Two former Navy men are bringing some of their world travels to Oak Harbor.
This past Wednesday the Whidbey News-Times published a story about a new hookah lounge opening this month on Pioneer Way.
The new business is generating quite a bit of response online at www.whidbeynewstimes.com
Some of the response is good, some not so good.
Many of the negative responses to the article seem to be geared toward a misconception that hookahs are specifically related to illicit drugs.
In fact, if you read the story, owners James Ryan and Charles Morgan say none of the products available to smoke in the lounge contain tobacco and they will not allow customers to bring in outside products.
The hookah is a Middle Eastern water pipe normally used to smoke shisha, a flavored tobacco mixed with molasses.
It’s a tradition that goes back centuries in a wide swath of the world, from the Middle East to India and Pakistan. It has caught on in Europe and the United States in recent decades. Ryan said he first encountered hookah culture when he was guarding “third country nationals” in Qatar in 2004.
He said the men would smoke hookahs in the back of an old pickup.
These men are bringing this culture home in a different way, offering a glycerine concoction available, which they compared to a flavored vaporizer.
While one online commentor pointed out that drawing anything into the lungs can be harmful, others pointed out that the business is open to adults only and they can make their own choices.
Whidbey Island Naval Air Station brings a lot of people with a lot of life experiences to this island.
These guys are bringing something they experienced while traveling overseas home to share with their community.
For people who don’t get to travel, it’s great they have the opportunity to learn about other cultures and maybe experience something new.
Oak Harbor has the opportunity to learn from these world travelers and if trying some flavored vapor isn’t your cup of tea, hopefully there will be more cultural businesses starting up in the future.
We, as a community, should be encouraging and welcoming the start up of new business and enterprise to the area.