Re: Never used hookah before
honestly i would go to a hookah lounge first to at least try it all and see what its all about, most lounges are not the best hookah but you can find pretty decent ones around. i wouldnt use ebay, look at some of the sites that sell nothing but hookahs, i am going to order a set up from hookah-shisha.com they are a little more expensive but they have what i want and the local lounge guys dont have issues with them.
for how long bowls last it really depends on the bowl, the shisha, and how many people are smoking. with a small bowl depending on the shisha you may get 30-60 mins, other bowls (like large phunnels) you got get hours and hours.
a lot of the stuff just comes form practice and the vids on line are good but they arent real life instruction so you may not get the best results right off the bat.