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The Teetotaler’s Take

Posted: October 12, 2015

Prashila Naik writes in defense of teetotalers and wonders at the reactions leveled at them for simply not wanting to drink alcohol.

“Oh, you don’t drink.” “Aren’t you having beer?” “Juice, is that all?” Do these sentences ring a bell in your head, or heart, or err, probably just ears? If they did, then my friend, you belong to the sect of ‘the Teetotalers’, much like yours truly over here. The ‘clan’ that has over the years seen a much varying, much discussed, much debated, much applauded, much criticized, and many other ‘muches’ infused demographic. I can still remember yesteryear movies where the ‘drinking’ woman was almost always a ‘vamp’, a lady villain, as I used to think of them, for the general mayhem they caused in the good heroine’s life. And now in this decade and in this age, I can’t help but feel like Simone de Beauvoir reincarnated, every time a ‘Rani’ whooshes onto a stage even if it’s in a movie, sloshed in the comfort of her skin, delightfully unaware of the world around her; or a five star hotel proudly displays its Friday night crowd puller as a ‘drinks on the house for ladies’ attraction. Indeed, we have come a long way. But then, what about the subsection of this world that has moved along this way, but only on a different path?

Every time I have to explain myself as to why “I don’t drink”, or every time someone volunteers to get the ‘coy’ me drunk and wasted, I find myself mentally snapping at how I could have handled this situation better. The most natural response is defense, and defense is never completely calculated. So, there are times when one stumbles with their responses, paving way for a discussion that is nothing less of redundant. And every time someone proffers their worldly wisdom in the matter of all forms alcohol, I find myself cringing at how I confess that I have actually ‘tried’ it, and all that. What I would really like to say is that I don’t drink because I don’t want to. The world is full of directions, but do we really see each one of us giving equal attention to every one of them? Similarly the world is full of beverages, both hold and cold. Do all of us drink tea or coffee or orange juice? Then, why this sudden insistence on drinking alcohol?

What a person eats or drinks or for that matters prefers to eat or drink, need I even say, are all purely personal choices? Some of us just happen to be averse to adopting habits that need to be adopted because their presence in this world cannot be ignored. If that sentence sounds complicated that is because the thought behind it is clearly simple. Alcohol consumption, much like smoking or substance consumption, is a matter of personal choice. If we want to move towards a world where people who indulge in it are not judged, we also need to in parallel move towards a world where they are judged for NOT indulging in them.

So, the next time I am in a pub or a lounge or a regular restaurant, sipping my cranberry juice or virgin pina colada, I’d definitely enjoy my drink better without having to explain things that go beyond their taste.

Image via Shutterstock.

Writer and technologist currently based out of Bangalore

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  1. I too agree totally. The office party organisers also sometimes forget that there is a section who do not drink beer or hard drinks, and forget to include food and drinks for teetotalers.

  2. Wow….I discuss this topic with vehemence with my friends. Sometimes you tend to feel ostracised for not falling into the group. This even happens sometimes between veg and non-veg food choices. I seriously started believing that people who drink are feeling so guilt-ridden that they want everybody else to join so that they can go for a guilt free drinking spree. I really do not understand why someone cannot leave others choice as their personal choice and not mix up ‘being part of the group’ phenomenon in this. As far as the project’s deadlines are met, as far as the team meet up for socialising and strengthen each other’s relationships, I do not understand the need for complicating it further by pushing their choices on others.
    Initially it was the foreign delegates who started looking at the Indians who did not drink, but now it is our own countrymen…..there is nothing fashionable or unfashionable in drinking…it is just a lifestyle choice…let us teach our children this, because if we are unable to overcome the peer pressure, then how can we inculcate it in them !!

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