Profile: Restaurant's 'King' remembered

Family members, coworkers and customers grieve the loss of Ansar, the famous doorman at Pizza Hut.


Rabia Ali November 26, 2011

KARACHI: At the Boat Basin branch of Pizza Hut, a red stool stands unoccupied, a glass door is left ajar, the atmosphere is gloomy and the 3-foot-tall doorman, Ansar Ali, is no longer there to bring a smile to people’s faces.

Ansar spent 12 years greeting people at the entrance of the restaurant. He was murdered on November 19. He and his nephew, Shehzad, were traveling home from a meeting with a magistrate at the city courts when armed men intercepted the rickshaw they were traveling in and opened fire at them.

Though many remember Ansar as an ebullient character who was always cracking jokes and cheering people up, very few would know that he used to spend Thursdays at the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi. Fewer people know that he loved wearing fancy clothes and knew how to say 'hello' in Chinese, Thai and several other languages.

Family:

Pizza Hut's most recognised doorman lived in Hijrat Colony, which was near his workplace. His mother Jalna Begum, was in disbelief. "When he was born, he about the size of my finger," she said. But his small size did not make any difference to the affection that she had for him. "I would massage his legs after he returned from duty," she said. "He was innocent. He was killed by a doctor who accused my grandson for robbing his house. Ansar fought with him and was killed in retaliation," she sobbed.

He dropped out of school after the fourth grade as he was not interested in studies. Ansar's younger brother, Irfan, said that he was saving money to buy a new house. "But he died before he could that," he said.

The family also revealed that Ansar was particular about his clothes. His cupboard was filled with small sherwanis and dress shirts. He used to get his clothes ironed from the dry cleaners and he loved to wear rings, chains and bracelets The said that Ansar was a spiritual person and would spend hours at Ghazi's mazar. He had gone to Sehwan Sharif too.

"On the day he was shot, he had planned to go to the last day of the saints Urs," said Irfan. His family has taken to watching old video footage of him.

Pizza hut:

At the restaurant, Ansar was given the title of 'King' and even his badge had this title printed on it. Just like his home, sadness hung over the restaurant. "He was like our elder brother and was the heart of the restaurant. Children loved him and parents would even schedule birthday parties depending on his availability," said a worker.

Though Ansar's duties were from 1pm till 10pm, he loved his work so much that he would often stay back till 3am, which is the closing time of the restaurant.

A manager, Ali Shabahad Naqvi, said that people were so thrilled by him that they would pictures and kiss his hands.  "Some of them would address Ansar as 'chotu', but he never took anything to heart," he said.

The restaurant said that though it is their culture to greet everyone with a smile, they are finding it hard to do so without Ansar.

The employees at China Town, the place where Ansar worked for eight years before joining Pizza Hut also remembered him. The manager, Kamran Abbasi, said that Ansar kept in touch with them even after he left. "He had learnt how to greet people in Chinese and everyone would be so delighted to see him."

Customers:

Rabayl Manzoor still has the picture of her 11th birthday at her Pizza Hut which shows her friends posing with Ansar. "It is so tragic. Whenever I used to go to Pizza Hut, he would try to make us feel at home."

A student of Szabist, Sorath Shah, said that, "Ansar was a packet of energy. He knew everyone by name. I know that if I celebrate my birthdays at Pizza Hut now, Ansar will not be there to sing Happy Birthday for me. It won't be the same without him."

COMMENTS (8)

Neha | 10 years ago | Reply

Tragic loss!

I pray with all my heart he is in a better place

Amen

umer | 10 years ago | Reply

Pizza hut will be empty withoout you

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