Is it asli? : Eating ‘Karachi’s mashoor Peshawari Ice-cream’…in Peshawar

Published: September 28, 2011
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Since they all claim to be the real thing it is impossible to determine which Bombay Chaat House in Bohri Bazaar is real. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL / EXPRESS

Rather go to Lahore than trek to Nazimabad for Hardee’s? Rather wait for the rush of people to subside than wait for 50 minutes in the line outside?

Not a problem — the best feeling of watching the golden star installed on the top of restaurant is that somewhere, somehow, a knock off golden star is being constructed.

And there’s nothing the real Hardee’s can do about it.

Welcome to the barely there-copyright land. “Hamari sirf eik branch hai” is about the best you can say to stop it.

Actually, it’s about the only thing that people end up saying.

It’s printed on every Nimco bag you’ll ever buy- at all four branches. The ‘real’ Nimco is an image contested by the cantankerous old man at the Bohri bazaar branch, who (so it goes) has a fued with the claustrophobic branch wedged between the toy stores at the Dellawalla, and the easy going, spacious, one around Badr Commercial. All of them will promptly refuse to sell you namak paray if you challenge their eligibility.

Speaking of Bohri Bazaar, what about the Bombay Chaat houses lined there? All three will furiously wave at you the minute your chapal hits the inner Bohri Bazaar gully:

“Baaji,  yahaan wahaan mat dekhen – YAHAAN.”

The best interpretation of the “sirf eik branch” motto? On the wall of Bombay Chaat house two, right next to Bombay Chaat house three there’s a sign painted that says “Asli Bombay Chaat House. Baraber walay say dhoka mat khayay”. Way to stick it to ‘em, boys.

The list could go on. It’s come to a point where even if there’s no feud, people will insist on making one up.

Agha juice Khadda Market may say Nazimabad no one on top, but the real Nazimabad number one scoffs at that association (say sources).

The various branches of Hanifia at Nursery Market, New town and Khadda Market can’t possibly be related to each other (never mind that they’ve since opened branches as far away as Houston, Texas).

Who knows whose hunter beef is the real deal? Mr Old Books can be found at two separate locations across the city, each believing the other’s books to be younger.

Pizza Next, that short lived pizza eatery off  Teen Talwar – didn’t someone swear that disgruntled Pizza Hut employees set it up, for how else could the menu have been a near word to word copy?

And what about that dodgy Pizza Hut off at Hyderi?  Locals can’t possibly understand whether it’s real or not, because who ever heard of a Pizza Hut without it’s red hut?

The very act of asking whether some things are ‘real’ or not should say a lot of the situation.

It seems branching out, or affiliating with another branch- the very acts of the same branch name, design, and streamlined service- is something foreign, even alien, something that only, say, Nandos or McDonalds would aspire to.

The only local example of a chain diversifying is Usmania, boasting more than 14 branches across Pakistan, serving everything under the sun from Karachi till Gilgit.

But for the rest, its choose a sign, pick a place, and chal meray bhai.

Boo-ing the competitor – whether printing obnoxious notes on your thelis, or simply glaring from across the street- is just a part of the parcel.

Which is why, in Peshawar, you can have a bill board proclaiming “Karachi ki mashoor Peshawari Ice-cream- ab yahan”.

Poor old Peshawari Ice-cream – now fighting for its exclusivity against its own home town.

And, which is also why, on the second day of Hardees opening in Karachi, one customer reached the counter only to ask, loudly and boldly:

“Yahan zinger nahin milta?”

Hey, if the khoka selling burgers down any road calls them zingers, why not Hardee’s?  The Hardee’s staff member sighed and said:

“Nahin, sir, woh do dukanay pehlay milta hai, KFC par”

The real KFC, mind you.

Meiryum Ali

Meiryum Ali

A freshman at an ivy league school who writes a weekly national column in The Express Tribune called "Khayaban-e-Nowhere".

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.