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Friday, 27 December 2013

Puff the Magic Phoenix

You've probably heard of the song "Puff, the Magic Dragon" - an innocent enough song with lyrics that goes like:

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea,
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea,
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Because of the bandmates' association with the drug culture (particularly marijuana), the song was later interpreted and believed to contain secret references to drug use, and was banned from radio stations in the States.

Oh well, drugs aside, I am sure most of us have had our share of the puffs - some tried one or two, some inhaling others' puffs, some quitted the puffs and others hooked.

This entry shares my experience with the different puffs and the sensations connected with it - nothing salacious at all sadly - and no, I am not an addict neither have I experiened symptoms with "cold turkey treatment". Its all in the name of fun, for the experience and to test the reaction. 

Cigarette Puff

They often say, the first puff is the killer; one would inevitably choke or get hooked. I didnt, no matter how much I "sucked in", "inhaled",  "dragged" or "pulled", as what the smoking friends said was the right way of doing it. 

Smoking a cigarette - regardless of the cooling menthol ones or the heavier-flavored Indonesian ones, or the "hot" cigarettes with the yellow-butts, does give a sort of feel-good factor (psychologically-inclined, perhaps?), or the chemicals within the innocuous sticks of tar and nicotine. 

The heat of the smoke enters the body through the nostrils when one takes a deep drag of a lit cigarette, mellowing one's emotions down if exhaled gently, slowly. Again, psychologically or chemically induced, it does appear to have the calming, soothing effect, a temporary respite from stress and distress. Every now and then, I do take a puff or two at social events or when feeling down, but the temporary relaxer is never a solution and never will be.

Like alcohol, like bingeing, like retail therapy.

Forget about glamourous-looking women on advertisements looking elegant holding a long, slim cigarette and taking a sensual drag. Forget about peer pressure from friends telling you that it is "adult", "grown up" or "cool" to smoke - when their lungs start turning black and they cough to death of lung diseases, everything goes up in smoke, like cigarette sticks.

Besides risk of cancer, reduction of stamina and other health-related issues that smoking may cause, think of your loved ones inhaling the smoke and being subjected to the same health risks - and the unjustifiable thing is that, they did not even choose to breathe nicotine-tar air by choice!

Women looking to breastfeed can't - if they are heavy smokers / smokers. If not enough water is consumed, smoking leaves a really pungent smell in the mouth - which is bad for the people talking to these smokers or worse, kissing them. It turns the fingertips and nails yellow, turns the teeth yellow, and the money spent on cigarettes could very much be invested into something better, such as interest-generating bonds, or a lovely Chanel lambskin tote.

Cigar Puff

Forget about expensive, enormous looking pipes that we watch our grandfathers or elegantly-dressed men in movies puff on, cigars these days come in a more compact, lithe form, and can be readily lit and puffed just like cigarette sticks. This is convenient.

I never thought I would try a cigar, but I did. I had expected it to be very strong, heavily-flavored and perhaps even pleasurable, which is why the wealthy gentlemen indulged on them. I experienced no such sensations however - in fact, it was rather mild in taste as compared to cigarettes, and the kick I got out of it was that I was smoking a cigar (new experience!), there was the psychologically-or-chemically-induced feel good factor, and I could've went on stick after stick, like cigarettes, in one seating.

Maybe the authentic ones in those pipes, or the very expensive Cuban ones might be slightly more heady, who knows? Nah, that would look too harsh on a lady's fingers, perhaps even vulgar. I was contented enough with my Cigar experience.

Sisha Puff

Now, the Sisha, or known as "water cigarette" - may be spelt as Shisha as well - is a flavored tobacco in which the smoke or vapour is passed through a glass water basin before inhalation through a water pipe or Hookah.

I have heard before that the Sisha produces a buzzing effect, and is almost euphoric - from  multiple sources, in fact. My water-melon flavored tobacco did not give me the same effect, no matter how I puffed, sucked, dragged, even choking on the first few deep inhales.

Yes, the feel-good factor was present, especially if one closes the eyes, slowly exhales, and enjoy the pleasure surges of aromatic smoke exiting the body gracefully. The companions were fun, perhaps adding to the flavor of this interesting smoke that originated from the Middle East.

In Singapore, some of the popular spots to try Sisha would be at Arab Street (near Bugis Junction) or Kampong Glam area (near Parkway Parade). I tried mine at Mabina's, a lovely Arabic-Nights concept restaurant at Arab Street with sultry tented-indoor dining or relaxing courtyard outdoor seating.

Overall, puffing may be a fun experience for socializing and a little destressing, but it should remain just that. 
Here, I conclude this passage I proudly name Puff, the Magic Phoenix.

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