If New York is the city that never sleeps, Al Mussallah Road is the street that never sleeps. Whether lunchtime or late evening, the Road and surrounding Al Hamriya area (old Pakistani consulate area) is a hive of activity. Workmen pull their delivery loads on carts, while others transport white goods on trolleys; bargain-hunters haggle for good prices, while the smell of garlic wafts in the air from the many Indian and regional eateries. A cobbler sits barefoot, delicately cutting around a freshly-heeled shoe and pedestrians dash across the road on mobile phones.
The street is also renowned for its amenities — everything one could possibly need is available. From shawarma to shoes; opticians to Ostadi; phones to furniture; sweet treats to typing centres; it's like a world in its own right.
The Ostadi Iranian restaurant is perhaps the area's most famous eatery, and has been running in the same location since 1978. Only traditional food is served.
"My father's philosophy is to keep the traditional Iranian stuff," Abbas Ansari, 33, co-runner of the restaurant told Gulf News.
"We even have the same décor and most of the tables are the same. If anything goes wrong we fix it. The meals are home-made: even though we don't have proper decoration, we don't have parking spaces, business is good," he said.
Ansari runs the cosy outlet with his two brothers — Taleb and Majid — and his father, who took over the running of the restaurant in 1983.
"My father's policy is eat little, eat always and after 33 years of my life, I believe in it," he said.
The tasty yoghurt kebab is a favourite among his customers, and the recipe for its thick wholesome lentil soup hasn't changed for three decades. They have even sent kebabs to India, Pakistan and Italy, because of its popularity.
However, if you don't get the technique right, sometimes the sour yoghurt can turn sweet.
The kebabs are cooked on a wood fire, with only a fan to keep the chefs cool. In summer, the chefs have to bring three shirts to work in one evening, because of the sweltering fiery heat.
It's not just residents who visit the restaurant, however. Many tourists visiting Dubai have stopped at the restaurant because of its local fame. After a year has passed, the same tourists come back time and time again, Ansari said.
Prices range from Dh10 to a reasonable Dh34, and there is a men's eating room and separate family room on two floors. After 9.30pm, the restaurant is packed, full of hungry people, some of whom pop in on their way down the road, while others are regulars.
Being so close to busy Bur Dubai, parking is scarce, and motorists have to watch out for parking fines. The best way to explore the area is either on foot or by bicycle — a preferred means of green transport for many delivery men transporting hot delicacies to their customers. With biking being such a popular mode of getting around the bustling street, a bicycle repair and sales shop on the street is perfectly placed.
Al Musallah Road is definitely a place for people on the go; pedestrians grab a shawarma on their travels, an open hatch dishes out paani puri, and Indian sweets are a welcome sugar fix.
The colourful mixtures of Indian snacks gleam in the window, enticing customers to indulge themselves.
Shams Al Deen has run Selective Sweets trading for the past three years, and has been living all over Dubai for the last 25. He said that the area is great because of its proximity to Bur Dubai "city".
"There are many [members of the] public coming, and tourists also, so I took this shop. It's a good location," he said.
On the other hand, friends greet each other with handshakes, commune on street corners for a chat and welcome shopkeepers that have become their friends. The community is close-knit, with residents, restaurateurs, shopkeepers and even the RTA parking warden shaking hands when they meet, swapping the days' stories, sharing a cup of tea and telling each other jokes.
Taking a step back from the noise, lights and smells of the Road, visitors can discover a peaceful residential area. Around every corner, children play after-school cricket. Each young boy seems to have his own cricket bat, but with only one tennis ball to practise with, many of them have to be content with just practising their swings.
Delving further into Al Hamriya, the cricket games expand, as does the open space, allowing the children to set up two or three cricket games at once.
Residents hang their washing out of their windows, take their dogs for a walk, or simply lean on their arms watching the world go by.
Young children cycle around the quiet streets and if you can't find parking on the main road, there are a couple of more expensive lots set back from the hustle and bustle of Al Mussallah Road.
Srikanth — and his particularly excitable pet dog on a stroll in the district — has been living in the Al Hamriya area for more than 20 years.
"Everything is good in this area. There's shopping malls and everything is nearby, close in this area. That's why I've been living here for more than 20 years!" the resident originally from Sri Lanka joked.
For many content residents, Al Hamriya is a home away from home, catering to all on the insomniac street.
- Ostadi Iranian restaurant: The restaurant has been operating from the same premises since 1978, run by the Ansari family since 1983. It's famous for its yoghurt kebabs and traditional, basic Iranian cuisine.
- Selective Sweets: For a quick bite to eat on the go, stop here for a pani puri at the hatch, or to taste the sweet cashew nut delicacies. The shop has been there for 20 years and the spicy and sweet snacks are sold by weight.
- Al Fareed Shoes: Repairing Whether you need a new pair of shoes, Ali Baba shoes or to fix worn-out footwear, this tiny shop offers it all. Stop and chat to local celebrity Ashfaq, who mends shoes with skill, cross-legged and barefoot from the floor of the shop.
- Ravi restaurant: The second of the famous Ravi chain of restaurants is at the computer street end of Al Mussallah Road. With outdoor seating, the restaurant serves up its famous sub-continental cuisine, at low prices.
- Three small mosques serve the Al Hamriya community. One is located in the Al Safri area, another is close to the children's cricket play area near Oasis Court Hotel Apartments, while the third is on 21 street.
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