I’ve lived in Delhi for close to a decade now, and when you’re armed with that sort of definitive living in your twenties and a Metro Card to anywhere, it’s easy to think you’ve seen it all. Which is why little prepared me for the night my friend took me to a grimy old alleyway in south Delhi’s New Friends Colony, asked me to wait in the cycle rickshaw we were travelling in, and disappeared beneath a half-closed shutter. Seven minutes later, as I debated between slinking under the dubious shutter myself and making the rickshaw do a swift about-turn, my friend had emerged, victorious. “I’ve got it,” he announced. “What have you got?” I asked, mystified. “Stuff. Enough for the night.”
A piece of plastic wrapped around dark green material was brandished in my face, and true to his word, enough joints were made for the night.
If you’ve lived in Delhi long enough and are looking to hit up a joint, there are many alleyways such as those found in New Friends Colony. Whether it’s for an occasional party treat or a regular hit, “score karna” is the commonest pair of words you’ll hear strung together. Conversations range between a bumptious “Yeh original maal hai, sourced from the finest fields in Parvati Valley” to an apologetic “The only thing I could source is local” – the latter usually greeted by an inquiry into how much one ended up stupidly coughing up for it.
The Dope Hierarchy and the “Stoners” Who Follow It
The seasoned cannabis smoker will call you out on your supreme fallacy of trying to club weed, hash and bhang together.
To the uninitiated, bhang is simply the ‘lightest’ of the three drugs, followed by weed/ganja on the second rung, and topped by charas/hash which is considered far superior. While bhang is sourced from the leaves of the cannabis indica plant and has the lowest concentration of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), weed and hash are both sourced from the cannabis sativa (another variety of the cannabis plant). Weed is the flower bud of the marijuana plant – while hash is oozed out with far greater dexterity from the sap or resin of the plant. All three break down differently in the system and induce entirely different “highs”.
A marijuana supplier I called – who, incidentally spoke to me in three short bursts of hanging up and pretending to have never heard the word ‘pot’ – eventually acceded to the “different customer preferences”.
You never know what someone’s looking for – who’s going to become a regular and who will just move on. Several don’t mind a local variety while others will insist on their ‘stuff’ being couriered or packaged from other cities.
The supplier, who deals out of his own home in south Delhi, sells among a circle of his friends, who in turn pass on his number to anyone in need.
“It’s always word of mouth,” reports a colleague who “shops” for what she calls “the cheaper stuff” aka weed, in a by-lane in Noida. The by-lane is hidden – to the non-cannabis-addled eye – behind labyrinths of jhuggis – and once you’ve found it, you can approach the “aunties” who sell weed in abundance.
“The weed they sell is brought in from Andhra Pradesh, which is why it’s far better than any of the local varieties in the city,” says the colleague.
The aversion to “local” makes me think of a friend of my roommate’s who has been habitually haunting our apartment on the stray weekend – always with ‘material’ for our many house parties. I meet B after an appointment, as he is – remarkably enough – on his way to “score” at a friend’s place in Greater Kailash.
“The latest fad is to just get your stuff couriered,” B tells me as he walks into nondescript gullies, dismissing the “local ghettos” (as he calls them) that are frequented by “students and people who don’t want to wait for a good thing”.
My friends and I have a guy in Hyderabad who ships marijuana to us in bunches of ten tolas or more (1 tola = 10 grams), once we’ve transferred the money to his bank account. I’d rather spend more on good quality than on the shit you get in Delhi.
Agrees the friend in accompaniment, once he’s convinced names and locations of his dealers will be treated like the holy grail of all existence.
“I mean, that stuff is laced with chemicals! Lowly peddlers here will just adulterate a tiny quantity of weed to make a big bunch. I’ve known people to use washing machines and blenders to mix substances into their weed. How can you possibly trust adulterated pot?”
The vehemence is followed up by pride in their “sources” which the two twenty-somethings practise with diligence. “We buy our weed from Mysore. We originally had a dealer in Kochi, but we’ve settled on this one. He gets us a good deal. For hash, of course, we’ll travel to Malana.”
Everyone has a “guy”. Who knows a guy. Who in turn knows a peddler. Who knows someone with a weed garden in Andhra Pradesh or a hashish farm in Himachal. The colleague who “shops” in Noida chips in: “It’s like a never-ending cycle. You can never run out of options.”
I think of the countless house parties and the “stoners” who are relied upon to bring their own thing. Next time, perhaps, I’ll ask about their guy.
(Names and exact locations have been changed/withheld on request)