The Wet and the Dry: A Drinker's Journey

The Wet and the Dry: A Drinker's Journey

Lawrence Osborne

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0770436900

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Selected as a Top Ten Book of the Year by Dwight Garner, New York Times

A “fearlessly honest account” (Financial Times) of man’s love of drink, and an insightful meditation on the meaning of alcohol consumption across cultures worldwide
Drinking alcohol: a beloved tradition, a dangerous addiction, even “a sickness of the soul” (as once described by a group of young Muslim men in Bali). In his wide-ranging travels, Lawrence Osborne—a veritable connoisseur himself—has witnessed opposing views of alcohol across cultures worldwide, compelling him to wonder: is drinking alcohol a sign of civilization and sanity, or the very reverse? Where do societies fall on the spectrum between indulgence and restraint? 
An immersing, controversial, and often irreverent travel narrative, The Wet and the Dry offers provocative, sometimes unsettling insights into the deeply embedded conflicts between East and West, and the surprising influence of drinking on the contemporary world today.





















unknown, but he seemed to know me. In that light we both looked like ghosts, almost transparent, and I knew at once what was up; I had met this loser in the bar last night and had no recollection of him, but he had easily recognized me. John, that was me. I must have called myself “John” all evening. But who was John? “Oi, John, I knew it was you. I see you’re up and about.” “I’m sorry—” “James. From the bar.” “Yeah, James.” “John, good to see you. I thought you were dead.” Laughter. “No,

and restaurants where Muscat’s beautiful people liked to parade themselves, yielded nothing but fruit juice. “They’re drinking fruit juice on New Year’s,” Elena gasped. “I’m in hell.” We came to a turnoff and took it, blindly hoping it would go back to the freeway. We stopped at one of the hotels and asked if they knew of any restaurants where we could get a drink at this late hour. The staff patiently looked up alternatives. Yes, they said, there was a Mexican place in the neighborhood of

ticket for Narathiwat at one of the minivan transit companies. Narathiwat, two hours down the coast toward the Malaysian border, in the state of the same name, is another troubled Muslim city but with a much shorter history—it was founded only in 1936. It sits by a wide river and is known for its bellicose mosques. Ironically, the province’s name is Sanskrit for “the dwelling of wise men.” Eighteen percent of its population is Buddhist, and the more ardent Islamic persons wish them gone. In

though frowned upon, is not always explicitly forbidden. The hostility to wine in the holy book, if stern, does not seem especially ferocious. It is drunkenness, rather than alcohol per se, that provokes the Prophet’s ire. The first mention of wine in the Koran’s traditional chronology, in the very first surah known as “The Cow,” is this: “They ask you about drinking and gambling. Say: ‘There is great harm in both, although they have some benefits for the people; but their harm is far greater

1960s, when this part of Cairo was a paradise of conversation and erotic dalliance. One of them comes over to the bar on unsteady legs to order another shot of Biulli’s Egyptian whisky. It’s a pretty raw drink, but what is familiar soothes. “British?” he says, shaking my hand for some reason. The eyes are quite beautifully mad behind the tinted ovals of glass, and he leans toward me as Egyptian men sometimes do, suddenly a little too intimate but nevertheless unconcerned by one’s stiff-necked

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