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Monday, February 17, 2020

In New Friends Colony, eateries open their doors — and hearts — every evening for iftar

Rashid Ahmad (63), who runs the shop, has been serving fruit chaat, dates, pakodas and sherbet as iftar for more than 15 years now.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Updated: May 21, 2019 1:14:30 pm
Staff from nearby shops and offices mostly attend. (Amit Mehra)

Four years ago, around the time of Ramzan, Murtaza Chaudhary (36) had joined Batra Cinemas as a manager, shifting from his earlier job at Ghaziabad. For the first two-three days, he would bring fruits and snacks from home, to break his fast during iftar.

“One day, a friend of mine asked me why I sit alone and eat. He told me people collect at this restaurant called R Ahmad Food, which serves iftar for free. Since that day, I have been going there. It’s a different feeling when everyone eats together. We get to know about each other’s lives. Pyaar bhi badta hai,” he said.

Rashid Ahmad (63), who runs the shop, has been serving fruit chaat, dates, pakodas and sherbet as iftar for more than 15 years now. And he’s not the only one. Several eateries in the New Friends Colony market give iftar as charity without taking money from those who come to break their fast — most of them employees of nearby shops.

“We never calculate how much it costs us, but if one were to estimate it would probably be around Rs 500-600 per day. We’re doing god’s work and feeding people; that’s what matters,” said Ahmad, who otherwise serves Mughlai food.

Krishan Thapa (40), a dancer and social worker, has been making Rooh Afza sherbet at Ahmad’s food joint every Ramzan for the last four years. “I used to work here earlier. I saw people preparing food and I also jumped in. Nobody asked me to do it and nobody stopped me either. I thoroughly enjoy it,” he said.

Salim Khan (47), who runs the famous shawarma joint Al-Bake, has also been giving out iftar for the last 15 years. “Kamaane ke apne tareeke hain. Ye kamaane ka tareeka nahi hai (There are ways to earn money but this is not one of them),”
he said.

Arham Sheikh (29), whose father runs Nazeer Foods, said they have been giving free iftar at all of their 11 branches in Delhi-NCR since they launched. “When this branch opened three years ago, I sent out my employees to go and inform people in the area that we were giving iftar. We serve it to everyone who is in the restaurant at the time of breaking fast, without exception,” he said.

On Monday, Mohd Shahrukh (26), who works at Canara Bank, was among those who rushed in with two friends at Nazeer’s around 7 pm. “I have been coming here for two years. It’s so convenient for us because we don’t get to prepare so much iftar food at home,” he said.

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