CreativeIndia

Story of a Model who was a Cocaine Addict!

This is an incredible story of a model from Delhi who was in Mumbai who fell into drugs.. Cocaine! Ho wit screwed her life up and how she managed to come out of it! The tale of the Indian Fashion industry it tells is sordid and sick!! Not that one needed any affirmation but it is indeed something that I could not have thought of.

After more than five years in the modelling business, I can say that smoking dope is no big deal. Every other girl does it. Just hit backstage during a show and sniff the air. You can smell the thick sweet aroma of hashish all around.

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When I came to Delhi with the idea of pursuing a career in modelling, I was all of 16. Living on my own with no parents around to boss over me, was a great high. Late night movies, club-hopping and getting sloshed – having shot after shot of tequila – became part of my lifestyle. Since I was getting work, money wasn’t really a problem.

But then came a time when all those liberties that I had never had when I was back home, started losing their charm. How many times can you get sloshed after all? I took to smoking by bumming cigarettes off my fellow models even as I waited for interminable fitting and makeup sessions. Today, I am a regular smoker and easily smoke two packs of Marlboro Lights a day. Besides, it kills hunger pangs and helps me stay slim. Just when I feel the need to bite into a cheesy burger, I light up and forget about it.

It was during an out-of-town show that I had my first encounter with grass and hash. Hash is great to chill out with. It seems to lend wings to hour after hour of tiresome photoshoots.

After more than five years in the modelling business, I can say that smoking dope is no big deal. Every other girl does it. Just hit backstage during a show and sniff the air. You can smell the thick sweet aroma of hashish all around.

When I first came to Delhi, one tequila shot was more than enough to knock me out. A year later, I could guzzle half a bottle of vodka and still drive back home. Your body becomes immune and you try out new things. Hash is cool but it’s a major downer. At times I get bouts of depression. It’s okay to chill out when you are doing photoshoots for hours and hours because you are too stoned to feel tired. Nowadays, fashion photographers like the deadpan expression on models’ faces. And when I am stoned, I manage to give that look in just a few takes. It comes naturally.

Five years back, or probably more, Delhi had these hot rave parties. Being a successful model, you get invited to these parties and that’s where I popped some pills, like Xtacy. Just for the heck of it. I had heard that they were a great way to party, so I popped a couple and danced till dawn. But this is a purely party drug. It’s good when you go out raving.

Soon after, I did my first line – a line of cocaine. This was at a nightclub in a five star hotel. My friends knew this pretty infamous peddler and I knew they were hustling the stuff. I had this strong urge to try it out and joined the gang. I huddled in the loo with my friends and the pro amongst us took out the stuff from a plastic pouch, put it on the commode seat and using her credit card, made four lines out of it. We snorted a line each.

Whoo, in a split second, I was all bouncy and pepped up. I took to the dance floor and danced like mad, jumping up and down. Half an hour down the line, the effect of coke was wearing off and I went back to my girlfriend asking for more, but she had nothing. I walked up to the lanky peddler and said, “Hey dude, how much for a ‘g’ (a gram of cocaine in coke lingo)?’ He said, ‘4K’. I didn’t have that much cash but the peddler saw a potential client in me and offered me couple of lines for free. I did two more lines with him. We exchanged numbers and he wanted to have a dance with me. I felt obliged so I agreed. With three lines on my first coke binge, things got a little too much and I passed out after lots of dancing and vodka shots.

From then, cocaine became a part of my life. This dealer used to call me up regularly and inform me about the rave parties in town. The lure of cocaine was so strong that I always accompanied him. My friends started asking me if I was seeing that guy but I used to tell them that it was just for the coke. Soon we were branded as a couple because we were seen together so often in public.

After doing coke, we used to have sex. Sex was more exciting with coke, more invigorating, longer lasting and more satisfying. A cocaine peddler as a boyfriend made me a cokehead, graduating from half a gram every two days to almost a gram a day.

Life for me then meant doing just enough work to earn enough money to do coke. My mind never travelled beyond that. It just revolved around cocaine and how to get the next fix. Every night I snorted coke, partied hard and returned home high as a kite when my neighbours were out going for a morning walk. Today when I look back at those days, I feel disgusted and ashamed. Worse still, they seem such a waste of some good years.

Since coke is an expensive habit and I was doing a neat amount of it, I needed more money. Those days, models moved to Mumbai to make mega bucks. I too thought of making the move and consulted my peddler friend. He also liked the idea because cops were making things difficult for him here in Delhi.

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We moved to Mumbai and rented a pad with a couple of other models in a neighbourhood where lots of models and starlets stayed. Yes, there was more work in Mumbai and soon more money started flowing in. By then, my friend had become quite dependent on me for his expenses as he was still building his network of dope peddling. And then it occurred to me, the entire foolishness of living with and supporting a coke peddler. I also realised it was most dangerous. But I was totally oblivious to the gossip that was doing the rounds, about me being the girlfriend of a slimy, ugly coke dealer and being the craziest cokehead in the modelling circuit in Mumbai. I don’t know how I became so impervious to all that.

At times my well-wishers tried to make me see sense but I ignored them. I was a rebel without a cause. I don’t come from a broken home, I had a great upbringing, but anybody giving me sermons irritated me. I used to shout back – ‘Don’t patronise me. It’s my life, so how does it bother you?’ Obviously with such an attitude, I was almost an outcast in the modelling fraternity. Whatever few friends I had, I lost, but coke had screwed up my head so much that nothing seemed to matter.

I knew that cocaine was all shit and its consequences were terrible. But I consoled myself by saying, ‘I am doing it only so long as I am in this trade. After all, modelling is a short-term career. I am just a rookie, not a cokehead. Do I look like a junkie (though I really did)? No way!’ I worked out like a maniac at the gym. The days I felt like skipping the gym, I would do a row and then go and pump up the adrenaline. Co-caine became the solution to everything. If I was tired, I snorted coke to feel energised. If I was depressed, a snort perked me up. Coke was the ultimate cure for all my problems and the dealer friend of mine didn’t mind because the more coke he got for me, the more money he made out of me. I wonder why it never occurred to me that this manipulative guy was fleecing me and pushing me into a dark alley. I lost all sense of good and bad. I was a hopeless addict.

Things were going from bad to worse. My friends used to say that I was looking haggard. I had these ugly dark circles under my eyes. But I was in such a euphoric state of mind that I didn’t give a damn about what they said. Now, in retrospect, when I see my photographs from those days, I shudder. I looked sick and awful. With whole night coke binges, I started missing out on auditions. I began arriving late for photoshoots and screwed up my shoots for campaigns because my mind just wandered when the director said ‘cut’ or gave any other instructions. All I cared about was when I could rush to the loo and do a line. I earned the terrible reputation of being a dumb ass cokehead and slowly, the few friends I had in the industry, started drifting away. They were scared to be spotted with me – what if they too got branded as cokeheads? Weird guys whom I had never met started taking advantage of my weakness for coke.

Anybody who had some stuff with them would offer me a line and then would try and get physical with me. Today, I get goosebumps thinking about those days when I was taken as a coke slut and slimy guys would feel me up while I tripped on coke. My bank balance was dwindling because I hadn’t got any work for more than a month. My friend was totally dependent on me and kept borrowing money, saying he would return it soon. Then came a stage when we had nothing. We were in such dire straits that my peddler friend stole some jewellery from my flat mates to get coke. The whole thing blew up and cops got involved in the situation. That’s when something happened to me; probably the fear of the cops or maybe it was some inner voice that made me say, ‘Get out of this shit’. I packed my bags and headed straight to the airport to catch the first flight to London.

The nine-hour long flight was an agonising experience. I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms and was irritated. My body ached and I threw up several times. I must have been looking so sick. Often the stewardess came and enquired if I was feeling all right. I was scared too, at the prospect of facing my family and was wondering what to tell them about my sudden arrival. I suddenly realised I was on an international flight and what if they found some cocaine on me. I would be hanged. I rushed to the loo and checked my jeans pockets, jacket pockets and scanned my handbag. Thank God, I had nothing on my person. Eventually, I begged for some sleeping pills from the stewardess and tried to sleep and compose myself before I landed at Heathrow.

At home, everyone was shocked to see me because they had no idea that I was coming. My dishevelled look, dark circles, constant running nose (a cokehead’s most prominent problem) instantly gave away the fact that all was not well with me. Yet I managed to cover up by saying that I was down with flu.

Home gave me a secure feeling and under the pretext of flu, I cut short all the news and gossip that mom and dad wanted to hear about my stay in India. I just wanted to sleep and shut myself away from them. I freshened up, had a little to eat and tried to sleep but my system was craving for cocaine. I had cramps in my stomach, I felt uneasy and nauseated. I stole some Valium tablets from my mother’s medicine box and took two pills to sleep away the agony.

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I was rudely woken up. Seeing my droopy eyes and slurring tongue, my dad insisted that I go see a doctor. But I didn’t want to go to a doctor because I knew the doctor would discover my addiction. Being a pampered girl, my obstinacy paid off and the doctor’s visit was postponed. Next day, I walked out of the house and guess what, I started hunting for a peddler. I went to dark alleys, to pubs, subways, all over the place, but couldn’t find one. Eventually I was so sick that I collapsed.

When my eyes opened, I was in a hospital and the faces of my mom and dad gave it all away. I was sure they had discovered my addiction. My fears came true. My mom gently held my hand and said the most comforting words, ‘Baby, I’ll take you out of this hell. I promise you.’ My dad sat on the other edge of the bed and just hugged me and cried and then, after controlling himself, said, ‘Darling, now everything will be all right.’ Unlike what I thought, they were not scolding me. They never asked me how I got into that hell of coke addiction, they just gave me hope. I was overwhelmed and wept like a baby.

My rehab started. It was painful but the psychiatrist and a team of understanding doctors led me through the detox period. It was then, when I used to take a stroll with my mother, that I poured out my sordid tale. Though shocked, she put up a brave front and gave me strength and hope. Two months of the detoxification and cleansing programme, backed with regular session with a psychiatrist, got me out of the hell.

The day I went home, my folks hosted a welcome-back party and I walked into the house with everyone cheering, eyes full of tears of happiness. Nobody looked at me scornfully or with disgust; instead they looked at me with love and compassion. At that moment I realised I could never ever let my family down again.

Time moved on. Things tasted better, smelt better and felt better. I now wanted to get back into shape so I started jogging and cycling. I began looking fresh and better and also put on some weight in the right places. I never ever dreamt that I would go back to modelling, but my father said, ‘You have to go back and win the confidence of those people whom you had disappointed. You have to make it to the top.’ It was so touching.

He still had so much trust and faith in me that he didn’t want to stop me from chasing my dreams. Now it was up to me to prove that yes, I was my father’s invincible daughter and I could win back the glory.

It was almost two years since I’d left Mumbai. Slowly, I started emailing my contacts in advertising agencies about my desire to return to modelling and I also attached my new portfolio. Weeks passed without any response. I knew they had had enough of me. I was losing hope but my mom and dad’s optimism never flagged. They asked me to try looking for work in London and I was lucky to actually get some campaigns. But my heart was in Mumbai.

I wanted to win back the trust of all those people who had been good to me but I, with my screwed-up head, had never realised that and I had pushed them away. Almost after a month I got a reply: “Take the very next flight available to Mumbai as we want to shoot our new print as well as TV commercial ASAP with you.” I was back at Heathrow airport. Mom and dad were happy but sad to see me leave. I hugged them and whispered, ‘Don’t worry, I will never ever go wrong again. I will call you every day.’ Mom wiped her tears and said, ‘Baby, go win back their love and show them that you are a tough cookie.’ Dad added robustly, ‘You have to become the top model. Second best won’t do.’ I wept and made a promise to myself that I would make my parents’ dream come true.

Back in Mumbai, though the company for which I was shooting a brand new campaign was good to me, the model fraternity wasn’t. At the India Fashion Week, I could see and feel the negative vibes from fellow models. At lunch and dinner, nobody would sit at the table I sat at and I could hear the murmurs and snide remarks – ‘Oh the cokehead is trying to be an angel now’. It was painful to hear those bitchy remarks but then that didn’t deter me. I had screwed up my previous innings and I realised I had to give them more time to believe in me.

Today, I am doing well professionally. I have made up with my friends. I do yoga everyday, I have also become very spiritual and have discovered how beautiful and precious life is. This gives me a high, a high that no drugs can ever match. To all readers, I can say just one thing – happiness is within you. No drug can get you the happiness and the high that you can find within yourself. I am lucky to have got a second chance, not everyone does. Life is precious, so handle it with care. Love you all!

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Desh Kapoor

The panache of a writer is proven by the creative pen he uses to transform the most mundane topic into a thrilling story. Desh - the author, critic and analyst uses the power of his pen to create thought-provoking pieces from ordinary topics of discussion. He writes on myriad interesting themes. Read the articles to know more about his views and "drishtikone".

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