If you ask me for the one thing I look forward to every single day without fail, it’s sipping on my mug of chai as I sit outside in my garden, listening to the birds chirp away and watching the sun give off a golden glow to bid farewell. Sometimes my mother will join me and will occasionally comment on the peacefulness of it all. Other days, my friends will come over and we’ll catch up, laugh, cry and just have some glorious moments while we hold on to a steaming cup of chai.

As a desi person, a mug of piping hot tea in evening (or having my “shaam ki chai”) is so much more than just that. It’s an elixir of comfort, love and warmth (literal and figurative) to wind down from getting through another day. It has become such an integral part of our lives that, regardless of who we’re with or where we are, we can’t imagine the day ever being complete without it.

Pakistani-Canadian entrepreneur Nitasha Syed had the same sentiment, and it motivated her to create her digital talk show, aptly titled “Shaam Ki Chai.” The show highlights Pakistanis around the world doing amazing things and having light-hearted conversations with them… over a cup of chai while embodying its warmth in the content.

Image Description: Shaam Ki Chai’s logo on the left, with Nitasha Syed’s picture on the right. Source: Dope Desi Team
Image Description: Shaam Ki Chai’s logo on the left, with Nitasha Syed’s picture on the right. Source: Dope Desi Team

In an Instagram Live with our co-founder Mashal, Nitasha talked about her journey of becoming a software engineer in Silicon Valley, and how the lack of representation about Muslim Women in STEM careers inspired her to enter the media space. Watch the conversation here.

However, when COVID-19 hit and she was “sitting at home with all the filming equipment,” inspiration came to her. She created the recording set in the patio of her own house, and asked her friends and family to tell their stories in a conversation over a cup of tea. And that’s how “Shaam Ki Chai” came to be.

I think nothing encapsulates what the show is all about better than her opening line

“Having chai is like having a heart to heart with someone without realising you’re having a heart to heart with them. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last few months with the Pakistani diaspora all over the world.”

While your average talk show is filmed in a carefully constructed set, with footage undergoing copious amounts of visual and audio editing in order to be presented perfectly, Shaam Ki Chai has none of that. And I think that’s what adds to its perfection.

The show is filmed in Nitasha’s own backyard patio, and wherever the guest is filming from. There is no editing of any sort; you can hear birds chirping, cars whizzing by and even the occasional airplane flying overhead. It’s as authentic as you can get, and it truly does fit with, as the kids say, the vibe it aims to give.

If you’re a 90s kid like me (hey fellow millennials!), you’d find the show almost nostalgic. However, the topics discussed are very relevant in today’s age and stage. Guests who have appeared on the show talk about tackling imposter syndrome, culture and identity, startups, navigating their respective fields and challenges, and fond memories of Pakistan that they carry with them.

Nitasha mentioned how she wanted to talk about all these topics without the negativity that often saturates Pakistani talk shows.

In the Instagram live, Nitasha very rightfully pointed out that conversations at home are heavily influenced by what the media focuses on. “Media affects our perspectives,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important to highlight these stories.”

Nitasha features CEOs, tech leaders, journalists and any Pakistani who’s making waves on weekly episodes. Some featured people include Kalsoom Lakhani (co-founder of I2I Ventures), Ali Ahsan (founder of Mangobaaz) and Abu Bakar Khan (founder of Diaspora Creative).

You can watch the episodes on their official Youtube Channel and their Instagram. I promise you it will definitely be your cup of tea, along with a literal steaming cup of one.

I’m the desi girl who will never refuse chai at any given time of the day. It looks like I’ll be having it twice a day from now on.

Check out our Instagram live with Nitasha here

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  • Arsh Khan

    Graduated with an Honours degree in Applied Psychology from Kinnaird College for Women University. Partnerships & Community Manager at The Tempest. Just your sassy, classy, and very smart-assy Pakistani woman whose dream is to sip on some good chai while she watches the patriarchy burn to the ground.