I Smoked Shisha but Didn’t Inhale

After checking out of my Pune guest house today, I bought a Volvo bus ticket for tonight, bound for Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat. There I plan to make another pit stop before continuing my journey farther north to the state of Rajasthan.

With about six hours to kill, I figured I’d try and find a spot where I could sip tea, eat, and jump on my computer.

I came across the Green Villa Multi-Cuisine restaurant. I figured that green must mean healthy.

I walked in and was taken by surprise. It was 1:30 pm on a Monday afternoon. Most of the round tables were taken. Nobody was eating. Everyone was passing around a hookah and smoking shisha: flavored tobacco.

The aroma and vibe was pleasant. Mostly middle to upper-class young adults were enjoying music, conversation and flavored tobacco. I thought: I don’t like the smell of cigarettes but this stuff adds a fruity aroma to the scene.

I asked to see a menu and then took a whole round table to myself.

My waiter and I were lost in translation so I asked the guys at the next table to help.

Excuse me. Could you tell him that I would prefer to drink my Lassi and tea first, and then order food in a little while?”

They happily took care of the translation and then started talking:

Don’t you like Shisha?”

I don’t know much about Shisha.”

Would you like to try? Come join us.”

They explained that we were smoking Ice Berg. It’s best to hit the tube hard, keep the smoke in your mouth and then blow it out. I thought back to the only other time that I tried this unorthodox concoction. It was in Montreal about 10 years ago: No wonder I had a wicked head ache. I inhaled.

They demonstrated the huge smoke rings that they could make while I sat with them for a bit. We chatted as they passed the single tube hookah around. I thought: I’ve experienced another episode of Indian hospitality.

This time I didn’t have a headache because I was instructed by the pros:

Don’t inhale.”

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DISCLAIMER: I don’t condone the use of tobacco or it’s Shisha form. I’m not typically a fan of tobacco but I’d smoke Shisha again solely for its social element.  Surprisingly, it doesn’t taste bad.

If you’re ever in the Koregaon Park area of the city of Pune and want to try Shisha, then I recommend the Green Villa Multi-Cusine Restaurant specializing in Mughlai & Lebanese Cuisine.  It costs about 350 Rupees or $7.12 for a hookah filled with the flavored shisha of your choice.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Interesting story! I’m not a user of tobacco, but I’ve had shisha a number of times and the flavors really are tasty. When I was in Egypt I also really liked the social aspect of a shisha pipe and drinking tea – some ultimate relaxation!


    • MARK: Thanks! You inspire me to try it again as I’m here in India for two more weeks and have the easy opportunity. Here in Udaipur I’ve seen signs for it. When in Rome…


  2. Posted by André on October 31, 2011 at 09:41

    Do as the pros. Take care.


    • ANDRÉ: Not sure if I’ll ever be able to do like the pro smokers I saw in that restaurant as they tend to generate huge clouds of smoke. It was a fun, alternative and spur of the moment activity though. When in Rome…


  3. Found your post on the wordpress ‘tag surfer’ page, thanks. I enjoyed reading about your experience! Takes ‘social smoking’ to a whole new level hey? Enjoy the rest of your travels in India, I am looking forward to getting back there soon.


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