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Humans of Delhi 6 and their stories

At the stroke of midnight when the rest of Delhi sleeps, a few bylanes of Old Delhi wake up to the aroma of delicious food and festivities during Ramzan. Here are a few faces and their stories.

morefromlifestyle Updated: Jul 09, 2015 16:48 IST
A Sarwar Borah
A Sarwar Borah
Hindustan Times

At the stroke of midnight when the rest of Delhi sleeps, a few bylanes of Old Delhi wake up to the aroma of delicious food and festivities during Ramzan. From traditional Mughlai cuisine to innovative concoctions, it is a foodie's paradise. For businessmen, it's time to go for an extra kill. For a few night birdies, it is the only time of the year, when one can play cricket at three in the morning before beginning the fast. Here are a few faces and their stories.

*Ice candy man
I am a tourist, my name is Mohd Asif and I am 22 years old. I have come from Alamnagar, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. I have come with my brother, who sells ice cream in Malad, Mumbai. Before Eid, my brother comes home, and we come to Delhi for shopping. This time, owing to the heat and humidity, we decided to do a brisk ice cream business.

(HT photo/A Sarwar Borah)

We are selling it by the name "Real Fruit Ice Cream"; it is frozen on a rotating metal drum, which is filled with crushed ice and salt. To keep the ice cream from melting, we keep rotating the cylinder. We've got an instant fan following. We're selling it for Rs 10, Rs 20 and Rs 30.

*Ek garam chai
If hot, sweet beverage is not your cup of tea, then the malaai maar ke special chai of Old Delhi is also not your cup of tea. High on milk and sugar, my tea is so sweet and creamy that it may very well be considered dessert. I am from Bihar and one of the many tea-makers of Delhi 6.

(HT photo/A Sarwar Borah)

My name is Mohd Sarfaraz and I am 22 years old. I came to Delhi 15-years ago, and have always been in the tea-making business. The shop where I work offers tea through the day during Ramzan. I have a 12-hour shift, which starts from three in the afternoon and continues till three at night.

*Gali premier league
I am Saquib Ahmed Khan, a resident of Lal Kuan. I look forward to a game of cricket at 3 am before Sehri on the bylanes of Delhi 6.

(HT photo/A Sarwar Borah)

I am pursuing BA programme through correspondence from Delhi University, and my favourite cricketer is the hard-hitting Chris Gayle. I also love gorging on nihari and kebab.

*Visa to vermicelli
Our shop sells Pakistani visa forms and also deals in currency exchange, but during Ramzan it morphs into a grand fair of vermicelli.

(HT photo/A Sarwar Borah)

Vermicelli is a popular dessert during Ramzan, which in the run-up to Eid, becomes a lucrative business option. In the age of nuclear families, we continue to have a family-owned shop.

*Ride against the tide
My name is Mohd Riazuddin, a cycle rickshaw puller, and I am closng in on 60. I ride for three hours combined - one and half hours one side - from trans Yamuna to reach Delhi 6 for my daily duty. I ride only at night; my working hours start from midnight and continue till nine in the morning.

(HT photo/A Sarwar Borah)

I came to Delhi 15 years ago. Before that, I used to sell chocolates and confectioneries in a hand-pulled cart in front of a few schools in Kolkata. I tell people not to judge me by my lean frame and underestimate my power, just like a famous movie dialogue that goes, 'Don't underestimate the power of a common man'.

*Brothers in arms
We are the Qureshi brothers, and we are five in number. Together, we are carrying the rich legacy of kebabs of Old Delhi. We have been selling kebabs since our forefathers' time. Guests used to come to our great great grandfather and request for kebabs of a particular part of the goat. He would then slice it, chop it and barbeque it; such was the patience and dedication to fine dining. Gali Kababiyan in Old Delhi is named after our family. Our kebab corner is named after our father,

(HT photo/A Sarwar Borah)

Abdul Gani. I am the eldest (centre in the group photo), my name is Mohd Ajmal and I am 44 years old. My younger brothers are Mohd Amjad, Mohd Arshad, Mohd Irshad and Mohd Salman. Now, my 22-year-old son Md Ajeem has also joined the family business. I brought about certain changes in the recipe to offer healthy kebabs. Our USP is that we use fine quality meat and don't add fat. If guests are keen on enriching the taste, then we add dollops of light butter.

*Let's break bread
I am Mohd Aslam and my bakery - Champions Bakery - is half a century old. During Ramzan, our coconut sheermal is to die for. It is a hot favourite for Sehri. Apart from coconut sheermal, we also bake sweet and milk bread.

(HT photo/A Sarwar Borah)

Now, my son Mohd Anas has also joined the family business. I say, when in Old Delhi, phrases and idioms take a twist; welcome to Champions Bakery, where we don't sell cakes, but hot sheermal.

*Carrying the weight of life
I am Sujit Paswan, a daily wage labourer from Bihar. At night, when the busy lanes of Chandni Chowk turn quiet, it is time for labourers like us to load and unload stuff for packers and movers. I manage to save around Rs 10,000 every month.

(HT photo/A Sarwar Borah)

Regarding Ramzan festivities, I would say when most parts of Old Delhi are busy with festivities, it is duty hour for people like us.

*A date with health food
I, Farid Uz Zaman Khan, was a corporate honcho till some years ago. Now, I bring Ajwa dates from the orchard that was planted by Prophet Mohammed in Medina, Saudi Arabia, to the people of Delhi. Welcome to my shop, Khuloos, the khajoor factory that exclusively sells dates and date-based products.

(HT photo/A Sarwar Borah)

Date is the only fruit that contains seven vitamins and 11 minerals. We sell dates from Rs 120 to Rs 2,800 per kg. I inherited a passionate love for health food from my father, who was an agricultural scientist at Pusa institute.