Mangaluru: Lalbagh Road in the city has been a haven for roadside vendors lately- one could see vendors selling books, fruits, vegetables, umbrellas, raincoats, stuffed toys, two-wheeler seat covers/helmets etc – added to these vendors, there is a new vendor in town selling antique gramophones, stand phones, and clocks. While driving down the long Lalbagh Road near Mangala stadium, one cannot miss a small segment of gramophone horns that use the sun to grab the passersby eyes. Right out of the 1960s, these gramophones sit royally on the dusty footpath, seemingly out of place on this busy road.
KM Sameer and Koya hailing from Kerala have set up all these antique items on the footpath, and people passing up make it a point to stop by and look at these items. Not only gramophones, they also sell clocks, stand phones, Victorian clocks and hand phones. Sameer stands tall with a stand phone-its heavily engraved teak in the middle of his ‘roadside-shop’. It speaks of an era where phones were more than a mere utility and used to add ornamental value to your drawing room. This phone costs around Rs 2500-3000. Gramophones cost around Rs 4000-4500, while clocks range from Rs 2000-3000.
Sameer says he refers to sit on the roadside rather than go for a shop. “It is easier this way. Here I can put up my shop anywhere in a hassle free environment,” he says. He claims that he entertains dozens costumers on a daily basis. These pieces are not mere show pieces but are in full working condition. “After we get these old gramophones, we try to mend them. If some part is really broken, we change it entirely. All these items like the gramophones, clocks and phones are in working condition”
Some gramophones that have been damaged beyond repair are dismantled and put together all over again. The old gramophone is then polished and made presentable for the customers. “We learnt this art of repairing old gramophones and telephones on my own by observing how it is done. Now we can turn a piece over and make it look brand new,” both Sameer and Koya said. Stand phones have “Chicago” brand name on them made by Radio Telephone Electric Company.
The business has been good- a couple stopped their Audi car and were amazed to look at the antique collection. Enthusiastically Sameer started explaining them the importance of each piece. There was a quick exchange of money and the couple happily took their purchase home- a gramophone and a stand phone. Both Sameer and Koya were back in business again, waiting for more people to come by. Till then their gramophones, clocks and phones keep them company. So if you like antique stuff, stop by Sameer’s place and take a piece of “Antique” home.