Hotel Al-Habibi, Dhanmandi: The BDR mutiny has been the cause of many a tragedy. The BDR Annual Officer's Gala has been postponed till April, which is the projected time frame for justice being achieved. Abahani's fans have missed out on watching their favorite football team practice. Beautiful women put up black ribbons on their Facebook pictures, stopping me, Akkel Khan, from adding them as friends and calling them "saxxy". In short, Dhaka—and especially Dhanmandi—was taken back to a time in the past, when bloodshed and violence was the norm. We are of course talking about 1998, before Dhanmandi Lake was restored and the romantics regained their dating spot.
But every cloud has a silver lining, and today Joruri Khobor is doing an article on Hotel Al-Habibi, favorite dining spot of stars and CNG drivers alike. Why are we ignoring serious political issues to talk about a roadside kabab store? Perhaps it is because we owe the owner money, or perhaps it is because they have found a unique business model and menu selection!
Mr. Rushtom Arefeen Regan, sole proprietor of Hotel Al-Habibi, says: "We first came into business in the year 2000. We found a niche in the market. We sold kababs that were so cheap that people would never question their sourcing. Rather, they would enjoy the fine taste of our spice blend and refer their friends to come partake in the novel dining experience." Mr. Regan's business model has definitely succeeded, because he began as a single chef toiling away above an open drain, and now he employs seven children.
"People see it as a sort of challenge, to guess at the content of our kababs. Because face it, how can a man, no matter how noble his thought, sell a kabab at 1 Taka per kabab when even the ruti is 2 Takas?" Mr. Regan asks. In fact, the mystery ingredient has become such a point of discussion that, for a period of a year, Mr. Regan held a weekly contest where the person to guess the secret ingredient in the kabab would get free kababs for the night. "People thought dung and rat were joke entries. All I'm saying was, a little bit of Monica in my life, a little bit of Erica by my side." The contest was discontinued once the public realized that Stoplite, Hotel Al-Habibi's advertising agency, always designed the questionnaires with things like "love" and "talent" and "hard work" as the winning answer.
Today, however, Mr. Arefeen Regan has a new secret ingredient. “Any Tom, Doulat and Hashem can tell you that the first thing to do with a corpse is to check for watches, rings, precious metal teeth, and in some cases, boots. But real entrepreneurship begins in taking a resource that is worthless to the supplier, and turning it into a product that is highly valued by consumers. To this end, I have found a novel and profitable way to dispose of the sudden surplus of corpses flooding the market.”
Most of Hotel Al-Habibi’s patrons are willing to eat rat for the novelty and spicy taste of a 1 Taka kabab, but most of the hobbyists are drawing the line at cannibalism. “I don’t get it, man!” says Bassbaba Sumon, celebrity endorser. “I like finger food as much as the next homie, but I don’t want fingers in my food yo!”
In response, Rushtom Arefeen Regan has made the following argument: “Well, I am not the one producing corpses. They can be found in ditches, in the sewers, in the riverbanks. I am simply taking a publicly available resource and reusing it for the greater good. If you don’t want to eat it, that’s fine. But we’ve been able to drop prices by 50% and business has never been better.”
PICTURED: Do you really want us to go there?