How I Saw the World on a Cocaine Trip (and Why I Stopped)

First Person

How I Saw the World on a Cocaine Trip (and Why I Stopped)

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

The first time I did cocaine, I was treated to the sight of three shirtless men entertaining an audience of four extremely jumpy adults with an impromptu stand-up routine. It was 3 am, which is when I used to get off work in those days, resulting in my only friends at the time being three street dogs and five amateur ravers.

This particular event was taking place at the house of Super Rich Boy, neighbour of Stupidly Rich Guy, and boyfriend of Grossly Rich Girl. Three minutes into the skit, as usually happens when people are on cocaine, the rich kids would turn on one another. What followed was 20 minutes of yelling as each ensured their jokes were heard first over the sounds of what we’d been informed by our host earlier was “160 BPM of music”.

The next two hours of the party went by in an instant as every attendee told a personal story about their lives… simultaneously. As you’d imagine, it ended on a poor note, at 9 am, with one person bleeding on their best friend, and another yelling, “I’m having a heart attack!” at a wall for 13 minutes before falling asleep.

All in all, it was one of the worse nights of my life. So obviously, I continued to do cocaine in that house for another six months. Turns out, it is some kind of addictive.

Each experience was successively weirder. Egos were beginning to go through the roof, which is way more serious than it sounds, considering we were on a terrace. Regular conversations about relationships and jobs were had with clenched teeth and snap judgments. The collective restless leg syndrome in that room alone could have powered a small village’s electricity. It doesn’t immediately strike you as the most fun thing in the world to do.

Still, as it turns out, cocaine is a bit of an epidemic in Delhi. After a few high-profile busts (₹200 crore worth was seized last year), the city is slowly acquiring a reputation for being the cocaine capital of the country. Young adults are using it to cope with long hours at work, party people are using it to be super-confident and jacked up during nights out, and casual users do it before they brush their teeth, resulting in super-aggressive conversations over breakfast. It makes sense that Delhi would be hooked to the substance, because cocaine is the Delhi of drugs: strikingly beautiful, maddeningly addictive, and aggressive as a Roadie with something to prove.

There’s us, the coke users, happy, rich, successful, and then there’s them, the regulars, poor, lazy, and unworthy.

Every experience on the drug is the same. You start out as a normal human being, aware of your flaws and conscious of your surroundings. One line later, you’re rocking some Bon Jovi on a karaoke machine; two lines later, you’re yelling about poor people always being in your line of vision; three lines later, you’ve suddenly acquired the confidence to call yourself a botanist because you saw a plant once (yeah we all know tulsi is basil, Ramesh, stop yelling already).

Then there’s the crash, the sudden realisation that no matter how many Drake songs you rapped the previous night, you are still very far from being “the shit”. It’s this exact feeling that prompts most to go back to step one, over and over again.

The rich bois didn’t see this as a bad thing, often using the drug’s confidence boost to justify further abuse. A few stopped caring about crossing lines with their friends, they were already snorting so many, and would end up getting into bitter, unfollow-on-Instagram fights with the people they previously heart emoji’d. Meanwhile, the outside world stopped mattering too – families and partners were lied to, work was ignored, and decency became an abstract term meant for people who didn’t spend up to 10 hours a day on a drug.

They say cocaine is the rich person’s drug because of the sheer amount of money it costs to get you high, but I believe rich people are more attracted to the substance because it allows them to feel like they deserve 16 cars while everyone else can literally suck on lemons for nutrition. Every decision, every thought, can be justified after a couple of lines. Scientifically, cocaine is no hallucinogen, but it allows you to live in a mirage for a few hours. There’s us, the coke users, happy, rich, successful, and then there’s them, the regulars, poor, lazy, and unworthy.

This distinction finally dawned on me when Rich Fuck Number One – a formerly polite and sincere college student – thought it would be a good idea to rant about his father not being able to afford a Chevrolet. He was having this conversation with Rich Fuck Number Two, who agreed, since he’d rammed his own Chevrolet into a street light two nights earlier. Both then proceeded to laugh for a further forty minutes at how blitzed they were.

It took a few months, but eventually I was able to stop myself from becoming Rich Fuck Number Three. The cravings were strong, but the thought of enduring another night of techno music and near-death fights was enough to keep me away.

I suppose some people will disagree with this sentiment, and argue that the drug is in fact good, and that I’m the stupid one, but then the surprise heart attacks will take care of them, anyway. Seriously kids, don’t do cocaine.