Pass Me the Pipe

Hookah Hurray!
Hookah Hurray!

July 20, 2009 – Ka?, Turkey

Now I’m a girl who likes to smoke. Correction – liked to smoke. I know it’s a dirty filthy habit and it is soooo bad for you. I don’t allow myself even a “social” smoke. Not even “just smoking overseas.” (Although I still maintain a cigarette is the best traveling companion.) I’m cut off. Zilch. Despite my own restrictions, I can appreciate Turkey as one of the last bastions of smoking.

Seriously, here’s a people who like to puff. In restaurants, in bars, in buses (I’m like: Do I smell smoke in this bus? Living in Northern Cali, how soon we forget.)

So imagine how stunned I was to learn that a smoking ban is going into effect in Turkey this month. What?! Turkey is going the way of the rest of the healthy Western world. (Do they need to cut off cigarettes to finally make it into the EU?)

They are even thinking of eliminating that Turkish cultural classic: the nargeileh, the Turkish water pipe, otherwise known as a hookah.

What a water-ful world

What a water-ful world

Proponents of nargeilehs tick off the factors why the water pipes should not be included in the smoking ban:

  • It’s herbal, not tobacco
  • It’s water-based (no sure why this actually makes a difference)
  • It’s part of the Turkish culture.
      Now, here’s an argument that can be used for just about everything and is supremely hard to argue against.

So with this debate playing in my head I go to a bar specifically to get me a hookah, a nargeileh, a puff!

Yeah! I fully agree (rationalize) that water pipes are not the same as smoking and therefore I am not breaking my self-imposed no-smoking-after-40 ban.

We decided to partake in a peach-flavored puff and happily tooted on our nargeileh for more than an hour, giggling the whole time. I mean having serious, deep conversation the whole time. 

Burning the midnight coals
I have to say, it was a Turkish cultural experience as we lounged on the Ottoman-style pillows, listened to American 70s music (the good stuff), and had the attendant bring us fresh coals every little while.

I’m not sure if we poisoned our lungs or not with the peach herbal concoction, but who cares? For one night at least, we were partaking in a centuries-old tradition and pretending we were ancient Turks, without a modern (health)care in the world. 

Puff on that!

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 2nd, 2009 and is filed under Europe.

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