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This is India! 41

Welcome back to This is India! I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them. This is just meant to be an honest portrayal about my life in India through short anecdotes. I also share here what I’ve been up to online outside Werkenntwen.

What I was up to other than here:

  • I was really surprised to get a tweet mentioning me for the article  by itripto well, obviously because I’m not Indian. I saw 10 great women on there, then at the bottom they mentioned Werkenntwen. There are so many expats blogging in India, so to be the only expat mentioned was pretty exciting for my blog and I’m happy that Indians are noticing what I write, not just foreign tourists.
  • You’ll notice my background is missing & HOPEFULLY you’ll notice my website is loading faster. I’ve finally invested some cash into making my site better since it’s out-growing what I had. I have been doing some fun stuff on , so please take a minute to follow me on there! 
    [ ] & as always if you like this blog share it with your friends!

Now your story,

I had no idea that women aren’t meant to go to wine shops in Kerala. Kerala has a huge amount of alcoholics and every few years the self elected communist state makes new laws to try to ban alcohol completely. Some some reason, there is a massive drinking problem there but they have one of the highest literacy rates in the nation!

In India, women get cut in line a lot. I am kind of used to it although depending on my mood, I might tell the guy to move, because umm, hello, I was in line! Anyways, back to women buying wine in Kerala…

I was cooking dinner for Ben and his coworkers in Kochi and needed wine for this I make (courtesy of Jamie Oliver, how cute is he?) so I went down to Marine Drive and hailed a rickshaw. The driver was looking at me like I was mad when I said take me to the “wine shop”. In Kerala there are specific wine shops with HUGE lines full of people (men) buying their booze.

I showed up and was pleasantly surprised when the mass of men (at least 40) spread apart to let me cut them all. How cool! That’s the first time in India I have ever been able to cut in line and actually TOLD to cut in line by men. I got my wine while the owners giggled about it, and I left. My autowallah stood by watching me; I feel like he was making sure I was safe and I appreciated that.

Little did I know until I got back and our Keralan friends told me about women going to the wine shop….

The queue is long because there are few shops and many drinkers. Apparently, all men. Women can’t go and buy, but they can privately drink. There is no written law against woman beer shopping, but it’s not proper. A woman has to care for her reputation. This give a big advantage to brave female travelers in search of alcohol, since there are no women, there is no reserved Lady queue and you can cut the line and go directly to the desk and buy, saving time. Everybody will stare and think you should not be there, but it is not dangerous. 
The wine shops are usually very ugly. Sometime there are bars between customers and sellers, as in a prison.

Whoops… ha ha well you live and you learn! But let’s be honest, even in America I’ve never been a “proper lady” especially when it comes to booze, because what fun is that?

This is India!

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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.

21 Comments

  1. Arykah March 13, 2015 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    LOL The BEST – I noticed that two times at the grocery store… I was like, ‘oh no he didnt just cut right in front of me! ANd i was standing all European close as it was!….but now that you say it, I def will continue harder not to take their shit. OH! Ill tell you what works when they stare, even tho I know it sounds tarded…: I make my hands into binoculars and stare right back! OMG Every single man has gasped, got big eyes and immediately looked away. NOW, it didn’t work for this one 24yr perv on Calengute beach (p.s sex offender beach is what we call it), but anyone older than 40. Love it. lol

  2. christine wilhelm March 14, 2015 at 12:31 am - Reply

    I experienced more females cutting in front of me than males on my recent trip to India. I think “to queue” in line is a recent western concept and maybe some of the older ladies my age did not have the opportunity to attend school. I think if a mom cuts in public lines her children will not learn to queue consistently.

    Congrats on your newest recognition! I am beginning to read the links to the wonderful Indian lady traveler bloggers that were recognized for Woman’s Day. (Btw “India’s Daughter” is a powerful Woman’s Day documentary that was shown globally but unfortunately censured in India).
    I, too, enjoy traveling solo and one statement caught my eye: “Renuka loves to travel and click photographs. She prefers solo travelling or with people who are as curious as her. Her blog posts are amazing and will leave you lost for words.” Blog link: There is nothing worse than a drag along, dull, lazy whinny travel mate. I am definitely going to follow her.

  3. Katelyn @ Diaries of a Wandering Lobster March 14, 2015 at 4:52 am - Reply

    Woah! I would not survive if I wasn’t allowed to buy wine based on my gender! Other than the fact I love my wine, I’m extremely disappointed that women don’t have equal rights. Are there other weird laws/rules like this that prevent Indian women from doing the same things that men can?

  4. Tim | UrbanDuniya March 14, 2015 at 7:41 am - Reply

    I’ve heard stories like this about women in Australia and booze too. Many women tell me that they don’t like the stares they receive when they drink beer in a bar (“proper women” apparently drink wine or spirits), and I’ve heard a couple of stories of women being totally ignored in pubs in rural Australian towns – the preserve of the macho man, apparently!

    • Rachel Jones March 14, 2015 at 12:16 pm - Reply

      wow I would have never guessed that in Aus! Strange!

  5. Justine March 14, 2015 at 8:07 am - Reply

    Ha, how funny. How could you have possibly known? Going off of your previous stories I’m still kinda surprised that the men all just allowed you to go to the front of the line. Part of me would expect them to just make you wait!

  6. venus john March 14, 2015 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    I think women buying wine or liquor anywhere in india is not considered proper..except perhaps in goa..but we go and buy it anyway..
    it was fun to read..thanks..

  7. Steph of Big World Small Pockets March 15, 2015 at 8:39 am - Reply

    Ha ha, nice story and good to know! What a great way to queue-jump though – I’d put up with the stares for that!

  8. Chris Chopp March 16, 2015 at 9:10 am - Reply

    Funny! In all my times to India, never have I stepped into a wine shop. Probably for the same reason you were told not to go. Women don’t go, neither do tourists. As for drinking and drinks in India…it is a rather unfortunate problem that isn’t just relegated to India, as we all know. Banning the sale of liquor, enforcing dry days for holidays, etc, does not help. What does? I do not know. What I do know is I love to hear a female was able to cut the queue :-)

    • Rachel Jones March 17, 2015 at 4:48 pm - Reply

      I’ll never forget the day the men let me cut the queue! lol

  9. De'Jav March 16, 2015 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Congrats on your success. What a funny story that happened? Kinda of crazy that women can’t buy alcohol.

  10. Asa March 17, 2015 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Hey, I really enjoy reading your posts from India! :)
    I’m going there next week and I’m a little bit nervous! Mostly because how the attitude is agains women over there. I just watched the BBC documentary movie ” Daughters of India” . Maybe NOT a good idea before going there!
    I just finished a month in Iran and people are surprised that I’m nervous about going to India but wasn’t worried at all about Iran :P
    Anyways did you feel safe over there? Anything particular to be aware of?

    • Rachel Jones March 19, 2015 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      I do feel safe here for the most part, but I always have my guard up! that doco will scare you, but it’s good you watch it

  11. Sebrin March 19, 2015 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    I love this! Alcohol purchasing in different cultures is always so interesting. I often take for granted that I can go into a local liquor store, at any time of day with little to no problems. When I was living in Sweden, there was the Systembolaget, a government owned liquor store that had very strict hours. I was buying in bulk once because it was a holiday weekend (and I didn’t want to go back and forth, when I could just be drunk all weekend). The owners pulled me aside and made sure I wasn’t purchasing for underaged kids because apparently, buying bulk is frowned upon. Who knew??

    Anyway, great story! We’ll be visiting India in January, so you’re sure to see more of me on your blog!

    • Rachel Jones March 20, 2015 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      that makes sense they pulled you aside, I would have never guessed though!

  12. Helga March 28, 2015 at 7:25 am - Reply

    At a cheese and yoghurt shop in Srinagar I was ignored completely. Didn’t realize at first; I thought the men may have ordered in advance, but no. When I was the only one left, the seller started minding something else…

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