Rathina Sabapathy Puram, Once A Little India

My father K.Govindarajulu used to bring me to the Rathinavinayagar temple on my birthday. We used to park the car on D. B. Road and visit the temple. Our family members used to celebrate the star birthday and not the date of birth. The visit will be complete after an archanai and arathi. Subsequently daddy used to take mummy, my brother Suresh and myself to ‘Toyland’ on D.B.Road. It was a famous toy shop those days and it was known as Balus. I used to pick up a tiny car of my choice in the store. The shop keeper was a bespectacled person. My uncle Shankar used to love the visits to Toyland. Later on we used to visit a restaurant for dinner. The electric posts used to be in the centre of D.B.Road and a number of donkeys used to be found on the tree lined road.
All of us used to frequent the residence of my father’s aunt P.Sitakalyani on Venkataramana Road (near R.S.Puram Club) often. The lovely old house was our favourite haunt. My father’s uncle S.Padmanabhan had been an avid reader and the house used to have a lot of books. The daughter Vijayalakshmi was a few years older than me and we got along very well. She was like an elder sister for me. Their household used to have dogs, cows and rabbits. Everyone could enter the kitchen and the household did not have restrictions. The household help consisted of one Grace and Kanaga. They had a car which had the number 7333. It was a blue Fiat. My cousin sister Vijaya had a huge number of friends. Dongu was prominent among them and she lived nearby. We used to meet her and Sivagami Akka of ‘Senthil Agam’ (the nice tiled roofed house continues to be well kept). Dr. Haneef and Bab’s Flash owner lived in the vicinity. One ‘Sir’ used to visit the house often and he used to distribute flags on every national day. Vijaya akka celebrated her sixteenth birthday in the newly opened Richie Rich. The nice wall paper, cushioned seats, ice creams and snacks won us over instantly. She used to drive her car to college and it had been her habit to visit one Vinayagar temple regularly from her school days. My cousin was a go getter and she continues to be one. I still remember her marriage interview while I was in my tenth standard. The Mappillai Narayanan was already related and I used to give company to him whenever he visited Coimbatore.
I remember the doctors Dr.S.R.Srikantan, Dr.M.Ramaswamy, Dr.P.G.Viswanathan and Dr.S.V.Kandaswamy (he had treated my great grandfather P.A.Raju Chettiar). One Dr.Krishnamurthy tested my eyes and I began wearing spectacles from the age of ten. Dr.Subramaniam was the dentist and Dr.P.C.Raju and Dr.S.Srihari were also known to us. Dr.R.Sarojini was popular. My father had also been treated by Dr.C.V.Shanmugham of the Veeco family. Dr.S.S.Narasimhan was our family doctor. I still remember the dogs in the residence of Dr.S.R.Srikantan. My mother Aravindakumari wore spectacles briefly on the recommendation of Dr.Shanmugham.
Hotel Annapoorna had been in Ranga Buildings those days. Later on they moved to the their own premises. We used to celebrate our birthday parties in Annapoorna. The falooda and sizzler were our favourites in the new premises. Our family members were shown around the fancy kitchen of Annapoorna by K.Damodaraswamy Naidu and his brothers. The youngest brother Lakshmanan used to be ever present in the premises. My cousin Yamuna got married to Rajasekhar at Annapoorna and I remember the great veena maestro giving an unforgettable performance in the June of 1984. Gazebo was the other fine dine which was frequented by our family. It had been founded by Y.P.Nanda and the food used to be excellent. I used to relish egg fried rice, egg curry and French Onion soup on Sunday evenings with my parents and brother. Daddy used to regale us with stories connected to his younger years. It was an impressionable age and I learnt much from him. He used to take us to Medley and it was managed by Sagar and Shashi Ghulati. Subzero Ice creams and books were available in the outlet. I remember getting my complete collection of Alfred Hitchcock and the three investigators from the store. Fairdeal was the other toy store which was frequented by us. It was founded by Rangaraj aka Rajesh, the son of Mysore Vaidyar. Swagat was also among our list of favourite shops.
The school uniforms were got from the Bombay Dyeing showroom and the shoes, school bags (Duckback) were from Bata. Sri Krishna Sweets nearby used to be famous for its Mysorepa and special uthappam which was embellished with ghee fried cashews and spices. Mummy and my aunt Nirmala used to shop for sarees at Vandana Saree Sansar, Teenage and Venoo & Co. The owner at Venoo & Co , Venugopal Pai was a very friendly person. Femina was also a famous textile store. Latha Stores, Vichithras, Bombay Novelty, Vijayalakshmi Tailors and Raymonds Pallavi were a few of the outlets which were patronized by our family. We used to watch old movies like ‘Lava Kusha’ in Kennedy theatre. I remember watching a number of movies like ‘Jambhu’ and ‘Jaganmohini’ at Shanmugha theatre. The movies of Vittalacharya used to enthrall us. Ideal Stores was the outlet for gas stoves and granny Lalitha Bai used to visit the place once in a way. The Brooke Bond road and Kikani School (my father’s cousin Prakash was a student in this school) were seen by us everytime when we moved about. I remember the basket weavers of Thadagam road. The Muthannan Kulam used to have a lot of water.
Our family had got glued to R.S.Puram from the time of its formation. My great grandfather was known for purchasing properties which extended from one street to another and he had bought one with the same features in R.S.Puram. My grand uncle R.Damodaran and his wife Shantha moved into their house designed by T.S.Ramani Sankar those days. R.S.Puram used to have a number of nice bungalows. Daddy used to drive us around and show us the big houses which belonged to G.Purushottama Naidu (it is now known as the Annapoorna bungalow), G.Krishnan, G.N.Sam , S.R.P.Ponnuswamy Chettiar and Narsi Sait. My uncle P.B.Seetnarama Guptha used to jocularly call the Kamakshi Amman temple a ‘temple complex’. I used to visit the residence of my friend Manoj and savour the food offered by his parents C.N.Rajani and Shuli. R.S.Puram had been a ‘Mini Bharat’. I used to whizz past the locality while visiting the Marudamalai Murugan Temple and also while studying management at the Bharathiar University.
Popular tailors was the place to get our clothes stitched. Gomatha Combines was an old store near Richie Rich. I had visited a number of properties in R.S.Puram along with my family at a time when they sought to acquire one more in R.S.Puram. Somehow it never materialized. We were all growing up and began attending college. It was the time to have fun. We used to meet our friends at Richie Rich. Junaid Ali Sait, Manoj, Santossh and myself used to frequent R.S.Puram in order to catch up with our friends. Those days, the youngsters had an associations called TUYS (The United Youth Society). They used to meet up often and try to serve the society. Many of the youngsters used to catch up at Richie Rich. I remember watching a fashion show in the Corporation Kalai Arangam and a few of my friends had participated in the same.
Kitchenette was another eatery and it was a time when boys and girls went there for enjoying each others company. I remember so many youngsters criss crossing R.S.Puram and they included Manish Vyas, Jagdish, D. Badri Anand, Hari, Nagina among many others. Many of the youngsters used to buy snacks at one of the eateries, get a beer from National Wines and drive off to Thadagam road. I remember many fine evenings with my friends Srinivas, Santossh, Anand Prasad and Rajesh. Bullet & Miami, Nelli KLR Sons (textile outlet) in Obli Towers, Sagarika, Missing Link the iconic video game parlour were in the locale. The slots had to fed with a coin in order to play. I distinctly remember that the coins were painted black. A huge crowd used to wait for their turn. Ayyar & Co was also very popular.
The Corporation Kalaiarangam used to be the venue for a number Tamil plays. Janaranjani and Sangeetha promoted by Balaji Service Station B.Janardhanan used to host plays like ‘Mezhugu Bommai’ (it was later made into the movie Pilot Premnath starring Sivaji Ganesan). Ramu Brothers N.Ramachundhiran and his wife Kotishwari Ammal used to be regular subscribers. Sarojini Nataraj of Anandkumar Mills used to attend the events quite regularly. We watched a number of magic shows in the same venue. Maruthi Theatre was another place to watch movies.
We used to visit my aunt Vijayalakshmi and uncle Nagendran often. My cousin Anusha and her brother Shiva used to spend a lot of time with us during our younger days. The Sastri Maidan was a place for recreation and activity. I remember attending many religious lectures in that ground. We used to also attend the Sri Rama Navami celebrations at the residence of Binny Subba Rao year on year. My father used to show us the B.K.R.Perfumery factory cum residence on West Ponnurangam road while visiting the residence of Binny Subba Rao. Now I live in the same house with my father in law Rajashekhar, wife Sujatha and son Madhav Balaji. My brother in law R.Manikantan manages the agarbathi and camphor business. I continue to remember the corner residence of ‘Tiles Nanjundan’ in West Ponnurangam Road. We used to live in Vysial street and had later moved to Trichy road. Now most of our family members live in R.S.Puram. This includes my uncles V.Ravindranath, Shekhar Viswanath and their families.
I used to enjoy criss crossing R.S.Puram at a time when I did not know that it was Rathinasabapathy Puram.
—Rajesh Govindarajulu

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One Thought to “Rathina Sabapathy Puram, Once A Little India”

  1. S S Vaidy

    Thanks, you have kindled many a sweet memory.
    S S Vaidyanathan

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