Steel Notes Magazine November 2016 - Page 100

Steel Notes Magazine November 2016 think it had much to do with the simplicity of my existence and that the overwhelming reality of the moment. My reverie came to an abrupt end when we had pulled into Allahabad and a smartly dressed policeman came down the isle and stopped beside me. I had remembered the Italian hippie’s warning and had pushed the leather tobacco pouch containing about an ounce of hash down my pants into my crotch. Standing erect he announced, “We are looking for marijuana, heroin, opium, charras.” Smiling up at him, I gestured to my backpack. But he shook his head and reached for my shoulder bag, which I surrendered without worry. I had forgotten that I still had a small piece of hash in a plastic film canister, from which I’d been rolling joints on the train. Opening the little container and dumping the dark green lump of hash into his palm, he narrowed his eyes and barked, “Stand up, you are arrested!” I hesitated and he cracked his baton forcefully down on the seat beside me. “Up!” he commanded. I stood, and he began patting me down. Thankfully ignoring my crotch. “This is a serious offence,” he said, “you are going to jail.” I knew he meant it, but I still found it incongruous that I had been smoking opium with the police in Jaipur, and had smoked hash openly with Saddus many places. I began to explain, “I am a poor student, and I am traveling to learn about your wonderful country,” I offered. “It is so important for my studies to continue to Benares, and it is such a little piece of charras, can’t you have mercy?” His harsh stare was unrelenting as he raised his baton as though ready to strike, “You have broken the law, get up now!” he shouted. “But, but,” I stammered, “I am so respectful of your country and customs, I didn’t realize I was doing anything wrong.” “It doesn’t matter.” He barked. Although I’d only been in India for a few months, I had experienced the need to pay baksheesh on various occasions, and I’d lived in Mexico where I’d paid off a traffic cop more than once. “I understand,” I said, “but surly I must be able to pay the fine now?” I asked modestly. He hesitated as he sized me up. “Hurry and give me a hundred rupees before others come,” he said. I stalled, “Please, I am poor, one-hundred rupees is so much money, I cannot do it.” “You must,” he said, “other police will come and want more.” 100 Steel Notes Magazine