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The unusual hosts at Manmad Junction for Rozedars

August 13, 2010 11:04:14 AM,

The Driving Force

"Allah blessed me a son twelve years after my marriage and I believe it is because of what I am doing for the Rozedars", says Mufeez Shaikh (35), the brain behind the whole idea.

The time for Suhur - the pre-dawn meal Muslims take to begin the fast is always hectic. If one is traveling it won't be easy to search for suitable food to have as Suhur at railway stations. The situation for us was exactly similar recently when we were returning from Mumbai and boarded off the train at Manmad Junction barely half an hour before the time for Suhur was supposed to expire. Literally, we were unable to decide what to do. Suddenly, the speakers on the platforms roared. 'Proceed to Karim Bhai's stall on platform no. 3  if you want to have Suhur...' Initially we could not believe our ears. But then, the announcer repeated the lines twice and even thrice. In next few minutes we were in front of M/s EA Karim & Co.

 

The atmosphere at Karim Bhai's stall was unbelievable. Dozens of people were having the meal. Dozen others with food-packs grabbed in both hands were rushing towards the trains waiting for departure. Everyone was in a hurry, and surprised we were standing doing nothing. It was then that someone pointed towards us and pleaded. "Bhaisaab jaldi baithiye. Time nahi hai.. (Hurry up brother. There is hardly any time left), he said. We were impatient out of curiosity. Yet we stomached the food somehow and began searching for the man behind the entire arrangement.

 

Care Taker?

"Serving the Rozedars this way gives us matchless pleasure", says Zaibunnisa (50), Kadar Bhai's wife, who prepares food with her daughters every night.

Brains behind the Idea

"Outside Manmad Junction four years back during Ramadan I was sitting with Kadar Bhai discussing the difficulties Rozedars face while searching for suitable food to have as Suhur", Mufeez Shaikh recalled. "All of a sudden, Kadar Bhai said, if he gets the materials needed to prepare the food he can arrange for space and required manpower to cook the meal."

 

Mufeez Shaikh is a taxi driver while Kadar Bhai is working at Manmad Junction as contractor. Kadar Bhai's offer energised Mufeez. The next moment he was at work. Kadar Bhai convinced his wife and daughters to help him prepare the food. By 03:30 before dawn that night delicious food was ready for the Rozedars.

 

The idea thus born five years before surprises the new passengers who board off the train at Manmad Junction and rush for Suhur. Slowly the arrangement became so popular that besides the passengers it began attracting people living in nearby areas too.

 

M/s EA Karim...

M/s EA Karim provides the space and staff to assist Mufeez and his freinds. Also, encouraged by the Suhur program, they too organise a mega Iftaar every year on Badi Raat, the 26th of Ramadan.

Mufeez Shaikh and Kadar Bhai are serving around hundred passengers every dawn. And in the menu, they have the food to the choice of everyone. If they have delicious food for others, they also have specially prepared chapatis and sugar-free tea too for diabetics. About the taste of this so lovingly prepared food, passengers usually devour more than the normal, despite the pre-dawn time when one finds it difficult to consume any kind of food.

 

Ramadan Fund

Ask Mufeez how they manage the funds and he replies: "Our work is devoted totally to Allah. We don't ask for donations from anyone. Instead fellow taxi drivers contribute Rs. 200 to 500 every month during the entire year to raise what we called as the Ramadan Fund."

 

To make the going easier for them, however, number of contributors are increasing with every passing year. Earlier, Mufeez and Kadar Bhai were serving the Suhur outside the Manmad Junction. Since last three years, they found a supporter  in M/s EA Karim's owner who provides them not only the space but also his canteen staff to Mufeez and Kadar Bhai duo for the smooth arrangement. The Railway Ministry too is generous. It gave them special permission to use the railway station microphones to guide the Rozedars through timely announcements.

 

So, next time at Manmad Junction during Ramadan, don't get confused if instead of the regular railway announcements you hear about the Suhur being served at M/s EA Karim. Just proceed to the Platform No. 3 and experience the delicious food served with great munificence.

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