While driving down the long shaded New BEL Road, 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. But for Pradeep Rajan, whose skin has wrinkled after 18 years of selling gramophones in Bangalore and certain parts of Kerala, the obsession is limitless.
“Antiques have always interested me. I like collecting these things myself and have enjoyed it a lot,” he says while looking for an old vinyl record. After much difficulty, he points out at the date, which reads 1964. “I source everything from Kolkatta and some towns of Kerala,” he says.
Not only gramophones, he also sells clocks, stand phones, Maharaja phones, station clocks, Victorian clocks and hand phones. A handsome 70-year-old hand phone stands tall with its heavily engraved teak in the middle of his ‘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 `5,500-`6,000.
Rajan prefers 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 2-3 costumers on a daily basis. These pieces are not mere show pieces but are in full working condition. “After I get these old gramophones, I try to mend them. If some part is really broken, I change it entirely,” he said.
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. “I learnt this art of repairing old gramophones and telephones on my own by observing how it is done. Now I can turn a piece over and make it look brand new,” he said.
A couple in a black car stopped to purchase the antiques. Enthusiastically Pradeep started explaining them the importance of each piece. There was a quick exchange of money and the couple happily took their purchase home. Pradeep again squatted on the road side, waiting for more people to come by. Till then his gramophones keep him company.