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The spoon collector

Spoons of all shapes and sizes fascinate R. Soundarapandian, who hopes to make it to the Guinness, says SANGEETH KURIAN


STAMP COLLECTORS, coin collectors and even tag collectors, but ever heard of a spoon collector? Meet R. Soundarapandian, a 40-year-old school teacher who has a collection of over 200 spoons in 40 varieties from India and abroad.

His unique and interesting collection includes ornamental shell (oyster) spoons, a variety believed to have been used by the royal families of Jaipur, weightless paper spoons with exquisite designs from Nepal, gold coated mocca spoons from Singapore, metallic spoons with scary apparitions carved on the handle, ladles that can used for both soups and food, bone marrow spoons used for non-vegetarian dishes, pickle spoons from America, ice cream spoons from Arabia, snuff spoons, ear spoons, spatula, scoops and a foot-long chemical spoon with a long, slender neck used for taking poisonous chemicals.

While most would dismiss it as a rather odd passion, Soundarapandian is serious about it. "Collecting spoons requires involvement and dedication, just like any other hobby. There is a lot to learn about spoons, good enough to write a thesis," explains this teacher of Zoology.

"How many of us know that spoons were used as a token of courtship in the Welsh custom (according to this ancient practice, a man who is in love would gift his girl a wooden spoon referred to as `love spoon.' Its handle is carved with designs of hearts, anchors and flowers) or that a spoon can be used to explain a convex and concave lens," he asks.

Each spoon has its value and relevance. "If you put a shell spoon, meant for taking saffron, inside a salt bottle it not only diminishes the value of the spoon but also exposes the user's ignorance in table etiquette."

So, how did he get interested in this hobby? "I happened to see an exhibition by a Coimbatore-based businessman in 1996, who had an assorted collection, from lens and spectacles to tyres and time pieces. And since spoons were easily available and played an indispensable role in our day-to-day lives, I thought of taking it up."

But Soundarapandian is nowhere near done. His aim is to get into the Guinness Book of World Records. "For that, I need to collect 60 more varieties. And I hope to reach the target by the end of this year," he says.

Next time, if you come across an interesting looking ladle, think of Soundarapandian. It could be one of his stepping spoons to the Guinness.

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