I don’t wish to claim that being a teetotaler makes me a resolute person. I mean, when people all around you drink the shit out of themselves all the time, it’s pretty difficult trying not to give a fuck. In fact, resisting temptation, Cadbury or otherwise, hasn't been my forte. With alcohol, it has been more like SONY broadcasting CID, read ‘for no particular reason’.
And if someone asks me why don't I loosen up, or that one drink won't hurt, I just tell them that untying kachche ka naada while sleeping loosens me up alright. I, therefore, find alcohol redundant.
Most of my friends indulge themselves twice or thrice a week and those of us who don’t, well, our number is falling faster than an-imagined Dolly Bindra in free fall. Nevertheless, I partake in these daru-parties, barely having any idea as to what I am doing at a place where I am not supposed to be. Sometimes, I feel more out of place than Avika Gor essaying an adult, married woman.
12th man might be a closer description. I am sometimes asked to fetch water because if any drunk guy endeavors to do that and gets lost, well, you are more likely to find Crusoe in ‘the island of despair’ than this guy who got lost with an equal probability of ending up in any of the 1000 odd rooms in the hostel.
So, a teetotaler in a group of drunks is nothing more than a silent observer. Having copied all observations in each and every lab I was forced to attend, these parties are my chance at being original for a change.
The bacchanals are interspersed with one or the other guy, who is drunk out of his wits, reciting an anecdote, which is mostly about his crush, to another on-the-verge-of-passing-out guy who blabbers words of advice that are as lucid to the former as problems on projectile motion in saner conditions.
Expletives do the rounds more rapidly than the solitary cigarette that is passed around and shared by 5-6 guys, and in the process, someone, almost involuntarily, blurts out a secret and on egging on, embarks on a rant that resembles a Rakhi-Sawant outburst- indistinct and causing much abashment.
As a person who is able to actually understand what is being said, I mentally rub my palms together like the traffic cop who once caught me taking a wrong turn. The prospect of tormenting your friends with stories as embarrassing as Balika Vadhu once they are ready to give fucks is a good bargain for not drinking.
The lesser mortals (beginners) pass out pretty quickly, like a bunch of Pakistani batsmen getting dismissed, while the more experienced ones steal the show, drinking with such pomp and enthusiasm that one generally associates with women when a sale is going on at a local super market.
Being a teetotaler, I sometimes feel, embarrassingly enough, that I am responsible for these people who would be more untameable than a twerking child-star in a couple of hours. Well, the only thing I find myself accountable for is trying to ensure that nobody pukes, at least not in my room.
Those puking like a woman into the 7th month of pregnancy take the suggestion of quitting to be a slight to their intake-capacity, and suddenly my lineage starts trending faster than #IfPoonamPandeywasyourTeacher.
Those who fall short of puking, they lie around like a herd of buffaloes, sometimes as many as 5-6 people packed into a single bed. Someone would start laughing hysterically at an old joke. Others would demand that a particular Aashiqui 2 song be played out on loop on woofer, following which the entire group would start singing and shouting, little realizing that the song was paused midway, and suddenly you can’t differentiate between my room and the Indian parliament.
A few of them, especially those who stay in other hostels a fair distance away from ours, start claiming that they are fit to proceed to their own rooms, but as soon as they stand up, they collapse like an Indian mother would if her son tells her that he would want her to meet a girl. Then, it is up to you to decide whether it is worthwhile to drag this disoriented heap of a person to his hostel, or let him continue as a buffalo.
Also, as a sober guy, you are expected to keep reminding those who are wasted that standing on and peeing over the railing at the edge of the terrace is not a very good idea, especially when they are not ready to take ‘don’t’ for a suggestion.
In hindsight, I believe these are a pretty good number of observations. Obviously less than what ACP Pradyumna could have managed, but passable nevertheless.
Being a teetotaler also has a few other perks per se.
You save a sizable portion of your monthly allowance, although you are more than likely to waste it somewhere else is a different matter altogether. There is no fear of getting caught while trying to smuggle in the crates, or of being confronted with uncomfortable questions about that girl from school.