06 Sep 2020


In the wake of record-breaking and catastrophic rains followed by flooding in both urban and rural areas of Sindh, Balochistan and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan, I am bracing myself for an onslaught of “inspirational flood relief songs” about how “we must all stand together” and what not — which will be anything but inspirational.

Forgive me, but our general unpreparedness for extreme but predictable weather, has — to put it mildly — put a damper on my spirits. As I’m sure it has for most who have been affected.

Which is why lifestyle blogger/vlogger Rahab Munir’s refreshingly simple, yet fresh sounding song, Chaa Di Payali, was the perfect song to bring me out from under a dark cloud and into the light of cautious optimism. We might pull through this after all. All we need is a, or several, chaa di payali [cup of tea].

The song begins with Rahab’s soft, soulful, soothing vocals in a backdrop of mostly rich acoustic guitar playing with the bass adding that extra oomph to the song. The music comes at you like gentle warm waves, with Rahab’s soft, playful voice floating through them. The song has been written and composed by Rahab Munir whereas the music is by Amir Ajmal.

At a time when our lives have been upended by catastrophic events, Rahab Munir wants us to focus on the simple pleasure of a Chaa Di Payali

The treatment and freshness of the song overall harkens back to sound reminiscent of the very early days of Noori, when they did a few unplugged sessions and Zeb and Haniya, when they first released a rough unplugged, acoustic version of Chup on the radio, well before they became mainstream.

Lyrically, the song is quite simple. It’s a light playful number directed at a love interest inviting them over for tea to spend some sweet simple time together — in conversation, of course. Do chaar gal, meray naal kar le sohniya [Talk a little with me, beautiful].

The ‘video’ is a single moving animated frame (by Nabeel A. Sheikh) showing Rahab standing on the balcony, a gentle breeze moving through her hair, a frazzled cat next to her and a ‘Keep Calm and have a chaa di payali’ sign in the background as she enjoys a cup of tea — one of those sweet, simple, pleasures in life.

Considering how our lives have been upended these past few days, we could all use a chaa di payali right about now.

Published in Dawn, ICON, September 6th, 2020