A Delhi based young male, who is financially well off told me about how drinking and partying was considered fashionable by his peers and those not doing so were rated as backward. I got a very similar input from a young female friend studying at an IIM.
“Rum and Rummy” was the Officers’ Mess culture when I joined my unit in 1982. In field areas, away from the families, this culture over-shadowed other facets of our lives, because it was an every evening pursuit.
Chuck Yeager, made famous by the book, “The Right Stuff”, written in 1979 glamorized evening drinking sessions prior to flying in the morning.
Sir Garfield Sobers made it fashionable to score a lot of runs in the morning, after drinking well in the evening.
Why am I narrating these things? The reason is to bring out the fact that drinking and partying have been fashionable even when I was young and have not become so today. We witnessed the “Hippie culture” in the US in the 1960s and our Indian, “Dum maro dum” song of Zeenat in the 1970s.
Let us understand some other things:
Usain Bolt could not have broken the 100 m world record after an evening of drinking nor an exam topper would have done so.
“Rum and Rummy” culture was totally absent when I commanded my unit and the professional standard of the unit was much higher. If I had been the CO of Chuck Yeager/ coach of the West Indies team, then someone else and not Yeager would have been the first person to break the sound barrier in an aircraft and Sir Garfield Sobers would have been cheering for the team from the sidelines for more sober team-mates.
“Work hard and party harder” attitude is quite popular because of the following reasons:
- Focused hard work can generate stress and partying is a good stress buster. Partying also has the benefit of improving social bonding.
- With high disposable incomes partying is hardly a financial burden for the rich and attractive for the aspirational society.
- Partying and drinking are considered by a large number as the essence of “happiness.”
- Alcohol and drugs are also associated with the spirit of risk taking and adventure and literally give a person a ‘high’.
Pursuit of Happiness
“Subordinating impulses to values is the essence of long-term happiness.” Let me explain the meaning of the statement in quotes: Long-term happiness is derived by living a meaningful/satisfying life. It would imply efforts made in the pursuit of trying to be the best that one can be in accordance with ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ theory and contributions made to the family and the society.
Thus, a top surgeon will understand his responsibility to the patient and the society and not drink before an important surgery; similarly, Virat Kohli will not drink before an important match in order to perform the best that he can for his team and the country. Both these guys would be happy for their choices made to lead disciplined lives.
In the same way, you and I live mostly uneventful lives. In our lives we pursue aims of trying to be as good as we can be at whatever we do and also make contributions to our families and the society. An occasional drink with friends and partying are good ways to improve social bonding. However, falling prey to the party, alcohol and drug culture can never provide long-term happiness but would make the indulgent individual’s life quite meaningless, unsatisfying and sort of empty. Please make your choices in life sensibly after reading this.
–BY COL M M NEHRU