One fine day, post their business meeting, Sudip Sarcar, father of Shubham,was chatting with Smita Dhall, and shared that his son has scribbled a wrap-up of his recent school trip and whether it would make sense to post it on Ghumakkar. That is how it came my way, the visionary (ouch!) in me sensed a great opportunity. It would be terrific to have a young boy, who could express so well and loved to travel, write for Ghumakkar. To make it more glamorous, we even put the hand-written manuscript along side the typed text and we published. The rest is history.
Thereafter Shubham grew from one grade to the next and continued his engagement with Ghumakkar. His first story came in June 2007, which is more than five years from now, and since then he has managed to write here, mostly around his travel to London and UK. If I leave DL, Silent Soul, Ram Dhall and few other folks, probably he is the youngest Ghumakkar I would be talking to. Someone who has never seen the days of having a single TV channel on a B&W set, no mobile phone, no internet, no malls and so on, it was hard for me to think about ‘conversation leads’. Before I realised, I started getting panic attacks. I have no idea of what Arsenal is and why half of the world is crazy for EPL (English Premeier League). With an open mind (read: blank mind) and a child like curiosity I began my first interview of the lucky 2013 on a cold wintry evening.
Ghum: Good evening Shubham. Many congratulations for being the ‘Ghumakkar Featured Author for January – 2013’.
Shubham : Thank you Sir. It has been a pleasure to see my stories at Ghumakkar and I am learning many new things through my interactions with Ghumakkar. Thank you.
Ghum: Shubham, you have been writing on Ghumakkar for the last five years! And at the time you started, you were barely nine years old. When did this flair for writing start?
Shumbham : It all started with dad asking me to write to improve my handwriting. Initially I used to just copy sports articles from Mail Today. Then I started writing my own reviews of the football/ cricket matches I watched with dad. Then I went to Garhmukhteshwar on a school trip (when I was in class 4) and dad asked me to write about my experience on that trip. That piece was hosted on Ghumakkar. Since then I have been writing – mainly on travel.
Ghum: I think I would borrow the thought for my daughter. Your piece on Garhmukteshwar was very well appreciated. Last I checked, it has been seen more than 14000 times by readers all around. Do you remember the feeling, when it was published ?
Shubham : Haha, not really, I guess I was pretty young at the time to actually absorb all of what was going on, I just remember that one day dad came home from office and opened your site and there i saw my article up with all those lovely comments from the Ghumakkar family, I got pretty excited upon seeing that and told everyone at school (including all our teachers) about my recently published article on our school trip to Garhmukhteshwar, my roommates on that trip (room number 16:)) especially went to the comoputer lab then itself to see my article :)
Ghum: And what about ‘comments’, you got quite a few of them.
Shubham: Again, i think I was too young to realize the importance of it all, but it felt extremely good nonetheles. I guess I was too young to understand how important it was, I did not even really reply to all the comments up untill 2011, when I really realised what a big deal it really was.
Ghum : And are you still friends with ‘Sohum’ ? :-)
Shubham : Yes, even though our sections are now different we’re still in the same bus and so we meet at least twice everyday, he is actually one of my closest friends, and now we’re even bandmates.
Ghum: Tell us about yourself, your family, friends and everything around you ?
Shubham : I have a close group of friends in school, some of whom I’ve known since I was 3 years old. I live with my parents and my dadi.
I play football and am a football enthusiast. And as it says in my profile, I am an Arsenal fan. I play a bit of cricket as well- I support Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL. I am part of a band called Missing Links, formed with some of my close school friends. I am the lead singer. We’ve performed at a few places including IIT Delhi. We’re supposed to perform on Saturday 19th Jan, 2013 at La Crepe in Select Citywalk, Saket. I also play the keyboard.
Ghum: Wow! What genre do you guys play ? Please tell us more about ‘Missing Links’ and why this name ?
Shubham : We started out playing just soft-rock when we formed just over an year back, but since then we’ve diversified into playing rock, hard-rock, alternative, blues-rock, and at our performance next week we plan on including some R&B too. Missing Links is a band of which I’m a founder-member, it was formed basically by just some of my very-close friends, we had all started learning different instruments by then and decided to actually come together and do something like this together, at first it started off as just jamming sessions at my house, but then around end-jan last year we got a chance to perform at this annual cultural programme held in my colony on the occasion of Saraswati puja. I had been performing keyboard recitals there for the past 2-3 years, and so when the oppurtunity came, we pounced. Since then we’ve done a few performances at various places, including IIT-Delhi.
When we formed we never thought we’d ever get to perform or anything, so none of us really bothered coming up with a name, but then finally our chance to perform at Saraswati Puja in my colony came up we brainstormed for names for our band, we asked all friends and relatives to pitch in with some good names, we’d come up with about 20 different names, and we hadn’t decided on which one to keep till we were minutes away from going on stage, so finally we just gave our keyboardist (incidently, this was Sohum) to announce us on stage with whatever name he felt was the best, and so he went with missing links (this name was suggested to us by our lead-guitarist’s elder-sister actually).
Ghum: Amazing. I do not remember anyone, from my active memory, out here who has a band (Ok, Rajeev Tewari and Srijesh do a lot of performances) or is active in this field. Do you have any recording or something on youtube which we can share
Shubham: Yes, , here is the link to our performance at IIT-Delhi –
Lets take a little detour and talk about your travel tales and your association with Ghumakkar.
Ghum: I ask this question to everyone and probably in this case, I know the answer but for our readers, how did your acquaintance with Ghumakkar happen?
Shubham : My dad knows Smita aunty, and he mentioned about my writing to her. She suggested I write about my trip to Garhmukhteswar, which I did. He showed it to her, she shared it with you, and the rest, as they say, is history…
Ghum: Indeed. Did you follow any format for your travelogues? We would like to know how you compose your stories…
Shubham: No, not a specific format as such. I generally start my articles with a glimpse of what all I have planned for the day, following with details on what all happened. I take along a notebook when I travel ,and at the end of each day I jot down pointers about the day. Once back, I put actual pen to paper and write the articles. I try to make it as interesting as possible.
Ghum : Since you are so young, yet writing for a long time now, do you travel differently than your friends who are your age?
Shubham : I dont know if I travel differently. I do try to absorb as much as I can about the places I visit, so that once I’m back I can paint a mental picture of my destination.
Ghum: What excites you, what do you want to do when you head out ?
Shubham : I want to absorb the local setting, as much as possible. Everyone has their own wishes, own interests like beaches, cities etc. What I really want is that if I go somewhere, I really want to live there. You know, spending time with family, eating nice food all together is what I do but at the same time I would want to experience a local game of Cricket or Football or anything for that matter. I am a great sports fan, any sports.
Ghum: You have done a lot of travel in U.K. and have written very well on the areas in and around London. What has been your most memorable place?
Shubham: Edinburgh is surely the most beautiful of all the places that I have visited. But I have to say that when London is spoken of, it’s not Trafalgar Square, the London Eye or Westminster Abbey that comes to my mind, it’s my nani-mausi’s house in Hornchurch. That, for me, shall always be synonymous with London, and the most memorable place.
Ghum : Apart from London, what are the other places you would like to visit?
Shubham : New York, LA, Las Vegas, Iceland, New Zealand, Madrid, Munich, and Egypt for the Pyramids
Ghum: That is a long list Shubham. Who and what inspires you the most, when it comes to travel and when it comes to writing (both)?
Shubham : What inspires me to travel is the desire to explore the world and experience different cultures. My dad inspires (drives) me to write.
Ghum: And how does writing help ?
Shubham: It gives me a sense of achievement. A sense of satisfaction. Instead of sitting idle or watching TV, if I do writing , I feel very good about it, in the end.
Ghum: A lot of our writers would want you to read and comment on their stories. Is there any message you’d like to give them?
Shubham: I can only get guidance from the contributors at Ghumakkar. Especially you, Devasmita ma’am, Vibha ma’am, DL Narayan Sir, and Bhalse Sir.
Ghum: How much time do you get to spend at Ghumakkar ?
Shubham: Actually not much. It is in spurts. Sometimes I visit it very often but sometimes I do not visit the site for weeks and months.
Ghum: Yes, I guess that us true for many of us. Before I windup, I wanted to know one more thing for the benefit of our readers. What all do you read ?
Shubham: I read a lot of fiction as well non-fiction.
Ghum: Tell me some titles which I can publish.
Shubham: Sure, the names of the books would be- Outliers, What the dog saw, Tipping Point and Blink (all by Malcolm Gladwell), Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics (both by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner),
Ghum: Whoof! I thought Malcolm and Steven Levitt are for us to read and admire. I have read most of the above except ‘Super Freaknomics’. Is it good ?
Shubham: Yes, you must read. Let me recollect some more names. The Bankroft Strategy, The Holcroft Covenant, The Ambler Warning (all by Robert Ludlum), Black holes and Baby universes, The Theory of Everything, The Grand Design (all by Stephen Hawking)
Ghum: You are one voracious reader Shubham. What about books which we liked to read when we were your age ?
Shubham : Oh, yes. I also enjoy comic strips like Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield Comic books like Tintin, Asterix and Obelix. I also love reading the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan :)
I think, I just got me a long list for reading. Thank you Shubham for being around, for being the inspiration for a lot of young people like me and for taking time out and talking to me. I am already feeling much more younger and this seems like a great way to start the new year. I wish you luck, success and a lot of wisdom. Take care and Shabba Khair.