8 months ago
Hookah culture: An age-old modern trend
The increasing popularity of hookah, also popularly known as Shisha, among teenagers could be disturbing to some. But, one cannot ignore the fact that many reasons for the recent fad of hookah bars or lounges have been attributed to acceptance by nonsmokers and search for new forms of socializing.
Koyla Lounge in Lakeside, Pokhara has an influx of youngsters that come into the restaurant to enjoy hookah. Even on its Facebook page, the lounge claims to have the best hookah in the city. Local restaurant entrepreneurs said the hookah trend was flourishing in Pokhara, with mostly youngsters attracted to it. Mushrooming hookah restaurants in Lake Side, Pokhara are the indicators of the rise of hookah culture.
A youth from the group of four friends at the Koyla Lounge, on condition of anonymity, said, “We come here to smoke hookah because it brings us closer. Smoking hookah has almost become a tradition in Pokhara. One of my friends had come from abroad after some four years, so we gathered here to have a fun time.”
Hookah, however, is not a modern thing. It is a traditional form of tobacco consumption used mainly by elderly persons in rural areas of south Asian and Mediterranean countries. Jamuna Magar, another customer at Koyla Lounge, said, “Even a non-smoker like me can enjoy hookah. It is not addictive or as harmful as smoking cigarettes. Smoking hookah helps me relax on a stressful day.”
Moreover, hookah has been thriving as a tradition at get-togethers, functions and even home parties. Local restaurant entrepreneurs said though hookah was mostly popular among older generations, the trend has gradually seeped into city areas. They added that the hookahs these days were not intoxicating, unlike the traditional tobacco ones.
Manager of Koyla Lounge, Krishna Bastola, said, “Earlier, elderly members of the family used to smoke hookah with strong tobacco to feel intoxicated. But it is not the case with modern-day hookahs. We have various flavors to suit our customers’ demands as hookah has become an inevitable part of the night-life in the Lake City.”
According to Krishna, if customers without a hookah on their table see others smoking near them, they immediately order one for themselves.
“Teenagers smoke hookah for fun and not for intoxication,” added Krishna, “This has helped in adding a charm to the restaurant. Smoking hookah is better than smoking cigarettes.” Once filled, a hookah lasts about half an hour, and it costs between Rs 700 to Rs 3,000 depending on the flavor.
Gopi Bahadur Bhattarai, former chair of Restaurant and Association of Nepal (REBAN) Pokhara, stated that most of the customers smoked hookah these days. “It has become a trend for people to come to restaurants and smoke hookah as it is available in almost all restaurants and hotels. It can also help chain smokers get rid of their addiction,” he said.