We won't go as far back in history this time and though nearly a half century may seem to some as ancient times this span just covers my own history with hashish.
1968 was an eventful year worldwide and a definitive one for a 15 year old living in Southern California. The Vietnam war was raging, with protesters filling the streets and college campuses. Dr King and Robert F. Kennedy were shot, the Democratic Convention in Chicago exploded and stayed in the news even after Nixon was elected president and began the War on Drugs. So for anyone with their eyes open it was a time of change and for new experiences.
I began smoking pot early that year and knew from the start that it was a perfect fit for shaping my thoughts in music and lifestyle. Of course this all had to be kept secret from the adults so it even became more of a closed society between us, the potheads and them, everyone else, the uninitiated. Towards the end of the year I heard on the news of a form of marijuana that was stronger and more concentrated. It was called hashish and came from places which sounded much more exotic than Mexico where all of our pot came from. Morocco and Lebanon was the source of what was becoming available and I wanted to try some.
Before too long I found this new substance and purchased a gram of pressed reddish yellow stuff that I was told was Lebanese Red. I made a little pipe out of brass carburetor fittings and tried it out. The story on the news said that it was worse than marijuana as it would blow the top of your head right off. Well, it was good but my head was still intact, so just one more reason not to trust the experts on TV. From that first hit of hashish I began to plan for a future that included traveling to these regions that produced this stuff. A little later I acquired some from Morocco and began reading works by Paul Bowles to get a feeling for the culture where this hashish came from.
In 1971 something even better came to town, hashish from Afghanistan. This stuff seemed so much fresher and a whole lot stronger that the hashish available up until then that other than some very good locally grown California grass, it was all I wanted to smoke. Being fresh out of high school and not real interested in starting college I began working to get enough money together to leave the US and head out to these places where this magical substance originated. I wanted to see how it was grown and produced as well as immersing myself in the culture that I was sure included religious and mystical rituals that would be the key to esoteric knowledge, available only to certain initiates. From here on it became a quest, a journey that would be known as "Youth in Asia", that would take me from California to India searching for the finest resin of knowledge.
Stay tuned for my next installment.