Mahesh joined Ghumakkar more than 3 years back. His presence in the Ghumakkar University has been pretty consistent. No wonder, he won the most prestigious ‘Ghumakkar of the Year’ award in 2009 and then topped it up in 2010, for his positive encouragement and unwavering support to all Authors, all through. He was a bit away during 2011 but has resumed his office again and with complete gusto over last few months. His recent series on ‘South Africa’ has won him many new fans and while he is more of a writer who likes facts and information, he always ensures that every Author who publishes a post at Ghumakkar gets his/her due dose of motivation. Coming from someone who has been a representing face of Ghumakkar, means a lot to our fraternity. My first chance of meeting Mahesh was during the summers of 2011. Vibha was visiting India and there is no greater joy (and learning) then to interact with Authors. We had a good face-to-face conversation with him in ‘Haldiram’s @ Noida’ but since the tradition of publishing interviews was not yet started, that interview never made to Ghumakkar readers.
For the month of September 2012, Mahesh is our ‘Featured Author of the Month’ and I had the privilege to talk to him again, this time armed with a formal agenda. I knew very well that I am carrying a lot of expectations from our community to know Mahesh more. Mahesh was traveling (what else) and was in Mumbai when we spoke and we had a hearty and honest chat, I know he is in ‘Sales Function’. Mahesh touched upon various subjects , from family to traveling to his current job and it was one of the most smooth and easy conversation I had. His simplicity and good-hearted intentions were more than evident so without any further build-up, presenting Mahesh Semwal, in conversation with Ghumakkar.
Ghumakkar: Welcome Mahesh. Congratulations for being the ‘Ghumakkar Featured Author of the month’ for Aug 2012.
Mahesh: Thank you Nandan. It is a privilege and Ghumakkar is a family for me and there is no greater joy then to have a moment of celebration with near and dear one, so thanks once again.
Ghumakkar: I know, I have asked you this question before but for the benefit of our readers, please share the story on how did you find Ghumakkar ?
Mahesh: Sure. I would again repeat the same story. (he he he). As you know, I make an annual pilgrimage to Dehradun during summer vacations. My in-laws are there and I try to use that as a base camp for an excursion. It was 2009 and I was looking for some info about Lansdowne. I could find lot of sites which had basic information and mostly mentored by travel agents and tour operators. And while searching, I came across Ghumakkar and probably read this beautiful piece by Kumkum.
I tremendously liked the idea and after my trip, I wrote my first story at Ghumakkar which was on Lansdowne. You can read that story by clicking here – http://www.ghumakkar.com/2009/06/21/dehradun-lansdowne-gurgaon/
When I reached Lansdowne, it seemed to me as if I have already been here. Reading just 2-3 articles had such a great impact and I was completely fascinated with these ‘rich, detailed travel experiences’. So that is how I not only found Ghumakkar but also started writing on it.
Ghumakkar: Thank you Mahesh. Before we go further on the travel trail, please tell us something about yourself, something apart from what we do
not know already through your biography.
Mahesh: I am a Science Graduate from Delhi University. My father retired from Indian Army. My wife, Divya, is a School Teacher & we are blessed with two daughters, Varnika & Swarika. Now all my Ghumakkar friends know that we belong to Devbhoomi Uttarakhand. I work in the ‘Molecular Diagonstics’ field in the area of Sales.
Ghumakkar: Sales is a stressful, target-driven, competitive field. How do you manage to take time out to travel and to pen down your stories? Or is the Sales of Molecular Diagnostics Products different from other sales jobs?
Mahesh: You hit it on the nail. Sales in general is a very demanding profession. Unlike manufacturing, it is difficult to execute in this function in a structured manner since there are no rules. The goal is clear and you have to reach that, one way or the other.
Molecular Diagnostics is in a developing stage in India so you can say it is more stressful than the other products. For those who do not know about Molecular Diagnostics test, it is a test is based on DNA which is root cause of all diseases. Managing time for traveling is not a big problem as it is part of my job so I have a fair share of domestic travel and there are foreign trips as well. But finding time to write these experiences, reading at Ghumakkar, commenting is indeed a creative process.
Ghumakkar: So does being in Sales change you as a person?
Mahesh: I would think so. After 20 years of experience If I have to sum-up my learnings, then I would include following things:-
(1) Time management since we do not have complete control on it. While you can make a tight schedule, you can not refuse a sales opportunity because the client was delayed so we need to learn time management, otherwise it would be very difficult.
(2) Utilization of limited resources, after all you have a direct impact on the bottom line.
(3) People handling, one of the toughest job. This by far is my best learning. I meet so many folks as part of my job and everyone is a different or what you call it in Urdu, a Mukhtalif personality. You need to understand the other person and then change your style, almost in real time in some cases. Some people prefer a human touch when they deal with you and if you show up they would go the extra mile for you whereas someone else is more comfortable over email and phone. Some like to meet during an evening unwind session, whereas someone else is much more effective is you catch them during their office hours, before lunch. So sales requires a lot of people handling.
(4) and finally, the temperament. I used to be very short tempered, but, up to some extent, now I can control.
Ghumakkar: Oh, really. I do not think you have ever been short tempered at Ghumakkar. Well, you summed up the learnings really well and I guess it is going to be useful for a lot of Ghumakkars who are early in their career and can take a leaf or two from the above list.
Mahesh: It would be my privilege if this is useful to anyone. But don’t get me started on my work, you would know that Sales guys can do a lot of talking. he he.
Ghumakkar: Yes, everyone knows. Where do you stay and how long you have been there?
Mahesh: I am at Gurgaon, a suburb in Haryana in the South of Delhi. We have been there for almost 15 years. I started a series on ‘Attractions in/around Gurgaon’ and I would write more in coming weeks.
Ghumakkar: Yes, your story on ‘Kingdom of Dreams’ was very well appreciated and as I check now, it has close to 20K visits. That is impressive! We would talk about your travel writing in a while, but before that I wanted to know how do you unwind when you are not traveling. What interests you ?
Mahesh: Cooking. :-)
Ghumakkar: Wow. I also cook once in a while and at this point I am mostly on the ‘Food Appreciator’ side. I have a hunch that as I learn more, and as I get more time at hand probably I would get into cooking. When that happens, I would remember to compare notes with you.
Ghumakkar: Lets now shift gears and talk about traveling. Where did you catch the travel bug from? How did you become a traveller?
Mahesh: My father was in Army , so you can say since birth. I was born in Darjeeling. Far away from my current place. I also spent a lot of time in Jodhpur. Later because of education, I remained in Delhi while my parents moved from one place to another. One interesting thing which I want to share with our readers is that because we moved from one place to another, it was sort of my duty to take our relatives to local points whenever they visited us. This made us go to all the popular tourist places located nearby. I still vividly remember the big Santoshi Mata Temple in Jodhpur and then all the places in Delhi and so on. Now my father is retired and though I do travel a lot, my basecamp is Gurgaon.
Ghumakkar: What was your first journey ever? Has your perception about travel changed since then? And, if yes, how?
Mahesh: As I told you that I have been traveling ever since I was born because my father was in the army. But the first tour which I remember and enjoyed was a trip to Jodhpur. It happened when I was in class IIIrd and just old enough to remember the details. Perception changed after I started writing for Ghumakkar. Earlier I never collected the details of the places where we were traveling. But now I try to collect as much information as possible and click pictures, especially for Ghumakkar. ☺
Ghumakkar: And how did the writing happened? Was the story on Lansdowne your first written piece?
Mahesh: Yes it is. All thanks to Ghumakkar.
Ghumakkar: Tell us more on your process of writing.
Mahesh: Oh, it is not very easy for me to write. At least initially there was a lot of back-n-forth. You know just like any good story, you would want to have a beginning and an end. Then you also need to plan how and where to layout the facts and the best way to elaborate upon your own experience. It took a lot of time to think and then render during my initial days. Actually it still does.
Ghumakkar: and did you forsee that you would write so much ?
Mahesh: No, it just went on. It never occurred that i would be in top x. I just kept writing as it came to me.
Ghumakkar: From Lansdowne to Johannesburg in 49 stories, how has the journey at Ghumakkar been so far?
Mahesh: Proud to be a part of the Ghumakkar family. Found some new friends. I still remember when for first time I was going to Kochi, within half an hour I got plenty of information & contact no. of a local person who helped me a lot. If I am not wrong his name was Sandeep and he was Kartik’s friend. And all this when I had just dropped a note for help. It was amazing.
Ghumakkar: Any ‘Wow’ moments, you remember.
Mahesh: Many. One of them I would share here. Auro dada, after reading my Gangotri log mentioned that had he read this before his own trip, he would not have missed all the places which are on the way to Gangotri. That was a big one.
Ghumakkar: And what about not so pleasant comments. How do you manage those ?
Mahesh: I did lose my patience once after trying many times. I think, you should make a genuine attempt to understand the intent and the message. After all, someone has read your story to make a comment. So try to understand and use it to better yourself but if after repeated attempts, you realize that this is not in the right direction, then just ignore them.
Ghumakkar: What has changed in your travel, after Ghumakkar.
Mahesh: A lot! Before Ghumakkar, traveling was a very personal event. Because of you (and Ghumakkar) now it is no longer a personal or a family event. I feel as if I am responsible for ensuring that all the right information reaches our readers. All because of you. He he. In case of pictures, now there are pics for family and then there are pics for Ghumakkar. All through, in the back of my mind, a thread is running to scout for more information, to talk to the priest, to read the information board, and so on. This is good for my own knowledge and I am hoping that this would also help my kids to know about history, details about a place and so yes, a lot has changed.
Ghumakkar: You have seen Ghumakkar grow over the years, what do you think we can do better?
Mahesh: If possible, nake it possible for readers to locate the information on Trains / flights / hotels & restaurants about a place without having to go through posts.
Ghumakkar: Your favorite Authors ?
Mahesh: Ram Dhall would be the idol Author. Then Professor Manish Khamesra, Auro Dada, Vishal, Mukesh, SilentSoul, DL, the list is endless. In Hindi writing, I feel that we really have the best of best here. All of them like Manu, Sandeep, and Ritesh write from their heart and are exceptional writers.
Thank you Mahesh, for the wonderful conversation and for being around, for the constant motivation and for making Ghumakkar what it is now. And for all those who have read this far, here is the bonus picture.
We wish you peace, happiness, and all the Ghumakkari. Take Care.