Gin-and-Ice, No Lime

Ever tried drinking gin by itself, no lime or tonic? If you haven’t, don’t. It’s sheer hell. Burns the gullet on the way down, then on the way up, and makes you a confirmed hater of men in general and the server of the drink in particular.
My late husband, a die-hard romantic trapped in an engineer-gone corporate’s body, tried it once. At the very first meeting with my father – a very, very senior officer and decorated war hero in the Indian Navy. And then lost his nerve when it was time to ask my father’s permission to marry me. Almost lost me too. Which would have been a pity. But the gods batted on our side and the marriage took place some months later.
Subir Paul
My father Rear Admiral S. Paul

Strange that he, a seasoned, award-winning debater, elocutionist and theatre –person, should become so fazed and tongue-tied at one of the more important moments of his life. Not quite sure what unnerved him – meeting my father (a grim, taciturn individual who, outside of work, spoke 3 words every 3 days), seeing him dressed in full Naval ceremonial regalia, being saluted in unison by a bevy of smart, young Naval officers when we traipsed up the gangway to the ship where my father was hosting a small cocktail-cum dinner, feeling wrongly attired in his corporate suit-and-tie amidst   a shipful of white-uniformed Naval officers, being unable to properly sandwich his sentences with the requisite number of sirs, or not knowing how to ask this forbidding gentleman for his daughter’s hand in marriage !

I’ll have a fresh lime soda sir, said he. You can have something stronger you know, replied my father. A gin, sir, a gin will be just fine. With….? My father asked, finishing his talk quota for the next one week plus. Plain, sir, I’ll have it plain. Maybe some ice, he added bleakly in response to my father’s raised eyebrows.Tridib Sen

Gin-and-ice without lime was what he nursed through the evening while others looked at him strangely and later advised me not to marry a man who did not know how and what to drink. Gin-and-ice without lime was what ruined his dinner for him that night. Gin-and-ice without lime was what put him off cocktails for the rest of his life. Gin-and-ice without lime was what made him almost decide not to marry the daughter of a man who frightened him into asking for the foulest drink in creation. Sumita and Tridib SenAnd gin-and-ice without lime was what he promised to offer his to-be-son-in-law when he came around trying to steal his daughter from him. Pity he did not live to fulfil his dreams – that of turning from scared and nervous suitor into the forbidding father – not that today’s youngsters are likely to get derailed by anything we say or do. Maybe I will live out this particular dream for him when my daughter brings home a beau. Have to test the mettle of whichever hoodlum my daughter decides to spend her life with. 

Sumita Sen lives in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. 

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Sumita Sen divides her time between New Delhi and Kolkata.


  1. Great read. I could virtually put myself in Tridib's shoes when you were describing his meeting with your father. Looking forward to more

  2. Love the gin and ice without lime story. Very well written Sumita. this takes me back to when you were staying with us,

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