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The Hajo Files

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  #51  
Old March 14th, 2011, 11:41 PM
Hajo Flettner
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Default The Hajo Files

As some of you may have heard I was doing the traveling salesman bit in Macedonia recently. One of the high points of my time here is getting together with some band mates from one of my musical projects called Escape Velocity Bardo which was possible since most of the members are Italians with a bit of vacation time due them.

After spending far too much time haggling with pencil necks and arrogant politicos I finally got to spend some time with my bandmates that flew into Skopje a couple of days earlier. After a long day of practicing, hanging out and eating a lot of roasted pork, some sort of baked bean dish and some sort of liquor made with plum and what tasted like myrrh we got down to the club and watched the opening acts.

The first band up was some weird skinhead band that sounded like of Buzz Oven played at 16 r.m.p. or at times more like a slightly sped up version of Ogre. They were followed by a bunch of freaky, malodorous hippies that sounded like The Crazy World of Arthur Brown but tunned way lower with weird electronic sounds in the background and a bassist that periodically babbled poetry about ugly women and various things burning which was somewhere between disturbing and amusing .

While all of this was going on I going on I busted out my trusty Furrat Champaign travel narghile which got a good conversation going with several Albanian kids ( something like 1/4 the population in Macedonia is Albanian) and they thought it rather intriguing that a foreigner smoked tombac. My drummer Umberto by contrast was smoking DM Khus from a big KM four hose rig which was found to be as nearly popular with the local girls as was Umberto.

My band finally played and things seemed to be going well until a large light set fell on a keg which somehow caused it to burst and sprayed Zlaten Dab lager all over the concert goers. We keep on playing since that didn’t seem to serious but a bit later on someone tossed a smoke canister into the club which started a stampede out the doors and a few people getting slightly trampled and a lot of people looking stupid.

My bandmates and I hung out and watched the chaos of tables being knocked over and took the opportunity to snag some bier and little pastries left unattended while the club’s staff was occupied calling the cops, tending the slightly wounded and cleaning up. While the mini-riot was pretty fun for those unaffected I still wished it didn’t happen since I wanted talk to some folks in the audience that seemed to really be listening to our music.

Heading out of the club the band found out that our rented 1958 Bedford Dormobile caravan got towed off which left us wondering around looking for a cab. While wondering around we came upon a woman with a smoking, ancient three wheeled Vespa delivery van that seemed rather hysterical. Since one my band mates actually knows Macedonian he found out that the woman’s van finally died and since she didn’t have the money to fix it she’d lose a bunch of delivery contracts and her livelihood. While all of this was going on someone found us a cab and I decided to give the woman my earnings for the night and gave her my hotel phone number & info so she could let me know what happened.

As it turned out she was able to fix the Vespa and had a few Euros left over and she had her husband invite my bandmates and I over for dinner at her home as a way of thanking us. The husband spoke a bit of English and noted that I had a medwakh with me which resulted in him inquiring about what sort of tobacco we liked. After a bit of chatting he mentioned that he has a friend that works making tobacco for what he called “lula” which is to say, a narghile near the village of Kalista which is way down in the South near lake Ohrid and right across the border from Albania.

Needless to say, I was fascinated to find out that a Macedonian “lula tobac” maker existed since I never heard of such a thing and all they make in Europa are crappy American style hipster faux moassels it’s cool to find out that such a thing as a native European treacled tobacco exists which prompted my journey to the South.
  #52  
Old March 15th, 2011, 06:01 PM
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Default Re: Rockin’ out with Narghiles, Anteaters and a Bear

---------------------- PART TWO -------------------------------

After a series of misadventures we finally managed to secure our heavily worn Bedford Dormobile and began our drive down to Kalista after I spent the next two days doing work related crap.

Along the way we stopped in the very picturesque tobacco oriented town of Prilep for breakfast and some coffee. While in Prilep I got to smoke shortly after breakfast at a little café with a German tourist that shared a lovely tombac with me that he made himself using Macedonian seed tobacco grown in Bulgaria. The leaf had a lovely oily texture and a dark brown hue with a taste that reminded me of a mix of Argosy Black and Dunhill 965 with a bit more nicotine then either.

Talking to the animated German narghile cognoscenti brought to my attention a little shop near by that sells highbrow tobacco by appointment only. My German compatriot called the owner on his cell phone and we stopped by. The first thing that struck me was the sky prices with Al Waha & Bisan 50g packs going for €6, Nakhla running €55 for 250g and all of the interesting stuff starting at €50 for 100g. What they did have was a lot of great stuff like al-Mutawakkil blacks ranging from €50 to €70, tumbâk by Dariush of Iran for €75 and Hill Brother’s Treasure Jurak for €90 which was discouraging to say the least. The owner of the place is a Aromanian (they are also called Vlaçi and they speak some variant of Romanian apparently) and it seems that he sells far more high end moassel and tombac then he can lay hands on which is really surprising given the widespread poverty in Macedonia.

After visiting the tobacco shop I found my bandmates sitting about drinking coffee at the café I left them at and I could hardly help but notice a chap at the next table that had a pair of anteaters tethered to his table and that he was wearing a t-shirt with the logo of the old South African police on it. We struck up a conversation and I found that he relocated to Italy a few years after the ANC regime took over South Africa although he recently had relocated to Prilep and plans on opening a bookshop/café tourist trap type business in the near term.

After wondering around for a while we made our way back to our caravan and noted my newly discovered ex-pat pal talking to the cops. I headed over to see what was going on and found out that his car was stolen which was a problem as he needed to make his way to Struga on business the next day. Since we where headed in that direction we gave him and his anteaters a lift.

One problem with the riding with anteaters is that they have an amazing tendency to want to be under your your feet and in your luggage. They also seem to have an insatiable desire to drink soda and keep spilling/sucking up my Orangina and licking my clothes which annoyed me. Oddly enough they smelled no worse then a typical dog and the yellow and black fur on the critters was surprisingly clean which I assume is a result of the efforts of the owner. They also can spray an evil smelling liquid apparently but it seem that was corrected by a vet some time ago. Luckily the trip was made a bit easier by the lovely scenery, plenty of awesome Kraut Rock and the tranquil sounds of Red Chair Fade Away.

What is worse then being packed into a caravan with way too much gear, people and a pair of anteaters is having your caravan break down in the middle of nowhere. When that happened everyone piled out but our keyboard player Omobono whom we left since he knows Macedonian and he had a cell phone. Trudging along for what seemed like forever was made a bit less pleasant by the anteaters getting tired and needing to be carried which was far more awkward then strenuous.

Eventually we walked into some little town north of Bitola and we arranged for our caravan to be towed and Omobono to be fetched. We were looking into hiring another caravan or estate wagon to take us to Kalista when got offered a lift by some stoner type band from Greece that was on the way to Bitola for a gig. The ride to Bitola wasn’t bad since the stoner band had a late ‘60s VW Kombi with a large, homemade trailer to carry all of both band’s gear. It would seem that the band follows the teachings of a Mystery cult weirdo named “Father Yod” who is apparently from California and they play music that sounds a lot like Sleep (which is what seemingly all stoner bands do when they aren’t sounding like Black Sabbath) but have “Yodian” mystical lyrics sung in English which was more then curious to me.

When we got to Bitola we hired a newish Daimler Benz estate wagon and dropped off my fellow South African ex-pat buddy and his furry companions in Struga before we completed our journey to Kalista happily smoking dokha and listening to a hell of a lot of Fifty Hose which was super amazing given the lovely terrain looking surreal and silverish under a shimmering moon.
  #53  
Old March 16th, 2011, 05:38 PM
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Default Re: Rockin’ out with Narghiles, Anteaters and a Bear

[FONT=Arial Black]Here is part three:[FONT=Arial]

Kalista strikes me as a wonderful, some what magical place with slow and natural pace of life driven by the rhythms of the seasons and the culture of the people that built the place. Fishing and agriculture are the mainstays of life there and everyone I met has been hospitable. All of my bandmates, save Omobono who came along to translate, chose to stay in the more urbane surroundings of Struga which struck me as a poor choice.

After getting directions to the Janev home I strolled along the sandy beaches of lake Ohrid as it shimmering under gentle tides kissed by the silvery hues of the recurrent moon that retreated and surged forth from clouds that struck me as looking like the pale smoke that emanates from an exceptionally pale and fine tobamel.

Knocking on the door of the Janev home resulted in me being greeted by stout, maternal looking woman that said I was expected as a result of a call from the husband of the woman whose Vespa I had helped repair several days earlier.

I stepped and was given some wonderfully rich coffee and sat drinking it in a dimly room awaiting my host. After a few minutes I became aware of a heavy shuffling and a realization that something was indeed moving about in the next room which I assumed was a large dog and ignored the noises preferring to concentrate on the heavy, nutty and faintly sweet taste of the local coffee. After awhile I heard something shuffling ponderously behind me which caused me to turn around and see a large, bestial shape partially illuminated by the dim light of next room. It seemed that Omobono’s sense of self preservation was a bit more active then mine since he leaped up and ran out the front door. My fear stoked paralysis was quickly broken when I heard the creature yawn which led me to step forward and realize that what I was looking at was a bear!

Suddenly the front door opened and my host appeared with a frazzled looking Omobono beside him. It was then explained to me that the bear’s name was Milcho the 7th who is a decedent of the most famous (non-human) participant in the Ilinden Uprising of August 1903 which was a seminal event in Macedonian history. According to my host a traveling circus was caught up in the Ottoman Army’s attempt to retake the town of Kruševo and Milcho the bear assisted ably in repulsing the offensive by carrying and dragging cartridge cases to the defenders.

Although this legend struck me as somewhat fanciful I kept my disbelief unstated. My host seemingly picked up on my scepticism and demonstrated that Milcho could in fact lift a small crate and with his forelegs while walking on his hind legs and place it at my feet when directed to do so via a series of whistles made by my host. Suitably impressed I found out that my host’s great grandfather came to own Milcho and a suitable mate which has resulted in his family owning and raising bears ever since. Apparently Milcho the 7th has a mate named Cveta who is currently expecting the delivery of Milcho the 8th.

The next morning I got into an old Zastava lorry and after about an hour ended up an a small but lovely tobacco field which was divided into eight lots of equal size. Looking about I came upon what I recognized as Dubec and Drama leaf as well as a very small, thick, fleshy tobacco leaf that I didn’t recognize but was told that it’s called the Stojchev leaf which is bred by a family of the same name as well a few other farmers including my host.

All the leaf is cured in three separate methods which include a typical air curing as well as the leaf being hung from rafters in a slotted barn while pots filled with a mix of I think was myrrh, Linden oil and/or some sort of nut extract slowly smoldered below creating a dense and heavenly smoke which lends a brilliant taste and texture to the leaf. Third and perhaps the most interesting method involved the leaf being piled up and tightly pressed between heavy lattice frames made of wire and wood elevated by stilts about two and half meters off the ground and cured with the smoke generated by clay pots filled with soaked wood, nuts and linden oil.

While I didn’t get to see any local muessel being made I did get a crash course on “lula tobac” which apparently comes in two broad categories of which the first is called “pure” which is to say, dried to the point of being only slightly supple and coated with a essential oils derived from nuts and/or herbs which is smoked with the coals placed directly on the leaf. The so called “pure lula tobac” is heavily wrapped in cloth and tied with string before being dipped in wax to preserve the leaf.

What is termed “sweet lula tobac” is a treacled tobacco similar to traditional moassels which can be made with either honey or molasses. “sweet lula tobac” is further categorized according to the colour of the leaf used in the blend with lightest grade called “Sun tobac”, the darker brown grades called “soil” and the blacker blends called “night”. Sweet lula tobac is further categorized by the name or number of leaf types used (ex. Komotini, Dubec or three/four/five leaf sweet tobac) or the name of herb or spice used to flavour the leaf. Packaging of the sweet lula tobac seems to be reused and cleaned plastic kitchen type containers, wax paper and string as is done in the Middle East or glass bottles/jars with a plastic or cork lid. They usually don’t have any writing on them since it’s presumed the buyer knows what he purchased.

In terms of brands the lula tobac seems to be named for the family that makes it, the village they are from or for some local historical figure. As best as I can tell lula tobac is made by perhaps a couple of dozen or so families on a very small scale using locally made tobacco and sold principally to well to do smokers in the West.

Apparently the locally made versions of narghiles have main and down stems that are made principally out of glazed porcelain and occasionally brass with bases made of glass protected by a copper covering around the bottom half . They tend to use brass tubes tipped with wood rather then hoses and the bowls are shaped like the Crown Lebanese funnels and the Tangiers Super Chief s but are made out of clay or wood. The locally made pipes are simple from what I’ve seen and lack ornamentation of any kind and are practical tools.

In recent past I mentioned tobacco chauvinism and from what I’ve seen Macedonians are as pridefully as anyone else. They claim that the Turks stole both water pipes and treacled tobacco from them as well as Macedonian seed being the basis for Turkish tobacco. Given the brutality and length of the Ottoman occupation such notions are widely held as is a visceral anti-Muslim sentiment that manifests itself as a hostility towards the Albanian minority. In fairness I should point out that anti-Macedonian sentiment is very common among Albanians here and Macedonia views itself with good reason as under siege by it’s neighbors. Still, these things are usually not discussed openly with foreigners and ethnic tensions are far less here then in the states although periodic bursts of violence do occur.

As to the flavour profiles of lula tobac I am fairly ignorant having only smoked the pure variant once and the sweet varieties only on half a dozen occasions. Based upon my limited experiences I can say that the lighter grades of the local moassel like creations tend to be sweeter and milder with a clear resemblance to the Balkan style pipe tobaccos we know in the West. The blacker blends tend to have a fuller, richer body and distinctly nutty/woodsy like elements that compliment the natural tobacco flavour rather then dominate it. Herbal elements are clearly present but take a back seat to the pipe tobacco portions of the flavour profile and while they are nice I can’t identify them save easy things like Linden flower, Elder flower or myrrh although one time I tried something that had the distinct taste of black current and jasmine.

In short, Macedonian treacled tobaccos bare an obvious likeness to traditional black and spiced moassels of the Middle East but are also obviously not the same thing.



[/FONT][/FONT]
  #54  
Old March 20th, 2011, 11:52 PM
Hajo Flettner
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Default Re: Rockin’ out with Narghiles, Anteaters and a Bear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassem View Post
Hajo, I understand you were again admitted to the hospital today, in Milan this time, and hope to be released in a few days. Here's to a quick recovery, and to the furtherance of your travels and adventures.

Take good care, my friend.
Very good to hear from you Bassem, I thank you for your concern and prayers to providence.

Basically what happened is that a couple of old skin grafts broke on my inner leg and tore some muscle in the process causing me to pass out. I woke up in hospital and had some new, artificial skin grafted in and I'm feeling pretty tired.

The surgeon tells me that he doesn't see why i'm not dead and suggests that adopt a sedentary lifestyle if I plan on being around. I told him I should have been dead decades ago and the life of a cripple wasting away isn't for me. He said he I was self destructive and hold my life in contempt. I told him that since he's a surgeon and not schooled in psychiatric medicine to piss off. I also told him that a lot of things are of far more value to me then my life and that nothing is worth sacrificing for the pleasure of decrepitude.

I don't have long on this mortal coil but even if I did I won't spend it rotting some place. One has to be defiant and respectful of death and realize that the suffering that defines life is something to be transcended rather then beaten down by.
  #55  
Old March 21st, 2011, 11:59 PM
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Default Re: Rockin’ out with Narghiles, Anteaters and a Bear

That is what I was thinking! A bear trained to haul cartridges around seems to be a less then desirable house pet and the food bill must be shocking. Still, to each his own as someone said.

As put out a book that would contribute to narghile culture, yeah, it would be cool although the old books by old English & German ethnographers wondering around India and the Arab/Turkish/Persian worlds 130+ years back are the best since they have all sorts of info on recipes and chemical compositions of smoking mixtures that have been forgotten. What really needs to happen is for someone to reprint all that great stuff.

If I could find people that are really into old school tobacco lore that know the local lingo as well as English that would be awesome. Generally the translators I get stuck with are good people but hardly interested in tobacco lore and at times it seems the translations I get are rather crude and I feel I lose a lot of what people tell me.
  #56  
Old March 22nd, 2011, 01:22 AM
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Default Re: Any metalheads in HookahPro?

I find myself having far more sympathy to old school HC (Minor Threat, Youth Brigade, SOA etc) and old oi! (Cockney Rejects, early Boehse Onkelz, Blitz & 4-Skins etc) but some metal does appeal to me. I like Bolt Thrower, old Bathory, Einherjer, old Ogre & Demolition Hammer but for the most part I can't really relate to metal and the screaming, morbid stuff trying to be "extreme" simply doesn't do it for me.

Still, I used to have a metal band called Abyssic which has toured a bit and had some success selling releases shows that i've got more then a passing interest in metal if it's got some lyrical depth and a bit of technical merit.

I really don't find anything worth while about the ever growing number of PC screamo, PC as hell Rage Against the Machine type bands and the countless nazi bands yelling about how great genocide is.

Too much of the death & black metal stuff seems contrived and boring musically IMO. I am not too excited about bands that preach hatred for Christians since it seems that most of those bands have nothing else to say although a lot of the Baltic & Nordic pagan metal bands have a lot to offer. Eye of Odin is pretty happening.

Yet when all is said and done i've done far more with the doom, psyche and space rock genres because they seem to have "longer legs" and a lot more room to experiment with.
  #57  
Old March 22nd, 2011, 03:50 PM
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Default Re: Rockin’ out with Narghiles, Anteaters and a Bear

The best two old fashioned texts in English are "The Exotic Tobaccos of the Ottomans" by H.S.F. Ottesman which was published in the 1880s and "A Survey of Oriental Tobacco and Smoking Methods In Persia" by Cuthbert Plouse-Howe which was published in the 1890s. Both texts have lots of recipes, drawings and a few photos as well as plenty of talk about smoking rituals and cultural obscurities. The former text covers all of what was the crown colony of India (which is a lot bigger then modern India) while the later covers Iran and some regions to the North. Both are excellent and rather expensive since they sold for something like £400 each when I got them at auction many years ago. No idea what they are worth these days. Since they are at home (and I'm not) I've no way to get a fuller citation.

I've been smoking some of the "pure lula tobac" that I picked up and think it's really great if you want a dark Cavendish taste complimented with something rather nutty and earthy. It's rather messy to set up since the oily leaf makes a mess when you cut it up and I don't know how long it will last now that I got it out of the wax covering.
  #58  
Old March 24th, 2011, 11:10 PM
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Default Re: Starbuzz really worth it?

Being as neutral as I possibly can be I will say that SB appeals to those that like extremely sweet to the point of being cloyingly so and those that like strong artificial flavours found in candy, energy drinks and extremely processed foods. Obviously an incredible amount of people love that sort of thing since SB is the biggest seller in the U.S. and very successful in Europa. Further more at least a dozen brands exist that try to be exactly like SB and a new one pops up every month or so.

Personally I find SB and it's many clones sickening since I like the taste of natural fruits, herbs, spices and tobacco rather then corn syrup/sugar and weird chemicals.

If you like fruity type flavours I recommend that you go with Fumari and Salloum since both brands are natural tasting and realistic.
gi
No matter what you like I simply can't recommend SB at any price given the horrible ethics that company practices.

In my experience 80% of the SB fans I met in cafes totally annoy me and that doesn't make me feel good about the brand.
  #59  
Old March 28th, 2011, 02:22 AM
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Default Re: Shisha Non Tobacco Herbal Molasses Questions

First of all nicotine is totally negligible in all of the washed faux moassels you can buy and given that you don't burn moassel (assuming you aren't doing something very wrong) what little there is won't make it into your bloodstream in anything but completely trivial amounts. The same is true for tars. Even if you smoke super strong, unwashed stuff tar and nicotine simply aren't an issue if you don't inhale which you shouldn't do for the simple reason that you don't have taste buds in your lungs.

As to so called "herbals" well, they don't have herbs and absolutely no evidence supports the notion that smoking a mixture of sugar cane or leafs mixed with glycerin, molasses and flavouring compounds is safer then smoking a mixture of tobacco leafs mixed with glycerin, molasses and flavouring compounds.

Bottom line is that how you smoke matter a lot more then what you smoke.

In any case, "herbals" are crappy tasting with lousy smoke texture and have way too much much glycerin.

If you are going to smoke you should get something decent like Salloum and Fumari.
  #60  
Old March 28th, 2011, 02:56 AM
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Default The Hajo Files

A couple of days ago in Turin I got to see some great neo-60s garage bands and when I get the time I'll write about that since it's a cool story.

I was sitting around after supper I was at a little cafe drinking coffee when some 20 somethings at the next table got out a Nargilem brand rig so I chatted a bit and they decided to let me try a neo-moassel they were very excited about which we all know called Fantasia Triple Apple. Since I haven't smoked that concoction in quite a while I gave it shot and found a new found contempt for chemical engineers. The stuff tasted like a really bad bubble gum with a slightly apple like taste in the background which was about as genuinely apple like as the latest Usher single or German gangsta rap demonstrates musical soulfulness. Not being a fan of ingestion and the funky film it coated my mouth with I busted out my trusty Furrat champagne narghile, some jap coals I had laying in the bottom of briefcase and some Salloum apple and let the hipsters take a try.

One of the hipsters hated it saying it "too strong for him and not natural" which made me doubt the sanity of his taste buds and his masculinity. A second said it was far better then the Fantasia and a third said it was "pretty good but it should be sweeter" since apples have a candy like quality.

People have become so used to artificial tastes and chemical laden food/drink that they can't even recognize what apples taste like and think that candy is a natural part of fruit flavours which disturbed me.

The two philistines talked about how Fantasia was "more natural" since it's brilliant gore coloured sheen was what apples look like which makes me wonder if they had ever actually seen a real apple. The two proponents of "real apple tastes" were wearing eco sensitive logos which did nothing to bolster my faith in the ecology movement in Italy.

The whole experience left me rather annoyed with chemical engineers since they have warped our sense of taste beyond recognition.
  #61  
Old March 28th, 2011, 10:42 PM
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Default Re: The Evils of Chemical Engineering

People being miscalibrated in terms of food/drink tastes is a major problem which I regret is not solely limited to hipsters. It's become common for people to have no really tastes in terms of music or literature but instead simply absorb preferences the way certain microbes ingest food. I've also noted that the old joke about the Hi-Fi fan complaining that the live and totally acoustic performance failing to to have the timbre, image and dynamics of his stereo is often true. Worse still is that supposedly serious music fans and supposed stereophiles don't even know what those terms mean. People have become so detached from their own senses that they can't even appreciate if what they profess to like is an honest opinion rather then merely a reflection of the herd instinct or a lack of experience and discernment.

I find that when people make sweeping generalizations about how tobacco tastes it's a result of not being able to conceive of anything being other then as is commonly generalized. Pointing out that such generalizations is silly by comparing it to saying all meat tastes like spam simply is ignored since such notions aren't generally held is enough for a great many to actively ignore them.
  #62  
Old March 29th, 2011, 11:51 PM
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Default The Hajo Files

Recently I had to spend some time in Burgas which is a charming Bulgarian city on the Black Sea doing a sales pitch for a bottling plant which seems to have gone pretty well.

While sitting a seaside cafe waiting to meet a co-worker that was going to assist with my spiel I got a call and found out that his flight was delayed. Having a bit of time on my hand I wondered a bit on the beach and noted a chunk of meerschaum/Sepiolite which I had heard pops up in such a manner but rarely so and never in my limited experience.

Needless to say I looked at it and thought of pipes from Cyprus and Turkey.

After making my sales pitch and the requisite shuck & jive with eager, young would be execuclones I broke away to chat with a pipe puffing 40 something year old that didn't act like the stereotypes that surrounded me. I ask him about his meerschaum pipe and he directed to a local shop that was run by the chap that made his.

The next morning I stopped by the craftsmen shop and found an elderly gent that was selling pipes for more then I could afford but since he was pleasant and knowledgeable I chatted for a bit and found out that small meerschaum deposits were in the area. He suggested that I talk to a fellow that works in the mines if I wanted a tour although I he made me swear that I wasn't in or planning on entering the pipe trade in any fashion.

Later that afternoon I got a call from the miner, well his son actually since the miner doesn't speak English, and we got together after diner and headed out to the mine. After about an hour and a half we came to small valley and followed the steps down to a shaft that we entered with a fairly ancient lift that barely held us and groaned ominously as we descended into the abyss.

Using flashlights we shuffled along doubled up until we eventually came to a little chamber where we could almost stand up. My guide chiseled out several blocks before we left and rejoined his son back at the car. I was told that the mine was found by his father back in 1939 although the war stopped mining which the family resumed after the war but only sporadically until 10 years ago.

It's my understanding that the mine produces about two hundred blocks a month suitable for pipe work and that while some goes to the pipe maker I mentioned earlier but most of what he mines goes to fellow that makes narghiles in Macedonia (there they call them lulas) in a little village called Star Dojran which I never heard of. Luckily the miner was willing to put me in touch with the fellow that makes them and gave me his name and since I have business in Macedonia these days I hope to work out a trip and see how a meerschaum narghile/lula is made.
  #63  
Old March 30th, 2011, 10:46 PM
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Default Re: Meerschaum/Sepiolite Narghiles

I was chatting with collector I know from days of going to auctions (and never almost buying anything since the prices were 9 times out of 10 way beyond me) and he tells me that Balkan meerschaum narghiles have a base made mostly of cut & shaped amber that is apparently crafted in much the same was as stained glass which is something I never heard of. The downstem is made of wood (usually Linden) and the main stem of meerschaum which is made of numerous blocks with a central hole for conveying the smoke and very small holes in which pins are inserted to hold the blocks together. It seems that the mainstem is protected by a series of brass rings which rest against felt and are held on with brass screws. The bowl is made from an exceptionally large block of meerschaum which is shaped into something that looks more o less like a super chief which I suppose shows that nothing is new under the sun.

Apparently my collector acquaintance owns several but since he didn't invite me I can't much about what he has.

I really hope I get to see one of these things.
  #64  
Old March 30th, 2011, 11:00 PM
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Default Re: Cosmic Horror and Smoking

I hear that [FONT=Arial]Lord Dunsany apparently wrote a short story about a narghile that when smoked casts up visions of the things like HPL's Outer Gods and the smoker looses his mind as a result of exposure to the unknowable. The story is apparently called "Tendrils of Doom".

Of course smoking Cuzzins, King Moassel or the worse products of SB/Fantasia/Guru thrusts one into an insanity of crippled aesthetics so perverse that many of the fans of those products sound, look and act like Jersey Shore cast members. I feel a sinister cosmology must be at work for such a heinous outcome to be accepted and sought out by so many.
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  #65  
Old April 1st, 2011, 03:28 PM
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Default Re: My DIY homemade moassal theory

I suppose I really don't like the idea of boiling/pressure cooking/washing tobacco until it turns into a colourless,tasteless pulp. You see tobacco has essential oils that give it tastes you can't get anyplace else and I'd rather not put a lot of effort into making tobacco taste like something totally unrelated. Besides, tobacco can give great smoke texture whereas glycerin gives you a nasty film on your teeth.

Also, you can buy super processed stuff with powerful chemicals that taste like all sorts of stuff for less then what you can make it at home for. Check out Fumari or Salloum if what you want is something to smoke that actually has natural fruit flavours.

Oh, your recipe won't have the pulp absorb what ever you want it to with out prolonged, low temperature heat. Fresh fruit is really hard to work into tobacco and chocolate is nearly impossible. Since I doubt you want to get into advanced food chemistry I think some rethinking is in order.

If however you'd rather have something that has decent smoke texture and doesn't taste like a chemical set I'd suggest a recipe that works great which is:

Here is a great recipe:

What you need:

Tombac ( 100g)

Burley or Kentucky flake pipe tobacco of high quality (100g)

Toasted or black Cavendish of high quality (100g)

A good amber style molasses. I suggest Golden Barrel Supreme Baking Barbados Unsulphured Molasses although any unsulphered amber molasses will do. Don't use blackstrap molasses ever! you'll need about 100g. You can get it at amazon.com

Glycerin, the food grade sort (about 20g worth)

A good flavouring compound if you want something more then then tobacco/glycerin/molasses tastes although those are great by themselves. I suggest https://www.lorannoils.com/c-6-super...andy-oils.aspx or https://www.lorannoils.com/c-14-food...tial-oils.aspx since they are the best on the market by far and super strong.

What you do:

1) Tear out the stems from the tombac.
2) Soak the tombac until it’s totally soft, squeeze it till all the water is gone.
3) Throw the tombac in a food processor and chop it until it’s a bit bigger then a long cut pipe tobacco.
4) Dump the pipe tobacco, tombac and molasses into a bowl and with wet hands carefully mix everything for a few minutes.
5) spread the mixture on a cookie sheet covered with a VERY light layer
(use as little as possible) of cooking oil and pre-heat the oven to 175F. Bake for about 90 minutes. You need a good oven and oven thermometer.
6) Scrape off the moassel into a bowl and mix in the flavouring extract and add a bit more molasses to get the right consistency if needed. Be sure to mix the moassel with wet hands.
7) repeat step 5.
8) Scrape off the moassel into a bowl and mix in the glycerin.
9) repeat step 5.
10) Enjoy.

When adding the extracts the flavour strength varies (but it's very strong) so I suggest starting with a tablespoon. Add a bit more (using an eye dropper) if the flavour is not enough for your tastes. Always mix in more extract with wet hands and let it sit a day or 2 before trying it out again.

If anyone wants some in depth info on molasses and how to use it see: http://www.hookahpro.com/forum/showt...light=molasses
  #66  
Old April 2nd, 2011, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Meerschaum/Sepiolite Narghiles

I got to see one the meerschaum narghiles being made that I talked about a while back. The chap that makes them is named Jasa and he lives in a quaint little fishing town called Star Dojran on the shores of Lake Dojran in North Eastern Macedonia.

Jasa lives in house out in the lake held up on poles which is similar to the homes seen in the hinterlands of the Bayous of Louisiana. Unlike a lot of lake dwellers Jasa's home is made up of four small buildings complete with thatched roofs and electricity provided by a generator which powers a fridge, lights and and various tools in his shop.

Like a lot of people in this part of the world Jasa is still pissed at the Turks over their lengthy occupation and holds the opinion that the Turks stole both narghiles and and treacled tobacco from them. Needless to say I didn't see the point in debating the matter.

It would seem his family has been in the business of making Meerschaum lulas (i.e. narghiles) for 5 generations and the craft is dying out as a result of the shortage of high quality meerschaum blocks and the fact that local history has made ruled out the possibility of trade with Turkey. It appears that roughly a dozen people make meerschaum lulas in Macedonia and Bulgaria and that that number is expected to decline in the near term. My understanding is that Jasa builds about 70 meerschaum lulas a year and while I didn't ask it's a safe bet they are shockingly expensive.

Basically the construction is as i've already described with blocks of meerschaum having cylindrical protrusions which mates with holes that are made in the next bloclk which are held tight with thin cork gaskets. Additional strength is given to the structure with series of hardwood pins which fit into carefully placed holes in the blocks.

The smoke chambers are of the common closed style and are made up of two very large blocks that screw together as a result of a broad, simple thread cut by hand. These nargiles have both a tube port and purge port made from meerschaum that are similarly threaded and the purge port has a small brass fitting and a pebble for a valve.

Both the main stem and smoke chamber are protected with numerous brass bands placed onto felt and held in place with brass screws which prevent dings and bumps from wrecking it.

These narghiles don't have a hose but rather a tube made of oak which is fitted with an amber mouth piece. The down tube is lindenwood which is meant to be replaced every 5 or so sessions or fired oak which apparently is good for 25 or so sessions. The down stem is held in place with a rubber gasket . When you get one of these things you are given a bundle of 20 or so down stems and tubes with mouth pieces.

The bases are indeed made of amber pieces which are cut, shaped and polished before being joined in an elaborate lattice of brass tubing into a vase. As I understand it (I had to get all of this via an interpreter) the amber adheres to the brass as a result of the use of pitch carefully applied to cork gaskets that are carefully wedged into the tubing. The bottom of the amber vase is protected by a brass rings of tubing which is brazed into place and secured to the tubing that holds the amber. I didn't get to see the vases made

The lulas I saw seemed about the same size as the better Syrian and Egyptian rigs on the market and they typically seem to be made up of 12-15 blocks although Jasa has made some that have up to 30 blocks.


I did get to smoke one of Jasa's creations after a meal of fried fish and a onion/potatoes stew that was excellent. The smoking session was exquisite smoking a very strong moassel like product that tasted strongly of top quality Balkan leaf, honey, molasses, linden and earth tones while smelling the water and seeing a perfect sky gave me one of the best sessions i've ever had. The downside is that I doubt any HPer will be able to afford to replicate my experience.

In other news I am hot on trail of some Macedonian moassel that I think i'll be able to distribute to my fellow HPers in the next couple of weeks.



  #67  
Old April 3rd, 2011, 02:27 PM
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Default The Hajo Files

I got some songs from a long running musical product i've been involved with transferred from the 1/4" tape to MP3s. Sent to me recently and think the stuff is pretty.

The band is called Refracted and the sound is blissed out kosmic heavy with a fair chunk of fretboard gymnastics although there is enough variation in tempo that it's trace oriented at times although without the drone influence in a lot of German and Italian stuff that is coming out these days.

I do guitar on all of it.

If anyone wants to hear this stuff just send me a PM with your email address.
  #68  
Old April 5th, 2011, 06:38 PM
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Default The Hajo Files

[FONT=Arial Black][FONT=Arial]I made my back to [/FONT][/FONT]Prilep where I got get an apparently soon to be new brewery in to cough up a bunch of cash for equipment I wished I could afford before wandering around to various tobacco shops in search of locally made treacled tobacco. While I couldn't find what I did talk to a chap that recommend I speak to his father down in Struga which was convenient since I needed to go make a follow up pitch in the hopes of getting a bottling line and soft drink project going.

After an uneventful drive I got to do the usual spiel about how spending more money on capitol goods supplied by my employers will make the listener's investors happy (once they get over the sticker shock induced heart attack) I stopped into see the father of the tobacconist mentioned above. The old fellow runs a shop himself catering to fans of high end Balkan tobacco for Western pipes and although I can't afford it I bought some anyway. That was a good thing since we got to talking about local moasel like stuff which he didn't seem to know much about when a hunchbacked octogenarian shuffled in with a gorgeous knotted brier and porcelain pipe with a little pewter wind cover/lid.

The old gent interjected that "the Macedonians invented water pipes" bit and wanted to point out that "Arabs/Turks (it seems in this part of the world they are seen as one and the same) smoke nothing but cigarettes" harangue. Normally I merely shrug when I hear this sort of thing but today was different since a pal of mine from the states brought to me an exquisite camel bone medwakh generously provided for me as a replacement for the one that police in Turin pinched.

Since I had it with me I whipped it out and said "This is a sort of pipe the Arabs call a Medwakh and it's made of camel bone. Examine the craftsmanship and tell me that anyone could fashion such a thing in a land of cigarette smokers." Both the old tobacconist and his chauvinist chum where indeed impressed and I think I put a good sized dent in their natavist armor. They did however wonder how such a small bowl could be used to smoke any tobacco since they certainly couldn't think of any finely cut enough.

Luckily I had some Harran dokha in the affixed chanta so I loaded up a bowl and let them give it a try. While both fellows said they preferred local leaf in local pipes they did admit that dokha was indeed high quality tobacco.

I pointed out that a great many Arabs share the love that we hold for fine tobacco. The octogenarian suggested that while such seems to be the case surely nothing else can bind real Occidentals and Arabs. I pointed out that the advocates of unreconstructed Islam and Orthodox Christianity share a sense of economy serving humanity rather then finance and that both are opposed to usury. That surprised and impressed both men who now seemed to have lost, at least the moment, some part of an age old resentment for long vanquished colonial regimes and people that ran them.

Beyond my medwakh related coup helping to resonate a bit of understanding I did get a bit more tangible benefit in the form of an introduction to a local treacled tobacco maker. It seems the octogenarian knows a family that produces a local form of moassel (here they call it "sweet lula tobac" ) somewhere to West of [FONT=Arial Black][FONT=Arial]Kalista and I'll be heading there soon.

With a bit of luck I'll score some great stuff to distribute to my fellow HPers. I'll know for sure by the end of the week.

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  #69  
Old April 5th, 2011, 11:20 PM
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Default The Hajo Files

I was watching some crappy Aussie flick about stereotypical evil white people in the boondocks battling a righteous, super human aboriginal when I heard a song on the soundtrack I hadn't thought of in a lot of years called Black Eyed Bruiser by Stevie Wright. Back in the '80s during the "bush war" I know that song was pretty popular with an old mate of mine who got a lot of stuff from Oz & the U.S. a good decade or more after it was off the charts. I remember that tune blasting on an 8 track someone rigged up into an APC we used back then called a Casspir. I had great memories of that tune and so I looked it up on youtube.

Checkout: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dItRL9-kHbs
Yeah, it's dated but still great

Check out the new version by Rose Tattoo :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtV6RxeYfKg&NR=1

Stevie Wright's vocal style influenced Bon Scott of ACDC fame and you can hear that on old tunes by Scott's early bands The Spektors and The Valentines who covered a few of his from the mid sixties.

No doubt that the Aussies have been turning out bad ass tunes for well over 40 years.

So, anyone here dig ba dass Aussie stuff like The Black Diamonds, Coloured Balls, The Lime Spiders, The Puritans or Cosmic Psychos?
  #70  
Old April 7th, 2011, 10:14 PM
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Default Re: My DIY homemade moassal theory

Quote:
Originally Posted by indovers View Post
ahhh, thank u Mr.hajo...yes u're right. When i was boiled down my tobacco until colourless my smoke taste so different like before...So how's the trick to make my tobacco more less content of nicotine and tar ?
So far my best DIY homemade moassal just mint flavour, i used apple but the taste its looks like car perfume, and when i use mocchacino the taste is more horrible.....I will try u'r recipe , maybe it will work well.

*Btw, what is black cavendish ? i just goggling and i found it for tobacco ? is it right ? cause i know cavendish as far only for banana hahaha....sory for my noobness

Thanks Mr.Hajo
What I do is think of tobacco like I think of cooking a meal or brewing an ale in that it's a matter of getting complimentary flavours working together. Tobacco has tastes and textures you can't get in any food or drink which is the biggest reason to smoke. As a result you shouldn't process your tobacco in such a way as to destroy the leaf by boiling/steaming/pressure cooking/nuking etc.

Cavendish tobacco is a tobacco that has undergone a certain curing and cutting method designed to bring out the natural sweetness of the leaf with a combination of heat and pressure.

Tar simply isn't an issue with a narghile unless you radically pack wrong or totally mess up your heat management. Nicotine isn't much of an issue either for the simple reason that you'll absorb a small portion of the nicotine in the leaf if don't actually burn it. Further more, if you don't hoover when you smoke but take short, shallow draws and wait a good minute or so between pulls you'll have very little intake indeed. Smoke for taste & texture, not clouds.
  #71  
Old April 15th, 2011, 11:03 PM
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Default Re: Zhagloul, "The Egyptian Way"

While I haven't spent a lot of time in Egypt I have spent a huge amount of time in the Arab world, Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan the Caspian Sea nations as well as India and I have never seen anyone that was knowledgeable about black moassels smoke one with direct heat. I do know a lot of North African Arabs that are far more knowledgeable of traditional moassels then I am and they all smoke Zaghloul, Prince blacks, Saaloum plain and everything of similar nature with a screen. I love Shîh 'el-beled and I would never think of smoking it with direct heat.

Direct heat is intended solely for tombac which pure, totally dried leaf that you moisten before smoking. Zaghloul is not tombac.

Unfortunately, being born an Arab/Turk/Iranian or what have you isn't any more of a guarantee that you'll be raised with a knowledge of black moassels then being born an American means you'll be raised with a knowledge of Classical Liberalism and Constitutional law. In my experience, urban Arabs (especially young ones) know absolutely nothing about traditional moassels and the vast majority of Americans know nothing at all about Classical Liberalism and Constitutional law.

Still, if you for some reason prefer the stronger, simpler tastes of burned moassel rather then the "cooked" taste you get from indirect heat then by all means do it.
  #72  
Old April 15th, 2011, 11:26 PM
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Default Re: Macedonians Discover Medwakh!

One of the great things about tobacco is that it serves the same function socially as a home cooked meal or a well made ale/mead/cyser/perry/cider in that it shows how people differ in things they share. The common thread that cultivating a crop (i.e. tobacco) for what pleasures bring one's senses without intoxication reflects what is unique about a people the same way that brewing and cooking methods do. One can easily survive without good pint of folk crafted ale or a carefully cured bit of tobacco and one can even live on a diet of fast food but real question is what is the point in such a life given how immeasurably grayer it would be?
  #73  
Old April 15th, 2011, 11:27 PM
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Default The Hajo Files

Recently I had the chance to return to the charming village of Kalista that I’ve mentioned before in my mini saga dealing with moassel like tobacco from Macedonia. This time around I came upon a little party orchestrated by the Janev family that hosted my last visit. The cause of the celebration was the successful delivery of a bear cub duly proclaimed to be Milcho 8th whose ancestor was a circus animal that won fame for carrying cartridge cases during the Ilinden Uprising of August 1903. Since I had driven a long time (by anyone’s standards other then an American or heavy haulage driver) and was hungry and tired I was delighted to be treated to lovely bowl of pork stew, a sweet and very mildly alcoholic drink called Boza which I always thought was Turkish, a distilled drink made of honey and figs and a bread made with heavy cream and something that may of been dill. After a great meal and bit of attempts at banter via a translator I was told that I was going to finally see how the local version of moassel is made and so I bedded down for the night at my generous host’s home.

Afters pending a bit of time chatting with my host as we drove out to see the leaf being processed I found out that the local moassel like product is a brand called “Pulevski Tobac” which is made up out of primarily dark leaf and is referred to as belonging to the “Sweet Night Lula Tobac” category. It seems that the leaf comes from fields near the villages of Galičnik and
Kalista while processing the leaf into moassel is done near the village of Trpejca. The name sake for the moassel is a famous patriot named Georgi Pulevski who authored texts on the Macedonian language and fought against Ottoman occupation in the late 19th century.

The leaf used in the Pulevski Tobac comes from apparently four species but only the Komotini and Dubec strains were identified to me. The leaf is air cured in a fairly conventional method that apparently takes about 6 months. After the tobacco is cured the central stem is cut out with a long, thin knife and the relative proportions of the various leaf types are blended before being shredded . Next, the leaf is set in a wide, short cask in thin layers which have an essential oil made from nuts brushed on. After a few weeks the leaf is removed from the cask and re-packed into a wide, shallow cask with slits covered with chicken wire along the sides and lid. The slitted casks are then lowered into a small stone building surrounded by scaffolding via a winch. The stone building has a series of small fire pits and little footpaths for the fire starters to walk along. Once the fires are started additional wood or moss is lowered from scaffolds a couple of meters up via a bucket. I wasn’t told how long this heating process takes or how they regulate the temperature.

The leaf is removed from the slitted casks and spread out on a stone cooking surface in an earthen oven before a layer molasses is applied. After a prolonged, low temperature baking cycle the leaf is re-packed into casks as described before with Linden oil added and then left to age. It seems that the whole process takes around 30 months.

The good news is that I’ll be able to get some of this wonderful stuff out to my fellow HPers within about two weeks since I’ve already purchased a decent sized chunk of the stuff and I am making arrangements to have it shipped. Purchasing samples will run about the same in terms of cost and procedures but I’ll post all the details as soon as it’s cleared customs.
  #74  
Old April 16th, 2011, 02:19 PM
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Default Re: Zhagloul, "The Egyptian Way"

First of all Zaghloul is hardly ancient in that it was first offered for sale in 1912. A further point of fact is that since i've seen the actual recipe I know that the original Zaghloul doesn't have much relation to the current recipe which you can read about here http://www.hookahpro.com/forum/showt...light=Zaghloul

Further more, maoassel is also a fairly recent creation dating back to no earlier then the 1840s and not becoming commcerially viable until the 1870s or 1880s. When tombac itself became available is much harder to say but it certainly was existent by the late 1600s in India.

As to your pronouncements about "no cafe urban or other wise" well, not much need be said other then you simply don't know what you're talking about. I've had Zaghloul and several similar products in rural cafes as well as a couple of urban in the south and since they all were run by and frequented by elderly fans of black moassels they served it with indirect heat and a screen since such places never use foil and likely aren't even aware of it.
  #75  
Old April 16th, 2011, 06:14 PM
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Default Re: Pulevski Sweet Lula Tobac

One cool thing that happened is that when I was given the tour of the aging and processing parts of the production in the village of Trpejca I ran into a young fellow in his 20s named Radic who is being apprenticed in the art of making the Linden oil they use in the production of the moassel like tobacco.

Anyway, he said something along the lines of "you're the guy that smokes Arab stuff" and wanted to know if I was a "Mohammadian" I said said no but that I know a lot of Muslims and i've noted that the Orthadox Church and Islam agree on the matter social justice. Since Radic was under the impression that Arabs smoke dyed stuff with artificial flavours (he's thinking of Bisan and typical gulf type products) and that they got water pipes from the Macedonians I impressed him with my Furrat Champagne narghile since it's rather decorative compared to the local water pipes. I also showed him my medwakh and let him try out the saffron dokha I was carrying at the time and craftsmanship of the pipe and the taste of of the tobacco impressed him so much that he called over his father who also had a bit of a revelation.

In any case, the local version of moassel is rather different then what I am used to and since it seems just a few thousand kilos of the stuff is made each year it's safe to say it's as exotic as anything i've had. When I get some time i'll write up a bunch of tasting notes and the like.
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