The Hindu

Sahken not slurred

Talk about the highs and lows of the pandemic at the bar

- :: Jane De Suza

‘Elango,’ I slump at my favourite bar, ‘make mine a pandemic-special. Whatever everyone’s on. And avoid the Corona beer, I’m sick already. Of the puns.’

He fixes me a screwdrive­r. I drink - and drink – and drink. There’s no high in this highball glass. ‘It’s all orange. No vodka,’ I object. ‘That’s the corporate special,’ he says. ‘It’s a ScrewedOve­r.

It’s when you realise what your org’s been doing to you all along. The pointless travel, endless workhours. I can add some midnight oil, if you’ve gotten used to the taste.’

The woman to my left says, ‘Try this. A classic

Manhaten. Vermouth. Ver-big-mouth. Too much talk, that’s the problem. The boss-man. The politico-man. The medico-man. The wifiman. Promises to fix it all – and nothing!’ I drink to that.

‘Have a Meragharit­a,’ the man to my right says. ‘It’s why we land up in the bar.

When the ghar becomes office-school-gym-shop, you need the Tequila.’

‘With love from the bar then,’ Elango pushes a copper mug at him. ‘Here’s a special. A Maskow Mule. It’s just like the Moscow Mule (the drink not the man), but it comes with a free mask and straw to drink out of. Cleverly designed so you can suck in but not breathe out the vodka fumes. It’s like being in Maskowian Vodka chamber.’ The man does a bottoms-up, on his glass and off his stool, and passes out for a happy hour. I have what he had. I’m feeling lighter and happier too. Happy Hour Prost!

‘There’s great demand for the Sangriazer. Sangria and sanitizer. No virus survives that!’ Elango suggests. But obviously! Who wants to waste alcohol on your shands – hands. I hug Elango. I hug the man on the floor.

‘Keep your social distance!’ warns the woman as I lurch towards her. ‘Make mine a

Bloody Meanie, Elango,’ she shouts. ‘In honour of every idiot who doesn’t socialdist­ance or wear a mask.’ She’s baying for blood, this one, but Elango keeps it to tomato juice.

A new guy stumbles onto the stool next to me. He’s shivering, he says, ‘Am I shivering? Someone sneezed in the corner. I stepped on spit. I passed a woman with a mask under her nose. Have you got a thermomete­r, oximeter, portable oxygen cylinder?’ Elango makes his Mojittero with more-jito and more white rum. More happiness! Viruses and other invisibles are out of sight now. Punny! ‘Punny Colada,

Elango!’ I holler. ‘Let’s raise one to all Covidian puns.’

Bar closing time. Elango’s slipping me a Singasnore Sling.

I’s slo sleepy now, I’s s’hardly sing, sling, slung. Elango sis spouring a gin and scherry brandy and slaying, ‘Sleep and you’ll wake up in 2021 to realise this whole scare has been a bad dream.’

Where Jane De Suza, author of Flyaway

Boy, pokes her nose into our perfect lives.

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