| The hookah, known mostly in Arab countries as 'Shisha', is slowly becoming popular among the Americans who are making a smoke of the traditional Arab water pipe used occasionally for social gatherings.
Western tourists have always been attracted to smoking Shisha during their travels to Middle Eastern countries. For most of them the quaint experience ended as their tours came to a close. Some of these tourists, however, flew back home with the colourful accessory, which finally settled as decorative items in different corners of their homes.
It is difficult to imagine that what had always passed as a worthwhile experience for these vacationers would go beyond a fleeting entertainment. Apart from the fact that the hookah remains an alien habit in non-eastern cultures, difficulties involved in selecting the bottle, importing it and preparing it for a smoke, could also pose as an impediment against its popularity in a West that has for long been accustomed to easier types of smoking.
But lately, Florida-based Gainesville Times and Minnesota Daily reported that students in particular are seeking a new pleasure in a Shisha smoke, which is currently served in coffee shops and bars. For some of them it is also one way of relieving tension after a long day's work, noted the two dailies.
A tobacco company official was reported to have started his own outlet for selling Shisha tobacco. He said that no less than ten students are visiting his shop everyday. Some tourists returned from their tours in the Middle East carrying the shapely bottles, which they rent for $10 or $15, all depending on the size of the Shisha. The practice has been spotted in the college surroundings of California, Los Angeles.
Some American research centers, which have also taken interest in the emerging habit, underlined the mistaken belief that smoking the Shisha, that is basically effected through heating rather than burning the tobacco, is less harmful than smoking cigarettes.
It remains a little known fact for many that the preparations involved in smoking Shisha have made it less convenient and hence, less frequent than cigarettes. But when smoked everyday, the Shisha is a real health hazard, stress experts.
Interestingly the launch of the hookah has not stopped at coffee shops and bars. Many websites have been set up to sell the bottle and provide smoking-related tips. Gainesville Hookah and Southsmoke.com are two such Internet channels that offer services to the interested groups. The latter claims it is the premier source for avid hookah smokers worldwide. Its services also include shipping within the US and Canada.
Some US-based Arab expatriates are looking upon the water pipe as a cultural issue and not only as a trigger of social gatherings.
In a world threatened by the dissemination of alcoholism and drug-addiction, the spread of Shisha is likely to compound the concerns of health experts.
You must be logged in to add tags.
I m working with The Gulf Today a daily news paper in Dubai.
You must be a TakingITGlobal member to post a comment. Sign up
for free or login