Citation: Jorge. "Choose Asia: An Experience with LSD (exp20914)". Erowid.org. Feb 6, 2003. erowid.org/exp/20914
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My father was a few years too old to be a hippy but not too old to be a bit of a head. We grew up as best friends and (for better or worse) it was he who introduced me to marijuana and alcohol. To this day we both share a fondness for pharmaceutical opiates that keeps us searching for the perfect buzz.
We were a middle-class family - not rich by any means but we had what we wanted. My father was addicted to travel, something that he passed on to me. When my senior year of High School was in full swing my father gave me a choice: At graduation you can have a new car OR we can backpack across Asia for three months.
New car or Asia? New car or Asia? Hmmmm - which one would you choose?
So before long we had our 'round the world' tickets in hand and the day came for us to leave. My uncle and a number of friends were at our house to say goodbye and we departed - with a stop at Grandma's house on the way to the airport. As we were leaving Grandma's my uncle tore into the driveway with his car. He had forgotten to give us something. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet and dug out two hits of blotter acid. 'I know that the right time and place for you to experience this will become apparent,' he told me. We hid the two hits in my father's camera. (I won't reveal where as it is a hiding place that continues to serve me well.)
Fast forward three months and after visiting a number of countries and seeing and doing the most amazing things and meeting wonderful people and making wonderful friends we found ourselves in Srinigar, the capital of Kashmir in Northern India. Because of border violence with Pakistan I don't think its easy to get to Srinigar anymore, but back then we reached it with relative ease. We stayed on a houseboat in Srinigar on beautiful Lake Dal. For some reason the English never took complete control of Kashmir and it remained under the rule of a Maharaja who enforced a law stating that no English could own land in Kashmir. The English wanted to be there in the Himalayan foothills to escape the unbearable summer heat in the rest of India. To circumvent the 'no land ownership' law they built elaborate palace-like houseboats - thousands of them - all to sit on the lake.
By the time we got there in the late 80s the British were of course gone and the houseboats were all privately owned and the focal point of a huge tourist business in this city - mostly for wealthy Hindus from the south trying to escape from the heat, but for adventurous Westerners as well. The boat we ended up on was the 'Omar Khayyam' (all the boats had names) and it was owned and run by a muslim family. The father's name was 'Golem' which I got a kick out of being a LOTR fan. The boats were usually big enough to accomodate more than one party and so we were soon joined on the Omar Khayyam by a charming Irish couple with whom we hit it off immediately. Golem scored some hash for us (he said he could get us a kilo of hash for USD$100 if we wanted...) and we spent several days in the fantastic Himalayan air relaxing, reading and getting to know one another.
We (my father, myself and the Irish couple, 'J&M' from here on) decided that we wanted to go up into the Himalayan mountains east to the ancient Tibetan city of Leh in a semi-province of India called 'Ladakh.' Ladakh is the part of Tibet that falls on the Indian side of the border with China. It had also been the destination of tens of thousands of Tibetan refugees after the Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1959. Ladakh is not far from where the Dalai Lama himself makes his home in India. Getting there is a story unto itself, the brief version of which is that it took two full days in a Hindustani Ambassador (a popular Indian made car) as part of a military caravan to get to Leh, the capital of Ladakh on the most dangerous road I have ever seen. With the height of these mountains and their roads and the poor condition of them I would find it hard to believe that a more dangerous highway exists.
Anyway, we finally reached Leh and it was amazing. An ancient Tibetan town that was just beginning to be seriously touched by tourism. We found a hotel where all rooms opened onto a beautiful garden where an ancient ascetic in full Tibetan garb set chanting and spinning his prayer wheel for the entire time we were there - we never saw him eat or drink or get up - nothing. When you reach this sort of altitude in the Himalayas there is no water - it is like a desert (often described as a 'moonscape') and subsequently there is very little vegetation - except where water has been irrigated in. So the town sat at the edge of a mountain overlooking a barren plain and the town itself was an emerald of green because it received meager irrigation. My father and I decided that this would be the place for me to experience the LSD. My father was concerned about heart palpitations he was having so he decided not to trip however our Irish companion (J of J & M) decided to join me.
My uncle had recommended taking a quarter tab, waiting 45 minutes, taking another, waiting another 45 minutes, etc. until something came on. I felt nothing and finally took the 4th and final quarter. It was around this time that we ran into J, told him what was going on and he joined in, simply taking the whole tab. J had never tripped either. With my father I climbed up above the town to a small, ancient cemetary full of crumbling, white-washed burial stupas. The town was below us, bustling with activity and the vast empty valley stretched out for miles ahead. There is a small muslim community in Leh and the call to prayer began, amplified by a loud-speaker somewhere. It was at that moment that the LSD hit me like a ton of bricks. I stood up, grinning, and told my father 'Its on!'
What a place to be a young man experiencing LSD for the first time. We walked down the mountain back into town and through the streets - streets filled with camels, Tibetan monks, emaciated European backpackers, chai stalls, truck drivers, dirty faced Tibetan kids and pretty Tibetan women who smiled unabashedly when you looked them in the eye. I was tripping hard so we retreated to the peace of the hotel garden where the old man was spinning his prayer wheel. 'J' somehow found us and joined us and we sat there in bliss, trying to take it all in.
This LSD experience was mechanically the most interesting for me ever. I was filled with happiness and love and respect and I was acutely aware of where I was geographically and historically and what the things around me meant. I also experienced things like hearing the hinge on a gate squeak from 100 yards away. I can remember lighting a cigarette and following a train of thought and vision that seemed to last hours, only to look down at the cigarette and find hardly the tiniest bit of ash had accumulated at the end of it.
I had heard from my father that when he had done LSD one time he looked in the mirror and saw his flesh fall away from his face. With this image fully implanted in my young mind I went into the bathroom and saw the same thing - my face melted away leaving my grinning skull. I lifted my shirt and the flesh rotted away leaving my ribcage exposed. I found this incredibly funny and amusing and was having trouble keeping from laughing uncontrollably.
J and I sat for hours in the yard talking and infecting one another with giggle-fits.
We ran out of cigarettes and I was delegated the task of buying a new pack somewhere so I left the garden on foot to walk around the marketplace in full-trip. I grinned and smiled at everyone and they grinned and smiled back. I found someplace to buy the smokes and had a great deal of difficulty figuring out how the money worked, how to pay, etc., but eventually I persevered.
J's partner M was pissed at us because we effectively forced her to stick around town that day instead of exploring temples within driving distance in the surrounding area. I didn't let it bother me, nor did J, however as the afternoon wore on and the effects gradually faded we were grateful as we felt the need to reconnect with M and do something special for her. By the time we were more-or-less back to normal we were on our way to a 'fancy' (everything is relative) restaurant with Tibetan fare that M had expressed an interest in.
To this day I have yet to have any chemical experience that even approached this one in terms of emotion, connection to the surrounding landscape and people, a sense of history, a sense of cameraderie. It was even very special in that my father officially passed the torch of psychedelia to me on that day.
J & M are no longer a couple but we still keep in touch with J and see him periodically. Several years later J became sort of a hero in his country because he rescued a near-dead fisherman who had been adrift in 'the horse latitudes' for weeks.
I often wonder if the experience in Ladakh changed my life and if so, what did it change. The memory of that day is burned into my mind with such clarity - unusual clarity as I do not consider myself as someone with a great memory or great ability to recall events.
So kids - when its graduation time and your Dad gives you a choice of a car or a trip to Asia, choose Asia.
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