Hookah, a pipe by any other name
General info Hookah, hubble-bubble pipe, shisha, waterpipe, narghilah, kalian - by whatever name you call it, the kalian (its Azeri name) is a relaxing and increasingly trendy way to spend an evening out.
Smoking the hookah has become so popular that whole theme bars have been opened centring on the hookah. On a recent trip to Manhattan your reporter and his friends waited an hour to get into a small place in Chelsea. Although the decor of the place was caravanserai in style, after spending some time in Istanbul, the place in New York was a let down with its faux Turkish music, packed dance floor and massive narghilas. But it goes to show how popular they are.
Kalians are smoked, by various names, from India to Turkey. For most Westerners, the hookah represents the exotic Middle East of harems, court yards, tea houses and belly dancers of a vanishing romantic past. Taking a cue from a Turkish-influenced past, kalians are making a comeback in former-Soviet Baku, where it was a norm of everyday life a hundred years ago.
While kalians are offered at many bars, clubs and restaurants throughout Baku, you can also buy them for your own home at Tambeki. The shop is located in the Nizami Cinema building on 28 May St. It offers a wide variety of kalians ranging in price from $5-$500. Tambeki sells all of the accoutrements including hoses, ceramic cups, tobacco and water vessels made of crystal or glass. There are diverse mouthpieces made of silver, gold, metal and wood and varying in price from between $2-$ 100. The shop sells a wide range of flavoured tobaccos. Apple, strawberry, grape, peach, multi-fruit and mint flavour are the best sellers and are considered most popular among smokers. These types of tobacco contain the least amount of nicotine. A fifty gram pack of tobacco is enough for three bowls, while one filling is enough for an hour of smoking.
While a variety of accessories can be added to your pipe, way to really try something new is to change what is inside. Instead of using water try sweet red wine or vodka for a slight buzz; while cold milk or heavily-iced water makes for a cool refreshing smoke. Also, with so many tobaccos to choose from, mixing and matching is a way to try something new every time. And remember; keep your tobacco refrigerated and your pipes clean.
By Caspian Scene Team