KARACHI: The Christmas decorations stall outside a popular supermarket in Clifton only has teddy bears left to offer. The Christmas masses in the city’s churches are also over and the church bells have also stopped ringing. It is time now for the feasts.
The bakeries in Saddar all have customers asking for Christmas cakes. There is the United Bakery, where besides the traditional plum cakes they have also inscribed ‘Merry Christmas’ on the regular cream and chocolate cakes and Prof Shaikh Ziauddin, a college principal, was interested in getting a regular white cake for his friends. “I want to take this for a St Joseph’s Convent sister,” he says. “She must have had the traditional Christmas cake, I am sure. So why not a regular cake too from her Muslim brother,” he smiles while asking the bakery staff to pack it carefully.
But Farzana Michael wanted the traditional Christmas cake with the dried fruit to take to her brother. “I don’t bake. And I also don’t want to lose face in front of my sister-in-law, so here is the solution,” she says laughing.
Zahid Khan at the bakery says that they had allowed all their Christian customers the use of their ovens until Dec 20. “We had also pasted our offer on our windows thanks to which many brought over their cake batter to be baked here,” he says. “But after the 20th we also needed our ovens for our cakes.”
Nearby at the Bread Centre bakery Ms Almas, a customer, isn’t sure how many Christmas cakes she should buy. “Ideally, they should last me until next Christmas as I wait for this time only to be able to enjoy Christmas cakes,” she says, adding that she is Muslim but crazy about the traditional Christmas cakes. “No other cake tastes quite like them. They are a perfect mix of bitter-sweet,” she says.
“And the problem is that the bakeries in Clifton and Defence don’t sell Christmas cakes. Even today, all the places I went to asking for the cake, pointed me in the direction of Saddar.
Meanwhile, at the ever-popular Misquita Bakery, Syed Haider Abbas says that they have Christmas cakes the entire year. “The cake is actually a rich plum cake with raisins and spices such as cinnamon powder,” he says.
“And since we do wedding cakes mostly, Christmas cakes are no problem at all for us because the bottom layer of all wedding cakes is the plum cake though the icing happens to be almond,” he says.
“Our Christmas cake customers don’t necessarily have to be Christians looking for this variety at this time alone. We have Muslims and Parsis coming here demanding Christmas cake the entire year,” he says before turning to the female customer waiting in line at the counter to ask if she’d like a one kilogram or half kilo cake. “We only make them in these two sizes with the bigger one costing Rs600 and the smaller one for Rs300,” he says.
Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2017