Who wants to live in a forest of marijuana?

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Answered by: Radheya, An Expert in the Drug Use Among Teenagers Category
"Come on. Hurry up! you're not gonna BELIEVE this place!" I stumbled along behind my excited friend. I had all ready been traveling around India for six months and was certain nothing could surprise me. I had seen the touristy beaches of Goa, the slums of Calcutta, and nature scenes that could- "Alright, STOP! Whaddya think?"

A forest of marijuana! The spectacle before me gave new meaning to the term "weed." Some of the plants towered over my head while others clumped together at my feet. The vibrant lime-green leaves danced in the light breeze, reflecting scattered drops of sunlight that broke through the foliage of surrounding trees. We sat for some time and laughed, reveling in the moment. I felt like I had been transported to Leonardo Dicaprio's magical island in "The Beach." Our smiles disappeared, however, as footsteps crackled over a patch of dead leaves nearby.

It was a middle-aged man with a dirty white sheet covering his lower half. He was topless revealing a large belly escorted by a set of skinny arms. He walked nearer with his eyes half-closed, singing unrecognizable tidbits of a recent Bollywood (the Hollywood of India) movie song. As we stood there staring blankly, he took notice of us. Clearly surprised, his eyes opened as wide as they could, an impressive three-quarters. Then, to our great relief, a big smile broke out on his chubby face and his watery red eyes disappeared once again; hiding under puffy eyelids.

"You are smoking? Just now wanting smoking?" questioned the man in his broken English. He touched his pointer finger and thumb together in front of his mouth to demonstrate. We looked at each other and simultaneously shrugged. Not waiting for a reply, however, he turned and walked away, humming the same tune as before. Accustomed to unblinking stares, we found his renunciation attractive, and curiously followed him, pushing aside plants as we walked side by side. Tucked away in the center of the forest of marijuana was a small Shiva temple. In front of the temple sat six babajis, holy men, passing around a small smoking device called a chillum.

They all waved us forward enthusiastically, each patting the space to his left indicating that we should sit there. We joined the circle and awkwardly sat down as a young boy ran up holding the bottom of his shirt up to his chest. When he let go a pile of dry marijuana buds and a little bag of hash tumbled out onto a piece of cloth in the middle of the circle. My friend and I looked at each other nervously. Neither of us smoked.

The chillum, a small clay funnel, was promptly packed and passed to my friend. We were all ready sitting, and they had taken the trouble of bringing us more bud. Thinking it impolite to refuse the gift my friend struggled to take a hit. After two or three fruitless attempts, however, he passed the chillum to his right, too embarrassed to look up. I laughed heartily along with the locals as the next in turn made a fist, expertly clutching the device between his ring and middle fingers close to his knuckles.

Holding the lighter over the top of the chillum with his left hand he inhaled through the small hole made by his pointer finger in the front of his fist. The flame dipped deep into the chillum and we heard a small crackling sound. He passed it to me as he continued to hold his breath. I copied what I had seen and saw the flame dip down as I inhaled. The second the smoke passed entered my throat, however, I involuntarily coughed directly into my fist.

The chillum was like a mini volcano erupting small particles of burning marijuana in all directions. I looked up at my friend as I flailed away at my shirt and pants. He was laughing so hard he fell over backwards. When the laughter died down we quietly excused ourselves to avoid further embarrassment. As we walked away I shook my head in disbelief at how easily the babajis had inhaled such large quantities of smoke. As if reading my mind, my friend turned to me with a smirk and said, "practice makes perfect."

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