During the day, it’s a mix of piety and business as usual. Come the evening, the streets in muslim localities quietly slip into a carnival-like atmosphere.
You could cruise past these areas in taxi or a car but it will only give you a quick look and a perfunctory, clinical feel. There’s nothing like a leisurely stroll to really plunge into the spirit of ramzan in Mumbai.
And the best place to free wheel is Mohammed Ali Road in south Mumbai, at night of course. It brings together people from all over the city and is the busiest and the buzziest. It’s got two distinct districts, Minara Masjid and Bohri Mohalla.
Let me say to you right now that it means jostling through exuberant crowds and if you are even a bit faint hearted or tend to get claustrophobic, it’s all the more reason to lose your phobias and just do it. You will be richly rewarded.
Begin at the top of Mohammed Ali road near Crawford market. A few minutes in you sense a change, people and shops have begun to multiply. By the time Minara Masjid approaches it has become a churning sea. The air is thick. Glittering sandals and ladies bags compete with shiny clothes and sparkly toys. Step a little ahead and you notice smoke from barbecue fires rising in the night sky and the smell of grilling and frying meat is all you can breathe in. Somehow you know you’ve reached the epicenter.
Further down the road on your left lies the Bohri Mohalla. The shops have thinned out and receded. There is a quieter, perhaps even a more elegant air here. Maybe it’s got to do with the way the Bohris dress (a predominantly white outfit). The chaos exists but it’s a very relaxed and easy vibe. And as you approach the Bohra Masjid, you get that sense of déjà vu as the place begins to fill out and the smell of food fills your lungs and tickles your taste buds on the way down.
Oh and let me assure you of a few things about your walk. The people are friendly and you’ll feel safe and welcome.