The fateful day is here. After almost 13 years in this city, the time has come to say goodbye and move on.
I got married while living here, we had our kid here, bought our own apartment here; till a few months ago, I thought I would live here forever. However, the deteriorating air quality year-on-year and the complete apathy of the government decided otherwise.
For years, I watched the air quality go worse, for years I saw people turn a blind eye to it and eventually it became clear that this problem won’t be solved in the near future (or maybe ever).
I will miss
Spending my weekend at Ambience mall, perhaps my favourite place in the city. I still remember the first time I went there to buy formal shoes for my first job here (the job didn’t involve formal wear).
Having breakfast at McDonalds while soaking the winter sun at MGF metropolitan mall.
The (few) friends I had here and drinking beer with them at one of the many craft breweries.
The wide highways, flyovers and underpasses and sparse traffic.
The ease of getting things done and solving problems by throwing money at them. Apps and online services for literally everything.
Extremely fast same-day and next-day Amazon delivery.
I will not miss
The horrid air quality between November and January every year and the grey/brown skies.
The constant and relentless pitch of hindutva in every aspect of your life.
Kids as young as 12 driving cars with impunity.
People who cut in queue (in person or in their cars).
I have a long relationship with beer and our relationship has evolved over all these years.
I clearly remember my first beer (or any alcoholic beverage for that matter) which was at Orchid Lake resort next to the pristine Umiam Lake in Meghalaya. I was around 12 years old at that time & was going to Shillong with my uncle and his friend for the day from Guwahati & had stopped at that resort for lunch. My uncle and his friend ordered beer for themselves and offered me some. My first reaction was that it was bitter. I obviously kept that information to myself & commented that it was very tasty so as to not embarrass myself as less of a “man” in the presence of 2 adults.
I had beer a few more times with that uncle over the next few years but didn’t enjoy any of it.
When I went off to college at Nagpur, I was suddenly exposed to a whole plethora of alcoholic beverages. Beer was reserved for those hot summer days when we didn’t have electricity or had an exam the following day & didn’t want to get too drunk.
I remember one evening when Sood Sahib was feeling a bit low. I suggested that we drink some beer & his spirits lifted immediately. We bought beers from a store and some policemen tried stopping us on the way, but we somehow escaped, got soaked in the rain, reached home, dried up and enjoyed our beers.
I also remembering going to Urvashi with Neeraj after our gym sessions to drink beer with Tandoori chicken to aid our workout recovery. Beer also accompanied our jam sessions on numerous occasions.
My first major incident with beer was when I bought what I thought was “Haywards 5000” from a seedy store in Nagpur, went home and drank it alone. My roommate came home from college later to find me passed out with my head shaved. Later, when I regained consciousness, he also reported some strange behaviour from me but I would refrain from going too deep into those details. Later everything explained itself when we saw that the beer I had was actually a “Haryana 5000”.
When I moved to Gurgaon, I was exposed to a new world of freshly brewed beer also known as “artisanal beer” or “craft beer”. We used to go to Rockman’s Beer Island at Ambience Mall very frequently to drink fresh brewed beer poured out for us from taps.
We used to order barrels of this stuff and get hopelessly drunk. I remember one incident when we went to Beer Island with Soniel’s German colleagues, everyone got sloshed on beer and they ran away without paying for anything and we were stuck with the bill.
Another incident with beer I remember is when I had something called “Beer Buster” at an office party. It was beer mixed with Tabasco sauce and I had litres of it. When I came back home, I couldn’t sleep because the Tabasco was burning in my chest and stomach all night.
One of my best beer experiences was during my Beer trip to Bengaluru. We went to a place called Biergarten which was a huge open air pub surrounded by beautiful palm trees. The weather and the colour of the sky were unlike anything in Gurgaon. Even the washrooms had a killer view.
Not until the lockdown, when I was forced to stay without any beer for months did I learn the true value of beer (among other things). When the lockdown did open and I rushed to the nearest beer shop to buy some, I decided that I would start treating beer with more respect from then on. Yes, I would savour my beer more and learn to enjoy it.
I started drinking beer slowly, appreciating the textures and flavours and enjoying the taste rather than aiming to get hopelessly drunk.
When I drink alone at home, I never drink more than 1 or 2 cans at a time and I make sure I enjoy every sip. When drinking out with friends (rare), all these rules go out of the window, though.
3 cheers to beer and here’s to many more years of friendship.