Saturday, November 3, 2012


At first glance, it seemed to be a medical practitioner's signboard. But that was quickly clarified, thanks to the very clear fullstop between the 'D' and the 'R'. And if any doubt lingered, it was wiped away with the intuitive understanding that there is no consulting doctor who advertises as 'Bros'. 

I'm always fascinated by the enamel-on-blue boards - or those approximating that effect. The Raanka Brothers possibly started their business a little too late for the enamels, but blue and white was likely the height of fashion in 1942, which was when the business was set up. Starting out as a wholesaler of silver vessels, Raanka moved into silver jewellery; it is customary that, despite (or because of) India's fascination with gold, it is never used to make anklets. Silver was therefore the metal of choice for such ornamentation and the silversmiths were the supply point. It is the third generation that runs D.R.Raanka Bros these days, but some of the old traditions die hard - including the description of anklets as 'leg chains'. 

Another of those old habits would be the city's name. Even today, the board refers to 'Madras' and not 'Chennai'. Would that mislead an ordinary person who relies on this board as a geo-locator? Hardly. But what was completely out of place was the address on this board; I had to look all around to make sure that we had not wandered off from Arunachala Street in Chintadripet!


Lowell said...

Knowing very little of India, Madras, Chennai, I found your commentary most fascinating! Dr. Raanka Bros would make a good title for a movie about silver makers who become doctors and strike it rich! :-)

Shantaram said...

@Lowell: Thank you. Hmmm, you have the makings of a good script right there!