“Ana ba2aly 25 sana a3ed 3al ahwa di… Ba7ebaha ya akhy, aseela w bta7tawy el bani adam” said Mohamed Sharaf in one of his most remembered roles in “Asef 3ala El Ez3ag”.
Regardless of their age, their social, financial or even relationship status, Egyptian men have some sort of a magnetic attraction to the ahwa; the old-fashioned, down to earth, balady ahwa. Students flee schools and lectures to hang out there, older men leave their homes and families, some even take breaks from work to visit the ahwa in the middle of the day. It’s also often called a man’s “second wife”.
But what is it about this place that makes it so desirable for men?
Let’s see what 6 different Egyptian guys had to say about why the ahwa is always the one place they can never stop visiting:
“Why do I love it? Let’s see. I meet my friends; we play rounds of domino, cards or any other games that are fun and entertaining. It’s a perfect place to chill out and de-stress after a long day at the office. I mean, what would I do at home?! I’d rather be with my friends. Moreover, the ahwa is definitely wallet-friendly.” – Osama, 29
“It’s the best place to relax and in the ahwa, everyone is your friend. You could just sit there and listen to “hekayat el ahwa”; the useless, yet very amusing conversations that are going on around you. You see new things every day, listen to funny telltales while having the luxury of being served with whatever you want from drinks to shisha; the ultimate stress reliever. Also, what’s a better place to watch a football match than the ahwa?” – Ramy, 27
“Based on my own personal experience, going to the ahwa means so much more than just what the term describes. If this heavenly experience exists somewhere else, you would be there. Regardless of whether you are married or single, employed or out-of-work, you just have to do it, and this boils down to 2 reasons: excess spare time and escaping everyday problems. Hence, you go to the ahwa, once or twice on a weekly basis to take a break from marriage, from work and from the daily pressures. Leaving it all behind, you hang out with your friends and you share fun stories, weird incidents and situations that each of you faces during the week.” – Mohammed, 34
To this one, the ahwa is basically an integral part of his life: “I’ve lived most of my life abroad and when I came back, I thought I’d work more on developing myself, but I found too much free time in my life. The only thing, or let me say; the only good thing that fills up the void is the ahwa. It’s not merely a place which you can visit once or twice; it becomes a way of living. You have your life, whether you are married or not, but the ahwa will always be a part of your daily routine. No matter where you go, no matter who you’re with, and even if you’re alone, you will always look for an ahwa. Thinking of an alternative? Find another ahwa!”
“When you are married, leaving for the ahwa is a real struggle, but men are types; you have si el sayed, “el msaytar”: who does what he wants and goes out to the ahwa whenever he wants, the diplomatic: who negotiates spending time at home to win some time at the ahwa and you have the one who brings the ahwa home. No matter what, every man has to find a way in order not to lose his ahwa time” – Khaled, 27
“Ahwa = friends. To me, it’s not about the ahwa; it’s all about seeing my friends, but it’s the only place where you can hang out with your friends with no restraints. Yet, I’ve never hated going there every day and I never found it boring. It’s actually just the place where you can avoid boredom and find a way to waste your time, rather than staying at home alone.” – Tarek, 24
“Before marriage, “change” was all about travel, endless outings, and going to the movies. But after you get married, these things become an acquired right for your new family, not just for your friends. So the only time you have for yourself or your friends ends up with you at the ahwa sipping some tea and smoking your shisha.” – Abdelrahman, 27
More or less, the ahwa is one of a man’s best friends. It’s cheap, it’s simple and it’s everything you need in a place to unwind.
However, that was all from male perspectives, but what about females? Regardless of the stereotypes, we wish we could say the same! Check out 4 Reasons why girls would love to sit in a Qahwa