This is slideshow. For the album view, go at the end of the post.
Uncle Mehra, my 75-year-old friendly landlord, is not entirely happy with me as he rightly feels I don’t enjoy alcohol. Not that I don’t consume liquor because I believe that’s unhealthy or not a good thing to do. I simply don’t like the taste. That, however, hasn’t stopped me from drinking beer once in a while (I don’t even smell so called hard drinks like rum/vodka/whiskey etc.). Last time I did take beer was five days ago when a friend of mine on his way to Afghanistan transited in Delhi and came over to my apartment. Every sip was like a big hurdle. Uncle Mehra wasn’t with us that evening (his son was) but he doesn’t like it when I make terrible face while reluctantly sipping beer which tastes like gaumutra (cow’s urine) or something to me. The only difference is that the latter is considered holy (and healthy) by our tradition.
The main subject of this entry, however, is not my disliking (or, occasional liking) of alcohol. It’s about the photos above- where Indians are seen buying liquor from a Wine and Beer Shop in Paharganj, Delhi. There’s significant difference between the distribution system of alcohol in India and Nepal. Which one is better? Of course, the Indian system because it’s more organized and controlled. I think some level of control is needed.
Alcohol may well be the most widely and freely available thing in Nepal. There’s no control at all. As we say in Nepal, there’s alcohol where there’s no water. Drink beer, save water is not just a slogan printed on t-shirts. Bottles of beer or vodka or whiskey are freely sold to anyone (regardless of age of the buyer) in almost every shops in Nepal. And you can consume the thing anywhere: right on the spot where you bought or on the streets or go to any eatery on sight and open the bottle.
Even after a year and half of living in Delhi when I realize that liquor is sold in a very controlled manner here I sometime instinctively say: What the crap, no democracy in India? LOL. I know I am kidding. Yes, I have been arguing that India has a limited democracy, especially compared to what we have in Nepal, but that’s in other contexts.
I don’t know in detail about the liquor distribution system in Delhi but this is what I can see in the market. There are select outlets, for example, two, in the whole of Jangpura/Bhogal area. They are liquor specific. They don’t sell rice and vegetables. Not even sitan (सितन). Those kinda stuffs are sold in a shop attached to liquor outlets. The calendar has some Dry Days meaning liquor outlets are closed on those days. Because there are only a few liquor shops for a neighborhood or two, they are almost always crowded (overcrowded in the evenings).
I found the Paharganj liquor shop and the way people bought small bottles of vodka or whiskey very funny. I had never seen like that before. It was as if people were buying movie tickets.