Retrohaling

Part of the Rehman Rashid series of reviews

AT Kuala Lumpur‘s chi-chi Q-Bar five or more years ago, during the first incarnation of his estimable cigar blog, our esteemed host Aizuddin photographed me exhaling cigar smoke through my nostrils and captioned the pic: “How does Rehman blow the smoke out through his nose?” He couldn’t do it then; I wonder if by now he’s figured out the Art of the Retrohale.

For that is what they call it, according to the herfboards. When you take cigar smoke into your mouth, send it up through the back of your buccal cavity through your nasal passages and out your nostrils into the general atmosphere, you’re “retrohaling”.

It came naturally to me but not to Aiz, and I fear there is only one reason for this: he doesn’t smoke cigarettes and I do. Of course, there’s no inhalation of cigar smoke. (I once broke up with a girlfriend partly because of her insistence that “real” cigar smokers inhale. It may seem petty, but a moment’s thought would reveal the deep incompatibilities indicated.)

Simply by exhaling through your nostrils with your mouth closed, the venturi effect of the air escaping your lungs will carry the smoke through your nasal passages, causing one of two effects: immediately tearing eyes and a coughing and/or sneezing fit, or an incomparable melding of the fragrance of the smoke in your nose with its taste in your mouth, accompanied by a jolt of nicotine absorbed directly through the sinuses into the frontal lobes of the brain.

Cigarette smokers such as myself may find smoking merely with the mouth unsatisfying. It leaves out what for us retrohalers is fully half the experience. Once the cigar gets to its end, the density and power of the smoke may make retrohaling too harsh. All the way there, however, I find it impossible NOT to retrohale.

I also think it looks pretty cool, no matter what my ex-girlfriend thought.