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Drinking and driving in India: party on, yaar

For a price, entrepreneurs chauffeur drunk (and rich) Mumbaikars around town.

“Before the law was not so stringent so I used to drive, which was not good,” said Dwarkesh Jhaveri, sitting in the back of his Ford Fiesta as a PHD chauffeur brings him home on a recent Thursday night. Jhaveri says he and most of his friends now use the service every time they go out drinking with friends or colleagues as they do not want to get a ticket or get into an accident. “It’s not worth it,” he said.

Drinkers like Jhaveri and Turakhia can book a driver and not worry about the night.

"The best part about it is you can get so drunk,” Turakhia said. “We like open up a little bar in the back of my car, and we're going through checkpoints and are like, ‘We have a driver!’”

While Mumbai has seen rapid economic growth, and business opportunities have caused Indians like Turakhia to move to a country their parents left a generation ago, many of the social customs have not changed as quickly. PHD shuttles people to fancy bars where beautiful women in miniskirts drink martinis, yet it allows them to respect certain cultural norms. For example, most young people here live with their families who find it unacceptable if they crashed at a friend’s and did not come home.

The company’s biggest challenge so far has been finding, training and retaining enough quality and trustworthy drivers. Another challenge has been attracting the very young crowd who may still have a sense of invincibility, Vaid said. Most of the clients are 25 to 45 years old.

The three partners, who are in their late 20s and are friends from high school, plan to expand their service in the next couple years to cities across India.