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Tea—in the Indian and Pakistani cultures, tea is not just plain and simple tea; it goes way beyond beverage status. It is, in fact, integral to the social and cultural psyche of the people and usually goes hand in glove with communication, much like the concept of coffee and conversations. Traditionally, chai goes naturally with gupshup (chit chat) and is symbolic with social connect with the community.
At ANU, the Pakistan Students’ Association (PSA) has decided to bring the local flavour on campus with a unique and fun social event called Chai & Gupshup. Launched a couple of weeks ago at a welcome opening night (yes, featuring chai), the session is on every Thursday between 5pm and 6:30pm.
So, what led to the genesis of Chai & Gupshup? According to Hindi student Hayden Blain, he always wanted to start a Hindi/Urdu conversation group as a platform for students of Hindi and Urdu, and more generally in Canberra. There was a need for a forum where people could practice conversing in the languages they were learning. In his personal experience, opportunities for such practice are hard to come by.
“From personal experience, but also what I have heard anecdotally from others, finding opportunities to practice speaking Hindi and Urdu in Australia are pretty hard to come by, despite the fact that Hindi/Urdu are among the top five most-spoken languages in the world! The classes here at ANU are brilliant and equip students well to interact in Hindi and Urdu. But nothing gets me (and I presume others) tongue-tied more than when you are in a real-life situation and you are forced to speak in the language you are learning.” – Hayden Blain
So when Hayden connected with Kiran Qayyum, President of the PSA, he was thrilled to learn that she had the same enthusiasm for setting up such a forum. Reps from the PSA and some ANU Hindi students then met in the middle of Semester 1 this year to talk about it and were able to get it off the ground.
The underlying vision is to serve as a platform for people at ANU, as well as the larger Canberra community, to learn more about desi culture, videshi culture, and how the two might intersect and interact as more and more South Asians make Australia their home.
Over the next few weeks, Chai & Gupshup intends to serve up some heart-warming chai, interesting gupshup, and brainstorming, learning and knowledge sharing on a range of themes, like desi khaana (traditional food), desi pop culture (Bollywood films, Pakistani dramas, songs, dances), religion in South Asia, and perhaps even modern history and contemporary politics. It’s going to be an eclectic menu of treats, so drop by and join in the gupshup!
And if you’ve already attended the first couple of gatherings, we would love to hear from you about your experience. Write to us with at firstname.lastname@example.org with your views on this story and also to share any other stories, events, or information you’d like us to put together to share with the wider audience.