lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The three C's

"Hey thanks," he murmured as I set down his drink at his elbow. He took a deep appreciative sip and said, "Ah, that tastes good." I smiled as I settled into my rocking chair.

As friends go, he's the sort you never have to keep in touch or count visits and reciprocation. He'd drop in and we'd carry on from where we left off the last time. And this was no different, except that he got curious.

"What is the secret, Lali?" he asked, as he picked up a few of the munchies. "Huh?" I said, trying to figure what he thought was a secret. "This is regular whisky, and it tastes great, so what is the secret?" "There is no secret," I smiled.

"Nah, there has got to be one. It is staple everyday rotgut stuff and it tastes bloody marvellous." He saw my frown and added, "Now don’t get huffy, bloody is an adjective, an informal intensifier, not a swear word or blasphemy, come on."

I swallowed a smile and protested. "Look, I offered you Laphroaig, Glenfiddich, Baileys, rum or vodka, but you wanted the daily stuff."

"Yeah, because it tastes great here," he said, going back to the original question. "So, what is the secret?"

"There is none." I said. "I simply measure…" "Ah ha, you measure?" "Yeah, well. Doesn't everybody?" There were strangled sounds as the men laughed themselves sick. I waited it out.

"Let me get you another," I said and collected the glasses. "Handmaiden, isn't she," said the lord and master proudly. "Regular Ganymede, yeah" he agreed. I protested. Cupbearer I might be, but I refuse to be confused with young boys. They laughed at me.

"This is perfect," he sighed as he took a sip of the fresh drink. "But Lali, it's only mixed drinks you have to measure, this is just straight stuff. So there has got to be a secret, I swear."

"Swat you think," I mumbled huffily.

"Ouch, leave the Enid Blyton references out, Lali," interjected the lord and master. "Swat I said," said his best friend helpfully. I rolled my eyes. They went into another bout of chuckling.

"You know, this is daily stuff at home too, but it's great when you make it," he went on, demolishing the munchies and catching my hand to indicate he'd rather talk than be plied with more eats. I sat down again. The munchies can wait the refill, then. And conversation was going great guns after all.

But the lord and master had more to say. You will understand bar-tending the way Lali does it when you understand Hawking and the quantum stuff, he sneered at his best friend, as they seem to think putting each other down is the only way to proclaim affection.

"Ah. Hawkins, the world famous inventor of the pressure cooker." After stunned silence and obligatory groans we went on to other things.

Much later, he asked again why a staple drink tasted so good. "The three C's." I replied, as we hugged in leave-taking. Company, conversation, conviviality-- rotgut tastes good when somebody else is making the drinks, really.



Blogger Sivaram said...

"The rapturous, wild and ineffable pleasure of drinking at somebody else's expense."

2:10 pm  
Anonymous dipali said...

Three cheers, Lali, it seems to be the cup-bearer's magic!

3:18 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

It is the company, Lali. Always the company.

7:48 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Sivaram- Hmm, there's a thought, I must say. And that happened to be a Thursday, which is a dry day here in Calcutta. :-)

Dipali- Three cheers, lady. Cook and bottle-washer too. Jill of all trades really.

Ash- So true. It is the company that makes the difference.

2:50 pm  
Blogger Sivaram said...

I kind of let that one line in as a teaser.

At the Ahmedabad Airport restaurant on first floor, they have coasters with the following intriguing inscription :

"The rapturous, wild and ineffable pleasure of drinking at somebody else's expense."
Tried to find the source on the web, but initially I could only get as far as the author.

The source is a poem marvelously entitled "Stanzas to an Intoxicated Fly" contained in Henry Sambrooke Leigh's "Carols of Cockayne".

Then I searched through blogs [ for the first time ], and found the poem.
Then I thought - blogs are some thing new and good. I needed some thing with reference to Gilgamesh, and looked through blogs. Ans I stumbled on your blog ....

Anyway, here is the full poem, if you are interested ?!!

It's a singular fact that whenever I order
My goblet of Guinness or bumper of Bass,
Out of ten or a dozen that sport round the border
Some fly turns a somersault into my glass.
Oh! it's not that I grudge him the liquor he's tasted,
(supposing him partial to ale or stout),
But consider the time irretrievably wasted
In trying to fish the small wanderer out.

Ah! Believe me, fond fly, it's excessively sinful,
This habit which knocks even bluebottles up;
Just remember what Cassio, on getting a skinful,
Observ'd about "ev'ry inordinate cup!"
Reflect on that proverb, diminutive being,
Which tells us "Enough is as good as a feast;"
And, mark me, there's nothing more painful than seeing
An insect behaving so much like a beast.

Nay, in vain would you seek to escape while I'm talking,
And shake from your pinions the fast-clinging drops.
It is only too clear, from your efforts at walking,
That after your malt you intend to take hops.
Pray, where is your home? and oh! how shall you get there?
And what will your wife and family think?
Pray, how shall you venture to show the whole set there
That Paterfamilias is given to drink.

Oh, think of that moment when Conscience returning
Shall put the brief pleasures of Bacchus to flight;
When the tongue shall be parch'd and the brow shall be burning,
And most of to-morrow shall taste of to-night!
For the toast shall be dry and the tea shall be bitter,
And all through your breakfast this thought shall intrude;
That a little pale brandy and seltzer is fitter
For such an occasion than animal food.

I have known, silly fly, the delight beyond measure---
The blissful sensation, prolonged and intense---
The rapturous, wild, and ineffable pleasure,
Of drinking at somebody else's expense.
But I own--and it's not without pride that I own it---
Whenever some friend in his generous way
Bids me drink without paying, I simply postpone it,
And pay for my liquor the whole of next day.

10:22 am  
Blogger Lalita said...

Sivaram- What a delightful poem! Thanks for making my day.

12:13 pm  

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