The junction at Pydhonie near Hamidiya Masjid presents a rather interesting picture for the curious viewer. On one hand you have the beautiful and imposing green structure of the mosque, opposite which stands two derasars (Jain temples).
And lining the wall of the mosque are a host of store selling Ayurvedic and Unani medicines, with a sprinkle of shops that buy and sell old zari borders. One of these stores is the 106-year-old Mohamed Ebrahim Gandhi Store that deals in herbal medicines.
With a simple vintage style hand-painted board announcing the name of the shop in English, Gujarati (for the Gujarati and Bohri community in the area) and Urdu, the store is home to 650 herbal medicines that will help you cure everything from teething problems to heart conditions. 54-year-old Yusuf Gandhi, the current owner of the store tells us, “My grandfather (after whom the store is named) came to the city to escape the plague in Mangalore.
He had been in the business of trading herbal medicines since his time in South India and so had his forefathers. Once here he got married and also bought this shop for `250.” After his father, Gandhi took over the store in 1979 and his been running the store since.
The inside of the store looks like a potions class from the Harry Potter series, with glass bottles lining the walls from ceiling to the floor; containing several powders, dried herbs and other whimsical looking ingredients.
Gandhi who also manufactures and exports his products to USA, UK, Germany and the Gulf under the name, Raxson (their full name would be quite a mouthful he feels) says that his store caters to everyone a beggar to royalty. But medicines for sexual problems are the most sought after, after which come customers for diabetes, hair and beauty products.
One of the most unique products stocked by Gandhi include sand lizards, consumed to boost the sex drive among men, “These lizards live 400 feet beneath the sand in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, and surface at night, when they are caught. Women, in Gandhi’s words, “who do not respond to their men,” can try the dry earthworm mix. Abnormal as it may sound, these products have several takers in the city.
But it’s not only the closed doors matters that Gandhi can assist one in. One just needs to tell him about the ailment one is suffering from, and he will give you the herb for it. While we were at the store, we saw a a steady stream of customers asking for medicines for diabetes, thyroid an swollen muscles.
Ask Gandhi about the reason for surviving for so many years in the market, and he reasons, “the demand for herbal products has grown over the years, so since the time I joined business has only got better. But it is the environmental rules and regulations that worries this business the most. After a few years it will get difficult to source products with breaking any laws.”