Mil Ke Chai is an artist led cafe which aims to serve chai and create spaces that nurture friendship and enterprise across class, caste and religion. The project is run by a group of friends from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and diaspora from the UK who all met in Kathmandu in 2019. During that time we spent a lot of time hanging out in cafes, sharing our art and getting mad and sad about world politics.
Troubled by rising fascism, racism and Islamophobia across South Asia (and the world!) and encouraged by the time we spent together, we set about working on a project together which would help build solidarity and nurture friendship and enterprise.
The first pop-up Mil Ke Chai ran in Kathmandu from 18-22 November with a programme of events exploring women, art and enterprise. The second ran in London.
The Kashmir Project
Artist Talk at Mil ke Chai cafe: Collaboration Across Borders
November 21, 2019
How can artists build solidities across borders in times of conflict? Rachita Taneja (Sanitary Panels, India) and Shehzil Malik (Illustrator, Pakistan) discussed their collaborative poster project which is raising awareness about the lockdown in Kashmir which has just passed the 100 day mark. Chaired by Sofia Niazi.
During the escalating tensions between the two countries over the disputed valley of Kashmir, we wanted to put the focus on the voices of the Kashmiri people who had been silenced. To amplify their voices with the information available during the lockdown, we drew over photographs we found from Associated Press and poems written by Kashmiris. Each of the 6 posters deals with a different aspect of occupation: the right to self determination, the inhumane use of pellet guns, the impact on children and religious practices, the unjust curfew, and the many protests that were not shown on Indian mainstream media. Once we started the series, we received a lot of support and a lot of vitriol.
We started drawing about Kashmir on 15th August 2019. It was India’s Independence Day, a day after Pakistan’s, and it was ten days into India unconstitutionally scrapping Article 370 and occupying Kashmir. We wanted to remind our people that as we celebrate independence, Kashmir was again under lockdown. Kashmiri people need to have the right to self determination. The reports that came from the valley were through journalists risking their safety to describe what they’d seen, photographs from associated press, and tweets from overseas Kashmiris trying to reach their families.
We are still asking- when will Kashmir be free?
Till we meet again, friends! 🙂