So, I was sitting at home with an old college friend the other day. We were meeting after ages. In the middle of an interesting debate, I excused myself to quickly pull out another Heineken from the freezer. I opened the door, only to see that we were out of beer.
“Dude! There’s no beer! It’s 9.45. We’ve got 15 minutes before the theka shuts!”
We sped to the nearest shop, reaching just in time. Soon, we were back with a jiggling bag, relieved and happy, and the debate continued from where it left off.
The next morning, while I was dumping the empty bottles in the trash, I realised something. Something I had known all along but I never really gave much thought to.
We just can’t do without booze in our day-to-day lives anymore.
I asked myself: Why did we rush to that theka as if our lives depended on it? Why was there such desperation? So what if the shutter had gone down before we arrived? Wasn’t each other’s company enough? We could’ve had tea, maybe?
This random revelation led to a much longer stream of thoughts... Alcohol has become an inevitable part of every plan in modern culture.
Be it drinking cheap wine out of a box alone at home or sippin’ on the best at an elite bar, pre-drinking in a parking lot or celebratory champagne, it all boils down to our dire need for those frequent doses of intoxication. Any excuse will do. A promotion or a farewell, a birthday or a breakup.
Had a long day at work? No problem. You know you’re cooling off over your regular with the colleagues later at the local pub. In all probability, the bartenders there know your name. They even give you free drinks. Soon enough, one drink turns to two. This way, the debauchery carries on.
Let’s be real here. Can you remember the last time you refused a drink? Or successfully completed a 10-day detox? No, because you didn’t. Even if we do decide to abstain from alcohol for a while, getting carried away seems to be the easiest thing. We cheat and break the resolutions made while nursing bad hangovers. 'Screw this, I’m not going out till next week!' never really happens.
Earlier, we would drink whenever there was an occasion. Now, drinking has become the occasion.
Remember how birthdays used to be the perfect reason to do a round of shots? How we looked forward to those vodka-fuelled scenes with the homies because they came along once in a while? Well, that certainly has changed. There was a time when a day out did not mandatorily end in a pub. Now it does. Drinking isn’t an occasional treat anymore. It has seeped into all our plans. It has become a lifestyle. We’re wired to say 'yes' by default.
In these changing times, drinking is the prime reason to get together. The rest is secondary: the venue, the ambience and, sometimes, even the people. I mean, what’s a girl’s night without a glass of red in hand? What’s a game of FIFA without chilled beer by the side? Everything seems incomplete without religiously adhering to the boozing tradition. We live in a different age now. This is the new-age drinking generation.
Why do we love drinking so much?
Because its fun. It can make any conversation smooth as a glass of Chivas. We tend to loosen up and become more social when a couple of drinks down. We forget our problems, even if just for a couple of hours. Bottled up emotions start pouring out. Small talk becomes effortless.
We’re a little chattier, a little happier. Dancing freely, without a care in the world. Not many would say 'no, thanks' to such a blissful escape from daily drudgeries, don’t you think?
Even though we throw up or lose stuff sometimes, it doesn’t deter our determination to keep going. We bounce right back. In fact, we have reached a point where not drinking is considered odd. Standing at a party without a glass? Get ready to explain yourself. Don't fool yourself, you ain't getting off the hook so soon. Head to the bar or head out.
So what do you do? You give in. Understandably so. Obviously, you don't want to be the outcast, the only exception to the drunk madness.
So, how did this culture become so widespread?
New pubs and breweries are popping up left, right and centre to cater to the ever-rising demand for more drinking experiences. They’re forever overcrowded, surprisingly so even on Mondays, buzzing with thirsty customers of all ages. Every day of the week has something to offer. Ladies night, karaoke night, gig night, and so on. Our expanding pub culture is more widespread than ever before.
Advertising has played its role too. One event update or banner on Facebook is enough to make your throat tingle with temptation. Wine and beer shops are omnipresent. No matter where you are, you'll find a couple of them on the way. All you have to do is follow the signboards.
The change in society plays a significant role as well. Earlier, it was just the men and their whiskies. But now, women’s roles have changed. They work and socialise. They party hard. They have pretty much doubled the footfall in bars.
Another factor is the evolution of Indian families. The younger lot isn’t strictly sheltered anymore. They are free to make their own decisions. Adolescents are stepping out to explore the world, stumbling across the delights of drinking a little too soon.
Are we too dependent on alcohol for something to do?
Our desire to get high all the time has become insatiable. It doesn’t matter if you’re a light drinker or a binger; you’re definitely drinking. Dry days have become a curse, sending most of us scramming to the nearest liquor shop to store some for the next day. Surely, there’s a going to be a plan. It’s a holiday after all. You'll need the booze.
Moreover, we have all kinds of friends to meet. The social groups, the inner circle, the new friends, the old friends, the office gang, the Tinder dates. No wonder plans are always in the pipeline. There's so much to do, and so much to drink. Everyday is a weekend. Life is good, isn't it?
But then again, are we forgetting how to have a good time when sober? Do we really need to resort to intoxication so very often? Maybe we do. Surely looks like it. The truth is that we don’t want to slow down. We’re doing just fine.
We have gladly embraced this culture. Heck, we made it. And we aren't complaining.
On that note, cheers to you, my friend.