Al-Rawda Cafe…collective memory where past and present embrace

Damascus, SANA_ Down the road from the parliament building, on al-Abed Street leading to Seven Seas Square, a kind of debating chamber can be found. Al-Rawda Cafe , renowned meeting-place of artists, intellectuals and politicians, is often described as Syria’s miniature parliament.

This Damascene talk-shop has turned into a quasi-real parliament. All sectors of Syrian society are represented, in addition to the artists and writers who run its more important debates. Journalists frequent the cafe for professional reasons, to pick up news of the cultural world and arrange interviews.

This is a place where all sectors of Syrian society gather daily, from merchants big and small, to doctors and lawyers, retired politicians and officers, even some characters who played role in the political life.

Outwardly, Al-Rawda may seem no different than Damascus’s other well-known traditional coffee houses. People play cards, and the clatter of backgammon dice drowns out all other sounds. The widescreen TVs along the walls are strictly tuned to Syrian or sports channels.

Ahmad Kozorosh, who runs the Café, says that in 1938, the coffee house was an outdoor cinema, adding that his father invested it since 1973 only to become a meeting-place to intellectuals, politicians and writers who have been used to visit al-Rawda frequently for years.

” The popular cafe consists of two indoor and outdoor halls”, Ahmad says, adding that beverages and hot drinks are served in addition to Hookah (waterpipe)”,

” To one corner, you can see two people playing backgammon and to another sit a writer –who is a frequent visitor of the place, looking busy writing down something, while the youths, sweeping the central part, seem diving in their laptops…a wonderful combination of two generations and lifestyles,” Ahmad commented, stressing that tthese gatherings and discussions may help create a new free-thinking generation.

R. Milhem / Ghossoun

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