Women behind bars! | india | Hindustan Times
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Women behind bars!

The Delhi High Court has struck one blow for equality, and one for tradition, in permitting women to serve liquor in bars. The issue of equality is obvious enough.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2006 03:40 IST
PTI

The Delhi High Court has struck one blow for equality, and one for tradition, in permitting women to serve liquor in bars. The issue of equality is obvious enough. The tradition is somewhat more arcane, linked as it is to the role of the ‘saaqi’ in Urdu poetry, who is part muse, part bar-girl and part sounding board. There are things India inherited from the British, including the quaintly termed ‘Indian Made Foreign Liquor’. But it never took to the caricature buxom bar-maid of English pubs whose charms have — besides helping customers to unburden their angst — helped them to go in for that extra pint.

All manner of advantages are being cited for having the fair sex on the business side of a bar — that women are more honest, (they won’t water the booze, or short measure the peg apparently); that they are better at something called ‘mixology’, presumably the art of making a lethal cocktail. The court, of course, has stuck to the legal issues involved —the unconstitutionality of the 1914 Punjab Excise Act that disallowed women from serving liquor, though the honourable judges did hit the nail on the head when they added that the ‘feminine touch’ injects grace and elegance to the hospitality industry.

Humans have been consuming alcoholic beverages for as long as they have been civilised — and perhaps a bit longer. But only the modern industrial society has made bartending a specialised profession. Indeed, after Tom Cruise in Cocktail, we could well say that the current state of the art is termed ‘extreme’ bartending, with specialised instruction in not just beverage handling and mixing, but also customer psychology and hangover counselling.