From Partition onward, Nasir Khan writes, a dusty cafe was the centre of Lahore’s literary life.
Pak Tea House sits on Mall Road in Old Anarkali, nestled between tyre suppliers and motorcycle workshops.
Before Partition it was the India Tea House, but 1947 and a quick paint job changed that. No one knows why it became – along with several similar shops on the same street – a favourite haunt of so many intellectuals. Maybe it was the cheap but good milky tea, or the extra-sweet biscuits. Perhaps it was the literary sensibility of the first post-Partition owners, two brothers from India. It might have been the radio on the counter that was constantly tuned to Lahore’s call-in request programme. And, for scores of struggling writers and poets, the availability of food on credit certainly had something to do with it. Continue reading
by Raza Rumi
This letter appeared in several dailies, some time ago, with the title: Saving Pak Tea House with this sad-funny illustration that plays on the title– Pak Tyre House. The author is Dr. Irfan Zafar.
Pak Tea House, located on the Mall near Anarkali Bazar in Lahore was originally established as the “India Coffee House” before independence in 1947. The café has been traditionally frequented by the city’s artistic, cultural and literary personalities, including Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sa’adat Hassan Manto, Muneer Niazi, Ahmad Faraz, Mira Ji and Kamal Rizvi. Along with the writers, the café is also a favourite haunt of Lahore’s youth with non-mainstream points of view.
Recently, because of business concerns and after the death of the owner of the café, his son tried to sell it to a tyre shop owner. While Pakistan is not known for honouring its artists, writers and poets, certain places are part of our national heritage. Pak Tea House is one such establishment. It is the responsibility of the government to preserve it. The least it can do is by the establishment at market rate from the owner’s son, and ensure the continued existence of the café for the benefit of future generations.