Delhiwale: Have a drink with Muhammed Rafi this summer

Public interest: There are not too many things to look forward to in the Delhi heat. But a pilgrimage to Turkman Gate for rose-tinted Rooh Afza is one of them

delhi Updated: Jul 10, 2017 15:15 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Delhi wale,Mohammed Rafi,Rooh Afza
Muhammed Rafi sells rose-flavoured drink Rooh Afza from his cart on Old Delhi’s Turkman Gate.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

It’s not easy to survive the cruel Delhi summer. A few things, however, help to make it less harsh. A poetic escape is to look for the yellow flowers on Amaltas trees. The popular way is to develop a craving for midnight ice cream treats at India Gate. Another way to deal with the oppressive months is to wait for the re-emergence of Muhammed Rafi in Old Delhi’s Mughal-era Turkman Gate. For more than 40 years, he has been cooling parched throats with his (now) Rs 5 glass of Rooh Afza.

The rose-flavoured Rooh Afza is so much a part of Old Delhi that its syrup bottles are found in almost every household — the drink’s corporate headquarters is a 10-minute walk from Turkman Gate. Many of Mr Rafi’s customers, however, have no household — daily wage labourers and rickshaw pullers who sleep on pavements. For them, a glass of Rooh Afza is a heavenly elixir during these sweaty days.

Mr Rafi’s cart consists of syrup bottles, plastic glasses, and a pan filled with ice chunks floating languidly in the rose drink. However, it is not the only consolation for the summer as Mr Rafi, too, is a relief to watch — his tempered appearance remains unruffled during the most trying times. No matter how intolerably hot and dusty the days become, his bearded face always shows a Buddha-like calm.

One wonders how this man copes with the city’s brief winter when he is obliged to shut down his business. He says he sits at his home in Phatak Teliyan and bides his time waiting for when the city will again come into its “own”.

WHERE: Behind Turkman Gate

BEST TIME: Evening

NEAREST METRO STATION: New Delhi, or Chawri Bazar

First Published: May 22, 2017 09:31 IST