Sunday, 25 October 2015

Suck it and see: LSD in Kabul

Taken from All About My Hat - The Hippy Trail 1972
available on Amazon

Suddenly Diane said “Hey, you want some of these?”
She held out her hand and in her palm were four or so small squares of blank paper.
“What's that?” asked Al “looks like paper!” he laughed.
“It's acid,” she said, “LSD, you know, Lucy in the Sky. I got some from a French guy. He reckoned they're really good! Want to try?”
Al found her manner too seductive to resist.
“How many do we take? How strong are they? How long do they last? I've never done it.”
"I don't know,” she said “I've got four. You take two and I'll take two.”
“I think I'll just take one first time,” he said.
With that Diane popped one small square of paper into Al's mouth. “Suck it and see,” she laughed.
Al laughed and then frowned as he watched Diane put the other three squares into her own mouth.
She washed it down with a fizzy drink.
“So this is going to be a trip”, thought Al.
He thought about the books he had read – “Aldoux Huxley and Timothy Leary, about LSD and other psychedelic drugs: there was that book by the guy that gave acid to dolphins and then took it himself and put himself into an “isolation tank” and had met beings made out of light. What was his name? Oh yeah, John Lily's Eye of the Cyclone. Oh and the Carlos Castaneda's tales about a Shaman that took psychedelic plants to make contact with beings on other levels.
“The Beatles of course – was that before or after they had gone to Rishikesh with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi?
“The whole hippy thing was a lot to do with LSD and love and peace and flowers, so that is obviously what it's about – a good time, a spiritual time – just probably stronger than hash.”
He looked up from his thoughts and started to look around the courtyard.
It looked different!
Al thought that he hadn't noticed the bells hanging from the edge of the roof, or the bright red flowerpots that held the small trees. And there seemed to be more flowers than before. Yet he'd been there several times before.
Some of the people there, the Westerners, started to look quite funny the way they were dressed. Bandanna’s! He hadn't noticed them – in Kabul – they looked really out of place!
Funny how so many were wearing blue jeans, including the two guys serving – and they had short hair, the customers all had long hair.
Weird that people came here to Sigis to eat food they could get back home.
Some of the people looked like people Al had known, or like mixtures of two of them. Several times he felt like shouting out to them, but then they moved and turned into themselves again. How strange, how funny.
He started to laugh and turned to Diane to tell her his thoughts – she was looking at a colourful bird, some sort of canary, that was standing on on top of a small green shrub, almost motionless, as she was. She looked mesmerised, so Al kept quiet, laughing again in his head.
Al turned back to look at the people again.
That guy looked familiar.
As he looked at the guy, the guy stood up and walked over.
“Hi!”, he said. “Are you Al?”
Al felt a little uneasy at that – how did the guy know his name?
“You from Norwich? I'm Pete – remember me – Pete Roscoe?”
“Wow,” said Al, “You are Pete Roscoe, yeah, I remember you of course, I thought you were somebody that looked like him, I mean you!”, he laughed.
Al had known Pete Roscoe back in Norwich but had had no idea that he too, would be heading for India. Pete had also known John and Keith.
“How you doing man?” said Pete, “How long you been here, where you going? ”
Al answered: “I went to India with Keith and then I got sick – Infectious Hepatitis and dysentery, nearly died, had no money, on my own, in Haridwar in the Northern Foothills. But I got to hospital in Delhi – I've been in hospital here too. Just waiting to get some money to get home. I'm with Diane. I want to get her home too."
He turned to introduce Pete to Diane. She was staring into a glass of fizzy drink and quietly giggling.
“Hi Pete!”
Al knew that Pete had known John and maybe Mike, so he asked: “Have you heard anything about John and Mike? Keith and I left them with the van in Antalya in Turkey and caught a boat to Iskenderun – we hitched from there across Syria to Baghdad. I haven't heard from them – we were supposed to meet them back in Istanbul but decided to carry on to India. Are they back in England yet?”
“God what a drag about John - you don't know what happened, do you?”, asked Pete.
“No,” said Al.
“Wow man, I hate to tell you this,” said Pete, “John was killed in a crash the night you left them in Turkey. Mike had broken his legs and some ribs and was in hospital there for several weeks. I heard they crashed into a parked truck on a bend at night – John was driving – he swerved out and probably saved Mike's life but was killed himself. Everyone was real sick about it, man.”
It may have been because Al was still in some doubt that this was actually Pete Roscoe – maybe that cushioned the blow for him – he was tripping on acid and just been told his best friend John had died hours after he had last seen him.
So Pete and Al chatted a while longer, Pete was on his way to India. Al gave him some advice about being really careful about what he ate and drank, to keep hydrated, and not to drink the Ganges.
Then it was time that Pete said he would have to go as he had people to meet. They agreed to meet in the same place at lunch time the next day.
Al ordered another two teas with milk. It tasted weird. Different. He didn't drink his.
Then he felt it time to go and explore the streets.
“Come on Diane, let's go for a walkabout. I want some of those spicy potatoes and corn on the cob I've seen..”
So they went outside to see the street.
“Where are we?” asked Diane.
“Sigis, Chicken Street!” said Al.
“Or is it? Hang on, it's not Chicken Street, we must have come out of a different door!,” exclaimed Al - “Wait a minute, there's that Kabul restaurant place – it is Chicken Street – wow, it looks different, I never noticed all those ribbons and flags – hey be careful where you walk, there's holes all over the place – hey look at that donkey, it's only got three legs!”
“Hey this is great, let's go look at Flower Street!”
“Okay,” said Diane. She wasn't saying much but she had a big grin. She took hold of Al's arm.
“Don't let me fall down a hole, it's really tricky up here with the wind.” she said.
Al couldn't feel any wind and we were not high up at all, from the road – well I guess if we're 6000 feet above sea level we must be “up here”.
“Six thousand feet and climbing!” he said for no real reason.
So they strolled down Chicken Street towards Flower Street, looking in the shop windows and at stalls that Al thought he had never seen before. Everything except the road itself was much more colourful and shiny than he remembered, except the road had many massive piles of dung on it. As he looked, he saw a donkey adding more to it!
All the local merchants seemed to be nodding and smiling at them today! Al thought they all looked like – well they were on something - they were tripping too! Well, thought Al, I guess you've got to be on something to live here – it's like magic.
They reached the end of Chicken Street where it joined Flower Street.
It looked really busy with people that obviously weren't tripping.. It didn't look magic at all. Dark and damp with too many hidden spots, thought Al. Despite the flowers it was not inviting. Noisy too. Chicken Street had seemed very quiet – probably all the shoppers were down here.
“Let's go back – or down by the river, we could see the Mosque,” he said.
“Yeah let's go that way, to the Mosque,” laughed Diana. “It doesn't matter where we land, we'll be OK.”
It seemed like hours before they reached the Mosque and Al had to sit down.
He sat on a low wall outside a building where he could see the Mosque and got lost in thoughts about the good and bad of religions and how the bad side made it hard to believe, yet so many had fallen for religions, as if it was some sort of spell to control people. Al did not want to be a part of religion – he wanted to be apart from them all. “If there's a God,” he thought, “it's not in religion.”
He heard Diane shouting “Get off, go away. Help!”
He turned to see Diane standing on the wall and below her were three dogs. They were jumping up at her in a friendly way, thought Al.
“It's OK, they're just trying to be friendly, just get down and pet them!”
“No they're trying to bite me, they won't leave me alone. They might have rabies!”
“But they're only little,” said Al.
“No they're not, they're massive. They're not dogs – they're wolves. Help! Please!” She was really freaked.
Al just shooed the dogs away. They went off down the street, stopped and looked back. Al shouted “Go!” Off they went, hunting for food probably.
He helped Diane climb down. She hugged him.
“Well obviously, cos she took three, she's right out of it”, thought Al.
He grabbed her by the arm and they went back to Sigis where they could relax in a good friendly atmosphere and listen to some good rock music.
“Kabul streets at night”, he said, “Not good on acid!”
That was a good decision. Diane calmed down and they both enjoyed the rest of the trip, going back to the Peace Hotel with a nice piece of hash to smoke, until they dozed off as dawn was breaking and the Mullahs were calling the so-called faithful to prayer, from their minaret towers.

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