Why's Hookah so Popular?
One likely reason for the surge in popularity of this somewhat cumbersome method of smoking are hookahs are retro chic. They can be seen in posters and movies from the 60's & 70's and enjoy a rep. as a serious smoking tool. Any way you slice it, hookahs are retro coolness personifed, especially among college students.
Hookah's a social event. Unlike smoking a cigarette, where you might stand around with others and talk, hookah's mant for more than one person. Many hookah pipes are designed with more than one inhalation vent. allowing for a group to sit around and smoke. Because hookah passes through water basin before inhalation, it's healthier than standard tobacco.
Another oddity that goes along with the rise in hookah popularity is that there hasn't been a significant increase in tobacco popularity. With the near elimination of images of smoking in movies and on TV in recent years, smoking cigarettes has become somewhat less popular amoung younger people. This isn't to say it's gone out of style, but the image of James Dean types with a cigarette hanging loosely from their lips have vanished. A tobacco habit is infinitely more interesting to college students when it involves a piece of cool retro equipemt.
The Composition of Hookah
Hookah pipes have become more and more complicated over the years, alloqing for nearly endless discussion about the best way to draw out the flavor of the various ingredients. Other than the bowl, the windscreen, the hose, purge valve, and water jar, no parts are necessary. However, the addtionof other components have allowed for a wide variety of flavors (they're already made mixed so you don't need to create the flavors) and experimentation, resulting in hookah pipes becoming sort of an art.
It's become commonplace for college students to sit around and discuss new recipes and ways to smoke at length. Hookah becomes a hobby as much as anything else, and a valued way for students to relax after a long or stressful day of class.
Trying Out Hookah
If you're interested, find a group of friends who'd be willing to give it a shot and go to the nearest hookah bar. They're know for being very chilled out palces, so don't worry about your reception. Inside a hookah bar, everyone's friends with everyone else. People come to relax and enjoy each other's company. It's a worthwile pastime to get into if you're willing to experiment, so give it a shot.