The Urdu and Punjabi word "Chaska" is derived from the word ‘chas’ (chas chukna: take pleasure; chas aa gayi ay: what a thrill), which literally means pleasure.
The English word that comes quite close to explaining full scope of ‘chaska’ is thrill.
Mainly, chaska involves talking about relatives, neighbors, friends, and those living nearby. The fuel of chaska may include love affairs, relationship issues, surgical examination of back-and-forth remarks made between two parties, and familial rifts, among other things.
The range of chaska is vast and usually depends on the people involved in the activity. The one taking/enjoying the chaska is called ‘chaskora’ or ‘chaskori.’ There are different chaskay (plural) for different people, but the word satisfyingly describes the depth of thrill they derive from it. In some areas of Punjab, people also funnily refer to ‘chaskay’ as ‘chaskaat,’ which, other than intended to sound funny, also implies the ultimate level of chaska. It is a level desired by those who take pleasure from the activity. Still, only very few get there, as it requires a gift of deep analysis and the ability to weave and orate an intriguing story.
Chaska discussions can go on for hours, and the faces of those involved are observably lit up. Despite living in an age of mechanical modernity, digital boom, and easy access to cell phones and cheap internet, nothing can replace the love of this practice.Chaska is an oral story that gets passed on from people to people. From snooker clubs to barber shops, from tea stalls to juice corners, from street corners to open spaces inside houses, there are all sorts of chaskay that are being given and taken in the people's spare time. More often than not, the one revealing the story and providing chaskay asks the receiver to keep the story to oneself, but that never happens, as chaska is meant to pass on rather quickly.
It would be easy to conflate chaska with ‘bitching. But, there is a difference between both terms. Bitching only involves talking bad about someone behind their back. It is only a small part of chaska. Chaska, besides bitching, also includes general curiosity about others’ lives and trying to assemble the puzzle pieces of social cues and intentions when little information exists. People "take chaskay" because they have no other entertainment options and it's a generational practice.
Naseebo Lal in the song "Punjabi Munde" from the album Jithon Marzi Jawani Nu Cher (Mujra Hi Mujra), Vol. 58 sings, “kurri jadd v punjaban nachdi, punjabi munday lain chaskay.” (Whenever the Punjabi girl dances, Punjabi boys take chaskay.) Chaskay means excitement in that song. From dance moves to daily conversations, there is space for having chaska in everything.