Growing up was tough for me, I liked my own space, I was shy & I loved being at home. Punjabi parents love socializing though & etiquette dictated that all their children join them on social occasions, even though I did not wish to, I just liked my own space.
Family events were tough, yes I got to meet family, but then I was protected by my mother& father so all my relatives did not wish to play with me, as I was seen as quite a mummy’s boy, did I want to mix? Yes, did I know how to? No
So as grew elder I kept myself to myself & bonded with the Desi music scene in the UK. I never went to gigs but I had tapes & access to music was easy, & I loved it. I wanted nothing else more, than to be a part of this great music scene, keyboard lessons were insight & I loved getting into music. I was a geek and making friends in life was hard, music opened doors for me.
Journey Into Music
I got a record released & all of a sudden I was meeting people who were like minded & I started to make friends within the scene. At home pressure to get married was always on, but music had given me a get out of jail card for a period of time as I was so busy.
The relatives I knew previously who didn’t want to know me, were now getting in touch & I was seeing them at venues, life was good you could say.
My “In” to depression and drugs was alcohol, and the fact that it is socially accepted to be a piss head in Punjabi culture is our down fall.
When I started music (this does not have to be about music, this could be a job or anything) I worked alone, but as my circle got bigger so did my drinking, but it crept up on me, I didn’t see it, as I was in it.
Studio and Gigs
Studio was fun, 3/4 of us laughing, joking making music & we would always crack open a bottle or two. It was the normal thing to do when out with the lads. After the studio, we would pop into the pub, a couple of pints then home, I look back & not once did I ever question what I was drinking or the amount, neither how much the guys around me were drinking.
We had gigs, everyone bought bottles & cans along, by the time we got to the venue we were half soaked or we should have been, but did we question it? No, as it was the normal thing to do.
Waiting for the gig? We would pop to the pub, then we had a no drink rule in the venue, so if you saw us at a gig we had no drinks with us, but the journey back would be alcohol & junk food.
If we were staying overnight, well the drinks session would last all night. Day and night merged into one, we thought nothing of it. We were lads having fun. Were we alcoholics? No, were we drink dependent? Yes!
Being happy 24/7
Weekends were worse, when at weddings we had to be seen as happy & playful, we were pretty drunk when we started our sets, & we would be on the look out for when the bottles would be coming out. Beer alone was no longer doing the trick!
Gigs, weddings & being on the road saw me bond with people who I would never have envisaged as people I would like, the one thing in common thing we had – drink.
I was drinking at home secretly, I’d have a bottle of whiskey hidden, yet I still did not see it as an issue, it was just an aid to help me sleep.
Punjabi parties & gatherings love alcohol, so was it surprising I was getting dragged down by alcohol?
The day of the party for the hosts is their special day, for me one day just merged into another, I went from drinking with the lads to drinking with relatives. I was drinking daily & I still never questioned the amount I was drinking, it was just the done thing.
My personal life was complicated at the time, I had just had an arrange marriage, mainly to keep the parents happy. They saw my drinking as an issue but very rarely mentioned it to me, & me getting married allowed me to carry on doing what I was doing, as sociably and to my relatives I had done my duty of getting married. I was earning good money too, so why rock the boat I guess.
The worst thing about the alcohol was that it had an acceptable face, I was surrounded by it, friends, cousins & associates there was no escaping it. It is easy to drink too much in our culture because it’s deemed as normal.
Look around you now, can you just go out and socialise without alcohol? Is your circle one that only meets in bars, or on nights out? How much can you tell about a person when alcohol is about?
How many friends have you only met at parties, bars and on nights out? You do not even know who they are if this is the case!
Underlying issues are masked and those people you think you know, they like you may well be holding something back!
The pressure of being married, & me constantly drinking & being away from home meant that I was tired, constantly, I wasn’t happy at home & my marriage was dead as we didn’t really see each other, but she was pleasing my parents & she had become my get out of jail card.
As the music scene started to change I started to work with new artists both internationally & here in the UK, a new trend was emerging. I remember being at a gig in Canada & the promoter walking into the hotel room & putting on the table a huge bag of weed & large bag of cocaine, I’d never took to smoking weed as I hated the heavy head the next day. The cocaine though, well it seemed to be the habit of all the young lads & the new crowd I was with.
I was told you could never get addicted to it as it was just a party drug, IF YOU EVER HERE SOMEONE SAY THAT TO YOU, PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE THERE & THEN!
I already had a reputation for drinking large amounts & this well, it made me drink more. I became more active, more sociable for longer periods I felt on top of the world & the best thing about cocaine it left no traces, & unlike alcohol which everyone was doing, this was risky, it was illegal , & we as the cool guys were now doing cool stuff. My old alcohol drinking friends were all doing coke & I was now surrounded by alcohol & drugs! I went 8 years of doing cocaine nearly everyday.
Whenever I was abroad it was easy to get, my wife was happy as I was drinking less yet coke was my vice & it was changing me as a person. Mood swings, losing patience with people at the drop of a hat, I was only happy when coked up, it was draining me though.
It got to the point when my mother went to hospital & I was still sniffing at the hospital as I was that far gone. It was at this point I thought about what I was doing, but how could I change it?
“Show me your friends and I’ll tell you what kind of a person you are”
Cocaine & alcohol is rife with, cousins, people who were friends, colleagues in music everyone I knew was doing it, and more and more females too. My circle now had drug dealers in it, the shit was on tap.
You are what your circle is, & I could see that, I mean I could really see it. I was surrounded with people who were more interested in drugs & alcohol & the music was becoming secondary, but I was having huge success globally everyone wanted me. Yet I wanted drugs & alcohol! Every time I went abroad I was getting money, drugs & alcohol, the music scene I loved, was killing me, as I had to play the role of the superstar, I saw no way out!
I was on this party drug yet, I know now I was suffering from depression due to wanting to let go & not being able to, my friends were all in the same boat without telling each other.
We were all surrounded by it. I became more distant from everyone around me, even with my friends who were doing drugs as I wanted to stop, yet as soon as I saw them I was back on it. I had that many hangers on, it was unreal.
Good people did not want to know me!
Good people I knew were keeping their distance from me, as I was changing as a person. Every time I looked at changing circles I couldn’t because I was surrounded by people who were all doing the same stuff.
I was stuck & I still see so many that are! Cocaine is rife within society & that’s women & men & once you start doing it you are only going to be with those people. I began to hate life & myself, my marriage was over & I didn’t care, I had no kids so we parted ways, deep down I regret how I treated that lady, I made her feel worthless, I will never ever get over how I made her feel at times, she was a showpiece item for my parents solely. We had nothing in common, but I failed as a human being towards her.
The family all thought I was going mad or having affairs but I was staying away because of my habit, I had become totally useless to everyone & I wanted out but couldn’t see a way.
I decided that I would drink myself to death, I mean literally!
I could not see a way out, my circle was full of alcohol & drugs I was suffering with depression (that I was unaware of) I did not know where or whom to turn too.
Talking To People
I touched on it with a few people but the conversation seemed to burden them, I just mentioned how hard things were but they had their own issues & I didn’t want to impose on them.
Forget what people say, oh I wish he had talked to us, trust me people are so consumed by their own lives they can’t help, that’s the truth.
Getting external help is the only way! Neutral people are what you need, as those around you have not got time & that is the truth! & seeking help from professionals is better than putting your trust in someone you may not know as well as you thought as you are vulnerable at the time and just looking to talk to someone, anyone!
I wanted out!
So I decided I wanted out, I got hammered, I drank & drank until I was totally gone. I grabbed my car keys & got in my car, I knew it was time for me to finish things, I left my studio ready to take things in my own hands.
I had ear marked a route & where I could do this & I went on my route, but deep down I couldn’t bring myself to quite do it, I decided to take a different route, just to buy time, it was that decision that either saved me or the grace of god. I was pulled for drink driving & the police officer who arrested me had to call for help as I totally broke down to him, he was the first person I saw & I burst into tears & explained everything, I did not want to die, but the person who i had grown up as, was already dead, and the shell of a life I was living was something I wanted to end.