BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)

Faculty / School

Faculty of Business Administration (FBA)


Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Date of Award

Spring 2017

Date of Submission



Dr. Nausheen H. Anwar, Professor, Department of Social Sciences


Dr. Naveen Minai, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Sciences

Project Type

SSLA Culminating Experience

Access Type

Restricted Access


Dhaabas in South Asia have historically been tea stalls or roadside cafes famous for serving strong chai and a variety of local cuisine. These spaces have long been dominated by men, however, with the inception of a dhaaba by the name of Chaiwala in 2015, a change has begun to take place. Since then, number of similar dhaabas have emerged in Karachi’s landscape. These dhaabas share similar aesthetics of colorful lighting and graffiti, a menu offering hybrid foods such as ‘Nutella parathas’ and ‘Cadbury chai’ and value added services such as wifi and food delivery. This thesis aims to re-conceptualize emerging public spaces in Karachi by conducting ethnographic research on four dhaabas in Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and Clifton: Chaiwala, Chotu Chaiwala, Café Clifton, and New Quetta Bismillah Hotel. It proposes the term ‘pseudo-dhaaba’ as a new category of classification and explores why and how this new style of dhaaba is distinct from the traditional dhaaba. This is done through visual analysis, participant observation, customer interviews, and in depth focus groups. It begins by conducting a visual analysis and comparison of the physical space of the dhaaba and pseudo-dhaaba in order to develop the category of the ‘pseudo-dhaaba’. Following from that, it examines the public perception of dhaabas as a social space and concludes with a broader view on how men and women place themselves in, and navigate the public and private spheres.



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