As a young professional working in the economic capital of India, I often feel a certain sense of accomplishment —a warm glow that comes from knowing that I can now afford to kill my liver at the finest bars in town.
This was unthinkable while in college, seeing as how my wallet contained amounts that even a Somali might spit at. So my initial courtship with members of the alcohol family took place in cheap little joints that simply assumed I was above 21, maybe because of my manly goatee, which comprised a grand total of five hairs.
I frequented the simple and shady kind of bars, whose owners don’t care for names like Blue Frog or Purple Snot, choosing more traditional nomenclature, such as Gokul, Meenakshi or my favourite, Calypso. (Yes, Calypso. This is situated in Belapur which, apparently, is home to a large Caribbean population.)
While visiting these hallowed portals, it’s best to leave all notions of hygiene at home. After all, you can’t really get buzzed if you’re constantly wondering about the source of the stain on your tattered seat — a stain that appeared around the time Liberhan started writing his report. (Of course, I’m not saying that Liberhan is responsible for the stain, although the BJP might soon claim so.)
These institutions are also guardians of our heritage. In this ever-changing world, they strive to remind us of our roots, by playing 90s tracks like
‘Gore Gore Mukhde Pe Kala Kala Chashma.’
(This means a lot to my generation. We grew up in the 90s, a glorious era where Rahul Roy was actually a celebrity, and Karisma Kapoor sported eyebrows the size of small shrubs.)
If you’re hungry, you could choose from Mughlai, Chinese, Punjabi and Continental food, all of which tastes the same and is served in what appears to be an Exxon oil spill.
Or you could just stick to the free 'chakhna' that includes peanuts flavoured with waiter sweat, papad served with radioactive green chutney, and even sliced carrots - because hey, if bars don’t promote healthy eating, who will?
But real men do not come here for the food. No, real men come here and insist on quarters and khambas, which then disappear faster than an investment in Dubai.
Common orders range from nuclear-strength laxatives, like Royal Stag, to Antiquity Blue, which is a more refined laxative. Those who order cocktails are promptly shot.
Of course, there's more to shady bars than just mindless drinking. Just as ancient Greek cities played host to philosophers who pondered over profound matters — like where to find the prettiest boy-toys — these bars too, are home to modern philosophers who exemplify the famous maxim, Cogito Ergo Rum - I drink, therefore I am.
Be it woman trouble, the stock market or world peace, no issue is too complex for the Shady Bar Philosophers - a loud, know-it-all bunch with the collective reasoning ability of a poodle. Sort of like Parliament.
Before I end, I must state that booze is merely a happy distraction, and not a solution to anything. It's imperative that we youngsters realise this, because sooner or later, responsibility will come knocking at our doors. I plan to be at a bar when this happens.
Ashish Shakya co-writes the satire show, The Week That Wasn’t. Sometimes he’s even sober while doing so.