"Why have you got a bong in the corner of your living room?", they'd ask.
Of course, this is the ignorance of those who have never tried, or have never even looked into the pastime, and so it's natural for them to think that it was used for dodgy purposes I suppose. It's a bit like when I used to have three computers in my office, "is this so you can hack into banks?"
I could explain it easy enough to friends. When I explained what shisha was, and that it was a way of smoking flavoured tobacco, or even no tobacco, and that it was also quite a communal thing, I'd be urged to light it up and show them.
Very soon we were having shisha parties, and suddenly mine was the coolest house to be in. When the summer came, it was BBQ and shisha. It's the only way!
However, there are those annoying things called relatives, and I now had three pipes to store, one of them was massive.
Although I don't have pictures of it (this was before mobile phone cameras), I can explain how I used to get away with it and hide the hookah pipes in plain sight. You can probably do it yourself.
Christmas Hookah lights
The first Christmas in my new home, I was bought a set of lights that worked off a battery. They were tiny and meant to wrap around a small plant.
One day I noticed that the lights had dropped off the rather pathetic looking plant I'd put them on and landed next to the water bowl of the pipe I'd been using the night before.
The reflection of the various colours of glass was incredible, so I picked them up and put them in the water bowl itself. The effect was amazing!
That day, I went out and bought two more sets of these lights. They were ideal because a tiny watch-style battery powered them, the whole thing squeezed neatly into the water bowl.
I then set about dismantling all my hookahs and clearing room on the shelves for the various parts.
Very soon, I'd got all pipes stored neatly around the house, lit up and looking great.
When relatives came round, they just thought I'd taken on some Middle Eastern decoration tips and had one a "great job" on brightening up the house.
And when they'd gone, I'd put a pipe back together and celebrate a job well done!