During my day tour with Mohammed (link) I spotted this sign of Nawfarah Cafe (مقهى النوفرة) – meaning The Fountain
I remember I read about it on the Internet… there is (still to-date) a “Hakawati” (حكواتي) storyteller that comes to this coffee shop at night named Abu Shady (أبو شادي)! I was determined to pass by the cafe during my stay!
I came at different times and asked the staff… they informed me that he comes around 5:00-5:30PM
The cafe is located behind theeastern wall of Umayyad Mosque right there at the steps in a very cluttered and busy street.
The cafe offers both; outside and inside seating areas… however, if you wanna catch the Hakawati you have to make sure to get a seat inside because that where he tells his stories… the cafe is decorated in a way that the wall is covered by paintings and art pieces! Some framed newspaper articles… including Abu Shady’s picture
I went ahead with my sister Mimmi and we both ordered tea with mint and waited for him
When Abu Shady entered the cafe, we saw the staff pointing at our table and talking to him… they must have told him that I came on different times and several occasions asking about him LOL… and guess what? He approached us! An old man with grey hair… in his tarbouche and shirwal… a loose fitted vest! He smiled and said hello, then he asked us if he can join us for a cup of tea before he starts – we welcomed him of course
A very nice old man with lots of things to talk about – he smokes a lot too 😦 – He talked to us about his different activities, his daily routine, his life, his job as a Hakawati, and also about his daughter who lives in Kuwait with her husband 😉
He then goes to his stage… he climbs up there, rubbing his head and looking in his story/book for the page to start!
He then hits the ground with his stick very hard that everyone turns to him to start his story! He told us the story is like never ending and that we have to come daily to know the story line… he was telling -at the time- the story of AlMalik AlThahir (الملك الظاهر)
The cafe was full of people… and I am telling you, not all of them were Arabs! I saw Persians and Americans, but they did not seem to worry about the language to understand what he was talking about! Okay okay…. he throws a word of different language or say an expression here and there, but still everyone was listening to him and seemed to be enjoying their time 😉
He would stop every now and then to take a sip from his tea cup, or just to scream a word out loud after a moment of silence… or uses his stick to hit the ground! He is hilarious! I LOVED him!
As the place was getting crowded, staff would bring in chairs and place them at any empty space! We kinda shared our table towards the end with two young American ladies!
His expressions, his winks, his charisma…. people were just laughing and having a great time! I really highly recommend you make a stop at this cafe when you get the chance to visit Damascus – Syria!