Ghumakkar Featured Author Interview with Professor Manish Khamesra

Unlike my super preparation last month when I was to talk to crazy and idiosyncratic Nikhil, this time I was much more at home. Having known Manish for over a decade and Jaishree since ever she got married, it was more like meeting old friends. I often cherish the only trip I did with the couple in 2002 (or may be before) to Orchha. Countless evenings of Tea, Rajasthani namkeens, sitting on those cool white marble floors at their place, discussing books, religion, morals, Hindi poetry and numerous stupid things which we do when we are young. Even the local market (the now famous sector 18 of Noida) was not at all busy and one can just sit alongside those rickety fountains and spend the evening, doing nothing. Sometimes we would polish the day off with a movie at Dharamplace or Alka theatre which still looked and acted like being in 60s, frozen in time. Old world charm is what some say. When you meet your old friends you always feel the warmth of assurance, the ether which connects you is just viscous enough to hold you together without restricting any freedom. But all said and done, a job is what a job is. I was running late for my story and the Editor was not liking it. I had a personal emergency that was keeping me busy and then there was whitwash happening at Khamesras’ place. Jaishree was gracious enough to extract a corner for us and offered us the comforts of tea. She also shielded us from the curiosity of Tanmay, the junior Khamesra. And then we ensued into a often formal, mostly casual conversation on things around travel, Ghumakkar, writing and everything else for next one hour. I made tons of notes, clicked pics from his notebook where he scribbles, tried to get a video shoot which Manish was not very keen and wrapped up, stepping out victorious and content.

So without any further ado, presenting the Ghumakkar featured author of March 2012, Manish Khamesra.

Ghumakkar: Congratulations and welcome Manish. My first question is always on how did you discover Ghumakkar.
Manish: I think it was in 2007 when Jaishree shared our Sikkim trip photos and you suggested to write a small log at Ghumakkar. Ghumakkar had just started, I guess and then Jaishree wrote and I got introduced to Ghumakkar.

Getting lost


Ghumakkar : Yes, I very well remember. The captions of the photos were pretty long, often explaining the picture. I suggested that if we can build further, it would be a great story to share on Internet and that resulted in the first series at Ghumakkar.
Manish: But that was when Jaishree started. I took longer. My first story was on Shekawati.
Ghumakkar : Yes, and I can say that it was the beginning of a new style of writing where a lot of focus was kept on facts, research and it acted as a great foundation, right in the beginning for fellow Ghumakkars and future writers. Later the story on Sikri cemented this style.
Manish : I think you are being very generous. I wanted to write and that is why I wrote. I have always been writing in my diary but not on a platform like Ghumakkar. I feel nice when I read my old stories. By writing our experiences, we ensure that they live forever. We give our memories a structure, which lasts much longer and going through an old story is almost close to a healing experience. You read an old story featuring a travel, which you did with your friends or family or kids, and you come back as if you just spent time with them.

Ghumakkar: Very well said. And probably for these reasons, you have an apt nick name at Ghmakkar which is “Professor”. How did you acquire this?
Manish: I was honored by this affectionate title conferred by Mahesh Semwal. To me it also represent the love, respect and regard we share among us in the close-knit and (at the same time open-minded) ghumakkar family.

Ghumakkar: Travelling is a tradition in your family. You caught the travel bug quite young with your father. What kind of trips were those and what are the differences that you have observed over the years in the attitudes of travelers or in the facilities available for travelers? On the whole, is travelling across India a more enjoyable experience now?
Manish: My father worked in a Public Sector Unit (Hindustan Copper Limited). The government policy was to reimburse LTA only for actual travels. I guess the concept forced people to break their comfort zones. And once they start travelling, first it becomes a habit and gradually become an addiction.

Music

That used to be around twenty-twenty one days of travel. We travelled by train (sometimes for days without any fuss), carrying loads of homemade food/snacks, glued to our window seats of our sleeper coaches; stayed in dharamshala. At that time even planning of the trip was a social affair. We specially visited family-friends/neighbors (those who have already been to those places) gathered all the information (over the cup of tea and snacks).
These days travelling even for 24-hours in a train appears like a task, air-travel has become preferable specially while returning back, homemade food is replaced by the charm of local cuisine, AC coaches have taken away some charm of looking out from windows and now even the accommodation has become an important part of traveling.
In summary, travelling has now become easier, comfortable, still I remember the old days with nostalgia.

Ghumakkar: Your son, Rachit, is an enthusiastic traveller and is also a writer at Ghumakkar. How do you encourage his interest? How do you think travel helps children?
Manish: I don’t need to encourage Rachit. These days it’s he who starts forcing us to plan the next destination for his vacations. He loves travelling.
In my opinion, travelling generates and nurture natural curiosity in children. It broadens vision and creates interest in geography, and history. It prepares them to learn, enjoy and becoming more accommodative to different cultures, faiths, philosophies, people, circumstances, food and so on.

Ghumakkar: You seem to balance travel quite well with your demanding job as an IC chip designer. Can you share some tips about planning travel so that it does not burn you out and does not impact your work? Or, let me put it this way, can you share some tips about planning your work so that it does not burn you out and impact travel?
Manish: It is not so easy especially with ever changing technology arena, high amour-propre; desire to master the concepts, the theories; and the quest to know more and more. But then we look at calendars in January itself. Travel and holidays are planned well in advance. For longer breaks of Dussehra, Christmas and Summer vacation, we usually plan for farther destinations and smaller breaks call for sojourns nearer.

Leisured Travel

We make a point to not make a fast paced travel plan because we treat travel as leisured vacation. So even if we are going to Sikkim or Kerela, we do not try to cover more places. So when we return, we feel rejuvenated, not burned out.
Though, I must admit that even then, the days before actual travel are always hectic and uncertain because planning the work is not always possible. And I try to take leave only for traveling.

Ghumakkar: And once you are back, you start penning down your experiences. Tell us more about this.
Manish: Just like my leisured travel, I never rush to write it all up. Sometimes it is weeks before I begin any serious work towards writing. I spend enough time on the story before it goes for publishing.

Ghumakkar: Your stories are a product of intense research, a lot of reading and fact finding and it is quite evident that you have spent enough effort to ensure that it comes out well. What is your process of story writing ?
Manish: That is way too praise. But yes, you are right, I too spend a lot of time. To start with, I write all my stories during my travel to office. It is a 45 minute drive and I scribble my thoughts in a notebook. For first few days or rides, I just try to get a overall structure and once that is crystallized, I begin to build it. After numerous revisions and re-revision, when I am fairly certain that I have got a worthy piece, I put it in the computer.

Ghumakkar: Typically how long do you take to finish a story and before it publishes, is there someone else who is involved as well ?
Manish: Thank you for asking this. It takes me close to a month, 30 days, to finish one story. And each of my story are not complete with the able and valuable support from a close friend and colleague and Jaishree. While my friends helps me to build or weave a story, often helping me to get the right glue, Jaishree acts as the ruthless editor, often chopping entire sections of text. Without these two people, there is no story so I am glad that you asked this.

Story Writing

The real way of penning down

Ghumakkar: Apart from being a traveller, is there any other hobby that you indulge in?
Manish: I enjoy reading, movies, art events, sport events. In-fact Delhi provides many options to indulge as well.

Performing Arts

Manish and Ghumakkar
Ghumakkar: Your association with Ghumakkar goes way back to 2007. In the meanwhile, Ghumakkar has grown and changed. How do you think Ghumakkar has changed from an author’s point of view?
Manish: I still remember, when I wrote on Fatehpur Sikri (which was my fifth post on ghumakkar), I was trying to publish it (and eventually succeeded) before ghumakkar touches ten thousand clicks. Ghumakkar touched this landmark with my post. Today that post itself has more than ten thousand views.
Ghumakkar has come a long way (with miles to go). We now have wider reach, large portfolios of authors and a good catalogue of places and experiences. I am sure we are motivating travelers and contributing to tourism. Admirable part about ghumakkar is that even with the high readership the decorum and dignity on the site is well maintained, even when we tend to disagree. It is our strength and USP.

Ghumakkar: At Ghumakkar, we firmly believe that travelling can help make world a better place to live in. Do you subscribe to the view and why?
Manish: I firmly believe in it and what is true for children is true for grown-ups as well.

Ghumakkar: How does it feel to be awarded the featured author of the month of March?
Manish: To be very frank, it does not generate any special feeling. For me being a Ghumakkar (as a traveler and a contributor) is a reward in itself.

Ghumakkar: Would you like to say something to your fellow Ghumakkars on this occassion?
Manish: My message to fellow ghumakkars is travel a lot, bring memories, photographs, and leave kind and loving impression in the heart of local people without leaving any footprints of your being there. Please keep the places intact and unspoilt for our next generation.

Thank you Professor for your words, inspiration and constant encouragement all through. Ghumakkar would not have been what it is today without the support of Khamesras. When I look at both of you, I sometime think that probably we should do a series of posts on ‘Ghumakkars Yugals’. Thanks and congratulations once more.

54 Comments

  • Neeraj Jat says:

    Great!!! Congs to Manish. Good interview.

  • ??????? ?????????? ???? ?? ?? ?? ???? ?? ?? ????? ??????????? ?? ???? ?
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  • subodhkyadav says:

    Great Interview …

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    On records: The beautiful and expressive picture of Rajasthani Mangniyar picture is taken by my colleague Francoise Esmenjaud and my friend’s name (who edited my articles and helped me in using the nuts and bolts of English Language properly, all in bus journey) is Vivek Sinha.

    Thanks to both.

  • Nandan says:

    Congratulations once more Manish. I would shortly be adding your photo and link of this story in the ‘Featured Authors Pod’ in the sidebar.

    Enjoy !!

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    @ Manish Ji, Congratulations For being Ghumakkar Featured Author…..

    ???????? ???? ??? ?? ?????? ??? ????? ???….!

    @ Nandan ji , Great Interview and Thanks for tell about Manish ji….

    Thanks ….

    Ritesh..

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Thanks Ritesh its always a pleasure to share experiences :-)

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Congrats professor sab !!!!!!

    Waiting for the Party :-)

  • Sudip says:

    Congratulations Manish!

  • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

    Manish …. Congratulations for being selected as the Featured author of this month ……. You are indded a professor , very articulate in your writings and inquisitive in findings …..

    I had gone through your post on “shekhawati” .. it was brilliant ..i’m saying this because my hometown is “Nawalgarh” , although i live in Delhi ,— the city founded by “Rawal Nawal Singh Shekhawat” in 17th century . I felt like home reading your account of this enchanting city …..

    By reading the story of Shekhawati the soul of this Shekhawat is joyous now … Thank you Professor

    Keep writing .. and keep us updated about your next “Revelations”

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Hi Giriraj

      I am happy to know that you are basically from Nawalgarh. I was born and brought up in Khetri. So I also claim to have this region in my way of thinking. It has a strong influence. And as I wrote in my article that being so close to these treasures, I have not been there till I lost connection with it. Its a regret.

      I remember that many a times my mother used to tell us that the Havelis of this region are very beautiful. But somehow, we could neevr make out to visit them. And when I visited them I was astonished to see how beautiful they are.

      I still feel that many things are missing in my story on Shekhawati (even after that brilliant story by Abhijit, http://www.ghumakkar.com/2009/03/31/sundarai-sekhawati/). For me, the reason had something to do with the family(young kid) constraints during travel as well. One has to plan as per the kids wishes.

      Still I am quite hopeful that a better/elaborate and insider view of this city is due.

      Thanks Giriraj, its a pleasure to read your comments

  • Smita says:

    Congratulations, Manish! It is inspiring all over again, to read to your interview.

    And a good one, Jha!

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Thanks Smita and hats off for your being a pillar of strength to Nandan. In the end of our discussion, we realized that Pihu was ill and was having fever. It was not a nice feeling to take Nandan’s time for all the discussions we had, and we feel a sense of respect for Nandan’s committment to the site, its readers and contributors.

      But in the end I think You are the real pillar of strength for him.

      Kudos Smita and thanks for finding time to comment.

      • Smita says:

        Oh, thank you, manish for the kindest words – but honestly it is about the passion you guys have with the site that keeps it going – and so well! I have no words to describe it, hence I submit :)

        • Manish Khamesra says:

          ??????? ????? ???? ???? ??? ??, ?? ????? ????? ?? ???? ???????? ???? ???? ??? :-)

          Thanks for your ever encouraging words.

  • Manish Kumar says:

    ???? ???? ????? ?? ????? ??? ???? ????? ??? ????? ?? ?????? ?? ?? ?? ???????? (??? ??? ?? ??) ?? ????? ????? ???? ?? ???? ??? ???? ????? ???? ??? ?? ??????? ?? ?????? ???? ?? ??????????? ?? ?? ??? ??? ?? ???? ???

  • Congratulations Professor, once again we are in receipts of Ornaments of words from the laboratory/workshop of Wordsmith and proctorated by Dr./Prof. Khamesra and textiled carpet of words woven by Perkand Pandit Jha to know more about both of them.

    Thanks Pt. Jha, Thanks Dr. and ghumakkar.com too

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Wow what a decorative embellished comment to get. Thanks Tridev for going through the conversation and more than that leaving such a beautiful comment.

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Enjoyed the interview with the Professor. I am rather surprised that he was bestowed this recognition so belatedly. Or is it that he has received this honour earlier as well?

    The man himself remains as elusive as his visage. He has revealed little beyond what we already know about him, like he is a chip designer, his son Rachit loves to travel, etc. He however has given a lot of useful advice and tips for fellow ghumakkars. Congratulations, once again, and looking forward to more from you, Manish jee.

    The idea of a series on the “yugals” in ghumakkar looks like an interesting idea; 2 come readily to mind, the Bhalses and the Isranis, in addition to the Khamesras. Maybe there are more….

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Narayanji

      Thanks a lot for your comment. I feel elated to get an appreciative comment from a sensitive and erudite ghumakkar like you. Looking at your profile, I also feel that, when people of your experience join a site they bring with them many different things and perspectives. I am sure your association with the site will enrich it.

      The concept of featured author is new. The editorial team probably made it a regular feature with the interviews (and the popularity) of Mahesh, Patrick Jasper and Manish. I think the honour of getting this recognition must rightly go to the recent-enthusiastic ghumakkars.

      On the lighter note, even I enjoyed knowing more about others. For me, there is nothing new in this interview :-)

      I was wondering that with 36 detailed and elaborate posts, the readers would complain that they already know most of the things about me so the affectionate “elusive” comment make me think positive that probably readers would still like to go through my post not only to know about the place but also to know more about and understand more about the author himself.

      About yugals: I think the list should have Nandan and Smita at the top.

      Thanks Narayanji for the comment and for your timely post, “http://www.ghumakkar.com/2012/03/22/ghumakkar-insights/”, I will comment on it soon. Very informative and thought provoking.

      • D.L.Narayan says:

        Manishji, you have something of a celebrity status amongst ghumakkars, so I guess you have to put up with the insatiable appetite for some of us to know more about you. It is not easy being a celebrity :-)

        My apologies to Nandan and Smita; I was not aware that they are a couple. I thought that Smitaji was a part of the Editorial team. Yes, they should top the list of yugals here. Talking of Nandan reminds me that this is going to be his year, literally. On 23rd March this year, it is Nandana Nama Samvatsara or the Year of Nandan, as per the Saka or Shalivahana calendar, which is followed in A.P., Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa. There is a 60 year cycle and this is the 26th year of this cycle. The next Nandan year will arrive sometime in 2072.

        • Nandan Jha says:

          Insha Allah DL. This is a joyful news for me. :-)

          The year has started on a good note. Spent time with family and friends (and a little Ghumakkari) last weekend.

          Would work harder to make the most of everything.

        • Manish Khamesra says:

          Narayanji

          Thanks for the love and affection esp as it is coming from a person of your stature.

          The information about Shalivahan calender is so new. I use to wonder that such kind of Year of … is the peculiarity of Chinese calender only.

          It has dashed my feelings that I have a decent knowledge about my own country. Countless travels, countless experiences, including the experiences of fellow ghumakkars proves otherwise. There are so many things to learn about our beloved country as well.

          Thanks for the information.

  • ram dhall says:

    Manish ji: Heartiest congratulations on being the Featuared Author of the Month.

    Thanks Nandan for bringing to us this highly inspiring interview.

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Ram Uncle aapse shikayat hai. The master story teller has vanished from “Ghumakkar arena”.

      Look at “http://www.ghumakkar.com/category/statesofindia/” apart from road reviews, yours are the most viewed ones. I am sure there is no need for me to point towards these statistics to talk about the popularity and freshness of your articles, the energy and the research you do to bring them forth.

      When we were expecting to read more from you, you have suddenly stopped penning/sharing. May I request you to be active again and to enrich us more. Please …

  • Vibha says:

    Wow! Thanks for the lovely Interview Manish and thanks for presenting it so beautifully Nandan.

    Congratulations once again Manish. You are an inspiration for many of your fellow Ghumakkars. :)

  • Hi Professor (Manish) ………………..When title is given i will use it professor.

    First of all congratulations on becoming featured author, and I am commenting late as I was out of station on a tour.
    The whole interview was exceptional specially i liked the way you write your stories. The pictures of diary shows it all. What a splendid effort……

    Truly I read your 3-4 stories and yaa this much effort is required for bringing quality of stories which you have penned in Ghumakkar…………..

    Keep penning sir…………………………

    PN :- The best sentence of the inetrview was the last one………………………

    Congrats once again Professor…………………..

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Thanks Vishal for your affectionate comment. For me it is enough that readers are finding time to go through the article and if someone leaves the comment, its always the icing on the cake.

      I am happy that the stories you read came up to your expectancy. Your comments are always awaited.

      Thanks again.

  • Chandra81 says:

    Coming late as it is, I could see that there’s no place left even for garnish :-)
    But every compliment is well deserved.
    Some very good advice there in your interview for fellow travelers. Especially about respecting the local ecosystem and be sensitive enough to help conserve the place or just leave it intact for the generations to come.
    Traveling indeed is an enriching experience if one is receptive enough and open to people, places and culture. It’s like a pilgrim’s progress.
    And I completely agree that “going through the old story is a healing experience”. Nostalgia indeed is good.
    Cheers!
    Nikhil

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      After going through your interview with Nandan, I have a utmost regard and respect for you. I am truly impressed.

      Thanks Nikhil for leaving the comment. I agree travelling with open mind is like pilgrim’s progress :-), its a beautiful thought.

  • ram dhall says:

    Manish ji,

    Thanks for your very kind and encouraging words.

    I have been a sort of “out of form” during the last few months. Your words have given me adequate impetus to gather strength once again.

    May God bless you and the family.

    • D.L.Narayan says:

      Dear Ramji, we are a bit worried to hear that you have, of late, been “out of form”. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Ram Uncle, you can well judge from Narayanji’s reaction that the ghumakkar family is missing you.

      May we expect to start reading the special ones from Ram Dhall soon.

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Manishji,

    I have been a fan of your articles, rendered so prosaically and definitively for the ghumakkars. It was nice to come across various facets of you and your writing through this interview.

    Yes, fully agree with your statement –

    ‘We make a point to not make a fast paced travel plan because we treat travel as leisured vacation.’

    Fast paced travel plan (also known as Point to Point travel) is something, I feel, which is undertaken in order to gratify others rather than seeking gratification from travelling.

    All the best, Professor, keep writing –

    Auro.

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      Dear Auro

      Thanks for the beautiful comment and for the encouragement. Some comments are always special for you.

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Manishji,
    Congratulations on being Featured Author. Thanks Nandan for this interesting interview.

    Thanks.

  • Pat Jones says:

    Better late than never.

    You may not cherish it but you most definitely deserve it, Manish.

    And thank you Nandan, for putting it together.

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Thanks Patrick.

    A close friend of mine pointed out that he has never been interviewed and then I realized that this is same for me. This is the first time I have ever been interviewed (of course apart from job interviews :-).

    Thanks Vibha and Nandan to provide me the opportunity.

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