“Bhai bol aaj kya peeyega?”, asked Rohan the moment I entered the Bar. I had arrived a little late from office because of the rigorous training I was going through in my newly joined IT firm. As I glanced, I saw that infamous lot of Derezio Hostel. There was Naveen who was also known as Sniper because he could take a headshot in Counter-Strike without even looking at the laptop screen. Sourav, the Bengali whose creative slangs were better than any of the stand-up comic acts of today. Nishit, our own slash and Rahul, the prolific footballing legend of our college. This was a sort of reunion of our core gang who have been scattered all over India for job locations. I had not felt this happy for a long time after we graduated.
“Main yaar aaj beer peeunga sirf”, said Naveen. We all looked at each other. Yes, that same old century drama. After a couple of beers, he will have everything, puke on the staircase and then sleep like a log.
Everybody was busy deciding about what to order and what not to order when I suddenly said “Yaar aj Old Monk peete hain sab”. The moment I said it I felt like I would be ridiculed and this would have been an open invitation to Sourav’s sarcastic comments such as “Tu salaa onsite bhi jaega na toh waha pe bhi Old Monk hee peeyega”. There was a brief silence for about two seconds after which Nishit said “Kya bola hain bhai, waah!!” followed up by Rahul "Abe last time kabb piye the?” And everyone zeroed on to Old Monk at least initially.
Not only was I relieved but after a while quite surprised by the fact that the love for Old Monk had not subdued even after passing out from college. There are countless memories of what happened when we had drunk Old Monk, some sweet, some bitter and some bittersweet. As my friends got excited about reminiscing about those incidents, I could not help but realise the attachment we had for this brand was exemplary.
Old Monk and Engineering are two mutually inclusive events, which is true throughout the length and breadth of the country. These days, the non-Engineers have also found out about this nectar. There are brands that we love, there are brands that we like to flaunt, brands we respect. But never did such a huge section of the student population grow attached to a brand and then pass it on from one generation to the other. It has become sort of a religion or a unanimous consciousness among the past few generations. People might be snobbish and say it is damn cheap citing it as a reason for its popularity, but I can assure you that there are plenty of drinks which are cheaper and not half as good. Primarily these are the reasons for it gaining such stupendous heights of success:
1) It’s cheap, not dead cheap that happens with country liquor (where you might drop dead after consumption) but pocket friendly to be apt. Ek khamba comes in 300 odd bucks. Do you need anything more in the cold winters?
2) Brand with an attitude. It does not shell out a single penny on advertisements. No music CDS and mineral water. The only promotion that takes place is verbal praise by their loyalists. And within few months you would slowly be promoting itself to your other friends.
3) People drink to get high and it gets you high, and it is not a sudden buzz. It would be gradual. Nor are there any hangovers and you can start the next morning afresh.
4) It tastes relatively pretty good. You can mix it with coke, thumbs up, pepsi, soda, on the rocks or even neat. Trust me when I say it even goes with Kingfisher strong. There are recipes to even have it with honey and other fancy stuff. To each his own, eh??
5) It has tested medicinal properties to cure you of that running nose or cold and cough if you can gulp it down with some mild warm water.
6) Earlier it had been synonymous with the Defence forces or the merchant navy class which was meant it was a symbol of manhood. In fact, I remember the first time when I had said “No, thank you I don’t drink rum” to one of my seniors in college. His facial expressions were of disbelief first and later turned to somewhat “Namard kahike”.
7) Availability throughout India. Rum means Old Monk in Indian dictionary.
8) The fact that it is an Indian brand. When it comes to drinking we all are huge nationalists. Rumours are, there were certain campaigns held to declare it as the National drink of India.
9) And last but not the least, “Jai Shree Rum”.
As my thoughts had moved on from the ongoing reunion to the reasons for being an Old Monk lover, I quickly snapped back to reality when Rohan hit me with a ball made out of tissue paper.
“Abe peene se pehle hee nasha hogaya kya??” chirps Rohan. And the group breaks into frivolous laughter.
Slightly embarrassed due to my wandering thoughts I reply saying:
“Peene se ajkal nasha nehi hota janab,
Peene se gham sukh mein badlta nahi,
Humari dosti woh kya the gazab,
kho gaye the hum thodi der usme hi sahi”
“Wahh wahh wahh wahh, Kya baat, kya baat”, “Nazuk” and all sorts of compliments came in. Drinks and starters were served and we wasted no more time. The reunion was good. The memories even better.
*This article doesn’t promote drinking in any sort, it is just a realization of the brands we love as a consumer. Alcohol consumption is injurious to health and should be strictly prohibited*