It was during my uncle’s (my mother’s younger brother) wedding that I had my first smoke. I must have been in the 3rd or 4th standard then. After the wedding reception, which was held in my uncle’s house, my cousins who were in the high school were smuggling cigarettes to the back of the house for smoking without being caught. I didn’t know it was such a crime to smoke, but I liked the style. So I went to my dad and asked whether I could have a smoke. “Why not” said my dad and got a cigarette from one of my uncles. I still remember… it was a John Player Special. He gave it to me and my uncle took his lighter and handed it to me. But I couldn’t light the cigarette as I was just holding it between my lips and was not inhaling through it. So my uncle took another cigarette and showed to me how to light a cigarette and I lit mine. The only thing my dad told me was not to go anywhere near my grandparents with the cigarette. So while my elder cousins smoked in hiding, I was having a royal time as I could smoke in front of the crowd as I had my dad’s permission. But I was just puffing the cigarette as I didn’t know how to smoke. But somehow I liked cigarettes, the aroma and the idea of smoking.
But I didn’t smoke again till (yes you guessed right!) I joined the engineering college. During the first year, my smoking was limited to only a few cigarettes. In the third semester, I got a new roommate who was a seasoned smoker. He usually smoked 20 cigarettes a day. So I also started smoking, as anyway I was inhaling large quantities of nicotine and other carcinogenic chemicals through passive smoking. My first brand was Wills which I smoked for almost a year. Then I changed to Gold Flake Kings which continued to be my brand till I joined Pond’s in Pondicherry. The reason I switched from Wills was, the proliferation of the market with fakes. There were fakes for almost all the popular brands like Wills, Gold Flake, etc. There was a fake of the Gold Flake by some creative manufacturer called Gold Fake. One had to look very carefully to notice the difference between the original and fake. So Gold Flake was available in three variants—the original, the fake and the Gold Fake! Since Gold Flake Kings had a higher price tag and less consumers, manufacturing the fakes for it were not profitable.
As I advanced through the semesters, the number of cigarettes consumed per day also increased. By the time I was in the eighth semester, I was smoking 20 – 30 cigarettes a day. When you stay among smokers, the number of cigarettes you smoke increases as every time somebody lights one you can’t resist the temptation. But whenever I went home, I didn’t smoke. For me home was a non-smoking area. I could stop smoking whenever I wanted without having any withdrawal symptoms. So unlike my friends, I never smuggled cigarettes home nor did I smoke at home.
It was during my 6th semester that I first tried Ganja (weed or ponjan as it called in CET). One of our seniors had a few ganja plants in his room, but that was for his personal use. We got our supply from the local sources. We also had a friend who was from Idukki district and he used to bring high quality stuff whenever he came back from home.
We used to smoke ganja only during special occasions like College day, Men’s Hostel day and so on. During these functions we used to invite our friends from other colleges–mainly from the Medical College. We usually had two rooms cleared of all furniture except for chairs and a table in the center. One used to be the bar and the other the smoke room. The preparations for both the rooms will start well in advance. I have explained the bar and the cocktails served there in one of my earlier posts.
The smoke room was for people who wanted to get high through the respiratory system. Manufacturing the ganja cigarettes is an assembly line process. The raw materials are normal filter cigarettes and ganja. Since the quality of the tobacco in the cigarette is not very important, we usually bought the cheapest filter cigarettes available, which was Berkley. There are five operations in the production of the ganja cigarettes: stripping, cleaning, mixing, filling and final inspection.
In the first operation (stripping), the tobacco inside Berkley cigarettes are removed. This is done by rolling the open-end of the cigarette between the thumb and forefinger so the tobacco becomes loose and comes out. This process is continued until the filter is reached. The stripped cigarette shells are transferred to the filling station of the assembly line.
In the cleaning process, the ganja and tobacco are carefully examined and foreign particles and hard objects like stems of the ganja leaves are removed. The cleaned ganja and tobacco are passed to the mixing station. In the mixing station, depending on the strength needed, the tobacco and ganja are mixed well, the normal ratio being 50:50. The usual method is to take appropriate amounts of both items in the palm of the left hand and mix them well using the right thumb. The mixture is then transferred to the filling station, where the empty cigarette shells are filled with the ganja-tobacco mixture. This process requires some expertise, good concentration, and lots of patience. The shells are packed tight using toothpicks or ear buds.
Once the ganja cigarettes start coming out of the assembly line, the quality controller will check the quality of the product. Acceptance sampling method with an acceptable quality level (AQL) of 10% was used as 100% inspection was unacceptable. But the problem was that the quality controllers had to be replaced often, as they became intoxicated and were unable to perform their duties objectively. So the retired quality controllers will form the first lot of consumers!
By the time the guests start arriving, the assembly line would be working at 100% efficiency after ironing out the bottlenecks and replacing inefficient workers. One or two quality controllers would have been replaced. The guests are welcomed by the reception committee and depending on their preferred intoxication method would be sent either to the bar or smoke room. The guests arriving at the smoke room will be seated and would be given fresh, hot from the assembly line ganja cigarettes. Once the critical mass of guests is reached, and once everybody is smoking at their optimal comfort level, simply staying in the room for 5 to 10 minutes is good enough for one to hit the roof or start floating.
There is a lot of difference between the action of alcohol and ganja. First and most important is that alcohol is safer than ganja. Alcohol will only slow down your reflexes and reduce the power to concentrate and make decisions. But you still will be in control of your mind and body and therefore your actions. But ganja will completely take over your mind, you thinking and reasoning capability as well as you control over your body. So in this sense ganja is more dangerous than alcohol as it can cause more accidents. I have seen and experienced people who have smoked ganja doing funny things.
On one occasion, while I was high, somebody handed me an electronics textbook and told me that it is full of jokes and I couldn’t stop laughing once I started reading it. I was holding the book upside down and turning the pages and laughing as if every page contained excellent jokes. I then told this to my other intoxicated friends and they too started laughing. Friends who were sober later told me that all of us were laughing for almost an hour looking at the textbook.
During a hostel day, I bored to death a doctor friend of mine, discussing with him the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options and prognosis of lymphosarcoma of the intestine for almost 2 hours. My only knowledge about the disease was from the Hindi movie Anand in which Rajesh Khanna is suffering from the disease. My friend got so irritated and violent that he vowed to take revenge on me during the Medical College Hostel day by discussing with me the finer aspects of Carnot cycle, which due to my good fortune didn’t happen.
Another time, I took my bullet and went to have food. Coming back, I started the bike and put it in first gear and forgot all about changing gears. So from Sreekaryam (a place about 2Kms from the hostel) to the hostel, I rode the bike in first gear! When I was halfway through, I had a vision that my legs were not functioning. So even when I wanted to brake I was unable to do so. Somehow, I came back to my senses by the time I reached the hostel and was able to stop the bike safely.
When you are drunk, you would not have this problem. You will still have control. I have driven from Medical College after consuming 8- 9 pegs (large ones) to hostel without any problems. Yes there will be some staggering while walking, some difficulty in getting the bike off the stand, kick starting it, but once the bike is moving, you are as good as normal.
I have seen in movies where the drug addicts having no appetites, does not consume any food and will be stoned the whole time. But during the initial stages, once you are high on ganja, you have phenomenal appetite. The hunger is so great that most consumes 4-5 times their normal capacity. Each of us will consume, around 8-10 omelets, 4-5 steam cakes, appams, chapattis and so on to the delight of the hotel owners.
The easiest way to spot a person who is high on ganja is the eyes. The eyes will be reddish and will have a glassy look. So when we go out for food every one will be wearing dark sunglasses. Many people at Sreekaryam and other hotels near the hostel must have wondered why a group of 10-12 guys wearing dark sunglasses visits the hotel and consume huge quantities of food during the middle of the night!!!
Writing about wearing sunglass during the nighttime reminded me of an incident that happened a few days back. After seeing a gangster movie, my two-and-a-half-year old niece became so impressed with the honcho’s attire that she added a very dark sunglass and an old cellular phone to her’s. Once she puts on the sunglass and has the phone in her hand, her whole body language changes. She will adopt a gangster like behavior, occasionally speaking very seriously on the cell phone, as if ordering a hit or negotiating some drug deal. She used to wear the sunglass and keep the cell phone with her even during the nights. Even after several requests and threats, she refused to give up the new additions. A few days back, my brother’s friend came to our house for dinner. He had not seen my niece before, as it was his first visit after my brother’s marriage. My niece in her gangster avatar came and started talking to him occasionally taking time to attend and make imaginary calls on the cell phone. The guest was suitably impressed by the performance that he remarked “nobody will believe that she is blind!”
The intention of this post is not to glorify drugs and its use. Drugs in any form are bad. It is addictive and once addicted your life will be wasted.
Say no to drugs.
Drink in moderation.
And do not drive when you have alcohol in your bloodstream.