No smoke without supervision 

Dope, Delhi, lifestyle

Two schoolboys confided in their parents about the desire to dope, and got permission to take the substances at home. They want to indulge in it for experience in a supervised environment, and not secretively

One evening after dinner, a 14-year-old son confronted his mother in private with a suggestion that she was not prepared for. “I want to try cannabis (‘smoke up’ is the expression) with my friends,” and added, “I need you to know and be okay with it.” 

Mother, 45, a writer living in Noida, is a level-headed person; while she was glad her son confided in her, she couldn’t have allowed it. So she tried to defer it, “Sure you can–TRY! But only after you turn 18, as an adult.” She was polite yet categorical–”Not now!”

Adil (name changed)looked back at her intently, slightly agitated and finally retorted, “I can do it with my friends without you knowing.” And explained that she can do little to stop it once he decides. “I want this experience in my life,” he insisted, “And I also want you to know about it.” 

Adil went on to explain, doping in school is a new normal. It’s fairly common to smoke up in a group with friends. It’s a good space to be in without being too overly conscious of their gender, dynamics of a changing body during the teens, raging hormones of adolescence–when you know you want something badly and are not sure of what it is. 

And it sort of makes it easier to experience oneself vis-a-vis peers, come to terms with emotional yearnings, attraction, sexuality and a host of other things that teenagers with access to all kinds of information spend hours discovering online as they lead an almost parallel virtual life. Sometimes being exposed to more things than their impressionable minds can handle.      

Vivek, turning 16 this  December, is a Class X student in a leading public school in Gurugram. He is doing well in academics, likes reading, writes poetry, and is sensitive to a fault. Vivek’s parents are well-placed executives in multinational companies and they live in an upmarket apartment in a posh residential colony. 

Vivek’s elder brother joined an undergraduate program in the UK last year and lives in Sussex. Though Vivek’s parents lead a busy life, they are far from neglectful and are fairly hands-on. And now since his elder brother is away, the whole focus has shifted on him.  

Fairly articulate, Vivek is not a problem child. He just needs space to do his thing. And parents would only let him do ‘his thing’ if they know exactly what thAT IS. So there’s a sort of tension between them. Vivek thinks he’s ready to make his own decisions, while parents insist: “Not now. You will have a whole life ahead of you to do that.” 

Vivek sits in an armchair transfixed at the open window from where you can see the local Metro station. He talks about his proclivity to dope candidly. “There’s no denying that I like doing marijuana in the company of my friends,” he says. Vivek has read a lot of hippy literature; a reckless attitude towards normative life makes perfect sense to him. Not that he’s painted his hair red but he wants a tattoo on his forearm. “It’s a good escape. Magic realism–like watching Harry Potter,” he explains, “I know it’s this feeling of being in sync with your own self and the rest is induced, is not real, but nevertheless soothing to my nerves.”

He also understands his parents’ concerns, but “They should trust me, I will not ruin my life. It’s just weed. I’m not injecting heroin. I love my life and will do nothing to jeopardise my future,” he implores, and adds that his brother did that too when he was here and now in England. Cannabis is legalised in more than two dozen countries including Netherlands, Canada, parts of the US, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, even Russia and North Korea–he lists the countries, and adds with some excitement, “I didn’t even start counting the Latin American countries.”

“We often talk (referring to his peer group) about people (society at large) getting paranoid because of the Bollywood drug culture, but that’s not just about cannabis,” Vivek explains. Weed is readily available inside school campuses, at bus stops, cigarette shops, every other rickshaw puller peddles ganja. Now they’re online so you can order it at home; access is never a problem.  

 Vivek and Adil are not exceptions, as dope culture is catching up with the affluent school kids–particularly in the age group of 13 to 17 years. Unlike these two, many are fairly secretive about their new-found love for dope. 

Adil’s mother is seriously contemplating allowing her son a supervised experience to satiate his curiosity. Vivek’s parents have allowed him to do it not more than once a week, and that too in his room with a couple of select friends they know while they’ll be present in the house. “They don’t want me to be out of the house doping and they never barge into my room,” he says with some satisfaction that they have been able to find a solution. 

“I have a secret desire to smoke up with my father and brother–and it’s quite doable,” he sums up. 

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