Ramadan 2021: Always on the go, Dubai cabbie orders same Iftar daily
Jafarbhai hasn’t been home for more than two and a half years because of the raging Covid outbreak.
No fancy table is laid out, or an assortment of food and juices served. Usually, no plate or cutlery is available. For the last 17 years, Jafarbhai Sadiq Abdul Rehman, a taxi driver in Dubai, has been ending his fast in his taxi, with a sip of water and a bite into a couple of dates.
“I carry a bottle of water and a couple of dates in a bag with me during the holy month of Ramadan. That’s all the time I have. There are always customers waiting, looking for a ride, many hoping to reach home before Iftar to end their fast with their loved ones. Some politely ask me to drive fast, but a few are a bit rude, too. It’s all part of a day’s job, but people in Dubai are by and large nice and kind. During pre-Covid-19 times, many would even offer sweets, snacks, and meals, but not now,” said Jafarbhai, while waiting outside a restaurant for his food parcel.
He is getting his usual order packed — south Indian thali that comes with sambhar, rice, rasam, poppadom, a few curry dishes, and sweets. “Nine out of 10 times, this is what I order. I don’t have to look at the menu and waste time. I manage to save both time and money by ordering the staple south Indian thali,” said Jafarbhai.
“We’re here to work for our families. I have two children — a daughter and a son, who are three and eight years old, respectively — and my wife back home. I want to provide them with a comfortable life, so I spend a limited amount on my food.”
Jafarbhai hasn’t been home for more than two and a half years because of the raging Covid-19 outbreak. Despite the suspension of flights from India to the UAE, he was all set to fly to Chennai to mark Eid Al Fitr with his family, for the first time in 17 years.
“I’ve been saving money to buy gifts for them. Food is just a means of sustenance for me. The taste differs across outlets, but you cannot compare that with home-cooked food. That is a luxury, which people like me can afford only on trips back home,” said Jafarbhai with a smile on his face.
“The pandemic has disrupted lives and businesses. But I didn’t stop driving. Even at the peak of the viral outbreak, I was ferrying passengers without any hesitation. The Dubai Government was prompt at taking several health initiatives. Taxis had plastic barrier protections, and even now there are restrictions on the number of passengers that can be seated. I’ve taken the Covid-19 jab, and now when I go home, I’ll ensure my mother and wife get it, too,” he said.
As he took his Iftar order, he couldn’t help but think of the next time he would be sharing a meal with his family. “I will eat it in a while, perhaps near the beach, if I get time. I have to pick someone from The Villa and drop him at new Dubai. I love the sound of waves. And maybe, I’ll have a meal with my family on the beach when I’m back home.”
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