Riding Part V

Praneel on his bike. Photo by Nutan Chibba, 11 December 2016

Praneel on his bike.
Photo by Nutan Chibba, 11 December 2016

Tanishka wearing Praneel’s helmet Photo by Vinay Chibba, 11 December 2016

Tanishka wearing Praneel’s helmet
Photo by Vinay Chibba, 11 December 2016


A lot happened in the period between when my father died and where I am now. In some ways the present is as familiar as then. I am now the father. I have two children. Praneel, who is six, and Tanishka, three. I rub Vicks on my sons chest the same way my father did for me. Only a lot more often. I hug them a lot and say I love you every chance I get. My father never said I love you once. He did hug me really tightly, one time. I don’t think of it as sad. My father came from a different time. In fact, he was born in India. I am a single generation away from India. Talking about feelings and working through them never happened. He didn’t have an outlet. I don’t blame him. I just try to move on and be better.

Back to riding.

So, I have a colleague at work named Clive. He rides a Harley. I always listened fervently to his stories of his Harley. It was an Arlen Ness drag bike that was once owned by Lolly Jackson of Teasers fame. The almost-Larry Flint of South Africa. Clive spoke of how the bike would periodically not start. How the widened rear wheel welds always came apart and how long it took to get rewelded. It  didn’t sound like a lot of fun. It probably wasn’t. But man, oh man, that bike was a beauty. And it rode like a monster as he tells it. That black beast was stolen from outside his house in Rivonia, Johannesburg in 2015.

In January 2016, Clive, who by then had bought a new Harley; the Terminator 2 model, a FatBoy, was ordering new ape-hanger handlebars at Harley Davidson in Johannesburg. Not having near as much fun on it, he was trying to get this new bike to be halfway as exciting as the old one. It still doesn’t excite him as much. 

I was hanging around with another colleague, Mike, looking at bikes in the dealership. A salesperson named Willie, doing his job, approached and asked if we needed any help. Mike politely declined, though as much as he admired the bikes, didn’t see himself riding one. I, on the other hand, expressed my love of bikes. Harley especially.

In fact, when I was working at Ster-Kinekor on the PlayStation brand, we had a partnership going with Waterman pens for one of the games we were launching. The marketing manager, Lucielle, returned from a meeting with two pen sets. One was branded Harley Davidson and the other was, well, forgettable. I took the Harley branded pen. That same pen signed on the offer to purchase and contracts from my first car to my first house and anything I ever owned in-between.

Except for the Harley I own today. Ironic, isn’t it?

I recollected my love of biking to Willie.

“I’ve always loved the thought of riding and I always knew I would ride one day. I’ve always wanted to. It just never happened for me.”

He pointed at a Harley he thought I might like. A Street 750. Harley’s smallest bike. The entry level bike.

“Why don’t you sit on it?” He asked.

“Can I?” I replied, as surprised as a kid.

“Of course you can. Throw your leg over”

I threw my leg over the Street 750. Fuck! I loved it. Just the feel. Mike took a photo of me sitting on it. Then Willie did something that would change my life.

Me on a Harley Davidson Street 750, Harley Davidson Johannesburg. Photo by Mike Myburgh, 5 February 2016

Me on a Harley Davidson Street 750, Harley Davidson Johannesburg.
Photo by Mike Myburgh, 5 February 2016


“Put your feet up on the pegs. Both feet. I’ve got you” he said.

I didn’t believe him when he picked me off the floor. The bike straightened out and I still had put both feet down.

“Get both your feet up. You won’t fall. I’ve got you.”

I put my feet up and felt the bike.

That was it. I was buying a Harley.

Riding Part IV

Riding Part IV

It was 1991, and I became aware of politics in a way that actually affected me. I mean, we all saw PW Botha talking on TV, fucking up our McGuyver or A-Team nights.

Riding Part III

Riding Part III

My first bike was a BMX. There was a foam piece that went across the handlebar and another over the cross-bar between the seat and front forks. The brakes would squeel every now and then.

Riding Part II

Riding Part II

In 1988, skateboarding was a craze in East London. A lot of my friends and other children in our school had skateboards. I don’t remember exactly how I learnt to skate. I know I spent a lot of time with my friends

Riding: Part I

Riding: Part I

I knew what a bicycle was and I also knew I couldn’t ride one. The thought of riding upright on two wheels scared me. I only knew how to ride a tricycle. I pedalled one around our shop like a little monster, screaming around corners frightening customers.

My Father voted in the 1994 ‪#‎Elections‬

I'll never forget the energy of his excitement. He was filled with joy all day but he was patient. He waited till after 7pm when the lines slowed up, walked over to the hall down the street puffing his cigarette. I asked him who he voted for and he told me with the biggest smile on his face. The image of his face with the radio behind him will never leave me.

Some time after Mandela's Inauguration. I had an intense conversation with him about the future of South Africa. I argued surely 30 years from now, we'll be even with white people. Meaning we will all be able to have similar things. In my head I expected to be able to live in Nahoon, East London. Have one of those double story properties on the hills. Man I loved the houses there. I even drove around mentally noting houses I liked and may own someday. He took a few moments to reply. Listening somewhat distractedly to my naïve outlook on things. This is when I started to see a look of despondency on his face. So I decided to shut up.

He replied, "Thirty years is very little time my boy. I think it will take at least three generations. Your grandchildren may be able to have everything white people have." I didn't believe him. I thought he was just being closed-minded.
"Yoh! That's a long time. That's like a hundred years. I'll be dead"

"More," he replied.

As I age I begin to understand why he said what he said.

Thirty years is very little time my boy.
I think it will take at least three generations.
— Dhiru Chibba, East London, 1995

Change is not something that comes easy. You have to make a big effort.
Try something simple. If you keep your wallet in your back pocket. Try moving it to a front pocket and vice-versa. See how long it takes to get comfortable with that small change.
A mindset is a hundred times harder.
The mindset of a whole race? Most of who don't even believe there's problem. One might say it's impossible.
My father knew this then.
‪#‎TryHarder‬ ‪#‎BeBrave‬ ‪#‎SeekHelp‬ ‪#‎ImListening‬ ‪#‎Listen‬ to ‪#‎understand‬. It won't be ‪#‎easy‬. But it'll be ‪#‎WorthIt‬

An interview with Vinay Chibba

About Vinay

This as a view on myself based on questions from an advertising group. Feel free to comment on things I don’t know about myself or failed to mention.

What do you do for a living?

I am a Senior Designer at Integer South Africa and run a design shop called Whisper.

Who are you (briefly)?

I am a designer who loves good ideas, great technology, lifting and a bit of running. I also skate occasionally – I ain’t no pro so don’t ask for tricks. I’m a family man and try to give work and home a fair share of my time. I can be quite forgetful because my mind tends to think faster than I speak. I’m working on getting better at that. My wife would say I fail daily. Apparently, I'm also a foodie - whatever that means.

I spent my youth learning a whole lot about retail with my Father in a corner shop called L.Chibba in East London (Fleet Street). We tackled all sorts of shop problems together as a family. I remember my Mother weighing sugar before it came pre-packed. I also remember wooden Coca-Cola crates, bottled milk, the fridge “smell” – if you’ve rotated cold stock, you know, and the smell of fresh baked bread. I read a lot of comics in the shop, which gave me a great worldview and elastic like imagination. I laugh  - a lot by myself, to myself, at myself and at others. You’ll learn to love and hate that about me.

What is your role?

At Integer, I get paid to be a part of an interesting team of people with the complex challenge of shopper marketing. As a designer, I use design to come up with creative solutions to everyday problems that brands face in retail spaces specifically. I also try to manage my time to be able to follow world events and how we can continue being relevant in the marketplace. My role is to keep doing great design as often as possible.

Outside of Integer I do a lot of corporate identity work, marketing and design for production material like brochures, press advertising, Annual Reports, exhibition stands, and printing.

In another life, what alternative occupation would you be in? Why?

Doctor or surgeon. I won the school science award in Matric - don't know how that happened. I love figuring out how things work. I also don’t mind the sight of blood and relish at the thought of surgery. It’s strange – but I’ll be honest - I’m fascinated by the technology for hip replacements, stents, hernia repair, suturing and shit like that. Can I say shit? Ah shit, I just said shit three, no four times.

 What are you best known / famous for?

Anybody who knows me since college will tell you I am the guy who say what most people are afraid to say. Pointing out bullshit often gets me the back room – but it’s valuable so I still feature. I once asked, “Can we go now?” — at question time after a long, boring creds presentation from somebody at Saatchi and Saatchi. I was visiting there as an SABS Design Institute nominee. The organisers just put up with me for the rest of the competition.

Describe your happy place

My garage around 5am pushing some weight and listening to some music. Most people leave me alone when I lift. Also it’s around 5am and it’s damn cold in winter.

What inspires you?

New things. Very little truly surprises me these days. Finding something new – even if it doesn’t feel right or fit right sends me into a place of wonder. Knowing there’s something to figure out. A journey of discovery is what inspires me more than anything else.

What are you listening to now?

In my car- Let’s Make Mistakes and Issues (Podcasts), 702, Khaya, Metro, Classic FM or - iPod - more often than not – Metallica, Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath – some blues / don’t stream online yet. I like variety – so I don’t just stick to one thing – but if I had to pick – it’s a hard fight between rock or blues.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?

Switzerland – love snow, cold weather and mountains and I enjoy my own company – few people enjoy cold.

 What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you?

Becoming a Father – seems unoriginal – but once you see your baby and hear those first cries. Nothing else matters. It’s ethereal stuff. I cried more than he did and for a longer time.

Where do you see the industry going?

I see a future filled with a lot of shitty sub-par work from people who have a Photoshop or a design app to make their logo, business cards, stationery, etc. It doesn’t worry me too much though.

Truly original work will still come from agencies, because we care about setting ourselves apart and maintaining a standard. What we face is the challenge of doing our work in a time frame that is as quick as this “competition”. The amount and pace of change happening in media, corporations, world affairs, social justice and technology just intensifies this more nimble, ninja like speed we require to stay in the game.

So I see a future where the way we work will be different. Designers accustomed to having weeks to do their work, will need to up the pace. It’s uncomfortable right? It won’t be the first time the industry has had a shake up - anybody used a font book, stock book or Letraset recently?

In the end, we will need to stay grounded in what we do best – connecting with customers. Being able to find the human truths and amplifying the emotional connection. This is what makes great advertising great. That won’t change.

Any links to any of your work? (Online portfolio, articles, blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.)

1. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/8963037/Portfolio.pdf.zip

I am vchibba at Facebook/Google+/Twitter/Tumblr/Instagram (mostly food and kid posts here)/Skype/Gmail/Movember/fucking everywhere – almost.

PS: The mug on my head in my profile pic belongs to somebody else in the agency. I kinda claimed it and made it my own. They’re welcome to come swear me, punch me in the face or whatever. I’ll take the ass whoopin’ and I may apologise.