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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!

John Stuart Mill and Hookah Bans

"The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." --John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

If I couldn't laugh about the irony of it, the latest smoking ban would have me crying. Virginia, a state whose economy depends on the manufacture of tobacco products (tobacco manufacturing is still the state's number one industry), has recently passed a sweeping anti-smoking law that will more than likely put several restaurant and bar owners out of business.

According to the Washington Post, this bi-partisan bill was "hatched in closed-door meetings between Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Safford)." Although the new law doesn't reach quite as far as some of the more virulent anti-smoking groups wanted, it does go far enough to target places where smoking has been an accepted part of business for generations. With all the secondhand smoke hype that the media has subjected us to, I can't help but wonder why anyone who is genuinely worried about secondhand smoke exposure would continue to work in establishments that permit smoking or, more importantly, why anyone who chooses not to work in an area where smoking is allowed is so concerned about those who do.

John Stuart Mill, in his essay, On Liberty, says it best: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." In other words, don't try to stop me from smoking hookah in a shop made specifically for that purpose because you think that the secondhand smoke may cause harm to others. An alternative is available: if you don't want to be subjected to secondhand smoke, avoid places of business that permit smoking. Problem solved. Duh!

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I am pleased to report that all 100 packages of Saalaam Herbal Shisha are now on their way. The U.S. packages were sent via USPS First Class Mail with Delivery Confirmation; the international packages were sent via USPS First Class Mail International.

For anyone who didn't make it quickly enough this time around, check back in a week or two. Ali, the amazing Egyptian dude, has said that we'll probably have another giveaway at that time. I'm still learning how to use Twitter, but I will also tweet an announcement the next time we have a giveaway.

Saalaam FREEBIE Promotion Has Ended

We've collected 100 requests for a free sample of Saalaam Herbal Shisha and are preparing them for shipment.

The promotion has ended. Thanks to everyone who participated. Your packages should arrive in the next couple of days for US participants; international participants can expect their packages within 10-21 days, depending on how quickly customs works in their respective countries.

The Magic of a Good Pimp and a Ping

Carleen here. Ok, so I've been on a grading frenzy all day -- don't want my students ticked off because I've been sitting on their papers too long. And although I had every intention of making a really informative post about why hookahs are not drug paraphernalia, I spent the day with essays instead.

Imagine my surprise when, about an hour ago, I checked one of our business email boxes just to see if there was anything pressing that needed to be taken care of tonight and discovered at least two dozen responses to the Saalaam freebie offer that I posted yesterday!

I guess a little blog pimping is a good thing. . .oh, and my recent discovery of a free pinging service that sends updates to all the blog search engines must be working as well. I wonder how the word got out so fast?

Anyway, before I sign off to finish my rendezvous with the stack of essays that's breathing down my neck, Ali said that he'll up the freebie offer to 100 people instead of just 50. I'll keep you posted when the limit has been reached.

SAALAAM: Free Samples

Everybody loves a freebie, right? Ok, so c'mon and get happy with us! 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.

~*~*~We have received 100 requests for free samples and are preparing them for shipment. The promotion has ended. Thank you!~*~*~

REVIEW: 3 Kings Charcoal

Most hookah fans have heard of 3 Kings charcoal, even if they haven't used it. In the wonderful world of hookahs, the 3 Kings brand is known as the best of the best as far as instant lighting charcoal goes. I like to call it the Rolls Royce of hookah coals.

Ali, the amazing Egyptian dude and our resident hookah master, didn't like to use the instant light type of coals. Ok, so he's a bit old-fashioned because he prefers the natural wood type coal that is used in Egypt. But with so many customers stopping by our shop for a chat and a hit, it became necessary for him to find a coal that he could start and use fairly quickly. Enter 3 Kings -- no, not the guys riding on camels through the desert night! I'm talking about the charcoal brand. 3 Kings comes from Holland, where it was originally made for burning incense. Ease of lighting and lack of aftertaste soon made the 3 Kings brand a popular choice among hookah users, too.

3 Kings comes in two sizes: 33mm tablets and 40mm tablets. For the 32" tall hookahs that we use at the shop, Ali uses the smaller size most of the time because it fits so nicely in the center of our charcoal screens. No matter which size tablet you prefer, both of them come in a box with 10 foil-wrapped rolls with 10 tablets in each roll.

The coal can be started easily with a torch type cigarette lighter, but Ali gets them going by putting them on the coils of an electric hotplate so that he can do other things while they heat up. These coals don't smell, burn evenly and consistently, produce a smooth ash that isn't super messy, and leave no aftertaste in the shisha. A single 33mm tablet will last 25-30 minutes; one 40mm tablet lasts about 45 minutes to an hour.

Quality = 10/10
Price = 8/10

Blog Revamp & Khalil Mamoon Hookahs

Carleen here, hanging her head in shame. I didn't realize how long it had been since I last posted on our blog until I got the bright idea to pimp it a bit a few days ago. Life sure does have a way of getting in the way of all the things I intend to get done every day! So, what has been going on at Caravan trading since the last post? Here's the latest scoop:


Our last container, which arrived from Egypt a couple of months ago, included an exclusive Khalil Mamoon ice chamber shaft. Ali grew up with Khalil Mamoon's sons, who now run their father's business, and on his last trip to Cairo, decided to pay them a visit. The result of that visit was an amazing ice chamber shaft that is exclusive to Caravan Trading. Because the bulk of our business is wholesale -- that's how we are able to offer such low prices on such amazing pipes!--you might see a few of these shafts being offered on other sites. But no matter where you find them, they came from us! We're in the process of preparing our next container for shipment, and it, too, should have some more Khalil Mamoon shafts in it. So if you happen to be a fan of the Mamoon pipes, keep your eye out for the announcement that we've got a new shipment.


I've completely redone our blog! Ok, well it's not totally finished, but you should see at least a few different things. The new layout is much easier on the eyes and lots easier for me to keep organized. The box at the top left of the page includes an online store where you can see just about everything that we currently have in stock. There is also a slideshow of hookah photos that may not show up in the store. If you see a picture in the slideshow but not the store, just call us--we can tell you whether it's still available or not and how much it costs.

I've included a news section, too. With all the hookah hype that goes on in the media, it's important to keep up with the anti-smoking lobby and laws because they have a direct impact on your freedom to smoke hookah. Some of these groups are so radical that, if they had their way, we wouldn't even be able to smoke in the privacy of our own homes! If you happen to live in Southern California and can't find a place to smoke hookah, take a trip to Long Beach where the secondhand smoke hype doesn't have a stranglehold on city officials as you can read in this interesting article.

The links section isn't ready yet, but I'll start working on it soon. If you have a hookah-related blog or website of your own that you'd like me to add, send us a link so that we can check it out and we just might add it to our list.


We are so excited about the overwhelmingly positive response that Saalaam Herbal Shisha has received around the world. With distributors now in Russia, Germany, Holland, and Canada, we're looking forward to sharing this gem of a non-tobacco shisha with an even larger group of hookah fans.

At the moment, we have 9 flavors, tested and approved by our customers, available: Tiramisu, Spiced Chai, Chocolate Raspberry, Lemon Pucker, Breeze O'Mint, Wildberry, Boysenberry Blast, Key Lime Pie, and Cherry Cola. By summer, we will add Strawberry, Orange, Strawberry Kiwi, Cinnamon Apple, Banana, Coconut, Rose, Mixed Fruit, Mixed Berry, Red Cherry, Grape, Blueberry, Orange Blossom, Tamarindo, Chocolate Mint, Apple Cider, Watermelon, Summer Melon, Mystic Berry, Mango Mandarin, and several others. By the end of the summer, Saalaam will be available in 35 mouth-watering, zero nicotine flavors!


Over the years, we've had many requests for black hookahs. We've seen the mass manufactured Chinese models with black bases and wondered how anyone could gauge the water depth in the base when seeing it isn't possible. It took our craftsmen a while, but they finally figured out a way to get some sweet black bases without sacrificing the ability to determine water depth. Our latest shipment included some black bases in a few different designs, shapes, and styles.

So far, the most popular one by far is the Black Hieroglyph, which is shown in a single hose model on the left. The base is in the traditional shape and is made of white frosted glass that has been hand painted with characters from ancient Egyptian hieroglypics. Included in the design are the wadjet (also called the Eye of Horus) and the ankh (also called the key of life). Ancient Egyptians believed that the wadjet had healing powers and often used it as a protective amulet. The symbol of the eye was also part of the mathematical system that the ancient Egyptians used. You can learn more about the wadjets role in math here. The ankh symbolized life to the ancient Egyptians, which is why it's also called the "key of life." When Christianity came to Egypt, the ankh became the Coptic cross. Tour Egypt has an excellent article on the history, significance, and evolution of the ankh.

Another black hookah that we now have is the Black Giza with an unadorned pyramid shaped base. So if you want a solid black hookah with no decoration on it, this is the one you need. Like the Hieroglyph, the Giza is available in one and two hose models.

There are other happenings for me to report, but I will save them for another day. I'm going to do my best to post more frequently, honest!