Confessions of a Hookah Nerd: Chuck's Advice on Becoming a Hookah Ambassador
By Chuck / September 19, 2011
I have a confession: I am a bit of a hookah nerd. You know that guy who hears someone whisper "hookah" from the other side of the room at a loud party and comes running over? That is me. I even carry around a hookah and a selection of shisha tobacco in my truck for those moments, 'cause everybody likes the guy that brings a hookah to the party. I should also confess that I like being that guy. I am what one person described as a "hookah ambassador" or a "master of hookahry." The role started out innocently enough. When I first started working here at Hookah-Shisha I spent a lot of time reading everything I could get my hands on about hookahs and the hookah culture. I smoked all the shisha I could get my hands on. I asked everybody I worked with questions until they tired of talking to me. Even after work hours I would find a way to work hookah into conversations just to get some practice explaining hookahs to my friends. Next thing I knew, people would approach me at parties asking me if I was the "hookah guy" with their questions about these crazy contraptions I had come to love. At one party in particular I found myself inviting a friend over to smoke with me some time and I realized that I was missing an opportunity. Inviting people over certainly let me share the hookah experience with them, but bringing one to a party let me share my passion with so many more people! I decided it was time to put some thought into the hookah and supplies that I wanted to carry with me... and now I would like to share them with you. First, I choose the hookah itself. My desire was to have a hookah that had an impressive appearance, smoked well, and was easy to setup, clean and transport. I decided on a single hose Mya Vortex hookah, a long time best seller in its class. Why single hose if I planned on smoking at parties, you might ask? I considered multiple hoses, but I find that in most party situations only one person is actually smoking at a time, and generally the other people are discussing hookahs while they wait their turn. The single hose hookah is just less stuff to deal with and more user-friendly for first time smokers. In the interest of full disclosure I do usually have a second hose and two autoseal hose adapters in my "hookah kit," but that is another benefit of Mya hookahs. With only a few moments of effort my single-hosed hookah can have up to four hoses, and then go back to a single hose just as quickly. I also like that the included Mya case has lots of room for shisha and coals, something else that I put a lot of thought into selecting. "Taste is subjective" is a comment that I often make to customers asking for flavor recommendations. Just because I like something doesn't mean that you will, and vice versa. I also keep this in mind when choosing shisha for my hookah kit. At any given time I typically have 5-7 different shisha options at my disposal. What I would recommend thinking about when putting together a kit of your own is choosing flavors that are accessible for new smokers. Nakhla Double Apple may be your favorite, but it is probably going to be a little intense for a first time smoker. I usually have a couple of my favorite Romman flavors like Good Times and Summer Crisp, as well as a selection or two from Starbuzz (Melon Blue is a good choice, and lately I have been really into Starbuzz Acid Purple). One shisha you can always count on me having on hand is Island Papaya by Fumari Shisha. In my experience these flavors are solid crowd pleasers. I have yet to load up some Island Papaya and have someone complain. In fact, among my friends that have heard the hookah speech before, they have begun to request it by name. If you are so inclined (as I am) to also keep one or two flavors of herbal shisha in your kit, I would recommend Kali Drizzle from Hydro Herbal Shisha. You never know when a non-smoker might be interested in trying out a hookah, and offering them a bowl of tobacco-free shisha shows them that the hookah community can be accommodating. As for other accessories you will find in my hookah kit, I always have a supply of hookah mouthtips (practice safe smoking!), Easy Foil (saves having to hunt down a pin for making holes), a vortex bowl, extra hookah grommets (just in case) and Golden hookah coals. Why quicklight coals? Honestly, when I am at home I use natural coals, but when I am on the go I never know what the situation will be like. I would hate to pass up an opportunity to introduce someone to smoking just because I can't find a stove to light my natural coals. Quicklights may not be your favorite, but you can't ignore the convenience factor. An often overlooked item that you might consider is carrying some bottled water. I know it sounds silly, but you never know. I have only broken out my own water supply once, but my hookah kit is pretty self-sufficient as it is, so it only seemed natural to be truly prepared. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, you should pack a good attitude in your hookah kit. Being a hookah ambassador is your opportunity to spread a positive message about hookahs and hookah culture. Being snobbish about the shisha you smoke or the type of hookah you have only leads to alienating people. Hookah is about bringing people together and sharing an experience. Think of it as passing a peace pipe. I encourage new hookah smokers to ask questions, and I work very hard to offer patience and a thoughtful answer. You may have explained how a hookah works a thousand times (I know I probably have) but this is the first time the person who is asking has heard it. Answer with kindness and forgive mistakes. I like to remember that each person to whom I introduce hookah may be embarking on a journey of love as I have, and I want them to start the journey off with a positive feeling. I hope this glimpse into my level of hookah-nerd has been an interesting experience for you. Like all of us here at Hookah-Shisha I love talking about hookahs, so if you have any questions about putting together your own master of hookahry kit, don't hesitate to contact us.