If you thought Punjabis are real drinkers, wait till you meet Malayalis. Kerala would have been a really, really boring state to live in without alcohol.
If there’s one thing Malayalis are good at, it’s beating everyone at drinking the most number of Old Monk and BP pegs. Of course, they will be the first ones to puke it out, adding to the garbage pile on the streets, but they damn straight know how to drink like the Vikings. The men in Kerala might have an upper-hand over the alcohol in stores and secret cabinets, but behind closed doors, even women join the exclusive drinking club, chit-chatting away about life, one peg at a time. Welcome to the patriarchal, drinking state of Kerala, where drinking alcohol is the way of life.
I am from Kerala, and even today, I get shocked at the sight of long queues in front of alcohol stores (aka ‘Kallu Shaap’ aka BEVCO). Each buyer patiently waits for the ultimate prize – a reward for the day’s hard work. Make no mistake, it has its shortcomings. But, very often, the drinking culture in Kerala is celebrated. Any occasion, you name it, alcohol would be the first guest to arrive at the party. I was born to a family where all the men would drink lavishly in the house lawns, while the women would take a sip or two in the kitchen. It was the only time you’ll see them ‘free’, for a lack of a better word. And the children, of course, would be curious about every single droplet that went into their bodies. But the most topical perk of it all is that when we all grew up, we became part of that drinking culture, one way or another – a recipe of disaster passed down from one generation to another.
Malayalis’ relationship with alcohol is the most beautiful thing you’ll ever see on Earth. In some households, the men love their alcohol more than their wives – please don’t kill me for sayin’ this out loud. But, I’ve got to give it to them for teaching us the ABC’s of alcohol. I mean, if it weren’t for my father (and my brother), I wouldn’t have known that Kingfisher could mean more than a bluebird and a dead airline. Heck, I would not have kept up with the ‘Mallus can really drink’ stereotype after shifting to Mumbai. But, I’m so glad that Malayali parents did a great job at teaching their children not to drink alcohol – sarcasm very much intended!
Having said that, I’d very much like to also point out that if the world were to end, Malayalis would celebrate their last day on Earth with alcohol. And I rest my case.