British Sahibs and their hookah smoking!! - British Raj

British officer smoking hookah/ before his

 A ''hookah'' (Hindustani) is  a single or multi-stemmed instrument for vaporizing and smoking plain or flavored tobacco called ''shisha'' in which the vapor or smoke is passed through a water basin ‒ often glass-based ‒ before inhalation.  Believed to be invented by Abu’l-Fath Gilani, a Persian physician of Akbar, in Fatehpur Sikri near Agra, India during the Mogul period, the custom of  hookah smoking had spread from here to Persia first. There the instrument,  design and mechanism  underwent modification to its current shape.  This custom of smoking hookah  popular,  in particular, among the nobility during the Mogul period despite initial hesitation because smoking Tobacco like drugs was considered a taboo then. How did tobacco reach India? According to one group of historians it was introduced by the  Jesuits and later its use became widespread among the common people aw well. In medieval India, smoking hookah  was a matter of prestige among the zamindars /landed classes.

It was in vogue in India even after independence. In India it was more a Muslim social custom than  Hindu custom and was quite prevalent among royal family members and rich people.  Hookahs come in different shapes and sizes and rich and affluent people had decorative hookah embedded with costly gems.

The  English in India  were actively involved in mercantile trade initially in 1600s. Having firmly set their foot here in the mid 18th century in Bengal, later  they went after the task of land grabbing from Maharajahs and Nawobs across the land; a subtle  expansion of imperialism. Soon after the Battle of Plassey in Bengal the English company officials took a fancy toward hookah smoking. They later looked upon it as a symbol or an emblem of social integration with the native cultures.  In the course of their long official meetings and deliberations with the Muslim rulers, in particular, they were introduced to the custom of smoking hookah  after hearty  stately meals and over a long period of time, they  adopted some Indian customs to be at ease with the natives, such as smoking  hookah  while remaining distinctly British without shedding their 

A hookah en.wikipedia

 brass Britishness. In order to  take the hookah stand wherever they went on official  work, etc., they had employees  to Cary the  hookah stands and such workers are often referred to as hookah or pipe bearers or hookah burdars. many English officials set aside a small amount of their salary to pay the hookah-bearers.

Many Europeans  who had been in India for some time, became "absolutely slaves to their hookahs that were ever at hand''  excepting while sleeping, or eating lunch or dinner. " It was a way of relaxation in the midst of their hectic official work in a strange, hot country.

Antique Indian brass Coco shell hookah, Mogul

The frequent use of the Indian word "hookah" in the English language is a result of the British dominion of India (1858–1947), when large numbers of expatriate Britons first sampled the water pipe. William Hickey, shortly after arriving in Kolkata, India, in 1775, wrote in his Memoirs:

Woman Honor Thyself 

The Sydney Morning Herald

'The most highly-dressed and splendid hookah was prepared for me. I tried it, but did not like it. As after several trials I still found it disagreeable, I with much gravity requested to know whether it was indispensably necessary that I should become a smoker, which was answered with equal gravity, "Undoubtedly it is, for you might as well be out of the world as out of the fashion. Here everybody uses a hookah, and it is impossible to get on without ... have frequently heard men declare they would much rather be deprived of their dinner than their hookah.'

According to 2005 WHO report  smoking using a water pipe poses a serious potential health hazard and is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking. The average hookah session normally lasts more than 40 minutes, and consists of 50 to 200 inhalations that each range from 0.15 to 0.50 liters of smoke. In an hour-long smoking session of hookah, users consume about 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke of a cigarette. The chemical compositions of cigarette smoke and hookah smoke may be different, but there is no denying the fact that  smoking hookah is equally hazardous to health.

The water in the hookah instrument does  not filter out many of the the toxic elements (most of them are carcinogens)  that come from burning of the charcoal, tobacco  and flavorings. They may also promote  heart disease, lung disease, and other health problems.   Further, sharing hookah  with others is not good for health and it may promote risky  infectious diseases - as oral herpes, tuberculosis, hepatitis, influenza, etc among those who  share  hookahs. the use of 
disposable mouthpieces does not eliminate the health risk.