Ending weeks of speculation, the Mumbai Police today arrested Salil Chaturvedi, managing director of Provogue, and claimed that they ‘‘had clinching evidence’’ against him in the cocaine case.
The police alleged that Chaturvedi had conspired with the other accused in the case to smuggle in cocaine... They then raided his house in Andheri, where they claimed they seized three vials of cocaine.
- Indian Express, Aug 2
Why would a man who knew he was under the police scanner for some time now keep 3 vials of cocaine in his home? There are only two possible explanations:
a) The police planted the evidence, as the Chaturvedis claim
b) The guy is an addict and hence took the risk
The latter may well be true except that the guy doesn't look like a 'druggie' to me. I mean he is rather too hatta-katta ie well-fed. Fardeen Khan, on the other hand did - remember those bloodshot eyes.
But then I have rather antiquated ideas of what druggies look like. Filled in my head in my more impressionable years by serials like Subah which ran in the mid'80s. Where the characters on drugs looked sad, completely wasted, cowering in a corner somewhere. Living from fix to fix.
These days 'drugs' does not mean heroin or brown sugar. Cocaine is the poison of choice and I'm told it's possible to be a merely recreational user...
Actually, I have no idea what a cocaine user looks like. Neither have I ever tried it myself.
I have wondered though what the experience might feel like. But, I haven't indulged my curiosity - I subscribe to the school of thought which says 'stay away from drugs coz you never know just how much you might like it'.
There are many who say they have strong enough willpower to use drugs but 'stay in control'. Stay unaddicted.
But I am not convinced. Is it really possible to be an occassional user - devoid of any cravings? Or, does it slowly but inevitably turn into a steep downward spiral... of dil maange more . And more?
Of course, the 'drug' of choice on campuses - which most users don't even consider to be a drug - is grass. And yes, it is legal to smoke pot in Amsterdam and it's fairly common, especially at engineering college campuses in this country. The sickly sweet smell is inescapable at local rock shows...
But again I have never been tempted enough to 'try it'.
Towards a more beautiful mind
However there is a new class of 'mind-enhancing' drugs which I am in two minds about. Dr Anjan Chatterjee of U Penn dubs the new generation of performance enhancing drugs now available as 'cosmetic neurology' or 'nip and tuck' for the mind.
No, I am not referring to viagra when I say performance. One of the drugs in question is called modafinil (sold under the brand name Provigil. It was developed to treat patients with narcolepsy or excessive daytime sleepiness.
However it also works - and apparently without side effects - to keep normal people awake and alert. Meaning the night before an important exam it would allow you to stay up and study till 6 am and then write the paper - still feeling fresh.
I learnt about the existence of this drug when I was researching a story on 'Time poverty' for Businessworld. I came across an article written by a journalist from the Washington Post who'd tried the drug and written a glowing account of his '40 hour day'.
``When this stuff takes over, it takes over,'' wrote Joel Garreau. ``Gently, not violently. No apparent loss of acuity. But you have definitely kicked into a gear you didn't know you had.''
Apparently soldiers in the US have used it too. Would be tempting for apna call centre workers on the night shift - wouldn't it?
However, although the FDA says Provigil is a low-risk drug, and doctors are saying it's safe for short-term medical use no one is sure of the long-term consequences. After all, you are tricking Mother Nature by depriving your body of sleep.
So I guess whether off the street or off the prescription counter recreational use of drugs can never be 'safe'. It's up to each individual to decide how much risk is too much risk.
Though some would say life with no risk, is no life at all...
The Provogue Millions - now tainted?
Coming back to where I began - the arrest of Salil Chaturvedi. The saddest part, in my opinion, is that doubts are being raised on the meteoric rise of Provogue. After all, in just 6 short years since its launch the company known for its colourful polynosic shirts has managed an IPO which was subscribed 8.1 times.
"Coke, not clothes made him millions" alleges the headline in Mumbai Mirror
If Salil is indeed found guilty of selling cocaine one would have to wonder how much that revenue stream has been contributing to the Provogue bottomline... Tainting the whole we-are-young-and-hard-working-and-look-how-far-we-have-come story.
Remember Wintech and Hometrade ?
Hope Provogue is not the next sad chapter in that series.