Thursday, August 04, 2005

'Rush' hour

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...

Psychedelia City
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.


  1. I have my own doubts. Why will he keep the drugs in his home-ekdam bollywood style-bakhwas hai. Must be a political chaal to collect a ransom from

  2. Rashmi,Could you please elaborate on availabilty of grass on engineering campuses.It is a matter of deep concern

  3. madam rashmi,

    i grew up in madras and have a modicum of knowledge of our national language Hindi. Could you stick to queen's english ?

  4. who can forget Hometrade. they roped in sachin tendulkar as the brand ambassador and made big promos in TV and outdoor ads.

  5. The media has handled the entire thing responsibly, and has not made another "guilty until proven innocent" case like it usually does.
    I thought I would never crib about losing my anonymousity again, but commenting for such posts requires it. Anyway. About the drugs, grass is available everywhere, not only in engineering campuses. I tried a banned substance once, was disgusted the next morning though I enjoyed it - and promised myself that the real way to avoid addiction was never to take it again.
    I "tried it" twice after that, but then I got really disgusted, scared that I had gotten addicted, scared that I would get caught and scared of its social repurcussions, and then really wanted to know if I was addicted.
    I haven't for almost two an a half years now, so I guess I am not addicted, but I am NEVER going to do it again. I wonder what would have happened if I had reached the point where I wouldn;t have been scared.
    And you now what the scary part is? - I did not spend a single rupee all those three times - everything was provided free of cost.

  6. abt grass, i think thats available evrywhere and almost evry 1 these days has had a joint, urs truly included.
    While this doesnt make me immoral, cos its my own life, i assure u the few times i had it, i did get a few kicks momentarily and woke up with a major hangover once, culminating into a major fight due to reasons..
    since then i have been off it

    also know people who have tried speed and coke, while the so called symptoms may or may not b there, these substances should not be used up for they cripple one slowly, but surely....

    Stay off it, trendy it may b, but its ur own death using ur own dough

  7. Good Post --

    Have you heard about Iodex Sandwiches and the abuse of labor pain tablets which is rampant in India and eating up chunk of our youth

  8. very walid point, for i knw labor tablets are the new rage somehow.

    and IODEX is old school man, i knw ppl who did it in my college now

    shocking as it is, i just dont believe it

    im no moral god, for i have been a sinner but these are a bit too much

  9. People using performance enhancing pills, the little blue pill are turning blind. Don't know what the side effects of the mind-performance enhacing drug would be, as and when it becomes evident.

    Read more about blindness causing performance enhancing drugs in the health section of this link.

  10. the 3 bottles of cocaine may have been planted by the police... but then again one police inspector and his subordinate had destroyed the evidence by filling the cocaine by boric powder in case of the provogue employee who started all of this!!

    fardeen, sanjay dutt, salman they all seem and most probably are on drugs.

    oh! wat do we have here? some retard from madras asking to write in "queens english" ...well i have some bad news for you , they have left maybe some 57 years ago!!

  11. im studying in an engineering college and grass as u said is easily available here and in fact in all engineering colleges across india...well regarding addiction, u dont become addicted if u dont want to, that i can tell u for a fact...

  12. I can work for 2 days without a night-sleep in between... without any additives (drugs or otherwise). I don't feel jet-lags (even when crossing 10 hours of time line from India to US in 19 hours). In my opinion all it takes is a will power to master your biological clock.

    As for the sticking to the Queen's English... What the hell dude? I come from a regional language speaking family (Marathi, in case you are wondering) but I am equally competent in Hindi as it is my nation's language. It is about time that south Indians stop taking pride in not knowing Hindi... if you can learn English you can learn Hindi.

  13. Found another post on this, intersting to see the whole bollywood is under the influence of drugs -

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