I remember in my school days when a shop by the name of In-Style opened on the junction of Napean Sea & Warden Road in elite South Bombay. The name- In-Style had some revolving door & it was 2 storeyed. I can’t remember anything about that place, coz I was too small to retain too many events, maths, science, things & developments in life-to be on the lower side- to retain in my tiny brain. But i still remember preening my neck from the BEST buses to catch a glimpse of that shop.
As kids i don’t know why, but for some odd reason me & some my types, born in the mide sixties, had fascination for seeing from vehicles life outside. It’s a habit i like doing till today. One learns of the changes in the city life, street life, new horizons, structures, so on & so forth.
Now coming to the shops, same is with the other leading shops. In-Style i guess would store ‘imported’clothes. This is one obsession wt Indians. To purchase & possess everything ‘imported.’ There are admissable reasons. We had a closed economy for nearly half my life. Yes, considering at 42+ i can buy anything in this city, which may cost more sometimes twice or thrice the price, but we get freely sauces, cheeses, chocolates-what a sin to deprive any rightful child of it- soft drinks like fanta, coke. We have a track record of banning things, places, books, in India. i’m NOT funny, I’m serious. hahaha
Earlier imported was truly bought from Hongkong, US of A, (Real United states, not the Ulhasnagar), Bangkok, UK (my Indians always think anything English is most sophisticated. Yess even more than US of A..believe me there are still few Indians who think blue blood is royal).
In today’s days the ‘imported’ is mass goods bought in huge caskets from Bangkok. I’ve seen shop there in Platinum, rasta-asin roads- the wholesale goods shops & markets like Indira mkt. All shops in Bombay like Lokhandwala store BKK goods.
Then the so-called imported goods were sold in In-Style, among the new shops. Then there were Premsons -it’s now revived. It has mass imported & local goods. In fact i heard of Ben10 at this shop few months ago. Didn’t know wot it was…pl i’m cartoon challenged, television challenged (except for films & news), i’m partial tech challenged, NOT at full…I’m defintiely fashion-challenged.
So, Premsons houses BKK goods, clips, fancy stoned studded jewellery, yesss very much chunky. Nothing dainty dahlings..this is India. Bling all over. Then adjacent to Premsons is Amarsons. This Amarsons was a favourite with all my Gujju friends & relatives. I never understood how different was the cloth sold in this sghop from that we bought in Girgaon. Look, print, feel was the same, but cost 10 times more. The rich told me Amarsons Is the place to shop, lower mortals like me would look blankly trying to imagine the ‘difference’that could NOT be felt or seen.
A feew metres down that road is Benzer’s. It was known as luxury shop earlier. Now i don’t know of any human walking in there. See, basically i’m a BAD shopper. Oh! I forgot to add, I’m veryyyy shopping challenged, mall-challenged, close door shopping phobic. So Benzer was another place wc i thought intelligence & common sense challenged people shooped in. I mean you have to step into that place to know wot a turn off any child will feel. Child’s instinct is THE best…
After all these names or around the same time a leading designer store by name of Sheetal came up. The owner some Shah-not worth knowing, his names features in the crime files of this city-signed up wt leading fashion designers of this city. The owner tried to drive out tenants from the shop area, as he wanted all the property. This shah thought-like few other names sakes like him-sumant shah for example, who got Ramesh Kini killed- that money could buy him property & drive out the poor middle-lower middle class tenants. He then hired the services of a leading gangster Arun Gawli to threaten the tenants & bump them off. It didn’t ever happen.
Today NO one hears of that shop, sometimes they advertise, but NOT as much they were all over the media. The designer has got lost obscurely (thank god). They are true professionals who know ‘business’ & are NOT conencted with reality like crime world, gangsters, wc we lower mortals know of & deal with.
Then don’t know why but Mumbaikars, Bombayites ALWAYS take the name of Roopam in the same breath as Sheetal. You may think they are brothers or as names suggest (females) sisters. But no they are not related nor are the owners. That is another interesting fact Roopam is owned by Dhiren Shah. Ya these shahs I tell you, have all the money…huge community, so it’s ok.
Now Roopam has tried to re-invent itself all the while. Kept away from crime world. The former case tried to push out tenants. The Dhiren Shah in fact bailed out Kesari the original Lokmanya Tilak’s house in the building that houses Roopam. Dhiren also tied up with designers, more known & authentic ones. It still is known as the place to buy woollens from in Bombay. Except one needs NO wollies in our part of the tropical world. But when we go to cooler shores this is where we still buy our thermals from.
Aomng the last few is Akbarallys. The one place where we got all goods under one roof. Especially electronic gadgets. This shop is in the old Fort area. Interestingly, outside this famous shops hawkers line up selling duplicates sold inside or smuggled goods. The sex toys are found with these hawkers. so popular wt men folf of every colour & race.
Akbarallys is still popular for electronics, some kind of clothes, furniture & stuff like this. COmpared to all other shops above, it is still thronged by people. It is still taken seriously. But the other shops? Big names but now forgotten. May be everything has a shelf life?