Sunday, February 14, 2010

Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II

Note: This post will make NO sense to you if you haven't read the first part: Hi, I'm Nikhil and I'm NOT an alcoholic. Read that now, or forever lose your peace.

My memories of being five include lying under the bed of my mom and masi and reciting poems to them, smearing vicks vapourub all over my body because I had a cold, running away from a five-year-old girl who wanted to kiss me (True story), being told by my teacher at school that I should wear chaddis everyday, falling into a drain next to my house, getting ready in a super hurry as my friends would come in to help me pack for school even as the rickshawallah rang the bell outside my house again and again and threatened to leave, and resolving to not speak to my father because he was a chain smoker.

Yes, for a five-year-old kid who hated chaddis, I had a strong sense of morality. I don't remember how I knew smoking was bad, but I would tell my father to quit every day. My father would promise, but never live up to it. And then, one day, I just stopped talking to him. Considering how much I love to talk, I guess I must have kept quiet for a REALLY long time (like a whole day or something), that he freaked out. And gave up smoking forever.

I grew up in Bahrain, but when I look back right now, I might as well have grown up in Disneyland, because I have no recollection of anything remotely evil happening around (read people smoking, drinking or having underage sex... umm, okay, that may have been evil because I wasn't getting any). In school, smoking and drinking were the least of my concerns. I was more worried about whether I'll ever get to kiss a girl (or pull her cheeks - true story) than about anything else. And funny I should say that, because I was so daft that once a girl who actually agreed to like me back said she wanted to kiss me, and I got super freaked out about my izzat! I mean, I wasn't ready to be a father at that age!!

But as Tapas pointed out in his comment in my previous post, I was just shut out to stuff happening around me. I do recollect that a few guys in my batch did smoke, and also remember how I'd give some of them, who were friends with me, long lectures about how they were betraying their parents (I had very few friends left at the end of school, yes). But funnily enough, I don't recollect anyone who used to drink. Drinking was a thing grown-ups did at parties because they needed something to help them stand each other.

All my conversations about drinking at the time of school - with any of my friends - were about how it's despicable that adults do it even though it's wrong, and how we'd never drink on growing up (or on just growing, in general). Maybe it was influenced by the fact that in Bollywood movies we grew up on, each time the villain was shown drinking, in the next scene, he'd go rape the hero's sister. And of course, the hero drank to take revenge. Or to do comedy. Since we were always funny (haha, see how subtly I slip in a word of praise for myself? I'm so cool! .. And there, I did it again!) and were concerned about people's sisters, we had all decided that drinking was bad.

Even in my first year of college, all my friends who weren't born with a bottle of Johnny Walker (or desi santara) in their hands, hadn't had drinks because they actually thought it was bad. But as time went by, they all started drinking, for innovative reasons like, 'Seniors told us that all grown ups drink', 'Dude, to socialise in office parties after you graduate, you need to drink', 'I wanted to see what being high means', 'I want to try out everything in life', 'It was a party, yaar!' 'Abey, we were getting free booze, get it? FREE', 'Arre, but everyone was drinking', 'I was thirsty' or of course, 'Teri ma ki ****'.

These were, of course, the same people who had sworn to not drink, not smoke, get good marks and get laid before college ends. None of that worked out, obviously (or there would have been a LOT of sex happening at NIT Kurukshetra). But to be really honest, while growing up, I never met a person who said, 'When I'm old enough, I'd really like to drink because it seems like fun.'

In school, most people were anti-smoking and anti-drinking because it was all we knew at that time (or we didn't know better!). In college, I felt that everyone started smoking and drinking, because the fad had changed. For a very long time, no reason seemed good enough to convince me to drink, or an explanation for why others did it. Because, most people, to me, seemed perfectly alright while growing up. I never understood how booze could have made those childhood memories more perfect.

Think about it. Your first crush. The first time you asked out a girl and she said yes. Or the 10 times they all said no. The first time your heart skipped a beat on seeing someone beautiful. Your first kiss. Your first attempted kiss. Your first attempted kiss that led to your first break up. Your first heartbreak. The first time you said I love you. The first time (years later), when someone said I love you back too. The first time you wrote a poem full of cuss words after you got dumped. When you worked really hard for an exam, and kicked ass in it. When you screwed up royally and blamed it on the teacher. When you kicked in the nuts of that guy you really hated. When you got beaten up for asking out a girl who already had a boyfriend.

All those happy/sad/proud/embarrassing memories you had in school. Did you go home and drink after that to  'mark the occasion'? Weren't they perfect the way they were? Would booze have made all those moments even more awesome? I don't even get the whole concept of getting 'high'. I've been high many times (at least I think so). The first time a girl said 'I love you to me' (apart from my Mom). The first time I made my parents proud of me. When I won that competition I had worked my ass off for. A brilliant movie (not the X-rated kinds. Okay well, that too). Getting my first paycheque. Dancing all night with friends (Balle balle!). Helping make a difference in someone's life. Making someone smile. Doing something stupid with friends. A Zakir Hussain concert (hell yeah, baby!).

On a slightly serious note, I also don't buy the whole concept of 'I drink in moderation and don't lose control.' That's because I am the only one who's not drunk and I can see, first hand, all those who are. When you are drinking, your brain gets fuzzy and you hardly realise if you are losing control. A school friend of mine was at a beach party with his friends. They all had too much to drink. My friend went to piss into the ocean, and got swept away. His body was found the next day. I know it's a freak incident, but the point is simply that you really don't know what you are doing when you are drunk. You slip once, and you don't know how you'd end up. And woah, that's a scary place to be in!

But it's not that I don't drink because I'm scared of losing control and raping the hero's sister, or because I think I *truly* know the sacred secrets of being high. I don't drink simply because I never wanted to. And I'm often judged as this 'nice' guy (read: BORING), or this prude, and well, sometimes, as this plain weird dude (that rhymed!) who doesn't know how to live it up (I know bhangra, okay?). But you know what? I don't judge back now. Because well, I had promised myself to get six pack abs, like, 6 years ago, but as my two-pack body CLEARLY suggests, I failed. I had sworn never to watch porn after getting caught. But well... umm... no, didn't work out. I had plotted to be world famous by 21. I'm 23, and well, I have the time to write this humongously long blog at 4 am. So no, no world domination yet.

Yes, I didn't really live up to some promises I made to myself either. But some I did. At the same time, I know some AWESOME people who smoke, drink and even smoke up at times. Some are best friends and some I look up to. I don't think they'd be any better or worse if they didn't drink. In the same way, I have had ENOUGH kahaani mein twists through these years, without drinking. I don't think my life could have been ANY more interesting, if I had been drinking.

Because it took me a long time to understand that who you are has nothing to do with what you drink. Whether your drink is Vodka or Pepsi. As long as you enjoy it (and don't die), it's all good, isn't it?


  1. I completely get you dude. Like totally. Feels very similar to my life, except I wasn't ambitious enough( read lazy) to dream of world domination by 21... or 81 for that matter :) . Im not a tee totaler at all, but I'm a what they call drinker-by-choice-by-mood. Ive never gotten that need to drink alcohol... ganna juice is a completely different story though :P Beer toh is total yuck for me, baaki some of the stuff actually tastes good, so i dont mind . But i dont really see the point in drinking "thoda se maarte hain" type. I mean you either get drunk or dont drink. "Thoda sa" leaves you in this state where youre pretending you have a right to do things because you're drunk.Pretending. License to behave like an ass, if you may. Plus as a fellow sober-guy-in-a-drunk-zone I know that the puke fest that follows is never fun.

  2. Fair enough man. Honest reasons and a very good post! But in a lighter vein, I dont think you have a two-pack...YOU have a fucking FAMILY PACK!! :P

  3. I always fooled myself by justifying the act of drinking as something that liberates me and makes me shed all inhibitions but i must say your blog confirmed all that i had been trying to push back and escape from- the fact that 'drinking does indeed makes it easier to stand people' :)

  4. @timki : that maks u stand me :P

  5. @Timki: Can't think of a better reason to drink... I drink to help myself forget my troubles (atleast temporarily) and rue my life (pessimistic, but that's what I am) - But yes, it's nice to hear why you don't drink - Cheers!!!

  6. Love d post.. U shud write a book n i mean it..

    There are lots of other advantages of not drinking, specially when oders are gettin drunk all round u, but not to be revealed on a public forum my frn :p

    And yeah.. why writin at 4 in d mornin.. go out n party u ass.. specially when it was velentine's night :D

  7. wow! this seems like, my story.. brilliant!

  8. well said, rohit's incident should have been a lesson for some people. Sadly, people don't even remember now.

    really nice post =]


  9. Waah... kya post hai... Kya nahi hai ismein???

    Comedy... Emotions... Tragedy... Sex... Mystery... Satire... and best of all...
    A social message.

    This could well have been a Movie... Kudos to you.

    (P.S.: I'd suggest, tune down the sex a little... Sensor board se paas karane mein dikkat aayegi)

  10. Like I told you..if a person who adores alcohol survived till the end of this post means you were either REALLY funny or you have one hell of a story to tell. :P
    I did...and I grinned and broke into small fits of laughter throughout. you've made some brilliant points and almost made it all seem like such a petty-not-needed thing. :)

  11. @Ms.Parker: A thing like that is hard to forget. I'd expect you to have figured that out if you knew him well enough. The lesson learned is different depending on your perspective and what you know about it. I guess that people don't really talk about it anymore. I get that. Talking doesn't change the past and its really painful.

  12. Well, here's a unique point of view as non-drinkers do a really bad job of explaining why they don't drink. You have really done your explaining well. Would your life have been different if you had taken up alcohol? Hell yeah! Would it have been a better life? Not necessarily . It's a choice you have made and an incredibly brave one it must be acknowledged.

  13. ahaaaannnn ..aap toh hero ban gaye :P .kya aap mere film mein kaam karoge Mr Nikhil ;)

  14. IIncredibly well written, Nikhil, as usual. But I feel the point of questioning drinking to the extent that you have is itself unneeded.

    When I was a kid, I also said, "I will never smoke and drink." I think that was the generation you and I grew up in. But I always had a sip from my parents' drinks. By the time I was 10 or 11, I'm sure I had tasted vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, and plenty of types of beers. And each time I'd take a sip, and go "Ewww!" By the time I reached my mid-teens, I'd had a few tequila shots at family parties, always with parents around. Still, my barometer was always to drink only with parents, never in the type of atmosphere where the reason would be "Everyone's drinking. I should, too." No peer pressure. No pressure at all.

    Once I hit close to legal age in Canada/US, I would have drinks with friends. Never to get drunk, and only drinks that tasted good, or to try a new kind of drink. I've always hated beer, and so I never drink it. I stick to martinis, especially cosmopolitans, and generally speaking, some kind of cocktail. The rare exception is when I want to smoke a Nat Sherman (cigarette) and sip some single malt whiskey. Love how it tastes.

    So you can grow into things. Things that aren't necessarily bad. Have I had bad experiences with alcohol? Yes, I have. Have I had bad experiences with beans? Yes, I have. Have I given up either? No.

    Therefore, asking about whether our childhood memories would be any better if they had alcohol in them is just silly! There are some things that we are only fit for once we grow older. Sex happens to be one of them. Alcohol is another. As a child, you simply don't have the maturity to know what either sex or alcohol can do to you mentally. So if you want to ask "Would the memory of the first exam you aced be any better if you had commemorated it with a drink?", you should then also ask, "Would the memory of the first exam you aced be any better if you had commemorated it by banging a random chick?" Each question is as absurd as the other. These are age-dependent things. Don't overlook that.

    You admit that you swore you'd never watch porn, but that failed. So how is alcohol any different? I know the obvious answer is that in extremes, alcohol can kill you. And I agree. But what about people who DO drink in moderation? I mean, in extremes, anything can kill you. In extremes, water can kill you, too. As, by the way, can Pepsi.

    For you to simply preclude the concept of people drinking in moderation, or people who have one glass of wine with their dinner everyday, is absolutely presumptuous. That you think you are in a different category than "people who drink" sounds condescending. It's like vegetarians saying they are "different" than non-vegetarians. People are people. Some people eat chicken, some don't. Some drink Bailey's, some don't. I, by the way, live for Bailey's. It's just that good!

    Do I understand your reasons for not drinking after reading your last two posts? Yes, I do. Do I think being a "non-drinker" deserves an explanation? No, I don't. Do I think being a "drinker" deserves an explanation? No, I don't. Do I think being an "alcoholic" and screwing up your own and possibly others' lives deserves and explanation? Yes, I do. There are fine lines that I think you miss completely when you lump everyone who drinks into a single group. I don't think it's a fair thing to do.

    I think the fact that you have dwelled on it so much makes me think that drinking is a bigger deal to you than it is to most people who do drink! Don't let it be. It's just another thing people do. It only becomes problematic when lives are on the line. Which isn't that often.

    You write brilliantly, Nikhil. I hope you write more. And about many other things :). Until then, I love you tons! And stop being too busy to message me!

  15. @Kriti: Wow, that comment was as big as the blog itself. And thanks for the compliments :). But I think you missed the point of the posts! I said all those things in retrospect. I USED to think that drinking is wrong. But as I mentioned in the last couple of paragraphs, I said, who you are has nothing to do with what you drink, as long as you enjoy it.

    I wrote all of what I wrote to explain how I felt over the years. And when you raised the point of how I failed at my promise to myself - THAT'S what I was trying to say too!! That I am no one to judge when I can't keep promises to myself!! You read it wrong. I was trying to make the same point as you made in your comments.

    And as I said in my first post, I DON'T group people into drinkers and non-drinkers anymore! I don't think I'm different or superior in any sense - which is why I said people judge me as different or get a culture shock and I find that weird. And I don't judge back now because well, I have grown up :). I realise I was being stupid, and no one is better or worse because they drink or don't drink.

    And the reasons for this post: Not to preach that people shouldn't drink, not to prove a point, not to club people into good and bad or drinkers and non-drinkers, and not to sound condescending. But simply because I desperately wanted to start blogging again, and on the day I wrote this post, I was asked for the NTH time why I don't drink. It was the only thing on my mind so I thought I'd start with it.

    As for the 'alcoholic' bit, I just needed a nice heading :p. Trust me, NOTHING in these two posts is meant as a judgement I have passed. I know what I've written is fairrrrrrly long, but do read this post again. I think you have entirely misinterpreted my posts as a discrimination or explanation about why I am the way I am. Trust me, there is NO ulterior motive to these posts apart from the fact that I have started a new blog and this was the first idea I got in my head to start my blog with.

    Again, for the benefit of anybody who reads this, I don't analyse, pseudo-analyse or judge anyone for any reasons, especially on petty things like drinking! I used to, yes. But I've grown up now.

    To be REALLY frank, I have attempted humour in my two posts. So please, do not take it more literally than it should be. Maybe I'm just bad at being funny. And I apologise for that!

  16. A verrrry sleepy UtsavFebruary 15, 2010 at 3:25 AM

    Very interesting Kriti-Nikhil tete-a-tete. Fun read. Why are u getting defensive duuuuuuuuude :)!!!!????
    Yes, u are good at being bad at being funny. But I like the humour. Its refreshing. Its also refreshing to hear a counter opinion from a person whose capable of giving it back! Looking forward to more such debates.
    Wee hoo, reading this blog gave me a high!

  17. First off, I want to say, you are NOT bad at being funny. I absolutely loved the jokes! I have always thought you are really witty, and that was just re-endorsed by these two posts! So keep the humour. It's awesome.

    Secondly, I think I see what you mean! :) It's the transition from thinking about "drinking" a certain way into, well, not thinking much about it at all. I should modify my earlier comment, then, into saying that while you described the "earlier phase" really well, you should describe the "transition phase", as well! It would have felt more complete that way. I'm not sure if I'm expressing myself quite well. I hope you see what I mean.

    But yes, I should've placed more weight on the last few paragraphs you wrote. I now understand the change in your perspective. I think I went through the same thing (perhaps almost everyone does?), probably just a lot earlier.

  18. Oh, P.S. Sorry for the length of the first comment. Didn't realize how long it had gotten until after I posted it :S.

  19. India has been free since 1947. Its ironic that people still argue about what others have to do and what not!

  20. Thanks Bhatia, you bastard. I love you too man.

  21. I love love love your blog Nikhil! Even though it is barely two (very long) posts old, it has some serious potential. Its funny, entertaining and sincere. You should probably think about writing a book :).

  22. What a nail-biting finish to the will-he wont-he saga! I was really starting to panic for a while there! ;)

    Love the innocence and purity of the post. Though I know you will, still (wow, that rhymed too!): Keep writing. :)

  23. that was a bloody good explanation to as to why u are not an alcoholic...well u experience the high in other ways.....and im sure not drinking alcohol is saving you a lotf money as well ;)...good good!!

  24. I will give a chamaat the next time I see you.

  25. Dude, in my crowd you'd be the HERO because you would always be available for the designated driver! Plus designated drivers get free pepsi's all night!

    Too awesome!

  26. excellent stuff. too much sex. ur replacing one thing with another :P

    arre u shud write fr soaps. hw to make a 20 line post into 200:) (call me A1)

  27. nice post. sort of echoes my own feelings when I as in first and second year. But the turnaround happened in the summer and I don't really remember why but I started drinking too. I have been thrown out of HRC (blr ofcourse) for making a ruckus. Slept in the toilets of my hostel and ran without a shirt on throughout the campus... It's fun!!

  28. i really enjoy your style of writing. i would love to read about how you started out in engineering school and ended up being a journalist.