Glue, a Cheap Substitute for Intoxication
OhmyNews reports from the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal
Mani Man Singh Rajbhandari (mannie)
Published 2008-01-30 09:59 (KST)
The day is sunny in Kathmandu. It’s a rushed day for pedestrians hustling through the city’s narrow footpaths. Here, people pass by many unusual behaviors, which often go unobserved. Unnoticed by most, there is a group of youngsters below adolescent age wandering around the streets of Kathmandu, blowing and inhaling constantly into a plastic bag. Many adults feel pity for them, so as they pass by give them friendly, and unknowing, grins.
For many these youngsters are street children with no shelter, no healthy food and no proper clothing who, with this plastic bag they stick in their noses and mouths, have merely found something to play with in order to pass the time. They are not so different from rich children playing with any toy – the only disparity being that these children depend on the rags littered on the streets for their playthings.
Those who might think these street kids are ignorant are wrong. They are actually inventors – innovators of a cheap substitute for intoxication, which is easily available in the market, sold in both drug stores and hardware stores. It is none other than a sticky adhesive gluten substance commonly known as dendrite solution.
If you happen to be in a car in Kathmandu waiting for a red light, don’t be amazed to witness the street children congregating around your car begging for money with a plastic bag in hand. These bags, usually filled with gluten, might look like a harmless, playful thing to us – but it is cheap and extremely harmful substitute for getting high and intoxicated.
The scene I encountered when I saw some middle class teenagers under the influence of this cheap substitute was a devastating one to me. Unknown to my presence, these teenagers had slipped into the once famous school campus of the Durbar School. Behind an old, monumental building, I saw some other youths enjoying a cricket game. They seemed to be not at all bothered by the rowdy acts of these teenagers inhaling gluten on the other side of the wall.
It was a delightful moment to see the children enjoying their cricket game. At the same time it was a distressful moment, as I simultaneously watched the other kids inhale toxic vapor from a bag.
I wondered about whether educational institutions like this school should have restrictions for outsiders after school hours. If such restrictions to enter the school campus were made, one might ask, then where would playful innocent children go to enjoy a game of cricket? It is a good question, but we must realize that situations of such lenient authority and liberty at schools may create situations like this, of open drug use. The open schoolyard can become a meeting place for drug aficionados. School authorities should be aware of these problems and act promptly to bring an end to these kinds of scenarios, or else face potentially devastating consequences.
The glue sniffing by these young boys can be seen in popular areas of Kathmandu, in prime junctions where people like to shop, eat and roam. Often people are followed by the street children as they come out from fast food restaurants. The misconception in judging these young boys as helpless is itself a sort of ignorance on the part of those who throw them coins, who do so thinking that they are helping them. This small offering instead becomes an encouragement for boys to buy further tins of gluten solution.
Another scene I encountered was when I was walking the street of Bagbazar. I saw three lads walking and inhaling from a plastic bag. I noticed that one lad was using a transparent plastic with the adhesive solution inside, inhaling deeply, and repeatedly massaging the substances in the plastic bag. Their attitude was casual, as though they thought people wouldn’t realize what they were doing. I looked around to see any bystander reaction, but there wasn’t a painful glimpse on the part of anyone. As for myself, I didn’t dare to act but passed on a stare of dislike, expecting that they would become aware of such a public display. This is something I would have thought anyone would do under such circumstances.
Don’t be astonished if you come across these youngsters under the influence of this cheap substitute of inhaling adhesive solution from a plastic bag. These activities can be seen in many places around the capital; it is, however, being ignored by most. As for those who are aware of it, I believe that they do try to act to stop these activities and protect these misguided children. However, such individual efforts may not work, and even the motto ‘Say No to Drugs’ cannot be depended on on its own to stop teenagers from sniffing glue. Rather, a collaborative effort to prevent drug abuse is necessary or else we might some day in the future see many youngsters under the influence of this cheap substitute for intoxication.