Gregory considered himself first and foremost as a traveler. "Life" - he claimed - "is a journey", and so to live was to travel. This life philosophy consequently and quite naturally led him to embrace the aid of various consciousness altering substances. After all if used responsibly they could broaden one's horizons by expanding the potential set of places to visit and experience, otherwise obscured by pragmatic and polarized sobriety. Those places, invisible on any map, and unsurprisingly absent in traveler’s guides were destinations which no serious traveler would omit on mere grounds of geographical inaccessibility.
It was the series of dramatically unexpected and mysterious events however, which took place in Delhi during Gregory's journey through India that forced him to revise his attitude toward such substances forever. Since then he exercised more caution then previously when allowing himself the luxury of chemically "expanding the world". Also the "responsibility" concerning their use acquired a whole new meaning. This new and greater responsibility was not to be motivated by concern for his own mental health, but as it will become clear, by a moral obligation to all of humanity.
One evening, meandering through the streets of Delhi, Gregory with two of his Indian friends were in pursuit of adventure and memorable experiences spiced up with Psilocybin mushrooms. As the night progressed the surrounding world became gradually more surreal. First signs of the hallucinogenic mushroom taking effect appeared when Gregory was unexpectedly approached by an “Indian” – no, not an inhabitant of India, but a native American Indian, wearing the traditional Sioux garment and eagle-feather war bonnet. The Sioux chief inquired about the time in fluent English, and after receiving a mumbled “half past eleven”, turned around and walked off majestically into the busy street crowd. ”Wow – this is some potent stuff” - thought Gregory, after having recovered from the shock induced by the circumstantial oddity of the encounter.
At this stage the world acquired an intoxicating intensity of colors, and all light, streetlights, car headlights and shrine candlelight shone with the intensity of burning Magnesium or that of the Sun, and radiated with richness of color surpassing even the proud glamour of the rainbow. The multifaceted brilliance of candlelight which covered the stairways and floors of nearby temples uncannily resembled a starry sky, but a living and breathing one that descended to the mortal realm, only to dance and whirl among the shadows of the old city like a giant firefly dervish. Those visions, although fantastic were certainly more familiar to Gregory than the random appearance of the Sioux Chief.
Gregory’s Indian companions Abinaash and Sangat, students of Delhi University, also shared a feverish zest for life and welcomed the multitude of additional experiences it could offer when augmented with Psilocybin mushrooms. Swimming in the kaleidoscopic sea of colors and light the three vagabonds held on to reality by means of a desire to drink some of the best Masala Chai in the area. For that reason Abinaash entered a restaurant to check the menu and assess the interior esthetics. During the two minutes of his absence, Gregory experienced yet another unexpected and entirely inexplicable series of incidents. A speeding, small Toyota van appeared from around the corner closely resembling a noisy giant bumble bee, screeched to a violent stop in front of the restaurant, and Gregory only could watch in utter bewilderment as the side door of the van opened, and the three shadowy figures which emerged from within grabbed Sangat without any explanation, threw him inside the pitch black hollows of the vehicle which sped off noisily and disappeared in a side alley.
“Where’s Sangat?” – inquired Abinaash who appeared moments later. “Well, this will sound very strange, but I think he has just been kidnapped” – replied Gregory unconvincingly, seriously unsettled by what he had just seen. “This aren’t shrooms talking?” – pried Abinash rising his brow. “I don’t know” – was Gregory’s sincere reply, who at that moment felt reality slipping away from him. And it wasn’t the fact that by this stage the night crowd chaotically flowing through this part of the Chandni Chowk had transmogrified into a parade of beings almost identical to humans except for the detail that instead of heads they possessed party balloons of various colors, shapes and sizes, tied firmly to their necks with decorative strings. It certainly was not due to the behavior of the ground which took on the properties of a calm ocean, causing the entire street, buildings and balloon-headed humanoids float as if carried and swayed by giant waves. No, the turned- inside- out vision of reality evoking awe and amusement stood apart from the anxiety brought about by Gregory’s own doubt in his ability to identify the boundary between the hedonistic illusion and the inexplicable and equally fantastic yet nevertheless merciless reality.
Abinaash stared silently into the street, but somehow his gaze seemed more distant then that. The subtle frown, as a stigma of concern suggested a state of deep thought. He then turned to Gregory, and terminated his thoughtful reprieve with a curt “Let’s go, I think I know what happened”.
To be continued…