August 26, 2012

Madras Week 2012

This is a time to record our histories. Our stories.

And if there is one positive outcome of the annual Madras Week 2012, then it must be the willingness of people to talk about, jot down or make known their stories that deserve to be told.

Last week, Renuka Ravi, who heads the HR Dept. at Nathella Sampathu Jewellers. was on the line, wondering how her company, which has a long history associated with the city's lifestyle could be part of Madras Week.

It took us a few minutes and two calls to figure out what could be done quickly to raise a show and make it bigger next year.

At Nathella's Anna Nagar showroom, a small exhibition takes visitors through the history of this business.

Founded in 1928 by Nathella Sampath Chetty garu, he soon earned the name of Silver King because of the best quality of silver that he supplied to all leading temples in south India.

China Bazaar in those days used to be the shopping destination of the city and this shop which was on NSC Bose Road was abuzz with clients. Among them were many VIPs including Sivaji Ganesan, M S Subbulakshmi and Sowcar Janaki.

When Tamil films ran for 100 days or notched silver jubilees the producers would turn to Nathella to make the silver trophies. The trophies for the big hits, Paava Mannippu and Nadodi Mannan were made here.

A very senior staff member here K V Narasimhan talks about business in the days when he joined Nathella in 1968. "One gram of gold cost Rs.16. Today it is Rs.3000!".

And at celebration time, Narasimhan and his colleagues would enjoy the masala dosas and gulab jamun at Modern Café and Arya Bhavan in that area.

Besides putting out some pictures of the Nathella records for the Madras Week show, they have also displayed jewellery made across the seven decades at the Anna Nagar store.

Perhaps, in time the stories, pictures and documents will go into a book.

Stories of the city, its people and its places are being unfolded in Adyar and in Sowcarpet, in T. Nagar and in Alwarpet and inside Fort St. George this week.

More will follow.

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