At around midnight, small groups of young people trickle in at Chaayekhana, a popular eatery in the sprawling F-6 Markaz.
Mostly clad in T-shirts and pyjamas, they place orders for Sehri and devour chai and snacks in the meantime. The seats and bar stools are occupied by Sehri time and the place is buzzing with activity.
But what makes these people abandon the aromatic parathas and omelettes at home in the wee hours of the night?
Saad Hamid, who had won free coupons for Sehri at the café through a Facebook contest, said that more than anything else, it is power outages that make him want to eat out. “I was surprised to see that the café was packed, even around the pre-dawn time,” he said.
For some, it is the thrill of enjoying the only month that affords restaurants and cafes to remain open so late in the night. “The feeling one gets from a midnight hangout during Ramazan in inexplicable. Going out with friends for Sehri is an experience in itself,” said Khawar Naeem.
He also enjoys going to Pindi for Sehri. “I love the drive and the ambience, especially in Kartarpura, where it feels like a carnival,” he said.
Kartarpura is a downtown neighbourbood near Banni Chowk which offers strictly desi Sehri items including paye, nihari, channas, parathay, kulchay, doodh patti and lassi.
Similarly, Iysha Munir feels that when people stay up till Sehri, they just need something to do. “Those who go for Taraweeh prayers don’t get time to go out for Iftar so it is more convenient to go out for Sehri,” she said.
“Sehri culture is becoming more festive as people are going beyond their dining rooms for good food. It is a wonderful thing and gives us more to look forward to during Ramazan,” said Pashmina Ahmed.
On the other hand, Nuzhat Saadia believes that Sehri is best had at home. “It is more of a status symbol to eat out at Sehri now, especially as the timings are so close to midnight.”
People stay up and then go out rather than stumbling out of bed for a quick meal like they used to during the good old days when Ramazan fell in the colder months,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2013.