Getting around poll-day restrictions

As you read this in Mumbai or Bengaluru, most of us in the national capital will be queueing up to cast our ballot in yet another election — which is what you do when no inducement can persuade the bearer to pour you a glass of frothy beer at the club. I guess prohibition does drive more numbers to the polling stations, but let it be known that the winning contender will have been picked amidst cheerless gloom when he might have been voted in with a generous measure of G with T. So much better if the Election Commission could find a way to send the Electronic Voting Machines to vends where one might be enjoying a pint, rather than having to make do with a cup of abominable tea or a glass of unfermented juice at one’s own home. Elections are dreary enough business without having the purgatory of detox imposed over it.

The authorities in their wisdom picked the weekend for the elections, ruining a perfectly fine Friday evening when the good citizens of the union territory might have contributed their mite to shoring up its economy — only to find the government resisting such efforts. It is a rule in the house that the kitchen is shut for dinner on Friday as the family cherry-picks through the choices on offer with just one covenant — we each go our separate ways: My daughter with a bunch of her friends, to arrive in the wee hours of a Saturday morning; my son and his newly-minted bride still preferring solitude over company in their (mostly) blissfully wedded state; my wife and I to any party that will have us as long as it’s noisy enough to drown out the possibility of conversation between ourselves or with others.

Yesterday, therefore, proved the more egregious because the young adults, in their millennial insouciance, had not taken into account the impositions the state levies on the evening before an election. Plans for dinner were discussed and skittled, and re-drawn, but it was the bar at home that provided the liquid refreshments. My wife and I had our evening chalked out for us courtesy a wedding-related function that would have required a good deal of alcohol. Planned earlier at a Delhi farmhouse, the venue was shifted to neighbouring Gurugram to avoid the exigencies of the state — but to little avail. Unbeknownst to our host, the authorities had decided on a ring of three kilometres encroaching upon the neighbouring states, within which circumference no public imbibing was allowed, laying to rest all plans of men and mice.

Because man does not live by bread alone, desperate measures were called for — on which one must draw a discreet veil here, lest the long arm of the law prove to have eyes and ears too. But with the rest of today to get through while the publicans enjoy their enforced rest, one might make a case for a little self-service at home instead. The company of friends deprived of their liquid victuals might lead to some intemperance, but it’s for a good cause, and only till the evening anyway, when the prohibitory orders run out, and we can join our friends on a South Delhi terrace to usher in an octogenarian’s birthday with the only stuff that’s keeping his spirits alive.



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