08 May, 2021

Mumbai Diary

Prohibition has long since gone in Maharashtra. But incredibly, the ‘permit’ system remains. You need a ‘permit’ to legally consume, buy or even transport alcohol.

Mumbai Diary

Old Tripper-up

When I first came to Bombay in the mid-1960s, prohibition was in force. To buy alcohol legally, you needed a ‘permit’. A fixer told me the easiest way to get it was to obtain a certificate from a doctor saying that, because I had studied abroad, I had become so addicted to booze that I couldn’t do without the stuff. In other words, at the age of 24, I was an irredeemable alcoholic! I think I paid Rs 150 for the ‘permit’, a fairly large sum in those days, considering that my monthly salary as a journalist was only twice that amount. The fixer told me that apart from himself and the doctor, my Rs 150 went right up the bureaucratic and political ladder. The ‘permit’ allowed me four ‘units’ (a unit was a bottle of spirits) a month. Well, prohibition has long since gone in Maharashtra. But incredibly, the...

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