Saturday, 30 August 2008

Hic! Hic! Glasgow

I had been warned of Glasgow’s famous drinking culture, but I didn’t expect the city to live up to its reputation. Glaswegians take their drinks seriously, if I may add, way too seriously. For any outsider, it’s a shocker to see the streets fill up every weekend with drunken splendour. In fact, there’s never a dull moment in Glasgow.

It’s unbelievable how the city never lets you down – old, young, teenagers, men, women, they all drink up. From early Thursday afternoon, Glaswegians start swaying with brown-paper packed bottle tucked half-way in their coats. Drinking over the weekend is like the ONLY entertainment. It almost feels like alcohol is the national past-time and the only weekend routine for the Scottish blood.

I often travel by bus to work. And every weekend, there’s a chance of bumping into a ‘happy’ person during my journey. Actually its a rarity not to find a drunk person. One time, I was sitting by myself, staring out of the window, when a Scottish boy, not more than 17 years old, tapped me for a cigarette. ‘I’m sorry. I don’t smoke,’ I said. He moved on, to another passenger but when he didn't get any from the passengers, he approached the bus driver! Knocking on the glass-walled cubicle, which protects the busdrivers from hooligans, he politely asked for a ciggi. When he didnt get any, he swayed back to his seat with a sullen face. I barely moved a limb, clutching my bag, for the want of some outside power to protect me. He then sat quietly, while his drunken friends continued to create a ruckus. And just when I thought the drama was over, the boys rush to the driver, asking him to stop before the marked bus stop. The driver obliged. But one boy, refused to step out, instead he insisted on talking to his co-passengers. So while he spurted out a few muffled words to a passenger sitting in front of me, the driver waited patiently. And before he finally stepped out, after what seemed like eternity, he had a word for the driver – ‘If you ever need any help, don’t forget to call me. I might not look big, but I can bring down a few men.’ I smiled, only because they were out of the bus!

On another day, my husband and I were returning home by bus and had the ill-fortune of sitting behind an old man, who was openly enjoying his Guinness, even though there's a rule that drinking ain't permitted on public transport. He balanced a plastic mug on one hand and a can of Guinness on the other. And when the bus driver stopped at his destination, the man sat calmly, finishing off his drink, completely unconcerned about the other passengers. So when the driver yelled: 'This is not a pub, but a bus.' He turned around, asking me to help him put the can of Guinness back into his plastic bag. After I helped him, he struggled to get up. He then reached for his crutches! That's when I realised that despite having a walking difficulty, he didn't find it any more difficult to sip on alcohol on his bus trip home!!!

With alcohol overflowing through the city every weekend, it's not shocking that the crime rate is high. Glaswegians are friendly, but it's the alcohol that makes them go bonkers! Newspapers are filled every day with stories of petty crime, and the only logical explanation is ALCOHOL. During the street fights, the people are so highly intoxicated that they drunken eyes don't see reason. They'd rather break their beer bottle on some blokes' head than talk things through.

Alcohol is their lifeline, but if taken responsibly, Glaswegians will go a long way!

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