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Thursday Thirteen: Hookahs in the Movies

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We've sold hookahs to at least two different production companies in the past year. Interestingly, they let us know that they would be using our hookahs in the movies they were making, but neither company was at liberty to reveal the name of the films. Whether this was just a marketing strategy on their part to get us to go to the theater more often in the hopes of seeing our hookahs on the big screen or some kind of legal issue, we don't know. But, it did inspire our list of 13 movies in which hookahs appear. Enjoy!

Hookahs and Hollywood

1. Hidalgo: We'd be disappointed if this movie didn't have a hookah in it considering that it is the story of a horse race in Arabia!

2. (Indiana Jones and the) Raiders of the Lost Ark:

3. Star Wars: Pop culture's most famous -- or should we say, INfamous -- hookah smoker is, without a doubt, is Jabba the Hut of Star Wars fame. Not your everyday pipe, Jabba's hookah has a special bowl at the bottom where he keeps various live "snacks." This dude is also a serious hookah fan, as he is hardly ever seen without his pipe.

4. Disney's Aladdin: At the beginning of the movie, a merchant who tries to sell the lamp and tells its story, has a hookah for sale. It's not just any old old hookah, though, it's a combination hookah and coffee maker that also makes julienne fries. Now that's one heck of a hookah!

5. The Spy Who Loved Me: Among the gadgets in Q's lab are a decapitating tea tray, a spring mounted pouffe, a hookah that doubles as a machine gun, and a camel saddle that conceals a large spike.

6. Casablanca: Set in Morocco, where the hookah is part of everyday life, it's no wonder that Bogie's best known movie has a hookah in it!

7. The Matrix Reloaded: The twins are smoking an Indian style hookah.

8. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels: It's not easy to see, but there's a hookah in this scene!

9. 300: We looked far and wide, but couldn't find a picture for this one. Trust us, though, there be hookahs in this film.

10. Algiers: Movie buffs might be familiar with this golden oldie starring Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr.

11. Casino Royale: Mata Bond, said to be the "love child" of James 007 Bond and Mata Hari, is an accomplished belly dancer and hookah smoker.

12. Rendition: A CIA agent receives a phone call from his boss while he's smoking hookah in a belly dance club. Considering that this film is about Muslim terrorists, we shouldn't be too surprised to find a hookah in it.

13. Alice in Wonderland: Disney's famous hookah-smoking caterpillar is, by far, the most famous hookah smoker in the world of film!

And before we sign off, there are a few other films we discovered with hookahs: Click, Octopussy, and Pirates of the Caribbean at World's End. There are probably lots more, especially among the film classics.

Wordless Wednesday: Cairo, Egypt

Bashtak Palace, where Ali's mother was born.
For more Wordless Wednesday entries, click here.

Updates & Saalaam SPICED CHAI Review

Hey, folks, it's been a while since I had time to do any posting to the blog, and I'm really sorry for that. Lots of things have been going on since my last post, so here's a quick recap:

  • Because California's budget sucks right now, I took a REALLY early retirement from teaching. It was getting too stressful having to worry about whether or not my contract would be honored and if I'd lose my health insurance. When you've got a serious brain issue or having seizures like I do, you just can't afford to be without health care coverage. So to guarantee that I keep it, I had to retire. Maybe now I'll have time to post more regularly!

  • We've got an air cargo container of Khalil Mamoon (KM) pipes coming to us in the next couple of weeks. It should have 10 of each style they make, so that's kind of exciting. Keep your eye out here for the announcement of their arrival and sale.

  • The response to Saalaam Herbal Shisha surpassed anything we could have imagined. We know that some people prefer the buzz that comes along with using the tobacco brands, but we are thrilled to be supplying two local hookah lounges that serve Saalaam exclusively! It has also gone international, with representatives now in Russia and Latvia, and and negotiations on-going with reps in the Netherlands (Holland), Germany, the UK, Canada, and Australia. It's hard to imagine that back a couple of summers ago, when we recruited some of our regular customers to be samplers for us, that we'd see the success that we have. Thanks again, guys -- you know who you are!

We're working on a summer contest for one of those KM pipes I mentioned and as soon as we get the details all worked out with the legal peeps, I'll post it here. In the meantime, look for more regular posting from me as I branch out into areas that are related to hookahs without spending all my time talking just about the pipes. You'll soon find recipes for Egyptian food, photos of people and places to see in Egypt, virtual vacations to the Land of the Pharoahs, and lots more. I hope that you'll hang around and join in the fun!


On Wednesday, I posted a photo of a cardboard box filled with guavas. So I'll bet you hookah folks are wondering what the heck I'm doing, right? After all, it's not a box of guava shisha and this is, after all, a hookah blog! Rest assured, I haven't lost my mind -- at least not today. As you'll soon see, there is a method to my madness.

The guavas in the box came from one of the two trees that grow in our yards. I actually cultivated these two trees from seeds -- yes, from seeds! Several years ago, a friend of ours who had just returned from Egypt, told us that she had brought a couple of guavas with her to eat on the plane and had forgotten about them during the trip. When we saw her, she had just eaten one and was ready to toss out the seeds. Ali, who happens to love guavas, asked for the seeds and told her how I had grown a couple of avocado trees from seeds. He was convinced that I could do the same thing with the guava seeds.

Not knowing how successful the venture would be, I planted the seeds into a couple of empty laundry detergent buckets and set them on the patio. I watered and checked on them regularly. It didn't take long before the seeds sprouted and full-fledged trees were in the making. When we bought our home, Ali carefully transplanted the saplings -- one in the front yard and one in the side yard. I continued to water and look after them, wondering if they would ever bear fruit. Not being a guava fan myself, I really hoped for Ali's sake that the trees would blossom. It took about eleven years of care and now, for the past five years, those trees have borne fruit!

When it's guava season, our house is the place on the block to be. Even though the front yard is not fenced in, our neighbors don't just help themselves to the fruit; they will knock on the door and ask permission to take some! Ali, of course, harvests them by the bags full to share with his Egyptian pals because, I suppose, to the guava experts of the world, Egyptian guavas are different than the type that can be found easily in Southern California.

The photo that I posted on Wednesday is a reminder that with care and attention, a small idea can blossom into an incredible harvest. Don't give up too easily on dreams; cultivate and care for them like I did for those guava seeds and you just might get an equally amazing result!

To see what others said about their Wordless Wednesday photos, click here.

Wordless Wednesday

More Wordless Wednesday photos can be seen here.

HOOKAHS: Super Anniversary Discounts

Carleen here. Ali and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary on April 9 and in honor of our having shared a quarter century in wedded bliss (most of the time, LOL!), we've put several 32" and taller hookahs on sale at 25% off! Actually, the discount goes much deeper:
  • 25% off the cost of the hookah
  • 5% cash back through My Store Rewards
  • FREE UPS Ground shipping

Included in the sale that ends in 6 days, is single and multi-hose pipes, hookahs with elaborate brass shafts, and the ever popular KM ice chamber hookahs. If you happen to be looking to add another hookah to your collection, this is a sale you don't want to miss!

House Passes Tobacco Bill, 298-112

Congressman Henry Waxman, of California's 30th District (Los Angeles), can now play Yankee Doodle and add a feather to his hat with the House passage of HR1256, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Regulation Act. The bill, which seeks to assign the authority of tobacco regulation to the FDA, passed a House vote yesterday with 298 representatives saying AYE and only 112 saying NAY. The New York Times has provided a roll call of the voting here. How did your representative vote?

The bill is now set for a Senate vote, but it will likely face stronger opposition there than it received in the House. Representing the largest tobacco producing state in the nation, Republican Senator Richard M. Burr, of North Carolina, has threatened a filibuster. But with Senator Edward Kennedy and Philip Morris USA backing HR 1256, and our new President on board, Senator Burr will more than likely have the proverbial uphill battle to wage. Interestingly enough, the Supreme Court denied an appeal to Philip Morris USA on March 31, 2009, in a landmark fraud case that awarded $79.5 million to a Portland, Oregon widow whose husband, a long-time smoker, died of lung cancer (see Philip Morris USA v Williams, 07-1216). The appeal has been bounced around the court system for 10 years and has racked up enough interest to make the award worth $155 million today. I can't help but wonder if Philip Morris USA will change its mind about supporting HR 1256 in light of this. After all, they will need smokers to buy their products in order to recoup their losses, right?

Remember, folks, HR 1256 has a direct impact on your right and ability to smoke hookah! Should the bill pass the Senate and become law, adding flavoring to tobacco will become illegal. Flavoring is the very heart of hookah tobacco!

What can you do?

Contact your senators and voice your opinion. Stand up and be heard!

Waxman's Tobacco Bill & Hookah Tobacco

Today, the House voted to put Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) tobacco bill up for a vote. Waxman's bill seeks to give regulatory control over tobacco to the FDA and has specific stipulations that will have a tremendous impact on hookah tobacco:

"His bill wouldn't let the FDA ban nicotine or tobacco outright, but the agency would be able to regulate the contents of tobacco products, make public their ingredients, prohibit flavoring, require much larger warning labels and strictly control or prohibit marketing campaigns, especially those geared toward children." (Source)

The prohibition on flavoring tobacco means no menthol cigarettes and no flavored pipe or hookah tobacco! What is hookah without flavored tobacco?

The Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the FDA does not have the authority to regulate tobacco, but Waxman and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) have worked tirelessly to change that. Considering the FDA's recent track record of failures in monitoring food safety, I can't imagine what they'll do with tobacco.

So, hookah smokers, now is the time to step up to the plate and let our voices be heard. Get on the phone and call your state's senators, both of them, and your district's Congressional representative before the opportunity passes by. Your voice counts!

It's that time again...... FREE SAMPLE

It's that time again! Back by popular demand, we are holding another FREE sample promotion because everybody loves a freebie, right? We're offering one FREE box of 50 grams of Saalaam Herbal Shisha to the first 50 people who email us their name and shipping address. Once the 50 samples are gone, the promotion will end. One sample per person and per address, please. If you participated in the first promotion, you are not eligible for this one. But stay tuned for other FREE giveaways!

**We've already sent out 79 freebies! We'll leave the promotion open until 10:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time Friday, April 3, 2009.**

Khalil Mamoon Hookahs SALE + FREE shipping!

Carleen here shouting to the world that the grading marathon has ended! And in celebration of this wonderful event, I put some Khalil Mamoon Ice hookahs on sale at 20% off with free UPS Ground shipping to a street address in the 48 contiguous states. If you buy one and pay with Paypal, you can also get 5% cash back by signing up for our My Store Rewards program.

The sale ends in two days so if you've been thinking about adding a KM to your collection, here's your chance to get one at a fantastic price.

Caravan's Grand Washable Hookah Hoses

Innovations in a traditional industry don't come easy, especially when those innovations involve a cultural icon that is manufactured in a country with a history of traditions as long as Egypt's.

When customers kept coming to our shop in search of an authentic Egyptian hose that they could wash, being the honestly amazing dude that he is, Ali would always explain that our hoses have a metal coil wire base and that washing them would cause that coil to deteriorate much faster than it would under normal use. So what's a traditionalist like Ali, the amazing Egyptian dude, to do? Innovate, of course!

On his last trip to the family business in Egypt, Ali set our hose makers to work with a new twist on a traditional design. He put them to work making truly washable hoses in the traditional Egyptian style. What they produced is nothing short of amazing. The Caravan Grand Washable Hoses are about 75 inches long, come in a variety of colors, and smoke like a dream!

Who said that the last really great Egyptian innovation was a pyramid?!

Shisha Mixes: Pomegranate Pleasures

Carleen here. I have the most amazingly scented Pomegranate and Mango shower gel, and it got me to thinking about shisha mixes. To balance the tanginess of the pomegranate, I played around with a few different mixes and came up with a couple that I really liked and hope that you will, too. Although I don't typically smoke tobacco in the hookah (I prefer herbal shisha so that I don't cough a lot), this time I used Layalina tobacco. Here's what I came up with:
  • 1 part Pomegranate with 2 parts Mango -- This one turned out to be my favorite. The sweetness of the mango provided a really nice balance to the tanginess of the pomegranate.
  • 1 part Pomegranate, 1 part Coconut, 1 part Pineapple -- I enjoyed the tropical taste of this mix, and the flavors blended together well. The dominant taste in this mix, even though I put them together in equal parts, was coconut.
  • 1 part Pomegranate, 2 parts Eskandarani Apple, 1/2 part Mint -- First, I have to admit that because I prefer the flavor of Saalaam Herbal Shisha's mint to anything I've tasted in the tobacco brands, I used Saalaam's Breeze O'Mint for this mix. This flavor started out sweet from the apple, took on a tang from the pomegranate, and ended with a subtle hint of cool, cool mint. Of all the mixes I made using pomegranate, this is the one that I would most likely smoke regularly.

Anybody else like pomegranate and have a good mix to share with me?

Tobacco Taxes on the Rise

The taxman cometh, and he wants you to pay more for tobacco products this time around. I love my home state, but I must admit that Californians' tendency to tax anything and everything with which we disagree or disapprove is about to drive me over the edge!

Last night, on the way home from class, I had to stop at the local 7-11 for a pack of cigarettes. As I walked into the store, I noticed a neon orange sign on the front door suggesting that smokers stock up before the latest cigarette tax takes effect on April 1. "Crap!" I thought, "Another tobacco tax coming down the pike?" So this morning, I decided to do some investigation to uncover the when, where, and how much of the latest round of tobacco taxes across the country.

In California, AB 89, which passed the Legislature on January 5, 2009, increases the tax on cigarettes only. On April 1, 2009, each pack of cigarettes will go up in price by $1.05. Although I scoured the bill, which you can read here, I didn't find any increase for other tobacco products. The cost of hookah tobacco should not go up as a result of AB 89; the language of the bill is specific to cigarettes. We got somewhat lucky this time around. Other states, though, weren't as fortunate.

  • Arkansas' HB 1204 will increase the tax on non-cigarette tobacco products from 32 precent of the wholesale price to 68 percent. The governer's website has more information on the tax increase and the allocation of the funds collected.
  • Kentucky's HB 144 doubles the current tax on "snuff and other tobacco products," so that means hookah tobacco prices will increase.

Several other states have tobacco legislation in the works, but the process that each state requires for a bill to pass into law has not been completed yet. If you like in Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, or South Dakota, you need to know that your states' governments are actively pursuing an increase in tobacco taxes. To find out more, check out the 2009 Proposed State Tobacco Tax Increase Legislation website.

Maybe it's time to learn the fine art of tobacco agriculture!