Choo8i spent a big chunk of his time as a college kid hanging out with his friends and populating gahawee Abu Nawas. It seems like he enjoyed sitting there, smoking a hookah that seemed to expire suspiciously fast, slapping old domino tiles onto the scorched wooden surface of the table with a do-shesh, or screaming his lungs out as his next move is mal9 in backgammon. His estikan or glass with a tarry drink that is allegedly tea is constantly refilled by the chaichee. And they could sit there and play at their own leisure for hours, occasionally drawing a small crowd of neighboring gahwa dwellers over a game of aznef or 6era, of which he would be the undisputed champion and winner…
That’s how Choo8i was describing it on the phone at least, though his descriptions are a bit more vulgar and I’ve chosen to gild things up somewhat.
Yesterday, Friday, Choo8i woke up somewhat early and went out without changing, in his dishdasha, to pick the usual Friday-morning Kahi and gemar supply. As he was back, I prepared for my weekly journey to the kitchen for Kahi crumbs and some sugar, but I was surprised with more interesting happenings in Choo8i’s life in addition to a good meal.
As it turns out, 9a7ebna was having gahwa-withdrawals; like most of our gahwa-dwelling youth, he was forced to give that particular habit up due to a number of reasons, ranging from curfews to Mahdi Army and Badr Brigades and of course, check-points. The latter of which Choo8i detested with a passion, as he says it always gives him a tingling feeling in the back of his neck, as though he was going to get shot.
But I digress, as always…
So Choo8i decided if he cannot go to his favorite gahwa, he will bring the gahwa here; first things first, he called Mazin his best friend and discussed the idea of having a bunch of people over for a revival of the good old days. And apparently, Mazin immediately agreed, as long as it wasn’t going to be revived in his place, which he shares with the rest of his family, particularly his dreaded sisters that would very much never let him live out of not letting them watch the next best Turkish drama on MBC4.
A few phone calls later, preparations began. Choo8i took out a couple of kettles buried in the depths of his kitchen cupboards—it didn’t occur to him to wash them though, 8oori el gahwa never sees the water. Like a little army, he slowly began to construct a small troop on the countertop- the two kettles, a big sack of sugar, a big sack of tea, a bunch of mismatched, dented old glasses and estikanat (Nope, he wasn’t going to use his mother’s good sets…), and a bunch of tin tea spoons.
He filled the generator with fuel, ignored the fact that the living-room needed vacuuming and dusting, cleaned his two hookahs and prepped them, checked his m3assal and coal supply and called Mazin to get some more. An hour or so later, he looked around and all seemed to be…ready.
Sure enough, the horde of old gahwa-buddies showed up not long afterwards, armed with two more hookahs, an ancient backgammon set and a domino set. And the moment they walked in, they kicked their shoes off and the room immediately began to stink of feet, and I began to see the first sign of regret from Choo8i, who could envision himself spending the rest of the night in the stinking room, after they were all gone.
The geriatric 3ala2ildeen was placed by the dining table, around which the horde was decidedly placed now. And upon the old 9opa, Choo8i placed the kettle after dumping quite a number of tea spoons in for the desired tarry drink, and a cardamom or two for the unmatched gahwa effect, and at that it was left to brew for a while.
I will not get into the details of the conversations they’ve had, because of course, no decent reader would have any remote interest in those. But it does seem as though the horde enjoyed their time, perhaps considerably more than their host, who not long afterwards realized that an average living room doesn’t have the ways and sorts of ventilation an outdoor gahwa would have, or even an indoor one, and that opening the window to let hookah and cigarette smoke produced by half a dozen of men was painfully insufficient. Refilling the kettle came at the cost of having someone peek into his domino tiles or such. In other words, despite his playful spirit, Choo8i was somewhat disenchanted with his very own gahwa reproduction.
Not long afterwards, bored after a game or two too many, the horde disbanded, and immediately upon their departure, Choo8i picked the DVD player from its shelf under the television, a few stray movie DVDs and left the living room for the remainder of the evening.
Today, it still somewhat stinks of cigarettes and feet.