On the NH10 highway, between Delhi and Rohtak, lies the No. 1 Fauji Dhaba. Mr Rajesh Malik, who is behind it, runs it as more than just a business.
The Dhaba is a popular food and rest stop for travellers. Apart from the delicious and hygienic food, there is also a sense of humanity that pulls people to it.
The Fauji Dhaba does not accept a payment from customers who are aged over 70 years. On certain days, buses from nearby towns and villages, filled with senior citizens who are headed to Delhi for cataract operations, stop at this place, and all of them are fed free of cost, with a big heart and an unquestionable hospitality.
The Dhaba, which is located near the village Kharawar lies about 10 Km away from Rohtak. It was earlier located, across the road from the famous Hanuman mandir on the highway. But because of the Government acquiring the land for broadening the highway, it was shifted about a Km away from its original location, in the year 2010.
The Government paid Mr Malik an amount of Rs. 10 lakhs as compensation, though the shift ended up costing him more than Rs. 50 lakhs. Though the loss of money did not make Mr Malik lose his values and morals, and that has helped him rebuild the place, bigger and better than ever.
The Dhaba has become a popular figure of goodwill amongst many. Apart from its motto of serving free food to the old, it also has a reputation as a safeguard amongst drivers. The Dhaba always keeps a spare car stowed in case there is a nearby emergency or a breakdown, where it could come in use.
When we asked Mr Rajesh Malik about the origin of the name of the Dhaba, we learnt that there lies honour behind it as well. “The name, Fauji (soldier) was used as a tribute to my uncle, who had passed away as a martyr, fighting the war in Bangladesh, in 1971,” Mr Malik tells us.
After the immense popularity of the Dhaba, many other Dhabas also called “Fauji Dhaba” have sprouted along the highway. But, truly in every sense, this Fauji Dhaba is and will remain the “No. 1 Fauji Dhaba”.