Culture, Posts, Travel

Jobaid, the caffeine maestro

During my first couple of days in Dubai, I just couldn’t seem to find chai.


Nope not Indian masala chai but REGULAR chai.
I asked an Indian couple at Starbucks if they had a recommendation but Starbuck’s chai latte is pretty icky.
This chaiaholic needed some plain chai.
I love my coffee but chai eases the nerves without leaving a bitter taste.
Along comes Jobaid, a young Bengali that worked at Filli’s cafe.
I was so happy I actually asked him to be part of my 100 strangers project. He complied even though he drew a blank when I said ‘Internet’.
For the rest of my trip, I’d drop by Filli’s cafe no matter where I was and this dude served me the best chai every time.
Culture, Posts

Pakistani Fuel, Chai

If there’s one thing that truly fuels Pakistanis, it HAS to be chai.
Life just revolves around it. Unlike prime time TV ads, we don’t dance around when chai is served. But chai definitely makes people come closer. No matter who you meet or where you meet them, you’ll most definitely be offered chai. No social gathering is complete without it.
The best chai is served at dhabas i.e. road side shacks intended mostly for truckers. Don’t worry about the hygiene of the place, the dirtier it is the better the flavor. I don’t remember the last time I got sick from eating/drinking at a dhaba. But many times from a finer restaurant.
Indian masala chai, is pretty different and happens to be an acquired taste for most Pakistanis. Ours is simpler, and to my surprise, a British friend told me it tasted just like English tea.
If you ask ex-pat Pakistanis to list the things they miss about home, chai will definitely be one of them.
With that, I’ll sign off as I take my last sip of chai.
Culture, Posts, Travel

You Are Not Immune

What do you do in 45 Celsius heat?

You take a dip in a pond.

I was out surveying villages that had been affected by the floods. My pickup truck had air-conditioning and stepping out was an instant jolt to the senses. But I didn’t complain much, I like the summer heat.

The pond was dirty and my driver could see that I wanted to take a dip too and warned me.

‘You’re gonna develop rashes all over your body’ he said.

I envied the kid in ways, his body was accustomed to the crazy germs in the water making him immune to skin troubles.

His glowing skin withstood the sun’s rays. The melanin in mine simply darkened me like a toast that over lasted it’s stay in the toaster.

Such is life, you can’t have it all.

September is here, my hometown Quetta’s cooling down after an abnormally hot summer. But I love the heat. It saddens me to see the mercury drop, a reminder of the bitterly cold winter to come.

Culture, Posts, Travel

People in Motion, For the Love of Dance

Language poses a gigantic barrier when it comes to exploring new cultures.

Dance, on the other hand shatters such barriers.

This non-verbal storytelling medium, channels emotions to the point where you can just about escape reality.

Not everyone can dance and very few fail to see the message the dancers communicate.

I feel sorry for both.

Culture, Posts

Drawing the Wrong Comparisons. Of Artistic Shrinks & Fallen Defenders

Photo Credit: raylook Flickr via Compfight cc

Yesterday, the voice of my late teens consumed its own life. Chester Bennington, spoke to me and many people of my generation at a totally different level. Within no time, my Facebook feed was flooded with the news. Why was Chester so important to me? You see, growing up in times when there was no counseling to handle teen angst and the world, as it unraveled its dark side, Chester’s lyrics gave solace to our clueless minds. I, along with thousands of millennials worldwide, mourned at the news. It wouldn’t be wrong to say Chester was our shrink.

At around the same time, a Pakistani soldier Abdul Jabbar, was martyred in a terrorist attack. I was unaware of the news until I saw an Instagram story. But there’s a reason behind my ignorance – I don’t subscribe to any local news’ channel. The primary reason is ‘Sadistic Journalism’ practiced by our media. You see, every casualty is reported with sickening amounts of gory detail. Rarely do you see a victim’s picture from an identification document, but a picture of a blood covered carcass. Amidst hundreds of terrorist related casualties daily, does the media assume viewers won’t believe the news until they saw the picture of a dead body?

Not to mention the fact that in the age of extensive media consumption, the martyrdom of our soldiers didn’t get adequate coverage anyways. Notice they hyperlinked article above? It has ZERO shares. If only a handful of military personnel had shared the article from a reputable website, the story would’ve gotten viral.

Having said that, does turning down local media due to their unethical practices make me unpatriotic? I’m a tax paying and law-abiding CIVILIAN, if that isn’t considered patriotism then I don’t know what is. Not to mention, despite my good citizenship I get treated as third grade vermin every time a VIP’s entourage passes by me on the road, but that calls for a separate blog post.

Besides, we’re drawing the wrong comparisons!

How can you compare the martyrdom of the soil’s son with the suicide of a singer? One’s THE reason we have freedom to enjoy luxuries of life while the other helped us get through tough times. Sure the previous generations were more aware of whatever went on around them. But back then the whole family huddled next to the TV for the 9 o’ clock news and went to bed. They never feared being bombarded with sickening images of dead bodies daily. Not to mention, those were simpler times and people didn’t fear losing their lives because they belonged to a minority race or religious denomination. Things are more complicated to judge in a system gone awry.

The loss of life, regardless of faith or country of origin is plain sad. In the end, it’s the only thing that matters.