After the exploration and understanding of the space of Bora bazaar, it was now necessary to talk to people living and working here. It was basically like interviewing them to understand the trade cycle and movements in the market space. But when I entered into the store of my first interviewee, he provided me with something way more better than answers.
“Ha Madam, aap batho. Me pehele coffee mangata hu” was Raju Dada’s first reaction.
1.Interviewee: Mr. Saifee Arsiwala. (The Bohra community)
Q. What are most Bohras known to do for a living?
Most, all I would say(smiles), are businessmen.
Q. Sir, do the Bohras have a leader?
Yes , we Bohras do have a leader. Our leader is very rich, but mind you, he has a lot of responsibilities. He provides business capitals and flats to the poor Bohras. Loans are also provided.
Q. Loans? How does this system work?
We have a loan scheme for the Bohras gold could be exchanged for money without any interest. Loans ranging from 1 lac to 10 crores are sanctioned. Infact, Bohras have a gold identity card to avail many such helpful schemes and systems.
Q. Tell us about other schemes as well.
Yes sure. We Bohras receive afternoon lunch from the masjid everyday with the payment of a nominal amount. Ladies themselves cook food for the masjid. We also get money for the visa to go for the Haj.
Q. Could you tell us something about Haj?
For each Bohra, it is mandatory to go for the Haj. It washes away all the sins and makes one pure. If your parents haven’t been to this pious place, it is necessary that you visit the place on their behalf and for their well being and then revisit the place for yourself. Our leader gives us financial support and support for the visa. Good accommodation is also given a meagre payment of Rs.500 each day. There exists a condition that may not allow one from going to Haj. A person can’t go to Haj if he’s in debt.
Q. We find the costume of Bohras quite intriguing. Could you tell us about it?
Well (smiles)….Men wear shirts, pants and white 3 piece outfit along with a white and gold cap-.Kufi(points at his Kufi). Women post the age of 18 has to wear a ride which covers every part of the body but is colourful with designs unlike a Burqa. Men wear silver but don’t allow gold to touch their bodies. Women wear gold jewellery. We don’t encourage tattoos either. When we bury a person, we burn the area of the tattoo in case if he has it or don’t bury at all. You see, we Bohras are proud of the community and want more and more people in our community.
Q. Really? How do you encourage people to join the community?
Bohras get to enjoy so many schemes. So, many change their caste to avail these. Many even get money to do so.
-. Thanks a lot sir for the time and the wonderful information you gave us.
That was my pleasure. It was nice to talk to a bunch of enthusiastic kids like you.( we both wave each other goodbyes).
2.Interviewee: Mr. Shabbir M. Hoshin. (Owner of Izzy opticals)
Q. Hello sir. We are here to study about the Bora Bazaar and the Bohras here. Could you please tell us something?
Well, most are businessmen.All bohras you see here are indulged in various buisnesses. Many have migrated and their generations are found in this street.
Q. Oh! So how long has your family been here?
Well, 100 years I think. I am 50 now.
Q.Tell us something about your business sir.
Most Bohras here trade wood and glass over here. But I own the optical shop in which you are standing right now. Alos, I own 5 more shops around the fort area managed by my brother and other family members.
Q. That’s interesting! So sir, could you tell us something about your children?
Oh yes! I have 4 sons. The eldest is a computer engineer working for a renowned company at Andheri;the second son has a degree in BMS; the third is doing a degree course and the fourth one studies in school.
Q. That’s great. But don’t they help you in your business?
A son of mine manages one of my shops here. Rest are really busy in their education.
Q. Sir, could you tell us something about your optical business?
I see quite an inquisitive bunch of kids here. I am a bit hesitant to let you kids know this, there are many around who wan’t to know your business strategies , you know.
-No sir, we are just here to study the place and the people. We understand your point as well.
Okay okay (laughs)…at first I was at Dubai and owned a perfume shop. My father was in Mumbai and we did the imitation jewellery business. A my father fell ill,I came here to handle the business. But I disliked it as prostitutes would often visit the shop to buy the jewellery. So, I decided to go for the business of optics. My father was okay with my decision and I converted his imitation jewellery shop to a shop selling optics.
Q. How’s your business going on here?
I own 2 flats worth Rs. 90 lacs nad shops wort rs. 50 lacs. Well, I say(smiles). It has slackened a bit this month due to many factors. But ups and downs, that’s what business is all about.
-Thanks a lot for your time sir. We really learnt a lot.
3.Sun papers: a worker and the person who sits behind the desk in their office.
Q. Hi there! Mind if we ask you some questions?
Not at all. Go ahead.
Q. What kind of papers does Sun papers sell?
We deal in variety of papers. You name it, we have it. You’ll find wedding card papers, Handmade papers, Gatway , cartridge and metallic papers to name a few.
Q. Oh that’s great! So from where do all the products come from?
From Bhivandi and some other places in India to countries like China, Germany and the USA, we get our products.
Q. Where is all the paper stored?
We have 2 godowns here at Bora. We also store some in our office upstairs.
Q. And how amny workers work for Sun papers?
Q. Oh! So given the variety in paper you offer, the shop must always be crowded..right?
Yes, we open at 9 but it is the most crowded from 12-5. Our’s is quite a renowned shop.
Q. So how old is this shop then?
24-25 years old.
Q. So do you work all seven days a week?
No. Not on Sundays. Even we need some rest(laughs).
3.2. PERSON AT THE OFFICE.
Q. Hi sir, may we ask about your work at the Sun Papers?
Yes, I manage orders here.
Q. That’s quite a colourful office you have. What all do we have here?
(Smiles) We have all the sample papers, books, diaries, stationery and paper bags here.
Q. Paper bags? Where do you get these from?
We get paper from all the parts of India and make them here. They are handmade you see.
4.INDIA STATIONERY MART: the owner of the shop and his son.
4.1. THE OWNER’S SON.
Q. Hi sir, we hear that this is a very well known stationery shop. How old is shop?
Almost 35 years now.
Q. When do you open this shop?
Q. And when do you shut it?
Q. Is this shop open all 7 days a week?
Except Sundays, yes.
Q. So, is your shop always crowded?
Not between 10 am and 12pm. Otherwise it is always crowded.
Q. Sir, may we ask where do you get your stationery from?
Yes, we get our stationery from India and also some from Japan and Germany.
Q. That’ cool. What kind of imported stuff do you sell?
Well, we have quality imported stuff like Sable hair and squirrel hair brushes.
4.2. THE OWNER (FATHER)
Q. Hi sir, so do you work here?
I own the shop.
Q. But we saw different person the other day we came.
Yes. He’s my son. He mainly handles the shop
Q. Oh. So when do you handle it?
For sometime in the mornings. Otherwise my son handles it.
Q. So sir, are you satisfied with the kind of business your shop does?
Yes. Stationery is something which people require frequently. So it’s a good business.
-Thank you so much for your time.
5. Interviewee: Raju Dada. (Qureshi printing and cutting shop)
Q. Hi sir, how old is this shop?
For 30 years now.
Q. And when does it open?
Q. What’s the closing time then?
There’s no closing time as such. During festivals like Diwali,there’s a lot of paper cutting to be done and so, the workload increases. Some people stay back the entire night in shop working.
Q. So, may we ask you about your earning from cutting paper?
Well, what can I say. It’s negligible.
Q. Oh! So how do you earn sir?
These strips of the remaining paper(points at a heap) is of no use to the shop. I sell these to the paper producers and recyclers.
Q. Where are these producers and how are you connected to them?
I can say…indirectly connected. There’s not a direct link between us and have some steps in the middle. The producers are based in Andhra Pradesh.
Q. I see… so what services will I get in this shop?
Lamination, paper cutting, binding, printing in wholesale and retail- we do all of these things here.
Q. Oh…that’s great. Could you tell me about your main orders?
Yes, we do cutting and lamination of adhaar cards and student projects to mention a few. Sun papers, a shop over here, sends paper to us for cutting.
Q. Yes, we know Sun papers. Thanks for your time sir.
The people here had way more to offer than what we could absorb. It couldn’t be summed up into our mere questions.