Monday, February 15, 2010

The Dusky Mistress

Just few hours ago, I read an article on the dusky mistress. You must be wondering what I am talking about? Ya, I am talking about the traditional "shisha". The article reminded me about my rendezvous with the dusky mistress.

I was always fascinated by it and would wonder how one feels as one emitted rings of smoke from its hose.On an weekend as I along with my husband and few friends visited Khiren Resort, I was thrilled when I saw a “Hookah Bar”.We were captivated by the verdure of the resort. It's too beautiful,with all types of facilities for the visitors. As we explored the resort, we came across a hookah bar. I was delighted when one of our friends suggested that we should have a puff and experience it. The best part about it is that unlike the stinging smell of cigarette, the hookah filled the place with pleasant odour of fruit and honey. It is smooth and favorable. Originating in India over 500years ago, the smoking culture which was associated with aristocracy has recently become very fashionable and popular among the young generation of smokers. Perhaps it is its exotic nature or its claimed (but unproven) reduction in health risks as compared to other tobacco use that has seen a sudden rise in its popularity.

As we were enjoying the hookah, the manager of the bar shared with us his knowledge about this dusky mistress. He informed that depending on locality, hookahs are referred to by many names. "Narghile” is the name most commonly used in Lebanon,Syria,Iraq,Jordan,Israel,Albania,Bosnia,Greece,Turkey,Armenia,Bulgaria and Romania. “Shisha” is the common term for the hookah in Egypt and Arab countries of the Persian Gulf(including Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia) and in Morocco,Somalia and Yemen. In the Arab world smoking Shisha is a part of their culture and tradition. Not only men but women too equally smoke it but in the privacy of their house or in a shisha cafe. In Iran, hookah is called “ghalyun” and in India and Pakistan the name most similar to the English hookah is used, ”Huqqa”. In Afghanistan, it is better known as “chillam”. They have their own hookah sets at home. It has long been a tradition to Afghans to smoke all together with family and friends on special occasions. In India hookah was only smoked in rural areas but in the last four years lot of hookah bars have come up in the urban areas. Similarly in Pakistan, although traditionally prevalent in rural areas for generations, it has become very popular in the cosmopolitan cities. In South Africa, colloquially known as “hubbly bubbly” is popular social pastime. In countries like Malaysia and Philippines it’s popular among its youths. It’s becoming increasingly popular in Spain, Moscow and other Russian cities, Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. In United Kingdom, “Shisha Bars” exist in most major cities. So is the case in USA and Canada.

Certain methods are also applied to enhance the experience of hookah smoking, such as putting ice in the water or chilling of the hoses. To develop a special flavor, customers as well as the manufacturers mix tobacco with other flavors. Addition of fruit juice or wine in the water leads to enhance the flavor of hookah smoke.
Tips and Tricks for Smoking The Hookah
1. Try putting ice in the glass base of your Shisha/Hookah/Nargile and get the water ice cold before smoking. This makes a smoother more enjoyable smoking experience.

2. Try mixing lemon juice, orange juice, or some other flavor into the water in your glass base. It will enhance the taste of your Shisha/Hookah/Nargile smoking experience.

3. You can store your shisha tobacco at room temperature but it must remain in an air tight container (i.e. Tupperware, jar, zip lock bag, etc.). This will keep your tobacco from drying up and losing its flavor.

4. When you first start smoking your Shisha/Hookah/Nargile, try placing the charcoal on the outside of the bowl and working it around the edges of the bowl. The center of the bowl should be the last place your charcoal is placed.

5. Some people smoke the Shisha/Hookah/Nargile like you would smoke a cigar while other inhale the smoke. Neither way is more correct than the other. It's a preference thing.

6. For a sweeter and perhaps more flavourful smoke, you can add some wine to the top two inches of the water in the base of your Shisha/Hookah/Nargile. It's a happier smoke, and you can really taste the wine.

7. Because of it's consistency, shisha tends to clump up. Before you pack the bowl, crumble it up in your fingers to spread it out throughout the bowl.

8. Once you get the bowl packed, take a small square of aluminum foil, big enough to cover the open top of the bowl. Wrap the foil over the top so that the surface is tight. Use a toothpick or something else very small to poke a bunch of tiny holes in the foil. Place the charcoal on the foil once its lit. It will still burn the shisha, but it keeps any charcoal taste out.

9. When you place the foil tightly over the Shisha/Hookah/Nargile bowl, make sure the shiny side is facing down so it will retain more heat from the charcoal.

10. Try putting milk instead of water to make the smoke thicker.

11. Mixing and matching flavors is a very fun thing to experiment when trying to create the ultimate flavor. Mixing "mint" with other flavors provides for a cool refreshing taste. If you think you have the best flavor then email us your consistency so we can share it with the world.

12. After you're done poking your holes in the foil, cover the top of the clay bowl with the palm of your hand and blow through the bottom of the bowl, then release your hand and blow just a little longer. This prevents any sheesha from getting into the holes of the bowl and makes your Shisha/Hookah/Nargile pull better.

13. It's good to always blow out the smoke that collects in the glass base every once in a while so the smoke does not become stale. This gets rid of some of the harsh flavor from the stale smoke.

14. It is suggested not to run water through the hose. Simply blow air through the hose after/before each use to blow out the particles inside the hose. Occasionally, use a small amount of water/lemon juice and "swish" it around in your hose.

15. Never light your cigarette with the coals on your hookah.

16. Always leave your hookah at ground level.

17. Never pass the hookah directly to another person. Always first put in down and let the next person pick it up.

18. Invite your friends and family to share your hookah. To not ask is considered an insult.

19. Mix different flavors of hookah tobacco together to create your own favorite sheesha blend.

20. Clean your hookah regularly. This will ensure that you are always getting the best quality smoke and a superior smoking experience every time.

21. When placing the foil on top of the hookah bowl, make an elevated border to prevent the charcoal from rolling off.

No comments: