Life at Dhaba
Life at Dhaba
Life at Dhaba(local restaurant) Shisha(water pipe).! For my ethnography I chose to study the life at restaurant popularly known for its shisha (water pipe). It is located near my building at clifton which is quite vissable from my gallery as the restaurant is in open air. The main focus of this ethnography is to compare the norm (expected patterns of behavior) of people who come to smoke.
The restaurant is more popularly known as dhaba (local restaurant) which serves local cuisine chicken karahi, mutton, paratha’s, all varieties of heavily spiced pulses and tea; it is provided to meet the every food necessities of the people. Dhaba is open 24 hours a day and shisha’s are served after 6pm. Two three kids and young boys wearing torn kurtas functioned as waiters and cleaners and kept the place in order.
Tables and chairs are placed in an open environment while on the corner a long table with fancy water pipes and around 30 different flavored tobacco packets placed on it. My observation for this report spanned over a twelve day period. Four of these days I started my observation in morning and continued till evening, while other eight days I observed at night. The first things that I took note were the different jobs and the special tasks that the employees are expected to carry out.
There are many jobs including four cooks for B-B-Q, tea, tandoor (is used for cooking and backing) and cook for other dishes such as Karahi, pulses, etc. Two persons run the water pipe counter one serves and the other makes it with loose flavored tobacco. Three to four dish washers are also present. I observed people of different ages at dhaba teens and young male were usually gathered in groups while aged male were mostly sitting alone. Waterpipe was usually ordered by teens and young males, no aged person was observed smoking water pipe they usually ordered tea or meal.
While watching groups of people smoking water pipe one thing common in every group was playing card, poker (a card game played by two or more persons, in which the players bet on the value of their hands, the winner taking the pool) was usually played as poker chips were observed on most of the table’s playing card. Continuous voice prevailed around calling waiters by their name to either place their orders or make seating arrangements and different group of boys were yelling enjoying their game and water pipe.
Different flavors (apple, mint, watermelon, strawberry etc) of water pipe were being ordered and the common thing I noticed among all ages of people was cigarette smoking even the teens were involved in cigarette smoking may be due to peer pressure. Mostly people came to enjoy the open air and smoke (as shisha is addictive and contains stimulant nicotine which makes person relax). Tea and paratha was the most ordered item as I could see waiters wearing torn kurta’s carrying tray with five to six cups almost to every table.
After 8pm many people come to have their dinner as the dhaba serves almost all local dishes at a reasonable rate. My observation at night lasted eight days, one thing strange that I observed these eight days was that a police mobile came usually after 10 pm with three to four policemen in uniform to have their dinner and tea and, left without paying, questioning the waiter I came to know that police had threatened to empty the open space occupied by the dhaba so the owner of the dhaba had to compromise. Beggars move from table to table begging some people pay them money and some order food for them.
The other four day my observation started from morning to evening, the first thing that I noted were few people at morning compared to night as the only thing available in morning were tea, paratha and egg(half fry and omelet). Water pipes were not served in morning, people came to have their breakfast and enjoy the morning sunrise. Between 11 am to 2pm dhaba is usually empty and the cooks prepare dishes between these hours because after 2 pm there is a sudden rush of people at dhaba due to office breaks.
People from different offices come to have their lunch most of them are from Pakistan state oil head office (PSO) as it is at a walking distance from dhaba. Third morning I observed group of eight teens in uniform bunking from school at dhaba were having breakfast after which they forced the waiter to make them a shisha and the waiter agreed , they smoked for almost two hours and left giving waiter a huge tip. The waiters serving there have inborn quality of serving their customers. They have not passed through any waiter workshop or hotel management courses; still respond the best under intense pressure.
The customers in these tea points cross the entire limit and even abuse the waiters for the quick delivery of their orders. The waiters however in retaliation remain calm and kind to their customers with a genuine smile on their face. The last day of my observation I interviewed a waiter named Rabnawaz, I asked him to state the difference between the orders of different age people visiting dhaba, he replied “mostly young males and teenagers in group of 3 or more order shisha, tea and parathas.
If the shisha is not available we only earn 40% as compared to the days when shisha is available while aged people usually order dishes karahi, pulses etc with tandoor roti. ” In conclusion I have found that Water pipe smoking is gaining popularity among the young generation, school and college students and it is easily available in the restaurants, hotels. Mostly people visit dhaba to taste the flavors of local dish with enjoying in an open air and young male visit to enjoy with their friends in gathering relaxing in an open environment playing cards and smoking water pipe.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 9 January 2017
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