Monday, June 8, 2009

Never Find a Hookah Here

While deployed, I enjoyed going to the weekly bazaar. It was a nice way to break the monotony of the daily routine. At the bazaar: I haggled with vendors (customary/expected), socialized outside of work, found some great deals, and as the days blurred, the bazaar helped indicate that it was Friday, again.

There was much to be had at the bazaar, depending on your preferences. Beautiful Afghan/Persian rugs, gemstones/jewelry, Afghan clothing, Russian artifacts, antique rifles, and... hookers, oops, excuse me, wrong spelling, I mean hookahs. My apologies to nor-easterners; same pronunciation, different meaning.

Hookahs, are prevalent in the Middle East, and are used to smoke tobacco, herbs, or marijuana/hashish/opium. It is a culturally and socially acceptable smoking instrument in those parts of the world. Guess I could have bought an authentic Afghan hookah if I really needed one, but I don't smoke. And, I don't think a colorful, multi-user hookah souvenir, prominently displayed, would go over well with our military/educator circle of friends. Never knew anyone who used a hookah, until a few days ago.

Recently, while searching for computer cables in my cable-stash drawer, I happened upon a hookah, apparently hidden. "What's this?" I thought. Had my wife taken up smoking pot to deal with the stress of my absence? Nah! She did well while I was gone. But if not her, who then?

Seems my 18 yr old step-son bought the hookah online while I was gone. Mama found it, and confiscated it amid great consternation. The official story relayed to my wife, according to my step-son/daughter, was that the hookah, a trendy instrument, is used by young adults for smoking "trendy" blocks of tobacco.

Uhhh, after thinking back to high school/college, I paused, contemplating the fable. I paused some more, then proceeded to believe their incredible story (it did smell like tobacco). These kids are just not the type. Tobacco experimentation, yes, marijuana, no.

Nonetheless, the hookah was officially confiscated. They took a hit (so to speak) on their much needed teen dinero, it was their money, not tobacco, that went up in smoke. I had to find another place to put it until we decided what to do with it. But where?

After some thought, using finely honed parental skills. I put it where they'd least likely think to look, a place where teens are notorious for never venturing, hidden in plain sight...Duh! I put it with the cleaning supplies, under the bathroom sink; no chance of discovery there!

Teachers: Seriously, the hookah does play a prominent social role in many cultures, and it is not always associated with the use of illicit drugs. Have your students research this centuries old implement, and report on the positive, and negative aspects of how it is used.


  1. Thank you for a great post! With cigarettes being banned from bars, hookah bars have been popping up like weeds (no pun intended). I'm not a smoker, but have been curious about these fascinating instruments.

  2. Nice post! My brother brought a hookah back from Turkey and a close friend used to travel back and forth for business (yeah, yeah)and had a few in his house too. Nice handling of the situation.

  3. Very interesting article. We came across these hookahs in Istanbul while on holiday a few years ago. It was interesting to watch the men (predominantly men use them) all sitting around socializing while enjoying their smoke. Many shop owners in the Grand Bazaar also sat outside their small shops smoking their hookahs. I don't smoke either, but it was interesting to watch.

  4. I live in the Washington, DC area and hookah bars are pretty popular for high schoolers here. I think you're supposed to be eighteen but no one really cares. My friend and I recently bought a hookah from a local store just to save money by not going as's a really fun social activity to do after a meal!

  5. hookah bars have become pretty trendy around here. Many eastern restaurants here are serving hookahs to college kids who smoke aromatic herbs with it after a hearty dinner. There are as many herbal flavors are there are teas leaves (which is what they are smoking) Most do it to look cool and enlightened but I think, some do it as part of the social cultural diaspora of the 21st century.
    Hope your kids did not suffer much. Finding proof of a cultural experiment like Hookah is not as frightening as finding a roach or other paraphenelia for illegal substances.
    I hope u got a chance to turn the whole thing into a teachable moment about the amazing culture you have experienced in your travels.

  6. Thank you all for your insights into hookahs. I am slowly catching up with the times, and appreciate being schooled on them and their societal influence; both here and abroad.

  7. In India U will also find Hukkas in every house in the village. nice post

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