|The last of the hakawatis, Abu Shadi, spins his tales at al-Nawfara coffeehouse as locals listen closely.|
Abu Shadi (أبو شادي) is the current hakawati, and the last of his kind. Each evening, he sits in a throne-like chair at the center of al-Nawfara's halogen-lit inner room, recounting tales about the Rashidun Caliphs, the Thousand and One Nights, or the glorious victories of the Sultan Baybars, and more. The pre-Islamic saga of Antar and Abla is also a favorite, and one he recounted on this
Julian and I watched while sipping tea amid a small crowd of locals, who puffed slowly at their argileh pipes between nips at their Turkish coffees, as the hakawati wove his tales. He wore a traditional costume and flourished his sword in the air, frequently clashing it down upon the table (which seemed to have been placed at his side for this express purpose) for emphasis throughout each story. Of course, neither Julian nor I managed to understand many of the words, but the experience was an unforgettable one I am happy to have known, as it will not last forever.