Alcohol – The bad guy, the beloved devil that tempts, the elegant companion for delectable meals, the influence that pervades under the cover of disapproval – so many names for just one little guy.
So where did this love-hate relationship start? Was it always this villain-but-daredevil frenemy?
Alcohol in a way was always around. Sugar, water and some fruit or grain fermenting in it – and voila! Apparently, studies show that ten million years ago, our ancestors, developed the ability to digest ethanol. What does it mean? In all likelihood, they came across some fruit that was left too long and fermented. The acerbic taste and the spike stayed and like all great things, alcohol was found purely by accident. Eureka!
The history of alcohol can be traced back to 7000 BC in China in the form of rice mead. In India, it was Sura around 2000-3000 BC. But mention can be found even in Ramayana (~7000 BC). It is said that when Ram, Sita and Laxman departed for the forest after being exiled, she prayed to the Goddess Ganga for protection and promised her a grand offering of “Sahastra Sura Ghat” (1000 jugs of “Sura”) and rice laced with meat on a safe return. Egyptian, Roman and Greek cultures also show evidence of wine and beer being a big part of the culture. In most cases, it was greatly valued for its medicinal properties and even offered to the Gods.
Later, as the art of distillation progressed, the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries saw alcohol spread far and wide in various forms. Drunken problems started rearing its head. Various cultures tried different methods to control it. Prohibition through laws, religion, societal pressure – all were tried. Today, various cultures have adapted to it at different levels and have diverse customs for it.
So, where do you stand today? Is it forbidden and hence all the more tempting? Or have you found your sweet spot with it? While this is an extremely personal choice driven by reasons from “No, that’s blasphemy” or “I HATE alcoholics” or “Marwaoge kya?” to “One life yaar!”.
People love to have science backing their decisions. So, here it goes. Science shows the moderate consumption of alcohol is beneficial for your heart and teetotalers stand at higher risk of cardiac problems. Also, it is said to prevent dementia. Ready to slug that next glass guilt-free? Hold that thought for ‘un momento’. Evidence also shows people consuming alcohol to be at a higher risk for cancer and mental diseases. Plus terrible for the liver as we all know. So if you are planning to say “Bapu, Sehat ke liye ye to zaroori hain”, it is not going to fly buddy. ‘Alcohol is not necessary for your health”. Sorry, I said it.
On the other hand, no one said anything about happiness. Debate commences.
Those in favour: “Abstinence: Is that what we want? Why even gods didn’t abstain. And if we start abstaining, then where does it stop. Research keeps showing newer things that are not good for us. It’s gluten, then it’s fermented food (hear idli-lovers), then soya and no, wait – Soya’s good. Researchers can never make up their mind. So think, especially with one drink in. It’s the best social lubricant for networking and business. Plus one life and so much to experience. Why hold back?”
Those not in favour: “Alcohol kills, addicts, ruins relations, ruins health. Is this necessary for happiness? I get my kick out of lime juice. Social lubricant, pooh! Respect my work, I say. Also, how can you miss something you never had? I see no reason to invite problems”
Both right, both sensible. So where do you fall? Think. But remember, binge or heavy drinking is an absolute NO and the reason for all the alcohol bashing. How much is moderate you ask? No more than 7 drinks per week for women and 14 drinks for men but not at the same time. Again, what is your body type?
If you can are buzzed with 1 drink, then that’s your magic number. So, sensible citizens of this glittery city of alcohol – discern and decide.