People of Bhendi Bazaar

People of Bhendi Bazaar

The people of Bhendi Bazaar come from varied backgrounds and communities

Keeping with their traditions, they have their respective places of worship and other social engagements; but this diversity has never affected the harmony of this neighbourhood. Majority are followers of Islam with the Dawoodi Bohras being present at large.

Entrepreneurial, inventive, resourceful, and resilient in nature, the people here love this neighbourhood that provides for all their diverse needs. However, as families have grown, the matchbox size homes barely provide habitable space. Women, children, and especially the aged find naturally the shared bathrooms a health hazard. Absence of elevators is another major concern for the elderly and disabled. Light and air barely find their way into these tiny rooms. Living conditions have slowly become dire.

Abdul Hussain

M/s Salebhai Adamji Lakdawala

“When we started, there were about 40 shops in the same business. In 1932, a fire broke out and burned down everything, leaving only four shops standing. Mine is one of these shops. I sell packaging wood. My children didn’t take up my business; they pursued engineering instead. Someday, they might. Until then, I’ll run the business my grandfather started. I come to Bhendi Bazaar every day. I came here because this is where I belong. Here is where I’ve always belonged.”

Haji Mohammed Zaheer

Indian Hotel

“Some 25-30 years ago, I used to have a shop in Jogeshwari, but due to the riots between Hindus and Muslims, I had to move to Bhendi Bazaar. It’s been over 20 years since I set up my restaurant here. Setting up my restaurant in Bhendi Bazaar was convenient as it’s a Muslim area. By God’s grace, business here has always been very good. Today, Bhendi Bazaar is crumbling, and the redevelopment is like a ray of hope. We will have better buildings, and better roads. This will, in turn, attract more people to this location, and business will flourish like never before.”

Aziz Noorani

Imdadiya Bakery

“I came to Mumbai from Gujarat some 30 years ago. Initially, I used to live around here, but when I had a family, I moved to Dahisar into a bigger house. I don’t own this bakery; I just work here. But I’ve been loyal to the owner and Bhendi Bazaar. This place has always been welcoming. It has been so welcoming that it’s overcrowded now. I don’t live here, but the living conditions have deteriorated over the years. We expect this to change once the project materializes. There’s something about Bhendi Bazaar – you will never get tired of this place.”

Fakhruddin Mithaiwala

Fakhri Farsan Mart

“I took over my grandfather’s business six years ago. Since then, I’ve introduced branding & packaging for all our 101 food items, but things have changed. Earlier, we had people visiting our store every day; now, they visit us once a week or once a month. We’ve been here long enough to have an emotional connection with Bhendi Bazaar. I’m doing the best I can to ensure my business advances and makes it easy for my children to run it when they come of age. I believe this project should make it happen.”

Usman bhai

Imam Sharbatwala

“My family has been here from the start. When I was young, I used to help my uncle to run his shop, and eventually, I took over his work. With God’s grace today, it has been more than 50 years since we have had a shop here in Bhendi Bazaar. The time spent over here in Bhendi Bazaar has been extremely good. It’s only because of His love and grace that this would have been accomplished. I’m hoping the redevelopment project will prove beneficial to us.”

Mohammed Kamruddin

“I live in Bhendi Bazaar with my brothers and sisters. We’re born and raised in this holy place. I also get to make new friends every day with people from across the world who come to offer their prayers at the Darga. How many people, do you think, have the privilege of being born around ‘Raudat Tahera (Darga)’? Now Bhendi Bazaar is crumbling. But then we all know about the redevelopment plan. It is good. They are making a new society, everyone will get a bigger place to live. By the grace of God, after the redevelopment, I am sure it’s not just going to be good, but very good. I am never going to leave this holy place for anything in this world. I will always be a phoolwala in Bhendi Bazaar.”

A. K. Zainuddin & Co

“My father used to work in this shop in 1939. Those days we used to deal in victorias for British people, which was a very old market in India during the 2nd World War. Due to inflation, my parents told their boss to increase salary which was not increased. So my parents left along with my uncle and started this foam shop. Four generations have passed now since we are running this business. Most of us have spent our entire life in this mohalla. I shifted from Bhendi Bazaar to Mumbai Central still if I want a loaf of bread I come to Bhendi Bazaar. People are used to staying in this locality. Although it is small, congested, and dirty, we have to take these conditions in our stride. Still, this is home to many families. From the business point of view, thanks to this location, we have always seen growth and it has been maintained. People always come and buy something. The redevelopment of this area is going to be a huge task and will improve many lives. After the redevelopment is complete, we plan to expand our business into house furnishing as well.”

Mansoor Mithaiwala

“I don’t live in Bhendi Bazaar, but I come here every day to run a business my grandfather started 70 years ago. We do have a Mithai shop in Mazgaon as well, but the outlet in Bhendi Bazaar is the most popular. It’s been two years since I’ve started looking after the business and I’ve realized that it’s not faring that well. In some years, Bhendi Bazaar is going to turn into a tourist spot in Mumbai with the redevelopment coming along. It simply means that there will be more people coming to Bhendi Bazaar, and businesses will flourish too. It’s a very good project and is meant for the well-being of the people as well as businesses. I will always remember Bhendi Bazaar as a holy place.”

Jivraj Jain

“I opened my utensil shop around 40 to 45 years ago in Bhendi Bazaar. In the beginning, there wasn’t really anything over here. Everything was very simple; one customer a day was more than enough. Later on, things started improving. We used to get gold and copper in a horse cart from outside and sell it over here to customers. Business was great then. It is not like how it used to be before. We’ve spent too many years in Bhendi Bazaar to get out of this place. There is no other place as safe as Bhendi Bazaar and nowhere will I find the same lovely people. We’re looking forward to many better years once the Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment is complete.”

Yusuf Tajbhai

“Our shop has been here for the last 125 years. We have supplied ice cream during the 2nd World War as well. Business has been really good. Our speciality is that we create handmade ice cream and do not use any kind of machinery or artificial flavour. Machinery is everywhere; handmade ice cream is rare. It’s like a heritage for us now. We would like to continue the heritage. People should know how the real ice cream tastes like. I was born here and also grew up here only. There is a lot of difference between the old days and now; there has been a tremendous increase in population, and it’s become dirtier. Right now, the living conditions are bad. People are living in 100 sq. feet homes, the shops are not organized. Once the redevelopment is complete, we are hoping that the business will increase & improve. When the high street shopping will come, it will be a very organized environment. And when the environment is organized, things also turn out nice and good.”

Altaf Hussain

“I started working at Bhendi Bazaar at least 35 years ago at a salary of Rs 7 per month. Everything was convenient; everything still is. Luckily, I have an amazing boss. We hear about this redevelopment project. Some say it’s good, some say otherwise. If this happens, we will go elsewhere and work harder. And we will come back when the redevelopment is complete. There is no place like Bhendi Bazaar, and this 80-year-old tandoori business will not work anywhere else in Mumbai city like it does here. I am still here and will always be.”