This post is written for the theme “26 Places, 26 Memories” for the #AtoZChallenge 2019.
B FOR BHOPAL:
Bhopal is the capital city of Madhya Pradesh in India. This city, established in the early 18th century, prides itself on its green cover, beautiful lakes and noteworthy religious monuments. In 1984, Bhopal entered the international consciousness with the terrible Union Carbide gas tragedy. Sanchi, a seat of the Buddhist religion is located an hour away from Bhopal, and its stunning Stupa and gorgeous landscape is a major attraction for tourists.
I visited Bhopal and Sanchi in the summer of 2006, on a college trip organised by the History department. As a student of History, I’ve always enjoyed visiting places of historical significance. These department trips proved to be some of the most fun and memorable ones I’ve ever taken. Overnight train journeys where no one slept, endless card games, heart-to-hearts; and a hefty serving of sightseeing and culture. Of the many notable moments, here’s one that stands out.
BONDING WITH MY BESTIES IN BHOPAL:
Having spent the majority of our teens in protective and traditional households, with a strong focus on academics; college was the first taste of ‘freedom’ for me and many of my friends. On college trips, we bonded over contraband booze (among other things), and celebrated this new safe space. The professors that accompanied us weren’t oblivious, but turned a blind eye as long as we stayed safe and within limits.
On this particular trip, one of my classmates, the youngest and arguably the most innocent of us all, tried smoking weed for the first time. As with many first-timers, she inhaled the smoke through her mouth, which didn’t deliver the desired effect. 10 minutes later, she claimed she didn’t feel anything, so, the seniors whose ‘maal’ (stuff) she had used, decided to have some fun.
Senior: “Oye, you’re not feeling it because you’re not performing the right actions.”
Classmate: “What do you mean?”
S: “It’s a bit harder to digest the first time. You need to shake the stuff up in your system. You should maybe jump up and down, or twirl around a bit….”
C: “…. Ummm, OK!”
And so, in a smoke-laden, cramped bedroom in the MP Tourism Guest House in Bhopal, my classmate took the bait. She jumped, twirled and tried her best to get high, while the rest of us struggled to control our laughter. To her credit, when she finally figured out what was going on, she wasn’t fazed by it. She rolled her eyes at the juvenility of the joke, and went on with life.
This girl is now one of my closest friends, and I laud her self-assurance through every situation. I have to admit though, she’s never learned to smoke properly 😉
Come back tomorrow for the letter C and another story!
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*Unless specified, all pictures are taken on my phone. Copyright belongs to nooranandchawla.
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