A few metres away from Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Nagar station is Sardar Nagar in Sion which has managed to retain its old charm and glimpses from the past.
Named after political leader Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the land was once home to industrial workers who rented houses in chawls and stayed there for years. From vegetable sellers on the side of the road to chaotic streets during peak hours, the colony is filled with extended residential complexes, narrow sidelanes and residents living in the area for fifty years or more.
What keeps them glued to this village-cum-colony is the old charm of this place. “From noisy fish markets to the quintessential style of the buildings, Sardar Nagar is still the same as it was fifty years ago. There is one Goddess temple up on the hill where people have been practising jagaran on Saturdays, for years. Apart from that , many old shop owners continue to reside here,” said Kamal Kataria, a resident.
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At least three generations of the Kataria family has watched Sardar Nagar emerge from a rough past. Though development work is at a snail’s pace, the strategic distance of the colony from the town and the western suburbs is what motivates many to not move.
“Sardar Nagar is a five-ten minutes distance from GTB station. We are not that far from town and neither from the suburbs, including Bandra and Andheri. Also, educational and religious institutions are closer from this place.This is the reason why despite repeated attempts old residents have refused to move from here as finding an alternative is difficult,” Kamal added.
What was once a stronghold of Punjabis, has gradually embraced a metropolitan mix. The prices of commodities have now increased, but residents still recall flocking to Roopam theatre for low-cost tickets and buying fish for as less as Rs 10 from the famous market.
“We would buy fish for as less as Rs 10 from the fish market. I still buy fish from here as I believe the flavour has stayed the same,” said a resident who did not wish to be named.
However, dwellers of the colony expect some change, if not much, in terms of safety and development. “Only the slum-redeveloped buildings are turning into skyrises, but we are ignored. Cases of chain-snatching and robberies are frequent. We expect development of Sardar Nagar so that this becomes a better place to live in.”
Pushpa Karmarkar, another local, said, “I have been selling fish here for forty years. My old customers still come to me to buy fish. I never thought about moving out as this place gives me handsome money and business. I do not wish to leave Sardar Nagar at this age.”