Ride like the wind!

nostalgia ~ Ride like the wind!

Always in love with long drives (now quite a bit dampened by the high beam lovers of MeraBharatMahan), Swamy is also, interestingly (or intriguingly – depending on how full your cup typically is), a biker who loved to ride! 


Despite the harsh fact that he could enjoy neither driving the fabulous four wheeled XUV500 (what a #MakeInIndia car #Mahindra.. wow!) nor riding the fantastic two wheeled Classic 500 (hmmm, haven’t noticed the “500” similarity till this moment.. really interesting!) from Royal Enfield (what a respectful revival of the iconic legend #SiddharthLal.. wow!) on the mad mad mad roads of Chennai, during his commute to work (duh), he could still get a kick out of one of those traffic signal sprints (don’t even think about it kids – unless you are on talking terms with your bike or car – yep, it’s not just an automobile, it’s actually a being that you can befriend) or that rare stretch of tarmac which could be totally yours for just a minute or two. Ah, those were the days, when the preferred seat was not the one in the corner room office (of course Swamy had one of those for years, even though he wasn’t a CxO, ever 😉 but the saddle of the venerable Royal steed aka Bullet or the driver’s seat of the truly majestic highway mile muncher Cheetah aka XUV (both in red, both now sold.. uh..huh..).


But what’s a biker who hasn’t ridden a Harley! So, as a true blue biker, Swamy grabbed the opportunity to ride one, with both hands, obviously, heh.. heh.. (pun very intended), when it came through one of his genial clients in Salt Lake City, Utah, who actually owned a Harley. During a business trip, knowing that Swamy loves riding, Roger asked if Swamy would be interested in riding a Harley (after work, naturally) alongwith him, up in the mountains of Utah! Oh yes sir. 

Moral for young aspiring employees: Always invest time in building a personal rapport with your customers (over and above the professional relationship, knowing full well where the Lakshman Rekha is). It almost always pays – sometimes, in the form of awesome Harley rides, for free!

  

So, off went Roger and Swamy on two Harleys, on a sunny afternoon. For riders of the 100 – 200cc commuter bikes, merely standing beside a Harley can be intimidating. It’s just huge in comparison. But having ridden the Bajaj Avenger and local beast Classic 500 for years, Swamy was up to the challenge. A few minutes were needed to get accustomed to the sheer size of the bike (one has to almost stand on its gear lever, which was the size of the gas pedal in the XUV), but after that it was a breeze. The throaty exhaust note wasn’t music to the ears exactly, but all those horses (1200cc, probably – more powerful than most cars on Indian roads) do come in handy, letting the beast and the rider atop, chug ahead, merrily. While Roger rode in the front (constantly watching Swamy in his rearview mirror), Swamy followed at a leisurely pace. Once they were past the plains and headed up the hills, it was simply a heavenly feeling and one can simply keep riding literally into the sunset. But it got so cold as the altitude rose (it wasn’t even winter) that Swamy had to wear gloves during a stopover (that’s when this pic was probably clicked) and the blissed out riders eventually made their way back to the plains, almost grudgingly.


Later, Roger told Swamy that he was a bit apprehensive initially, but stopped worrying after a few minutes, on seeing how Swamy handled a few turns on the road without a hiccup. The apprehension is understandable as Swamy is a lean man (daily diligent practice of Isha Yoga – at that time), almost looking puny on the beast of a bike, whereas Roger was of the right build for an even bigger bike (his brother-in-law’s, apparently). But riding a large Bike or SUV is never about the size of the person’s physique (a lesson Swamy learned while doing his first test ride of Bullet, long before he bought one – fulfilling a cherished childhood dream, fueled by the memories of sitting on his uncle’s – now defunct – Royal Enfield Crusader), but about getting to know the bike or car better, in terms of size, power, acceleration, braking, equipment, features, etc. It takes time but can be mastered by anyone keen.


Many of the horrible accidents happening to youngsters are simply because of their thrill seeking rides at breakneck speeds, without first getting to know the bike better, so the ride becomes more predictable and eventually joyful. It’s the same case with cars too. A rider or driver needs to know the automobile so intimately that s/he can actually talk to them (it’s a different kind of language.. but you get the drift) and get them to do things that may seem impossible to others. In the hands (& legs, obviously) of a skilled driver / rider, even the cute little Tata Nano (an engineering marvel, which suffered from truly stupid marketing) or a Kinetic Sym (both of which Swamy owned, at some point in time) can truly Ride like the wind (even on the mad mad mad MeraBharatMahan roads, where the only rule is there are no rules)!


P.S.1: Roger later took Swamy to a Harley Davidson showroom in that area (jaw dropping, no less), aptly reciprocating what Swamy did when Roger was in Chennai – taking him to a Royal Enfield dealership (in Adyar)!

P.S.2: Swamy also got to drive a BMW (yep, truly the epitome of “The Joy of Driving”) during that trip, in a different city, thanks to another kind offer by another customer (Swamy’s US counterpart in the unique Hosted Captive model that they ran as a partnership quite successfully for nearly 3 years), thereby reducing the karma related to 2 and 2×2 wheels!

P.S.3: The Royal Enfield Himalayan and the #MakeInIndia Harley Street 750 seem certainly worth a try… but… umm… well, that’s a story for some other time!


~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy



nostalgia is the new Swamygraphy© series, for old time(r)s’ sake 

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ThAththA & the Cycle!

Nostalgia ~ ThAththA & the Cycle! 

The sagely elder in the pic is Swamy’s paternal ThAththA (தாத்தா ~ grandfather in Tamil, Swamy’s mother tongue) Thiru. T.R. Muthuswamy Iyer. He was retired (as Mathematics teacher & probably Headmaster as well) even when Swamy just started his schooling (check out that young Swamy here). Obviously very proud of his eldest grandson, grampa used to walk him to school daily and said to be very proud of his academic accomplishments. True to the gene, Swamy did very well in Maths (how ’bout a centum in X standard, eh)!

Grampa was a ferocious walker and would cover humongous distances by foot – bare, probably – on a daily basis. He was so fast while walking, it’ll be hard for even those half his age to catch up. When Swamy started traversing by foot & cycle, he was astonished by how far grampa used to walk. But Swamy has never seen him ride a bicycle.

The place where Grampa is meditatively seated – pretty much all day – is known as ThiNNai (திண்ணை – verandah). He has suffered from arthritis (the grape coloured Ksheerabala tablets he took still linger in the dusty shelves of memory) and eventually his walking got reduced to just moving around the house. His visual apparatus too became dim but his aural ones were as sharp as ever. So, he would always love to hear what his grandsons (5 of them in all, starting with Swamy) were up to, whenever they cared to spend some time with him, in his permanent seat of contemplation (and probably meditation, though he didn’t come across as someone spiritually inclined).

The seated man known for his fast walking and the bicycle that’s any middle class person’s choice for fast riding (we’re talking days of Solidaire B&W TV & the Murphy radio here)… Both remaining still and somehow connected looks not only poignant, but even poetic. The lighting makes it a surreal sliver of frozen time. 

May be, the title should’ve been “Old Man and the Cycle!” But that sounds too American & very disrespectful in the elder-respecting Indian context. They don’t make ThAththAs like him anymore. Damn, for that matter, not even cycles like that anymore (remember Hercules)!

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy


nostalgia is the new Swamygraphy© series, for old time(r)s’ sake 

The Moment!

Photography is all about capturing a fleeting moment, i.e., slice of Life, that can be seen, remembered & cherished forever. Here are a few examples of such moments captured by Swamy, over years!

Play1. Swamy Jr., aka, Akash. PC. Iyer, reacting to his sand castle being washed away by a wave. This fleeting moment of the would be GrandMaster (he’s a professional Chess player of some repute) is that of pure joy, marveling at the wave’s magnificence instead of ruing the demolition of his sand creation!

Mother2. Whenever Swamy accompanies Jr. for tournaments, there’ll be ample time in hand during rounds that Swamy typically uses to read or observe + capture precious moments of Life. Here’s one such when a puppy kept suckling at its mom, who despite being in a hurry, kept stalling its movement time and again for its baby to get nourished.

Curiosity3. Swamy’s younger daughter Maggy – a German Spitz – is one utterly fearless and absolutely curious being. Among the umpteen amusing things she does – including but not limited to jumping on and resting on the dining table – the most enchanting one is peeping through the balcony, marveling at all and sundry around SwamyHome!

Monk_and_Cats4. During the trip to Sri Lanka, along with Swamy Jr. for Asian Chess Championship, Swamy used to roam around the quaint little seaside town of Hikkaduwa on a daily basis. He found this young Buddhist monk in a nearby Buddha Vihara, i.e., monastery (Buddhism, which originated in India is, widely practiced in nearby Sri Lanka) and connected with him talking about everything from the ethnic conflict to tsunami to the frugal & regulated Life of a monk to his aspiration to visit Bodh Gaya (where Gautama, the Buddha’s enlightenment happened – a must visit sacred place for Buddhists) someday. Among the many beings that have been cared for in the monastery were a few kittens (there were also rabbits, dogs, monkeys, cows and a variety of birds) and those tiny little beings (the pencil & key chain on the floor should give an idea about how tiny) weren’t shy about snuggling up to the young monk! Interestingly, the monastery also had a shrine for popular Tamizh God Lord Muruga (also known as Karthikeya, Subrahmanya, Skanda, Kumara, etc.), the younger son of Adiyogi Lord Shiva & Devi Parvati, who’s known and worshiped as Kathirgama (pronounced like Katheragama in Sinhalese) in Sri Lanka – by ethnic minority Tamizh people, majority Sinhalese & tribal Veddars.

3-in-1!

There are photos that are textbook examples of photography rules (there are many such rules for composing photographs, in case you chose to trust that ‘intelligent auto’ setting and didn’t bother to know anything beyond). And then there are photos which capture more than one rule, by design or not. This is one of those rare photos where at least 3 of the rules – framing, leading line and rule of thirds – converge to capture a precise moment of Life!

Gingee_Fort

Place: Chenji (Ginjee) fort near Thiruvannamalai.

Tale: Swamy with Jr. and his brothers visited Chenji while returning from Thiruvannamalai to Chennai. Instead of just marveling at the magnificence of the dilapidated fort and taking a few photos, they suddenly decided to climb up the mountain. That backbreaking steep climb proved once again that impulsive choices aren’t necessarily intelligent choices, always. Totally unprepared and unequipped for a trek, the madness turned out to be a miracle, when all of us completed the trek eventually and made it safely back. While we frantically searched for water at the summit to quench our thirst, the vistas all around – including a sprawling ancient temple and stone wall akin to ‘The Great Wall of China’ connecting two forts (King’s & Queen’s) located on two hillocks facing each other satiated our thirst for picturesque locales. Still searching for those pictures in the archives!

Swamygraphy – an eye opener!

Swamygraphy = [Prakash]Swamy + [photo]graphy.

This isn’t another photography blog about technicalities and nuances of this enchanting craft, which is best left to the masters. There have been and are so many of them and many share their knowledge through various media for eager and willing learners. Google returned about 5,41,00,000 results in 0.60 seconds for ‘Photography lessons + Free’!

Swamygraphy is an eclectic mix of enticing photos and enchanting tales by @PrakashSwamy, a blogger and author who also happens to be a photographer. Swamy got enticed (& inevitably encompassed) by this marvelous craft during film SLR era (Millennials’ only hope of knowing about those devices are Google, Books & good ol’ photographers like yours truly ;)) and continues to dabble with it as a serious amateur till date, with the equipment varying from now extinct film SLRs to compact digital cams to digital SLRs to smartphones toting SLR rivaling megapixel cams.

Kailash

Good photography isn’t about the craftsman, i.e., photographer or the equipment [s]he uses.

Good photography is about capturing a fleeting moment of Life, so precisely that it connects instantly with anyone who eyes it.

A good photograph inevitably makes an emotional connect with the viewer by teleporting him/her to that precious moment and place in time and gets etched in memory forever.

A good photography will tug at the heartstrings and brings out a sliver of a smile, drop of tear or frown in the brow from the viewer.

Things like lighting, composition, etc. are talked about a lot at length, but they only enhance and elevate a good photograph.

Great photography is taking good photographs consistently and repeatedly.

SwamygrapherSo, keeping that KISS (no not that you wet dreamer – it’s just the abbreviation of Keep It Simple Stupid :O) principle about photography in mind, let’s get started on this enchanting Swamygraphy journey and view good photographs, hear enchanting tales and cherish those precious moments of Life, captured by @PrakashSwamy!

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

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