The Art of Talking

It’s interesting that one of the most popular places in the Gaslight District is also a bit hidden. Because there are no windows at the Bohemian Hookah Café at 340 Ludlow Avenue, you could forget it’s there—except that, once you walk inside, you quickly realize it’s a go-to place for a hip and diverse crowd. In its own unassuming way the café quickly became a fixture in the community, and at the center of it all is the owner, Farah A. Hagar, who we know as “Blackie.” During a recent visit to the café I learned that Blackie had published a book. Often books are kind of a one-on-one between the book and the reader, but Blackie Bohemian: Book of Questions is different. It’s meant to be a group experience. As you may have noticed, people have a tendency these days, when out in public, to ignore everything, including the people they’re with, while they immerse themselves in this little palm-sized objects with a screen on them. Book of Questions consists entirely of questions intended to be read aloud in order to foster discussion between people who are sitting together. Here’s an example: If you had to wear the same outfit the rest of your life, what would you wear? And this: Who is the worst person you have ever met; what made them the worst? These are the types of questions that, by the time everyone jumps into the discussion, offer a long respite from the screen-staring so prevalent these days. That’s part of the attraction, but I have a hunch that its allure also stems from the popularity of the venue and, of course, Blackie, who’s always been a welcoming and cheerful presence on Ludlow Avenue. Stop in the Bohemian Hookah Cafe and try his cardamon ginger chai, which is the real deal as opposed to the prepackaged variety, or his fresh mint tea, which is grown in  the back of the building.

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