Express News Service
The Tamarind Lane at Kala Ghoda is one of those roads that were renamed decades ago but are still called by their old name. Even though the road, a stone’s throw from Bombay House and the Bombay Stock Exchange, was renamed as M P Shetty Marg in 1992, to many, it is still Tamarind Lane.
Krittika Garg, an architect says: “Legend has it that the name Tamarind Lane came from a tamarind tree which used to stand at the corner from St Thomas Cathedral. This tree became a meeting point for residents of the area, which came to be known as ‘amli aagad’ (next to the tamarind tree) in the local tongue. Under the tamarind tree, several traders and merchants used to trade stocks.”
She said: “This was a predecessor to the Bombay Stock Exchange nearby. There are many other stories about how the lane held counting houses of Sir David Sassoon in 1832.” There are anecdotes about military parades being held under the tamarind tree at the corner of St Thomas Church in the 18th century.
Early mornings are quiet at Tamarind Lane. The lane that has Flora Fountain on one side and Horniman Circle on the other starts bustling with energy from 10 am when office goers throng the banks, stock trading agencies and advocates’ chambers among many other offices. Devendra Maharaj, a priest in the small temple in the lane since 1983, says: “There has been an increase in the numbers of people who come every day with new banks opening up.”
Maharaj adds, “Sundays are dull, but weekdays see a lot of people.”
Mithilesh Kumar, a local resident says that the place has been the backdrop for many advertisement shootings which he remembers very fondly. In 1992, BMC changed the name of Tamarind Lane to M P Shetty Marg to honour the entrepreneurial spirit of the late Muddanna P Shetty, who passed away in 1988.
Kishore Shetty, the son of M P Shetty, says: “My father came to Bombay in 1930. He started doing odd jobs in a restaurant called Welcome. In 1941, he opened his first restaurant and called it New Welcome, which is now known as Ankur. He helped a lot of people in the area, and helped set up many more restaurants in the area and all over the city.”
He says: “For him, the kitchen was the temple. He used to remove his footwear before entering the kitchen.”
Mithilesh says people who knew his father described him as “generous, innovative, passionate and a perfectionist”.
“My father was a simple man who wore khadi and a Gandhi topi. People knew him as ‘Welcome Muddanna’.”
He reminisces about the days when he used to visit the street with his father. “There used to be Chhaya Restaurant which has now changed into a paratha place. The street used to be full of army people, lawyers and stock brokers. Everything else has almost stayed the same.”
Ankush Bandyopadhyay is a student of NSoJ and is an intern with Indian Express, Mumbai