A pack of six was pretty expensive, equivalent of Rs. 900. There were three of us, and we had two each. After 5 minutes, we came back to the shop - and I, in my oh-so-polite voice asked,
"By when should we start expecting an effect - nothing is really happening right now".
"Oh, I takes 35-40 minutes for anything to happen"
The three of us looked at each other, shrugged and left the shop. We came to a conclusion that we had been duped, but well, there was a drizzling snow, the marketplace was very crowded and in a while, we cheered up.
N went to get some fries. I didn't have a good feeling in my stomach, so I barely had a couple. We had been walking all day, and I was tired. For my sake, we trooped to the station looking for a waiting room. We staggered into a self-service cafe and selected a strategically positioned table where the cashier couldn't see us. Amidst chitchat about what to do if they ask us to leave for not buying anything or whether it is smart to call attention by getting just one cup of coffee, I put my head down.
I don't know when it started - but I remember feeling the voices of people around me all merging together in a song. There was English, Arabic, some French, and it all blended in a musical. And then there were the images - animations, cartoon of hills, cafes, my college, beaches and more - I don't remember a tenth of it. I got up and slurred:
"Guys, it is happening"
S looked at N and shrugged, "Atleast not to us." N added, "You are just tired. Rest for a while".
I didn't care much for their skepticism, and put my head down. And man oh man, I went through something amazing - there were animated versions of people I knew - my family, my friends, all the girls I liked but couldn't tell, some people I barely knew when I was 5-6, and me in various places, transformed into a cartoon. And best of all, it was all smiling, and nice and good memories. I tried to control the thoughts and take them in particular directions but they wouldn't yield. I quickly gave up, flowing with the ebb and tide of my visions
I think it was on for half and hour, before we had to move to catch a train. And in there, I couldn't stop laughing; I laughed till my jaws ached - actually. I had quietened down by time the train stopped.
We changed a train for home, and a couple came and sat next to us. The wife was around 60, hair bleached a weird pinkish red, heavily made up and with one of the most exotic pair of glasses I had ever seen.
I now know what the word serene means. That is what I was then.
N went to sleep, but I and S got to talking to her. She was a Chinese American, with an Indonesian husband living in Europe. We talked of Obama, and the coming to power of the right-wing parties in Europe. I told her about my political views - that I was a nationalist liberal, and she asked me to explain it to her. I started, - about the issues facing India, about the terrorism menace, about the need for a more hawkish foreign policy, about historical injustices, and then I suddenly started feeling very foolish.
Was what I was talking of really making so much sense to me either - wasn't it all labels, and propaganda and my opinion v/s someone else's. And who was I to have the right to say my opinion or ideology was better than anybody else's. Did I really need to push my view on to others.
And so I stopped. Instead we started discussing cinema, and music, and she started telling us about her life and experiences. It was a very very pleasant conversation, went for the better part of an hour, and her husband sat smiling quietly. I was almost as happy as I have ever been.
I never really loosen up (and that's another thing I worry about :)). Alcohol has never really helped - it just fogs the brain and most times, I have ended up looking very silly or sick - sometimes both. But this was different - I felt as if all the rough edges had been smoothed away into an even cadence.
It went away in a few more hours.
S said, "Do you want to go back and get some more? You know you won't get them after December 1st."
But I knew I didn't want any more. I had understood what it meant to be there, and I hoped I could be there on my own.
I just smiled and shrugged, "Doesn't matter".