Thursday, March 8, 2012

Holi Bhang?

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I often crack up about a lot of things I hear come out of Indians mouths. One such thing is how several locals have swore to me they would never touch marijuana and how Americans using it are drug addicts and low class people. This makes me laugh the hardest. Let me explain.

Bhang = Cannabis
Marijuana = Cannabis

Bong = English perversion of the word bhang used to describe a pipe assembly that aids in smoking marijuana.

It's that simple. Half the Indians (well..could be more, I haven't kept count) who tell me that marijuana users are low class people and drug addicts confessed (before I explained that) to having ingested bhang.

For those of you not in North India, it is actually well known, Punjab especially, for it's bhang. Bhang is mixed into a drink, cooked into food and given to children to celebrate holidays such as Holi and the recently passed Shiva Ratri. On Shiva Ratri bhang was being given away in Amritsar.

There are bhang shops scattered throughout the north and I've heard stories of South Indians traveling here just to purchase it as it's not readily available in the south.

Bhang is also the name of a drink containing bhang. Other names you may hear in relation to bhang are "Sukhni Dhaan" which means 'giver of peace' in Punjabi, thandai which is the bhang mixed with almonds and milk (in honor of lord Shiva) and I'm quite sure with over 60 languages in this country there are plenty of names for it that I'm missing.

Indians don't typically smoke bhang unless it's mixed with cigarette tobacco. However, drinking and eating or consuming the product in any way results in the same effect. Drugs are drugs and DRUGS ARE BAD. Now, keep in mind bhang is illegal, but somehow cops seem to look the other way on holidays. I, thank God can safely say I have never and will never consume any hallucinogenic or narcotic substances not prescribed to me by a doctor. You shouldn't either.

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  1. Hi Kristy, It's called double standards. I can't tell you how many family members who have told me that drinking and driving is ramped in Amritsar and not to drive on the roads in the afternoons & early evenings.

    Drinking and driving is illegal in my country and you will end up in jail, lose your license and receive a huge money penalty. However you just need to pay one of the corrupt police officers a bribe here in Amritsar and your are let off.

  2. Thanks for the link Kristy. Marijuana is a tricky thing for travelers in India. It's easy to get, foreigners are offered access to it almost immediately upon arriving in the most western hot spots. As for bhang I've enjoyed it once during Holi a few years ago. I swear it had no effect on me but it was topic #1 recently between my Indian friends who claim I was nearly passed out from it's wonders. I can say they were a happy bunch dancing the afternoon away with neighbors.

    Happy Holi!

  3. you know, quite a lot of Indian university kids I know have smoked weed at some point or another. A lot of Indian kids who went to University in Canada (and stayed back as permanent residents in Canada--some have gotten their citizenship already) also smoke weed once in a while. I've never heard of weed being for the lower class here....though from my experience, the more upper class young adults who are my age, if they do want an illegal substance, go for high quality cocaine. 

    I think bhang, as long as it's not too strong, is okay in festivals and ceremonies. As long as someone isn't driving under the influence of bhang that is.

  4. @Pam77--something I find interesting is that the US, being the richest country in the world with the most advanced educational institutions in the world, still has a large population that is barely literate, not educated, extremely religious, and quite racist. I grew up in the south east US and I hated it. There were people who thought Harry Potter advocated witchcraft and evolution shouldn't be taught in schools. Definitely agree that there are undesirable people in all parts of the world.

  5. Your comments don't even match up with this post. I said half the Indians I had met who said that were judgmental. That's not generalizing a population and I'm quite careful in all of my posts to say 'here' and not India.

    As for your other comments. It's my blog, it does revolve around me and there are tons of posts on it discussing how I interact with the family and work to adjust to their rules. That isn't a world revolving around me AT ALL. I don't look down on all people in India but when I run across a shitty person, I'm not going to glorify them. I wouldn't do that in the US either. And I have never said all Indians are the same. What I have said repeatedly is that Indians are just like everyone else in the world -there are assholes, jerks, and nice people in every culture. And the whole point in this blog is to write about what happens to me in my journey here, through this marriage and living arrangement and my future. If it's not good, then it's not good. I also write about it when it is good.

    Say what you want about racism but it's long since been proven that India is far more racist than the US. Google "white tax" and read all the comments about foreigners being made to pay extra for everything, even government services based on the color of their skin. So while there are racists everywhere, you can't sit there and say it's okay to condone a government that is racist. Otherwise you would also need to support crimes like genocide.

    Also, since you missed that as well. I've been around Indians my whole life. My fathers best friend is Gujrati and I spent time in their house growing up, and not just his immediate family but many others as well. I've had more than 30 years of exposure to Indians and their culture. It's only been this last year that has turned me against the country, not the people. There's a huge difference between speaking out against a country and the things people allow to go on here and not liking the people.

    I've explored more of India than you seem to realize. I have made many comments about other cities being infinitely better than Amritsar. Do a search of my blog, you'll find them easily.

  6. I meant that the Indians that have told me that say the US users of marijuana are low class. Now in their defense, a lot of the marijuana users are low class but not due to the drug use. Low class being defined the American way and based on their behavior, not money. You can tell them apart from everyone else because they are unkempt, smell awful (because they reek of pot) and they don't talk like educated people.

    More financially well off people do tend to go for the cocaine because they can afford it, no matter what country. Pills are also popular among wealthier people.

  7. When reading about all of this I did notice many foreigners say that bhang didn't affect them the way it did Indians they were around. Maybe it's not as strong or doesn't have the same intensity when ingested as opposed to smoking. I'm not sure the bhang was what made your Indians dance though. I see people dancing here all the time under the influence of nothing more than the music being blasted all over the city. Lol.

  8.  I hear a lot of in my county and my culture going on  here ..... You are not in your country and things are different . There are many wonderful things about India the Indian people Indian families my Indian family that I as a Canadian cherish .I have spent a lot of time over the years in India and I would never speak about my husband's family or his country the way you do. I have read your posts for many days now regarding doctors nurses parents music temples visitors joint families all that are part of what your husband is  and I can say I see a serious lack of respect for all of these things  and can say that I cannot share your views on any of them .It is your blog and yes you are allowed to say whatever you want but if you don't want feed back make it a private diary .
     It maybe time for you to consider going  to your own home where you don't have to speak to anyone in the morning if you don't want too .It is clear your surroundings are certainly not working for you .

  9. I can understand we have different views, not everyone will agree with me. However, I don't give respect where respect is not due and I do not buy into the aspect of respecting someone based strictly on their title in life. When I have ran across someone who behaved respectably (either by US or Indian culture standards) I have mentioned that on the blog as well.

    My comments to Pam were only because she said that I was implying the world revolved around me and I was not. I know better. If I was indeed that self-centered I would not still be here now. I still consider my husband, my family, his family and a lot more.

    There is also a huge difference between respect for someone and covering up the truth or denying things that need to be fixed. If no one ever points these things out, no one will ever fix them and progress will never be made. And MOST of what I write about here is also in the newspapers (written by Indians) or being said by countless others both online and off. As for the family stories, no, those don't make the news but that doesn't mean they don't happen. I don't deny or sugar coat things about my own family either.

    If you were to be completely honest, you wouldn't respect someone (family or otherwise) who blatantly disrespected you on a regular basis either. Especially not if you had told them point blank the behavior needed to stop and how it affected you. At the very least, you would cease interacting with them (most likely) and I don't have that option yet.

    I understand I'm angry towards this place. Living here makes me angry. I don't doubt that makes my tolerance level a lot shorter than it should be. That doesn't mean that these experiences are any less valid. As for my medical issues, you're absolutely right I expect educated professionals to behave better than I've experienced here. Direct racism from doctors, verbal abuse from office staff and burying needles in the flower garden do not warrant respect from anyone.

  10. hey kristy,

    my comments don't match up with this post because i don't have the time to comment on every blog post, so i just wrote whatever i felt after reading numerous blog posts :)

    also, being around a particular race/people/religion doesn't make a person an expert on them.  i've lived amongst white folks, chinese folks, black folks for my whole 35 years, but i can't say that i know them, just because i have white/chinese/black friends.  living the life is very different.

    yes, racists are everywhere.  my post wasn't about racism.  i made the racism comment as an example of what some people face in the US.  Like I've said before, its not a sweeping generalization.  Just because i've encountered racist americans, for example, doesn't mean the entire US is racist. :)

  11. Thanks for the interesting facts Kay.  People don't realize how much of undercover racism does exist.  Since my husband and I are both Indian, going to the States can either be a trip from hell or an utter delight.  Random security checks when crossing the border from Niagara falls are quite an experience.  All because they think we're muslims.  go figure. But that will never be enough to stop me from visiting family in the states.  My husband works in the states so his experience is sometimes a bit scary, so that's why he's looking back to working in canada now. 

    My family is sikh and my brother and father both wear  turbans.  After 9/11, the way they've been treated  when they travel to the US for work trips has drastically changed.  But I'm proud to say that our opinions of americans has not lessened just because of a small number of idiots. 

    Like you and i both said, people are people, no matter where they're from.  Just like all americans aren't crass, and rude, all canadians aren't peace lovers, all indians don't smell like curry, all french people don't hate americans, all spaniards aren't sexy, and all germans aren't nazis.  :))))  Thats why we call it human nature.  the only difference is where we grew up and our skin colour.  inherently, we're all the same (at least as far as i'm concerned). 

  12. Cathy,
    got to agree with you on this one.

  13. I dont know if this is true, but i've heard that the bhang that is available in canada and the us gets treated with some kind of chemical which makes its more stronger?  like i said, its just something someone i know told me.  he's canadian as well, and he said that indian bhang had no affect on him. 

    i guess we wont know till we try it lol

  14. I'm definitely no expert and don't even desire to be. The things I write about here are from experiences of myself and other gori's across this country.

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