Pak Tea House is a little corner in the blogosphere that will endeavour to revive the culture of debate, pluralism and tolerance. It has no pretensions nor illusions but the motivation of a few people who want to see Pakistan a better place – where ideas need to counter the forces of commercialism, adverse effects of globalisation and extremism. And, ideas must translate into action that leads us to an equitable, just and healthy society.
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On Pak Tea House
“It was a different world when coffeehouses and teahouses flourished. They flourished in the background of a rich restaurant culture, which distinguished the Mall from other cultural spots of the city. Those sitting there were never seen in a hurry. They could afford to sit for long hours discussing ideas and ideologies over a cup of tea. Each literary theory had its protagonists, who when engaged in a discussion gave the impression of being the defender of a noble cause most dear to them. And it was not simply an intellectual exercise with them. What they discovered as truth in the process of their literary or intellectual thinking stayed as an article of faith with them.
Such were the devoted souls for whom ideas and ideologies meant more than worldly benefits. It was because of them that certain restaurants gained a cultural status. Now we are living in a different world. This world cannot afford to have such souls and such haunts within its fold. The age of coffeehouses and teahouses is gone. Food streets are now the hallmark of life in Lahore.”
From Intizar Hussain’s essay Revisiting the Past.
“It is said that both the Coffee House and the Pak Tea House, which was across the road, belonged to two Sikh brothers. The two places used to be known before partition as the India Coffee House and the India Tea House. The two brothers replicated their two Lahore restaurants in Delhi where they were forced to migrate as the 1947 bloodbath took hold of Punjab.
Sirajuddin, who turned India Tea House into Pak Tea House (now dead like its owner and only a memory), once told me – or was it his son who did – that one day, he noticed a Sikh standing across the road, just staring. When he asked the stranger to come in, he told him that he had come from India and this place and the Coffee House across the road used to belong to him and his brother. The Coffee House has long been gone and in its place there now stands a bank. Nila Gumbad, where these restaurants and intellectual hangouts were once located, is now a bustling auto parts and car tyre market. Although there is no shortage of hotels and restaurants in Lahore today, there is not a single place that could claim to be a true successor to any of those wonderful establishments.”
A Hameed translated by Khalid Hasan