Saturday, March 28, 2009

The agony and ecstasy of intoxication

By Sunny Kulathakal

The Chowpathy beach in Mumbai. Time 12 O’ clock in the night. A few youngsters have gathered in the sand dunes. In a deserted corner they are sitting in small groups. They are of different age. Their very behaviour makes it clear that they are a bunch of people who don’t have any moral perception about their life. They consider themselves as nightingales hovering on the horizons of ecstasy.

They are inhaling the pipes filled with Ganja in turns. This continued till after midnight. Then they got up. Their steps were not steady. Somehow they bid farewell to each other. Finally only one was left. He is a Takoor who is the custodian of the Ganja pipes and other paraphernalia. Want to know who this youngster is? He is a 17 year old Maharashtra student of the Robert Money School. He is the leader of a 10 member community (that’s how their druggist group is known). They invariably assemble in the same place every day.

“It’s since many years I have started smoking this. I felt this is very good for my health (his thin physique has all the symptoms of a sick person). I will never get sleep if I abstain from this even for a day” he said. He then showed me a picture which took from the pocket and said “This is the picture of God. I could see and understand God more clearly after smoking Ganja”.

He seems to be making a vain attempt to pose as a philosopher. There was explicit wavering in his uttering. His eyes could not get fixed on anything. We could see in Mumbai and other cities many such Takoors who are so much detached to the happenings around them and leading a life similar to that of the lazy “Lotus Eaters” of the Greek epics. What appear in the media are only isolated examples of the problems being created drug addicts in their hallucinated state of mind.

Usage of narcotic drugs among the student community in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad is undoubtedly rampant. This writer happened to stay in the students’ hostel of the Mumbai University for a month. It was during those days I came to know about the long list of narcotic drugs and the methods of using them. Only when I mingled with them freely, I came to know that many of them who have become slaves of drugs like Charas, Hashish, LSD, Mandrax and Licedene could not get sleep without keeping them ready under their pillow. Parents of most of the inmates of the hostel are in foreign countries like, Malaysia, Singapore, USA, Canada and England. They are sending money generously for their educational expenses. They spend a major chunk of this for buying drugs and other unsavory purposes. Sathar is such a student. It’s his fourth year in Mumbai. He is a regular user of drugs. Since it was summer time most of them used to sleep with their windows and doors open. Sathar and others would be in deep sleep when I go out most of the days. I happened to see some of them in the same condition even when I come back by noon. One day I got an opportunity to ask him the reason for it when he was exchanging pleasantries with me in the Guest room where I was staying. For this he replied “You don’t know the secret of it? Come I shall show you”. He didn’t have any reluctance to show me his stock of drugs. “This is mandrax” he said adding “if you drink a coca cola after taking this, then there is nothing like it. There will be fire sparks emanating from the eyes. Many of us sleep very late after taking this and we will not have the strength of get up in the morning even if the sky falls down”.

Thousands come to India seeking the pleasure of narcotic drugs. Some of our youngsters consider it as a fashion to emulate them blindly. There is also genuine reason to doubt as to whether there is a concerted attempt going on to lure the youngsters of countries where drugs are not that popular, into its dangerous trap. The hippies who land in India might invite the local youngsters in whom they have confidence for a “pot session”. They know very well that once these youngsters had a little taste of it, they are certain to fall in the trap.

In the heart of Bangalore city there is a place called Ekasthan” (The only place) which is a haven of the hippies. There are facilities for food and stay. This haven located a little away from the busy arteries of the city has a lot of specialties. It is a deserted corner safely aloof from public eyes and still very close to the city. This hippies’ haven which has easy access to shops that sell drugs and public transport, and has unassuming surroundings also offers facilities to dance to the tunes of western music whatever one wants to do.

I happened to meet Yan, a 25 year old Swedish youngster for the first time near the Lal Bagh gardens. Yan was convinced that I am a free lance Malayalam writer engaged in writing a few articles on foreigners who land in India. Yan who was only scantly covered with a soiled piece of cloth led me to “Ekasthasn”. He introduced his friends to me. Among them, I became very close to Peter Mogan, an Australian. On Peter’s invitation I and one of my friends reached the place one day at around 9 o clock in the night. We had a camera with us. In Peter’s room there were Raymond Paul of Harvard and Bob hailing from Canada seated in adjacent cots. Yan who had gone to Mysore had not yet come back. Peter introduced us and discussions on various issues followed. Cleverly hiding our curiosity to know more about the drugs we prolonged the conversation. By then Bob had already invited us to a small pot session. Only after gaining full confidence in us Bob dared to ask us “why don’t you have a few puffs of ganja?” It was just like the saying- what the doctor prescribed as well as what the patient wanted was milk”. We could not afford to lose the opportunity to see the magic box of drugs opened before us. Bob opened his bundle and took out a small piece of Charas. The job of scratching it was taken over by Peter. Raymond who was sitting next asked us whether we could speculate what that small piece of Charas would cost in the US. Our silence was indicative of our lack of knowledge about the same. So he himself volunteered to tell “You may not believe. If this is available for just 60 paise here, it costs as much as 60 dollars in the US. When my friend exclaimed “unbelievable”, what Peter attempted was to prove the same with some facts and figures and explaining the smuggling activity and related things. Meanwhile he scratched out a little volume of Charas, put it in a pipe and handed over to Bob telling “it would have burned better had there been some tobacco to add”. Bob didn’t like the suggestion and decided to smoke charas as such. Bob manifested a special skill to inhale it by pressing his fingers tightly pressed together. Peter repeated the same act and handed over the same to me. By the time I made a hard attempt to closely hold it with my pressed fingers, the flame in the pipe went off. Though I pretended as if taking the smoke, Peter understood it and said “Hey, you are not smoking, isn’t it?” Raymond took it and lighted it. Meanwhile realising our dramatic attempts to take a few shots of the happenings there, Peter and his friends were frantically trying to switchover to smoking beedies so as to avoid the pipe being photographed. The emotional change in Peter’s face at that moment was something really strange. Then they were trying to reach the pinnacles of ecstasy by smoking a cigarette after coating it with a black liquid (opium). We got out of the room only around midnight. Peter was telling as if to no one “what a pleasant moonlit night!” The he explained a few things about the lifestyle of hippies.

One thing Peter said while justifying the usage of drugs was thought provoking. “Don’t think that we are just growing hair and beard, dressed in shabby cloths and moving like nuts. We have reached here after spending our hard earned money. We could not enjoy ganja at this much cheaper in the US. We never smoke this beyond a limit. What’s wrong in walking on the road wearing shabby cloths? Outside it’s only dirt and dust. Come inside and see what we wear inside (In fact they were dressed in neat white cloths). It was difficult to believe that the persons sitting there were the shabbily dressed hippies who were walking on the road along with Yan, the other day.

When I saw the Indian hippies who were dancing and kissing in the mesmerizing intoxication of Ganja in front of “The Only Place”, I felt that they could manage to see only the outside world of the foreign hippies. In cities conditions are very much conducive for the students who are mad after drugs which only help them to become unproductive and lethargic with the loss of energy of both body and mind. Students are guided by the temptation to take the flight to the moon along the space track of ecstasy. The drugs they badly need are now available not only in the colleges and hostels but even in the petty shops outside. Imagine what it is if the pocket money to buy the same and the place and facilities to use them are also available! What lures many into the mesmerizing world of narcotic drugs might be the false notion that there is nothing for them to lose by taking trip through the space track of ecstasy but on the other hand they could gain an ecstatic empire which can be brought with nothing else but drugs.

The craze for drugs is existent in alrming levels among the school children of Delhi. It was when the single child of a Kerala minister met with a premature death after experimenting drugs on the compulsion of his friends that many have realised that even the small kids of public schools are slaves of narcotic drugs. Drug traffickers resort to many methods to lure the youngsters into their trap. If drug filled cigarettes are available for a try free of cost, students are certain to fall for it. The temptation to consume the forbidden fruit is instinctive to mankind. A survey has found out that as much as 56% of the University students in Delhi are using drugs. According to a report presented in the Lok Sabha on Dec 5, 1971, in Delhi alone there are 200 students who are using stronger narcotic drugs and 5000 using drugs of lesser strength. It is shocking to know that girls are in the forefront of this. The trend to use sleeping pills to get “Kick” is also growing among youngsters. The use of drugs have increased manifold in Delhi according to official circles.

Following is an opinion which the youngsters who are putting their trust in the magical power of drugs which provide them the much wanted energy, enthusiasm and “kick” might not have bothered to take notice of: “if you have put the petrol being used in airplanes in your motor bikes it might run with the speed of a bomb. Only thing is that within a short while the engine will burn out”. In a motorcycle, only the petrol specified for that vehicle should be used. The same applies to the case of human body which is also a machine in a technical sense. It was without realising this fact, many are going after drugs. If an automobile engine burns out, a new one could be bought. But what about human machine? Its is in total ignorance of this fact, those who are running after ecstasy provided by narcotic drugs repeats the statement of their idol, Timothy Leory who stated “what are the books your are reading in this molecular era. The problem is not about the symbols you use, but what type of chemicals which have become an integral part of your growth is important.

Giving a tit for tat reply to this a social worker of the US said like this pointing out its dangerous consequences: “the psychedelic death following the excessive use of narcotics is the most orphaned one. It will be more agonizing than the death of a seriously wounded soldier at the hospital. Whatever it might be, that solider might get the mental satisfaction of remembering the faces of his dear ones at the time of death. One who has become addicted to LSD can never hope for such a blessing. None of the faces familiar to him will come to his mind.

Those who try drugs in the beginning just as a pass time may better have a glance at a portion of the book “Nerampokku” (Pass-time) written by Puthezhathu Raman Menon.

“There is nothing like liquor which can kill time beyond limits. Once it reaches inside one will not be aware of the passage of time just as he forgets many other things. Then there is really some substance in describing liquor which has the capacity to even reduce one’s life span as “pass time” and the devotee of liquor as a comedian.”

The fate of those who depend on narcotics for just as a pass time is quite clear in the above statement. With a dead mind how long they can live? Even if they live, what they can do with a brain which has lost its entire prowess? It is here an attempt to analyze the virtual pros and cons of drug usage should commence. The end of those who become slaves of drugs in their desire to become unusually creative by expanding the mind through drugs will be pathetic. Those who run after drug induced ecstasy never realize that the hypnotizing world created by drugs will prove nightmarish for creative human life.

Translation: Saj Mathews

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