Friday, August 06, 2004

Go Easy On The Drink, Oye!

Jen hit me the other day with one of those broad-sweeping comments, that I have come to develop a distaste for.

“Indian men can’t just hold their drink!”
“No! Not really.”
“No, It’s true,” she insisted. “You guys are all shy and quiet, but one drink and you’re all over the girl.”
“Maybe, you just go out with the wrong Indians,” I said with a certain finality that killed the conversation.

In case you are wondering, I haven’t ever gone out with Jen. She lives in the village (as in Greenwich Village, NYC), and I in Philadelphia, and the two can never meet.

But Jen is into many things Indian – she is a vegetarian, she is learning the sitar, she has a yoga guru and she carries one of those jute bags, favoured by the likes of my dry-grocer in India. Only her bag (with a colourful image of Saraswati) is intended as a fashion statement… I think. And, yes, she has a strange fetish for desi dudes.

I got to thinking about her observation on the train ride back home. Sure, I knew plenty of desi dudes who drank like fishes and seemed none the worse for wear. My buddies from college and I polished off cases of booze each week. We traded in our season tickets to the football games for a steady supply of the tipple and we never got anywhere near a woman… possibly because of it too.

I pondered some more and realized there was, much as I might deny it, a kernel of truth to what Jen said. I thought some more and then it dawned on me that many people I have known over the years use alcohol as an excuse to misbehave.

A certain somebody, in my circle in the years past, made a regular habit out of it. A drink or two and he would chance a pass at the fairer sex. Most desi women, who were clearly on to him, steered clear of him. The ready targets were firangs obviously. At least on one or two occasions we saw him make his move, he was rebuffed, but he would slur his speech and pretended to be tipsy and the woman would let it slide. It was a rather sorry display.

Another interesting case, was a certain entel-type we knew. He often drank with us… peg after peg after peg…in silence in our basement apartment. That’s how we all drank then. But take him to a party and in two gomutram Budweisers, our man's face would take a dreamy far-away look and he would start reciting verse… Big turn on with some of the chicks we knew back then. I always thought, it was a sleazy trick to pull.

One chap I know now, married and respectable, uses the drink to a different end. He gets to a party, gets himself a drink just to be seen as one of the guys. His wife won’t let him have one at home, apparently. So a party, where she cannot visibly object, is his moment of defiance. I am sure, he does not even enjoy the drink. I have spied him emptying peg after peg of the best highland single malts into the wash-basin or worse still, the flower bed, putting on the charade of getting high.

If it were my place, I’d say… “Go easy on the drink, oye!”