Friday, February 4, 2011

Narcotics with In-Laws

{Or, Why I've Been Off-Line All Week}

P's amazingly intrepid parents (who, let it be known, are unfazed by squat toilets, public urination and eye-wateringly-spicy curries) left the blizzards of Boston and came to visit us in India for a week. We had the most marvelous time spotting antelope along Rajasthan's dusty roads and exploring ancient desert forts and palaces (and staying in some of the most Merchant-Ivory-worthy historic hotels I've ever seen). No one got sick, and by India travel standards the trip was (thankfully) pretty tame and easy. Until we stopped by a traditional Brahmin village at teatime.








And I found myself, as I'm sure people often find themselves, sitting on a dirt floor at an opium ceremony with my husband and inlaws and a cadre of beturbaned Brahmin elders. And when a Brahmin elder offers you his leathery cupped paw which runneth over with the opium tea he has just brewed so nicely for you, well, by golly, you drink it. And that, ladies and gentleman, is how it came to pass that I enjoyed my first dally with narcotics in the company of my in-laws.

*To be clear, neither law-abiding Yankee in-laws (nor State Department-funded husband) partook in the imbibing of opium tea. Just this miscreant.

24 comments:

  1. Awesome. Definitely one of those experiences you don't want to seek out but... if life hands it to you: always go with the option that leads to the best story. So, for those of us who have never had the opportunity, what was it like (taste, effects, etc.)? I'm terribly curious.

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  2. So, what they do is make a small incision in the poppy head, collect the latex-like sap, and with it make a very, very diluted tea. It tasted slightly bitter, but not unpleasant. I felt flushed (and perhaps a bit giddy, or was that my imagination?) but that was about it. Totally uneventful. Opium-shmopium, I says. Turns out we aren't missing out on anything.

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  3. So capital-R Romantic.
    "Confessions of an American Opium-Eater"? Definitely a more lucid post-opium bit of writing than Coleridge's "Kubla Kahn."
    Way to say yes to what life's experience hands you.

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  4. "Opium-shmopium" - HA! What a great story.

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  5. that is FANTASTIC. i had a similarly cathartic and organic experience the one and only time i did mushrooms...beautiful when it just happens..

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  6. some friends at my wedding smoked "opium" they collected from the poppies in my dad's garden. they claimed they got high, but my dad just laughed at them. (OPIUM SHMOPIUM!) i think you need a much more concentrated dose to really feel anything.

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  7. Oh my God, that poppy head is so beautiful it is to die for! And look at that man with the white mustache, hand on hip and glint in his eye, he's definitely had more than a small incision of opium tea!

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  8. So opium is nothing special. What remains now????

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  9. What a great story. You clearly had a different high school experience than wild child me...ahem. Hey, I got the wiling-out all out of my system early! Now I can be boring and be just fine with that.

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  10. The photo lay out here was PERFECT. And seriously, how in the heck do you always seem to wind up in the coolest of situations? I'm completely jealous and want lessons, please. Thank you.

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  11. Yes, I'm with you, Lily, as always. if someone hands you opium tea, you drink it. The photos are amazing. I didn't know they made it that way.

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  12. opium tea sounds delightful....i guess the only problem would be if you are dinking 10 cups of it in a row everyday....perhaps?....great story and gorgeous photos....love the dude with the white mustache!

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  13. It was only polite, really. No other option.

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  14. hmmm, i smoked opium sap from the pods once on a farm in new mexico...it was like pot but only lasted a short time, so you have to keep smoking. as a former high desert rat, your blog is my favorite!

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  15. What I always wonder is how in the world do you get these photos? Do you ask these opium users to take their pic or do you do it from under sari kind of thing. Now an even more interesting story would be from the mouths of the law abiding Yankee in-laws! I can only imagine what was going on in their minds :O

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  16. you again! that so life less ordinary girl!

    opium shmopium! i'm too busy digging the array of pink turbans!

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  17. Megsheff- I think Coleridge musta had the strong stuff.

    ESB- Bet your pops had Icelandic poppies, not opium poppies, anyway. That's hysterical. Also, who raids the father-of-the-bride's garden looking for narcotics during a wedding? Hysterical.

    Kate- Yeah, I was a law-abiding tomboy in high school. I think the worst thing I did was smoke exactly half a cigarette, and then I immediately called up my mom to tell her what I did.

    Anon- a fellow desert rat? WELCOME!!!

    Faith- That's something I'm always thinking about- the shoot-on-the-fly to get the candid shots, or the ask-politely-before-shooting for the sometimes-less-than-candid shots. In India, especially in the more traditional societies, I pretty much always ask now. A lot of married women prefer not to have their pictures taken, and so I find it actually opens more doors if I ask politely in my best Hindi (which is pretty bad) and then people usually say yes, and it's much more comfortable: they don't feel like they're being taken advantage of and I don't feel like I'm stealing something.

    Anyone wanna weigh in on this?

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  18. I, for one, am terrified of taking photos of humans. Myself included.

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  19. Oh my god your children are going to love this story.

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  20. Damn, those mean business! Look at those faces -so real. This sounds incredible, and you are brave, my dear.

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  21. next stop, amsterdam. your photos were luscious, even straight!

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  22. You are hilar. I love the disclaimer at the end. I was reading the earlier part of the post and saying to myself, "There is no way that P. did this."

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  23. yeah i just avoid taking pictures of people. i admire you.

    oh, and those rugs.

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  24. I love this story and the most beautiful shades of color... just wonderful! ; )

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