Fancy a cup of tea?

By Zainab Khawaja
Fri, 03, 16



For someone who’s a newbie in Karachi, I would say it is quite a fascinating place. Although, I am usually worried about my family’s security, the city of lights makes up for its many dangers. How, you might ask? The place has got some quirky characters and vibrant festivals every other day. These may have to do with food, sports, or literature (my favourite). Each and every day is filled with exuberance and energy. Family and friends accompany you in the tiniest of joys, be it a cricket match or a pizza party. Who wouldn’t want to live in such a place, where adventure is waiting for you at every corner?

What I have noticed here is, once a totally unexpected and strange trend starts to invade Karachi, everyone seemsFancy a cup of tea? to go along with it. A year or two back, every other person suggested hanging out at cafes, and now ‘chai dhabas’ are the cool thing. I was a bit late in acknowledging the new craze, as I never really thought of trying it out. But, recently, my cousins persuaded me by saying that the parathas are too good to miss. After some convincing, I thought, “Well, why not? Better late than never.”

It was a breezy evening and the sky was an impressive fusion of pink, red and orange. On the way to one of those dhabas, I was amazed at all the sights whizzing past us. A rickshaw filled with goats, children playing merrily, beasts of burden being brutally beaten, cows roaming on the streets as if out on their evening stroll, and small stalls offering ice-cream, steaming corns on the cob, spicy bun kababs. These simple, everyday scenes seem captivating to the ones who live abroad, as we don’t get to witness all this there! Finally, we reached our destination.

Although, it was a weekday, the whole dhaba was crowded. It wasn’t too exquisite, but I could see why people flocked to it and what caught my eye was the spectacular truck-art theme. It was somewhat a blend of a traditional chai dhaba and a chic cafe. Observing my surroundings, I couldn’t help but feel proud at the creative Pakistani minds who had come up with such a tempting fad. Other dhabas surrounded it and anyone could make out that they were equally popular. With my curly ponytail swaying in the cool breeze and the aroma of freshly made parathas, I smiled happily and took it all in. People were amiably talking to each other and same was the case at our table. Everyone was sharing their intriguing incidents of the day. A waiter handed out a worn out menu to me and I was fascinated to find out that they offered a variety of food items, with just the right blend of traditional and exotic. Some flavours of the parathas included pizza, barbeque, chicken and cheese, Nutella, jalepeno, qeema aalu, and what not! The crispy texture of the parathas with all those scrumptious stuffings was indeed appealing. Although, most of my cousins ordered cups of milky tea, some wanted to experiment with rose-coloured Kashmiri tea or qahwas. As I am not a big fan of tea, I opted for a frothy mug of coffee, flavoursome and mellow. But I did snatch their steaming drinks to try them all out. And I must say, for a person who isn’t a big fan of tea, they weren’t bad at all.

The hazy clouds against the silver of the moon and twinkling stars, the impressive array of crunchy parathas and glass cups filled with hot beverages on the colourful tables seemed like a blessing. After savouring everything on the thaalis, a single thought circled my mind, “The dynamic combination of parathas and chai (coffee in my case) can never fade out of style. No other collaboration can compete with it for all ages to come!”