About a month ago, as part of our monthly digest for January 2014, I confidently wrote that the cold is on the way out in the NCR (National Capital Region) area. Talk about on-the-way-out, cold weather took a quick U-turn and returned with greater vigour, almost making me feel that it is a great conspiracy, against all those travellers who want to be on the road, all the time. For most of last two weeks, I have been sneezing, nursing cold and those anti-allergy drugs are only making me sleepy. To add to that, spammers are keeping me busy with their comments on our popular posts and finally the daily email feed broke, adding to our list of agonies. If it was not for Ajay’s brilliant and brave tale of attitude and surviving and winning against many odds, the month of valentine was not leaving a lot of cheer for me. Vibha did a swell job at logging the interview and our expectations are now even higher as she gets to talk to another star in March 2014. Of course, with lessons learnt I am not going to comment any further on cold or spring or even the Mughal Gardens in the ‘Rashtrapati Bhawan Complex’ which are thrown open during this time of year. But please be with me since I am going to give you a glimpse of some of the stories which we published this month, we would also choose and announce the crown jewel among those, an excerpt from Ajay’s inspirational talk with us, some inside scoop and if you ignore my advert inserts,then you also get to read about our ‘Featured Author for March – 2014’, first.
Before we go to stories, time to welcome our new story tellers. Please join me in welcoming Sumit, Paulami, Shivam and Rupesh. Welcome aboard folks.
In their own words, starting with Sumit
And finally Rupesh
In terms of travel, February started with some much-needed driving lessons from Aurojit, as he gets ready to take us to central Europe in his Skoda. The drive is yet to happen and we are all eagerly waiting or it, well secured in our seat belts. Sumit’s maiden story on Pahalgam was another tribute to the popular movie Betab and the valley named after it. Paulami showed us more of white Rann and white salt, after teasing us with tales of Lion sighting in Gir. If you have never seen a Lion in wild, then go and read this story. Upanshu made us lose our sleep and some money in Macau and Mala took us on this mystic steamer ride to Sundabans, the land of tigers and honey collectors. Time to take a brief break and indulge in the conversation which we had with Ajay Sharma, our Featured Author for February 2014, early this month.
Ghumakkar: Did your mother know?
Ajay: No! Not at all! She wouldn’t have allowed it. I started with two students of class VI and VII for Rs. 100/- each, followed by a few more later. After passing my 10th with distinction, I was selected for scholarship by my mother’s company and started getting Rs. 1,500/- every 3 months, which was good enough to pay my school fees and still left enough for my school dress and pocket money. I saved all the money that I earned out of home tuitions and invested them with my friends who were in small businesses and earned aggregated returns.
Ghumakkar: This sounds incredible, more so considering you were only 15 at the time. How much did these initiatives help?
Ajay: They did help. And time also gradually changed for better — my mother got a promotion and we were allotted a bigger bungalow, a company car with driver, and attendants at home. I, on the other side, continued with my best efforts in my studies and simultaneously more home tuitions with better remunerations. And I kept on investing those savings with my honest friends for even better returns. And then I also got an opportunity to apply for a job.
Ghumakkar: At such a young age? How did you come across the opportunity?
Ajay: This was in 1992, and I was 15 when my mother’s company organized a competition examination under a scheme of employment to employees’ wards as computer operators. I did not want to miss this golden opportunity and appeared for the exam with my whole-hearted dedication. I got selected out of more than 10000 candidates and was advised to report from 27 May 1992, on probation for 3 years because I was underage.
Before we move further, here is some news to share. Meet our friends who run http://www.couponzguru.com, one of the early sites offering lucrative coupons. They seem to have a rich collection of coupons with great discounts. For us travellers, the relevant sections are the musafir coupons, so aptly titled as well yatra coupons. If you use them and have comments then let me know and I would be happy to pass them on.
Moving on, we revisited some of the past gems including Muddumalai, Hogenakkal Falls and a drive to Corbett. Professor Bawa finally showed up in class and continued his lessons of heritage with this short walk in the streets of Amdavad. Ram kept his promise and took us to Kanyakumari and the month finished with Shivam’s picturesque trip to Munnar and Rupesh’s take on Lavasa, the hill-township close to Pune, popular for many reasons.
Amid all this the story which stood out was the one having enough details, enough photos and enough inspiration. Please join me congratulating Mala Raman for her log on ‘Sundarbans’. Please do take time to read this simple and honest log of her journey to this lesser known land. Congratulations Mala.
While Ajay was our outgoing featured author, time to share the next one. Please put your hands together for ‘Manisha Chitale‘ who is our star author for March 2014. Manisha is an old hand at Ghumakkar and her first story was published in Feb, 2009. It was on Bhimbetka and Bhojpur and later her logs on Khaujuraho, Lonark Lake and the ruins of Indus Valley culture in Harayana. We hope that as we get to interact with her, all of us would get better in knowing our legacy better as well as knowing Manisha better.
If you have read this far, then let me tell you a couple of things more. To sustain our hosting costs, we are now running some adverts. We know that as regular Authors, you visit us more often. Hence the inside cheat-sheet is that if you are logged in then you do not see the adverts. Our efforts is to make your story reading experience better, cleaner and advt free. The other thing is about spam comments. These are the comments which none wants. We have put safeguards and that filters the bulk of comments and we keep curating the ones which still make their way in. But if you notice something which has missed our alert eyes, then do notify us.
So that was my monthly round up. I hope to come back with more stories of courage and inspiration and with all of you, I hope to aspire for more travel, more logs and more sharing. Good day.