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On the very first day, as I entered the officer’s lounge, I was astonished by the scene that lay ahead. The usual sullen and gloomy ambience on other ships, here was bustling with flurry of activities. The subdued lit lounge, was carpeted with a velvety and unseamed fabric. A comforting carmine couch rested on top of it, facing a plumping plasma television. The longue itself reverberated with a soft music, played in the background from the speakers, which were in conjunction with the home theatre and karaoke system. What really captivated me, was the shimmering disco light which kept blinkering on and off, revealing the imposingly fashionable bar at the corner, with modernistic swivel chairs around it. The counter manned by one of the officers, exposed an array of alcoholic beverages and fruit cocktails while the rack showcased, variety of glasses ranging from snifter to wineglass, which shined and glimmered in the fairy light. Each and every individual in the room held a drink in his hand. Be it beer, wine or whisky. You name it and they had it. A strong smell of alcohol permeated the whole room.

Being a non-alcoholic, I simpered and quietly headed to the counter for my pineapple virgin cocktail. But these days, my tongue has got a serious liking towards Sprite. They say Sprite eats away your tooth enamel. Don’t know how far it’s true. Anyway coming back to the plot, as I took my first sip, series of questions and comments flew right on my face. Some of them were quite perishing and infuriating. Here goes the awkward list –

1.      Being a mariner, you are non-alcoholic??? Seriously??

Whenever I have uttered these three words ‘I don’t drink’, I would be in the limelight for my entire contract on the ship. They would set everything aside and keep niggling me, giving godly advice on the advantages of drinking.
Please, even I read stuffs and I know what is good for me. At least, I know my organs aren’t dozed with hydrocarbon compounds for sure.

2.      Dude, not even beer?? You must be kidding.

Now, tell me where it is mentioned that beer is not alcoholic. And if it’s not then, why do an individual start stumbling after six or seven beers down his throat. Reason – alcohol. Debate closed!!!

3.      Your life sucks man. You seem to be anti-social.

This comment I often get from people even when I am onshore. Actually, my life is full of promises. I am having fun being a sober. I have my own way of seeing things. If my presence bothers you, I tend to walk out. It doesn’t mean, I am anti-social. It clears defines respecting ones privacy and feelings. At least, I don’t have any hangovers and my sight remains clear unlike you wherein it remains obliterated. I don’t regret doing anything stupid or saying anything absurd as I have complete control of my conscious mind. I pity on you wherein, it’s always me who takes care of you once you drag yourself into an oblivion state.

4.      At least you can have wine. Even girls drink that.

I am sober and if it contains a percentage of alcohol, it’s no to me. If girls have them, it’s their choice.  Women do other stuffs too, do you? I really don’t want to drop a cannon on you here.

5.      You are a disgrace to seafarer community

Bullshit!!! Tell me how; I swear I would quit shipping. In reality, people respect every seafarer on earth for his devoted service to the world without any bias. We are looked upon by the younger generation for our personality enveloped with loyalty and punctuality, for us cruising through rough seas, for our commitment towards work and for being away from our loved ones for the betterment of their living. Now, nobody is proud of us anymore. They live with a strong misconception that every mariner is an alcoholic. Thanks to you for having me linked to your clan of alcoholic seafarers without any fault of mine.  I can’t even justify them because I am completely exhausted in making them realize what the fact is. So in short, who is degrading the marine community??
And the list goes right on, till they lose their consciousness or feel exhausted after hours of carousing.

When it really comes to the alcoholics, they would never capitulate to the philosophy and beliefs of a sober. Instead, they would ask you to consult a psychiatrist. Who needs a doctor is quite an irony here. Sometimes, the convivial atmosphere would turn hostile in no time. That’s when you need to form a mental picture that the person has crossed his endurance limit.

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Now, one has to be extra cautious around such people. The reason is quite obvious. When they are down by one or two drink, they consider themselves as an omniscient people in the room possessing knowledge regarding every subject under the sky.  In fact, the person they are talking to is always wrong and this clearly invites a huge argument to step in. Six to eight drinks down their throat; they push themselves into their illusory world wherein they have an intuition of being the best looking people around. They would dance on their own melodic tune because they think they possess the clock of invisibility. They would sing until their lungs explode and try pestering every individual in their vicinity. This literally provokes anger in the minds of the public. Adding to that, they might puke seldom disturbing the ambience, which would often encourage them to pick up fights with everyone. And when two people argue, whose minds are in irrepressible state, god knows what would be the repercussions.

Now, why I am citing this is, because that’s where people onboard who are sober interferes. They try to settle the dispute because that is the hardest and painful task. I really couldn’t contemplate the real reason behind their consumption of alcohol.  I had often asked them and the only possible response I got is, “Taste it and you will know it”

Sometimes, being among that group, they would often put you in a situation wherein you judge your own instincts and question your own set of beliefs and moral values which you had been clinging around ever since you stepped into this world. Parties and barbeque get-together looks quite impressive but for me, it’s a nightmare. It’s an open invitation to a place where I would be mocked for who am and tantalized for my own self-imposed thoughts. It’s a perennial problem I had been facing since the day I chose merchant navy as my career.
Powerless, I stand there as an accused in their eyes and I often question myself every time I face such rebukes

“Is Being A Sober Really A Crime?”

To be honest, I don’t get offended by them anymore. Now, whenever I face such criticism, the only solution which I found quite promising was :

“Smile And Ignore”

Believe me, it has worked wonders.

P.S. There are many seamen who are sober like me and I have written this post just to erase the misconception that every mariner at sea is an alcoholic.

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