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Raising the bar

The great WC Fields once said, “A woman drove me to drink and I didn’t even have the decency to thank her.” Now we need not go that far.

india Updated: Dec 08, 2007 03:35 IST

The great WC Fields once said, “A woman drove me to drink and I didn’t even have the decency to thank her.” Now we need not go that far. But evenings at watering holes in Delhi are all set to become that much more enjoyable thanks to the Supreme Court striking down an archaic 1914 law that prevented women from becoming bartenders.

So far, issues of security had been raised against women becoming mixologists yes, a nice word for throwing together that old daiquiri. But, may we assume that the Indian male transmogrifies into some sort of beast at the mere sight of a woman serving him a drink? No, let us assume that there is some level of maturity in the drinking classes now, and that they can accept a female version of Tom Cruise in his famous role in Cocktail.

The feminists have argued long and loud that the security argument has gone against women entering previously ‘male bastions’. One was the question of women working late in BPOs. The court has rightly thrown the ball into the court of the employers. It is they who have to make sure that the drinks go down smooth and no harm comes to the dispenser at the end of the day.

There is certain romance about women at bars even if they are not actually on the other side. How can we ever forget the magic of Humphrey Bogart in a tearful airport scene raising an imaginary toast to the love he was about to lose with the line, “Here’s looking at you, kid”. But that apart, it is women who have bought a certain civilisation and class to drink. Women have been, pardon the pun, a sobering influence on men when it comes to a drop or two. Some of the greatest drinks have been named after women like the Peach Melba.

And James Bond’s sexy squint through a martini shaken, not stirred would never have the kind of appeal if there was not a beautiful woman at the other end. The enigmatic Marlene Dietrich engrossed a generation of post-war cine-goers with her faintly boozy and breathless lyrics “Underneath the lamp-post by the barracks gate/Darling, I remember for me you used to wait” in her immortal song, Lili Marlene.

The only thing that we may say against bartending in general with women, men, whoever, as bartenders is that for the majority of us who would like to slink into a bar after a hard day’s work, a quiet drink would be our preference. Tom Cruise, to come back to him, might have been terribly fetching throwing around the equivalent of a Molotov cocktail before serving the hapless customer. But we would prefer things neat and quiet. Perhaps, a woman behind the bar would raise the bar a bit for all of us.