Behavior and Etiquette: Social Engagements and Visiting - Tea and Cigarettes

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The usual drink of choice in Pakistan is tea mixed with milk or a type of butter. People take great pride in serving tea to guests and will use their best cups and tea kettles. Sharing tea with others is a great act of kindness, a way to bond, and serves as a way to gauge the relationship between individuals. The more times you share tea together the more comfortable a person becomes with you. As a Baltistan proverb says "The first time you share tea, you are a stranger. The second time, you are an honored guest. The third time you become family" [11]. Tea then contains a spiritual element, especially when offered within a home, as it implies a public acknowledgement of acceptance and protection.

The use of cigarettes/hookah (flavored tobacco smoked out of a glass pipe) and chewable tobacco products are considered to be a normal part of male adult life in Pakistan. Though smoking is taboo for women, 12% of women do smoke compared with 54% of males who use some form of tobacco. Though recent anti-smoking campaigns in Pakistan have decreased the number of smokers, participation in smoking is still an important socializing activity [12]. If one wishes to smoke in public, be prepared to offer a cigarette to everyone in the group. If offered to smoke a hookah, it is expected that you will accept. As there is no way to tell what is in the hookah, it is better to politely decline the offer. Place your right hand over your heart and bow when declining the offer so as not to offend. Another popular psycho-active drug besides caffeine and tobacco is paan, which consists of chewing the areca nut wrapped in the betel leaf. Paan is chewed after a meal and is thought to cleanse the palate. Prolonged use of paan can cause discoloration of the teeth.


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