‘Iftar’ food has never been a different affair in any Ramazan. With no safeguards in place roadside food stalls and restaurants appear to be a sure success. In spite of all the city father’s claims about controlled prices and hygienic food, they continue to produce and sell contaminated food in very hygienic conditions and at very unreasonable rates.
There has been no break in assorted food businesses at Pindi roadsides. An hour before ‘Iftar’ people start rushing toward crowded roadside restaurants and stalls. From afar wafts the mouth-watering smell of snacks being fried, and absorbed in the delight of eating sizzling ‘Samosas’, ‘Katchoories’ and ‘Pakoras’ are the ‘Rozadaars’.
“Most people get sick with the dirty substances from their silvery plates and glasses. They typically keep a container of water to rinse the plates off. This water is used over and over again and normally is very greasy. From here most illness is picked up,” says Doctor Shahnawaz from a local hospital.
“What people don’t pay attention to is the dirtiness at the place they eat hot tangy food from, thereby inviting harm. Complaints of higher cholesterol level, chest pain, and acidity are higher in Ramazan. Having lost the discipline in eating and opened themselves up entirely to the concept of eating out, people have been left with no other option than to spend as much on treating their ailments,” says Ahmad Ali, another doctor.
“One can monitor the way the roadside stalls and makeshift restaurants prepare the food. Every evening, they set up plastic tables on the grimy roadside to serve up dishes, drawing an orderly crowd. Already used oil is carefully preserved for regular use, while the cooks’ unclean condition adds extra gourmet flavour to the food,” says Hameed Sheikh, a trader at Saidpur Road. After ‘Iftar’, a friend of mine generally complains of a burning sensation in the chest. When somebody enquires about his ailment, with his mouth stuffed with the peppery hot ‘Samosa’, he replies in the positive blaming the condition on the cook. “Maybe he uses a lot of spicy powder. That’s the reason for my current state. Otherwise I would be healthy,” he says and then goes on to devour another ‘Pakora’.
“As a precautionary measure against the spread of gastroenteritis, the authorities can at least keep control if not impose a ban on the scale and sale of the roadside food,” says a customer standing by a ‘Pakora’ stall at Sir Syed Chowk. “One has to pass by these roadside stalls to discover the popularity they have among the general public. What people easily overlook in that instant urge to whet their appetite is the consequence, the effect that food prepared un-hygienically could have on their health. And why would the stall owners want to spend a huge sum on good quality oil, when they can make do with a lesser quality, especially when people don’t mind,” remarked a bakery owner in Saddar.
Go to Commercial Market Satellite Town, Raja Bazaar, any stall on Murree Road or Pirwadhai or anywhere in the city the ‘Iftar’ items are sold in the open, with the result that germs and microbes feast on these items making them more “flavoursome”, so to speak. And people too continue to eat these delicious and lip-smacking items despite the entire news buzz created about unhygienic food. The month of Ramazan arrives in the midst of such craze for ‘bazaari’ food.