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is an oral tradition
that should go up
in smoke
What a drag ...
According to
health experts,
Sheesha, shysha, shisha.
No matter how you smell it, you know what it is: a fascinating
conduit for convivial socialization that has been used for
centuries particularly in Arab countries, Persia, and north
India. And although there may be something seductive about
the ritual involved in smoking from a sheesha (as I spell it)
water-pipe - from its evocative hour-glass shape, gurgle of
water, and obvious oral fixative - there is little that can be
considered sensuous about the confirmed dangers to health
that are associated with it.
Never snuffed out
Also commonly known as the
narguilah, argila, hubbly bubbly
or hookah, the glistening and
sometimes bejeweled instrument
is a novelty for the novice and an
indispensable cultural icon for
its devotees. Intimate personal
rituals are involved in preparing
the instrument and integrating it
in conversation. It may be shared,
like an American Indian peace
pipe, to establish a feeling of
brotherhood. Puffs taken from it
help punctuate commentary. As a
tradition throughout the Middle
East, the smoking of the sheesha has
artfully enhanced story telling, and
its practice there likely will never be
snuffed out.
Reasons for ‘smoking the sheesha’
(as the practice is usually described,
keeping in mind that a sheesha is the
instrument that enables smoking),
are twofold, and as intriguing as the
unique health concerns associated
with it. Determining which reason
more greatly influences its users’
desire to continue or quit creates
a challenge both for marketeers
of sheesha-related products and
for representatives of health
organizations who encourage its
First is the obvious that even the
least analytical can conclude: folks
suck on the sheesha because doing
so makes them happy. Like infants at
the breast, taking a deep one seems
to help them take their minds off the
worst of their troubles. They most
July/Aug 2013