16 January, 2021

A Great Reveller

100 liquor brands in the fray.18 lakh bottles sold a day. Old social inhibitions snap as urban India hits a spirited high.

A Great Reveller

WHEN Kalyan Sanyal, a wiry 31-year-old Calcutta-based film assistant, got married in a city church a few years ago, he rented four cars, stacked them with liquor and parked them in a dark and shady corner of the compound. Guests, tipped well in advance, slipped out from the soporific nuptials, slunk into the dark corner, hopped into the cars, and huddled together pouring themselves stiff shots of the whisky, rum, vodka and brandy stored in suitcases. A friend drank 10 pegs of brandy at one go and passed out inside a car, but the binge continued well into the night. These 'mobile bars' were just for the reception night. "I also drank seven pegs on my marriage night," says Sanyal, pouring himself a large rum at a party on a squally evening last week. "Drinking is a part of life now. It's the best socialiser, isn't it?"

In Delhi, Gurmeet Singh, who lives a world apart from Sanyal's hard scrabble central Calcutta neighbourhood, agrees wholeheartedly—and serves up unusual metaphors for his favourite hobby. "Mankind's...



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