by MW Cook

The Chicken Walla

How do ya buy chicken in Canada? Pretty simple, you go to Zehrs or No Frills and walk to the chicken section. You look at all the packages of chicken and select a size and cut you like. You pick it, you pay, you go home. Now, let’s look at the same operation in Pakistan.
First, you should try to use the same chicken walla every time you want some bird. This way he gets to know you so if you have any special requests it’s no problem. Also, because I get a ten rupee discount every time I go. Make sure you head out for the chicken early in the day, because that’s when you’ll get the best, freshest, least bug-ridden cuts. You sit down and the chicken walla’s stall, shoo the cat away and drink the chai he offers. Chat about the weather a bit, about school and Canada until he finally ashes how much bird yah want. He’ll then either grab a pre-killed bird from his rack or go get a fresh one and off it’s head while chanting “In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate”. With two or three deft movements he’ll behead, skin and clean the bird. You know he’s done it right when you see a headless, skinless, footloose, cutlass chicken still twitching on the scale as he weighs it out. Chop, chop, chop and into the bag it goes. Chicken it great when it was alive half an hour before you eat it. Meanwhile the guy at the vegetable stall next door keeps on interrupting to tell a complicated joke in Urdu, thankfully you can tell by his voice when the punch-line comes, so you laugh politely and get out of there.

It’s the little things that make the difference, eh?

Yesterday in my English class I asked the question “What is your biggest fear in life?” One man looked very serious and said, “My biggest fear is that when I die and see God He won’t forgive the big sins in my life.” I thought that was a very good, rational fear, eh? Almost all of the men in my English class are part of a special Islamic sect called Qadiani or Ahmediyya. Orthodox Muslims call them Kafrs, infidels. All Muslims believe that one day Jesus will return to judge the earth. The Qadianis believe that he has already returned in the form of another prophet just a few decades ago. The men tell me that their motto as Qadianis is “Love to all, hatred to none.” It’s difficult for these people in this country. You know, every government document or application includes a spot for religion. There are four main religions to choose from. Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Qadiani. If you choose Muslim you must also check a little box that says “I believe that the Qadianis are not Muslims and do not follow Islam.” or something to that effect. Pray for these people.

Before I go, I want to invite you all to ask some questions about this country, or about some of our experiences here. Is there anything about Pakistan or Pakistanis that you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask?

Cook out.