Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bonkers on Bhang

It is my third day in this city as old as time, so I figure it's about time to try the local specialty - Bhang.

Bhang, like hashish, is a preparation of cannabis (both buds and flowers) that for some reason is government authorised. There are many outlets in which you can procure the substance, in either baked form or lassi (most guesthouses will whip one up for you, calling it a 'special lassi'). I find a store in town and start things off with a Bhang lassi. Although I am promised it will taste like a milkshake, it tastes more like clumps of dirt mixed with salted milk. It is absolutely disgusting, but the ominous shade of green is at least promising.

Not satisfied with the gross green shake, I decide to try a cookie as well, and am delighted to find that the baked goods come with a government authorised stamp - my type of souvenir! Despite being packed to the brim with bhang, the cookie itself is actually quite sweet. It's somewhere between shortbread and sugar cookie. The stores attract a lot of hustlers, trying to sell everything from opium to magic mushrooms, but I'll stick with the green stuff for today. Indian policeman look fierce, and clutch AK-47s with a casual elegance - talk about intimidating!

The result of mixing both baked good and lassi leads to an inevitable bed-lock, but not until many hours later. I am left with an hour or two of sobriety, in which I seek out a cinema to see the much hyped 'Dabangg' that everyone seems to be talking about. At three hours long, with no subtitles and completely in Hindi, I find myself enjoying the film immensely against all odds. It was a star vehicle for the much admired Salman Khan, a well known Bollywood star revered by locals, with a fondness for beauty queens both on/off the screen.

From start to finish I enjoyed the film. The lack of subtitles was actually a good aspect, as it was one less distraction in this visual masterpiece. The film contained lots of violence, plenty of humour, manic musical numbers and an abundance of romance although no kisses were shown on screen. Even television is censored, with all swear words eliminated, making most Eddie Murphy movies feel almost alien-like. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, blending elements of martial arts movies alongside freeze frame camerawork found in The Matrix. The cinema experience was much the same, although there was an interval during the film and samosas/veg burgers were offered as well as the usual popcorn/soft drink staples.

I stumble out of the cinema, feeling full the effects of mixing together bhang products. I hail the first tuk-tuk that appears, and don't even bother to negotiate a price. I hand him the hotel card, and do my best to keep from passing out in the backseat. When I fail to do so, the potholes in the road and screeching halts common with Indian road conditions, jolt me back into reality head-first. Even though I am dropped off right next to my hotel, I still manage to wander off and get lost in the dark streets of the old city. I'm not sure if there's been a power cut, or if my eyes are just failing me when I need them most.

Once in my room, I fall asleep instantly only to wake several hours later. I could have sworn there was a little street kid rummaging through my bags just a moment ago, but I attribute this to either nightmare or hallucination. I'm beyond hungry at this point, and although I have no idea of the time I venture forth in search of food. I'm nearly out of the door when I am stopped by concerned staff. Apparently my eyes are so red that they can tell, even in the dark. It is nearing 2am and I'm in dire need of food. Rather than risk the unsavory streets after dark, the cook offers to whip me up something in the kitchen. I'm very thankful as due to the time, no restaurants would be open anyway and the best I could hope for would be Masala flavoured twisties. I order an Indian breakfast for the second time that day, and eat like it's a race.

Bhang is fun, but don't mix the two. Either/Or should be the rule, and my bet is to go with the cookie - it doesn't even taste awful =P

No comments:

Post a Comment