Have you ever tried smoking shisha pipes?
Today I tell you a secret: I collect pipes, opium ones, and more traditional models. I like them since childhood when in the evening I sat watching my grandfather on his wicker chair in the kitchen struggling with his pipe. It was almost a ritual. I like them as an object, I like the gestures linked to them, and I like the calmness typical of those who smoke them.
In my collection, unknowingly began during my first stay in Chiang Rai, I also have two hookahs, the water pipe of the North African and Middle Eastern tradition, called shisha, from Turkish bottle. The first comes from Morocco, purchased while sipping mint tea during a long and entertaining negotiation in a narrow street of Essaouira. According to them, the second is really new, purchased in a trivial supermarket in Dubai for a few dirhams (the same model in the souk was, according to them, worth about ten times the price!).
The hookah is originally from Egypt from where it widespread in most neighboring regions during the sixteenth century. In these countries, smoking shisha is a real ritual that symbolizes friendship and brotherhood.
A relaxing break with friends, to be lived comfortably at home or more often in dedicated spaces, coffee shops, or, as it happened to me in the desert near Dubai, in an equipped area with carpets and pillows with views of the starry sky.
Despite some hasty conclusions that you can hear around, shisha is not a drug, and you don’t smoke it for its actually non-existing effects!
As mentioned before, it really is a friendly moment, a bit like our sundowners not possible in the Middle East due to alcohol consumption.
Usually, you smoke it for about an hour, gathering around one or more pipes. In more fancy coffee shops in Dubai or a riad in Marrakech, they serve the hookah with more pipes attached to it to have one. In contrast, in cheaper places, the pipe will be unique, but you will be given plastic interchangeable spouts so you can pass it from one to another.
Traditionally the tobacco smoked in shisha is Virginia, soaked in a mixture of molasses, honey, and sugar and placed in a special ceramic container on top of the glass pipe and then covered with a perforated aluminum sheet on which you put some charcoal embers.
This process makes the smoke much lighter, but in fact, the World Health Organization has announced that the tobacco inhaled during an hour corresponds to that of about one hundred cigarettes!
There are also unlimited varieties of mu’assel without nicotine, and that’s what I smoke. It is flavored with fruit or mint, licorice and this year I also saw Coca-Cola! The most popular flavorings are undoubtedly apple and melon, but I prefer mint or caramel. Gourmand me …
Smoking shisha pipes
- only use the specific mu’assel tobacco, to be purchased anywhere on-site or in the airports
- if you are among friends and want to keep smoking longer than an hour, do change the water in the hookah because meanwhile, it will have absorbed the tobacco
- when you see that the hookah is filled with smoke, instead of pulling from the pipe, blow in it to have it dissipate
- relax and chat with whoever is sharing the moment with you 😉