Disclaimer: The following excerpts are from an interaction with Mr. Tashi Sharma (name changed on request), a resident of Bangalore from the past nine years. This post does not promote the use of recreational marijuana in any way. The aim of the post is as always, to educate and inform.
Tashi Sharma was late by a full twenty minutes.
Tashi had promised to meet him. One, because he had been pestering him to do so for the past three months. Two, because the man was said to be a legend in Bangalore’s marijuana circuit. And three, because the man didn’t fit the usual stereotype of the Indian marijuana dealer – a shady character, mostly semi-literate hailing from India’s hinterlands, getting by through odd jobs in a cosmopolitan city that was Bangalore.
No, Tashi Sharma was a well qualified post-graduate and a highly intellectual character who sold marijuana by choice. And he was going to ask him, in direct terms, why? Why would any sane person, who was well read, knowledgeable, who understood the systems that went behind business, government and culture, sell marijuana in the black market, seeing as recreational marijuana is illegal in India? Why didn’t he take up a well paying job in India’s IT capital, when by now he would be well on his way to a comfortable, cushy, privileged life?
He hoped Tashi would turn up. If he didn’t, well, he would continue to pester him till he did. He was a hound that way. A post-graduate himself, he really wanted to understand the man’s mindset. What prompted him to take this step? How did it all begin? How did he manage to get in tons and tons of marijuana into Bangalore? How politically connected was this man? You had to be, if you could send in an armada of people and vehicles from across states and within, to smuggle high quality, well grown marijuana into Bangalore, unlike the horrors of the spiked marijuana being dealt by criminals.
For some reason, Tashi had asked him to wait inside Starbucks, near Trinity Metro Station. Surprise was an understatement. He was in awe. He had imagined a dingy room, in a corner of the city, probably in a dungeon, or an attic. Never Starbucks. Not a public place. He had reached fifteen minutes before their agreed time, three p.m. It was overcast, the sort of weather Bangalore was famous for, among both domestic and international residents alike.
His phone rang. It was Tashi.
“I’m here. Starbucks. Waiting”
“Hey man, sorry for the delay. I had a stretched meeting. Can you come outside? I’m in a black Mercedes”
Tashi hung up. He scampered a little, collected his bag and sped outside. The Mercedes was gleaming, even though there wasn’t any sun. With a little trepidation, he unlocked the front door and slid in quickly beside Tashi, trying to judge his appearance from his peripheral vision and not making direct eye contact. Two seconds later, they locked eyes.
Tashi Sharma (TS): Hi, I’m Tashi
Sins Shakunani (SS): Hi, I’m Sins. Honestly, I didn’t think you would come. Thanks for meeting. How are you doing?
TS: I’m good. So tell me, what do you want to know? I have thirty minutes. I would love to stop at a cafe or something, but I really don’t have the time. I don’t meet many people for personal stuff you know, except my wife, my sons and three other close friends whom I’ve known since my college days. I can’t trust anyone.
Tashi smiled as he mentioned the last sentence, and hit the Mercedes into gear. Of course, he couldn’t trust anyone. His face didn’t show it though. He looked as calm as a Buddhist monk asked to meditate till sundown. He was dressed completely in black. His face looked young, without a speck of stress lines or grey hair. His nose curved downwards, like a cunning hawk staring down at his prey in contempt. A mysterious energy seemed to radiate from him, or was it just a placebo effect? He looked fit, with a slight hint of a stomach.
SS: How old are you, if I may ask?
SS: Wow. You don’t look like it at all. I swear you look like you are in your late twenties.
TS: Why do you think?
Tashi laughed. A whole-hearted, booming laugh that would have traveled quite a distance. He took several deep breaths, as he navigated the traffic signal. In the clear, now approaching the state highway that led directly towards the airport, he rummaged under his seat, his left hand guiding the steering wheel while his right handed Sins a brown cover wrapped package, which seemed to contain..marijuana.
TS: Yes. Check this out. The best grow in the city. Completely organic, fresh and ready for consumption. It has a THC content of approximately 19%. Only three other people in India can give you this, unless you order it from the online Silk Road on the dark web and turn out to be lucky. Keep it if you want, its around thirty grams.
SS: Wow, thank you. I don’t know what to say
TS: Don’t mention it. So tell me, what do you want to know?
SS: So marijuana makes you look young?
TS: Absolutely, my friend. Its a wonder plant. I’ve not fallen ill in the past fifteen years since I started smoking. I don’t feel stress. My wife smokes it too. Helps with her anxiety. Of course, you have to consume the good quality ones, not the street crap sold by ignorant fucks to ignorant fucks, who give a bad name to the entire scene. My wife’s an entrepreneur by the way, an organic farmer. We grow our own fruits and vegetables on a farm outside the city. I can’t give my kids the chemical-infested crap that is transported into the city in the name of food.
SS: That’s incredible
SS: Why did you start selling marijuana even though it is illegal?
TS: That’s true, I needn’t have. Truth be told, I had a well paying job. I lasted for around a year before I called it quits. I’m not sure if you can understand, but I wanted to be different, you know? All my colleagues were talking about the same crap – their salaries, their spouses, their TV shows, their crap movies, their stupid gossip and god knows what not. And here was I, with dreams of living on a greener planet, constantly on the lookout for interesting things to read and think about, like the future of our food, water, air and electricity, spurred forward by technological progress. No one was talking about the real stuff. So I quit. Fuck them.
SS: You quit and began selling marijuana?
TS: I prefer the term cannabis
SS: You quit and began selling cannabis?
TS: Yes. I started smoking cannabis in my first year of engineering just out of curiosity more than anything. It wasn’t that great or anything actually, my first time. It was OK. I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. My second time was when shit hit the fan, in a good way. I loved cannabis more than alcohol and cigarettes. In fact, to this day, I don’t touch alcohol or cigarettes. I don’t need those poisons in my body, thank you. Of course, I’m not chastising anyone to consume what they want. I’m just saying, what would you do?
SS: I believe in moderation. Anything in excess is bad, cannabis or alcohol or cigarettes or any other thing for that matter.
TS: That’s true. I don’t consume cannabis everyday. A small hit of the potent variety once in a while keeps me in good shape. Plus, my food sources are reliable since I grow them myself. And I workout too.
SS: I admire your lifestyle.
SS: So how did you start selling cannabis?
A silence followed, that lasted around ten seconds. It wasn’t awkward. On the contrary, Tashi had begun humming to himself.
TS: You know, can we continue this conversation later? I just remembered something
SS: Sure. We can meet again, if you’re fine with that. Do you have to do something urgent?
TS: Yes, I’ve to meet the minister. Where do I drop you?
SS: If you’re going to continue heading north, drop me right here.
Tashi stopped the car next to a hotel, which looked as if it needed a cannabis hit as soon as possible. Sins got out, and bid Tashi goodbye, having made Tashi promise to meet him again the next week, on a Sunday. The man was apparently going to meet a minister. He had no way of knowing if he was kidding or not. But, deep inside, Sins felt he wasn’t kidding. Tashi didn’t need to boast about himself to anybody. The man was sorted.
Sighing, he remembered that he had forgotten to take the brown bag that contained cannabis in Tashi’s car.
Sins booked an Uber and headed home.