You guessed it right! Hic… hic… hurry is the urgent SOS message sent out frantically by every ‘professional’ drinker in Guwahati to the government to ‘hurry’ and take back the prohibition order that declared Guwahati a dry city for a limited period. Wine lovers of our city read more than seventy-five per cent of the populace and had some harrowing time dealing with the stress and claustrophobia of abstinence from their favourite brew, the spirit (pun intended) of their souls, the poison of their dreams – the one and only harbinger of good times, that is, alcohol.
The Guwahati High Court in Assam had ordered the closure of liquor shops and bars located within a 500-metre radius of schools, colleges, hospitals and other institutions. As per the Assam Excise Rules, 1945 (143) 2B, no liquor shops or bars should be permitted within a distance of 500 meters from religious places, healthcare centres, educational institutions or similar buildings as far as possible. According to excise department sources, almost 80 per cent of wine shops, bars, clubs and lounges in Guwahati will be closed down. The wine shops and bars remained closed till the next hearing of the matter in court, which was on August 25.
As for the parched drinkers (of alcohol of course), every single day was like a decade as they spent the days fretting and fidgeting – waiting for the happy hours to start again, for the good times to roll once more. They were unable to concentrate on their work; their smiles were restrained and nervous ones as deep down in their hearts they harboured the fears of being unable to come home to their sweethearts – no not to their spouses or girlfriends/boyfriends but to the embracing sparkle of the spirited beverage.
Guwahati had become a ghost town deserted by its ‘spirits’, especially to the drink lovers as the thousands of wine shops who must have already taken us to the record books by virtue of making Guwahati on top of the charts with the highest number of wine shops, had their shutters down. They stood desolately bereft of the din and bustle of eager customers. Surprisingly, our city has the unique privilege or stigma (whatever you deem right) of having at least one wine shop at the radius of probably every fifty meters. As per the department records, there are 303 wine shops in Guwahati, 128 bars, 13 clubs, 7 beer bars, 4 beer shops, 16 liquor bottling plants, 20 bonded warehouses and 10 country liquor plants. Thanks to the statistics, our streets often play hosts to drunk and knocked out people who take refuge on the pavements or drains after guzzling down gallons of their favourite brew. Our local channels will agree with me here, who time and again bombard us with so called ‘breaking news’ by showing scenes of such drunken people who are often security personnel, government officers apart from civilians. These are the ones who cannot be weaned from their daily dose of alcohol. Imagine the plight of these poor souls who are slaves to alcohol and have been forced to the realms of sobriety.
But all is not lost, for try as one may, it is next to impossible to keep the bees from sniffing out honey. Come what may these ‘bees’ who thirst after alcohol find ways and means to get united with their bottled up and fluid friends. These are smart people, crafty and cunning, who know how to get hold of what they want – so what if their priorities are different. As a result, during the prohibition days all roads led to Khanapara as it rubbed shoulders with the neighbouring State of Meghalaya, which had no saddist attitude towards the professional drinker. Yes, Guwahati turns out to be such a city where people would put even fishes to shame when it came to drinking!
The wine shops dotting the Khanapara area, which fall under Meghalaya laughed their way to the banks as parched drinkers jostled for space in the shops for their daily doses and more. It was choc-a-bloc with these revelers who were ready to give an eye and an ear to hoard the caches of bottled beverages. However, the smarter ones didn’t need to go the extra miles, as there was many spots closer to home like say Uzanbazar, where innocent looking thatched houses became instant watering holes overnight to cater to the booze thirsty predators, albeit illegal. The fishy business flourished right under the nose of the khaki clad brigade, who failed to identify that anything was amiss: but thanks to the nosy reporters of our local channels who could sniff out everything and anything under the sun.
The poor drinkers would definitely never forget the curse that was thrust upon them for no fault of theirs. They must be fervently praying to the god of wine to lift up their ‘dry’ and dampened spirits. For imagine their frustration when they realize and sigh… ‘wine shops , bars everywhere…but not a drop to drink!’
Q1. Ma’am, I am a student of Class XI in CBSE Board. I was quite good in studies till Class IX and X. But as soon as I migrated to another school, my performance has been showing a downward trend. Can you tell me why is it so? Please suggest some remedies to my problem. (Name withheld)
Ans- I do empathize with your problem at hand. However, it is difficult to comment on the exact factors, causing your academic decline. I presume you are continuing with the same board. It could be that since you have shifted to a different institution, you are taking time to adjust to the new environment. Your classmates, teachers have changed. It does take time to get to know new people and feel comfortable around them. Give yourself some time. Don’t get too worked up. Relax and make friends. Go through your syllabus, make a list of the topics you are having difficulty with. Then start working on them. It would be beneficial if you come for a counseling session so that any other causal factors could be ear-marked.
Q 2. Madam, I feel nervous when I go to meet people. I feel worried as to how to greet them and wonder how they would react at me. I get anxious and afterwards, this keeps troubling me. I am a successful career person otherwise and established in my work area. (Name withheld)
Ans- Many of us go through such similar experiences from time to time. We need to master this handicap of ours. Before you set out for a meeting or any other occasion, look yourself in the mirror and recall all your strong points (which trust me, will be many). Tell yourself there is nothing to fear from anyone. We can behave in an acceptable manner, how people react to us is not in our hands. So just let it be. You could also practice deep breathing exercises to help keep you calm and relaxed. Take care of yourself. All the best!
Gariasi Dutta is a psychiatric social worker in Down Town Hospitals. Readers may send their concerns to email@example.com or mélange.firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 9864055560