With Kerala heading for prohibition, Mahe awaits visitors with dread

Written By kom nampultig on Senin, 25 Agustus 2014 | 08.20

MAHE: A rum bottle resembling the image of Virgin Mary. That too in a wine shop and bar adjacent to the Mahe Church, the shrine of St Theresa. "Spirit of a different kind," says a passerby as we curiously watch the bottle.

It is this 'spirit' that differentiates the tiny town of Mahe, an erstwhile French colony now part of Puducherry, from other places. Liquor is considerably cheaper here compared to Kerala.

The town, spread over nine sq km with a population of less than 42,000, has 64 wine shops and bars, giving an impression that the place, pet-named the eyebrow of Arabian sea, survives on spirit rather than anything else.

"This is exactly the problem of Mahe today, and this negative image will become worse further in parallel to Kerala's journey towards prohibition," says Palliyan Pramod, a councilor of the now defunct Mahe municipal council.

"The liquor inflow here will increase in the coming days with the Kerala government deciding to close down the bars and reduce the number of wine shops," he warns, hinting at the possible threat of spurious liquor and other social evils if the Puducherry government fails to bring in some regulation.

There is no significant rise in sales now as all beverages corporation outlets in Kerala are open, says A Jayan, a counter salesman in a bar. "However, there is an increase in number of customers during Sundays; it will definitely go up considerably if Kerala declares dry day on Sundays," he says, adding that the majority customers are from neighbouring Kannur and Kozhikode districts.

The residents also share the anxiety. "Mahe has already got the notoriety as a haven of liquor and the image is that all Mahe residents are alcoholics though the reality is different. Most of the consumers are from Kerala," says P V Chandradas, a social activist.

"We will ask the Puducherry government to take some measures to restrict the flow of liquor to Mahe, which is estimated at around 100 loads/ month." It is true that the historic tradition of the place is lost in the flash flood of the spirit.

Another passerby says bus crews are hesitant to stop near the church and take passengers in the evening, fearing that drunken people could get in.

"In the coming days, more buses might drop passengers here but they could get stranded here in the evenings even if the holy spirits wish against it," he says as he heads towards the church.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=rum bottle,Mahe residents,liquor ban in Kerala,Kerala government

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