Chai Talk

Chai has come to symbolize so much. Love. Blissful family environment. Hitting the pause button on a busy day.

Every single one of us has grown up surrounded by our “tea” culture. Chai is more than just a beverage – it’s a national experience.

On the other hand, so much emphasis on chai means it’s used as a prop in stories we don’t always agree with. It has become an accessory to a woman’s training in how to be a good wife.  Chai has become the main star of the rishta scene. The biggest taana or taunt a woman can hear about herself is Iss ko to chai bhi nahein banani aati!

Poor chai.

Advertisements weren’t slow in picking up on our cultural anxieties. Sadly, most brands choose story angles for their advertising that are frankly outdated.

Whether tea or cooking oil or some silly fairness cream, advertisements convince women to BUY THEIR PRODUCT so they can win the love of their husband. Their ads claim their product will make them queens in a misogynistic society where a woman’s only worth lies in the magic tricks she can pull off in the domestic sphere.

That’s why I think Tapal Danedar’s recent advertisement deserves some applause. It endorses some much needed messages for the world we live in.

You might think what the video is doing is just showing a husband’s basic decency. You wouldn’t be wrong. Husbands all over urban Pakistan are stepping up, playing their part, and sharing chores.

But here’s why the ad deserves our attention: It helps dismantle the shame game played on men who step into the kitchen. It gives permission to men to make a cup of tea – and after that, to then then go ahead and look after their kid without thinking twice. It doesn’t treat a wife sitting with her cup of tea, and a husband doing a few chores (in a house that’s as much HIS as hers), as something wrong. It encourages equal partnership.

It’s good to see chai being used as something against the patriarchy instead of as a weapon to shame women.

Tapal Danedar has made one of those ads where they have challenged societal norms and focused on  basic human decency. Unfortunately for us, this kind of decency is something certain voices in society are always ready to throttle. This is why it’s our responsibility – in conjunction with the media – to remind ourselves of it time and again.

This generation of Pakistanis is at a place of transition. Families are breaking away from traditions governing older ways of life. Men and women both are seeking newer, better stories that reflect how society should be. Hopefully advertisements like Tapal Danedar’s recent one will become more common.

Watch the entire clip here:

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