Smoke billowing from pipes, its strength undercut with the fragrance of herbs and spices, is thickening the air at millennials’ parties these days. The pipe called the medwakh is an elegant black beauty made from wood or stone, while dokha, the tobacco, is herbal and flavoured.
Although dokha originated in the Middle East centuries ago, it landed on Indian shores five years back and has been meeting with a heady response in the country.
Those who’ve tried it say dokha hits you like a ton of bricks.
It tastes like a herb. Fresh but spicy. It gives you an instant hit but drops down almost as quickly.A dokha user, 25, based in New Delhi
Needless to say, vices are going global too; the fact that travel and overseas education has exposed youngsters to different cultures in America and Europe has led to many of them taking a fancy to this largely Arabic tobacco.
Aayush Bhasin, who has been importing the tobacco to India under the brand name,
Iranian Dokha says he has been a seeing a surge in its consumption over the past two years. Today, Iranian Dokha is available in many supermarkets like 24*7, among others.
Bhasin got the idea while he was studying in the US, where many of his peers would smoke the tobacco.
I was in the US for five years, and a lot of Middle Eastern people there used to smoke dokha. So, there we were (my partner and I), two kids thinking, ‘why not bring it to India?’Ayush Bhasin, Founder and Partner, Herbal Tobacco Company
Bhasin, who is perhaps the only supplier of dokha in India, sells the tobacco in a kit that starts from Rs 250 onwards. One kit comes with five grams of sun-dried tobacco, a medwakh pipe, a filter, and a cleaner.
At one go, a bowl in the medwakh can be filled with about 0.5 grams of dokha, promising you a heady herbal hit.
Herbal it may be, but like all smoke that the human being inhales, this alternative tobacco product, too, comes with a caution.
A medical report conducted on behalf of the United Arab Emirates Tobacco Control Research Collaborative that studied 97 male university participants found that a session of dokha increases blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate akin to tobacco.
This fact is echoed by Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Apollo Hospitals, who says “there is no doubt about the harmful effects of dokha, and that even though its relation to cancer has not been studied enough, it leads to effects similar to those that happen because of smoking like high blood pressure, cholesterol, respiratory problems, etc.”