Stories about chai

The chai connection: What is it about chai that brings us together?

I see the world in black and white. I see only two types of people: ones who drink chai and ones who don’t. There can be other categories of course, but for me, chai trumps everything else. This begs the question of why chai is such a fundamental part of our culture? In fact, I ask myself why chai is something that never leaves my mind. Chai is in fact so important to me that I ended up going on a photography spree just to analyse the particulars of chai-drinking. Where does a Lahori go to answer questions regarding culture? Naturally, I ...

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In the Karachi vs Lahore food debate, Boat Basin tips the scale in favour of the city of lights

The server quickly refilled my (styrofoam) ‘cup’ of tea, and asked in the most inconspicuous and unassuming of tones if my nashta (breakfast) was to my liking. With such displays of courtesy, how could it not be? This five-star service was not at an expensive restaurant in one of the more elitist areas of Karachi. No, this was at Dera, Boat Basin – one of Karachi’s go-to nashta places. Having recently achieved a significant milestone at work, we decided to have a commemorative breakfast at Boat Basin. It would be the usual halwa puri, and Dera itself requires no introduction. Established in the early ...

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The media is relentless in its pursuit of exclusives, and Kashmir is always a good harvest

(Disclaimer: Graphic images below) Me: “So why don’t you start studying again?” Baba: “No, I can’t…” Me: “But why?” Baba: “It’s of no use; I have eight FIRs against me madam. The first one was registered when I was on my way to school. They picked me up, slapped me, let me off after three days. The second FIR was for illegal possession of weapons and the third…” Baba went on explaining the list of police cases against him as the car criss-crossed Srinagar with blaring music. Me: “Even then, you should at least complete your studies? Things will change…” Baba: “Even if I am able to resume my second year in ...

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From the diary of a cup of tea

Yes. Yes, it’s me, the cup of tea you never knew could have feelings right? But my head is so full of thoughts, God! (Yes, I’m not an atheist). It’s actually steaming. Glad I found this page to spill my thoughts over. It’s Ramazan and everyone has been craving me. Luckily, I find some peace from sehri till iftar. Phew! I need no introduction per se. I’m the most widely consumed and Pakistan’s most loved beverage (for any objections, see me after sehri time please). 99% of the time when the Pakistani populace consumes a hot caffeinated beverage, it’s me (it’s a Euromonitor International statistic) and the annual ...

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Chai please, it’s not coffee

It all started with the Nestle Nescafe advertisement. The obvious commercial interest was to drive the conversion from tea to coffee. That too, to an instant coffee mix. To me it looked more like a quick brazen attempt to drive convenience. Tea requires ritual and hard work to get the right cuppa. Instead go for an instant coffee mix, which will give you a quick strong fix. Notice no comparison of taste or tradition. This is the modern quintessential person, who has no time or interest in the softness of palette. He or she is in a hurry to fix it with a strong ...

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“So, what’s Pakistan like?”

The old man had the most startling blue eyes, the kind that glittered in a wizard-like way. He was a contractual worker fixing some room in the building where I work, and I met him in the kitchen over my morning coffee. He asked where I’m from and widened his eyes. He didn’t comment on how good my English is, but how American my accent is (which I take no offence or pride in – it’s not the two years of Master’s in St Louis but all those American movies and TV shows I watch). And then he asked me ...

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Biscoot and chai, anyone?

While browsing through the aisles at the local store, I came across a new kind of biscuit – LU’s Nan Khatai.  I was immediately transported down memory lane, to numerous childhood bakery trips for the much savoured, freshly baked version. While growing up, we have all relished khasta (crispy) nan khatais. And I am sure many of us still do. How did it end up in this part of the world? ‘Nan khatai‘ comes from the Persian word ‘Nan’ (bread) and ‘Khatai’ (‘Catai’ or ‘Cathay’, the older name for China), translating as ‘Bread of Cathay’. According to the ‘Hobson-Jobson Dictionary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian ...

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Is it really the working class men who stop privileged women from ‘doing their own thing’?

Yesterday, we shared the Do Your Own Thing (DYOT) video with our take on it. The video was taken down last night, so our post has disappeared… along with all the shares made from this page. For the sake of the on-going discussion on social media right now, we are re-posting our comments again: This video has recently been shared a lot and the feelings many people expressed have been mixed. We think it is useful to talk more about it and add to the conversation. Firstly, kudos to these girls. This could not have been easy to do. We have to be ...

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My crime that night? I was travelling home with two na-mehram boys

In middle school when my cousin, like all other Pakistani girls, ditched uniform shorts for track pants at gym class, I asked my dad if I could do the same as well. I handed him the application form to fill in so I could give it to my gym teacher. He laughed, lit his pipe and set my definition of gelling in and modesty right.  Needless to say, I bore weird glances from the Pakistani community of 12-year-olds at Carl Sandburg Middle School in Virginia for two full years. I learnt indifference. But it becomes difficult to continue practicing the learned art in this ...

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Hello, I am a man and I cheat… on my diet

Hello! I am a man and I cheat on my diet. I cheat on my diet with cheese burgers, kebabs, lamb legs, mutton chops, cheese omelettes, macaroni, pastas, lasagne and deep fries. Sometimes I cheat in the day, sometimes I cheat at night. Sometimes it has been days that I have not cheated, while others I cheat many times a day. There have been incidents where I promised my wife that I am going to an office party involving nothing but salads but have ended up in a posh restaurant eating promiscuously the whole night. Do I feel guilty? Yes, I do! Every time! But there is an animal inside ...

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