Hookah Appreciation: My "Too Serious" Two Cents

By Tatum Vayavananda

I think I speak for everyone when I say that hookahs are really meant to be appreciated and respected. By this I mean all aspects of it; appreciate the concept of hookah: everything from the harmony of the hardware, shisha and science to the cultural, historical and modern influences. I believe that this must be respected and admired, in such a way that one admires fine wine or elegant cuisine. Or am I being too serious?

I was introduced to hookah during my deployment to Iraq in 2006 from my translator. He brought his hookah and shared it with us. His hookah, more rustic and traditional in appearance, along with his shisha, more of a tobacco-like flavor in lieu of blue mist or strawberry margarita, had an aura about it; It helped me to embrace the tradition of the "shisha pipe" for it's cultural ideals, rather than solely a recreational appeal.

This might be why I'm hesitant to share the hookah with the masses of people at my school albeit the hookah sessions bring my friends and I great memories, company and recreation. But I realized I've never taken it out during parties. Usually my Mya Paragon sits on a table in shimmering display, yet if the beer pong table is set up, I put the hookah away.

Along with the dangers of having drunk people stumbling around, tugging on hoses and knocking over hookahs at a party, I'm more afraid that they won't "get it." They won't understand that the shisha, the smoke, the base, the coal and the company is the perfect harmony of earth, wind, water, fire and love that we have grown to respect. To them it's just another thing they do while they are drunk. I'm afraid kids these days are starting to take hookah for granted...

To us American young adults, hookah has become a new recreational past time. The hookah bars seem to grow more into night clubs, with DJs and black lights and martinis. But to me, I want to preserve that cultural and traditional aspect that has made hookah survive all these years. I want people to dig deeper, to understand the miracle of physics that help to bring beautiful smoke. I want people to sit back and not only think about how much fun it is to smoke hookah, but how amazing that such a concept exist. Or maybe I'm just being waaaay too serious?

Editor's Note: Very well put Tatum!  Have something interesting and hookah-related to say?  Email us and if we like it, we'll post it!

Comments (14) -

  • I wholeheartedly agree! To me smoking a hookah is a ritual and a practice in meditation; from the preparation of the bowl, lighting the charcoal, placement and the initial puffs. It a lot more that smoking "candy for adults"; sure, the tobacco flavors might sound like an exercise in converting ice cream flavors to smoke but to the true hookah smoker they're an adventure in taste buds. The deep inhalation an exhalation of smoke is not unlike the breathings of yoga and meditation where the body and mind are bridged. To me that is the essence of hookah smoking.

    Oh yeah, it's also fun, delicious and entertaining - but those are all the OTHER aspects of a hookah.
  • Hookah today is becoming more less of a cultural aspect and more main stream.  When I started to learn the art of packing the perfect bowl it took several times and patience to learn how to heat the bowl and the proper amount of heating.  There used to be a time where we would get a group of guys together and smoke for hours at a time , with no loud music and completely sober.  We would sit there and enjoy the flavor and take in the time to enjoy the aspects of the soft billowing smoke coming from the hookah.  
       I was at a party and I saw the worst setup ever for any avid smoker-  a hookah with dirty water and scorched tobacco.  Rather than smoking for taste the kids were smoking for buzz.  Where is the art in that?  The hookah bars coming up today are taking away from the culture and class of the hookah.  When ever I sell a hookah or bowl or anything I tell my customers to only smoke if they want to enjoy the hookah for its use and relax.  I am just glad to see that people enjoy hookah as much as I do.
  • Great post, I think as a whole we need to go back to the cultural roots of hookah. It's definitely not about getting drunk and smoking or putting alcohol in your base to get messed up. It's about friends family and comrades and coming together. Well thats just my opinion.
  • I totally agree! Laughing i host a Hookah Night (or "Hookite" as we've come to call it" at my house every week for my churches college group. It's a great time of fellowship and relaxation with some amazing people. Along with the Hookah we enjoy some hot tea and usually some kind of desserts out around the fire bowl in my back yard overlooking the city. We also do a new memory verse every week and keep each other accountable for that. But all in all it is a time that we have all set aside to appreciate good friends and good smoking Laughing
  • I completely agree. It seems to me like a lot of people would probably never even ask about the history and culture that surrounds the hookah. Besides knowing where it originates, all most people probably care about is what flavor is loaded up and whether or not there is a hose ready for them. Hookah is something that is much more than just a party smoking device or a cigarette. It is something that should be appreciated just as much if not more than the time it takes to carefully prepare one, for it took even longer for it to become the piece of history that it has become.
  • I am right there with you - I was introduced to smoking shisha by my friend. We went to a hookah bar. Right at first it was strictly a recreational thing for me, but as time has gone on I have come to appreciate the culture. When I buy a new hookah I make sure that it is a quality piece of art so that when people see it they ask me what it is and I can explain not just its function but also its history. I rarely go to hookah parties and when I have friends over to smoke with me it's not a party we spend time philosophizing. I like you want people to sit back and not only think about how much fun it is to smoke hookah, but how amazing that such a concept exist.
  • Wow, Atuan, you took my comment right off of HookahDomain.com.  Talk about plagiarizing...does "MystMaster" sound familiar?  That's me.  Anyways, everything that is in Atuan's comment (my comment in reality) is exactly the truth.  Also bsh9889 took his comment from HD as well.  I am only saying this because I just so happened to be looking through the Hookah Love blog and saw this and it reminded me of the HD topic I posted to, only to realize it was started by the same guy on HD, then of course realized what I already stated:  plagiarizing.  Anyways, nice article once again and I really agree that we should remember the culture behind the hookah rather than just using it for parties.
  • I completely agree, although I think it can serve a dual purpose of providing a relaxing time of fellowship, history, philosophy, and other relaxed brain stimulating discussion but also be a focal point at a party. Who am I to judge how someone enjoys a hookah? I was introduced to it at a hookah bar with a couple drunk friends, yet I fell in love with it and have dived deeper into it's culture and heritage and have made it something I greatly respect.
  • I totally agree the hookah lounge I used to go to when I was 18 was real chill and respective only to change into another lounge with a liquor lisense loud music and a totally different croud. I am just like averyone else I like a beer or an occasion glass of wine with my hookah sessions but getting wasted it just loses something... don't get me wrong I like to party with the best of them but would rather smoke my hookah pipe on a nice sunny afternoon on a camping trip it adds to conversation...
  • i totally agree, alot of kids in my High School were getting into the hookah scene of a near by college town. I had heard lots about hookah and how awesome it was to smoke, so for my 18th birthday instead of throwing money at strippers or having a kegger in my back yard, i decided me and a few of my closer friends would travel to said college town and check it out. there are 3 lounges in this city, one is a small laid back cafe style setting run by an iranian immigrant its called "the fez" another called the "white rabbit" owned by a college aged women set in an outlet in a strip mall its twice as large as the fez and very colorful they play chill techno and house music but the chairs are those annoying fold out papasan and they serve the cheapest starbuzz they can get, the 3rd is a large restaurant/lounge aptly named "the habibi lounge" with huge hedonistic roman style bed/couches and normal cafe tables they serve tradition indian food and on the weekends are 21 and up due to an bar being open. so naturally i jumped on the fez. they play mostly reggae and indie and its a very very small place with mostly cafe tables and large plush leather couches. its also the only place that respects the hookah and doesnt focus on their liquor license on the weekends. they serve beer and soft drinks  thats about it. before i even chose the venue i delved into the history, the culture, and the etiquette. fell in love with everything surrounding it. well recently i used my tax return to by an 18" MYA
  • and havent touched a hookah bar since. i find sitting on my back porch with a few friends and some light indie music, maybe a beer or two to enhance the very natural shisha flavors we choose (double apple, pipe tobacco, and java flavored) shunning the more candy and poppy flavors.its the ultimate relaxation experience. theres nothing wrong with breaking out the hookah at a party as long as everyone follows the house rules, no cigarettes in the circle, absolutely NO ashing in the tray unless its a coal, and most of all stay seated the entire time you're taking pulls. no begging for hoses, no saying "pass that shit" just friends in a circle enjoying the tobacco and its wonderous properties while discussing life and what is important.

    this is the way a hookah was meant to be enjoyed.
  • I know what will bring in tradition and old school smoking. Try your hand at tombac and jurak and smoke it like a cigar. Yum!
  • Hookah traditionally is a social thing. It needn't be philosophical but it brings people together for conversations or relaxing, which also helps let down any social barriers. (It's like an ice-breaker). I love meeting people and taking my friends to the hookah bar. I prefer to go to traditional arab or indian bars to smoke because like other people said, more bars are all about being loud, trendy and appealing to the drunken american masses who don't know what hookah is or could care less but like the candy flavors and smoke to get buzzed. Being from NY though I had quite a variety to choose from, now I live in SC where there are no hookah bars lol!! Everyone I know has never heard of it and they give me very puzzled looks and say "wow I don't smoke but it sure sounds exotic..." Imma have to buy my own hookah soon ~ though I don't want to smoke alone : /