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Drink Positive

A rant on drinking, drunken memories and the AAA

A couple of pegs down the crooked lines, there are so many tales to tell. The stories are about drinks, drinkers and being drunk, but there is no intention of rationalisation. Why take all the fun out of the sport. For the drinkers are the drinks and what else. One of the stories we would hear from the guilty drinker is: Man is born free, but everywhere there is a chain of liquor shops and hence the bondage to drink. Let’s hear it from another party, these would be the stories that we love to tell and hear when we have got the bottles and some meat in stock — to chew over the ironies of drinking in happiness and sadness.


Drinking is in itself what the sun is there to shine. Don’t believe me, then check the fat history books. Beer jugs had been found, belonging to the late Stone Age, that existed around two long, long million years ago. Let’s not get threatening with these facts for now. For the toast, what matters is that all of us also have a beginning — the first peg of our life. Possibly the purists of romance would throw up on us for the tiddly comparison, but we would cherish the moments of the first shot, in tipsy times or sober, as important as the first love in our hearts. Drinking has been the finest blade to cut the weekend. Every Saturday and Sunday, we have been giving our detractors so much time than they deserve to attack us, but we are open enough to see it’s only a question of drinking or not  drinking.

If winter comes, can Old Monk be far behind? Quite on the other side of the year, though, it was one of those wet monsoon days in June a long time ago, when I had my first quickie. In rainy season, we have a festival, Lai Haraoba, literally meaning the Gods’ Celebration and it was usually us who were in festive moods as the gods lie listlessly in their eternal sleep inside the temples, seemingly peeping at us, the mortals and our merry-making. In a manner so worldly, in those pre-high school days, some of my friends and I had the most convincing excuse to go back home late or very late and our parents never asked twice about where we go to. So one fine day during those fete, I had it. A peg. And I was knocked out. Responsible drinking is quite an oxymoron but that was it, the lesson for being sensible that I have learnt by heart from day one. Alas, fate has other plans and I have never been able to apply it in the truest sense of the term. Do you have that wicked feeling why you drank so much, once in a while when you get overloaded and after puking so much? Last time, yours truly swore in the name of the empty bottles lying in my kitchen that it was the last day of my drinking. The drama had occurred on more than one occasions earlier too. But we know we don’t have good judgment when we are tipsy, so I don’t really value these thoughts.

Some more pegs and pages are still remaining to flip in the history scrapbook of Drink Positive. Unlike the present weekly fixation, after the inevitable first peg, drinking was an on and off issue. In the subsequent months and years that arrived in an old-wine-in-new-bottle style, the local vendors were the most happening place. Atingba, the rice beer and ashaba, the real country booze — both of which we call the ‘white’ for their undiluted colour — plus the choicest meat delicacies make you unconcern about hangovers or the commandos barking and frisking at every street corner. If you have never visited one of these drinking dens that we call a khun or khul euphemistically, a half of your experience being in Manipur is literally vacant, and if you have ever visited our beautifully collapsed state, without an evening in the khun will give you only a half of the total experience you could have got your hands on. Time is no matter, but your capacity, so don’t bother. You can visit there anytime, even during the bandhs, blockades and curfews, during bomb blasts, during shoot-outs, anytime.

Ours is an officially dry state but we know the government rules are mostly meant to be broken. All along we have been taking only the ‘white’, made of some rice and plenty of carbohydrates and noted for its affordability and availability. If we have had some large-scale industrial base, the ‘white’ can become a unique product like Goa’s feni. And we have the ‘red’ — Angangba, a name we have for any kind of whisky or rum, for their reddish appearance and it was at one time, quite a good fortune to get a peg or two of ‘red’. Diogenes, carrying his famous lamp in the afternoon, so truly remarked, “What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others.” Other than some shops elsewhere in Imphal, the reds are mostly sold in army and police canteens. But do drinkers really see red in amber? Nope, it’s just a lingual convention. And less popular, yet far more alluring than the AA, we have the AAA: atingba, ashaba and angangba. Even the XXX is no match for them.

The story is getting a mouthful like the never-ending discussion towards the end of a drinking session. Before we leave, these days, the stories from the visit to the khun serve as a reminder to those days of simplicity while we are now engrossed in varieties sometimes keeping back the narratives for tomorrow and most of the time we are so sober, mindful of life’s responsibilities in this corner of the world, seeking and toiling for a livelihood. In the following proverb lies the wisdom: Eat well, drink in moderation, and sleep sound, in these three good health abound. Let’s have a toast for this rant. Cheers.

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Heard it through the grapevine

WIRED      It’s one of those medical anomalies that nobody can really explain: Longitudinal studies have consistently shown that people who don’t consume any alcohol at all tend to die before people who do. At first glance, this makes little sense. Why would ingesting a psychoactive toxin that increases our risk of cancer, dementia and liver disease lengthen our lifespan?
MSNBC      Moderate drinking may lengthen your life, while too much may shorten it, researchers from Italy report. Their conclusion is based on pooled data from 34 large studies involving more than 1 million people and 94,000 deaths.
DAILY MAIL      Tiny amounts of alcohol can more than double the life span of a tiny worm that scientists often use in ageing studies. The amounts used are tiny - the equivalent of the alcohol in a single beer diluted in 100 gallons of water - but the UCLA scientists say that the anti-ageing effect could have implications for human health.


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