Sunday, February 13, 2005


by AJ/Skald

Went to a fantastic spot last night-- the Bagdad Cafe hooka bar. Its a cramped place, maybe six feet wide and thirty feet long, lined with small wooden tables. The walls are decorated with various pieces of junk... tattered pictures of Turkey & Iraq, dusty tapestries,.. that sort of thing.

Santana jammed from the overhead speakers. We all sat and scanned the "menu": a list of flavored tobaccos and a few drinks. Tip and I chose strawberry and Todd chose cherry. We each received a tall glass waterpipe... black glass decorated with intricate gold wiggles and topped with a bowl covered by tin foil. Atop the foil were three chunks of smoldering charcoal. A long tube led from the waterpipe to the mouthpiece.

We took turns sucking the mild smoke.... savored the hint of strawberry, then blew it out slowly.

The whole place had a languid, decadent feel. It was impossible not to lounge. I kicked back with pipe in hand, puffed slowly, took in the scene. The place was jammed... not a seat free, chairs squeezed between tables, the staff hustling pipes to and fro. A cloud of haze filled the top layers of the room. People talked in hushed tones. While only tobacco was being smoked, a hint of criminality hung in the air-- the centuries old association between sheesha pipes and hashish.

This was a place with baraka (grace)... or soul.

It lies on Samsen road, about a twenty minute walk from Khao San Road.

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