April 14, 2021 2:05:34 am
The labyrinthine stretches of the bustling Mohammad Ali Road in south Mumbai would get reinvigorated in Ramzan with small entrepreneurs setting up makeshift eateries displaying a dizzying array of food. The streets would become a hub for Mumbai’s only all-night food festival supporting the business of hundreds of small-time chefs and eatery owners.
However, with Ramzan commencing from Wednesday, Mohammed Ali Road was bereft of its usual vibe on Tuesday due to the absence of street hawkers whose makeshift stalls would be thronged from dusk to dawn by food lovers from across Mumbai.
Late Tuesday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced curfew across the state from April 14 to May 1, during which only essential services will be open from 7 am to 8 pm. Eateries are allowed to operate only if they provide home delivery.
Raashid Hakim (43), owner of the popular Noor Mohammadi hotel, established in 1923, said: “I was born and brought up here. I never imagined I would see this place empty and so dull during Ramzan. There is no festive fervour this time at all. Around 50 people used to wait outside my hotel at a time during this season and business went on till 4 am.”
“Apart from the hotel, I ran a food counter for snacks and desserts for people to break their fast. I also used to deliver food packets at home as gifts. Foodies from suburbs, irrespective of their religion, used to come to feast here at least once during this month but now no one is coming. The pandemic has ruined everything. Everyone is trying to save their money.”
Many of the vendors here have decided to stay away this year. While the municipal ward has about 5,000 registered shops, thousands more mushroom during Ramzan.
One such hawker, Om Prakash Gupta (41) from Uttar Pradesh runs a peanut stall on Zakaria masjid signal. “During Ramzan nights, I do more business and work till 12 am. I have never seen such scenes in the last 15 years. After this year’s lockdown, over 50 per cent hawkers from Uttar Pradesh, who used to work here, have left.”
Chand Mohamed, speaking on behalf of the popular Suleman Usman Mithaiwala near Minara Masjid, said, “All traders used to decorate their shops and the entire area used to glow. Thousands of people used to come here and the entire stretch would be jam-packed till sunrise. This time there would be no such scenes. Business used to peak during evening when people broke their fast. But now there will be zero business.”
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