Wajih Hanqir… the last ‘qahwajiyeh’ of the first generation

Wajih Hanqir… the last ‘qahwajiyeh’ of the first generation
Wajih Hanqir… the last ‘qahwajiyeh’ of the first generation

The experiences of Hajj Wajih Hanqir (75 years old), the last of the “coffee shops” in Sidon, do not end. He is one of the first generation who filled Sidon with their good reputation and they left behind, leaving behind funny stories about the beautiful time, when popular cafés were a meeting place for people and a source of political and social news, from the elections To marriage, divorce, childbirth and many secrets of homes.

Hanqir, who inherited the profession from his father, Mahmoud, started practicing it from an early age. He did not complete his education and went to work early when he was no more than ten years old. He accompanied his father until his death, so he moved from one coffee shop to another, and lived with the first generation of “coffee shop” like Hajj Hamada and Samir Abu Oqda and Saeed Al-Akkad, until he opened his own coffee shop, moving between neighborhoods until he settled in the “Al-Barad neighborhood.”

Henqir told “Nidaa Al-Watan”: “The profession today is not sufficient for subsistence and does not open new homes, and it is no longer the monopoly of anyone. Cafes have become more than the number of hairs on the head, and they are spreading among the lanes, neighborhoods, streets and boathouses, and it has become a profession of “empty”, and few He professionalizes it on its origins in terms of filling the same hookahs of all kinds, molasses, flavor, or ajami.

During the course of his work, Heneqir maintained his customers despite moving from one cafe to another, beginning near Qadmous Studio in the commercial market, then the Lebanese University, the Gate of Fawqa, and Kawkab al-Sharq behind the municipality. In the Al-Barrad neighborhood in the north of the city, and confirms that “the customers are now getting to know each other, they meet and talk about politics and public life, they expose their morals, then they return to their homes, and so on every day.”

The profession in Oyoun Hanqir “requires a teacher to prepare hookahs, even coffee, tea, lemonade, and the rest of the drinks.” Everything has increased in price, including coal, flavor, sugar, tea, lime, and so on. Had it not been for the season of selling lemonade in Ramadan, the whole matter would have been a loss for a loss.

Wajih keeps pictures of his father, the coffee shop Mahmoud, in the café. He proudly distributes them on the walls as he stands at one of them, and says, “Working in coffee is tiring, and you have to memorize what the customer wants by heart, and to teach each one of them to drink and keep his hookah.” Before he added: “A long time ago.” There was no honey, it was all national or non-Arab insults, but today the younger generation is beating honey until it gets dizzy. A time when it was forbidden, or you do not find a young man puffing on the hookah. He was afraid of his family and feared their punishment.

Heneqir recalls the past and the role of coffee shops in the elections and mobilizing support to support this or that candidate, and he says: “In one of the electoral rounds, the battle was fierce and one-vote, so enticement and intimidation amounted to beatings, and that was when Representative Marouf Saad fell. I mean, Taqila and Mahrezah, and I reached the hookah bottle, after which the “reconciliation” takes place and everything ends. When the problem occurred, the 16th Division and another division of the Internal Security Forces would attend and search the cafes and search for everyone who carried a knife.

Nahfa narrates, saying: “I never carried a weapon, but once in the year 1975, the first of the civil events, one of the people hid the “individual” from me, so I put it as a joke on my waist. “At that time, there was no phone that took pictures, nor did WhatsApp transmit the news.”

Heneqir, who entered the world of social communication in line with the times, puts an advertisement for lemonade and tamarind, in addition to ordering hookah delivery. His name has become well known in the city, as is the case. I eat, and the cat only looks at me with its eyes. The work has reduced, except for the voices of the customers, between screaming (for the paper game, meaning distress) and between those who ask for a fire and the last sip of coffee, as the coffee-maker must distribute Ajameya tea (a small cup of tea at his expense) as a tip to the customer. It is noteworthy that he does not puff on the hookah, but rather smokes cigarettes and often lights more than one at the same time, and places them near the coal conveyor, the sink, or the table, and here and there he meets the requests of the customers.