I have noticed that different people drink different things. For instance, my friend Dom Moraes, with whom I was last night, drinks vodka, with soda, and a little ice. He is an extraordinarily polite person and hates being difficult. So, when the host offers him scotches, he says in his almost inaudible voice: “Er…if it is not too much trouble, and if you can manage it, could I have a small vodka, please.” Since Mr. Moraes’s hosts are normally well stocked, he invariably gets his vodka.
My other friend, Ramesh Sattawalla, till recently Air India’s PR manager, and a man of simple tastes and high living, also does not drink scotch. He drinks rum, rum with water, no ice, or very little ice. And he has been drinking rum ever since I have know him…which is 30 years and more now.
I think he began drinking rum for economic reasons. It is eight times cheaper than scotch, and, in the five-star watering-holes, such as the Harbour Bar and the Old Society, where they do not serve IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor), they do make an exception with Indian rum. But, whatever the reason, he has stuck to rum and is probably its most loyal consumer. Even when he is abroad and the best of liquor is flowing around him and is being offered to him, he sticks to rum. “Handsome, our rum is good enough for me, happy birthday,” he would say. He tends to repeat himself.
Mario Miranda prefers feni, and caju feni at that. Which stinks, makes your bedclothes stink through the night, you stink the next morning, your urnie stink, your body perspire and stink of rotting cashew. But no Goan will ever admit that. “I say, go on, it is the finest drink in the world. It gives you no hangover the next morning,” Mr. Miranda says. And Cajetan D’Souza, Inspector Araouage, Clarence Alvares, Hitler Alamaneo, all agree to that.
B. Sheshagiri Rao, the former chief reporter of the Times, used to drink beer…and gallons and gallons of it. Every hour on the hour, he would slip off to an Irani restaurant in the Capitol Cinema, consume a couple of bottles, then return to his desk. I have never known anyone drink so much beer so fast, and hold it so well. A pity, once he retired, he gave up drinking.
There must be people in the world who drink only gin, but I do not know of anybody among my acquaitance. It is a woman’s drink, and all the women I know drink either bloody mary or sherry.
Mr. Khushwant Singh, the Sikh historian and translator of Urdu verses, drinks only scotch and is quite brash about it. When invited to a party, he asks: “You will be serving only scotch, no!”
As for myself, I drink whisky, and it does not matter one bit which whisky I drink – scotch or Indian. Only, if it is Indian whicky, the next morning I get up with a hangover.