I love cafes.
I love the smell of coffee, the sight of lovers on a date; ambitious men groomed in suits with their car keys on the table receiving phone calls every three seconds while in a meeting; people hidden behind their books, and of course the sight of paper, pen and coffee is my weakness in life. I love cafes in all the seasons, winter evenings, summer mornings, spring days and every second of autumn. But, not all cafes… I have two favourites and it looks like they’ve just become three!
Today it’s me, and my thoughts. The two of us on a date. My thoughts seem to be so well mannered–to the smell of brewed coffee, on a second floor, overlooking the developed side of a city, at the sight of night lights, and drizzling rain in an early winter evening.
No. This is not London, nor is this a café in Paris or Amsterdam. I’m in Hawler (on a traffic-free day ten minutes away from the citadel—I could add just a few hours away from war torn Mosul, but in here I am engrossed by so much positivism that for a few minutes I forget what war means). This place creates the illustration of the successful, positive person, walking in elegance and style. They call it Mr. Erbil gentlemen’s house.
My inner-feminine-strong-outspoken-voice is not even jealous that this is a gentlemen’s house. I couldn’t be prouder as a Kurdish woman, sitting here, alone, as comfortable as I’d wish to be, in Mr. Erbil, a house that uses its platform to celebrate and give a voice to women. What an exquisite way to portray the new, younger generation of males in my society.
You feel the energy splashing all over you as soon as you enter. I am hidden behind my laptop—which happens to be sitting on a glass clock table housed by the perfect colour wood—here, the classic and the modern are married beautifully. Leather, wood and coffee don’t need any adjectives in between to exasperate the sensation they give.
By the window sits a tailor sewing. Behind me are two people chatting, and having coffee, American, yes definitely American, the volume and the accent screams America. I am not eavesdropping, I promise. There were a couple seated towards the right as I came in, what a perfect date I thought. Anything discussed in this little café, in a corner of the gentlemen’s house, will tickle any woman’s heart.
Allow me to take a sip of coffee. Please.
How do I describe the service- where do I start? I would have never described a waiter’s apron as elegant, or a clock table as dreamy, nor would I have ever imagined pieces of wood dripping over a café bar to look so sophisticated.
I’ve never seen so many well-groomed, beautifully dressed young Kurdish men in my 12 years in Erbil. Shall I emphasise on the neat cut beards, the smiles, the kind conversations or the love and passion that seems to be like a magnet not only from the staff, but the furniture, the walls, the glass… even the plants!
Watching the barber is not like observing a person cutting hair, it is more like a pleasurable session seeing Picasso paint or sculpt one of his master pieces. I never knew so much passion can be put into a man’s haircut.
A place like this, reflects its founders. By observing, feeling, touching and smelling I learn a lot about the founders and their taste and their desire for perfection.
Have I told you about the luxury clothing brand at the front of the gentlemen’s house?
It reminds me of a sensory activity I do with my eight-month-old daughter, to feel different textures with her little hands. I touch blazers, trousers and ties as if I’m in a museum. My heart skips a beat as I turn the price tag and it reads: Made in Kurdistan. I can imagine these items in places like Dubai Mall next to Boss, Ralph Lauren, and even Gucci and the other fancy names. Some of the men’s ties are made of the same material used for Jli Kurdi. They. Are. Stunning.
Made locally in the Mr. Erbil family implies made lavishly. The sweet next to my coffee is made by locals who need extra income, the blankets outside are handmade by local women, the luxurious suits (taking weeks to sew together a single piece) are made in house, and the employees are local graduates. I had almost forgotten how to order a coffee in my mother tongue.
Even the design of the place is signed off by a local architect, Delovan Deleware. No one imported to build, design, or serve. At Mr. Erbil, being a Kurd is a celebration!
I came here to do some work; an hour has passed and all I have typed is this. If I am ever missing, you know where to find me… in a corner, by a window of a gentlemen’s house.
You can follow Mr. Erbil on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. They are located directly behind Costa (the road right behind Rotana hotel) in the heart of Kurdistan, Erbil. They’re a group of young men, who have a passion for fashion and like to splash positivism and that’s exactly what they have done with their own brand. I look forward to hearing more grand achievements from these young men.
Lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan