Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Have you ever had your liquor cabinet raided in Sri Lanka? Tell me about it!!

This is such a uniquely Sri Lankan saga, that I must write about it for the benefit of my readers overseas who want to know what it really is like living in this splendid land. What prompted me to write is the tragedy I was told about yesterday.

At my open house last evening I was told that my neighbor had unexpectedly returned home one evening and stumbled upon the fact that a usually locked room had been opened, and upon entering found a trusted staff member rifling through the liquor cupboard having found the hidden keys. (in SL the alcohol is usually kept locked away) Upon seeing the master he had run out of the first floor window and fallen badly injuring himself, in addition to possibly losing an eye. So much for long service and a chance of improving one’s position in life.

This is just a tip of the iceberg, but nevertheless it was the first time that I heard of one actually coming to such grave injury on account of the need to raid let alone drink alcohol. Any type of alcohol cannot be left unattended. I was at an exclusive Christmas Party at one of the top hotels in Colombo recently and the host who has this event, always provides his own liquor, both to ensure quality of the drink, wines and spirits are unblemished, but also to ensure that none goes missing into the hands of the servers. His trusted employee who is a teetotaler is in charge of serving the drinks into the tumblers and wine glasses which the waiters then serve to the guests.

It is a well known fact, ask a wedding planner, that a good proportion of alcohol served at weddings disappears. It is noteworthy that a bottle of Dom at Rs30K is not siphoned off to be sold, but to be drunk as quickly as possible mixed of course with Sprite to get thoroughly sloshed! It matters not one iota as to the value of the bottle, it is much the same to the drinker if they can get high on it.

In a similar vein, at a relative’s home just this week I was informed that all the boxes of premium whiskey that had been carefully purchased and stored for an occasion over a period, were suddenly found to be empty when the cupboard was opened recently. So the theft of the bottles was not noticed till then as the empty boxes looked untouched! They have no idea as to when it occurred, at one go or over a period, and by whom as there may have been many domestics in the house.

No doubt I have lost more than a share of bottles, and have been embarrassed when guests at Polonnaruwa bring their liquor and my boys swig it and are under the table even before they leave. Ask the tourist hotel managers how they control mini bar losses and their whole accounting for alcohol. It is something that occupies an inordinate amount of their management time. It is a huge cost to the industry.

I must also add the favorite trick is to fill the bottles with water to take attention away from the missing liquor from the open bottles, sometimes using artificial colorings too!!!


Anonymous said...

I can't say that I have. No comment here.

cj said...

Trust me I have seen it all. Since booze used to disappear from work we once put all the bottles into a box and taped it tight. Many months later when the box was open all the booze was drunk someone had cut the bottom of the box. So we never noticed it. Waiters in functions steal liquor by the case if possible. I have seen it happen virtually in front of my eyes. I know people who buy stolen liquor from posh houses and I know of a situation at a cocktail where the waiters told that driver to bring a siri siri bag and they would give him whiskey to take. Guess the price of a decent drink is so high that they have to resort to such tactics.

Anonymous said...

Rajarata, we're interested in more blog posts. I note last year's blog post was very interesting. what are you doing for this new year's? are you in colombo or polannaruwa? From last year:

"Contrast this with three New Years parties that I had foregone in Colombo and the incessant sound of crackers from early evening till well past midnight in the Western Province, one would think we really live in two countries, and one does not know of the existence of the other.

So with this thought where 80% of the country would see the new year fast asleep in bed, with hardly a celebration, ready for another regular working day, as the 1st is not even a holiday in Sri Lanka, I wish you all my best wishes for the year and future ahead in achieving your goals and wishes."

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