Karak at Midnight

Tea was the ritual comma to our midnight drives, the hours carelessly slipping away unnoticed.

“Wasn’t it just six pm?” he wondered aloud each time we would pull up to one of our many tea joints for our regular fix of two karaks.

But it was almost always  midnight – or worse, three in the morning – when we eventually found our way home.

Initially, he didn’t like the strong milk tea, balking at first sip; it was too sweet, too hot, and too late in the evening to have tea. Regardless, like clockwork, we find ourselves nursing a cup of karak at midnight.

Masala Chai
Traditionally prepared by a decoction of green cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, ground ginger, and black peppercorn together with black tea leaves. In some places the term “chai” alone can refer to the beverage.

“Chai?” he asks in a most peculiar way –  the ‘ch’ rolling from tongue to palate, an airy yet altogether crisp sound – but not at all uncommon for someone from Germany.

I smile and answer, “Na, sicher.”

Karak was always too sweet, too hot, and too late; in a way,  it was the perfect allegory for he and I. In the end, karak time was the singular constant in our little bubble of unknowns: who we were, what this meant, when would we walk away, where this was all going, and why we still stayed.


Masala chai is a flavoured tea beverage made by brewing black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs. Originating in India, the beverage has gained worldwide popularity, becoming a feature in many coffee and tea houses.

In the Middle East, particularly in the Arab countries surrounding the Persian Gulf where it is highly popular, the drink is commonly called “karak chai” (Arabic: شاي كرك‎) by the locals


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