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Guest JebelChara

1824 Hookah like it was in Calcutta,India


Guest JebelChara


1824 in Calcutta,India :

I was reading a book this week about various first hand personnal stories and views on Calcutta,India from the time it was first built by a private British citizen 200 plus years ago until the squallor of today.

One short chapter was written by Fanny Parkes in 1824 and she has a mention on hookahs. No copyright infrigements here as the editor of the book states that short portions can be used for reviews. looking online, I found many searches available for this "white english woman" who became Indian in culture after many years.

fanny...x= - Google Search

The illustrations she drew of her travels were amazing.

fa...=1 - Google Image Search

Quote : author Fanny Parkes

"Begums,Thugs, and White Mughals" 1824 ("Thug" originally a Bengali word)

"To a person fresh from england, the number of servants attending at a table is remarkable. We had only a small party of eight to dinner yesterday, including ourselves;

three-and-twenty servants were in attendance! Each gentleman takes his own servants in number from one to six , and each lady her attendant or attendants ,as pleases her fancy.

The HUQQA was very commonly smoked,at that time in Calcutta : before dinner was finished , each man's pipe was behind his chair.The tobacco was generally so well prepared that the odour was not unpleasant, unless by chance you sat next to a man from the "mofusill" {(suburbs) unlike American suburbs etc, those were what would be called"the sticks" where "hillbillies "of India! lived}, when the fume of the spices used by the up -country HUQQA "Bardars" (Huqqa Bardar is the private servant tending each hookah) preparring the tobacco ,rendered it oppresive and disagreeable."

Images by Fanny Parkes :

note :

shisha was preparred by the hookah bardar using dry leaves of tobacco, rinsing and sometimes soaking with water, squeezing out most of the water leaving the tobacco clump moist, spreading out the clump and adding the "Sahib"'s (Master's)favourite spices or tastes and adding honey in rare cases since the tobacco was wet and required no addition of gycerine like we use.

Wouldn't be suprised if there are many accounts of hookah use from the 17th or 18th century first hand.

I remember around 4 pages of a Rudyard Kipling short story where he wrote in long and great detail about the preparrations, the hookah bardar made, and how people were smoking. I think the Sultan in the group if I remember ground up a large pearl and it was added to his shisha!!! Look online , it could get interesting.

"If you don't know where you came from, you won't know where you are going to".

Permission Granted

I went online to search

"Rudyard Kipling hookah"

There is a lot of info. The short story I referred to above is mentioned but now i can qoute you it's name. There are I think four pages on hookah in it.

hookah eye-witness hookah from Rudyard Kipling the great British author

"Ballad of the King's Jest"

"And the talk slid north, and the talk slid south,

With the sliding puffs from the Hookah- Mouth;

Four things greater than all things are

Women and Horses and Power and War"

I would not be suprised if today Rudyard Kipling would have changed horses to fast sports cars, and added to the four P.C.s Laptops,Home Media Centers, IPods,Cellphones etc.

another Kipling quote :

"The Betrothed"

"And a woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke"

If there is anyone who can explain this drawing similarities between tobacco and G-D's greatest gift to all humanity, I'd like to hear.

I would not give up my wife neither for a cigar or the best hookah and shisha!

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2 answers to this question

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interesting book. Ill add it to my "to read" list.

Regarding your quote

And a woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke

I did a Google search and it brought me to these pages.

Another site had said:

Another important person in history made a big mistake regarding cigars. It was Rudyard Kipling, not Groucho Marx, who first said, "A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke." Rudy, a woman is never only a woman, and a good cigar is much more than a smoke. The special experience of enjoying a good cigar can be transcendental.

I personally can't make much sense out of the quote out though,

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