Sameh Zoabi spoke of his latest film, Tel Aviv on Fire, as a bubble in the palestinian-israeli conflict. To him, every palestinian-israeli friendship is such a bubble in that reality.
I got reminded of this while thinking back on the café du souk. The café du souk is also a bubble, what Foucault called heterotopias (i.e. other spaces), worlds within the world, spaces that both reflect daily life and collapse it.
The café du souk is such a bubble in space, and in time. Dim-lit rooms filled with people smoking hookah and cigarettes lawfully, drinking their tea, playing cards to the endless songs of Oum Kalthoum. The perpetual billows of smoke and the resulting permanent haze, the absence of any conspicuous technological device, the mix of young and old, men and women, parents and children, the discrete but noticeable display of lovers' tenderness, would all make anyone feel like they are out of time, and in some imaginary space, perhaps that of a film, or a dream, yet everything in its right place. It was truly fascinating and I've wondered time and time again why this place was so appealing. For a long time I thought it was simply about nostalgia, this café a quick fix for the illness called beingborntoolate. But now I realise that maybe it's because places like these have become a rarity where I (used to) live. Places where for the price of a tea (i.e. almost nothing, which is why polyglot waiters will bring more for free and sit with you and have a chat) you can stay however long you want, be as loud as you want, come with who you want and be together, apart from whatever is going on beyond these doors. And no, it isn't like a bar. A space like that is only possible where neoliberalism hasn't managed to creep in and make productivity and profit imperatives, the reason to be of any entreprise. And perhaps that's why people come. You spend an afternoon there and time stops. It's a place that first sucks you in and then stays with you.
To bubbles like these!🍹
Café du Souk مقهى السوق " قهوة الخطاب على الباب "