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Not so dry in dry Gujarat!
Gujarat is known to be a dry state where drinking alcohol is prohibited. But, in reality, it is a different ballgame altogether.
I SEARCHED ON the Internet and found out the meaning of the word dry state. A dry state means a state where boozing is prohibited. But, the most interesting fact is that Gujarat, in spite of being a dry state, in terms of consumption of alcohol, ranks amongst the top five states in alcohol consumption.
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Gujarat is known as the ‘Jewel of the west’ and shares its borders with Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Truckloads of liquor are smuggled into Gujarat from these states. You get everything here whether it is whisky, wine, gin, rum, vodka or beer. Earlier people in this state used to drink on a birthday party, marriage or during a festival. But recently, it has been observed that people here just need a mere excuse to drink. They drink even when they are happy or sad. Whether it is a heartbreak, any kind of achievement, or a cloudy weather, people just find a reason to drink. ‘It is so hot here, let us have a beer, dude’ or ‘It is freezing this month, let us have a peg or two of whisky’ – these are the much spoken liners that you would come across in a group. According to them, anywhere, anytime, is the right time for drinking. What is the fun in going for a movie without doing cheers?
 
There are no bars or pubs in Gujarat. However, people can have their daily dosage of Vitamin A (alcohol) from some famous bootleggers. You find a bootlegger easily in Gujarat, who would deliver you any brand of whisky, gin or rum at your convenient time and place, whether it is at your doorstep or at your farmhouse. These bootleggers make loads of money and are never short of cash. People pay them whatever they ask for. Interestingly, even they have peak and off seasons. During the marriage season, elections, Dipawali they almost charge you double the rate. Otherwise, they charge you the normal printed rates. The biggies of this whole affair have their own personal cars. I wonder what is mixed inside the bottles as it is not possible to make such chunks of money in such a short time.
 
These bootleggers use some innovative ways to avoid the legal noose. It is rightly said that where there is a will there is a way. Some bootleggers, who are also auto drivers, deliver alcohol by taking along their families in the auto to avoid suspicion. If anyone is caught with alcohol, they are locked up in the jail. However, most of them are released the next day on bail depending upon the crime they commit. Mostly the issue gets closed if you can make the policeman happy. However, if it is a poor fellow he lands up in the prison. A middle class person would have to hand over Rs 200 to Rs 300 along with an alcohol bottle to escape jail. If the defaulter is a spoilt brat of some business tycoon the policeman will get his month’s salary in a day. If a person is caught under the influence of alcohol, the police simply gives a warning and lets the defaulter go. But, as I said it all depends upon the identity of the person.
 
I wonder if you can really call Gujarat a dry state! A lot of parties are done in hotels or at the farmhouses on the outskirts of the cities. These parties are never complete without liquor. It just looks good on papers that the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the state.
 
Gujarat is a dry state but in a different sense of the term, as the state does not get enough rains. Often, there is scarcity of water which results in drought. It all depends on how we look at the statement. Once I checked the phonebook of a friend of mine and was surprised to see some four to five numbers saved under the name of cheers, cheers 1, cheers 2 and so on. He told me that these are the numbers of the bootleggers. If the first person does not have a particular brand then the other person would probably have it or so on. Further, I was told that these are emergency numbers. At that point of time I really felt that I needed a break or a beer!
 
One of the most peculiar practices that exist in Gujarat is getting liquor on medical grounds. You probably will find most of our men ‘sick and medically unfit in need of alcohol’. Another very interesting anecdote is that the form required to be filled up to get a liquor license has one heading which says ‘Sharabi ka naam’ that is ‘Name of the drunkard’. Then it asks for the name of the drunkard’s father (Sharabi ke baap ka naam).
All said and done, this official permit does get you the permission to consume alcohol in the supposedly dry state.             
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