Sometimes we go with our friends to a cafe near the king’s palace. The seating is mostly outside, and surrounded by palm trees. Their specialty is Moroccan tea, and it’s unusual to order anything other than the traditional green tea with mint, or black tea with mint or lemon, and the seasonal orange blossoms.
They don’t serve any food at this cafe, but there are often men walking around selling sweets, sandwiches, or nuts.
One man in particular was there frequently, and we often saw him. He would always approach our table with his tray of cakes and pastries and say “Ha halwa, ha halwa,” which means “here are the sweets.”
He was always very friendly and would try to convince us to buy something. We rarely bought anything from him, but he was never offended and greeted us just as excitedly the next time he saw us. I never learned his name, but we began referring to him as ‘ha halwa’ and it became something that I looked forward to.
Whenever he saw us, he would come to our table and without fail, he would make us laugh.
One day, it had been a while since we’d gone to the cafe by the palace, and we we sitting in a different cafe in another part of the city. The man selling sweets came walking by with his tray. When he saw us, he came over and greeted us with his big smile and asked whether we had switched cafes. We all laughed as he set his tray down and said “Ha halwa.”