I was telling a colleague about my Belize trip and I mentioned about the delicious virgin mango-coladas. And his question was “How come you don’t drink?” I thought it would make for a good blog post. Here we go.
Growing up in India in 80s and 90s in a middle class family, I just assumed that Alcohol and Smoking were bad. End of story – no questions asked. And drinking is not a common part of a daily life in India.
Alcohol and me did not cross paths until I started working in Patni Computer Systems. We had a big release. I was the youngest girl on the software team. My team along with tech lead decided to go out and celebrate with drinks. As they packed up early I told them I wanted to join too. My tech lead who probably thought of me as a kid told me, “No, you run home – this will be really late thing.”.
On the bus ride home I decided I was going to go drink as well that day. So I reach home, wait for my dad to come and tell him that I want to drink. And to my dad’s credit he didn’t even blink. He said, “Ok, let’s go out for dinner and we can drink.” My mom was horrified and I remember her telling my dad, “You are going to drink with your kids.” My dad replied, “Well, its good that they are drinking with us and not with strangers.”
We went to Copper Chimney in Bombay [now Mumbai] and my dad ordered a Bacardi Breezer and my brother not be left behind saw his chance and said, “I want one too.” He got one too. I had a sip and it tasted terrible. It wasn’t sweet or fruity. With all the hype around drinking I was expecting it to taste better than my favorite mango drink Frooti or Maaza. I left it as it is. My brother gulped it down though.
My dad told me, “if you don’t like the taste of Bacardi Breezer then there is very little chance that you will like the other alcoholic drinks.” Honestly, that did it for me. When other people talked about alcohol I didn’t care much.
It was in Phoenix that I changed my view – “Anybody who drinks alcohol is bad” to “People who drink alcohol are normal people,” as almost everybody drank in US.
Fast forward to London Business School in UK. If you know anything about UK the drinking culture is very popular there. There is a pub at every street. And MBA graduates are not going to be left behind so they had these pub crawls and they are a big part of the social life in B-school. I joined a couple in the beginning and saw my friends getting drunk to the point where they would end up puking. Now, that did not interest me at all. I didn’t like the smell of beer which was pretty pervasive in London Pubs and that time smoking wasn’t banned in public places as well. I hated the smell of smoke on my clothes and it would never come off. Hence, I made a socially limiting move to not go out drinking – it reduced my social circle and networking a lot but there was no way I was going to drink smelly beer and smell like smoke.
I would still go to a few events and end up drinking coke or lemonade – not bad at all. After a few drinks others are too drunk to even notice what you are drinking.
And now I do Vipassana and one of the precepts is that you do not have intoxicants – so that sealed it for me.
I hope you all enjoyed this little walk down one of my memory lanes.