Glass globes, a mariner’s telescope and candlestick telephones — Asha Sridhar rummages through an antique store
Mirrors of cabinets that have reflected a countless number of faces, a travel gramophone that has lent voice to many great singers, a tram bell that tirelessly strummed all day long, decades ago. These and many more such quaint artefacts are in resting, lying arbitrarily strewn across Jamal’s Corner Shop. But, only until they find yet another new home and renewed use.
Inside this antique shop on Langs Garden Road in Pudupet, drama waits to unfold. You can peep through a worn out mariner’s telescope to get a view of the new secretariat, measure a quarter of an hour based on the chiming of a 100-year-old winding clock, and listen to Lata Mangeshkar crooning Tere Pyar Mein Dildar from the movie Mere Mehboob on a temperamental antique phonograph.
The owner of this charming little shop, the bumbling 63-year-old Bubli Jamal, says that the business of lamps and glassware was started by his grandfather in the late 1890s. His grandfather imported glass globes, chandeliers and kerosene lamps from Europe, Germany and the USA.
“I found an old invoice which mentioned that we sold lamps and chandeliers, among other items, to churches, zamindar houses and residences of Nawabs in and around Madras,” he says.
He claims that it was sold for roughly 12 annas back then. Post-independence, when their import license was revoked, Bubli’s father Ramzan Ali displayed his personal collection of lamps and collectibles in a showcase, and they found a new business. Jamal’s Corner Shop began at 44, Devaraja Mudali Street, Evening Bazaar Road, in the 1940s, and it moved to its current location in 1993.
Pointing at a roughly 100-year-old regal kerosene lamp, he says that the capacity of the lamp equals a 40-watt bulb. Many a times, he says, there would be artefacts lying around, but nobody would know what they were used for. “We sometimes learn a lot from our customers. We once had a small glass in dark blue colour, the shape of our eyes. After a customer told us we found out that clear water could be poured in the glass, which could then be inverted and used to clean one’s eye,” he says. The candle extinguisher, is another such item, he points out, making a sketch of it in a notebook.
The shop has collectibles such as the triple fusse chiming clock, which has 12 bells that strum every 15 minutes, a Kelvin Hughes sand timer, candlestick telephones, music boxes the size of a coffin, a weather gauge, and an 8-day winding clock.