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Monday, February 1, 2021

Down memory lane ! .. Triplicane Big Street - watch shop !!

‘down memory lane’ 0f a Triplicanite .. .. one need not be a Cheran or a Ronald Regan to have one !  .. confused – how often do you stop to read those little hand-written notices on a house or on a shop shutter ? – I did, and for a few minutes was drowned with an indescribable feeling of sadness !!

Ages ago, in 1975,  I graduated from Samarao school and joined 6th Standard in the Hindu High School, that grand Red building in Big Street.  From my house in TP Koil Street, would walk via Gangaikondan market, winding Big Street, passing the old Post Office building, TUCS, big and small shops,  Bank branches [Syndicate, Canara,  IOB], tea stalls – cross carefully Pycrofts road (on which PTC buses would run]; Arasadi Karpaga Vinayakar temple (more famously Big St Pillaiyar koil) .. .. .. 

Down memory lane !! – is simply memories of one’s past life, likened to a roadway that one may visit or take a tour and one need not be rich or famous for doing that !!  Looking back on the past. Often put in a nostalgic way, this term may have originated as the title of a popular song of 1924, “Memory Lane,” words by Bud de Sylva, and music by Larry Spier and Con Conrad. It was revived in the film In Society (1944), starring Abbott and Costello. That is where former movie actor, President Ronald Reagan, may have picked it up; he then used it in his 1984 speech accepting the Republican nomination, “Well, let’s take them [his opponents] on a little stroll down memory lane.” []

Heard of Horology – from Greek – the study of time - the art or science of measuring time. Clocks, watches, clockwork, sundials, timers, time recorders and marine chronometers are all examples of instruments used to measure time.

Its jingle would proclaim that it is the place that people have been buying timepieces for ages ‘kaalam, kaalamaga makkal kadigaram vangum idam PORR & Sons’.  I remember the day in 1979 when my Grandfather gifted me a HMT watch for getting good marks in SSLC (X Std) examination, bought at this place.    The century old building situated on the arterial Mount Road, near ‘The Hindu” office perhaps is gone thought the shop functions in a nearby premises.

Wearing wrist watches were customary – they were to be hand wound – automatic watches were costlier.  MG Ramachandran, Tamil Nadu's former chief minister and founder of AIADMK, was laid to rest at Marina beach in his iconic attire, complete with his fur cap, dark shades, and his famous Seiko watch. In years to come, believers swore that MGR's watch could be heard ticking from beyond the grave.



Those days when I went to school, wearing a watch was a prestige ! – not many could afford watches; HMT [Hindustan Machine Tools] priced their watches in the range of Rs.350/- + and in 1979  my grandfather Athichozhamangalam Ramanujachar  awarded me one [HMT Vijay blue-dialled wrist watch] for scoring  good marks in SSLC Exam -  it was heaven ~ those days, Rs.300/- + easily was more than a month’s salary for most…… life has changed a long way..  

Now perhaps Wrist watches are no longer the need – some may still wear as fashion symbols.  Mobiles have driven most of them – and the ones that have survived are simple electronic pieces ‘throwaway’ ones.   Triplicane had a few Watch companies and watch repairers.  Gopal Watch Company was perhaps at least 5 or 6 decades old.  Next to my home at 12 TP Koil Street, there was an watch repairer in a shop admeasuring 14 x 10 ! .. .. in mid 1970s, the old gentleman closed his shop around 9 pm, had a soda at Ganganna mantap shop – went home to sleep for ever.  His daughter opened the shop and sat there for a few days, later to handover it to another watch repairer.  Md Ghaznavi opened a watch shop with nameboard ‘Sandoz Watch Co’ (Ex repairer of PORR or was it Gani ?] – my student days were spent sitting idle in this watch shop and in the two wheeler mechanic shop on the same building [Damu, mechanic].  Both the shops were busy.  People would come with the handwatches, alarm clocks, big wall clocks for repair.  Ghaznavi would open them – the mechanism was intriguing, overhaul them .. .. while Damu would be busy in attending to Lambrettas, Jawas and few mopeds – mostly starting trouble, carburetor / spark plug cleaning, gear / accelerator wire getting cut and the like.

Now getting back to that notice pasted in a shop shutter in Nalla Thambi Mudali Street, Triplicane – it announced the demise of Mr G Swaminathan, proprietor and that the shop is being closed permanently from 31.12.2020.  though I am not in any way connected, had not entrusted any watches for repair – momentary sadness passed, recalling the school days when perhaps we would have stopped to see the wall clock hanging outside …. ………

So many shops, businesses have  wounded-up  over the years ! – and in a few more years, many more could see their end .. yet, memory remains, often a bit painful .. ..

Before concluding – had always thought Sandoz to be a fancy name only on a recent web search learnt that it in fact is an International name. Sandoz is a Swiss watch brand, originally established in the late 19th century by Henri Sandoz near Tavannes, Switzerland. There are now many variations of the Sandoz name which are used by at least four different companies around the world. Henri Frédéric Sandoz   in the 1870s founded Henri Sandoz & Cie., later producing complicated watches under the name of Cyma.  The enterprise occupied a 'model factory' employing one thousand workers and producing 2,500 watches a day.

Memories of Triplicanite

Regards – S. Sampathkumar



  1. Nice memories. I too can recap all these.

  2. Yes Sampath in future most of the small shops will get closed permanently. This is the fate of globalisation. Very sad