At the risk of sounding like an old fart and seeming out of touch, I simply cannot stand, no – better yet, I absolutely abhor hookahs. The problem is that in Washington Heights, I cannot seem to escape them. They are in the clubs, in the streets, and even in the barbershops. They are everywhere.
A few days ago, at my local barbershop, I witnessed a person getting a haircut while smoking a hookah, which he dutifully passed to his barber once he was done. The barber took a deep Rastafarian-like pull of the contraption and let out the nauseatingly sweet smoke. All the while, I was thinking, this couldn’t be legal inside a place of business. But, unfortunately, it is.
As a longtime resident of this community and a Dominican I am somewhat appalled and alarmed at the speed that the nasty habit has caught on with my people. I am willing to bet that there are more hookahs per square feet in Washington Heights than anywhere in the world even the Middle East. I, of course, have no proof of that but that is just an educated guess.
Anyway, recently the family and I took a trip to Bear Mountain State Park in Upstate New York to unwind and get away from the city for the weekend and what did I find, hookahs. If there was loud Merengue playing in the picnic areas it was a sure bet that there would also be hookahs being smoked. The same thing goes for the local parks.
I am sure it is a generational thing, as I do not see older Dominicans smoking hookahs with the same frequency as do the younger generation. I seriously hope that this is a mere fad but all the indications point otherwise. While hookahs may seem innocuous they are still dangerous and in fact some studies state that they are more harmful than cigarettes because of the amount of smoke consumed. Dominicans, Uptowners – it is time to wake up and smell the hookah smoke!
(Hookahs Are The Enemy)
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Uptown Collective. If you would like to share your opinions on any topics that concern Washington Heights and Inwood, please drop us a line @ UptownCollective@gmail.com.