Scene: Tehran, during the revolution, when the US newspaper correspondents kept body and soul together with a daily lunch at Leon’s Russian Grill, featuring borscht, double portion of caviar with blini and vodka. Everything went well till prohibition was declared in new Iran.
“For my chum William Tuohy of The Los Angeles Times and me, this marked the end of civilized life as we had known it …On the first day of prohibition our regular waiter pulled a long face, …carefully explained the new order of things and suggested 7Up as an appropriate alternate beverage.
“Resourceful fellows, those Iranians. When the bottles of “soda” arrived with our lunch – you must have guessed by now – they were filled with vodka” - R W Apple Jr., associate editor, in The New York Times Magazine (May 28, 2006)
Every other journalist must have a prohibition tale. I have a couple to recall. During a conducted tour of media film critics to Bombay (under prohibition) in late sixties we were put up at MLAs hostel, where M Shamim of The Times of India, Debu Mazumdar of Indian Express, and I (used to be then with National Herald) had separate rooms, but chose to share a single bathroom, where we found a convenient closet for our pre-mixed rum and water. We learnt later that some of our more daring colleagues in the press party sipped it out of a tea cup held openly on their bedside table. They had found a resourceful room boy to bring in the ‘beverage’ in tea-pots.
Of course Bombay-based media were amused at our uninformed ways. They went for tenements in Colaba and fishermen’s huts in Varsova that morphed into an ‘adda’ during evenings for their favourite peg with churmuri.