‘Long Road Hard Lessons’-A Story of father-son bonding

Dr Amit Nagpal: Mark, Tell us about your book ‘Long Road Hard Lessons’ and why do you call them hard lessons?

Mark Swain-The book is about a 10,000 mile cycle journey with my son from Ireland to Japan. I called the book, “Long Road Hard Lessons” because it was a very intense journey where my son was often angry with me during the whole 9 months. It was also a very long and physically hard journey.

Dr Nagpal: What was your son's experience? Sum it in brief.

Mark : Sam felt that he couldn't have any control during the trip (about things like where we stop, the direction we take etc) because I was paying for the trip. It was frustrating for him. I tried to tell him it didn't matter but he couldn't get out of that mentality.

Dr Nagpal: What was your experience in India & how was it different from Japan (in terms of culture, people etc)

Mark : We both found India the most exciting country of the trip. So much vibrancy. Such nice, happy people who were so interested in our journey and such beautiful landscapes.

Dr Nagpal: Have you used only illustrations in the book or photos also?

Mark : 12 maps (illustrations) very good quality, and 15 colour photographs.

Dr Nagpal: You have mentioned in the book, ‘ a test of 10,000 miles of father son relationship’. So did you guys pass the test?

Mark : In the end yes, we did. But at the time it was very frustrating - especially for Sam, I think. Sometimes it seemed impossible. However, after the trip we really understood how much we had learned from the experience. Now we are very very close friends.

Dr Nagpal: Which country gave you the best experience and why?

Mark : It took Sam about 4yrs to know what he had learned from the trip. At first he didn't know.

Without a doubt, we loved India the most of all the countries on the trip and it is where we would most like to return. We spent nearly 3 months travelling from south to north then west to east so we experienced a lot. There was so much to learn in India.

It is such a vibrant culture and we loved the food too. The roads were pretty bad but we learned to deal with them - we laughed a lot about the potholes (like the road had been bombed by the Indian Air Force!

Dr Nagpal: What was poetic about the Irish beginning of your journey?

Mark : We go to the south west of Ireland every year for holidays. It's like a second home to my family. Dingle is the furthest west in Europe so Sam said to me 'couldn't we begin our trip in Ireland (Dingle)' I thought it was crazy to make the trip longer but I agreed. I'm so glad I did because the local people were fantastic. We were on Irish national TV - big features on the news

As we cycled through Ireland people who had seen us on TV came out of their houses to wave to us. It was incredible

Dr Nagpal: What was the hardest lesson and the most bitter experience?

Mark : The hardest lesson for me was to realise that the things that used to make me angry about my father, I did the same things with my son. I found it so hard to stop it - controlling behaviour.

Dr Nagpal: In what areas do you do management consulting?

Mark : My management consultancy company (and training) specialises in compliance issues for clients, mainly quality management, health & safety management and auditing. We have worked in India with Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) in fact as well as many others in MEA.

Dr Nagpal: Any other information, you would like to share with our readers.

Mark : Both my books are available in India through Amazon. The short story book is called 'Special Treatment and Other Stories'. The title story of the short story book won the Kinglake international prize for modern short stories in 2010.

Thanks Dr Amit for a very pleasant and helpful talk. I hope we can meet in real life one day soon :) 

Dr Nagpal : It was a pleasure speaking to you Mark.
Mark is a Published Author (Tinderbox Publishing Ltd) and Owner/Director at Systems2 Consulting Ltd.

To know more visit Mark’s Blog and Amazon (for book preview)


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