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Until relatively recently all coffee houses in Istanbul had a special corner reserved for nargile smokers, and if by accident you might sit among them the disgruntled glances soon obliged you to move elsewhere. Nargile smokers used to be the earliest and most coveted customers at Istanbul's coffee houses. At the first light, rubbing their eyes, they would sit upon the couch or sedir before the newly lit stove waiting for their morning nargile before setting out to work.
Like everything else from the past the nargile has been largely forgotten. However, although it is no longer the national pastime it once was, it is kept alive in a few coffee houses in such districts of Istanbul as Beyazit, Aksaray, Topkapi, Unkapani, Kasimpasa, Besiktas and Kadik?y by old and new adherents of this traditional pipe. An advanced grade nargile smoker may spend up to three hours over the ceremony.
Most such smokers have their own personal nargile at the coffee house. This is kept away from sight and used by no one else even if the smoker does not come for months. Still there are some who carry their own silver mouthpiece with them in their waistcoat pocket just in case someone else might have used it meanwhile and defiled the amber mouthpiece with their lips. The dedicated smoker brings his own piece of the finest t?mbeki tobacco for the one trusted waiter who knows exactly how much to dampen and place on the l?le, and how large a piece of live coal to set on top of it.
The most famous coffee houses have today disappeared, but their memory remains, such as Pirin?ci in Kuledibi, G?ll? Agop Kiraathanesi in Gedikpasa, Valide Kiraathanesi in Emin?n?, Ligor Kiraathanesi under the Galata Bridge and Erzurum ?ayevi. Emirgan ?inaralti still survives but the nargile ceremonial has gone, along with its peaceful bubbling sound and wavering smoke. One place where nargile smoking has not been forgotten is Erenler Nargile situated in ?orlulu Ali Pasa Medrese at ?emberlitas between the Blue Mosque and the Covered Bazaar.