Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Drugs On Campus

I am not Hollywood trying to glamorise. Rather, I am on the level and trying to warn about some of the pitfalls of higher education abroad. They say that a three-year stint at university is not all about books, but a period of self-discovery, mayhem and falling foul of the law.

The bizarre and sometimes morbid antics that happen at universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, Yale and Princeton, have been documented that, a recent headline in The Daily Mail, a British tabloid read: ‘Oxford Students in 12-hour nude drunken binge.’ In New York’s Daily Post it went along the lines of, ‘Drunk Princeton couple caught having sex on dorm roof in broad daylight’ while a Daily Telegraph Editorial harped on the drug and beer fuelled students that universities are churning out.

Usually when students go on the prowl, it is termed a ‘period of temporary insanity’. They do not think about the consequences that may happen later on in life. Former American President, Bill Clinton, was lucky that his admission to smoking cannabis while at Oxford did not scupper his presidential ambitions – probably because he was adamant that he did not inhale. “Yeah right!” so Snoop Dogg said. “Who is Snoop?” I hear parents ask. Ask you teenage kids.

This October, when the new academic year begins, a number of Ugandans’ will end up in British universities such as Leeds, Warwick, Canterbury and the LSE, which have strong ties with Uganda.

If you go, this is what I have to tell you. Brace yourself for three years of heavy drinking, no-strings attached sex, drug experimentation and oh, attending the odd lecture. Trust me, I know.

Gary Nesbitt lived on the same floor as I and he always kept to himself. On the few occasions he allowed into his room, I thought he was a chemistry major for on his desk was always a Bunsen burner flaming away, test tubes on the boil, rubber tubes and other contraption’s.

But the more I looked at the elaborate set up, it didn’t look like something you would find in a chemistry lab, but rather something I had seen in a drug movie – was it The Godfather Part II, The Goodfella’s or was it Scarface? Perhaps I saw it in The Sopranos? Anyway, Gary’s set up had all the hallmarks of a drug-manufacturing lab written over it.

Er, my concentration is starting to wain. At the table across from me at Miki's Lounge where I am typing this Cowardly Tale, there is a young woman who is sitting so badly with her legs wide open for us to see her wares. Pote, Spidey, remember the way the pregnant lady sat as we ate pork at Zanzi?

It’s been a struggle getting my concentration back and I am somewhat scarred and blinded but trudging on, as the term went on, our finances began to dwindle that, that by the last week of term, we were broke – if not down to our last £30 (sh76,000) and yet, there a ball was coming up. We had to be at the ball and while getting in was not an issue, beer money was.

As we pondered over our options, Stacy muted an idea. She had heard from a friend of a friend of friend that Gary could supply some not so legal pills to do the trick. All we had to do was pop two cheap £1.50 pills with our beer and we would get drunk.
We did just that. A package containing blue and black capsules was delivered on the day of the ball along with strict instructions - one capsule for spirits, two for beers and the rest would be history. However, we didn’t just want to get drunk. We wanted to get plastered, blazed, wasted, comatosed – the works! So rather than popping two capsules as Gary had recommended, Dale and I popped four each.

The ball was a blur for I can’t recall much. What I do remember was at one point I thought I was in bed and having a dream about how Dale and I had run up to the window in my room, smashed through it and plummeted two floors down into the overnight snow where we were found by campus police who then called for the ambulance.

When I awoke, all sore and with stitches in left arm, realisation set in that it was no dream. We were in the recovery ward along with two police officers who wanted statements from us. In the UK, anything involving drugs, booze and jumping out of second floor windows is seen as a suicide attempt and by law, the hospital is obliged to call in the police.

“No we were not trying to commit suicide. All we were trying to do was a re-enactment of the ending of the movie, Thelma and Louise where they drive their car off a cliff. ” Policemen didn’t buy the story and neither did Nurse. I had my doubts but on reflection, that is what happened.

In the end, we were obliged to attend a six-week ‘psychiatric evaluation’. Every Thursday when I went to see Psychiatrist, he would say, “TB, how are you feeling today?” I would reply, “Fine doctor, fine” to which he would respond, “Tell me about jumping out of the window. What was troubling you?” Very irritated, I would tell him that it was a silly Thelma and Louise stunt gone wrong to which, he would ask who Thelma and Louise were.

Psychologist drove me nuts that after three weeks, I stupidly told him that the sessions were ‘making me feel suicidal’ and that was it. Psychologist took me seriously and short of putting me on suicide watch, I earned myself another five weeks with him wanting to know if it was Thelma and Louise who had sold us the pills. (Duh!)

tbukumunhe@googlemail.com

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