STIMULANTS AND NARCOTICS.
Tea drinking has become very common in not only middleclass but even cultivating and peasant families and especially
the artisan classes like mechanics, drivers, and manual labourers.
Tea with milk and sugar is taken early in the morning and even in the afternoon. The elite in Candrapur and Waroda drink it as a hot brew or infusion poured into a cup from a teapot adding milk and sugar to taste. The commoner usually has it as a composite drink, while some have it as a decoction of tea powder, mixing pepper or dry ginger or cinnamon in it to cure indigestion and to make the tea still more stimulating. Coffee has not made much headway except in the towns and in Sironca where the Telugu influence is dominant. Cold drinks and serbats are used casually but a drink called coca cola, an importation from America has reached Candrapur. Aerated waters are mainly Confined to urban areas where tea, lassi (cold drink of curds) and Other usual drinks are served in restaurants and tea shops.
The habit of chewing and smoking tobacco is traditional and
bidis are largely consumed. Cigarettes are becoming fashionable
among younger folk. While chewing tobacco, addicts mix it with lime to make it more stringent and stimulating. The custom of taking snuff prevails both among upper and middle classes and is considered fairly respectable. Chewing pan (betel-leaves) with supari (areca-nut), catechu and lime is quite common among all, notably among the Musalmans, both men and women. Among the connoisseurs, this pan chewing has become a line art with the addition of spices like cloves, cardamoms, saffron, meg-nut powder and several other spices which are traditionally known to be sixteen.
Tobacco is consumed in more ways also. Tobacco is smoked in pipes also. Two kinds of pipes are in general use, the long-stemmed hukka or hubble-bubble in which smoke is cooled as it is inhaled through water and the short almost stemless bowl or cilim where the smoke is sucked through a wet cloth wrapped at the bottom. Tobacco to be smoked in the hukka is known as gudakhu which is specially processed with molasses and water and is principally used in the parlours of rich people. Except some Brahmans, men of all classes of Hindus smoke tobacco.
In the pre-prohibition days, fermented and distilled drinks were common enough. Fermented liquors, prepared as they were from the date-palm, khajuri or tad were in use as these trees abound in Candrapur's forests. But the chief alcoholic drink that was popular, and perhaps is still popular, among the tribals and scheduled castes of Candrapur is the liquor made from mahua flowers (Bassia latifolio). To improve its flavour or colour, different varieties of fruits, flowers or herbs were sometimes added to the simple liquor. There may not be considerable consumption of European wines and liquors though in urban areas brandy, whisky, beer, etc., were by no means unconspicuous. Liquor was usually taken in taverns and licensed booths.
Preparation from hemp, bhang or ambadi (Gannabis indica) i.e., bhang, yakuti and ganja were in use. Bhang was made from the leaves, flowers and seeds of the plant, first baked over fire and then ground very fine, the intoxicating power depending to a considerable extent on the fineness of the powder. According to the taste and means of the consumer, dry rose leaves, almonds, cardamoms, pepper and spices were pounded and mixed with the powder. The whole was again ground with water or milk, sweetened with sugar and strained through a cloth. After this the preparation was ready to be served. In the hot season it was a frequently taken drink. In small moderate quantities, it was a cooling and slightly intoxicating beverage causing at the same time a keen sense of hunger.
The dried hemp plant which has flowered and from which the resin has not been removed is called ganja. As a rule smokers of ganja were to be found in shrines and temples, religious mendicants. bairagis and faqirs and a lower order of Brahmans being the chief addicts. The plant washed four or
live times, dried and mixed with tobacco was smoked in whiffs about every half hour by the addict. Opium used either as a
drug or as a narcotic was administered in several ways. It was rolled into a pill and swallowed or dissolved in water and drunk or smoked in a special preparation. It was once held in high esteem among Rajputs as the seal of hospitality and a great healer of dispute. It was offered dissolved in water in cups as a token of goodwill to guests who drank it in a small quantity.
The general impression that the Candrapur rural scene now gives is that of a people tied to the land and forests and hills who are coming under the influence of modern civilization and speedily coming abreast of their fellowmen in other districts of Maharastra State.