The expat community in Qatar is mourning the death of long time resident of Qatar and one of the owners of the Al Salihiya Restaurant (Muntazah), Velutha Parambath Soopi Haji, who had been living in Qatar for decades. He passed away at the age of 70 in India on 27 July 2020 where he was undergoing treatment for cancer for the last few months in Ummathur in Kerala's Kozhikode district, according to the Gulf Times.
Haji started his career in the late 1970s as a businessman with the Salihiya Restaurant, commonly known as the 'Taxi Hotel' by those who frequent it; the restaurant was originally started by his father in 1972. Haji was a simple, dedicated man with high moral values and ran the 'Taxi Hotel' for decades, which was loved by many, especially Qatar's low-income workers who could get a good meal at bargain prices.
The name 'Taxi Hotel' comes from the fact that the place was very popular among cab drivers who would pop in for a bite to eat on their breaks. With time and because it had such delicious food and bargain prices, many people starting visiting and the restaurant soon became the go-to place for many residents especially if they wanted something to eat an any odd hour of the day or night. Friends of Haji reminisce about how no one was ever denied food at the 'Taxi Hotel' regardless of whether they could pay for it or not.
Muneer Puthiyapurayil, the Manager of the 'Taxi Hotel' remembered Haji fondly with these words:
“The restaurant turned out to be a hub for taxi drivers as it provided food at affordable rates through the day. Haji wanted to help the underprivileged get quality food round the clock. He never compromised when it came to the quality of food.”
Puthiyapurayil also added:
"He (Haji) was helpful and also wanted all of us to lend a helping hand to the needy. He used to remind us to serve food at minimum prices and ensure all are served well. The restaurant remains a busy place, where taxi drivers and others come in large numbers to eat. This bears testimony to the virtues of Haji."
Haji was a very kind man and always there for those in need. He spent most of his life helping people and showing kindness, as is endorsed by Qatar-based businessman and a member of the Kerala legislative assembly, Parakkal Abdulla, who had this to say about the late Haji:
"For him, life in Qatar was all about dedication, helping others and showing kindness.
“He was glad to serve whenever social workers approached him seeking help. The late-1980s witnessed an influx of expatriates to Qatar. He served needy expatriates by helping them find jobs.”
Haji went to India about eight months ago and wasn't able to return to Doha because of his illness. He was buried in the Parakkadavu mosque grounds, and is survived by his wife Fathima, sons Jaleel and Haris, and daughters Jaseena and Sumayya.
Cover image credit: Gulf Times
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