They live in a small house tucked away in the thick of an orange grove. Quite secluded, a long driveway carved out of the shrubbery lead you to the house. It’s like an oasis. A serene little island on land. I have spent many afternoons and breezy evenings sitting out on their front porch drinking beer with David. Often Bonnie would cook one of her what I called a mishmash cuisine kind of dinners. No matter what she throws in together, those meals are always delicious, deserving of a bottle or two of California wines and then David and I would follow them up with equally as good cigars.

Behind their cottage is a green house, almost as large as the cottage, where Bonnie grows seasonal vegetables. But most of the green house is used to grow some unadulterated organic weed. Mostly for their own consumption, but they also generously spread the wealth and share some with close friends, and the rest would be for sale. For Bonnie and David, growing and smoking the pot is not as much an addiction as it’s a spiritual ritual. To get into a certain state of consciousness that is more meditative than merely getting high. They are reverential of their beautiful shiny green marijuana leaves, like most Hindus are of their household Tulsi plants, to which they humbly bow and worship first thing in the morning. The reason they want their good friend Haresh to experience that level of consciousness and would often try to seduce me into joining them in their smoking ritual, which I would politely decline.

Not that I am against it in principal or otherwise, just that it’s one of those things that never turned me on. Having come from India, I am not ignorant of bhang, charas and ganja. In fact once a year, every Janmaashtami – on Lord Krishna’s birthday, my father would have one of our domestic helps put the fresh green leaves of marijuana to a grinding stone, turn it into a little green ball looking like wasabi and drop it into the boiling milk already mixed with sliced pistachios and almonds, saffron and sugar and brew it into a potent potions of bhang – cooled down and served chilled, tasting like a refreshing glass of pistachio almond milkshake. I may have tried it once or twice, but mainly it was meant to be consumed by his grown up male friends, while us kids and women drank thandai, equally as tasty, albeit sans spiked with the little green ball.

I arrived in the US in 1968, at the height of the pot culture, and if not everywhere, it was still around at some of the parties I went to in Pittsburg and Chicago – my first two homes in America. Especially during the years I hung out with Karen (Abbott) watching passively her and others getting high earned me the reputation of being a square. Smoking it put me in a kind of depressive pensive haze, which I didn’t care for. Once I went to a party in Santa Barbara with Bonnie and David and gave it a real go and puffed on the specially prepared chillum by the host, containing little brown crystals of dynamic hash. I left the party with my head feeling light and fogy. While driving my date home that night, what should have been a five minutes’ ride, felt as if I were driving for an hour. Ditto, getting back home after I dropped her off. It scared me to think how one can lose the sense of time so completely. But for everyone else, that was the point, wasn’t it?

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