Owais Mughal is in Pakistan these days. This post tells us what he is upto, at least part of it.
breakfast for the family. My brother and I drove to a halwa puri vendor near Aisha Manzil in Federal-B-Area. It is called Dhamthal sweets Bakers and Nimko. Time was around noon and I was surprised to find a long queue of people waiting to buy breakfast. When we left home I thought we’ll have hard time finding breakfast, but seeing the crowd it seemed like whole city now eats breakfast fashionably late.
Dhamthal sweets had set up breakfast tables on a covered side walk. On one table a whole cricket team was sitting and enjoying greasy puris with boistering talk of cricket heroics. At another table a whole extended family was sharing family gossips over niwalas of sweet halwa.
Customer cars were double parked on the main road interjected with a few motorcycles between every two cars. Amidst all this hustle bustle a queue of take away customers was waving around the sidewalk like a snake. As I wrote earlier, this queue was atleast 25 people long and I was standing at position twenty five.
People were hungry but still full of manners. I had to ask the person infront of me to move aside a bit so when I asked him:
bhai saheb zara hatiyay ga
he replied polietly:
aaiye saheb aaiye
I was impressed but my impression was quite short lived as very soon I heard a middle aged lady shouting at the management. She was complaining that whole queue comprised of men and the Dhamthal management didn’t make adequate arrangements for women customers. Many people in the queue agreed with her and the matter was escalated to the manager-on-duty who was feeling very important in this escalation.
While all this action was going on the queue kept moving quite fast. Within five minutes I had advanced to position number ten. At this time I saw another matter which surprised and un-surprised me at the same time. A guy wearing police uniform and accompanied with a Dhamthal employee, bypassed the whole queue and went directly to the distribution point where the escorting employee told the cashier:
ye police ka aadmi hai - is ko pehle do
I was surprised that in such blatant disregard of common social etiquettes by police was still going on - but then a part of me was not surprised at all.
Anyways within few more minutes I reached the top of the queue, paid money to the cashier and another guy started filling our breakfast in a brown bag. The line behind me was still 25 or so people long.
As I was paying for the breakfast, a person just walked to the cashier and demanded that he be served breakfast right then. The cashier asked him to stand in the queue but this guy didn’t budge. He kept insisting that he was in a hurry and that he will not stand in the queue. This made the cashier angry and a heated argument ensued with lots of arms and hand gestures. Finally the customer walked off without buying any thing.
While all this was going on the lady who had earlier escalated her complaints to the manager was still arguing. The manager who had earlier felt important now looked quite bored and was scratching his face with one hand and his head with the other. He was trying to find a way out. At this instance I remember one sentence of the complainig lady which went like this:
ab mein line mein khaRa karne ke liye mard kahaaN se laaoN. kia mard market mein milte haiN
Quite a few people were on her side by now and I saw many people moving their heads up and down in agreement with her.
Finally the manager reached a deal by saying and shouting to his staff:
oye yaar, is amma ko hamesha pehlay naashta dia karo
This solution seemed to pacify everyone including the lady and after that it was business as usual.
We brought the breakfast home. By then the time was well past noon and I thought it was time well spent. The 30 minutes experience of buying breakfast was a live course on human anthropology and behaviors of Pakistani society.
The breakfast itself proved to be a good buy. There were ‘puris’ in it as well as two different curries made from chick peas and potatoes (tarkaari). There were some pickles to go with the curries and above all there was a very tasty halwa (sweet dessert). After eating this heavy duty meal nobody in our family was ready to have another meal for several hours.
I thoroughly enjoyed my exxperience of buying and eating halwa puri from a local vendor after several years.
Photo Credits: Ejaz Khan.