Shanmughasaari. I remember him from our Vysial Street house days. He would be very respectful to everyone. I particularly remember the rose wood swing made for each of our families. He was an expert carpenter and his finish was next to none. Teak and rosewood were going through the roof. Besides all this, wood required seasoning. Therefore, Shanmughasaari came up with a unique solution. He suggested that we use good quality plywood with laminate sheets fixed on top. He made several sets of wardrobes, side tables, and dressing tables for all our bedrooms.
Our Vysial Street home was really huge, and we had a huge supporting infrastructure. The house was fitted with several telephones, air conditioners etc., There were numerous entrances and a huge fleet of cars. Each of my uncles, aunts and elders had come up with a colour scheme for their bedrooms. One would choose light green, another would choose dark green and another would choose a blue. I still remember the huge double cot with drawers on the side. It had been made by Shanmughasaari around 1967. It continues to stay with my brother now.
I remember him discussing with my uncles and aunts with regard the size, height and number of doors required for the wardrobe. They would refer to catalogues and books while making their choice. The wardrobes were not attached to the wall. They could be moved and were sturdy. The aesthetics and finish were superb. He would suggest the internals. Drawers for holding bangles were always part of the setup. The drawers would have open slots at the start, and it was unique. One could keep their little items in them. The work was smooth, and the varnishing used to be top class. Shamughasaari had also made tiny beds for the kids at home. Well, the pooja mandapam was made by him. Two of the pieces are still in use. The word ' Formica ' was used every day at home. Our home was forever in a state of making something new.
Shanmughasaari was always welcome home. Each of his visits would result in making something new. He was good at every activity connected with furniture. The work was seamless, and the products were quite reliable. There are many pieces that were made by him and his team. Our family split in the late seventies of the twentieth century and we settled in our new homes. The furniture pieces made by Shanmughasaari were taken to our new homes. In fact, the pieces were big in size but they stood the transfers. The new homes were not the first, and we settled finally in our third houses only ! Furniture had to be carted away once more. Times and life styles changed but the utility value of the work of Shanmughassari stood the test of time.
The fine carpenter passed away during our growing-up years, and his brother Muthasaari took his place. This gentleman was a calm and quiet person. He lived to work and had passed away while on a task. He made doors, windows and furniture for all our homes. These were the houses that we settled into. He used teak, white cedar, laminates, rosewood and plywood in all our homes. Each room had a combination of all this, but the seamless finish ensured style and uniformity.
Our Trichy Road housework was done by Muthassari in those days. I remember taking him to our old Vysial Street house ' Raju Bhavan, in order to copy the main door design for our new home. He did his job thoroughly. The pooja room door is also a masterpiece. The doors and windows were crafted well. Muthassari would always sport a mild smile. He was a man of few words. A pencil would be found on the top of one of his ears. Work was worship for him. Both Shanmughasaari and Muthasaari were known for their etiquette. They conducted themselves very well.
Our bed rooms had been huge in Vysial Street. Each of them was endowed with large spaces. They were like mini appartments. We just kept adding something or the other in our bedroom units and all of it was produced by Shanmughasaari and his team. Shanmughasaari and Muthasaari would have a made dozens of pieces for our residences. The quality and finish were spectacular. All our friends and relatives used to admire the work of the two brothers, Shanmughasaari and Muthasaari.
Mica sheets were easy to maintain, and right choices made them look attractive. All the wardrobes made by Shanmughasaari were unique. While borders accompanied the colours. This broke the monotony. Plus, it was possible to make dark colours pleasing. The cots were also made to match the wardrobes. He would ensure that the corners were made well. This was done in order to ensure that none of us got hurt. Retrofitting old furniture was also a part of their expertise. Our store furniture was restored by Shanmughasaari about 50 years ago. The store does not exist anymore, but the furniture does.
The legacy of good work lives on. We are now living in the ' throw away economy days ' People are talking about conservation while also destroying the ecology. Furniture life cycles are coming down. Work backed by a lack of vision and the frequency of change have destroyed the quality of everything that we do. The story of Shanmughasaari, Muthasaari and their products could be an eye opener.
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