hashish merchant speaks..

Posted: March 8, 2007 in Uncategorized

X, Y & Z on Valentines…

I sat on some table on a crowded Wednesday night.. It was valentine’s and most attendees seemed to prefer a night of good conversation to a long wait on the gezira club strip. Actually there were no tables but the waiter improvised by placing a new addition to the geometry of the seating arrangement.. poof..table!

I guessed he would be the one scanning all the people sitting around and inside the café, I didn’t guess wrong.. Unable to locate me he rang.

‘Enta fein?’

‘I see you, just walk in’

He walks in and I lift an arm and look in his general direction, but he’s buzzed with fear- it is a very crowded Wednesday night. A little wave and he registers finally. The drug-dealer moves through the seated crowd and bustling waiters to deposit a handshake and two kisses- very Egyptian.

He’s dressed in a camel wool galabeyya with an elegant coat, a sa’eedi scarf and tan loafers..

Something’s fishy..he can’t stop looking around. He excuses himself, exits the café, is away for less than a minute to return with a shady character that looks out of place even in our cafes broad spectrum of clientele.

of course! He has no idea whats in store for him, he can entertain some degree of trust, but to survive this long he has to also fall back on the more careful side there is to him. He deposits his friend (Z), says something involving ‘car’, and leaves again.

‘Beer?’

I ask, Z shyly accepts as I notice his panicky eyes registering every movement all the way to the entrance. Waiter is way ahead of me as he places an open cold beer in front of him, that’s why I love this place. We’re simple creatures of habit, and a good laugh with a waiter who knows how you like your coffee can ease most difficult situations. But honestly, the waiters here must think I’m the weirdest creature on the planet.

Back. I notice as soon as the friend- (Z), who our dealer -(X) had sat down, rose to greet him and vacate what he presumed was X’s chair.X: ‘let’s get started, I don’t have that much time..’

W: ‘you want a bigger table in a more secluded area of the café for your interview?’ interrupts our waiter, just on time and to add another reason as to why I enjoy having meetings there.

I take my cigarettes and lighter and move towards a table facing the TV. I turn a chair for X to face the Tv, as I sat on the adjoining side of the table, Z was told to fall back and opted for a chair leaned against the wall, placing both X and the TV directly in his line of vision. I’m sure the dancing images on screen will somehow exercise a pseudo-soothing effect, brought on by years of consuming whatever it had to dish out. The beers we had left arrived and we were on..

Y: How’d you get started dealing hashish?

X: I started off as a user, then I realized that my friends had a need that soon I moved to fulfill. Society is under a lot of stress. It’s natural to resort to mood enhancers. No country is drug-free; some like beer, some like liquor, others heroin, and there are those who prefer hashish.

[I omit my counter-argument that substance use is also based on location]

Y: tell me a little about your clients..

X: only the best, they’re successful and interesting people who use substances to balance their stress and the pressures of the dense rhythm of life. They just want to relax and not burn themselves out.

There’s doctors, pharmacists, professors of university, actors, producers, directors, writers, soccer players, coaches, students, laborers, musicians, singers, artists..the list is endless.. In using however there are different methods; there’s the way of putting it in m’assel [ plain shisha tobacco ], then of course you can roll them into cigarettes, and you can smoke it in a kobayya ‘glass’ [apparently trap the smoke in a glass and then inhale], then there is the kanaka [ the contraption used to make Turkish coffee, once again apparently you can cook it to a drink form that can be ingested], and then some eat it. It is so popular, only because it is a drug that is respected. Religion-wise beer and liquor are haram, heroin is totally destructive. Hashish is not that harmful and helps release your creative potential.

Y: So hashish is not haram?

X: No way. Hashish is natural. God would never put ‘ruh’ [spirit] into something haram. God Almighty gave that plant life. Society is filled with much more destructive aspects; people that con masses for money, prostitution, corrupt ministers, doctors that have no conscience or compassion. Where, I ask you, does hashish fall in such a spectrum?

Y: So where does the dividing line of gender fall in your trade?

X: well 30% of my clients are females. I only deal with girls that can keep a secret. I get a lot of students from outside of cairo that are studying here, and just want to relax with a good smoke, and of course there’s the prostitutes, some artists and a clothes merchant.

Y: Are you scared of the police?

X: of course, though I don’t get nightmares. I’m careful of who I deal with. Probably all are good-natured people, with a nice personality, so why would they put me or themselves in harms way? Unlike other drugs, hashish does not develop into a physical dependency, so you always have power over the drug, and would not make any confused choices/ decisions.

Y: how do you justify putting yourself at risk every time?X: Personally I don’t see it as dangerous. 90% of the risk is eliminated by having decent clients. And if you are selective, know your clients well, and there’s enough mutual respect, then there’s hardly a chance of any of them selling you out.

Y: Any close shaves?

X: many, sometimes I could be sitting somewhere with friends and decide to smoke and the place turns out not to be safe. One time I used to sit with this group of friends, and they used to talk about me after I would leave. Word got to the police, yet luckily I wasn’t there in the place where we usually meet up when they cracked down and picked up people from there. Then some of the people in the place told me later what had happened, and I never set foot in there again. Living under the rule of Emergency Law, it’s a hazard to be carrying, you could be searched any place, at any point in time. And believe me you would better ‘dispose’ of anything you’re carrying, than be caught with it and do time here.

Y: personally what do you think of Egyptians in general?

X: first of all they’ve lost all of their natural and traditional way of minding manners, etiquette and just generally society has agreed to accept less standards in ways they allow to be treated. 80% of girls and boys nowadays, have no manners and no real sense of sharing. Which brings us to my second point, Egyptians have become insensitive and indifferent to other people’s pain. A lot of traditions and ways of old have been lost, there is no longer a reason to pursue them or recognize them, there’s no longer time for them. There might be a familial crisis present yet a guy or girl might prefer to go out with a lover instead.

Y: and what’s your view on foreigners in general?

X: The best. They only lack religion. If they’re muslim, they’d get into heaven before even us. They choose not to harm beauty, so they would never sever a flower stalk to enjoy the flower, they wouldn’t throw an empty pack of cigarettes out on the street, they’d look for a can. They wouldn’t pollute their surroundings with noise, honking they’re horn and blasting their music as they’re driving. They’re empathetic, they’re steadfast on their principles. That’s why they’re ‘developed’ [ahead].

Y: views on the government?

X: a lot of empty decisions. A minister comes into power and destroys everything his predecessor took years to build, so we never really get anywhere. They provide no awareness, no respect, not even to us as humans, and they’re constantly upping taxes and prices.

Y: if you had the power to change one thing in society what would it be?

X: Mannerisms. People should be more empathetic, to become a more balanced society and better natured, well-rounded people with strong principles. It used to exist in the 40s and 50s, and is now a myth.

Y: you have no moral issues with dealing?

X: I didn’t introduce the drug to anyone, it was being used since before I came into existence, so I didn’t introduce anything new.

Y: what were your goals originally?

X: I hoped to get a good education and live an easy, respectable life. 400/500 le/month are not enough to make a living. Everything now is corrupt and no one is satisfied, so why should I make do with peanuts?

Y: hopes and dreams?

X: I hope to raise my children well, keep them safe, help realize their dreams, ensure their future- just like everyone hopes.

Y: is your connection to dealing accepted in you household and family?

X: no one in my family knows. I have another job, I’m a meat provider. I don’t want my children to be stigmatized or to adopt my trade, coz in the end it’s not something I’m proud of, not something I’d want for them.

 

 

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