A friend of mine learned that there are many hookah bars in my neck of the New York City woods. He wanted to visit and see what usefulness he could find in the ancient art of the hookah. I couldn't think of any, but am a gracious hostess and I walked with him on hookah bar street to view the following:
"Egyptian hookah bar with Halal cafe" had neon lights, blah tables, and only two customers. Hookahs and neon lights don't seem to "go." We walked further.
"Moroccan hookah bar with Halal cafe" had no lights and customers who were doing things in darkness that they didn't really want us to know about. Pass.
"Hookah bar with backyard" had no customers, so we assumed they were all in the back. Pass.
We settled on a Lebanese hookah bar with lots of customers and dancing babes on video. I was mesmerized. There were girls who belly-shimmied in skirts up to there and girls who did some hip-hop moves on a street in some undisclosed Arabic city on the big screen. A prompt kept coming up in Arabic and English telling us to SEND YOUR SMS TEXT MESSAGES NOW! After which I learned that Mohamed loves Mona. In fact, in the next two hours, I learned that Mohamed loves Mona 154 times. Mesmerized, I tell you.
On the Menu:
Shisha, all kinds - $4
El Fequh-el-something LaMai can't pronounce but it means totally fabulous Shisha - $5
You Can't Read This So We Won't Tell You What This Really Is Shisha, - $4
Our waiter arrived. He had a big smile. YOU READY FOR SOME SHISHA?
My friend spoke: What is "all kinds" Shisha?
Waiter: All kinds shisha is apple, strawberry, banana, mango, cappuccino, vanilla, coconut, grape, anise, cola, lemon, Red Bull, Pepsodent, Bengay cream, whatever flavor you want!
Me: What is El Fequeel-something?
Waiter: It's the BEST! We haven't had any since 1994.
Me: What is this last one that I can't read?
Waiter: Say it with me. سسشضغغظقكللنقش shisha!
Me: Erm, we'll have apple shisha?
Did I say "we"? I don't smoke. Before going to the hookah cafe, I learned on Wikipedia that hookah smoking causes infertility and gum disease. I decided to leave these little facts out of our evening's conversation. My friend is a smoker and I am certain that his lungs have already been on display at the Museum of Tar.
Before the brazier waiter came around, I noticed the windows were now totally smoked and that was when I nearly passed out. That could have been because "hookah-smoking causes carbon-monoxide headaches and poisoning and nausea."
Fortunately, I got to try the rice pudding with rose water and Turkish coffee. They were good.