1 - Sometime in 2014 Seven Bungalows, Mumbai 2.30 a.m.

24 March 2023

36 Viewed 36

From the tip of his pinkie finger to its first crease as far as lines Fwen went, the Psychonaut had seen and done way longer than the tiny- ass one set in front of him. On one of the Psychonaut's palms sat a mobile phone and on its screen, a thin streak of dull white powder like a crudely drawn crease on a cricket pitch lay still, waiting. The faces of three boys, bathed in the amber glow of a streetlamp, were trained on the Psychonaut's. His brother, unsure but at ease, hung back.

There had been no forewarning when the Psychonaut and his brother had set out from home half an hour ago. They'd planned to smoke a quick joint with their friends and head back before their parents got too mad.

The brothers had parked their motorbike at the entrance to Gautam Lane, a narrow street with uniformity on its left flank-Gautam Nivas, Gautam Apartments and Gautam View-and incongruity on the right.

Their friends waited on bikes parked outside a shuttered scrap dealer's shop. There was little sound except for the boys' chatter. Beyond them, JP Road was troubled only by the occasional sputter of a passing vehicle-the paav bhaji tawa at Blue Park Pure Veg across the road had gone silent at least four hours ago, the metro train pillars had stopped quaking at midnight, and the waves crashing at Versova beach were too far away to reach their ears but close enough to prick their noses with a salty-fishy-sewage-y spray. Idhar aa na bro [Come here, bro]. I want you to try something." One of the boys called to the Psychonaut. He held out a piddly line on his mobile phone.

The Psychonaut knew exactly what he was looking at. For months he had heard murmurings of the new poor-man's coke. A drug like no other. An urban legend with a silly name.

'What is it?' he asked.

'Try it first,' the friend said.

But it wasn't like the Psychonaut to dive nose-first into a substance he knew nothing about. Once he had outgrown the frenzied quest for stimulation that marked his teenage years, each experiment with a narcotic or psychoactive agent had been a carefully researched and considered decision. A child's curiosity coupled with a scientist's sense of caution. It was never one for the other.

This night, he did not have enough information on what he was being asked to sample. The internet had warned him that the drug could be dangerous, but it also hinted at an unsurpassable experience.

His gut pushed away at his indecision and goaded him to try it.

Just once. He had done MDMA-the King of Amphetamines. He had

nothing to fear. He swooped in.

The powder set fire to his nose as it was sucked forcefully in. It tunnelled its way up the sinuses and shot straight towards the brain. In a snap, the chemical reached its destination and burst into a powerful neural explosion. It made the Psychonaut's head throb in pain the same way that a large bite of ice cream does. An urge to sneeze came over him and passed. Already, his heart was beating with a newly acquired ferociousness, almost straining to rip out of his shirt and restrained only by his ribcage. The chemical assimilated into his body and was travelling to all corners of his body.

He lit a cigarette to calm himself down.

The soothing touch of nicotine helped him focus, to watch for signs of the chemical taking effect. Suddenly he felt no urge to yawn. He eyes no longer drooped in the half-awake state of this in-between hour. He spoke to his companions but did not notice the words. 

More Books by HarperCollins India

Meow Meow
Call her a police informant, a slumlord, a successful businesswoman, a caring grandmother-but do not call Shashikala ‘Baby’ Patankar a drug dealer. On 9 March 2015, a constable in the Mumbai Police force, Dharmaraj Kalokhe, was arrested by the local police for possession of a white powder believed to be the synthetic drug Mephedrone. His partner, Shashikala ‘Baby’ Patankar, was the informant. Later she was arrested by the police, too. In the days that followed, the Maharashtra Police declared her a criminal and the media labelled her ‘drug queen’, but Baby always considered herself an innocent. Unearthing new facts about the case, this book is a blow-by-blow account of Baby’s capture and the investigation that followed. It is also the story of Mephedrone – better known as Meow Meow – which, when it entered the schools, colleges and pubs of Mumbai, changed the rules of the game and the enforcement of narcotics laws in the city. Fast and pacy, Meow Meow is the tale of one of Mumbai’s most baffling crime and the intriguing life that Baby Patankar led.