Chewing Paan, Drinking Opium *Video*

I’m having a little too much fun in India! Living life on the wild side — chewing paan and drinking opium – and liking it!

Chewing Paan

I especially like paan – which is too bad for me since it’s not only addictive, but stains your teeth (and I gotta lotta teeth!). So I limited myself to two tries.

My first paan experience was with Kamal, who wrapped bits of coconut, areca nut (beetlenut), dried cherry, honey, lime and a brown paste called katha in a betel leaf. Watch me as I attempt to eat paan for the first time:

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Erin Eats Paan

The whole leaf wad was so big, I had trouble even chewing. And I mistakenly tried to spit the juice out, when you’re actually supposed to swallow it. So my first paan munch wasn’t a roaring success. Although I did dig the sweet taste…

And so the next day I tried paan again. For 10 rupees (US$0.25 cents), Kahlick, one of Jodhpur’s famous paan makers, graced me with his specialty. I kept the leaf wad in longer this time, but simply couldn’t chew fast enough and I was starting to drown in juice, so I spit it out again! Argh!

(So bummed, because I spit it out on my new parasite-proof shoes and stained them….but better the shoes than my teeth!)

Drinking Opium

With my paan career over, I decided to move on to the hard stuff. While visiting a village home in the desert just west of Jodhpur, I was invited to sample some opium. OK! No need to ask twice!

My hosts (2 men about the age of 65) ground the opium into a powder using a mortar and pestle. Then they used water to strain the powder through a sieve, creating a dirty grey cloudy liquid (which actually looked and tasted a lot like kava. How do I know this? Read: Erin Drinks Kava in Fiji).

My new friends then poured the opium liquid into my cupped hand and I sipped. According to tradition, I had to drink 3 handfuls:

  • Taste #1: For my enemies
  • Taste #2: For my friends
  • Taste #3: For more opium

The taste was bitter. And the sieve looked pretty dirty, so I stopped at 3 handfuls. I really was afraid of getting sick (of the organisms in the water, not of a heroin addiction). Opium career over.

As a side note, before you start thinking I’ve gone all druggie, I’d like you to know my mother was there watching me. Or was she drinking with me?! Hahaha! Who’s the bad influence?! All in good fun!

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This entry was posted on Saturday, January 28th, 2012 and is filed under Asia Pacific.

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