Habesha Women and the Hookah Lounge

Let me vent.  I think I have earned it, if you calculate the time I spent trying to curb my frustration with my people and how they function in different settings in the American system. I am human and this is how far my thin-veiled patience can go. I think most of you must have known that I have travelled to D.C and Virginia a week ago. Again you know of my travel arrangements because of the voluntary broadcast of my whereabouts on my social media handles. If you haven’t seen or known about it, you have missed out a lot.  I mean I have advertised it enough as a millennial.

I wish I could take back my original take on the Habesha Community in the ‘DMV’ area. Nope. As I have said so many times, the only difference between the Habesha back home and the ones in the DMV area is that the Habesha in DMV area have electricity, running water and foreign neighbors (few of them); don’t get me started on the neighborhoods that are totally conquered by our people to the point where speaking in English is considered showing off.

My people are in desperate need of a shepherd like Moses who parts the sea of ignorance and ridiculousness and lead them to the land of enlightenment. It’s a blind leading the blind out there and they are blissful about the darkness that has engulfed them. But if their current status quo makes them happy, why should me or Moses try to play the role of an emancipator? Just saying.

So my people’s favorite spot is a hookah lounge . They have them in numbers under so many original names or full sentences as a name for a bar.  Hookah bar is like a special place where you clock in and out before and after work to sustain your identity as a Habesha and prevent your Habesha card from being revoked. I kid you not. I am not judging here and no pun intended at all.

I mean let them smoke or vaporize anything they want, but it gets me feverishly amused when this particular recreation becomes gender sensitive. Well, men can do it as they please but if a woman is smoking a hookah, she is well…. you know…. not a wife material.  So the Habesha men have this concept of marrying a home girl – who is innocent to the ways of clubbing, drinking and dating while at the same time they expect the girl they are dating to drink, smoke and frequent the clubs.  They want to hunt and soil a bird for fun only to marry a new dove to cage in a marriage. Talk about hypocrisy.

Habesha men are the epitome of paradox.  And I think its contagious, most of them are showing the same symptoms.

“It’s not our culture for a woman to smoke a hookah,” said a friend of mine who frequents a certain hookah bar when I asked him why he was looking with askance at a girl smoking hookah. I think it’s about time I see the tablets of commandments of our culture. I am hundred percent sure that our forefathers and founders of our so-called culture didn’t mention hookah or who should consume it and who should not.

I am not encouraging girls or boys for that matter to smoke hookah but at the same time I don’t want you to misquote our culture in however frame you want it to mean to fit your agenda. I swear, I will not be as tolerant next time and will call you out on my posts using your given name if you try to feed me such BS.

This same friend who frowned upon a woman smoking hookah is a person who insists to sleep with a girl on a third date. “This is America,” he kept saying to his date – who by the way was wearing her little sister’s skirt which she keeps pulling it down every now and then. I mean, ‘girl if you aren’t comfortable and if you are that self-conscious of your short skirt, then why wear it to a bar and to meet your confused date who is suffering from an identity crisis, who is spacing in and out of living as his given name Gebrekristos and his brand new American identity Chris. Why confuse the confused?

However, my question is in which part does the tablet of commandments quote intimacy before marriage? Is it even allowed in our culture? If you are going to stay traditionalist, then stay traditionalist the whole way. Don’t tell me that we are in America when you want and at the same time expect me to follow our culture when you want it to fit your little underdeveloped frame of mind.

Dude you are confused. And your lifestyle is a textbook case of contradiction.

And ladies please be yourselves and drop all the act, it is tiresome to just look at you making fool of yourselves. Don’t bend yourself to the whims of a man who dictates how you should be behaving and when.  Know your worth and place. You are not his freaking toy or a center piece at his mansion. Be true to yourselves and drop all the pretense.  If you are trying to trap a man into your web with a pretense, you should know that no relationship founded on a pretense stands the winds of time and reality.  Throwing my two cents in – I know you didn’t ask for them.

Let me conclude by dropping a paradox for you, never have a vacation exhaust me this much before. It was tiresome to watch and be at the center of the drama my people have going. And the Oscar for the Leading role in Paradox goes to that girl who was “working” from her laptop in the hookah bar buzzing with the loudest music and hookah smoke. I salute your display of commitment to your work and choice of place to do so.

I will keep venting until my annoyance ceases. So long ….. till the next post.


3 thoughts on “Habesha Women and the Hookah Lounge”

  1. Nothing like your typical writings. I believe it is too harsh to stereotype the whole community. In addition, I would think it would be more helpful if you give it time to reflect and cool down from the anger and disappointment that your experience brought. I know you from long time, I can’t fit this piece anywhere in my perception of you. I think you as someone who try to get herself out of a situation so that she can have a more all-round perspective. You know what I dream of you, a writer who can have significant role or as you have said it the role of “Mosses” to the lost generation. I am sure you understand what I am intending to say. I would prefer that you don’t put yourself in such insignificant issues compared to the BIGGER problems we as a community have. So I would like to suggest that you become sensitive and selective in the issues you delve into rather than be driven by anger that are caused by incidents. Thank you Betye.

    1. Thanks Oromay for your feedback and keep them coming. But I believe the tone of the piece was lighthearted satire. Don’t we all have highly exaggerated jokes and elaborated in jokes about Habesha? If it appeared harsh to you, I don’t really have anything to say. Also I’m concerned but I harbor no anger that needs to cool down. And do you think the double standards used in choosing a woman to marry and to date insignificant? Or misquoting culture to cage a certain group of a society not major enough of a topic or not big enough of a problem for you? The piece wasn’t about women who smoke hookahs but the implications and complications of culture in a foreign settings and how we transfer them in a foreign context. Or was the topic hookah unpleasant dialogue for you because you can’t relate to it? What are BIGGER problems and who defines their urgency or priority? Thanks for the points you have made and thanks for holding me to a higher standards. Your comments are always welcome.

  2. You know what, it was time someone point this out in a more fashoined and educated way so I’m glad you vent what you felt although the bigger and scarier issue here is the young generation in Ethiopia who’s been lost for more than you could have imagined and it pains me knowing 10 years from now those basic tradition’s that use to be a corner stone for our uniqueness are being destroyed everyday just so they can expericnce the “American lifestyle”.
    I wish people could stop for a second and look at what’s Going around more them than trying to be something they’re not.
    Keep what you’re doing because i love to read many pieces from you.

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