Tag Archives: knowledge

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 

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. 

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