It may be difficult to imagine Dadabhoy Naoroji Road (then known as Hornby Road) without a hawker. It was so.
There were, at the most, pavement stalls. Starting from the Capitol Cinema, which was for most new arrivals their first glimpse of the city as they arrived at VT from north and south of the country to make their careers in Bombay, emerged from the station, and saw Capitol in front of them. So, starting with Capitol Cinema, there were the two stalls in the cinema building, run by the Bohri brothers, selling toilet articles, locks and keys, cells for batteries. They are still there.
At the corner of the New Empire Restaurant, was the bookstall, though he sold more tear-sheets and vouchers of the Illustrated Weekly crosswords than books. (Which brings me to the point that a considerable part of the Weekly's popularity was because of the enormous cash prizes that the crosswords carried).
Then there were a neat row of solahat sellers, each stall with a miror for you to try the hats and check how they looked on you.
The stamp-sellers were always there, as far back as I can remember; customers used to sit me a stook in front of the stalls and go through their collections. And there was a Muslim Bookseller, with a dyed red beard and a definite greed for money. Though, to be fair to him, he sold pocket-books for Rs. 1.25, which was at the official exchange rate, and you would buy Time, Newsweek of Nat Fleischer's Ring magazine for Rs 1.50, possibly less.
All along the pavements and through the arches, there was not a single hawker. Occasionally, a man would come with a collection of fountain-pens in his pockets and hands and try to sell them. The police would shoo him away. But all over you could find shoe-shine boys, with their little platforms for you to put yout foot on. They had different rates for polishing your shoes with Kiwi and Cherry Blosson, but whatever polishthey used, they took a great deal of pride in their work and the shoes really shone.
At one stage, there was a man near Thoman Cook who wold old records. Mainly symphonies and operas that were being disposed of by departing Englishmen.
But nowhere were there people selling clothes and whoes and perfums, or spreading themselves across pavements with empty boxes and catalogues of electronic equipment. There were no howkets. There was also no Mr. Sushilkumar Shinde to protect them and sabotage the first decent job that the municipal corportion was trying to do.