As one of our customers pointed out, hookahs present the perfect union of all elements: water in the base, earth in the shisha, fire in the coal, air in the smoke, and love in the company when you share a hookah. For centuries, pipe enthusiasts around the world have joined in peaceful union as they partake in a simple hobby. Farmers, artists, students, businessmen, and people of all walks of life have appreciated the peaceful pastime of pipes – even Albert Einstein once agreed “I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgement in all human affairs.” Blowing a soft cloud, reposeful in a large chair, one doesn’t merely smoke a hookah – one enjoys it.
At first glance, every hookah session appears to be the same – one or several people sitting around puffing smoke. However, any true hookah aficionado will tell you that no two hookah sessions are alike. Hookah smoking is actually the most diplomatic celebration of individual differences and variegated tastes; in that way, nargile smoking should be considered among the triumphs of saner civilization. Just take a good look at any aspect of a session: the hookah, the tobacco and smoke, the coal, and the company – you’ll discover that this simple act is in itself a conversation, an expression of style, a festivity.
Let’s start with the basic: the hookah itself. While “hookah” is the standard name for the Middle Eastern water pipe in America, the international sensation is known by many names in many countries. Some call the pipe itself a “shisha”, while others reserve the word “shisha” for the tobacco smoked out of it. The word “hookah” comes from the ancient Indian word hukka, or “coconut” – what the first hookahs were made out of. In the Middle East, the marvelous hookah is commonly referred to as a “nargile“. Although one considers a couple of practical options when choosing a hubbly bubbly, the decision ultimately rests on aesthetics: how does it look? Your hookah should draw your eye and complement your environment. Many people ask us “What is the best hookah?” There’s no single answer to this question – instead, we help find the hookah that’s best for you. Do you prefer tall hookahs, or small hookahs? Do you like sleek modern hookah designs, or are you drawn to the timeless gleam of a more traditional arguileh? Each hookah design has its own personality and its own mood. Some hookahs look so marvelous you’d expect to smoke it with a caterpillar atop a toadstool in Alice’s Wonderland. Other water pipes are more conservative, and would look comfortable beside a fire and a cup of tea. If you want a two, three, or even six hose hookah, you may want to choose a hookah with a large base, so that the hookah can hold more smoke (to please more smokers)! If your hookah will be in a lively, active environment you may prefer a more stable mid-sized hookah to a delicate tall one. Some of our customers own a few hookahs – one for personal use, and others for sharing.
Hookahs can become such cherished personal items that people name them as they would a pet. Typically, one fills the base of the hookah with water, although there are many other additions that can change the flavor of your smoke. Some people like to add fruit juices to the water, to add extra fruit flavor to the smoke. Others add wine for a refreshing zing, and dropping ice cubes in the liquid in the base guarantees a cool smoke. The liquid in the base acts as a filter and makes the smoke nice and moist. Without water in the base, the smoke would be harsh and too warm for enjoyment. Larger particles of smoke and much of the tar remains in the water as the smoke passes through. Once you have finally settled on a hookah that suits you and have become familiar with it, it’s time to consider shisha. Stay tuned for the next blog on the earth element of a hookah session – On the Pleasure of Hookahs II – Shisha of the earth
Want to skip ahead? Jump to the Pleasure of Hookahs III – Fire and air