The Travelling Pixie in London
Shillax – Shisha, Chill & Relax
Singapore’s recent ban on Shisha has got me thinking what is it about shisha that I love?
Synopsis: The Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) expects to prohibit the import, distribution and sale of shisha in November 2014. Faishal, Parliamentary Secretary for MOH claims that a ban is necessary to ‘prevent the proliferation and entrenchment of shisha smoking in Singapore.’ The National Health Survey found that young people are more inclined to shisha, and that ‘the proportion of students who used alternative tobacco products, including shisha, had increased from 2% in 2009 to 9% in 2012.’
Being a shisha-phanatic, my initial reaction to this news was, “WHAT?!” then, “Oh well. Afterall its Singapore.” But the ban on shisha has got me thinking, what is it about shisha that I love?
My first shisha experience goes way back to 2010 in London, where Toby (my best friend and now shisha-buddy!) took me to Mornington Crescent where my shillaxing lifestyle began.
I took my first deep breath of shisha… then coughed it out. Well, I guess that happens a lot to first-timers, so no shame in that! But after my second, third, and fourth puff, I reckon I’ve got the hang of it. The wisps of smoke that hung in the air and the aromatic fragrance of scented tobacco soon filled the room, engulfing me in this shisha-indulgence.
Soon after, I became a regular guest of shisha, it was a social activity for friends to catch up, chill, and simply shillax. Instead of going for drinks in the weekend (as I’m super alcohol intolerant!), we go to shisha, for chatter, for girls’-gossip sessions, or simply to catch up with friends who came to London for brief visits.
I suppose Toby and I took shisha to the next level when we started bringing our textbooks to shisha in the afternoon. We called them ‘shisha revision sessions‘ (lol how unorthodox!) Undeterred by revising while shisha-ing – two contradictory activities, I did manage to pass my first year in Law (despite having skipped almost all of the classes throughout the year – whoops :/) I guess that means that the ‘shisha revision sessions’ aren’t that unproductive then!
This summer, another friend and I visited Toby’s newly-renovated home in Hong Kong, where he prepared a shisha for us by the poolside.
THAT’S what I call LIFE.
Leaning on the poolside under the sun, and inhaling a deeeeeeeeep breath of shisha. Mmmmmm. Then slowly exhaling out the white wispy smoke. Ahhhhhhhhh. I could get used to this shillaxing lifestyle.
Ultimately Shisha is a lifestyle and an attitude to life, how you live your life greatly depends on how you want to live your life. Singapore might as well ban video games if they want to ‘prevent the proliferation and entrenchment of’ ‘unhealthy activities’. I believe that adults should be given the autonomy of choice with regards to what activities they choose to pass their time.
As an International Student studying in London, I am deeply aware of the conservative nature of oriental societies. More and more students who study abroad are bringing back elements of the Western culture back to their home-cities, and as a result, the government of oriental societies tends to view such culture as ‘bad habits’ and detrimental to the society. But before the government starts to view imported culture as healthy young-adult cultures, we could just be happy that we’re still studying abroad and able to enjoy our freedom of being able to shisha whenever and where-ever we want.
Here are a few comments regarding Singapore’s ban on Shisha by other international students:
Chris (Singapore) NYU Masters Student: I think there are enough rules as it is. Instead of banning maybe just do more awareness or education. Restricting them is only going to make locals more passive and closed off in the long run.
Toby (Hong Kong) – LSE & UCL graduate: Its Pathetic.
Chloe (Shanghai) – UAL undergraduate: Singapore struck me as a very clean and tidy city. The ban is not unexpected cuz well, its Singapore.