Could there be anything more annoying than shisha?! Hold your horses! Don’t start to list! But really… Our most successful export by far… How useful it is to humanity is a different story.

As I sit there observing people smoking their shisha, I really wonder what the big deal is. I am in a nice café by the beach. Tables are filling up quickly. It is a heavenly place, a heavenly view.

A couple sits at a table beside me. The woman looked in her late twenties, had long brown hair, parted in the middle. She wore natural make up, had the fashionable eyebrows, nose job and collagen lips that are very much in trend these days in the Middle-East. She was wearing a short black dress with flower patterns and light beige sandals matching the colour of the flowers.

The husband, a young man in his thirties, was wearing a light blue shirt with patches on the elbows in a stripy multi-coloured pattern,  royal blue shorts, and navy plimsolls. Effortless chic as you do in Lebanon. Mind you everyone around me is Syrian.

The couple sat down and did what everyone does nowadays, they picked up their mobiles and stared at their screens. A waiter came and took their orders. Soon after, a shisha arrived for the Mrs. She finally left her mobile and started hubbling bubbling and talking to her husband! Hurray! Shisha brings people together. She used the nozzle to gesture and emphasis what she was saying. It became an extension of her ego. The man listened quietly. A few minutes later, his shisha arrived and soon they were engaged in a dual of smoke and talk. They were now on equal footing. However the puffs took over the words and silence fell.

I looked around me, and everyone was doing the same. If only people could speak their hearts, but they can’t. What they can do though is smoke Shisha. Long puffs of smoke are let out. Most people are doing it, staring at some distant point, huffing and puffing, engaged in a muted  conversation, on the mind of every Syrian. Every exhale is an attempt to release all the frustration of those unspoken, heavy suffocating words. A litany of  smoke as powerful as the sound it makes, falling on deaf ears… I am starting to develop some empathy for the shisha now. I get it. It is a form of therapy. Death is so incumbent in the region. We are all going to die anyway so why die healthy. Die slowly… Smoke shisha! The extension of the battered egos and helpless souls. The voice of the voiceless and most of all, the killer of time. When the whole world is trying to kill you, and you cannot kill anyone, you just kill time… An indirect form of suicide. As I develop these deep thoughts about the essence of this trivial pastime, I can now say to all you shisha smokers, I now understand you!


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