Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Humor in Uniform – Books “in lieu of” Booze

Humor in Uniform 


If you have served in the Defence Services – I am sure you have heard of the term “ in lieu of  – which means in place of or “instead of...

In the Navy we have Money in lieu of Ration (MLR) – Compensation in lieu of Quarters (CILQ) – Travel Allowance in lieu of Transport (TA) etc

But – have you heard of Books in lieu of Booze...? 

Or – to put it in better language – Books in lieu of Liquor (Acronym: BILL)

Read on...

Unforgettable Memories of my Navy Days
A Spoof

This story happened long ago – 38 years ago – an unforgettable memoir from the best days of my life – my delightful Navy days – in the 1970’s.

We – a shipmate and me – were loafing around on a Sunday morning – browsing books at the pavement bookstalls around the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) near Hutatma Chowk (Flora Fountain) in Mumbai (Bombay).

I noticed my friend engrossed in a large size book  a regal looking tome  which looked like an encyclopedia.

“Look at this fabulous book,” my friend said, all excited, “it is an encyclopedia of numismatics – it is fantastic – everything is here – the complete history of coins and currency – and details and pictures of rare coins…”

“Yes,” I said, “it seems to be a rare book.”

“I have been interested in numismatics since my schooldays,” he said, “but I have never seen a book on numismatics like this one. There is a wealth of information in this encyclopedia.”

Now – as you must have guessed – my friend’s passionate hobby was numismatics (the study of coins and medals) – he was an avid collector of rare coins and had an impressive collection.

Yes – those days – most naval officers had diverse hobbies – all sorts of activities ranging from outdoor pursuits like hiking, trekking, bird-watching, star-gazing, fishing etc  to the more prosaic indoor hobbies like philately and numismatics.

I saw how much my friend had liked the book – so I said to him: “Why don’t you buy the book...?”

“Yes,” he said, “I must buy this book.”

We asked the bookseller the price of the book.

The bookseller quoted an astronomical figure.

“Are you crazy?” I said to the bookseller, “yours is a pavement bookstall  and this is an old secondhand book – and you are quoting such a high price – which is even more than if this were a brand new book in a reputed bookstore...”

“Sir – this is a very rare book – a limited exclusive edition – see the prestigious foreign publisher – look at the date of publication – Sir – this book is long out of print – you will not get this book anywhere...” the bookseller said.

“But the price is too high – you can surely give us some discount...” my friend said.

“Sorry, Sir – I cannot give you a discount on this book. Sir – you take it or leave it – but let me tell you – if you come tomorrow  you may not find this book here. An old gentleman showed interest in this book yesterday – he did not have the money – so he said that he may come today…” the bookseller said, driving a hard bargain.

We bargained and haggled – but the bookseller would not budge – he refused to reduce the price of the book.

Finally  I said to my friend, “If you have liked this book so much – why don’t you buy it...?”

“Look at the price of the book – it is almost half our monthly pay...” my friend said.

“Which whisky do you drink...?” I asked my shipmate.

“Whisky...? Have you gone crazy...?” my friend asked, taken aback, What the hell has whisky got to do with this book on numismatics...?

“Just tell me...” I said.

He told me his favourite brand of whisky.

“Now  you tell me – how many pegs of whisky do you drink every day...?” I asked him.

“3 – 4 – sometimes 5 large pegs…” he said.

“Okay – if you average it out – it works out to approximately 2 bottles of whisky a week…”


So let’s say you drink 2 bottles of whisky a week – that’s around 8 bottles a month…” I said.

“Not 8 – maybe 6 or 7 – I don’t drink every day,” he said.

“Okay – let’s say you drink 6 bottles of whisky a month – now you listen to me –don’t drink for 2 months and you will cover the cost of this book…” I said.

“What are you saying...?” he asked, looking confused.

“The price of this book is the same as around 10 bottles of whisky. You drink a minimum of 6 bottles of whisky a month – so that makes it 12 bottles every two months – and you can easily cover the cost of this book. So – you don’t drink for 2 months – or – if you cannot totally stop drinking  then drink one peg less every day till it adds up to 10 bottles – and you will cover the cost of this book…” I said.

“Are you off your rocker...? You are a really crazy guy – comparing booze and books…” my shipmate said.

“You smoke – don’t you? Tell me – which brand of cigarettes….?” I asked him.

“Enough…!!!” my shipmate interrupted me, looking exasperated.

But – he seemed to have been convinced by my logic.

He pulled out his wallet  and he bought the book.


In case you are one of those “number crunching” types – here are some “facts and figures”:

1. Those days  in the 1970’s  the basic pay of a Navy Lieutenant (Army Captain/Air Force Flight Lieutenant) was Rs. 1100 per month.

2. In the Navy  a “peg” means a large peg (a “double”).

3. When this story happened  we were serving on board a ship – so I am talking of Duty Free Scotch Whisky. 

Today – if you are a civilian book lover – you can buy many good books in the cost of a bottle of Premium Scotch Whisky.


I spent my entire “working life” in the Navy – and  since I was an honest officer – I do not have much money – nor  do I have many assets.

The only “wealth” I have are my books – which I have collected since my college days – and later  I bought plenty of books when I was in the Navy.

Whenever I wanted to buy a book – I always calculated its cost in terms bottles of booze – and – in most cases – I bought the book.

Yes – when faced with a Books versus Booze dilemma – I always bought Books in lieu of Liquor.

I drank a lot – and – I read a lot.

All the booze I drank vanished from my system by the very next day.

But – I still have all the Books I bought “ in lieu of  the Booze that I did not drink.

Today  in my home – I have plenty of books adorning my bookshelves – but you will not find even a single bottle of booze.

As I look at my collection of books – I think of all the bottles of whisky that I did not drink.

It’s true  isn’t it...?

You spend freely on momentary pleasures like food, drink, cigarettes, movies, holidays etc.

You splurge your money on transitory extravagant events like marriages, ceremonies, parties and such fleeting occasions.

You indulge “conspicuous consumption”.

But – you get stingy and tightfisted  when it comes to acquiring things of lasting value like books.

Cheers – Dear Reader !!!

The next time you see a good book – remember this story – and:

Skip the Booze – Buy the Book 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

1. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

This is an updated, abridged and revised version of my blog post BOOZE AND BOOKS written by me Vikram Karve on 13 Feb 2015 and posted online earlier in my blog at url:  and

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