Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas drinks

Orissa isn't a dry state but drinking is very much frowned upon in Bhawanipatna. I've never hidden the fact that in the UK I drink alcohol saying that most people do - including women. I have also said that part of the pleasure is meeting with friends and drinking with them – it's not the same drinking on your own – and I wasn't really interested in locating the local bottle shop. People here are very concerned that I miss my lifestyle in England and at times I dreaded someone buying some for me and then watching me consume it whilst they sipped their water - I couldn't think of anything worse. I have also been asked a lot of questions, recently, about what Christmas is like in England and in amongst describing a Christmas tree, introducing them to the concept of Santa Claus and trying to explain exactly what a mince pie is, I have mentioned that there a lot of parties which involve standing around, eating peanuts and drinking. So I really shouldn't have been quite so surprised when I opened my door this evening to find two very sheepish-looking Indian friends asking if they could come in. As the first withdrew a bottle of whisky from under his jumper, the other explained that, as I was leaving for my holidays on Monday, they thought we should have a Christmas party before I left. The door was bolted, the shutters locked and, while I rustled up a bowl of Bombay mix, the bottle was ceremoniously opened and we sat down round my formica table. They thought they should stand but I explained that for a small party it was perfectly acceptable to sit. A very small shot was then poured into each glass which was filled to the top with water and we toasted Christmas, England and whisky. They were not impressed with my taste in music – but then not many people are - so I switched it off and we listened to the Indian music blaring out from the garden next door. Once I'd recovered from the shock, the whisky kicked in and I started to relax and feel very touched by their gesture. The only problem now is how to get rid of the evidence. I think I'm going to have to pack it in my suitcase and take it to Ranchi where a stray whisky bottle will, hopefully, cause less of a stir.

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