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Even deaf can have heated conversations!

world Updated: Jul 22, 2008 12:52 IST
Pak tea stall

Seventy years after it was set up, a nondescript tea stall in a small bylane of this eastern Pakistani city continues to be a popular hangout for the hearing impaired to have heated but silent conversations.

Cutting across structural and professional hierarchies, the hearing impaired have animated discussions round-the-clock in sign language at Yakoo da Hotel in the heart of Lahore.

Yakoo da Hotel is one of the oldest tea stalls on Temple Road and has been hosting the hearing impaired for over seven decades. The current owner, Zafar Anayat or "Bao" as he is fondly known, has even picked up sign language to make his customers feel at home.

On an average day, Bao hosts up to 200 customers. Sometimes, the numbers touch 500.

One of his customers, Muhammad Naeem, has been a regular for years. Rashid Khan, a bank employee, also likes to be seen at the tea stall to take part in discussions on issues ranging from lack of government policies for the deaf to Pakistan's political crisis.

For Bao, the hearing impaired are like his family and he will never leave them. His role, however, is not limited to being hospitable. Bao also plays matchmaker and has arranged several marriages for his deaf customers.

Much before the outlet became a haunt for the hearing impaired, it had acquired a name for serving good tea a reputation it still maintains.

Lahore resident Baba Eesa set up the hotel and it soon became popular. After his death, his son Hameed ran the stall for about four decades.