The jury is still out on whether he’s an ad man or a mad man, but Rajesh Ramaswamy, the writer whose commentary accompanies the photographs on Lifescapes, couldn’t care two hoots.
He maintains that he’s essentially a storyteller, and that there’s a story to be found in every nook and cranny of life, if we only look for it.
Even the smallest pebble lying forlorn beside a brook, he believes, has a story. Perhaps of how it was once a mighty rock, and bore witness to the ebb and flow of a humanity whose lives were predicated to the raging river that smoothed the rock over centuries, into a more humble pebble-dom.
Rajesh’s fascination with stories began much before he even understood the meaning of words. Through comforting, maternal sounds that soothed and lulled him to sleep as a toddler, when the only meaning they carried was one of warmth and security.
As he grew into early brat-hood, the stories he heard and read became much more layered, and very soon he reached a stage where he couldn’t sleep without having one read out to him every night. Even sooner, he was partaking voraciously of the vast literary repast at home, and progressed to reading out the stories he had painstakingly written. It says much for his early promise, or lack thereof, when we consider how he had an exclusive audience of just one listener; that being his pet Spitz, which too, had to be chained lest she run away. This was perhaps an early lesson in how to retain a ‘captive’ audience, one that he might have been tempted to use in his later, ‘advertising’ years.
Having traversed the pockmarked and pimpled pathways of adolescence, he discovered a whole new outlet for his creative impulses, enrolling in a course in Hotel Management. A few years, and many upset stomachs later, he did the world of gastronomy a huge favour, and quit. He spent the next few years pursuing a degree in Literature, mostly in-absentia, while he meandered through the rural landscape of southern India. This period of communion with the hinterland, sparked off a love affair with nature that abides to the day, and an empathy with the sons of the soil.
The hospitality world’s gain became Advertising’s loss, as he then began his career as a copywriter at a leading Ad Agency. Over the next decade and a half, he continued telling stories, only it was now about brands, and his audience no longer had to be chained in place.
As the Executive Creative Director of McCann Erickson, he headed the Creative function for S. India, and wove his tales around bikes and beverages, cookies and condoms, insurance and mobile services, processors and processed foods….
Too much of a good thing, can however, lead to Angstville, and it slowly percolated to his mind that he was spending more time chasing flights and deadlines than the elusive muse.
One day, at an airport lounge he’d come to call home, he experienced an epiphany of sorts and recollects thinking, “…even if I happened to win the rat race, I’d have still been a rat.” So he put in his papers and headed back to Chennai, to continue telling stories his way; about people and brands, and about causes dear to his heart. And hoping, to some day, own a restaurant which he’ll name ‘The Guinea Pig’, where customers will have no choice but to consume his culinary experiments. Just like the good old days with his pet Spitz.
Rajesh Ramaswamy works out of Chennai as an independent Creative Consultant for brands across the country. Feel free to reach him at [email protected].