By Justin Francis

Hookahs lined up in a shop in Turkey

On holiday with my wife in rural Turkey we came across some old men smoking tobacco through a hookah (Turkish water pipe) otherwise called a hubble-bubble. Like all old men their wore their lives and history on their wrinkled faces and seemed at peace.

I desperately wanted to photograph them, and was building up courage to ask permission, perhaps even to get a photo of us together. As we passed one of them caught my wife’s eye and smiled at her. They spoke and she asked about the pipe. With hand gestures he invited us to sit and be still. He then walked slowly to the corner shop and we could see him buying tobacco. He returned, found us a spare pipe, filled it with apple flavoured tobacco and showed us how to smoke. We asked, but he refused payment for the tobacco despite the obvious disparity in our wealth – something that brought us closer together.

We sat smoking in companionable silence with the old men, contemplating what was happening, nothing was said and nothing needed to be said. It was wonderful. As we left we stopped by the corner shop and paid for some tobacco to be put aside for the old man. We never saw his face when he discovered it.

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Photo credits: [Hookahs in Turkey]
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