I'm staying at a hotel in the French Quarter, where the New Orleans nightlife is centered. My destination tonight was the Hookah Cafe, a couple of blocks away. My own hookah is currently in storage along with the dried-out remnants of my Israeli tobacco stash, so this was a real treat. I walked in feeling pretty chill, but when the bartender suggested I find myself a table I realized I was still several notches too tense. Not to worry, the vibe was fantastic: comfy chairs, dim lighting, great decorations, a DJ playing a smooth mix of jazz and R&B. I started with a strawberry-apple-vanilla hookah, a chocolate martini and a lamb kabob appetizer. At the next table was another guy by himself, a fellow traveller named Mike, and he invited me to his table. He's 23, Canadian, also a web programmer, in town for a business conference. Between the two of us we had four hookahs (of different blends) and some more drinks. I'm still not sure exactly what his company does - something about "pipelines" for emergency responders - but we work in similar fields and had a lot to talk about. We exchanged websites and hopefully we'll stay in touch. My trusty old hookah (bought for around $7 in downtown Jerusalem) will appreciate the pack of apple shisha I bought to carry (or mail) home. The place brought back memories of all the flavors we smoked in high school. We never thought of using individual plastic mouthpiece covers then, though.
Last I heard, some folks was trying to open a hookah bar in Allston, but the legal hurdles they had to jump through made it nearly impossible. Boston's strange combination of yuppie college kids and a puritanical municipality squash all the potential for a funky-hip vibe that other cities have. But maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised and find that the hookah bar actually opened. Either way, my new apple blend should go well with the remaining strawberry and melon I have in storage. And I should get some deep sleep tonight.