Back in time

Back in time

Unique hobbies

Back in time

Software professional Giri Tirumale has grown up watching photographic representations. While his father, a Geological Survey of India employee who had a passion for wielding his camera, captured every moment of Giri’s growing up years, his maternal grandfather cherished collecting old photographs.

   Blessed with the twin legacies, Giri now has a collection of 2,000 vintage photographs and is now digitising both photographs and negatives for posterity.

After exploring several options, Giri decided against outsourcing the scanning and bought a Cannon scanner to scan the pictures himself before correcting and digtising them. “It is definitely a time-consuming affair but since I have a rare collection of pictures, it is only right that I preserve them,” he says. 

He has also managed to dust up and find his grand father’s collection. “My grandfather has neatly inked the borders of the picture and written the year and the occasion when the pictures were taken. It’s amazing how organised he was back then,” says Giri. Among his collection, there are a few pictures Giri holds close to his heart. “There’s a picture of my parents holding me when I was about 2 or 3 months old and another of me sitting on my father’s Lambretta scooter,” he adds. Giri also has a picture of his grandfather playing cricket. “The picture must have been taken in 1927. My grandfather is wearing baggy pants and is wearing something that looks like a glove. He was then a landlord in Mandya,” he adds.

Apart from the old photographs, Giri has in his possession, his father’s first purchase — Agfa Isolette I camera which is a 120 roll film, folding camera.

“It can take 12 pictures which were 6 cm x 6 cm in size. This camera was manufactured sometime between 1952 and 1958. My father picked it up in Kodaikanal in the late 50s,” explains Giri, his voice ringing with excitement.

He recalls that there were a lot of foreigners who used to come to Kodaikanal. “Before, they returned to their country, they sold their cameras, typewriters and radios. That’s how my father happened to buy the camera,” adds Giri.

Giri also has in his collection a radio — a Marconiphone model 7100 which has 6 tube/valve. “My friends and neighbours know of my fetish for restoring old things, so one of my neighbours brought me this radio when it was in a bad state. It was built in 1948 and weighs around 13 kg. It took me a while to restore it, Now it works perfectly,” shares Giri.

Giri has also managed to gather some history about the radio from the man who repaired it. “I was told the spare parts of the radio would have been  part of some old communication equipment that were perhaps junked by the armed forces. I also have with me the manual that came along with the radio,” says Giri. Interestingly, till the late 70s and even early 80s, everyone who owned a radio in India was supposed to pay an annual radio licence at the post office,” informs Giri. “Every radio had a licence book which was the size of a ration card and had to be kept in safe custody. The licence for this radio was cancelled in 1982. I still have the receipt of this document from the post office,” he elaborates.

Giri’s wife Jayanthi and children — Rohan and Kavita — are equally interested in the family collection of old photographs and help him hasten the process of digitisation. “Today, you have everything you need at the click of a button or in the palm of your hand but nothing can take away the charm of holding and turning the pages of an old album,” says Giri.   

(Giri can be reached at

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