How the hub of Hyderabadis turned into a deserted alley in Jeddah

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By Irfan Mohammed

Jeddah: Once a bustling market for the ethnic Indian community in the heart of the port city of Jeddah, Sharafiah has become a deserted place. The narrow alleys full of crowds chewing casseroles empty. Only municipality workers were seen removing signs and overseeing the evacuation of shops in an area where the nearly half-century-old Sharafia Market thrived until a few weeks ago.

Sharafia is best known among Hyderabadis for the best tea and paan, two essentials of many Hyderabadis.

“Oh Khaike Paan Banaraswala” is how Amitabh Bacchan describes Paan in the DON blockbuster. Hyderabadis, whether at home or abroad, the paan remains “shaan”.

A first Hyderabadi Paan tea shop known as Boofia was opened in the Sharafiyah area the same year the DON movie was released in 1978 to meet Hyderabadis’ long-standing demand in the city. Nayeem, popularly known as Tie Nayeem, had opened this store.

The cafeteria, although ownership has changed, is still frequented by all Hyderabadi expats, whether teachers or workers for the preferred paan and chai. Several other such cafes in Hyderabadi appeared later, but Nayeem was the first not only in this neighborhood but in the whole city.

A gathering or gossip in Hyderabadi is incomplete without Paan and Chai, even abroad. Cafeterias that sell Paan hidden in the tea rooms of the Gulf countries. The sale of paan with traditional ingredients is prohibited here. However, betel leaves are imported from Bangladesh along with other vegetables.

The Biryani House, a thriving restaurant in Hyderabadi just across the corner.
Sharafiah in the past.
Tea lovers at Boofia
Khaja Muzafferuddin of Air Wings, Hyderabadi’s oldest travel agency
Renovation of works at Sharafiah
Mohammed Abdul Lateef, a veteran, living in Jeddah since 1966 now in a tea and paan store.
Bazm e Ittehad computer training center where Dr Syed Ali Mahmoud and young Asaduddin Owaisi in 1991.
Famous Sharfiah Vegetable Market

Since the opening of Nayeem Paanshop, Sharafia has become the meeting point for most of the Hyderabadis singles in the city, even people from far-flung places such as Taif, Jizan and Medina also make a point of visiting it on weekends. -end, not just “Deccani Chai, Paan and Hyderabadi Baata”, but to relieve homesickness.

After Nayeem Paanshop, a renovated Shalimar Building in the heart of Sharafiyah maintained by Hasan Basalamah, expatriate Yemeni descendant Hyderabadi and friend of Haji Mastan from Bombay, added fame. It changed the landscape of the region. The first delectable Hyderabadi restaurant known as the Shalimar Hotel was established, the space on the upper floors was rented out to singles and several small shops on the ground floor, all selling Deccani ethnic items ranging from from audio cassettes to mango pickles, fresh meat has flourished.

There were no Hyderabadis or gatherings in the area until the 1980s, says Mohammed Abdul Lateef, a longtime Hyderabadi living in Jeddah since 1966.

After working in reputable companies, Lateef now works in a Paan store adjacent to the Nayeem Paan store.

He said the majority of Hyderabadis prefer to chew Baba 120 Zarda Pan.

Commenting on the average expat life then and now, Lateef said “Everything has changed”.

When computerization began in the 1980s, Bazm-e -Ettehad, had started providing training in MS Office and Lotus, database software to improve employment prospects for young Hyderabadi seeking employment. a job in the same building. A staunch supporter of the Majlis Syed Ali Mahmoud, affectionately referred to by many as Doctor Saab and some even as Dad, was instrumental in the training which not only helped to be employed for newcomers but also aided many Existing employees kept their jobs by learning computers on 8-inch floppy disks at the time.

“Although we started training from 1986 in the Jamia region, we opened the training center in the Shalimar building in 1990 which operated until 2000,” said Syed Ali Mahmoud. He added that the center was only closed after a fire in the building in 2000.

“When we established Air Wings in 1984 in the region, it was Hyderabadis’ first travel agency not only in Sharafiah but in the city,” said Khaja Muzafferuddin, director of Air Wings, the sole entity oldest commercial center in Hyderabadi which still does business in the area.

Recalling those old days, Muzafferuddin said it was Nayeem who turned this place into a hub of Hyderabadis in the 1980s.

“Prior to 1978, there was no visible presence of Hyderabadis in the Charafiah,” said Mohammed Arif Qureshi, a veteran cultural activist from Hyderabadi, living in the city for nearly 50 years.

The Video Ashra, once known for the rental of Bollywood film videotapes (VHS), was adjacent to the Shalimar building. It was the only place that could provide entertainment for Indians when there was no satellite TV and no internet.

The Bangladeshi-dominated vegetable market was the main part of the region. Almost all Indian families, regardless of ethnicity, visited the vegetable market to buy fresh produce at a reasonable price.

Clothing, footwear and general stories belonging to Malayalis where Hyderabadis engaged in price negotiation.

The call booth is owned by the Ministry of Communication and the posts at that time next to King Fahad Street were one of the four places for public call offices where long queues of expatriates waiting for their turn to call home were common at this time.

Incidentally, Sharafiah was the nerve center of Hundi Phone which provided the first 60 minutes and later reduced to 30 then 20 minutes of calls for a fixed amount.

Dr Hamed Abdul Quader’s Asian Clinic, opposite the Arab National Bank building, was the first Hyderabadi doctor’s clinic in the region. Badaruddin Polyclinic in the same neighborhood has started opening many more affordable health facilities and all of them are run by Malayalis.

Some Hyderabadi were quick and punctual to assemble in the evening. An unnamed Hyderabadi from Qilwat in the Old Town has been visiting the place regularly for nearly 35 years.

He kept a vehicle to reserve the place on the side of the busiest road to only sit in the evening with other friends over a shared cup of tea.

Rough and haphazard parking where space is available creates chaos not only making it difficult for cars to navigate, but hindering pedestrian traffic in the area.

The earlier buildings with peeling paint and exposed brick stood next to the walls, but Sharafia has become synonymous with the average Hyderabadi bachelor in Jeddah. Many prefer to live in dilapidated buildings that lack facilities, including lack of water in the area’s narrow lanes, but they are not ready to give up and move elsewhere.

The city’s ongoing anti-encroachment operation entered its crucial phase as city officials demolished numerous buildings across the city, especially in the central and southern parts of the city. The municipality of Jeddah has identified some 6,000 buildings in different parts of the city in general, and in the south in particular. A specialized company won the contract for the demolition of these buildings.

Many buildings were built contrary to standards and pose a threat to public safety. This part of the city is also known for its overcrowding. The city’s ongoing anti-encroachment operation entered its crucial phase as city officials demolished numerous dilapidated buildings across the city, especially in the central and southern parts of the city. It also emphasizes the renovation of buildings, including the facade of commercial spaces. Authorities also made the store facade change mandatory with more than a dozen specifications for billboards, name size signs, front clear glass doors, front recessed space, and more.

The swift implementation of the renovation rules is giving a hard time to many trading houses in the area, according to some Hyderabadis in the area.

Sharafia, was the heart of the city once a short walk from the airport, which was inaugurated in 1952; also close to the Indian embassy then, not the consulate, in Baghdadia. The place is still dominated by the Malayalis, originally from the Malbar region of Kerala, for almost half a century. In fact, the only mosque where the sermon in the Malayalam language can be delivered is located in the locality.


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