Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mr. Twain On the Turkish Water Pipe

Mr. Twain, on his tour of Turkey, was not a happy camper. In this excerpt from his book, "Innocents Abroad," Twain visits a Turkish bath and is invited to try the water pipe or "nargila." The results were not what he was expecting.

A copper-colored skeleton, with a rag around him, brought me a glass decanter of water, with a lighted tobacco pipe in the top of it, and a pliant stem a yard long, with a brass mouth-piece to it.

It was the famous "narghili" of the East—the thing the Grand Turk smokes in the pictures. This began to look like luxury. I took one blast at it, and it was sufficient; the smoke went in a great volume down into my stomach, my lungs, even into the uttermost parts of my frame. I exploded one mighty cough, and it was as if Vesuvius had let go. For the next five minutes I smoked at every pore, like a frame house that is on fire on the inside. Not any more narghili for me. The smoke had a vile taste, and the taste of a thousand infidel tongues that remained on that brass mouthpiece was viler still. I was getting discouraged. Whenever, hereafter, I see the cross-legged Grand Turk smoking his narghili, in pretended bliss, on the outside of a paper of Connecticut tobacco, I shall know him for the shameless humbug he is.

In fact, it is really quite easy to blow your own fool head off with one of these water pipes.

Incidentally, April 21, 2010 marks the centennial of Mr. Twain's death. Here's to you, Sam. American's Grandfather figure.

1 comment:

  1. Do they call them sheesha (sp?) pipes in Turkey?
    I lived in Saudi where you could buy them on every corner.

    BTW, like the new header photo. Need to update my blog template soon.


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