Summers are here and with them the sweltering, all-melting heat, especially if you are living in the plains in Northern India and the coastal regions. When in school, we at least had the satisfaction of being able to chill at home during the blissfully long summer vacations. Of course there was the much-hated holiday homework. But even that failed to dampen our spirits. I managed to keep the homework blues away by the ever-useful tool, procratination. I kept on putting off the homework to the next day and in most cases ended up tackling the humungous monster in the last two days of holiday. And the fun didn’t end there. During those last two days, while I slept on time, my mom and my elder sister ended up burning the midnight oil to complete MY holiday homework. I wonder why I never got a whack for this. The result is that I still keep on putting off stuff till later. If you don’t believe it, ask my boss Nandan. :)
Anyways, I digress quite a bit. The truth is that as professionals we do not have the luxury of long vacations during the summer, but old habits die hard. And as Ghumakkars we cannot bear to spend our days cocooned in AC offices and nights in AC homes. We have to head out. Sitting at one place and twiddling our thumbs just isn’t in our DNA. And I know right now, even while reading this post, many of you are itching to head out. By all means do so. And bring back beautiful tales to share with rest of the Ghumakkars who can at least feel the cool mountain air through your breezy stories.
But that is still a few days away. In the meanwhile, the rest of this post will remind you that Ghumakkars don’t wait till the summer vacations to get cool. We have been pretty active, and here is the proof:
We had 3 new authors joining us this month.
Please welcome Dr Ravi Sharma, Prayalika Kommagouni, and Rahul Sinha. Like true Ghumakkars, they hit the ground running (in case of Dr Sharma and Rahul, quite literally). While Prayalika took us to the historical city of Mahabalipuram, Dr Sharma and Rahul were out scaling the roads on their respective vehicles. As the weather gets less and less conducive to travel, they inspired us to carry on through thick or thin. A debut worth bragging about for sure. Welcome aboard!
Now, a bit about them, in their own words.
Dr Ravi Sharma – The author is an environmentalist, researcher and an academician. Travelling and photography of nature are hobbies. Love to visit tourism destinations across India. Till date have visited most of the places in India like Dehradun, Shimla, Ooty, Bangalore, Rajasthan, Sanchi, Bhembaitka, Shirdi , Jammu and Kashmir, Una Himachal, but still many more to explore. a real ghummakkar.
Pravalika Kommagouni – A Software engineer by profession, is here to make a confession, about her never ending obsession, for travelling across the nation..!!
Rahul Sinha – Born and brought up in Bihar,have completed B. Tech from NIT Srinagar – 2010 . Passionate about travelling and exploring places.
And in the meanwhile, the rest of the Ghumakkar family wasn’t resting either. We started the month by learning about Bihu and then Anupam took us to Nameri National Park, both places are firsts at Ghumakkar. While we were in Northeast, unstoppable Ajay was busy measuring every mile of far west, from Bhuj to Rann to Lakhpat to Narayan Sarovar and he is still not done. To conclude the recap, read the wonderful write-up on backwaters by Prasad and on Chandigarh by Arpit, both special stories and not told in the traditional and typical travelogue manner. Read when your time allows.
And before we talk about the enlightening conversation we had with our Featured Author Avtar Singh, we would like to reiterate how early we are all waiting for Slient Soul’s log on Niagra, after learning about Toronto.
Going back to tales of this month, here is a special mention for places which people in NCR can go to for a day trip — Chokhi Dhani at Sonepat, Pratap Garh farm near Jhajjar, and National Rail Museum right in Delhi. And finally, to beat the summer heat, head to the old favourites Nainital and Gangtok, both by Amit. I am saving ink to talk about “Kedarnath’ for June’s digest.
Editorial team’s task of selecting one single Featured Story of the Month out of the many published is never easy, but this month, the story that stood out is not only a very well-written account of travel, it is a poetic tale that brings out the true romantic in the writer – from his appreciation of birds and humans, to his keen observation of the antics of a duck farmer. This month, Prasad takes the cake with his sweet, inspiring story Life in the backwaters of Kerala.
Here is an excerpt…
“Indeed a lot of people like to call Alleppey (official name Alappuzha) as the Venice of India. I was in Alleppey last month and was fortunate enough to experience the unique life that people in the area lead. As there is water ways everywhere of all sizes, people have adapted to the same just like fish to water. We took a few houseboats as well as small boat rides in the backwater and the experience was an eye-opener. Nowhere in India are people so much adapted to a life of using canals and boats in their day to day life as in backwaters of Kerala, which is also the home of famous snake boat race.
Just like you and I will have a bike or a car, almost every house hold in the area will have a small canoe or boat that is used for all day to day activities. Our day started on a small boat and we went to some villages situated on both side of the internal canals. It was a very interesting experience to watch the day to day life in the backwaters of Kerala. Most of the internal canals are not very wide and only small boats can go into them, leaving the bigger houseboats only on the main water ways. As it is difficult to reach these small villages quickly by road transport, people use boats to carry their produce to the main canals, from where trucks come and carry the rice to the wholesaler. This is not only cost effective but also quicker.”
Congratulations Prasad, and thanks for the beautiful, refreshing story. A well-deserved award indeed.
And to conclude this breathless recap of the month, let us revisit the wonderful interaction we had with the Featured Author for the Month of May 2014, Avtar Singh. The poetic interaction left us full of nostalgia and goodwill. Here is an excerpt to rekindle the memories:
Ghumakkar: Do tell us more about yourself.
Avtar: I was the youngest in the family of five. My elder brother has done his masters in commerce and works in Maruti Udyog Ltd. My sister has done her Masters in Economics, later on yours truly too did his masters degree in mathematics and ready for exploring the world on his own. When my father retired, he decided to settle in Gurgaon, after that I spent some time in ICWAI at Lodhi road.
Ghumakkar: And which part of the country do your parents belong to?
Avtar: Now that is a tough question. I share the same saga(through my parents), which millions other faced during the partition of 1947. Around half a century prior to that, Bulleh Shah wrote in the land of Multan–
Wah wah maatti di gulzaar,
maatti ghoda, maatti jodha, maatti da aswaar
Maatti maatti nu dorhave, maatti di khadkaar,
maatti maatti nu maaran laggi, maatti de hathiyaar
But, as always happens, no one paid attention on the teachings of such darveshs and many people who lived in that part of the world, which is known as Pakistan today, had to leave. Thus, my father’s family moved from there and at first they landed in the holy city of Amritsar but later on settled in the vicinity of four walls of Delhi. Got a house in the by lanes of Hauz Qazi and a shop at present day’s Azad Market. My mother’s side was also the victim of partition and they got a house in Ambala.
Ghumakkar: Those were turbulent times!
Avtar: Yes, they were. Your last name is “Malhotra”. By any chance, did your forefathers also come from the other side of what is now “the border”?…”
Thank you once again Avtar. It was a pleasure talking to you. Hope to see many more stories from your poetic pen,
And now it is time to introduce the Featured Author for the Month of June. Those of us who have been around for some time would know him well. It is none other than the passionate biker Vasanth Gopalakrishnan, better known as Vas. He and his comrade – The Messiah – have made rounds of quite a few difficult terrains.
Congratulations Vas, we will look forward to knowing more about you.
I am sure by now I have convinced you that we Ghumakkars know how to keep ourselves busy. Don’t forget to welcome the debutant Ghumakkars, thank Avtar for taking out time when he was battling a bad cold, congratulate Prasad for his beautiful story, and wish Vas for his coronation.
And we will meet again next month.