Unlike the walrus, few people can talk of such a variety of things. Prof Swaminathan can talk of shoes and socks in Ajanta paintings, ships that sailed between England and India, the Fibonacci patterns of leaves in cabbages, and many a king including Mahendra Varma Pallava, - the maverick who called himself Vichitrachitta, the innovative and exotic thinker who unleashed the era of sculptures and architecture in Tamil country. If you had studied mechanical engineering in IIT Delhi, I am sure I would have heard him speak about sealing wax, too.
Professor Swaminathan had a thriving career as a faculty member in IIT Delhi, a premier engineering institution in India. He sought voluntary retirement, first to work in the Integrated Rural Technology Centre in Kerala and then moved full time into Culture and Heritage. He first established Sudarsanam in Pudukkottai to document the heritage of Pudukkottai, his hometown. Subsequently, he was instrumental in establishing the Tamil Heritage Trust in Chennai and remains it founder chairman.