“To tell you a secret, I don’t like it. The Hookah is one of those things that I saw being relished by shabby old village-men, sitting on those typical cots, in those boring Doordarshan shows that I had to watch as a kid. And then all of a sudden it comes back, only to become the coolest thing to have ever happened, according to my friends. Just to avoid being the odd one out, or be mocked at for being old-fashioned, I have to accompany them every week to all the happening Hookah joints.”
“Apart only from those torn jeans about to kiss the floor?” could have been our next question, but we let it be, however bad we wanted to put it.
“What are your views about people turning towards Hookah? With so many harmful practices that the youth is already resorting to, does this not emphasise their stubborn fondness for being a rebel?—and in a bid to do so, ending up harming their own health?”
“Oh man. Why don’t you see it from the correct angle?” she retorts. “For me, the trend is actually quite relieving, to say the least! I mean, we started with the aim to discourage people from living on cigarettes and beedis and that is exactly what we all can see happening, thanks to these super-cool Hookah parlours coming up!”
“But they are still harming their health like before, don’t you think?”
“Buddy, this is Gen Y. It can stop living for once, but won’t stop acting like it’s living cool—really cool. We ought to have something that can make us stand out of the crowd, or help us chill out amid all the tension of exams and breakups, ya know! And harmful, is it? I don’t know actually. I mean, I don’t dissect the Hookah to bits while smoking it, d-u-h!” she concludes. The reporter is left quite speechless out of shock.
“But they argue that the smoke in a hookah is filtered through water before being inhaled,” we put forth the youth’s side of the debate. “Yeah, so what? What about the massive amount of smoke they take in while doing so? How many people know that even then it has a lot more nicotine than a cigarette? That even after passing through water, the tobacco smoke produced still contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens)? That it poses as much risk, if not double, of them being exposed to the various types of Cancers—oral, lung, cardiac and other respiratory problems? That one hour of a Hookah-session exposes the user to 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette? There are so many scientific facts already established, strictly not in favour of this latest fad. If only children bothered to look them up,” Mr. Murthy signs off on a sad note.
“Dude! Old is the new NEW! Bad is the new GOOOD!” as another Hookah-lover tells us, during the survey. While declaring so, he also makes a strange gesture with both his hands—something like a \m/. That, along with his crop-like erect hair, could not be comprehended by our middle-aged journos. But then we realise, those aren’t the only things about the generation that we fail to find rational.
We wonder what the youth will next be up to, in its fight to stand out of the crowd or be cool/hot/whatsoever. Getting drunk and dancing on the street, walking around without clothes, going bald, compulsory drunken driving, jumping off the cliff, tattooing every part of the body à la Ghajini, piercing the eye-balls … what could be the youth’s next in-thing, of the various “vintage”/adventurous/crazy/dare-devil options such as these? Who knows. Reasoning without logic is hardly plausible.
(Sources for medical facts; Photograph: Times of India)