City Obituary – Restaurant Captain Shamshad Ahmad, Chor Bizarre, Hotel Broadway
The passing of a nice man.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
A legend in his own right, this discreet Delhi restaurant captain more than merely rubbed shoulders with the favoured and famous.
Shamshad Ahmad, who died recently, presided over Chor Bizzare, a Kashmiri eatery, in a career launched in 1991 as a waiter. Eventually he supervised a dozen stewards working under his gentle but exacting leadership.
Ever-polite and excessively formal, his voice exuded gravitas when he shared with The Delhi Walla charming stories about luminaries who chose to dine at the Central Delhi restaurant.
Once he recalled the impeccable manners of the late film actor Shashi Kapoor who instructed: “Do serve me anything you like but please serve from the heart.” Another time Mr Ahmad dealt with the luncheon visit of Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif in 1991, who’d come to Delhi for the funeral of Rajiv Gandhi.
Author Nilanjana Roy tells me that the famed captain would chat with her about Delhi cooking and much else, in his distinctive voice that conveyed knowledgeability.
“He was really a very soft man,” recalls waiter Nadeem Ahmad. “If one of us made a mistake while serving a guest he’d discreetly take control of the situation. Later, he’d very calmly and patiently help us understand where we erred.”
Mr Ahmad succumbed to a heart attack last month, at age 67, while attending a wedding in his hometown in UP. He was brought back and buried at Noor e Ilahi qabristan in Bhajanpura where he lived. He is survived by three children and his wife, Manovri Begum.
“The restaurant of course couldn’t close, and we were working the day after he passed away,” waiter Sagar says. “We smiled and greeted the customers as always but felt sadness in our hearts.”