Before I start, might I remind you that I’m barely a drinker? I had a period when I was; the casual one bottle slowly drunk over a week’s ritual. Unfortunately, that has ended for me and to be frank, in the western culture, my one bottle drank over a week can barely be considered ‘drinking’. 

Whilst studying for my undergraduate degree – a period I should have drank to my livers content – I was busy like a monk practicing teetotalism. ‘Teetotalism’, for those unfamiliar, is the practice of complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages. For me there were no spiritual connotations or health reasons – it was just a personal decision.

Photo: Chris Omale

During my three year alcohol abstinence, I gained self-control and discipline and realized toward the end that drinking, to an extent, is an essential social skill, and being the social mammal that we are, we must utilize this tool as well in order to develop social intelligence.

If you don’t believe me, check with MIT. Scientists at the renowned institute believe social interactions in gatherings such as festivals and religious ceremonies is what drove much of the human brain evolution. Bear in mind this does not apply to the so called ‘lads on tour’. With the MIT knowledge, I returned to drinking, and teetotalism was lost in history.

Photo: Film4

I must say, when I opt to drink – which translates to whenever I can, I drink to the point that I become Buddha. Yeah, I said it. I become [goddamned] Buddha. My mind crumbles into a state of mindfulness, bizarre to my usual cognition. In this cognitive state, I become extremely analytical; an enlightened drunk Buddha. The irony, to think that it is drunkenness that would bring about such state and not abstinence – Terrence McKenna would have praised me for this discovery.

Moving on and with a slight change of imagery and scenery; on my last summer weekend getaway with my brothers to Porto, following numerous pestering recommendations from locals, we were obliged to visit ‘Galerias de Paris’ – a notorious street in Porto where magic happens.  And by magic I mean, Porto’s renowned place to go for the city’s nightlife and all it entails. 

Depressingly, it drizzled on that anticlimactic night and the street which should have been spilling with party animals was a grand portrayal of desolation.

By the stroke of 2 AM it was as though a spell had been broken. Our luck had turned around. The bars filled, the music thumped, the drinks came. We were tasting what the locals had hyped and it was far from exaggeration. We learned that parties in Portugal only truly began after 2 AM.

Immediately, I become engrossingly interested in the characters around me. The DJ stood out amongst the dancing mammals, he looked like a jaded and washed out Tom Hardy high on social drugs. The Orchestrator of the night was lost in translation and so were his band of drunks.

We are listening to ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ by Whitney Houston at the loudest possible volume, whilst racing 60 miles per hour up narrow streets. My left ear drum canes. An incredible pain that shatters the right side of my face. The taxi driver is mad. He has his elbow on the steering wheel whilst using his phone. He was looking for a photo of Super Buck, the Portuguese national beer to help him explain that he too had been drinking all night. 

“I think we’re going the wrong way” shouts my brother in the front seat.

The driver hits the break. Tyres screech, we come to an immediate stop. Our hearts leap into our mouths.  He explained that he knew where he was going and we should just trust him. He shoots ahead, dodging in between cars. The green motorway signs flash by, I briefly catch ‘Lisboa’.

We were on our way to Lisbon I thought to be sold to cartels.

I scream “we are going the wrong way Senhor!” he replied “nós não somos!”

A sharp left turn, the back wheels scurry on the black pavement, now we are racing up a dirt road with no street light. We appear by a side road, The driver laughed. A hearty laughter that brought tears of joy to his eyes. We reply with a wilted false laughter. Foot to the peddle, we dash down the side road to meet the main.

To our surprise, our hotel stood before us, we made it in one piece. We asked for the fare, he said fifteen Euros. The trip should have only costed ten Euros max. I guess the five Euro’s on top was for the the thrill and the scenic route. We paid, and I stepped out of the car sober like a monk.

Christopher Omale
Posted by:Christopher Omale