PAKISTANI IRREVERENCE, coupled with entrepreneurship, is on full display at Civil Junction, a cafeteria in the heart of the capital. Its elaborately calligraphed menu card offers a smooth ‘Vajpayee's cup of Coffee’ with the promise: “There is no foreign hand in its making.” It also offers ‘Musharraf Guesspresso’: brewed under high pressure. Its base is very strong; the real kick lying in the lingering aftertaste.
A brainchild of Arshed Bhatti, a journalist-turned-civil servant-turned political activist, CJ is no ordinary eatery. It is a meeting ground, a cerebral rendezvous for journalists, students, marginalised minorities and the aadabi (creative) types. “I like going to CJ. It is a microcosm of Pakistan,” says journalist Sirmed Manzoor.
A graduate from the London School of Economics, Bhatti likes to call his café a social enterprise. “I wanted to prove that activism is sustainable if done the right way,” he says.
CJ opened on the day Pakistan's current National Assembly was constituted in 2002. Not surprising that it serves ‘Military Intervention’. CJ's “first-generation” dish, it is sold alongside ‘Murgh Malai Aloo’, a culinary spoof on Pakistan's right-wing opposition, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal.
Also on offer is ‘Spineless Opposition’ — boneless chicken basically.