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Day 24: Rawalpindi

Michael Palin - HimalayaDespite draconian laws on the possession of alcohol – a prison sentence of three to four years, un-bailable, and quite possibly a caning as well – it's pretty clear that the Murree Brewery wouldn't be in business if its customers were only non-Muslims.

Minoo argues that it's foolish to suppose there is no demand for alcohol in Pakistan and if he doesn't supply it then someone else will. Either the bootleggers smuggle foreign whisky in on dhows from places like Dubai, or for those who can't afford bootleg, there is moonshine liquor, often made from what he calls 'denatured alcohol'.

He looks over his glasses at me, rather severely.

'"Denature" is an old English word for poison.'

One of the outlets where non-Muslims can legally acquire Murree's output is at Flashman's Hotel in Rawalpindi. A run-down collection of white bungalows, looking a bit like a 1940s film studio, it stands just off the Grand Trunk Road and next to a handsome Victorian church with everything but the spire painted deep pink.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 24: Rawalpindi
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Rawalpindi
  • Book page no: 51

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