I have smoked up everywhere I can. At bus stands, railway stations, inside moving buses and trains, at my school and college, at my home when my father was sleeping in the adjacent room. Once, just before I was to give an entrance exam at Kendriya Vidyalaya in New Delhi, I rolled a J just outside the building that houses India’s Ministry of External Affairs. I have made joints and smoked up inside moving auto rickshaws and cabs, sometimes ignoring the protests of the drivers and at other times, sharing my goodies with them.
I think almost everyone has an anarchist hidden in the deepest part of their hearts. I am sure, in secret, even the most stringent lawmakers, judges and people in power would skip some (in many cases, all?) rules they preach. Many weed activists around the world look at lighting up in public spaces as an act of civil disobedience against laws that don’t make sense. They believe that smoking up openly is the best way to normalise it, take back control, and help against demonising a culture that should move up from the underground. For me, my reasons have ranged from merely seeking a high to playing a prank and making law-abiding people uncomfortable, to it being my personal form of civil disobedience. I am more lazy than woke, so instead of marching the streets, smoking up in public places in order to normalise it suits me just fine. As long as my smoking is not making someone feel physically or mentally ill and not infringing on their freedom, I often let my inner anarchist run wild as my small rebellion against social constructs.
Moreover, I find India, and especially New Delhi where I work in the social development sector, as a place where smoking is implicitly accepted (or ignored as something akin to a minor crime). If a cop gets you (which has never happened to me), you usually get away with a small bribe, even though it’s technically illegal. Like many other things in our country, this is hypocrisy at its best.
I am in love with organic intoxicants, weed, hash oil and shrooms, though my favoured drug is hashish. It doesn’t smell as much as weed, and lends a good high for a couple of hours. This love for cannabis had made me take risks which others would consider to be crazy. Once when my bus got stuck after a landslide en route to Mussoorie, I was smoking up in a corner of the bus when the visibly tired bus driver begged me to share my stash. Hilly roads, bad weather and a high sound scary when put together, but that turned out to be one of the smoothest rides of my life.
Till a couple of years ago, I was apprehensive about taking hash through airports—the places where most stringent security checks are made, even though some airports around the world are chilling out when it comes to BYOW. However, I had noticed that the scanners at the Delhi airport were of the same make as the ones used by Delhi Metro, in which I have once transported about 30 grams of marijuana. The other danger in taking cannabis through airport check-ins, my friends had warned, are sniffer dogs. But I have rarely seen them at airports, and certainly a few grams of hash placed between smelly jeans should be able to baffle the cleverest nose actually trained to smell out hard drugs and explosives, right?
Convincing myself, I took the risk of taking two tolas (20 gms) of hashish through the Trivandrum airport during a trip with friends to Kerala in 2017. I divided up the maal, stuffing bits in pockets of different clothes in my check-in baggage. All was good. We stepped out of the airport, and in minutes, I could surprise my friends with a freshly-rolled blunt. In my own universe, I was a hero.
After that, I began taking hashish regularly on all my holidays and official trips: Indore, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pondicherry, Goa, and other places in the country. The maximum I have travelled with was 50 gms when I went to Tamil Nadu. Like always, I took it when I went to Mumbai a couple of months ago on a work trip. By now, I was a pro at hiding the stuff in my check-in baggage and sometimes, my hand baggage as well.
On my way back home from Mumbai, I finished my work early and reached the airport three to four hours before my flight time. I was exhausted and bored. I went for a smoke in the airport’s smoking room, situated in the centre of the premises. As I was smoking a cigarette, I thought to myself, “Kaash ye maal hota (how I wish this was weed).” I began observing the smoking room, the people and the ventilation system. The exhaust in the corner wasn’t too high and was sucking the smoke up really fast. I went to the airport washroom and took out some hash from my wallet. Rolling paper would look conspicuous, so I took out the tobacco from a cigarette, mixed it with the hash and refilled the cigarette. Putting the cigarette back into the packet, I went directly to the smoking room, where 10-12 people were smoking.
My chosen spot was in a corner where the ventilation was directly above me. As soon as a man standing there left, I occupied the spot, lit my hashish cigarette, and started smoking—exhaling smoke at the exhaust above. In a sea of flavoured cigarettes, nobody noticed the smell of hash. Or at least they didn’t say anything.
After I finished my disguised joint, I got pretty baked. I walked out, listened to music, noticed passengers running around to make it in time for their flights, and the beautiful planes taking off or landing. Of course, the munchies hit. Six costly bottles of water, a sandwich, a doughnut, a coke and a juice later, I heard an announcement for my flight. The time that I would usually spend annoyed and frantic had passed by in a daze. My flight back to Delhi was beautiful, and greening out at 30,000 feet meant I was high all right.
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