For Chapter 6 click here : Chapter 6
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(Author’s note: This chapter has multiple pages. Please click the number at the bottom to continue reading the next page)
On their first visit to the Spice of Life restaurant Demond, Nanji and two other men were the only customers. Now on their fourth visit in as many months, there was no table vacant. About four guests were sitting on a bench at the entrance waiting for a table. It was apparent that Arjun had convinced his boss to use the secret ingredient in their lassi. The crowd was mostly young backpackers and tourists. The word of mouth circulated faster than he had imagined.
Arjun recognized them coming in. He glanced around to see what he could do to seat them. There was a metal table close to the kitchen. He got two folding chairs from inside and motioned them to take their seat. Demond felt like a special guest. The location near the kitchen and the small table wasn’t what he liked but at least they didn’t have to wait and he was hungry. The guests waiting at the entrance glanced at them and winced but didn’t say anything.
“Business is good, huh?” Demond said to Arjun as they were seated.
Arjun just nodded with a smile as if he was keeping a mutual secret. He didn’t want to say anything or add a commentary.
Demond and Nanji ordered their usual — chicken biryani, nan and aloo matar. The hot spices burned their tongues, but they liked it. They were busy talking and eating. In hushed tones they were discussing ways to increase their cannabis sales and target new customers. Sometimes they used code words which only they understood. If a person looked amiable and friendly they called him or her a cat. For a more aggressive looking person they called bulldog. It was their way of talking about people around them.
Demond wanted to ask Arjun for a glass of water but he noticed that he was not around. They had seen him go into the kitchen. Demond wondered if he was upset or just wanted to keep a distance from them.
Demond noticed a young couple, in their twenties he guessed, sitting two tables down. Both were casually dressed in shorts and sneakers — typical American or European tourists. They were sharing a drink from the same glass with their own straws, raising their eyebrows to look at each other like two lovebirds. Demond wanted to walk over and ask them if it was the special lassi they were enjoying. He could supply them with the real stuff. He usually found his customers in casual settings, targeting them in secluded corners. Here in the restaurant it was a bit of risk. The place was crowded and any exchange would have been noticed. What if a policeman walked in just at the wrong moment?
It was much easier in places like Lake Malawi. Tourists getting ready for snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing or boating were easy to approach without causing suspicion. Nanji and Demond took turns in roaming the lake looking for people. One kept the cannabis supply in a backpack and waited off the lake and one carried a small sample in his pocket. When a party was interested after tasting the sample they approached the one carrying the backpack for more. The sale was made on the spot. Sometimes people wanted to meet them in the lobby of the hotel they were staying and buy it there.
On one occasion his customer turned out to be Edward, an undercover policeman. Edward was on a fishing expedition. It was Nanji who had approached him. It wasn’t Nanji’s fault. How was he supposed to know that he was talking to law enforcement? Demond noticed him talking to Edward for a long time, longer than the normal transaction. Suspecting trouble he approached them to find out what was happening. Edward was showing his badge. He had caught Nanji red-handed. Demond knew not to get too close, lest they both get in trouble. After a while he saw Nanji and Edward laughing loud and shaking hands. Nanji told him later that he was scared in the beginning but used his street smarts to offer the substance free of charge to Edward. Edward took the bait and said he wouldn’t do anything if he got a supply free all the time. Nanji had agreed. Demond and Nanji gave a sigh of relief. They had made an important contact who wouldn’t interfere with their business. This was before Nanji’s encounter with George who threatened him to get lost from the Malawi scene.