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Poster collection carries people down memory lane

Sandhya Soman

Exhibition on road transport evolution at Periyar Science and Technology Centre


CHENNAI : A poster exhibition giving a multi-layered slice of the evolution of road transport opened at the Periyar Science and Technology Centre here on Wednesday.

On display are posters, painstakingly collected by R.K. Nehru of Nehrus' Unique Museum at Yelagiri, and covering a wide range from the history of bicycles to stamps featuring sports and racing cars.

The `Revolution in Road Transport and Road Safety' exhibition features posters about how and when the Quadricycle got out, a century of the motor car, and carefully preserved newspaper and magazine clippings about how India was manufacturing cars in 1903.

There are exhibits capturing the `Monster in Paris', a self-powered artillery tractor on wooden wheels that came out in 1769, the `ugly bug' of 1940s — the Volkswagen Beetle — , stamps that immortalise horseless carriages, and the Hondas and Yamahas.

Also thrown in are bits and pieces about `Engineers and Inventors' — how Chevrolet was named after racing driver Louis Chevrolet and Chrysler, in memory of the automobile mechanic Walter Chrysler.

"There are just 150 posters here," says Savithri Nehru, who accompanied her husband Mr. Nehru.

The rest are in the museum at Nilavoor in Yelagiri where the Nehrus have put on display numerous masks, wine bottles, candles, coins, and of course, scaled-down models of vintage cars, scooters and cycle rickshaws collected over the years.

"I started collecting stamps and coins when I was in school," says 82-year-old Nehru, a former Northern Railway employee.

He says he does not mind the occasional "begging and borrowing" so he could add to his collection.

Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre Deputy Director S. Soundararaja Perumal recalls how, in the 1970s, Mr. Nehru argued his way to get hold of a huge cricket bat and ball that were on display during a match held in Mumbai.

And Mr. Nehru procures his favourites — army medals — from financiers, who would have bought them for a song from the penniless sons and daughters of awardees.

Mr. Nehru's passion for preserving the past for posterity is relentless, despite break-ins and thefts of vintage items from his museum.

The exhibition will be on till April 25.

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