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!!!