The Hoosierist: Clearing the Air About Hookah Cafes

Hookah-smoking, motor-boating, and immigrants. Ask The Hoosierist.

Q: Indy sure has a lot of hookah places. Is smoking one of those less dangerous than cigarettes?
A:  The Hoosierist, who abhors smoking, nevertheless admits that puffing away on a hookah (a large water pipe developed in India) certainly looks cool. And there’s even a belief in certain quarters that the water used to filter the smoke strips out toxins. Unfortunately, that view isn’t shared by actual scientists, who report that hookah aficionados are exposed to just as many poisons as those decidedly uncool office workers who huddle outdoors during coffee breaks, furtively committing slow-motion suicide with cigarettes. Not surprisingly, hookah bars are also ground zero for secondhand smoke. Even worse is the fact that those fumes smell like Hell’s potpourri, because hookah tobacco comes in puke-inducing flavors ranging from cherry to chocolate to watermelon. You might as well light up a Marlboro.
Q: What is Indiana’s largest immigrant group?
A:  Right now, all the news is being made by the state’s latest arrivals, Latinos. In the last few decades, they’ve gone from basically zero percent of the local population to representing about 1 in 20 of Indiana’s 6.6 million residents. But they have a long way to go to match the state’s all-time immigration champs, the Germans. Back in the 19th century, our friends from northern Europe comprised more than 50 percent of the state’s population, and peppered every major urban area with German cultural centers and newspapers. Even today, some 1.5 million Hoosiers claim German ancestry. So where did all this Teutonic culture go? Chalk it up to assimilation. These days, the most obvious mark they’ve left on our state is the pork tenderloin sandwich—basically a German schnitzel that some genius decided to put on a bun.
Q: Why can’t you have big outboard motors at Eagle Creek Reservoir?
A:  Compared to Geist, where you could float a battleship if you located a boat ramp big enough, Eagle Creek is almost Amish in its disdain for high-powered boat motors. Indeed, anything bigger than 10 horsepower (barely better than oars) is prohibited. The reason, according to the nice lady who answered the phone at the park, is to make the reservoir (which is, after all, part nature preserve) less noisy. Also, fishermen appreciate being able to cast a line without getting rocked every few minutes by the wake of some yahoo. The downside is that traversing the 1,400-acre reservoir using a motor less powerful than a go-kart’s can take more than two hours. So you might want to bring some reading material for the trip.
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