ASISH SYANGDEN AND HIS PASSION FOR RC HELICOPTERS (TNM Hobbies)
ASISH SYANGDEN, a veteran on the microphone, has reigned supreme on the radio for many years as one half of the Rhythm Brothers. When off air, he provides much needed comic relief for his friends on Facebook. “People are too serious on Facebook. Who the hell wants to hear you whining on Facebook?” he explained.
If you’re not familiar with the quirky, embarrassing and hilariously funny comic stylings of Mr. Syangden, you can add him on Facebook. Some say he will accept your friend request if you can recite the National Anthem backwards while juggling three monkeys.
But when he’s away from the mic and taking a break from Facebook shenanigans, Asish likes to unwind by indulging in his favorite hobby: RC Helicopters. Now for those of you who think he’s a little too old for toys, you’ve got another thing coming:
TNM: WHAT EXACTLY ARE THESE THINGS?
RC stands for radio-controlled so what it does is, it operates down sized vehicles with a help of a stimulator. It looks simple to the audience but it’s a totally enthralling experience that requires a lot of skill. These mini helicopters and cars have the same basic principles as the real ones. They have motors in them, they have similar rotators and also they can be modified to do whatever we want.
TNM: AREN’T YOU A LITTLE TOO OLD FOR TOYS?
It’s not a toy, but I can see how people can get confused. There are two grades to RCs, toy grades and hobby grades. What I have is hobby grade material. They are expensive and it requires skill and a heap of patience. It is almost equivalent to flying a real one, so you need a lot of patience and practice. These miniature versions of helicopters, cars and airplanes have motors which can be altered to meet our demands. The ones we get in stores, they can be crashed, kicked, dumped as it would not cost much but these babies can me modified however we want it to just like our bikes and cars. We can make them do what we want but there is a catch to it, it requires a lot of practice cause believe me; one crash is going to burn a gigantic hole in your pocket. This is one hell of an expensive hobby but no regrets I must say.
TNM: HOW DID YOU GET INTO THIS HOBBY?
When I was a kid I was really pampered as at that time my parents thought that I would be the only kid so my parents and grandparents fulfilled all of my wishes, at least most of them. At that time we were living in Hong Kong. One fine day, on my way to school, I discovered a store where they sold RC vehicles in various forms and sizes. I was so overwhelmed with this discovery of mine I wanted one for myself. That’s when it all started. For many years I couldn’t own one and do stunts which I had always dreamt of but it never left my mind. So I waited patiently till I could get one.
TNM: HOW DID YOU RECEIVE YOUR FIRST RC?
After I discovered this expensive hobby store I begged (and threw a little tantrum) to get one; all in vain. My parents had told me that I could have any other toy instead of it but I had my eyes on them and I was not going to budge from my decision. I would even see it in my dreams. So, every time I passed by the store I would window shop and dream about owning one. The wait was long but it was all worth it, on my birthday I got an RC. I remember it was a Tamiya Grasshopper, and I also remember being the happiest kid on earth that day.
I waited a whole year for it and I sacrificed hundreds of toys which were offered to me during those 365 days but after receiving it as a gift was well worth it. Finally my unsettled heart rested but it didn’t stay that way for long.
It’s been a struggle for me ever since I crashed my first RC car. I was really into a Hot Wheels advertisement and I tried mimicking a stunt but I failed embarrassingly and ended up crashing it.
TNM: SUCH HOBBIES DO COME AT A COST. CARE TO SHARE ANY OF THE STRUGGLES YOU’VE HAD TO FACE?
It’s been a struggle for me ever since I crashed my first RC car. I was really into a Hot Wheels advertisement and I tried mimicking a stunt but I failed embarrassingly and ended up crashing it. After moving to Nepal, I couldn’t repair the car as the parts weren’t available here and those that were, were too expensive. Then, for the next twenty years I kept this hobby aside as first I wasn’t financially stable to adopt this hobby and secondly it had to be delivered from abroad due to lack of availability.
On a family trip to Bangkok, I decided to rekindle my love for my hobby. I knew it would freak my wife out, so all I told her was that I would buy one thing and will not buy anything else beside that. I did my research before we left for the vacation I researched about the hobby shops, their whereabouts and noted it down. When it was my turn to shop so we got a cab and drove straight for the hobby shop.
Once there, I asked the shop owner if they had the model I wanted, the only one I had promised myself I’d buy. When the shopkeeper brought it in front of me it was in a million little pieces. I asked him to help me out, but he was too busy with other customers. I returned to my wife and daughter in the taxi with a bag that held what was my helicopter.
I thought I could put it together but it was out of my league. It took me months before I started finding someone who could help me put it together. One of my brothers operated a real helicopter, so I asked him for some assistance. He took it with himself and brought it back after a few months and I had my first ever RC Heli in my hands
Now I was warned to get in a bit of practice on smaller machines, but patience failed me. I took it for a test and I crashed right after I started. And it was an expensive crash that cost me 200 American Dollars to repair, that too in Dubai.
TNM: SENDING IT OUT OF THE COUNTRY SEEMS LIKE A LOT OF TROUBLE.
Luckily, that isn’t a problem anymore. While surfing the internet, I came across a video of an RC helicopter being flown in Kathmandu. I got in contact with the person who introduced me to a few more people who share this hobby. There is a really talented guy who can get things fixed if I crash my RCs, so that was a real boon.
TNM: WHAT ARE THE THINGS TO NOTE BEFORE BUYING ONE?
Feasibility is a major concern because this is an expensive hobby. If you live in Nepal I would suggest you to buy a LiPo (Lithium Polymer) battery as nitro gases and fuels are not available and even if it were available it would be very expensive. Also, before you buy a big one try buying a smaller version of it as it will help you with your estimations and also will help control the throttle of the aircraft. Last, but not the least, do not give it to children to play with.
TNM: HOW DO PEOPLE REACT TO YOUR HOBBY?
Well, I get a lot of mixed reactions. Few of my friends build curiosity towards it while few tell me that I am too old for playing around with helicopters and planes. What they do not understand is that I am not playing just for fun; I am inculcating skills and knowledge regarding it. Just like any other hobby it also requires patience and training but the final picture projected towards the audience is me playing with it. But I enjoy it, the little kid inside me never died so probably I will continue till I am not able to move a limb. Few of my friends even scold me saying that because of me their kids want one as well.
TNM: ANYTHING ON YOUR WISH LIST? (OR WHICH ONE WOULD YOU WANT TO GET YOUR HANDS ON NEXT?
Well, the wish list never ends and for me when it comes to RC helicopters or cars I have a long one. But the one that I have my eye on at the very moment is the Traxxas summit 1/10 scale, my hands are already itching. Can’t wait to take that bad boy out for a spin.
Photos: Bibhas Maharjan Suwal