In General

I’ve always had a fascination for cigar, even though I’m a staunch non-smoker. To me, cigars have been like Scotch or Angling, an appreciation for the sophisticated habit.

A couple of days back, I got invited to a good friend’s birthday party. I got pally with his dad, a very joyful person who clearly had good taste in life. When he asked the gang if anyone would like to smoke a cigar, a few said yes and I obviously turned it down. After all, I don’t smoke.

It was the single piece of advice that he gave on cigar smoking, that quickly changed my mind. He said that cigar smoke should never be inhaled!

Never be inhaled? That’s all the excuse that I wanted.

I picked up a cigar. And it turned out to be a fantastic, enjoyable experience. The first few puffs were smooth and very unlike my first cigarette experience. Back in my first year of engineering, I tried out my first real cigarette and distinctly remember coughing and huffing uncomfortably. Didn’t enjoy the experience and was never again tempted to pick the habit. A good thing.

The cigar, on the other hand, felt wonderful. Maybe, it had to do with the couple of rounds of alcohol that I had already consumed. Maybe, it had to do with my pre-conceived high notions about the stogie.

I also had a few important lessons in the fine art of cigar smoking:

Cigars should be held between the thumb and the fore finger. Never between the fore finger and the middle finger, the way one would hold a cigarette. Guess what? I made that very mistake until I was pointed to it.

Cigars are meant to complement a good conversation. Meaning? They should be occasionally puffed. Around once a minute and never more frequent. The idea is to pace yourself slow and relish it.

I also realized that cigar by itself isn’t much. It’s the ambiance that it plays on. It’s important where and with whom you smoke the cigar.

I always thought that half the fun in a cigar is in the chewing. I’ve seen enough Clint Eastwood movies to believe it in. I regretted following it, though. The cigar crumpled and the tobacco ‘filler’ in the center can taste mighty sour and can leave an extremely bad taste in your mouth. I had to quickly wash down the sour taste with some cold beer. A lesson learned.

Let the cigar die a dignified death. Never snub it out in an ashtray the way cigarettes are done. Let the embers die out on its own. And apparently, no matter how expensive the cigar is, never smoke more than half of it.

I can tell you that with the sophistication and the social status attached with it, cigar smoking can be more addictive than cigarettes. It’s a good thing that the real good ones are prohibitively expensive.

The one that I smoked is King Edwards, which is supposed to be relatively inexpensive. Don’t know how much it costs but Wikipedia has an interesting insight. ‘King Edward VII enjoyed smoking cigars, much to the chagrin of his mother, Queen Victoria. After her death, legend has it, King Edward said to his male guests at the end of a dinner party, “Gentlemen, you may smoke.” In his name, a line of inexpensive American cigars has long been named King Edward.’

As for me, I prefer to remain smoke-free. I may never pick another cigar again but it was absolutely worth trying out my first.