Washington, DC – Legendary Chedi passed away end of March after battling kidney failure, leaving behind an unparalleled legacy for his family, his friends and all the students of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur whose lives he enriched since 1961 till date.
Born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, Chedi (Anwar Khan) as a teenager accompanied his father Late Mohammed Raja Khan to the IIT Kharagpur under construction site where he started his little shop in 1961 and never stopped serving the students of the institute till a few months before his death. Even after his death, the shop opened at 3am as his grandson punctually opened the gates.
Ayush Gautam, a second year student from RK Hall paid a visit at 3 am the night after Chedi’s death and noted, “I went to Chedi’s at 3, and it opened at its usual timing. I went there and his grandson was sleeping on one of the tables inside the hotel. He woke up at 3, while other servants already kept everything ready to start serving the hot tea. Chedi’s grandson woke up, went to his table, we paid him for 2 cups of tea and walked away remembering the old man who was successful in continuing the legacy even after he passed away.”
“3 AM, an empty stomach, a hot glass of tea and unending sessions of ‘bhaat’. Chedi’s, is the place that has an inseparable association with every KGPian’s life. RIP Chedi da. You will be missed. We would like to express our condolences to the family and hope that the restaurant would continue to flourish in the years to come,” Gautam added.
Mridul Pant, another present-day student in RP Hall wrote, “This man created memorable times for almost everyone at IIT KGP. He was more than a hotel owner. Thanks for all the Night Outs, Chai, Maggi, Tinku (a sliced bun stuffed with fried egg) and most importantly smiles and laughter we students shared at Chedi’s every time. RIP Chedi Da.”
Having very personal fond memories of Chedi’s during and after my stay at IIT Kharagpur, tears welled up in my eyes as I heard the news and then called his younger son Mukhtar Khan to offer my condolences. Khan said, “My papa devoted his life to the family and we are so grateful to IIT students past and present for their continued support.”
As the news of Chedi’s death spread, the reverence and affection in the messages from IITians around the world was evident in their memories.
Ashok Srivastava (66 batch) was probably the last IITian to pay a visit to Chedi as he lay ailing and he shared the experience, “On March 24, I went to Chedi’s Residence. I was able to meet our old iconic Chedi. He greeted me very warmly. He was not in good health. His both kidneys had collapsed. He was not able to withstand dialysis. He was lying in his bed. He sat down to greet me. He kept showering his love on me. It was such a wonderful meeting. Only thing I did not know then that it was our last meeting. On March 30, I got a call that he passed away at 8 am. May his soul rest in heaven!”
This message was spread by Arjun Malhotra (70 batch) saying, “with great regret and a heavy heart that I inform all of you that Chedi passed away at 8am this morning at Kharagpur.”
Calling Chedi “an institution” Malhotra added, “I can honestly say that if it was not for his bun omelets and Alu and Veg Chops and the monthly credit he extended, my life on campus would have been very different as would have been my diet.”
“I just wish I had called last night instead of this morning as I may have had a chance to talk to him,” lamented Malhotra, adding, “We see pieces of our past slipping away from us. Should encourage us to interact more with our friends and people we care about.”
“Very sad news. In my final year in 1966 at RK Hall, a few of us stayed back to complete our dissertation (mine was ‘electric power transmission’). The mess hall was closed because all other students had gone home for the holidays. During those 10 days, any scraps of food would be welcome but we looked forward to go to Chedi like a nomad to an Oasis,” shared Gulab Bhavnani (66 batch).
“When you are hungry at night, and there is no food in the hall, Chedi’s pyajee were like gourmet food,” noted Vinod Gupta (67 batch).
“He was an integral part of the fabric of IIT KGP student life. May his soul RIP,” wrote Roy da Silva.
“We all were initiated to Chedi’s in the ragging period. I remember Avinash as our saviour to give us a treat after a good bout of climbing to Mussorie. Incentive of free grub and Mandy’s stories made it easier to digest,” recollected Sanjiv Tipnis (81 batch).
“Compared to hall food Chedi’s was fine dining restaurant … served under moonlit night! RIP Chedis,” said Rakesh Gupta (86 batch)
Shyama P Mandal (85 batch) said, “Familiarity of two names Chedi and Tarapado would invariably associate a generation of people with IIT, KGP. Tarapado was behind the scene, but Chedi provided ‘fast food’ at odd hours when one desperately needed to get going with the IIT life. The fact that Chedi is remembered fondly by so many speaks of his service without getting involved in student/campus life or being judgmental about the customers.”
“The history of Life@IIT Kharagpur will be incomplete without a mention of dear Chedi. It was an Adda where we solved a large number of social issues, sorted our differences, planned strategy and gymkhana elections. It was over a cup of chai at Chedi’s where the TDS people used to get the ideas for the next plays. I think it wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I call Chedi’s Adda as an Idea Generation Center. RIP Chedi. You will be always remembered.” Veerendra K. Jaitly (79 batch).
“Friends sorry to hear Chedi passed away. May his soul rest in peace. I will always remember sweet French Toast of the master chef Chedi’s,” said Upendra Singh (82 batch).
“Chedi’s had been witness to the various extra academic activities and the learning process we had been through. He never let us feel lonely, neither did he interrupt us in our pleasure trips. Instead he always helped those who were unable to walk back. There are sooooo… many memories attached to Chhedi’s. RIP….!!” wrote Karun K Majumdar.
“My first memory of Chedi’s was that of “after ragging” treat by the senior. Senior’s dreaded command to become ‘Phantom’ while waiting for the french toast. Then undress on the side of the road (there is no other way to wear the undies over the trousers). Scurry for cover if a truck with powerful headlight passed by at that unearthly hour!! After that Chedi consoled the fresher also “Kuch hi dino ki baat hai’. RIP Chedi,” remembered B Ghosh (84 batch).
“God bless Chedi. Let his soul rest in peace. He has no idea how many brilliant guys are all over the world. And he played a big role in creating this brilliance. Chedi was for whole of IIT in particular and new campus in general. The famous saying EDIKE, ODIKE NA CHEDIKE is still valid,” said Pushy (Anjan).
The eulogies and remembrances don’t stop with thousands of alumni and present-day students but Nilima Nigam, one of the daughters of a KGPian also wrote: “My sincerest condolences. Chedi’s was the very first place I had chai at, after arriving at KGP. I sat there with my father, who used to have a ‘khaataa’ with Chedi bhai back when he was a student in RP. He took me to this very very special place, and Chedi bhai instantly recognized him. His warmth and generosity will be missed.”
Since getting out of IIT Kharagpur, whenever I have returned to the campus from within India, from Europe, and now from the US, I religiously stop and pay my respects at Chedi’s which has now become the holiest shrine after his passing away. His nonjudgmental attitude went a long way to soothe frayed nerves and different mood swings of student life.
My batch mate and wing mate in RK Hall, Manoj Chugh (82 batch) aptly put our feelings in words: “With Chedi no more, an era has come to an end. The years of laughter, fun, frolic and lifetime friendships blossomed in his midst. Our first all nighters and the breathtaking sunrise brought many of us together. The comforting umpteen cups of tea and unforgettable bread omelette, Chedi’s will live in our hearts forever.”
Chedi is survived by his ailing wife (Noorjehan Begum), four sons (Haider, Akhtar, Firoz & Mukhtar) and three daughters (Asma, Shamima, Salma).