A Chennai ‘must-visit’ for the curious mind.

A Chennai ‘must-visit’ for the curious mind.

The aesthetic of the shop is what draws you to it.
Image: Copyright Vishal Joseph

“There are two D’s of photography, dawn and dusk. The best pictures are to be taken then.”

―  -Mohammad Lateef ,Present proprietor (TOCS)

Chennai, a city of a thousand secrets, a city whose inhabitants often miss out on many of the hidden gems that the city has to offer.
I’ve had the pleasure of living in Chennai for almost half a decade now and it’s only towards the end of my time here that I took the initiative to truly explore this amazing city. Here is one (of the many) attraction you must visit while in Chennai.

Almost hidden in plain sight, ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ is indeed what its name suggests. On my way back home after a shopping session at Spencer Plaza, I took the U-Turn at the signal. Just then I happened to see this Blue board which read “The Old Curiosity Shop”. In bright contrast to the red-bricked building which truly stands out on the Mount Road we see today, this caught my attention. Parking my scooter on the side of the road, I walked through what was to become an amazing experience. With a bell that dings just as you step through the entrance there, there was an aura that needed to be seen, that needed to be experienced. This shop is almost like what I imagine walking through Ollivander’s at Diagon Alley would feel like (A Harry Potter reference, in case you didn’t already know).

Having first opened its doors to customers in 1946, this shop showcases collectables passed down over many generations within the owner’s family. From a framed photograph of a Young Shahrukh Khan, sitting oh so elegantly within a beautiful golden frame, to Winding clocks.

In the olden days, the first type of clocks available was purely mechanical. You would wind up the clock so that as the wheels and bolts inside the mechanics turn, your clock was on its way to ticking until it was time for you to wind it again. The time it would run on a complete wind would depend on the size of your timepiece. These are rare in our world today and quite interesting. You can also find vintage typewriters and handcrafted wooden boxes with hidden locks, yes, secret locks. These boxes are indeed a testament of great craftsmanship with beautiful and intricate designs. It is indeed tricky to anyone besides the owner to quickly open up this beauty.

When it comes to buying the items here, not every item in this store is for sale. Many of the items are part of the showcase, the owner’s collection, for your enjoyment. So don’t fall in love yet with anything you see, because there are chances that you’ll be left heartbroken.
With beautiful notes and quotes pinned all around the store, this store is truly a heart warmer. A reminder, to take a second and stop, to smell the roses. I walked around the shop intrigued by the ‘hi-story’ every little item in the store would have to share. I was quite glad to have been in the moment and have taken that second to make this visit. If only we said yes to more such opportunities that came our way, life could be ever so exciting and filled with beautiful possibilities.

Since they, unfortunately, had a ‘No Photography’ policy I wasn’t able to take any images. Instead, here are a few of the quotes which caught my attention.
“Sometimes you face difficulties, not because you’re doing something wrong, but because you’re doing something right.”
“Would you like you, if you met you?”
“We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom.”
“Sorrow is just a wall between two gardens.”

Pro-tip: Be sure to start up a conversation with the owner because that’s indeed part of this amazing experience.

Share your thoughts and your experience in the comments below if you’ve been to The Old Curiosity Shop!

If you would like to get in touch or have any feedback, you can contact me here.

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© 2020 Vishal Joseph . All rights reserved.


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