“What’s more acceptable and tolerable? Being a heavy drinker, a heavy smoker, a bit of both or a teetotaler?”
As the quote suggests, the islanders are a bit “heavy” on their drinking and smoking, and they do not seem to know their limits. We gather around a table by the beach-side and order a bottle. Heck, there’s only two of us, but we still start with a bottle. Then we call our friends to join in. And we order another bottle, and another... until they close shop or the till the sunrise warms our cold butts.
There is no way one could spend an entertaining evening with his buddies drinking plain tea and eating kimbula banis in this paradise. One plain-tea (and a cigarette perhaps); and there will be the waiter slapping the bill on the table and hovering around, worse than the flies that usually occupy the said “hotel” table.
We have an almost zero coffee culture, no hang-out joints and there are no nice Virgins in Colombo for hours and hours of tête-à-tête. Nice Virgin Stores, with lounges, I mean. The rare chill-out joints would be ‘giving the look’ once they see that the time we spent justifies the coffee(s) we bought. Even the Galle Face Promenade has lost its glory, it isn’t a nice hangout anymore.
Where could people like us spend some quality time in peace with the gang?
The only place that welcomes anyone with open arms is a joint that sells alcohol. So we get there and start with a bottle – by default. The moment one has had his first sip, he is in a dilemma. If one is going to get caught drunk, it might as well be worth it, right? So why stop at a quick drink, why not go all the way? Same result: expect trouble from the cops (if one is driving) and trouble from the home-front, both alike, in equal doses.
Besides, hendello’s, fish fingers and the seafood rice are a class apart from kimbula banis, anyway.
It’s nothing else but our social “standards and norms,” our habits and attitudes that contribute to a culture that drinks by the bottle. We don’t allow small shots at home, so we tend to go for large bottles out of home. People don’t order a “round of drinks” in Paradise, and we seem to think that only sissies drink by the glass.
So one drinks by the bottle and he gets drunk. He gets drunk, and he is a menace. Period.
Drinking isn’t bad. Its just the “style” of drinking in paradise that elevates it to a problem. Put that in advertising lingo, consumption of alcohol isn’t a bad concept; it’s the execution that sucks.
People all over the world have a glass of alcohol before, during, or after many a meal. It could be the beer that accompanies the chips, or the wine that compliments the bread and the cheese. Or the mug of “Kvaas” that sits in the middle of the communist soup kitchen. The French consume cheese by the truckloads and still have no cholesterol problems like us, and they owe it to the wines. Yes, there is scientific evidence.
The Black Label Centenary Edition even had the nutritional information printed on the bottle – making it one of the healthiest drinks in the world – in comparison with most beverages that are deemed harmless. See the irony?
Anything beyond moderation (heavy) is a menace, not only alcohol.
One could drive a car after having a glass of wine or a beer in countries that have understood the meaning of the word “moderation.” We, the islanders of paradise who practice and preach Buddhism that’s build on moderation, has no clue what it means; and get pissed-drunk and end up in trouble. Day after day. To the point where our good women wouldn’t marry a man who “drinks and smokes” – even occasionally.
Blame yourself, not the alcohol. Alcohol isn’t a cure for boredom, a solver of problems or a diet. Alcohol isn’t a career – and don’t make one out of it either. My appreciation of alcohol can be found in an earlier post here, if one is looking for some entertaining read.
So, going back – my simple answer the original question: no one tolerates a “heavy” drinker. Not even his own mother. And “heavy” drinking is NOT socially acceptable – not even in a colony of drunks.
On the other hand, drinking in moderation is quite acceptable, and it is quite ok for a “lady” to have a drink or two too. There is a whole culture – an art, almost – based on consumption of alcohol, extending from choosing the wine to fit the menu, to how to hold the glass. A drinking etiquette for the ladies and gents – to drink in a civilised manner.
Knowing your whiskeys and wines are an art; so is the cocktail culture. If you know how to serenade your lover in an elegant style with a fine bottle of French wine, you are a Winner. If you know your way around fixing shots and have mastered the artistry of having them (including the one where the shot is placed in a woman’s cleavage and lifting her up to gulp it), you are a friggin’ champion..!
So, here I raise my glass to the fine art of drinking.
PS: My two cents on smoking to follow. Soon.