Business turns unviable for Delhi-based Parsi owner as one of the oldest stores of the British era in Himachal Pradesh closes down in September
Dharamshala: Located in the heart of McLeodganj town and barely a kilometre from Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s abode, the iconic Nowrojee & Sons General Merchants will shut shop next month after a 160-year run.
Article by Naresh K. Thakur | Hindustan Times
The Parsi family that owns one of the oldest shops in Himachal Pradesh from the British era has sold the property and is in the process of winding up the business. Though the store-cum-residence has seen six generations of the Nowrojee family at the helm, Nauzer Nowrojee was the most popular and was a friend of the Dalai Lama, for more than 60 years before his death in 2002.
“It’s been a tough decision but sometimes you have to let go of things,” says Nauzer’s younger son and Delhi-based owner Parvez Nowrojee, who is retired from a private company and was running the shop with the help of caretaker since 2010.
Nauzer’s elder son Kurush Nowrojee owns a tea business in West Bengal.
At present, Parvez and Kurush are in McLeodganj to collect their belongings and wrap up business.
Nowrojees manufactured aerated drinks and mineral water and sold wine, grocery brands, bakery products, tobacco, toiletries, and even arms and ammunition.
Its closure is a heartbreaking moment for local residents. “This store is witness to many a historic event and how the towns of Dharamshala and McLeodganj evolved,” says Prem Sagar, 58, who runs a book shop and tour and travel business opposite the store. “It’s is sad moment for people like me who were emotionally attached to the store. But change is the law of nature and this is how history is created,” he said.
Another resident Kul Prakash Sharma, 50, said: “We will miss this store that is synonymous with McLeodganj. I have a collection of labels and stickers from this shop. They will now become souvenirs. I’ve heard the wooden structure will be gone soon.”
OLD WORLD CHARM INTACT
Nowadays, the shop sells newspapers, magazines and confectionary besides exhibiting relics from a bygone era. Housed in the wooden structure are antiques, including a Petromax 835 Special, which is a Germany-made hanging wick lamp.
There are cases of imported cigarette brands such as Passing Show, Craven A, and Number Ten Virginia.
Advertising posters from the British era, Blue Bird toffees and old wine and beer bottles are also available.