The warm smile of the Taj Stores butcher Muhammed lights up the room as its neon signs do. © Gulistan Elidemir
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A day in the life of Taj Stores butcher Muhammed Khalilur Rahman

Working at one of Banglatown’s staple locations, Taj Stores, butcher Muhammed Khalilur Rahman gives us an insight into his working day and serving its multicultural customers.

Open since 1936, Taj Stores is located in the heart of Brick Lane and is claimed to be London’s longest-running Asian supermarket. It is a Bangladeshi-owned and family-run business, currently passed down to its third-generation of owners, consisting of three brothers, Junel (Abdul Hai), Jamal (Abdul Quayum) and Joynal (Abdul Muhith). 

Branded as an international store, you will be able to find products from all around the globe from Bangladesh, India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Greece, Lebanon and all the way across the Atlantic to Jamaica. 

Residing in the centre of Banglatown, its aisles are frequented beyond the large British Bangladeshi population that lives in the area to the tourists that visit Brick Lane from all over the world. 

For Muhammed Khalilur Rahman, 60, one of the butchers at the store, working at Taj Stores is special for him because of his love for serving its multicultural customers. 

Having emigrated to the UK in 1976, he has been a resident of Commercial Street ever since. 

Whitechapel had been experiencing high racial tensions at the time, as the National Front a far-right fascist party, was gaining support across the country for its racist populist agenda, creating an unstable period of time for the British-Bengalis who were living in the area. 

Over the years, with the easing of racial tensions Banglatown’s identity grew stronger in the area and it officially gained its name in 1997 by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. 

For those like Rahman, working in Taj Stores and among the rest of the British-Bengali owned storefronts is important because it reminds him of home. 

To prepare myself for the day… I wake up at 7am, and after I wash up and eat breakfast, I like to enjoy a nice cup of tea to keep me energised for the days work. I typically arrive at work at 9am.

I am responsible for… I do my rounds first to check the stock of the meat. Sometimes there will be deliveries so I will oversee them. I then prepare the meat by cleaning them and cutting them to prepare them for sale for the customers.

I got into this line of work because… I became a butcher when I was working at the previous location. It has now been 5 years since I’ve been working as one.

A typical day for me looks like… When it’s not busy I’ll do some cleaning of the area, then I’ll prepare the meat to put on sale, and when there are restaurant orders I will have to take care of those. It’s mainly prep work on my end. I have another butcher who helps me but sometimes I work on my own as well.

The best thing about my job is… the customer service part of working at Taj Stores. There are many multicultural people who visit our store who I get to meet and serve. That’s the best part of my job.

I tend to leave work… I work from start to close, which is from 9am-8pm. 

After I leave work… I wash up and I’ll have a nice meal at home. I end my day by watching the Bengali and English news – I like to keep up with the world. I typically go to bed at 11pm.

My favourite place to go on Brick Lane is… I love the Brick Lane Brasserie, which is just across from our store. If my wife hasn’t cooked me a delicious meal for lunch I may go across and enjoy some food from there.

The best thing about working in Whitechapel is… I like the community of the Bengali people. It reminds me of home.

The thing that motivates me in the day… is that I enjoy my job. I like working to serve our customers and meet new people. It’s lovely to see different faces coming into our store every single day. 

If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read A trip to keep Banglatown alive.

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