At the Lahore Karhai by Imtiaz Dharker

It’s a great day, Sunday,
when we pile into the car
and set off with a purpose –
a pilgrimage across the city,
to Wembley, the Lahore Karhai.
Lunch service has begun –
‘No beer, we’re Muslim’ –
but the morning sun
squeezed into juice,
and ‘Yaad na jaye’
on the two-in-one.

On the Grand Trunk Road
thundering across Punjab to Amritsar,
this would be a dhaba
where the truck-drivers pull in,
swearing and sweating,
full of lust for real food,
just like home.

Hauling our overloaded lives
the extra mile,
we’re truckers of another kind,
looking hopefully (years away
from Sialkot and Chandigarh)
for the taste of our mothers’
hand in the cooking.

So we’ve arrived at this table:
the Lahore runaway;
the Sindhi refugee
with his beautiful wife
who prays each day to Krishna,
keeper of her kitchen and her life;
the Englishman too young
to be flavoured by the Raj;
the girls with silky hair,
wearing the confident air
of Bombay.

This winter we have learn
to wear our past
like summer clothes.

Yes, a great day.
A feast! We swoop
on a whole family of dishes.
The tarka dal is Auntie Hameeda
the karhai ghosht is Khala Ameena
the gajjar halva is Appa Rasheeda.

The warm naan is you.

My hand stops half-way to my mouth.
The Sunday light has locked
on all of us:
the owner’s smiling son,
the cook at the hot kebabs,
Kartar, Rohini, Robert,
Ayesha, Sangam, I,
bound together by the bread we break,
sharing out our continent.

are ways of remembering.

Other days, we may prefer

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