**Insert a word that conveys the message that I am back again here**
Now that the ‘back again’ part has been taken care of, let me chide myself for my laziness. So many ideas had cropped up in my mind since my last blog post, but my laziness got the better of me. In the meantime, I started writing in Medium.com and successfully completed the challenge that I set for myself – to review all the Oscar nominated films before the Academy Awards ceremony. Since Facebook is my de facto platform for movie reviews, I plan to utilize Medium for other kinds of articles that I’ve been planning to write for quite a long time. Come whatsoever, this blog remains the closest to my heart for this is a platform where I open up and share stories with a personal touch. I’ll ensure that it continues to be that.
As for today’s post, I’ve been planning to write this for long but something or the other kept resisting me. It has finally materialized today.
Disclaimer/Note: This post is not a Moral Science Lecture. It’s just my take on some of the real experiences that I’ve encountered. Also, considering the contents of this post, no names have been taken and in some cases, I’ve tried to mask the situation/surroundings so as not to reveal anything more than what’s written. Please note that not everyone may be comfortable reading what’s written in this post. If you are one of them, please stay away from this post.
The first time I came across this word was during my college days. Someone used that word to describe me and that’s when I learnt what that word meant. A teetotaller is a person who doesn’t drink alcohol. In other words, he abstains from drinking. I was thrilled at having discovered a word that described me. It was only later that I realized that word was not something to flaunt. During college days (UG days), I witnessed many a non-drinker in my class turn first-time drinkers and later, I saw many of them turn heavy drinkers. Towards the end of my college days, there were hardly 4 or 5 guys in my class of 60+ students who continued to be teetotalers and I kinda felt good that I was one of them.
The reality and cultural difference:
As time wore on and I moved out of Coimbatore for the first time to work in Odisha, I got a taste of the world outside my shell. It was different, it was difficult, but it was the reality. I was living in a shell. I was living in my comfort zone in a confined society. With that exposure to reality, my perceptions changed; my thought process changed and my mind opened up. I was able to accept a lot of things around me better. But through it all, I had some firm beliefs and values of my own and I stuck to them. My two year PG stint further enabled me to witness stuff that I had only seen in shady Hollywood films. There are stuff that I’ve witnessed and cannot write about. But over time, I learnt not to be prejudiced and accept people for who they are. This way, I was at peace with myself and was able to be friends with a lot of people.
The question why and a bit of humiliation:
Social drinking is a norm in today’s society. Resisting it is seen as an abnormality by some. The question why I don’t drink has been posed to me on numerous occasions. People have insisted that I drink on many an occasion. I’ve been subjected to lectures on why I should drink. I’ve been grilled many times as to why I don’t drink. A girl who also happens to be a good friend, challenged me that she’ll turn me into a drinker before I finished my PG. She failed in that challenge, obviously. A friend who turned drinker after years of resistance, argued with me for over an hour as to why I should drink. I could sense a bit of guilt in him for he had given up his resistance and would have probably felt that turning me into a drinker would have vindicated his decision to drink.
The question then arises as to why I don’t drink. Some friends have tried to find out the same. They have lectured me on how moral values should be kept flexible and why it’s a necessity to drink, atleast socially, in today’s world. What they fail to grasp is that I have my own right to exercise my choice and follow the same. It’s not a question of values. It’s a matter of choice. It’s my choice that I chose not to drink. I do not understand why some people had/have difficulty in accepting this. I have accepted them for who they are. The least I could expect from them in return is reciprocation. A friend once told me that I was normal in every sense except for the fact that I don’t drink. A lady who I was reporting to while I was interning during my PG stint asked me if I drink. When I answered in the negative, she called me a loser. Once while discussing our expectations of future spouses with friends, I was scorned upon when I expressed my desire that my partner should also be a teetotaler like me. There are many such instances of humiliation that I’ve endured/keep enduring because of what is clearly my choice. For every article that you find about the ill effects of drinking, you’ll be presented with 10 articles that list out the benefits of drinking. Over time, I’ve become quite used to this humiliation and stuff and have learnt to take it all in my stride and move along.
Company for drinking:
One thing that I learnt in my corporate career is that it is ok to be a teetotaler and still have fun in social parties. In Jharsuguda, I learnt to be in the company of friends in drinking parties. I have soft drinks in such parties and partake in the funny conversations that happen in such scenarios. It may be true that a sober me may not be able to sink in those conversations amidst people who are getting high. But I do my best to gel in and respect the invite extended to me. It’s also true that I don’t get invited to a lot of such parties, but I have no cause for complaint. Truth be told, I am not very comfortable being amidst drinkers once they start to lose their senses. I quietly slip away from such scenes when I sense people getting a bit too high and losing their senses. It’s also a fact that I do get invited to such parties from time to time and I try to honour those invites more often than not. Over time, I’ve learnt to revel in the fun despite being sober.
But not all such parties are fun and memorable. Some of them are awful and forgettable. One such after – party incident is clearly etched in my mind. The said incident was when I had to endure quite a bad experience in getting a colleague home after a company party once. The person in question had one drink too many, threw up and was out flat. The responsibility of taking him home fell on my shoulders, along with a couple of other colleagues. The person in question was a bulky fellow who weighed about 120 kgs. It was almost midnight. You can imagine the trouble we had to go through to get that guy home. This incident happened in a small town in an era when there was no Ola or Uber. Being the only sober one, I had to drive a bike with a sleeping person and another colleague holding him as pillion riders. Despite the empty roads, it was one of the most challenging drives that I had ever done so far. Not to mention the cop we had to ‘handle’ along the way. In the end, we somehow managed to get him back home safe and sound. The whole experience left me so distraught that since then, I have never taken responsibility of anyone in such parties, who I know is bound to lose control.
To all my friends who drink, I never advise not to drink or give any sermons of that sort. All I say to them is to drink responsibly. Also, if your friend/ colleague/ any other acquaintance is a non – drinker, kindly respect his/her choice and never make the mistake of insisting them to have a drink. Also please bear in mind your surroundings and the people around, when you drink. Never over – drink in any social gathering. I might sound like a lecturer already with the above points, but the reason I am putting them down here is because of what I’ve witnessed and experienced with people around me. Drinking should not cause any trouble to people around. In so many cases that I’ve witnessed, it is not just the person but his/her family members who get affected the most because of the person’s irresponsible drinking behavior. This was a classic case that I witnessed 3years ago and it again left me disturbed. The one thing that I always tell everyone and insist on is NEVER TO DRINK AND DRIVE. I personally know of 3 people (friends and friends of friends) who have lost their lives to this malaise. So please take this seriously. It’s certainly not a thrill to get behind the wheel when you’re drunk for you’re not only endangering your life, but also the lives of so many others on the road.
I have written this post here in the hope that you, the reader, would understand what teetotalers like me go through in the so – called ‘social drinking is a necessity in today’s world’ society and I hope that you take it the right spirit. Cheers to you! 👍
With this post, I’ve given vent to some of the thoughts that I had bottled up within me over the years. This blog is a good platform to pour my angst or observations or whatever and writing this here has certainly made me feel light. I take leave in the hope that I get to write more often here. Ciao.
- Ashwin Murali