Eat paan? You may face drunk driving charge

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BANGALORE: Retired engineer Raghavendra Rao (name changed) was driving back home a little late in the night after a dinner party hosted by his techie son Ajit. On the way, a traffic cop blocked his car near Yelahanka, asking him to blow the alcometer. Raghavendra was a little taken aback but being a teetotaller, he confidently blew. Then came the shocker: the sensor beeped!

And there was more in store. Raghavendra’s wife, seated next to him, glowered, unmindful of the cop, and blurted loudly. “You lied to me for all 45 years of our marriage saying you are a teetotaller! You have taken alcohol!”

Confused whom to answer first, Raghavendra turned to the traffic policeman and pleaded that he was a teetotaller. “But the sensor is beeping sir; please blow again,” the cop said. Raghavendra blew again and it beeped again. However, the alcometer did not record any percentage as it was obviously below the permissible limit.

After much arguing, Raghavendra was let off, but with a warning. That’s when Raghavendra decided enough was enough. “I was humiliated and decided to take the matter to senior police officials,” Raghavendra told TOI.

The culprit, it turned out, was cherry in a paan. This nugget of information was divulged by additional commissioner of police (traffic) Saleem. “Some paanwalas dip the cherry in alcohol to make the paan more tasty. And that’s what happened with Raghavendra. He ate a sweet paan, with a cherry in it and that’s why the alcometer sensor beeped,” Saleem said and added, “But the alcometer never records the percentage.”

According to Saleem, around five such ‘cherry-paan eaters’ approach him every month. “We have instructed our staff to cross-check whether the person, whom they stop for alcohol test has had paan,” he said.

Rajesh Pujari, a paan beeda maker from Kundapur, says dipping cherry in vodka adds flavour and gives a ‘feel good’ factor. Rajesh has been in the profession for more than 30 years and supplies paan to marriage halls. “My cousin owns a paan shop in Mumbai and l learnt this method from him. We mix nearly one litre water to one peg of Vodka and dip cherry in it for almost a day or two,” he said.

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