I recently relocated to Macau, China for work. After finding the final 2009 edition of Cigar Aficionado and reading the editors' note and "out of the humidor" sections, I was reminded of just how different a place I am now living in. Despite the sometimes negative connotation that we often have about China, I feel freer to enjoy my rights as a smoker here than anywhere I have visited in the past five years. While prices are still high here (as this is a casino town), I feel very free to go to a bar, restaurant, casino, cigar bar or just on the street and enjoy a fine cigar. And while the States obviously haven't seen any benefits in lifting the embargo with Cuba, the Havana cigar scene here is booming (though I obviously avoid them as I am from the U.S.A.). Some people say that China is ten years behind, but I think in this case they just might be ten years ahead.
Greetings from a long lost location somewhere in Eastern Afghanistan. While this is my third trip to this conflict-ridden land, I'm still amazed how such a beautiful country can be so dangerous. Each day is long and the nights are longer. However, despite any uptick in insurgent activity, good things are happening every day. Young girls are going to school, roads and farms are being built, and ever yday the Afghans take one step closer to taking on full responsibility for their own police and security.
In order for this to reach fruition, a lot of sacrifices have been, and will continue to be, made. At the end of the day, people are generally smoked (no pun intended) physically as well as mentally. For me and several of my defenders, harmony is found in lighting up a good cigar.
While efforts are relentless to educate the good people of America on the costs of cigarette smoking, they fail to illustrate the invaluable benefit of cigar smoking: bonding reflection. Short of a successful combat endeavor, nothing brings together a group of soldiers like an Afghanistan smoke pit. The comaraderie and espirit de corps gained through bonding over a fine cigar is immeasurable.
However, in a combat environment you often find yourself getting in different directions, making a cigar night difficult. Some of my best evenings in country have been sitting in the smoke pit all by my lonesome getting my mind in the right place through reflection. Sitting alone with my cigar allows me to take stock of where I am, what I'm doing, and despite my circumstance, how lucky I am. For me, it doesn't get better than a Rocky Patel Decade on some random Wednesday. Life is good.
Pray for us and wish us luck over the coming months. Take care.
Captain David M. Knight.
APO AE 09354
Editor's Response: Captain Knight, you have our heartfelt thanks for the job that you are doing in Afghanistan. And, I'm glad to know that a cigar is helping you get through some long nights.
I just got a very rude surprise at Harrah's in St. Louis this week. It seems that they have banned cigar smoking inside their casino. Not smoking, rather, simply cigar smoking. You would be able to tell that by the 4,000 people smoking cigarettes while I was unable to enjoy my cigars. And at a casino no less! This seems almost un-American. I have confirmed that there are still cigar friendly casinos in the area, so this is the last time I spend a dime at that particular Harrah's.
I was angry and feel like we are being discriminated against. I would not like it any more if it were a complete ban but this is completely unacceptable. I just wasn't sure who else to tell after I sent their corporate people my opinion earlier.
Keep up the good work. We do not need any more people trying to regulate our lives and enjoyment.
St. Louis, Missouri
First, I must preface this email with the fact that I rarely partake in the smoking of a cigar, nor am I well versed in the rituals that take place when smoking one. I am not a smoker per se, however have found that I do enjoy a good cigar from time to time. With that, I find myself occasionally surfing the Internet for cigar-related information.
My interest in cigars grew after attending a wedding that had a cigar roller from Arthur Avenue in The Bronx, New York. He was making cigars for all the guests, and it was a great experience watching the man hand roll the cigar and then actually smoking it.
In my search for Web sites to enlighten me more about cigars, I of course looked at Cigar Aficionado's site. Each time I come to your Web site I find something new and interesting about cigars or related subjects like the type of spirits that can be paired with a certain type of cigar. And now I've come across a recipe for eggnog through the video section of your Web site. It was shot in the Carnegie Club in New York, and I have to say that this Christmas Eve I will be having an eggnog prepared as it were in the video, as well as smoking a nice cigar.
So all I would like to say is thank you for having such a nice Web site and keeping it to the liking of the rituals of what I am understanding a cigar is meant to be part of. Not that I want to be a snob or make it seem as such, but I want you to know that I feel it is important to appreciate a nice cigar and to know how the moment of smoking should be treated. Otherwise, I would just go to a drug store and get a cigar off the shelf or from behind the counter that was made by a machine. Your Web site seems to hold true to the values of a good cigar and all that goes with it. Once again, thank you.
Editor's Response: We usually don't publish letters like yours, but thank you for the kudos. We are always glad to know that we are bringing a little pleasure to not only readers of the magazine, but people who come from cigaraficionado.com.
SIGAR (the Yale Cigar Club) would like to thank Cigar Aficionado. This publication has helped spark interest in cigars on our campus and beyond as we expand to other schools. Can't wait for the next issue!
New Haven, Connecticut