Discover Hookah :: Hookah Chronicles

Hookah Chronicles

One of the oldest traditions of the Middle East is the art of hookah smoking. The hookah, also referred to as a narghile or narghila, shisha or sheesha, water-pipe, and hubbly-bubbly, has long inspired great discussions of politics, religion, and the daily happenings. In social gatherings, the passing of the hose is remarkable- a narghile is placed in the center of a group and smokers pass the hose to the next in the circle, all the while exchanging words and sharing ideas in a playful mode.

Hookah pipes have been around for hundreds of years. During the 17th century, hookah pipes were a common object in coffee shops along the streets of Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries. The Turkish people tweaked the designs of pipes that had come from India, creating the classic hookah design. Hookah pipes and the act of smoking one has become a favorite Middle Eastern pastime and it's spreading throughout the world. Some smoking circles have developed their own sort of etiquette for the transfer of the hose to the next person, etc.

The popularity of the hookah has sky-rocketed in recent years, mainly due to the social nature of hookah smoking. In the United States, where everything has become so fast paced that people rarely have time to socialize with family or friends, it certainly contributes to the smoker's integration in his or her social environment in a brotherly peaceful act of solidarity. The popularity of the hookah has also grown due to the fact that many people prefer it over cigarette or cigar smoking because it has less nicotine and no tar. People also prefer it because of the soothing sounds of the bubbling water, the flavorful taste, and the state of relaxation that comes with puffing on a hookah.

The shisha, also called tombac, gouza, moassel, shisha or sheesha, is a special blend of fresh, dark leaves, fruit pulp, honey or molasses, and glycerine. The shisha is available in a wide variety of flavors including double apple, strawberry, melon, pineapple, vanilla, and rose. This blend contains only 0.5% nicotine and no tar.

With a vast collection of flavors to choose from and many other variables to manipulate, hookah smoking is truly an art. Many smokers enjoy adding ice, fruit juice, milk or wine to water in the glass vase to change the taste, texture, or effect of the smoke.

Although the exact origin of waterpipes is yet a mystery it is believed that the original design for the hookah came from India or Persia. It was in Turkey that the water pipe completed its revolution and has hardly changed its style for the last few hundred years. It didn’t take long for the Turks to discover a way to make the hookah more convenient to smoke. Around 500 years ago, they reshaped the design and added a hose. Since then, the Turkish waterpipe has been a staple of many households and is the basis for the modern time design of the hookah.

These days in the cafe of Cairo, puffing on their hookah water pipes, patrons mutter about the unstoppable invasion of American fast food and trash television. Few realize that the hookah itself is stealthily spreading across the globe.

NOTE: Several hypotheses on the birthplace of the narghile must be taken into account. They concern Europe, America, India, Persia and Africa. Those who try hard to write the official chronicle of smoking mention an American origin for the latter and a European one for the transmission of its use modes, as the common pipe, the chibouque or even narghile. Such an argument states that the Europeans would have taught Asian and African peoples how to smoke, particularly through the pipe. A consequence is that cannabis would have been inhaled, neither in Europe, nor in Africa, nor anywhere else, before the arrival of smoking.