Sometimes our notions of ourselves are created not so much from our own experiences as from the way others see us. Case in point: India as a nation of vegetarians. Barring Amrish Puri as Mola Ram in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom — where he’s a connoisseur of chilled monkey brain — and the British South Asian celebrations about chicken tikka, all Indians are lumped into the Gandhian mould of green-eaters. Incorrect, says common sense and, more reliably perhaps, a survey which finds a whopping 60 per cent of Indians choosing ‘non-veg’ khana over ‘veg’.
Another interesting revelation is that only 13 per cent of the young urban Indian male population drinks alcoholic beverage. So when the same survey finds that 64 per cent of respondents believe that drinking is on the rise in their locality over the last decade, one is led to believe that either female tipplers are spreading fast across the landscape, or that social taboos give plenty of room for hypocrisy. After all, if an alcoholic is in denial about his alcoholism, why can’t an occasional drinker made to respond to a survey question fib and be the respectful teetotaler that he may not be?
So while we recognise with utter manufactured surprise that we are a nation with a meat-eating majority — with special rights in place for the rest — it may be wise to take the drinking figures with a Patiala peg of soda. Although, we are willing to wave this revelation in the government’s face to convince it that a ‘dry day’ — especially today on Independence Day — is unnecessary in our sober society.