New Delhi: Just 10 months after a video of a restaurant staff being humiliated on camera went viral, Pakistan’s elite have made the headlines yet again after a “human rights activist” lashed out at the chef of a Karachi-based restaurant for “violating her constitutional right” by asking for her vaccination certificate. Hailed by many as ‘desi Karen’ on social media, the woman laid bare the deep-rooted elitism of Pakistan.
Located in the heart of Karachi, the small eatery called ‘Test Kitchen by Okra’ received massive public support online after netizens lampooned the customer for her classist behaviour.
In a purported viral video, a mask-less woman can be heard shouting at the restaurant staff, especially the chef, for violating her “medical privacy”. The chef, Asad Aamir Monga, can also be heard repeatedly clarifying and asking her for proof of Covid vaccination as the woman continues to record the confrontation. She goes on to call him an “idiot for wearing a face nappy” and accusing him of asking for her “medical private records”. After Monga takes out his phone, presumably to call for help, the woman turns away to pick her belongings while threatening him with being “documented”. Before leaving the restaurant, she turns back to shout, “I am a human rights activist”.
The staffers can be heard, repeatedly, explaining to the woman that they are required to ask for her vaccination certificate as mandated by the government’s guidelines.
Just putting it out there… A restaurant asking for proof of vaccination is not a violation of the Constitution of Pakistan. https://t.co/kDZVifPCpb
— Mubariz Siddiqui (@MubarizSiddiqui) October 7, 2021
Among the first ones to call out the “rude” behaviour was the Karachi administrator Murtaza Wahab Siddiqui. He went on to applaud Monga for not just the sandwiches but also his “assertiveness”.
Good job Asad for doing the right thing & standing up against such rude behaviour. I was a fan of ur sandwiches now also a fan of ur calm assertiveness https://t.co/HiWMwZkgJl
— Murtaza Wahab Siddiqui (@murtazawahab1) October 7, 2021
Within minutes of the video going viral, the woman was being called “Pakistani Karen” or “desi Karen”. The ‘Karen’ slang is used to describe an entitled, racist and often a middle-aged white woman, who boasts of her privileged position to get her way or belittle others.
Comedy artist Swineryy created an animated character depicting the woman. The video illustration takes a dig at her claim of being a “human rights activist”.
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Many others also caught on to her declaration of being an activist.
Female customer at Okra Test Kitchen in Karachi gets angry when asked by staff to show vaccination certificate – which is now a legal requirement in Pakistan for service by a restaurant
Says she’s a “human rights activist” as she exits the place pic.twitter.com/xp9nM9hqaR
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) October 7, 2021
While several others had a good laugh at the expense of “Pakistani Karen”.
Pakistani Karen on the rampage! 🤪😂🤣 pic.twitter.com/t8tAL0Quch
— محمد ظفر الٰهي (@bcSp2GrQgt7TUVs) October 8, 2021
I'm "ooOoOOOooh". https://t.co/uc4FQ7wugt
— Natasha Noorani (@rukhsanakartoos) October 7, 2021
Not a rarity in Pakistan
Monga told Dawn that such behaviour among customers in Pakistan is not rare. The chef said that people in the hospitality industry often are at the receiving end of customers’ entitlement.
He recounted how his staffers have been often cursed at and called names. One specific incident allegedly involved a customer wiping his chocolate-covered fingers on Monga’s mask when he was asked to pay the bill.
Monga also shed light on the anti-vaccination stance of some customers. Many people hesitate to share their vaccination certificates and urge the servers to take their word for it.
He told Dawn that the “burden of civility or basic courtesy” seems to have fallen on the shoulders of the service industry since the pandemic.
Deja-vu 10 months later
Only 10 months back, another group of women had caught everyone’s attention for similar elitist behaviour.
This is just so sad. Class privelege, colonial hangover and depravity of Pakistani elite — all rolled into one clip. The hero here is this manager and my salam to him for his hard work, dedication and putting up with this! pic.twitter.com/8IVnE6nSYv
— Raza Ahmad Rumi (@Razarumi) January 21, 2021
Two women, allegedly the owners of an Islamabad-based cafe called Cannoli, were seen asking their restaurant manager to showcase his command over the English language since they were “bored”. The video went viral on social media with many people trending the hashtag #BoycottCannoli and criticising the women and their attitude.
Just saw the news and wanted to do the same but it looks like I was a little too slow 🙇🏻♀️ Regardless, this should be a reminder to everyone: treat your employees with respect. Don’t project your own “boredom” or trauma onto others. Sick. #BoycottCannoli https://t.co/N8H7Jcua0x
— Hadiqa Kiani (@Hadiqa_Kiani) January 21, 2021
— Jeremy McLellan (@JeremyMcLellan) January 21, 2021
Although the restaurant had issued an apology at the time, it didn’t seem sincere as they tried to pass it on as a regular “gup shup” at their restaurant.
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