Shisha Anyone?


500 words   Travel Stories   ‘ABC Open’,  June 2013

So… here we were, we had spoken of it long enough. I had entered the country eight months earlier and five months after Suzie, but it had taken us that long to finally catch up. The world is a big place you know.

We were doing the Working Holiday thing in the UK but due to low funds, I started a little later.

Suzie though got tangled up with some television broadcasting group that sent her to Egypt. They put her up in a hotel with a Per diem for her daily expenses. She wasn’t in London when I arrived. I travelled around Europe, Contiki Tour style, visited the East, the West and anywhere in between. On arriving back to London there was still no Suzie.

‘Hey, Cookie. I’ve got this great place in Cairo.’ she says on the phone one night. ‘Come over and visit, it’s free accommodation. I can see the Pyramids from my balcony, it’s the 9th floor. My job finishes soon and we can travel before heading back to the smog.’

Things in London weren’t working out for me so I booked a flight to Cairo, after three days of being hustled by the men and fighting for our lives in the traffic we left, for Dahab. Our friend was working there as a scuba dive instructor. Figuring this might be a good way to spend a week or so before leaving for London again, we rode the overnight bus and arrived 4hrs later than we should have.

It was worth it. The serenity was consuming. Palm huts, cushions and coloured rugs by the water’s edge. The evening calmed as the market stalls slowed, doors were closed and the alleys were dark. Waves lapped on the pebble beach nearby as we settled onto our cushions. Candlelight burnt as the sun disappeared behind the mountains and the beachside cafes started serving plates of baba gannoujh and tahini with bread.

With our tummies full, the table was cleared. Shisha was brought to the table. With so many flavours, apple was our favourite. The contraption was complex, a water pipe with bronze and silver and feathery bits at the handle. The pipe was long to allow us to lie back on the cushions, relaxation was the key.

The apple made the tobacco bearable to a non-smoker, sweet with a slight after taste. The tobacco caused headiness, a slight drunkenness as the fresh sea air flowed over our bodies and we absorbed and succumbed to the power of the Shisha.

During the days we did scuba dive. We walked across the same pebble beach front and entered the waters to view the corals of the Red Sea. The waters were still cold but both of us were more than happy to top up on our suntans before heading back to dreary ole London.