Patrons listen to Lahham as he reads passages from a book in the Nofara cafe in Damascus.
Your feedback is important to us!
We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.
Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.
Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)
For more than 20 years, the storyteller of Damascus entertained crowds in a centuries-old cafe in the Syrian capital with long, poetic tales of Arab warriors and lovers, acting out scenes with his fists thumping and a sword that he'd swing and slam on a table.Rashid Hallak was the most famous of the few remaining "hakawatis" in Syria – traditional reciter-performers of Arab legends. Now he's a 70-year-old broken man, his life upturned by Syria's war. Throughout its 300-year existence, the Nofara cafe in Damascus' stone-built Old City has always had a hakawati telling stories in evening gatherings, said the cafe's owner Mohammad Rabat.Hallak was picked because he used to read the hakawati's books as a child in the Nofara cafe, where his father was a patron.By early 2012, Hallak was reduced to two shifts a week.Hallak and his wife joined his son in Lebanon.With the once deep-into-the-night social life of pre-war Damascus now gone, Nofara gets few patrons and closes down early these days, 8 p.m. maximum, said the owner, Rabat."They could have asked me," sniffed Hallak.His first love being cafes, not television, Hallak said he was looking for another place to be a hakawati.
FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE