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chai

I sat in the property office chatting to the dealer who had just found us a new house.  I had to drop off some documents so that he could draw up our rental agreement.  This was a task that could have taken all of fifteen seconds, but this being Pakistan, it was taking significantly longer.

Bureaucratic inefficiency, maybe?  No.

Bad traffic causing me to arrive late?  No.

Pakistani hospitality?  Yes.

“Before you go, have chai with us” said the dealer politely.  His co-workers nodded eagerly.

“It’s kind, sir, but really, I must go” I said.  Perhaps strangely, it’s actually polite to refuse at least once.

“No really, you must drink chai with us.  Just a small cup” he insisted.

“Dear brother, you are so kind, but I have many tasks to do.  I’m afraid I really must go”.

“Dear sir, you are our guest!  Please, do us the honour of drinking chai with us”.

I hesitated, my resolve weakening by the second.  He smiled and played his trump card.

“Besides, I have already ordered it.  Look, here it is now”.

A tall Pashtun man from the frontier walked in and placed a steaming cup of chai in front of me as though it were some kind of votive offering.

The property dealer smiled.

“And now, we drink”.