By Dr. Sohail Ansari
Missing the Malabari Tea
The community of Mappilas, the Malabar Muslims, supported the invading military of Haider Ali in 1765. However, the British won the Mysore war against Tipu Sultan. The Mappilas did not gain any favours in the new rule and were reduced into a condition of destitution. As a consequence, a communal war or rebellion arose in 1921 from Malappuram district of North Kerala primarily against the British but included upper caste Hindu landlords. This was called Mappila Revolt. It lasted for about six months and was ultimately brutally crushed with a loss of 10000 lives. This led to a string of migrations. The first exodus of Mappilas from Kerala to Karachi, thus, took place in 1921.The Karachi chapter of Mappilas was born. However, most migrants were fit males who had left their families (wives and children) behind. They regularly visited Kerala, since their families did not migrate. They came with no assets but soon settled in their traditional businesses they were familiar with such as tea shops, timber, and textiles. Some ventured into import and export or even setting up biscuit factories in Karachi.I remember the Malabari Tea houses and the tea boys carrying kettles supplying tea to the stores in Saddar and elsewhere, kind of mobile tea shops. This community has largely lost its Malayalee identity now; few of the city’s Mappilas speak Malayalam. It is believed that about 6000 of them still remain in Karachi. Today most of this community is small-time owners of restaurants and shops. Yet another community at the verge of extinction in the large Metropolis.