By Kruthika Rao
Does the kind of drink you decide to have dependent on your gender? As it turns out, there does exist an unwritten rule that says if you are a woman, you can't ask for a glass of whisky. It somehow elucidates strange responses from society.
An amused " Are you sure?" or a cautious, " Would you be able to handle it?" or sometimes the plain rude, " So, how often do you drink?". I also had one man telling me, that it felt rather refreshing to see a woman hold a glass of whisky in her hand.
I for the long part have always ignored these remarks because quite frankly, it is close to a miracle that social drinking is even allowed for women in India. A decade ago, family parties entailed men drinking and chitchatting while the women toiled away in the kitchen.
There was strict segregation even at parties. I remember being genuinely miffed, when I was asked to go hang out with the womenfolk at one such party. There existed no social drinking for women. It had to be done under cover, even if you were of age.
I remember -back in college- my mother quietly leading me to the bar closet in the kitchen and showing me all the empty bottles of quarters she had accidentally discovered in my room.
My mother had made a concerned, "be careful" remark and gotten rid of the empty bottles before my dad had come back from work, not slipping a word to him.
Soon after though, alcohol was finally allowed on New Year's Eve, the one time of the year where all care and piety could be abandoned. The children also had grown by then, and it felt silly to pretend that the kids didn't drink or the parents didn't know.
However, whisky was still a no-no for women. They could drink the insipid cheap wine or the yucky vodka with lime juice, but whisky, or for that matter rum, was still a â€˜tauba-taubaâ€™.
By the time I was married, social drinking as mixed groups had become a norm at least in families like mine, and it was no longer restricted only to New Year's Eve. One could say, we had come a long way since I was a young girl.
But, we live in strange times. While we accept social drinking, we do not accept the freedom to choose our poison. I began drinking at an appropriate age of 23, neither too old nor too youngâ€¦.going from the stages of binge drinking for the thrill of it, to learning to hold a drink and savouring moderation.
In this process, I also discovered the drink that I liked the most. Despite, this I find myself constantly asserting my choice.
Always politely refusing a cold drink, a Breezer, or for that matter, even a beer, I gently nudge my host who nurtures a whisky in his hand, to share his poison with me, without being judgemental. After all, all I want is a whisky on the rocks!