He takes forward the legacy of quenching thirst
Shahnawaz Khan was a body builder, a man with a huge heart and was into brick business. My friendship dates back to 1968. I take it as my duty to continue the good work that he left behind, says L Ramakrishna at the free water stall Samundar at Mehdipatnam.
Hyderabad: “Shahnawaz Khan was a body builder, a man with a huge heart and was into brick business. My friendship dates back to 1968. I take it as my duty to continue the good work that he left behind,” says L Ramakrishna at the free water stall ‘Samundar’ at Mehdipatnam.
- In what can be termed as a true example of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb, Ramakrishna, a friend of late Shahnawaz Khan who started serving chilled water at Mehdipatnam 43 summers ago, is continuing the tradition
On an average, 50,000 people consume chilled water in clean glasses from the 180 pots neatly stacked at Mehdipatnam bus stop close to Rythu Bazaar. The floating population is about 60,000 to 80,000 but when Shahnawaz Khan started the service four decades ago, 25 pots were enough.
It has been two years since Shahnawaz died and people at Humayan Nagar where he hailed from and old timers at Mehdipatnam thought the service would be discontinued but Ramakrishna, Shahnawaz’s family members and friends made sure that the tradition continues. Every day the group of friends work in shifts to make sure that water is served all day long.
The service starts at 9 am and continues till 9 pm. Shafeeq, Mohammed Shareef, Omer, Reddy, Saleem and Ramakrishna work in tandem and six people are employed to help out. The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSS&B) has been supplying four water tankers for the last 20 years but this year they were reluctant due to water shortage.
It was only after the intervention of a former MLC that they finally relented, says Shafi, a friend of the late Shahnawaz. Ramakrishna spends Rs 5,000 every week while others chip in. Shahnawaz’s son is abroad but family sponsored the tent this year. Unlike free water service in other parts of the city, water is filtered and small pieces of stones are put between pots.
Water filters located at strategic points help keep the water cool and the waste water is let into pipes that get into the drainage, making sure the place does not get water logged. Shahnawaz called the centre Samundar as he felt that ocean would never dry up and the centre too should quench the thirst of people when they need it most in summer.
It has been 43 years now that the people of Hyderabad have been benefitting the benevolence of a man who started it all and the tradition it seems would continue for many summers to come.