A friend is coming into town this week. He's a Brit (translation: likes his beer) so I decide to stock up on some for him. I'm pretty much a liquor lightweight; in the last two years, I think I've had wine once or twice, both times with dinner at a hotel. So I don't know the first thing about buying liquor in India. I know that it's not sold in grocery stores, and I've never seen anything called a "liquor store" in Chennai. I've seen it on the menu in Western hotels, but I need a six-pack that I can take home with me.
I ask a coworker friend where he buys his beer. He tells me they are sold in the government-owned "Wine Shops," which I do recall seeing scattered around Chennai. (Interesting business for the government to be in, eh?)
"So I can just go into one of those and ask for some bottles of beer?"
"No, no, you should not do that. Women do not go into the Wine Shops."
"Oh. OK. Is there anywhere that a woman can get some beer?"
"Not really. Ladies don't usually drink in India."
"So...can I ask you to buy some beer for me?"
So it has come to this: At age 50, I am getting a boy half my age to score some liquor for me...
My friend generously agrees to take care of my liquor needs. (I won't mention his name; don't want to get him in trouble with the liquor police. Suffice it to say that he's the same nice fella who's been teaching me Tamil swear words... :o))
I had heard rumors that sometimes the hard liquor is "moonshine" quality, and after seeing the appearance of some of the wine shops (above), I had some concerns about the quality of their product. Since I would rather not poison my visitor, my supplier ended up going instead to a bar in an upscale hotel to make the purchase for me.
Rob, I've got the Kingfishers lined up for ya!
Now, along with my fantasy of walking down Marina Beach in a bathing suit, I've added another item to my list of Things To Do Before I Leave India: march into a Wine Shop and purchase my own Kingfisher.