Tuesday, April 05, 2005

You smoke I choke, you drink I cringe


Teenagers have taken to the Coffee house culture like wildfire to the point a daily cuppa or more has become a habit, everywhere we walk we will most probably bump into a Starbucks or a Gloria Jean or Coffeebean or San Francisco Coffee. Coffee drinking has become hip and trendy though at times I wonder if a RM12 cup of Blackforest is justifiable when I can get a RM1.50 cup of Kopi peng (iced coffee) from the local coffeshop. Starbucks outlet, Perangin Mall, Penang, 2004.

The following represents my own views on the subject and if anyone disagrees with it, well there’s nothing I can do about it can I?

There are two things that I will never reconcile nor will I ever explicitly indulge in until it turns into a habit. These two are cigarette smoking and liquor drinking. Smokers and drinkers out there might say that these activities are innocuous and harmless, well just stop there. Okay it’s your body and you’re entitled to do whatever you wish with it but with these two activities you’re not the only person that is affected, in a stupor state everyone around you will feel the presence.

Smokers who puff away never realize their smoke permeates the surrounding clean air the rest of us breath (else they just don’t care), it doesn’t help that certain individuals wear the ‘I don’t care a FUCK what everyone else thinks’ look as they puff away in public places. I enter a bus and so boldly in front of me is a sign say ‘No Smoking’ and what do I observe, the passengers indifferently puffing away and filling the enclosed space with foul air. Same goes for those that flout the ruling of a general ban in public premises and government sites, just enter any toilet and you’ll be walking into a carcinogenic smoke house. If they do so enjoy the smell why not just jam a funnel up their nose and pump in fumes?

Drinking, yes I will say that I’m not a total teetotaler, I avoid the stuff but I have drunk before. There has only been a single occasion that I’ve been stoned (people said I was not but if seeing the room spinning and an unexplainable sensation to sing out loud isn’t symptoms of drunkenness I don’t know what is), when my roomies decided to break me and broke out the beverages they had procured from Labuan. Other than that the only occasion that I have ever drunk is a few sips during weddings and of course wine drenched cooking. It’s not that drinkers are bad people, it’s just that their actions are not of sound mind when too much alcohol has seeped into their system and they being not in control of their faculties do all sort of stunts.

I guess it is not a dislike of smokers and alcoholics in general that makes me feel this way about the smoke and the bottle, I’ve known a lot of good people that are one or both. Maybe it stems from family history that has led me down the road to sobriety. Both experiences involved my grandfathers, both my mother’s side and my dad’s. Both were alcoholics and smokers. My mom’s dad I could remember so clearly his habitual respite, sitting on his old rattan rocker in the porch, enjoying the warm afternoon air, one hand on his cigarette and the other reaching for the mug of black broth (Guinness). It is a serene picture to be sure and even to this day I can still smell the thick smoky breathe and smoke infused clothes as if he was still here. The other picture I so vividly remembered was of him lying on his bed, minutes away from death, unable to speak as his last rites were given. He was shriveled to a husk and could not move his body due to weakness. The cause, throat cancer. His age, 65.

My other grandfather passed away a few years after my birth, I have never met him or if I had no memories exist in my mind. From the fragmented pieces that I have gathered from my dad and family members was one of poverty in their youth. My tata as we called him was an avid drinker, putting away bottles of beer and local distilled alcohol as if there was no tomorrow. Most of the money was spent to indulge his habit. The fondest memory my dad told me was how he often took a bottle, down it all and then in drunken master style began to write beautiful Chinese calligraphy poems like the masters of old. He too never made it past 65 with abdominal as well as predicted throat cancer. Thus was I deprived of knowing a grandparent.

It is a testament to these two incidents that none of my family members ever did smoke or drink. We saw what it could do to our loved ones and the impact it left to the family. Maybe something good did come about it to the fact that we learnt such a lesson from young that caused us to avoid these two vices. Well the only habit that I practice now is a daily cuppa of coffee courtesy of Nescafe and the occasional Coffeebean. That is my indulgence though some will say it is no less addictive and deteriorative to health but it’s the lesser of most evils.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Interesting post. I'm not a fan of coffee myself, though when I do drink a cup I can understand why people like it. As to smoking, I've never understood why anyone would go to the trouble, though I'm sure it has its attractions that only smokers will know. The strange thing is, humans of all societies have been smoking since time immemorial.

As to people who smoke or drink to their death, I can increasingly understand why it comes about. Opportunities for a person to grow used to be thin, and life generally difficult, and it would have required more strength to live it well than is required of us now. Life is easier for us than it was for our ancestors.

Our biggest vices today are different from those of our grandparents or even parents. Their vices are, besides the two you named, household violence, opportunism at the dire cost of others, bad-mouthing others (for a good reason), lack of insight in child-rearing, poor self discipline etc. We have a different set of iniquities to guard against. We have to guard against lack of courage to grow to our fullest potential, ignorance of best practices, misplaced arrogance, lack of perceptiveness, the inability to love and be loved, etc.