In 1962, Antoine Ponnusamy worked as a cook at the French Embassy in Pondicherry. The ambassador offered Antoine to accompany him to France on his return to Paris and he accepted. A few years later, Antoine’s wife Rani also arrives in Paris, followed by his 8-year-old daughter Delia. One day when he went to lunch with a friend in the neighborhood for his birthday, Antoine came across this covered passage and found it abandoned. The place was deserted, there were no shops, only leases to sell. On settling in Paris a few years ago, Antoine realized that Indian products were not available here. At that time it was very difficult to find even 1 kg of red lentils in Paris, nothing was available in Indian at that time. Little India did not exist at that time.
Antoine, who had had the opportunity to travel to different states of India in his youth, had a desire to share his culture in France as well. From then on, he along with his wife decided to open the first Indian grocery store L’Épicerie Murugan in Passage Brady in 1976. In India, it is a tradition to name your business after a god and Murugan was one of Antony’s favorite deities. In the beginning about fifty varieties of spices were available in this small shop. When he entered his shop, he showered you with a mixture of cardamom, cinnamon, camphor and incense sticks. His business was very well accepted in Paris, as the products were rare and in great demand.
Four years later, this culinary enthusiast opened Le Pondicherry, a small Indian restaurant with three tables, where Antoine cooked fine traditional dishes. People had to jostle to get a seat at the table.
Now this passage is called Little India. Many celebrities like Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan have stayed here when they came to Paris.
Antoine was the first person who first introduced Indian culture to France in the love of his country and gave a new shine to the passage. He died on 28 October 2017 at the age of 80. A memorial plaque was also placed in his honor at Passage Brady on December 7, 2018.