In my waking dreams, I often see myself handling an expensive SLR with a huge telephoto lens with an easy dignity or gazing at the flocks of beautiful birds through a pair of expensive binoculars while smartly taking extensive notes. However, if this was to actually happen the picture would be slightly different. The SLR and the expensive telephoto lens would be there alright but I would be struggling with adjusting the focus while trying not to drop the worth-more-than-my-life ensemble. And the binoculars would still be there but the notebook would be trying to get away from my grip while I turn my purse upside down to look for that damned pen! Don’t get me wrong. I love gadgets but the feeling, it seems, isn’t reciprocated.
However, if you love gadgets and if gadgets love you too, there isn’t a better time you could’ve been born. This is officially the Gadget Age. There are gadgets for everything. Music, videos, games, travel, photography, videography. Chances are if you can name an activity, there’s a gadget available for that.
We’ll come back to gadgets soon but before that let’s find out about the winners of the two monthly awards, the featured author and the featured story:
And without further delay, let me bring to you the Featured Author for the month of February 2012. He published his first story in April 2011 and took us by surprise with his fluid and poetic Himalayan Adventure and since then has brought to us a total of 13 stories. His current series Of Seven Capitals and New Delhi is a testimony of the passion of this whimsical ghumakkar. He is none other than our very own idiosyncratic Ghumakkar Nikhil Chandra. Here’s what his bio says about him:
“Nikhil Chandra is an obsessive traveler, self-proclaimed photographer, gluttonous reader, thinker, musician, movie buff, curious, observing, self-respecting, responsive, unique and adaptable individual. Due to some inexplicable cosmic revelation, he has become a fanatical – mistaking it for being an EXPERT- writer. So read whatever he has to write at your own risk. P.S. – His writing is forthrightly biased and consistently idiosyncratic.”
And now for the Featured Story for the month of January 2012. This won’t be a surprise for you if you are an author at Ghumakkar. This secret has already been revealed in the Ghumakkar Author Newsletter for January 2012 that was sent to the authors yesterday. Because the content of the newsletter is exclusively for our authors, we cannot share the link but we can surely announce the winner again. This was again a difficult decision because nearly 50 stories were published in January 2012 and quite a few of them were incredibly good. But the story that stood out was D.L. Narayan‘s An Egyptian Diary. Here’s an excerpt:
“A ghumakkar loves serendipitous moments, when one comes across something remarkable but totally unexpected. I had such an experience a few minutes after landing in Cairo. The drive to the hotel from the airport was rather uninteresting as the architecture was pretty drab, just row after boring row of grey, rectangular concrete blocks . All of a sudden, I saw a building which looked like a Hindu temple. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief and asked the driver what that building was. He shrugged his shoulders and said “Qasr El Baron”, which meant Baron’s Palace in Arabic.”
And now, coming back to gadgets, I am assuming all of us like to experiment with gadgets or at the least, are embarrassed to admit otherwise. There are several gadgets that are Gods-own-gift to the travellers. A Digital Camera is obviously one gadget that has changed the entire photography industry and made it a much cheaper hobby and profession. No more buying of camera-rolls, not being able to preview images that are to be printed and no more dark room. Just buy a decent camera (click here for tips by Devasmita) and a memory card and start clicking. Apart from that, there are several interesting gadgets for cameras and photography.
(Thanks ThinkGeek for the image.)
This is an SLR camera mounted on what is known as a Gorillapod. This bizarre tripod wraps itself around surfaces and its SLR+Zoom model claims to be able to support an SLR camera with a Zoom lens. Sounds perfect for photography at those difficult places where there are no level surfaces to balance your camera and a tripod seems too big to carry. There’s no limit to what imagination can acheive if taken a little seriously.
You could also buy a GPS Logger or use the GPS logging application on your phone to accurately capture and later embed the exact latitude and longitude information about the place where a particular picture was clicked, in the exif information of the photo. Imagine the accuracy!
Remember the time when we used to carry one novel with us to read on the train enroute. I remember buying some magazines and books from the railway station every time I had to travel and then climbing to the top-most berth of the AC 3-tier coach to read them in solitude. But there were only so many books you could carry. Luggage restrictions and the lure of travelling light did not allow us to carry our library along with us. But this is no longer true. You can carry your library along without having to drag a sac of book along with you. An ebook reader can make this possible by allowing you to carry hundreds of books at a time. The size of these ebook readers is usually similar to a book, usually slimmer and lighter. This is one gadget I personally find very useful while travelling
And if you plan to travel in public transport for long hours, you should have a music player which is quickly taking a form of an all-in-one device now. If you have a smartphone, you will get phone + music + video + movies + games + Internet, all in the same device. Imagine riding a bus through the mustard fields of Punjab while listening to “Dekha ek khwaab to yeh silsile hue…”. Simply Ethereal!
Another useful gadget can be a battery-operated handheld fan. Especially when travelling in summers, this is a perfect companion to keep you cool. And you can also carry a pen-sized water purifier to take care of the bacteria and the risk of a stomach infection while traveling in a place where water quality is questionable, making travel much more safer.
All of these are very practical solutions to most of the issues faced by travellers. But what about the romance of travelling? Do we lose out on the adventure part of Ghumakkari if we carry such gadgets around? I guess yes to an extent. While a kindle may be practical, it can never replace the comfort of curling up with a book. And while plugging in earphones and listening to music privately will take care of boredome, can it ever replace the enriching discussions you can have with your fellow passengers? Particularly if they don’t have earphones in their ears and don’t mind talking to strangers. Probably the best solution is to spend some time to think what we want out of a particular trip and then pack the bags accordingly.
Of these gadgets, the ebook reader and the smartphone are the ones that I will never give a miss. They are neither too heavy to carry nor too huge. And I will most probably end up using these.
Now let me turn this question on you. Considering that you have all these gadgets available at your disposal, which are the ones that you will definitely carry and why? Please share in the comments. And also if you know of any other specialized gadgets for travellers, please leave a comment to share the knowledge with your fellow travellers.