The nights are sleeping this Ramzan, bustling South Mumbai feels pain of Pandemic crisis
Mumbai: Every inch of this road is filled with life, people rush-in with friends and families during Ramzan and disappear in the crowd of Mohammed Ali Road. The chirping of young girls while enjoying seekh kebab, burqa clad women lavishly busy in shopping, old women walking in their memory lanes with grand-children holding their hands. This used to be Mohammed Ali Road and Bhendi Bazar in South Mumbai during the holy month of Ramzan.
Each night during Ramzan witnesses millions of stories in the lane of Mohammed Ali Road and Bhendi Bazar of South Mumbai. Ramazan in Islam is ninth month of the Muslim year, lasting 30 days, during which strict fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset.
This Ramzan is totally empty and hollowness is in the lanes and by-lanes of Mohammed Ali Road and Bhendi Bazar as if the road is widowed. This lane is dried up completely due to nationwide lockdown amidst coronavirus. Otherwise in normal times the count down for Eid-Ul-Fitr would have begun with the popular eateries and food stalls would have witnessed the maddening crowd. People have travelled miles to reach for Mohammed Ali Road during Raman. The beauty of this Bhendi Bazar is that it spreads its arms wide open for all religions and tourists all across the world.
Established in 1923 by Abdul Karim, Noor Mohammadi Hotel at Bhendi Bazar is now trying to fulfill demands of food-lovers by giving takeaways. Rashid Karim the owner said,” People are not coming out due to fear. The lights and hustle bustle is a complete miss in this Ramzan. I have not seen Mohammed Ali Road dried up like this ever.”
“There is no business at all now. Many small traders plan business only for Ramzan. Already investments are done in the month of February and this lockdown has dashed the hopes of many small time businessmen,” added Rashid
Bigwigs like Sharad Pawar, Sanjay Dutt, Supriya Sule, Adnan Sami, Salman Khan and Daler Mehndi are among the patrons of the restaurant. M F Husain, a regular, once drew a sketch on the walls to show his love for the Noor Mohammadi Hotel. The fitness enthusiast Shilpa Shettty is also a food lover and had visited during Ramzan for malpua and malaikhaja.
The lanes of Bhendi Bazar, Mohammad Ali Road and Minara Masjid today wear a deserted look. Shahid Ansari a resident of Dongri said, “I used to come with my grandfather to eat phirani ( kheer pudding) and Malpua ( pancakes). Now I come with my children and wife. During last 10-days the shopping from Bhendi Bazar or Mohammed Ali Road is a routine.”
Ajay Tambat a resident from Thane said, “I have less understanding of religion. I went with my college friends during nights of Ramzan to see the happenings in Mohammed Ali Road and Bhendi Bazar. People walk so close to each other but interestingly no body touch. It is asymmetrical area but body symmetry of people as visitors or as the sellers is an experience of lifelong. “
“I took my son to show the maddening crowd in systemic way enjoying. He slurpped chicken Hakim dish and Jalebis from Burhanpur,” added Tambat.
” I had never thought that the area which has several colors and nights can completely get closed. Muezzin from Minara masjid calls out the Isha (night prayers) but none rush to offer their prayers. I had never seen or heard this in my life. People all across rushed to offer this namaz in Minara after Iftar (meal eaten after sunset). It was feeling of bonding and togetherness in Ramzan, “said Ansari.
Shabbir’s Tawakkal Sweets owner Moayyad Mithaiwala said, “The revenue is totally zero in this Ramzan. This year is totally disappointing never had seen or thought Mumbai night life famous in the holy month of Ramzan can be so deserted. The famous food during Ramzan with us Malpua and Phirni.”
Humera Ansari, a home -maker from Bhyculla said,” Ramzan is not just about food and eateries. It is a month to offer prayers for everyone’s wellbeing this year due to pandemic crisis of COVID-19 is tough for all. It is really painful to see all these eateries and food stalls closed but this is the only way to break the chain of coronavirus. “
“Next Ramzan this bustling here will be on all around. The roshani (lights) will be again in Mohammed Ali Road and Bhendi Bazar,” added Humera.