply chain. It was basically because of the 90ml bottle. But it seems to have been resolved now.”
The bawa voice at Peekay Wines insists, “There’s been some labour strike. The market has nothing, but we always do.”
The Crawford Market store is one of the biggest sellers in South Mumbai. The fact that its site has been hacked by some Pakistani group called Z Company Hacking Crew only stands testimony to that fact. On www.peekaywines.com, instead of an alcohol price index, there’re quotes by “Ghandi” and a long rant about how “Kashmir does not want militarised governance! They just want freedom! Freedom, from the evil Indian military!”
Which brings me to the most worrisome news I heard this week, when a friend’s friend from the army called. The Indian military and that undeniable bottle of rum are inseparable, and knowing that an army canteen too is out of rum, calls for enough cause for concern. Or reason to stock up.
Shri HN Handa, the company secretary at Mohan Meakens, the distillery, however, didn’t seem too stressed. “There is no such issue. There must be a temporary transport problem. We are exporting Old Monk to Japan and Europe, why should there be a shortage?” he says, before asking, “Who are you anyway?” Me? I’m just a nostalgic concerned fellow rum drinker who understands the significance that bottle holds in many ‘jigars’. At a time when nothing is certain and all this could just be a false alarm, some extra bottles of wisdom in the closet can only help.
P.S. Try looking up images of Old Monk on Google. There are some rather interesting ones — including a few that have little to do with rum.