Netizens rejoice as Karachi's Test Kitchen by Okra emerges victorious in a battle against a desi Karen
Karens — we've all heard of them, seen the memes and laughed at the videos but we didn't really think there were some living in our midst. Test Kitchen by Okra recently had to bear the brunt of a desi Karen and the incident was caught on camera for Twitter to mock and laugh over.
To be honest, we've all heard of anti-mask protests in the US and the rest of the (Western) world and incidents where people fly into a rage at being asked to wear masks and get vaccinated but we didn't think we would be witnessing that in Karachi.
For those of you unaware of the origins of the Karen meme, let us explain. A Karen is a mocking term used to describe someone — usually a white woman — who abuses her privilege. The BBC says the word Karen is associated with "the kind of person who demands to 'speak to the manager' in order to belittle service industry workers, is anti-vaccination, and carries out racist micro-aggressions". Think someone on a high horse, demanding special treatment for no reason other than their own privilege. Another trait endemic but not limited to Karens is that many are against wearing masks and taking Covid precautions.
The Test Kitchen Karen has stirred the collective ire of the Pakistani internet. For everyone not from Karachi, Test Kitchen is a cafe opened by Okra, a well-known high-end restaurant in Karachi's Zamzama.
It seems as if the woman was asked to show her vaccination card to the staff in order to dine inside.
In a video that has gone viral on social media, the woman can be heard shouting at a chef at the Karachi restaurant. Terms like "you are in violation of the Constitution" and "that's my private medical information" are thrown around casually, as if asking for a Covid vaccination card is a crime rather than a government ordered mandate.
"Who are you to ask me about my vaccination card?" the unidentified woman demands in the video, pointing a phone in the chef's face.
"You are in violation. You are in violation of me," she declares. "You are in terrible violation of the Constitution of Pakistan."
After calling him "an idiot" for wearing a mask, the woman declares that the restaurant staff are "asking me for my medical private records". We're going to jump in here to suggest a major flaw in that argument — Covid vaccination records are rather public knowledge as long as you have a person's CNIC number. Is that a good thing? We don't know, but in Pakistan at least, that information is not private, courtesy of the government and NADRA.
"Ooooh," the woman says as she picks up her belongings from a table — one of the best ways to end an argument and prove you are indeed an articulate adult. "You’re already documented," she said, with an inexplicable parting shot of "I’m a human rights activist".
We particularly enjoyed the chef's comeback —"You seem like it".
The video has already gotten the Ali Gul Pir and Swineryy treatment and is probably going to become the stuff of legend.
How could it not when even the Sindh government's spokesperson, Murtaza Wahab, has backed up the chef.
There hasn't been much (or any) support for the Karen.
In fact, there was a lot of secondhand embarrassment online.
No one really understood her references to the Constitution...
But they had some suggestions. Mmmm Test Kitchen really does do great sandwiches.
Many said this video is going down in meme history.
The internet has well and truly labelled her a Karen, though some people had suggestions for other, less anglicised names to call her.
She reminded some people of a certain Cannoli episode...
Overall, people were pretty angry at the woman and her sense of entitlement.
People even have favourite moments from the video. (The oooh is our favourite too.)
Many people praised the cool reaction from the Test Kitchen staff and raised valid points about the treatment of service industry professionals, especially during a pandemic.
We're glad the chef was able to stand his ground but why should service industry workers (or anyone for that matter) have to bear the brunt of this abuse. The mask and vaccination card rules have been set by the government and should be followed. If you don't like the rules, order your food to your home where you don't have to wear your mask and don't come in contact with other people.
As a self proclaimed "human rights activist", the woman should know that abusing people in their workplace for doing their job isn't any kind of activism at all. The rules the staff were enforcing are in place to protect people because the Covid pandemic isn't over. If you want to protect your "medical privacy" and not show your vaccination card, stay home. You aren't doing anyone any favours by going out and demanding restaurants break laws to satisfy you.
Test Kitchen may have been able to come out victorious in the battle of Karen but who knows how many other restaurants in the country have to face this and aren't able to win?
We hope more people (not just restaurants) take a stand against people — Karens or otherwise — who don't want to follow the rules and follow Test Kitchen's example. To Test Kitchen, we say this: