26 Jul 2011

Sheik Memon Road (Zaveri Bazaar)

Zaveri Bazaar...as the Gateway to Mumbai.

These are some extra shots and views from "I am not scared, I am not shocked, I don’t feel anything", Notes from Mumba Devi jalebiwala, Zaveri Bazaar by Aastha Atray Banan in Tehelka.

Two days after the blasts in Zaveri Bazaar, Aastha and me found ourselves in Zaveri Bazaar as she tried to feel the pulse of this bazaar which gets bombed repeatedly. The Khau Galli, with its crowd is the usual target and it was still boarded up. Along with the stores that line the lanes that make up the Bazaar. However, life must go on and the Mumba Devi temple, the one that lends its name to the city of Mumbai, was open and devotees were streaming in as usual. Next to the shrine is a 104-year-old marwadi jalebi-papdi centre called Mumba Devi Jalebiwala open for business as usual. The large kadai boiling with fat, fresh jalebis being made like as always.

The local customers were all there too. The shops may be boarded up, but stomachs here are strong, they are not easily disturbed by indigestible happenings a couple of days back. They had more than a few things to say, and you can read it in Aastha's article here:
"I am not scared, I am not shocked, I don’t feel anything"

But this blog post it about something else. It's about how these Mumbaikars reached Mumbai.

Zaveri Bazaar...as the Gateway to Mumbai.

The stories of the people we met in Mumba Devi Jalebiwala gives an interesting look into how we migrate to cities. It's a story we all know. It's a story we are part of. And most of us know some one in our family who brought us to the city.

There's an often told joke about how Neil Armstrong reaches the moon only to be greeted by a Malabari Kaka Tea Stall. It's a true story. We have a knack at going unnoticed.

It's also true that and he could be from any part of India. Malabari, Kutchi, Punjabi or Bihari. Every community has a bunch of pioneers who scout and pitch the first tent. And then the migration chain starts working its own colonising magic.

Zaveri Bazaarwalla Rajendra Shah's father was the pioneer from his village in North Gujarat. He came here in the 1930s and set up business. For help, he brought his relatives and friends from the village and it continues to this day. Since 1950s, when Rajendra Shah has been helping his father and then took over the business, no less that 150 people have come to Mumbai through this shop.

This is a tiny Gateway to India.

Even today, Rajendra Shah has a room next to his shop for young men from his village come and stay before they grow roots and settle down in Mumbai. And I assume, bring in more people.

Rajendra Shah's shop and the room next door.

The other person we spoke to at length, Kalim Siddiqui, also has a similar tale. Another Mumbaikar originally from a village. Like most migrants to the city, it is not a lonely experience for him. He came when he was 5 along with his father and now he's here with 40 brothers who form the Biradari, working in the city. They have a seemingly impossible job of extracting gold and silver from discarded rakhis tied during Raksha Bandhan. Raksha Bandhan, a very bhai-behen Hindu religion forms their financial raksha bandhan. The extended family one brings along is the balm for the tough lives they lead.

I moved to Mumbai through a social network too. It was thanks to a college friend that I came here from Bangalore to try my luck in advertising. Two of my friends from college were working in advertising too. But unlike these men, I haven't started a chain, which shows that I'm a social misfit. It's because I'm from another city. But I know several who have. For example, my father, who lives in Bangalore started a chain.

While Rajendra Shah was talking. I was imagining Shah's father, going back to his village in North Gujarat in 1931 as the boy who went to Mumbai returned a man. I'm imagining the village boys singing,

Bambai se aaya mera dost
Dost ko salaam karo
Raat ko khao peeyo
Din Ko aaram Karo.

The boys of the village who had 24/7 jobs taking care of the fields and cattle saw him sleeping off the Mumbai sleeplessness and were mesmerised by the reflections of the big city lights in his eyes and following him to the city on Gujarat Mail.

I imagine that's how it works even today.


Anonymous said...

I hope you have seen Mondays Loksatta. You blog has appeared in an review article. The author has insulted you for no reasons. You may Like to go on Loksatta Mumbai, MOnday Edition, "Vachave Netake"

Anonymous said...

The son of a bitch wirter says, you buy clothes from Linking road.. etc.. very funny quotes


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