A broken umbrella with a faded cloth is the only roof above Rajendran's pavement shop on Poonamallee High Road. Working from an old wooden box full of keys, his day begins amidst bustling traffic with more than 10 co-workers.
Rajendran and his shop is part of a row of shops on Poonamallee High Road making duplicates keys for more than five decades. “I came here 28 years ago and setup shop alongside 20 duplicate key makers who worked in harmony,” he says while making a duplicate key for a motorcyclist who lost his original keys.
Over 10 duplicate key-makers are stationed on the road at short intervals and have been catering to customers for more than five decades. “I'm making key here for the past 10 years and my dad who works few metres from my shop has been here close to 40 years,” says Durai, a second generation duplicate key-maker.
The row of key-makers, for a long-time, was a 20 member one with all of them working in harmony. But all that changed last year.
“Last year, a young key-maker working with us, murdered a man following a minor scuffle. The unpleasant experience and police action made a number of key-makers abandon their shops and leave the place for good,” recollects Durai.
The key-makers buy their raw materials (plain keys) from Parry's Corner and pile them up on their petite wooden boxes for work.
“Business is good on most days. People who lose their motorcycle keys are our primary customers. Some who are locked out of their house also approach us. We have to be really sharp in differentiating a fraud posing as one who lost his house or vehicle key,” says a key-maker who didn't want to give his name.
While their fraternity is spread across the city mainly with shops in T. Nagar and North Beach Road, the duplicate key-makers on P.H. Road hold a special portion in our city's historic past.
Keywords: key duplication