He liked his Thums Up. Always poured it in quantities to match our pegs and sipped to match our pace (or the lack of it). Out of the bar and heading home, this solo teetotaller amongst us was much in demand. After the ritual sucking of mints, munching of cashews and chewing of pan, it was his turn. Like a trained canine he sniffed for that faintest whiff of alcohol. “Don’t venture close to speak,” “Have another mint or burst a Pudin Hara pearl in your mouth,” or the always welcome, “Coast is clear, no smell discovered.” We always took his comments seriously. Good middleclass boys shouldn’t stink of booze while talking to their moms. Thanks to him, I always remained a good boy (atleast I think so).

Now away from home, nobody gives a damn if I return to my residence half-drunk. I don’t need no mouth fresheners. And now when I eye sachets of After Cocktail dangling from the cigarette-vendor’s kiosk near my workplace, I’m reminded of the treacherous odour shrouding procedures we had to undergo and curse the fact that I discovered it a few years late, else Mr. Teetotaller would have been long relieved of his duties.

Costing Rs. 5 for a 15 ml sachet After Cocktail is a ‘herbal’ anti smell mouth freshener and ‘cleansing savionette ‘ (whatever that means). Marketed and manufactured by S.A. Foods, Delhi – no further details provided, so you can’t even sue them if your mom smells through its mask.

The product description and instructions listed on the rear of the sachet is a copy-editor’s nightmare. And it asks us to “Get more out of life.”

With no manufacturing date and no expiry period mentioned, I couldn’t get myself to try it out. Maybe this weekend it will be me, Bacchus and a guinea pig.

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