Category Archives: family

nostalgia ~ Paper or Me!

It’s a fact that a middle-class TamBrahm householder’s day starts with a piping hot cup of strong filter Kaapi aka decoction coffee (coffee extract from a proportionate mix of ground coffee powder & chicory, mixed with boiled milk and sugar) and a mandatory reading of The Hindu (and / or DhinamaNi – தினமணி). 

This remains true, even today – especially in smaller towns like Madurai, Trichy, etc, as life in the Metro, aka huge cosmopolitan cities with monstrosities called vertical residential communities (apartment towers), faraway workplaces needing hours long commute and always-in-a-tearing-hurry people have no resonance with the typically slow-paced, mild-mannered ways of the – mostly retired, now – middle-class TamBrahm elders. 

The elder in this pic is Swamy Sr (Thiru M. Ramaswamy, retired CTO – Commercial Tax Officer – of the Tamilnadu government), who was active in government service then (circa 1997). Having completed his daily morning walk (a healthy trait he must’ve acquired from his father, i.e. Swamy’s grandfather, which he diligently adhered to, from time immemorial) and sipped the hot cuppa (there’s practically no limit to the number of cups, during the course of a day, any day) offered by daughter-in-law No.1 aka Mrs. Swamy, he’s on to the 3rd part of his daily morning routine – reading The Hindu and DhinamaNi (தினமணி). The Times of India hasn’t realised the market potential of news loving Tamilians then, so the only English newspapers were The Hindu & The Indian Express. 

The totally zen baby, resting on his lap is Swamy Jr (Akash PC Iyer, who eventually became a professional Chess player of international repute), who apparently must’ve seen his father – Swamy himself, obviously – maintaining a respectful distance from his father (the Canon P&S digital camera had a 3x optical zoom!) and must’ve been pondering the question “Do you want the Paper or Me appA!” 

Oh btw, Swamy Sr is more of a cool elder, not one of those stereotypes, featured in Tamil novels (oh, those were the good times when the abomination known as nedunthodar TV serials haven’t yet been created). The origin of the ethics & values of Life that Swamy‘s acquaintances may’ve observed in Swamy, is none other than Swamy Sr aka CTO Sir, a self-made man, and a wonderful human. No wonder Swamy Jr keenly looked forward to his morning rest time, in the lap of his gentle grampa, blissfully unaware of the big-bad world that he was born in, whose horrible happenings are featured in the pages of the newspaper that his ThAthA (grandfather) was reading!

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy 

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

nostalgia ~ Before Selfie!

nostalgia5

Before the Smartphones came into existence…

Before the love-hate phenomenon called Selfie was invented…

the only way to take a Selfie – individual or group (wonder what was it called then!) – is to set the timer of a camera, focus on the subjects (Mrs & Jr Swamy in this case, with space left on the right for Swamy), press the shutter, run like hell and take the place, pose and pray the focus didn’t change before the shot was taken! Now imagine doing this with a film camera :O

Anyway, this pre-Selfie era group selfie (is it Groupie!) was taken using a Canon Digital Point & Shoot camera (bought at a duty free shop in Changi airport, during one of Swamy’s business trips) whose resolution was…

hold your breath… and puhleeeze don’t laugh hysterically…

5 megapixels!

Though Mr & Mrs Swamy are posing with their megawatt smile, hoping to get the shot right (who knows how many iterations it took), Jr in the middle (must’ve been only a few months old) must’ve been really wondering “Why is Dad running and falling near me.. again & again.. when Mom is quietly lying down beside me, frowning & smiling, alternatively?”

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

nostalgia is the new Swamygraphy series by Swamy for old time(r)s’ sake!

nostalgia ~ 2×2 Brothers!

Just like any craft, photography is fun too. While in this DSLR age, anybody who can afford a camera can start their photog journey with the help of a multitude of online courses & ‘how to’ visual guides, in the good ol’ days of film SLR, every trick of the trade was learned by trial & error. Until the film is developed & printed (Swamy used to always print two sets of pretty much every film roll, so one of them could be sent back to his parents & younger brothers in Madurai), it’s practically impossible to know the result of any experiment. 

The models in this pic are Swamy‘s youngest brothers Prasanna (@prachastudios) & Bhaskar. Yep, just the two of them, twice over, in the same frame. No digital editing (which can simply be done on a smartphone these days) & no other gimmick, other than using a filter (screwed on the lens) to expose the same film twice. The outcome depends heavily on stability of the camera (tripod & remote shutter release are a must), the background (key is to find a point of merger – of the two parts) & of course, Lighting. 

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy 

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

nostalgia ~ Chiselled with Light!

nostalgia ~ Chiselled with Light!

Photography is all about light. Being a nature / landscape photographer, Swamy rarely takes portraits of fellow humans (unlike his younger brother in this pic – on the right – who is passionately into Portrait photography). But during the learning years, like any keen learner, he would hardly miss an opportunity to frame any subject, Chiselled with Light. 

The two cute kids in the pic are Swamy‘s younger brothers Bhaskar (#5, an eligible bachelor) & Prasanna (#4, the pro Portrait photog of Pracha Studios). They’re naturally lit by the evening sunlight, flowing through the twin windows in the hall (at the home where Swamy lived during his graduation & early work years).

Though the brothers obviously enjoyed getting photographed by their big brother (Swamy is the eldest of 5 brothers), they must’ve really been wondering as to why they’re looking away from the camera instead of looking at it!

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy


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

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