The beauty of knowing someone over internet is that it allows you to paint the other person, define his/her persona and even at times decide on how he/she looks. With every new interaction you build this persona, you add a pair of specs, you make the hair go gray, you slouch the gait or just add few pounds of muscles. As you learn more, you unlearn some of the past learnings, you read about their profile and build the character by carefully hunting minute details like where did he study, how old is he, how far and wide he has traveled and so on. Sometimes I wonder that in many cases, you are better off not meeting this person ever in flesh since you may be in for a shock. But as everyone says, it is not the destination which matters but the journey. At Ghumakkar, not many of us have met each other yet. Through each others’ stories and comments, we try to make our own interpretations. This process of knowing someone through this virtual channel is fun filled and interesting. Sometimes a comment just makes you remember that person for many days. The romance goes on for ever. Our monthly interviews with ‘Featured Authors’ is just another instrument towards this romantic journey.
For June 2012, Ghumakkar Featured Author is D.L. Narayan, lovingly known as DL. Without further ado, presenting the talented, well-read and most-lovable DL in a tete-a-tete with Ghumakkar.
Ghumakkar: Greetings, Congratulations and a huge welcome DL. Thank you for taking time off and dialing in to me from overseas.
DL: Thank you very much, Nandan. The pleasure is all mine.
Ghumakkar: You like to be called as DL. Multiple times you have requested (and reminded) people to address you as DL. Why ? What is the story behind this ?
DL: Heh Heh. Well, Yes. Let me first affirm again that I wish to be addressed as DL. Just DL, nothing before or after. It makes me feel more warm, more closer. I do not like salutations and lets keep it that way.
Now the story. Well, as you would know, I am from Andhra Pradesh. My full name is Dhanalakota Lakshmi Narayan (धनालकोटा लक्ष्मी नारायण ). We use surname as a prefix and amongst the boys of my generation every other person in Andhra was either a Laxmi Narayan or some other Narayan. Calling just Narayan was even more confusing so my classmates started calling me DL and it stuck on. All through, my friends, my close peers, and now you and people at Ghumakkar call me DL. And that is what it should be. Lol.
Ghumakkar: Indeed DL. Tell us about yourself and your family. Anything that your author page does not disclose.
DL: Well, I have been extremely fortunate, I guess. I have two daughters, Sunita and Ranjita. Both of whom have had the benefit of an education in the US/UK respectively. I have a lovely granddaughter Aishwarya and last, but not the least, Jaya, my wife for the past 36 years who has run the house efficiently and given me the luxury of indulging in my various hobbies. Professionally, I have been working in the Petrochemical industry for nearly 4 decades and have been an NRI since 1982. Presently, I work for petroleum major in the U.A.E. where I am involved in training upcoming young professionals in the intricacies of petroleum and cryogenic technologies. Even though I am an NRI, I manage to spend half the time in India since I get 4 weeks leave after 5 weeks on the job. That gives me plenty of time and opportunity for indulging in my favourite leisure activities.
Ghumakkar: What about the time before you started working ?
DL: Since you asked it, let me briefly take you a couple of generations back. It humbles me today as I talk to you but it must be shared. My maternal grandfather was a doctor and he was progressive for his times, so my mother was able to attend a college, overruling my grandmother’s strong resistence. My dad, an eminent scientist, was determined on marrying a girl with tertiary education. This was in the pre-Independence era when there were few such women. My father’s search for his soulmate ended when he met my mother. Thereafter, my journey began and I am entirely what I am because of my mother.
Ghumakkar: Tell us more about your mother, DL.
DL: She was a really remarkable woman. As far as I am concerned, she was my teacher, my mentor, my philosopher and my guru. In a nutshell, she was my God. She also had to take on the role of a father, after my dad died prematurely when we were just kids. In spite of the tremendous personal tragedy, she internalised her grief (her hair turned grey literally overnight when she was just in her mid-30’s) and shielded her children from the kind of trauma that follows such an event. She never preached or scolded but taught by example. If I erred, I could see the disappointment in her eyes and it reinforced my determination to never subject her to such feelings. If there is any admirable trait in me, the credit for it goes entirely to her
Ghumakkar: Share with us something which we can take back home.
DL: She always told that whenever you hit into a situation with someone which is not of your liking, you have two paths to follow. You can either condemn that person and move on or you can give him/her the ‘Benefit of Doubt’ and include him. Always choose the latter path, come what may.
Ghumakkar: Yes, this is so true in all aspects of our lives and is so much relevant for a platform like ours where we do not have the advantage of knowing the other person completely and a comment or a note might make us feel like condemning the other person. We can , actually we must choose to give the other person, the benefit of doubt. I am sure all Ghumakkars would not only agree but would also demonstrate it through their actions. Thank you DL.
Ghumakkar: As you would have guessed that our readers want to know almost everything about each other. Tell us about your ‘Story Telling’ , you have a knack for telling stories as is apparent from your “Insights” article. Where do you get this from? How important are stories in your life?
DL: Thank you. I have always wanted to be a writer as far as I can remember. As a kid, I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton and I even penned a piece called “The Mystery of the Diamond Smugglers” in which a bunch of kids unravel a plot to smuggle diamonds by hiding them inside fireworks. No one read it apart from my sister. However, all that I wrote so far has been technical stuff which does not require much creativity. Ghumakkar re-ignited in me the passion to write once again.
Ghumakkar: We wish you luck DL. Insha Allah. You are also very famous for your well-researched, informative comments. Do you put in a lot of effort for this or are you actually, as some Ghumakkars claim, “an encyclopedia”? :)
DL: Well, I read a lot on a wide variety of subjects, so my general knowledge is probably broad enough to convey such an erroneous impression. I comment immediately after reading a blog based on my impressions. However, before I write an article, I research it thoroughly to ensure that I get my facts right.
Ghumakkar: Besides travelling and writing, other hobbies or interests which you pursue?
DL: Everything under the sun, :). I was a voracious reader since childhood and the nature of my job gave me plenty of time to indulge in my favourite pastime. I prefer non-fiction, mainly Indian history and Philosophy. I was a serious amateur photographer in my youth and accumulated a lot of stuff. Along came digital
photography and it has outdated most of the skills/equipment I had acquired over the years. I have recently purchased a DSLR and the process of unlearning and relearning has started once again.
Films and music are another passion of mine. I taught myself Urdu, just in order to understand the lyrics of my favourite songs, most of which belong to the golden era of the late 60’s and early 70’s.
Ghumakkar: Before we dive into Ghumakkar specific questions, one last question. In your last 20-30 years, any specific travel which you can not forget?
DL: Well, it is not really a travel but more of a forced-migration. This was way back in 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait and my world turned topsy-turvy. I drove along with my family from Kuwait to Jordan via Baghdad and returned to India after boarding a flight in Amman. That was a life-changing moment for sure, but it is a long story.
DL and Ghumakkar:
Ghumakkar: You joined Ghumakkar in November 2011. How have the past seven months been for you in terms of your relationship with the Ghumakkar Family?
DL: I feel extremely privileged to be a part of such a vibrant and lovely family. My day feels incomplete if I do not visit the website and read the posts and the comments. Like any family, there is a wide diversity in perceptions and opinions, but there is a healthy respect and affection for one another. The editorial team is doing a wonderful job in providing the right kind of support.
Ghumakkar: Your stories are concise, precise, and yet full of entertainment. What do you keep in mind when you write a story? Any tips for the rest of us?
DL: When I visit a place, I research it thoroughly. However, I do not go there with any pre-conceived notions. More than the sightseeing, the history and the psyche of the people and their lifestyles interest me a
lot. While writing, I depend entirely on my memory, since all my note-taking is of the mental variety. However, after writing a rough draft in which I post all my random thoughts and impression, I re-write it completely and mercilessly trim it down to ensure that it captures the essence in as few words as possible.
Ghumakkar: If there was one thing you would never change about Ghumakkar, what would it be?
DL: I think it is the spirit of tolerance and the freedom given to the authors to express themselves.
Ghumakkar: What is one area where Ghumakkar can do better?
DL: It is doing just fine. However, I have observed that while the readership is by-and-large bilingual, there is a marked preference for either Hindi or English. May I suggest that ghumakkar should consider having two sections, one in English and the other in Hindi. Popular posts could be translated so that nobody misses out on account of insufficient proficiency in a certain language. I can be of a little help in this regard as I probably will be able to translate from Hindi to English but not vice-versa because my Hindi grammar is atrocious.
Ghumakkar: Is there anything in particular that you would like to say to your fellow Ghumakkars?
DL: All I can say is that I am immensely proud of being a member of the ghumakkar community. It is a privilege and an honour. I am overwhelmed at the affection, encouragement and support I have received from all of you.
Keep travelling and keep sharing your experiences with us. Thank you
The pleasure is all ours DL. Thank you again for calling in and for being around us, helping us become better individuals. Thank you.