Delhiwale: His father’s furnace as our city’s legacy
Sudesh says his father had set up the furnace in 1950s and over half-a-century later it continues to smoulderUpdated: Jun 08, 2018 09:27 IST
It’s almost a monument. Not one built by an emperor but by a tool worker.
We’re talking about an earthen furnace or bhatti that we haven’t spotted anywhere else. “My father made this himself, maybe 50 years ago,” says Sudesh, a tool sharpener by profession.
As we talk, he goes about heating a customer’s fretsaw in the smouldering furnace at his shop near New Delhi railway station. Then, he hammers the edges over a metal slab.
Appropriately named Gyan ki Bhatti, the shop hasn’t changed much over the years. Except for one thing: The old furnace has been modernised. “It now functions on electricity, but in my father’s day the heat was generated by turning a wheel.”
Patting his hand on the furnace’s earthen surface, Sudesh says it stays cool as the heat inside gets ventilated through the exhaust pipe. He nudges us to touch the bhatti. It’s indeed cool even as we can see a smouldering coal-fire inside.
Sudesh, 65, recalls that his “pitaji” arrived in Delhi from Punjab in 1950, “and I think he made this bhatti (furnace) two years later”.
We ask if he can show us a photo of his dad. Sudesh shakes his head.
“This bhatti is my father’s photo, his identity. Ye hame abhi tak roti de rahi hai (It’s still earning us our daily bread),” he says.