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Up in smoke
A hookah rookie shares her first experience
Published Wednesday, July 3, 2013
by Amanda Raymond

Zack White and Malcolm Willis smoke hookah at King Tut Hookah Lounge in Charlotte. Hookah smoking is particularly popular among young people in the United States. 

My sister Farah has been trying to get me to go to a hookah bar for months. When I finally tell her I want to go, she is more excited than I am.

“I can’t wait,” she says. “We’re going to have so much fun!”

I tell my brother, Jordan, and he wants to come as well.

“So when are we going?” he asks, inviting himself.

“Friday,” I say. The plans are set, and I am going to smoke hookah for the first time.

Friday night rolls around, and we decide to go to King Tut Hookah Lounge on University City Boulevard. It’s close to home and near UNC-Charlotte.
Farah, Jordan and I walk into the lounge. The lights are dimmed; there are couches and coffee tables placed about the space. I also spot a pool table and jukebox.

We are not standing by the door long before an employee, Anay Kash, walks up and welcomes us. He tells us we can sit anywhere, so we sit near the windows towards the back of the room. It is when we sit that we really begin to take in the décor and feel of the lounge.

There is Egyptian wall art around the room. Up near the counter, a flat screen television hangs on the wall, playing a movie. Some type of Middle-Eastern music is playing in the background. The windows are blacked out, and the other customers are quietly chatting amongst themselves. The vibe is mellow and relaxing, like a place you can go to just hang out with friends.

Kash takes us into the VIP section, usually reserved for parties of 15-20 people. The theme is “Red Carpet.” The room is decorated in red and gold with couches and coffee tables scattered around. There are three flat screen televisions in the middle, all facing a different direction, chandeliers and linen sheets are billowing from the ceiling.

It’s the first time for me and my brother so we order the “melon blue” hookah flavor because we’re told it’s not too harsh. My sister has done hookah before, so she is happy to show us how it’s done.

I can’t lie and say I’m not a little nervous. This is the first time I smoked anything. Plus, the conversation I had earlier with Dr. Jaspal Singh, a pulmonologist at Carolinas Healthcare System, is still fresh in my mind. He told me about the possible dangers of hookah smoking.
He warned me that it was not well studied but contains the same nicotine and preservatives found in cigarettes and may cause cancer, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

His words echo in my mind, but Kash makes the experience feel safe.

He gives us separate plastic mouthpieces in wrappers. He also assures us owner Hamdy Kishk is very health conscious. They have a machine and special brushes to clean leftover residue to make sure fragrances and impurities aren’t left in the hookahs.

Kash tells us he has been smoking hookah for a long time, and the bad effects happen over a long period of time.

“A safe addiction is better than something you can’t get rid of,” he said.

So, nervous as I am, I take a puff, then another, and another.

My siblings and I talked, laughed and smoked for an hour or so. It was fun and relaxing. One of my favorite parts was seeing the smoke rise from my mouth. I found it kind of soothing. I even made smoke rings.

Though hookah smoking may not necessarily be the healthiest pastime, it was a great experience that I will probably do again.

Related articles:

- Hookah's safety risks still unclear


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