Known as one of the most crowded stretches in Mumbai, Sheikh Memon Street is one where many residents from the city and the suburbs come to buy essentials and save a buck or two in the process. Home to a wholesale market, goods on the busy street are often brought in bulk.
Few shopkeepers or pedestrians know who Sheikh Memon was or why the road was named after him. “Sheikh Memon, whose actual name was Deccani Mahomedean Pir, was a Sufi Muslim who was a saint of the community in Mumbai and he flourished 150 years ago,” says Rafique Baghdadi, a historian. “The street is named after him because his dargah is located on the street close to the Princess Street junction. Many Muslims make offerings in the dargah and an annual religious fair is also held on every anniversary of the saint’s death. The area is primarily Gujarati and many Memons, Bohras and Khojas have settled here. A lot of the houses they have built have an old school charm to them.”
Historian Deepak Rao said: “Unlike some historic roads in South Mumbai, the road’s name has remained this way since the colonial era.” The market sells a host of things, from clothes to stuffed toys and crockery.
Chirag Thakker (42), who works in H Vasanji and Co. that sells clothes, shawls and blankets said: “The road is a historic wholesale area in South Mumbai, which is why the goods are cheaper here. Further, the area is so well known that many visitors, including foreign tourists, come to my shop and can be seen on the streets.” He added: “Business is booming and the crowds are increasing everyday simply because this is the one market where people can get all essentials and a few non-essential items for a cheaper price.”
However, Mahendra Kumar (22), who sells soft toys disagrees. “We receive a few customers and the number is reducing because people do not want to travel so much for a small difference in price. It is not worth it.” Ganesh Kadam (28) who owns Star Opticals that sells sunglasses says: “The street is not going to become residential. The shops will not shut down and unlike other places in South Mumbai, we will live on it as it is a unique bazaar, that will always have clients”