Sep 1, 2016

Say no to alcohol

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 Writing about a sensitive topic. So a disclaimer which is a dialogue from a Tamil movie - "idhu advice illa, akkarai" (this is not advice but a genuine concern). Please read with an open mind.

I vividly remember this incident. I was around 9-10 years old. My dad's usual Sunday evening routine was to take a walk to a tea shop to buy a weekly Tamil magazine (thuklak). My brother and I would accompany him, mainly to buy some tasty butter biscuits from the tea shop. While coming back one Sunday, I casually asked my dad if he had ever drunk alcohol. He replied, "Once I had a drink at an office party and came home. Your mother shouted at me and got very angry. I never touched alcohol after that".

In the 1980s, drinking alcohol was considered a social taboo among middle-class families. Our parents and grandparents were strictly against it. So were the women of the household.

It's appalling to see how the mindset has shifted radically in the past 20-25 years. The liquor manufacturers have identified India as a growing market with increasing disposable incomes. New pubs and bars (including a fancy name like liquor boutiques) are being opened in every street/road. Whenever there is a social gathering or a casual meet up, people inevitably choose a pub over a coffee shop. The marketing experts of these liquor companies have understood that they need to bring women on board in order to make a bigger dent in the Indian market. So new products - breezers, wine, vodka and what not have been introduced/rebranded/repositioned, targeted towards women audience.

Social drinking has become a norm rather than exception which was the case a decade back. In a group, if you are a teetotaler, you are the odd one out.

The statistics that is of serious concern:

"The per capita consumption of alcohol in India increased 38 percent, from 1.6 litres in 2003-05 to 2.2 litres in 2010-12, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, which also revealed that more than 11 percent of Indians were binge drinkers, against the global average of 16 percent. "

High alcohol consumption is one of the leading causes of liver cirrhosis, liver failure, heart diseases and cancer. By 2025, India may become the world capital of liver diseases, says one study.

If you can understand Tamil, I highly recommend you watch this video clip of a talk given by Dr.Sivaraman, a renowned Siddha doctor where he explains the impact of alcohol. Listen to the part starting from 22nd minute of the video.

To summarize what the doctor says,
Alcohol in even tiny quantity does no good to your body, irrespective of what the advertisements claim about wine being good for the heart etc.
India is fast becoming the capital of liver disease. Liver transplants cost more than Rs.48 lakhs if you are able to find a right donor.

My 2 cents:
Observe if you are becoming an addict. If you are just a social drinker, try the following ideas:
1) If you are planning to meet up with a friend, go to a coffee shop. Take a walk around a park or a lake. Get some fresh air. It provides the right ambience for casual conversations.
2) Planning for team outings? Ditch the pubs and go for dinner / participate in cooking events together / go for hiking / rent some bikes and go cycling around nearby villages / play some outdoor sport.
3) Social gathering at home? Instead of opening a bottle of wine, brew some fresh filter coffee or make some traditional masala chai. Give priority towards interesting conversations, chit-chats and relive old times rather than boasting about how expensive the wine is or where it is from.

I'm neither a doctor nor a nutritionist. I'm a normal person who is highly concerned about the increasing rate of alcohol consumption, especially among educated urban households.

Lastly, if you disagree with any of the above, please let's move on and not get into arguments. We can agree to disagree.

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