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Hookah Around the World: Part 1 - Trinidad and Tobago

Editor's note:  This is a first in a series of blog posts dedicated to hookah culture around the world.  We invite our readers to contribute and share your stories of how you were introduced to the hookah, and how the social and cultrual aspect of hookah smoking has grown in your community.  Enjoy! I want to begin by saying what up to all you badass hookah lovers out there and secondly give a shout out to the staff at hookah-shisha.com! You guys are awesome and really do a great job.  Alrighty - some quick info about me, I’m Kahlid, I'm 23 years old, and I live in Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean.  Most importantly, I love hookah and if you’re reading this then most likely you’re a hookah lover like me.  Right? You may be wondering “huh, hookah in the Caribbean? How’d that happen?” Good question, so let me break it down for you;  Trinidad & Tobago is a melting pot of cultures.  We have Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Syrian, Lebanese, African, and the list goes on.   As these people came over they brought their culture with them, and there you have it.  That’s how the beautiful hookah made its journey to the island of Trinidad. Back in the day the Indian people even referred to it as “chillum” in slang. In Trinidad, hookah is a social thing; at least it is with me. It’s something to do when you’re just “limin” with your friends (“limin” means to “hang out” here in TnT).  My friends and I would say “yeh hoss leh we orange ah lime an bun some shisha.” It sounds funny, I know.  Nothing beats having a house lime with your buddies, having a little cook up with drinks and end it all with a nice 3-4 hour long shisha session. That’s a common thing for my limin group here and I recommend you try it too! I have been into hookah ever since I can remember; I grew up seeing my uncles blowing big puffs of smoke into the air from this awesome looking thing as a child at family get-togethers. And as I got older it was something I would do every now and then with friends but now it’s something I enjoy all the time. Having said that, it’s fair to say I have a good deal of experience with hookah and I’ve picked up some tips and tricks that I would love to share. Below is some basic info for the longest most awesome flavor packed, thickest smoke I ever had in my life. First and foremost you need a hookah. If you have one already, great! If you’re thinking of getting one then I definitely recommend visiting www.hookah-shisha.com and have a quick look-see;  if you’re looking for top-of-the-line stuff from hookahs down to shisha then look no further. There is a lot of hype about the Old School Rotator Hookah, I must say it is great one indeed, especially for the first time owner.  But let me just say the others are great as well like the Egyptian Sphinx Hookahs which are great, they smoke well and as a bonus look like a museum piece. I own one myself along with a 3 hose Syrian Chiller (which I named “Puffer”) and also a Mini Mya Hookah (which smokes like a champ!) Secondly you need quality shisha! There are tons of brands out there; my personal favorites are Fumari, Romman and Starbuzz.  Hookah is all about flavor you guys; thick smoke is a must, and trust me young puffers, the brands above deliver and are well worth the extra pesos. You can look through the wide variety of shisha available on the site. TRY EM ALL!  They're awesome!  And I definitely recommend island papaya by Fumari.  For all the non tobacco people give Hydro Herbal Shisha a go, you won’t regret it! Thirdly, what you put in your base can really influence your flavor, not to mention your overall experience.  Something I do all the time is add ice and lots of it.  It makes the smoke cool and it really gets the flavor going. Also I like to add fruit juices like watermelon, orange juice, fruit punch or even lemon wedges depending on the flavor of shisha I’m killing that night. You can even add some flavored vodka in your base; it’s really something when you do! Once you’ve got the above covered, now its time to move onto packing your bowl.  Make sure you pack your shisha in loosely.  Sprinkle it around, open some pieces up a little and leave some as is. A cool tip is to leave a small hole in the middle, you can make this by using your finger, this allows for better air and heat flow so your shisha burns more evenly. If you’re using a really runny shisha, before you attach your bowl take a piece of tissue paper and fold it into a thin long strip, then wrap it around the grommet before attaching your bowl. This will absorb the juice from running down into your base. Cover with your foil “shiny side down.” I like the precut hookah foil - perfect thickness and it’s convenient. Punching Holes: I just take a toothpick and start with a big circle on the outside edge and make my way inward. I make some holes a bit bigger for a little more heat. Hookah Charcoal is a big deal; it affects how thick your smoke is.   Quick light charcoals are great, but the Coco Nara Charcoals are awesome - all natural, long lasting, eco friendly. What more can you ask for? Get ‘em people. Place your coal on top your bowl and let the magic begin. Quick tip: Never place your coal immediately in the center; that’s the last place you put the coal.   Start at the edges, and when your smoke starts to thin, shift your coal and move it in a clockwise/anticlockwise motion and make your way to the center. Last step:  Put hose to lips, create a suction action and enjoy! Repeat as often as desired.  And there you have it folks. I guarantee you will have one of the best sessions ever! When life hands you a bag of coals, use it to smoke shisha!

Comments (15) -

  • Great article.  I have always used ice in my base, but I recently read that no ice is actually better for flavor, which makes sense to me because typically you are able to taste warm flavors better.  Any truth to that?
  • Off the subject but wanted to share a great mix. Put half and half in the base and fill about a third less than you would water. Fill your bowl with coconut shisha. This is now my fovorite flavored smoke and very smooth, even a novice will enjoy it.
  • Awesome post! I will be deploying to Guyana for a few weeks in August and I hope to find some of the local hookah flavor there as well.... Wanna join? Tong haha
  • Matt, it is usually true, especially regarding beverages (or WINE!), that cooler temperatures can mute the flavors of any particular beverage. This is why cheap wine is usually served chilled; although I would like to say it has the same affect on the smoke, I can't really confirm that... I hope that sort of helped though?
  • hey guys, glad you enjoyed the post, u too tatumvay, now, with ragards to the cold and room temp water, i have found that at room temp you do taste the shisha a bit more, but i find the smoke is much more enjoyable with ice, gives u a nice cool feeling, and if ur using a high awsome quality shisha like fumari strinkingly fresh, u get the ful flavor regardless of the temp fo the water,and lets face it, ice melts, so you start of cool and eventually come to a nick room temp smoke from the begining to teh end of your smoke, so i think it just adds something special to your session. And Nick i will deff give your coconut a try, think i might even tweek it with some pineapple juice to give it a little pina colada touch. thanx people..
  • sorry for the spelling errors.. lol i didn't spell check..Embarassed
  • I went on a school trip to greece and disvovered a supprisingly odd flavor of shisha ouzo ... it tasted like black licorice + five pounds of sugar it was extremely extremely sweet
  • Yeah, that's awesome! Different regions of the world have their own flavor/style/customs to smoking hookah... I think I'm going to make it a side-goal of mine to smoke hookah in as many different countries as possible... I've only got Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, Canada, and the US so far :/ But Guyana and Afghanistan are definitely next! haha...
  • are there any hookah bars in trinidad and tobago...i need to know asap
  • Im moving to Port of Spain in Trinidad...are there any hookah lounges in Trinidad?
  • Yow Hookah Guy....there are few hookah lounges in the Port-of-Spain area. But they really are not that common though.

    @Khalid....mih boyyy...good to finally meet a nex trini who have a bess appreciation to d finer brands. I personally not a big fan of d starbuzz myself eh. All the flavors of it that I had in d past I find was kinna weak personally.
    But aye, Ivory Coast is me and mih boys ting self!
  • Hey Brandon and Hookah Guy, in case you haven't found out yet, there's a restaurant on Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook called More Vino/More Sushi and they have.
  • I was introduced to the hookah in Canada, at the time I was really trying to kick cigarette smoking and told a friend, he bought his hookah over and thought me the know how, people i am happy to say I kick the habit with no withdrawals, i smoke twice a day my lips and skin is not black any more and i can stand around smokers and not feel for a cigarette(smiley face) my only problem is I can't find any hookah tobacco to purchase here in Port of Spain.I spoke to a Syrian store owner who gave me some he said there is a store in P>O>S> that sell it, he is keeping where though close to his chest.  May have to smile a little more to get the location
  • Where can I get the quick light coals for hookah ?
  • My brother tried this in NY a few years ago and we enjoyed it.... Could someone tell me where in Trinidad and Tobago could I find a cafe????

    Please send response to [email protected]

    Thank you..