Tag Archives: walking

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. 

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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