A doctorate dhabawala gets invited to Rashtrapati Bhavan

A doctorate dhabawala gets invited to Rashtrapati Bhavan


He is recognised by his friends, family as well students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as ‘Mamu’.

 Everyone knows he is a ‘rebel’ because instead of opting to be a lecturer in any University or work in a prestigious company, he decided to be a dhabhawala. A PhD in Urdu from JNU, this dhabawala, whose goes by the moniker Dr Mohammed Shahzad Ibrahimi was one amongst the select gathering of 4,000 people who were invited for the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan. 

When he received a call from the BJP party office, he didn’t think there was anything special about it. “I thought everybody must be easily getting the invitation card. At that time I had no clue that only 4,000 cards were being sent out for the ceremony. Invitations to the politicians and businessmen were very much expected, but I don’t stand among these people, still I was a part of it,” says Ibrahimi in his distinct Bihari accent.

The moment you get used to his way of speaking, he cracks a joke. “I saw Hema Malini sitting in front of me. It reminded me of her character and the famous lines from Sholay,” Mamu bursts into laughter but also confesses “Honestly, it was an amazing moment of my life. It was the people around me who made me realise the importance of this card.”

Ibrahimi says he has no personal connect with Prime Minister Modi. It was his quote for one of the news channels that brought him this glory. “From last one-and-a-half years I have been talking about Modiji. He was a successful politician at the district and state level. He has carved a niche for himself, so it was time for him to work at the national level. I think he must have heard my views and must be amazed that he has one Muslim supporter, especially at the time he had not even been named as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate,” Ibrahimi says.

Mamu has been in the news for years and not surprising why. A doctorate running a dhaba is heard of very rarely. He talks about his love for cooking. 

“I don’t doubt but every person is attached to his mother. I too loved my mother very much. I used to follow her constantly even when she was in the kitchen. I used to sit with her while she cooked food on a traditional chullah,” he recalls. That was the beginning of Ibrahimi’s inclination towards cooking. But his father didn’t like it and so he was sent to a madrasa. “I used to cook food there also,” he exclaims. He reached Patna for his graduation and continued cooking for his friends. He followed his passion even when he reached JNU.

“One day the hostel mess was closed and I cooked food for 300 students. That experience gave me the courage to consider cooking as a business,” says Ibrahimi. But before that he worked as a correspondent for a TV channel. He left it and got permission from JNU authorities to start a dhaba within the campus. 

“They were sceptical about it because I was a doctorate from the same university. I worked hard, had no co-worker with me. My wife and I used to work day and night and we were given a larger space by the University,” he says. 

Since then he is serving authentic Bihari and North Indian food in the campus and is the proud owner of another canteen in a private university too.