JEHANGIR ALI | 13 JUNE, 2019
Storm in a Tea Cup!
Tempers rise over the price of a cup of tea
SRINAGAR: A popular upscale cafe in the capital Srinagar of Jammu and Kashmir has landed in a raging controversy after its influential owner was called out on social media for using ‘derogatory’ language against the people of Kashmir.
Roohi Nazki, who owns Chai Jaai (Tea House) situated idyllically on the banks of river Jhelum on Residency Road in Lal Chowk, Kashmir’s largest marketplace, was lately facing criticism on the social media for selling tea at exorbitant rates.
The tea house was recently forced to call off a poetry recitation event after several Kashmiri poets backed out following the use of the national flag on the poster of the event that touched a raw nerve with the people in the Valley who accused the tea house of being an “agency of the state.”
In the charged atmosphere of Kashmir these days, the latest controvery erupted when a young Kashmiri girl on Twitter asked Nazki, who is the wife of former J&K finance minister Dr Haseeb Drabu, for the price of a cup of tea served at the restaurant.
Responding to her query, the visibly peeved owner wrote: “emi khot gaseye tuhund beychun” (instead you should start begging).”
Her response didn’t go down well with the people on the social media who called her out for using derogatory language, to which she responded by terming her detractors as "subsidy baaz" (those enjoying subsidies) and "Fakir" (beggars).
Nazki’s heated responses created a storm in the politically sensitive Valley with many spoof pages on social media creating memes comparing the cost of tea at Chai Jaai with people demanding an apology from the owner who has refused to oblige so far.
Repeated attempts to contact Roohi Nazki did not succeed.
In a statement issued to the “social media community” of Chai Jaai, Nazki termed her cafe as an “icon” of Kashmiri culture and claimed that as a woman entrepreneur she was being threatened.
“To all those people I would like to state that the modified retweet is the culmination of a sustained attack launched against the Chai Jaai on twitter. Over the last few weeks, different ‘isms’ (elitism, capitalism, fetishism etc) have been evoked to malign the reputation of the brand but we took it on our stride,” the statement read.
Many in Kashmir feel that the issue has been unnecessarily blown out of proportion.
“It is an unnecessary controversy. A verbal spat between two individuals on Twitter should have been left at that. But the manner in which the issue has snowballed into a controversy underlines the sensitiveness of the politics of Kashmir,” Zarif Ahmad Zarif, a popular poet and humorist based in Srinagar, said.