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The Mighty get High

Sunday HT takes a peek into the party circuit where prominent political hangers-on, club owners and the page 3 fraternity pump up the volume and get dosed over .

india Updated: Jun 04, 2006 03:24 IST

Coke. Blow. Snow. Charlie. Chuck. Lady. Yay. Usually it goes by no name at all. Ask the question — “do you party?” — and approximately 150 people in the upper echelons of political power in Delhi know the answer: yes, they do cocaine. And yes, they do party.

While the nation reels under the shock of the late Pramod Mahajan’s Man Friday Vivek Moitra’s death and his son Rahul Mahajan’s admittance to the Apollo hospital ICU, prominent political hangers-on, club owners and the page 3 crowd shake their heads at the tragic turn of events.

The late-night party at Mahajan’s home, however, does not surprise them.

That type of party happens more often than not.

The cause of Mahajan’s sudden admittance to the hospital has not been determined, but sources say that the events leading up to the late-night admittance are mirrored at parties across the city.

It’s the classic ‘cover’ operation: to avoid peering eyes, many prominent leaders choose to stay behind their heavily guarded walls, invite a few friends over and partake of a bit of champagne and “white powder”.

Occasionally the party will be planned in advance, party favours called in, and crowds invited, but more often than not old friends and colleagues convene for a few drinks and dinner on a weekend night, casually calling it a “cozy night in”.

A typical night could mean that five or six friends have a big dinner, a few bottles of French wine and casually unwind. As the evening slips into night, someone will find a reason to celebrate and servants will be sent for Dom Perignon.

After a glass or two, a mini-conference takes place: Should they make this a party?

A call will be placed to one of the few trusted drug dealers in Delhi and code words exchanged. Does the ‘friend’ want to stop by for a party? Can he bring girls? Can he bring anything to ‘drink’?

When the dealer arrives, money will be gathered, as cash is required upfront. The host and the guests will gather up anywhere from Rs 30,000 to Rs 70,000 to spend on the party favours.

The dealer will slip out into the night, only to return a short while later with his bounty: small polythene bags containing a gram of cocaine each.

Occasionally, peddlers will have foreign women transport the cocaine and add flavour to the often male-dominated parties.

The drug comes in a powder form and is usually laid out on a table and arranged with a credit card into thin lines. The party will gather around the table and inhale the powder through a straw made from a rolled up rupee note (in Rahul Mahajan’s case, he was reportedly snorting with a 500-rupee note).

The effect is immediate and suddenly everyone perks up — alert, confident and filled with an euphoric energy. It has the opposite effect of alcohol and, after a few glass of champagne, sources say it brings people back from the haziness brought on by alcohol.

Music gets turned up, tables are rearranged and the dancing starts. Conversations become intense and take on an air of urgency and importance.

Since the instantaneous high usually lasts a short twenty minutes, the small bags will be unwound, the cocaine laid out in rows and the drug snorted over and over again.

Eventually, the bags are emptied and just as the sun rises over Delhi, the guests slowly trickle out to their private cars and drive home to sleep off the cocaine hangover.

Because of the high price of the drug (around Rs 6,000 for a gram), cocaine has long been associated with wealthy figures and the powerful effect of euphoria and confidence makes it a popular choice for the young, wealthy political class of Delhi and Mumbai.

And despite the risks associated with overdosing and addiction, sources say the drug’s popularity is deeply ingrained in the social circuit.

The drug is not new, either. In 1986, it caused the death of the 18-year-old daughter of the Washington Post’s South Asia Bureau Chief, William Claiborne.

Her naked body was discovered at the Hyatt Regency in the Capital and the post mortem report confirmed that death had taken place due to lack of oxygen in the blood, owing to an overdose of cocaine.

The post-mortem also confirmed sexual intercourse. The girl, Sarah, had met crewmembers of a Saudi airline and had gone with them to their hotel room for a night of alcohol, cocaine and sex.

When the police discovered the body, they were initially hesitant to register a case, as this was the first-of-its-kind incident in the city, but eventually, they registered a case of rape against the Saudi airline’s employees on the logic that having sex with a woman after giving her alcohol and drugs, amounts to rape.

First Published: Jun 04, 2006 03:24 IST