Last night as I was brooding about the month-end digest, I got a special gift form a friend. A hand-made painting of Sakuras from Japan. He picked it up in Kyoto, the place set binding obligations on industrialized countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (read more here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol). Over next few hours, we learnt more about Kyoto and Sakura and I thought that I must share more about Sakura with our fellow readers. Sakuras are more popularly known as ‘Cherry Blossom’ and they bloom once every year. You have to be there in the right season to catch them blooming and during my only trip to Japan, I missed it by a couple of weeks. Interestingly there are written records, from as early as the first century, of this flower and the festival of watching the bloom. The festival is called ‘Hanami’. These days, the government of Japan tracks the bloom at a very minute level with iPhone apps recommending the right time, accurate to the second, to watch these flowers. It is celebrated almost like a national festival and I guess ‘Cherry Blossom’ is now as eagerly awaited and then cherished in New York as in Tokyo. In total, if you are traveling to Japan (or now to a lot of other countries) during February-end time-frame, do plan for it.
Now coming back to Ghumakkar, we didn’t see too many new stories in March but two great debuts. Please join me in welcoming Arshi and Anupam to Ghumakkar family. While Arshi took us to Chitkul , Anupam went even further to ‘Bhutan’.
In his own words, Arshi is an MBA Graduate with a core experience of 3.6 years of placing candidates at entry level jobs, passionate about travel and foods (especially the non-vegetarian variety), loves to explore new avenues and traditional food of that city he visits, has travelled around 51,600 KMs in 33 cities in 12 different states of India, and recently undertook one of his dream adventures, a bike trip from Delhi to Chitkul (The last town of India which is 250 Kms from Shimla and 3400 meters of sea level) in 4 days, driving a length of 1600 Kms.
My guess is that Arshi is on a trip somewhere since we didn’t hear from him after his log.
Anupam is already two stories old and his log on Bhutan is getting a lot of good reviews. In this own words, “A fresh dream and a new place; a plan again and a move on; then a little pause and out again………. travelling is what I dare to dream”. Welcome aboard Anupam.
If you have not been able to read his Bhutan log then please take some time out and here is a link – http://www.ghumakkar.com/in-the-kingdom-of-bhutan-journey-to-dochula-pass-and-paro-valley/
Apart from the above two, we also did a fair bit of travel and I would take you through that. But before we do the rapid fire round of hopping from Shantiniketan to Bastar to “Himalayan Pilgrimages“, let me talk a bit about the first guide-post which we published last month.
Ghumakkar Guide is something which we have spoken about in the past but could publish the first only now. The intent is write a under 10 minute read quick guide with all the useful and important information around ‘How to Reach‘, ‘How to move around locally‘, ‘What to do‘ in a short and useful structure. We also refer some of our top stories which we have published on the particular destination and we hope to keep these guides updated over time. The first one was on San Francisco and if you would want to write one on your favourite destination then give me a shout, we would love to work with you and publish it.
From the lot of the fresh stories (re-published legends not counted for this), the vote for ‘Featured Story of the Month‘ goes to the brave and inspiring series from Vishal on this ride to Leh. A long 6-part series, this one has all the ingredients of a pot-boiler. Congratulations Vishal, I guess the long await for back-home worked well for you.
While you create space on your busy calendar to read above, let me also put a little plug for the passionate and persistent interview log that Vibha published, about her conversation with Manisha Chitale. Manisha is our outgoing ‘Featured Author’ and has been a old-timer here.
Here is an excerpt from the interview
Ghumakkar: We are sure. So tell us what brought you to Ghumakkar?
Manisha: Internet browsing…
Ghumakkar: And what were you searching for?
Manisha: Well to be honest, it was way back in 2009. It is difficult to remember. But I was fascinated with Ghumakkar as a site, as it opened an Alibaba’s cave for me. Tons of travel stories, I could not get enough.
Ghumakkar: And what made you write your first story?
Manisha: My first story was actually a series of three after my visit to Khajuraho. As you may know Khajuraho captures your heart and brain both. It was a very engaging trip. Also that was the time when I had started my study of Indology. It was like opening up of my thoughts and the newly found knowledge gave a whole new vision while visiting such monuments. I had to write what I felt and this is when the first story of Scenes of Sandstone came in to existence. It was not only the historical monuments but also the nature that gets captured in your mind’s camera is what I wanted to put in words.
Ghumakkar: True! Very True! And what a wonderful story it was!
Ghumakkar: You just mentioned Indology. What exactly is that and what do Indologists do?
Manisha: Indology is the study of the art, culture, history, literature, and architecture of the Indian Subcontinent.
Ghumakkar: Interesting! How did you become an Indologist?
Manisha: My heart has always been in history and languages. I used to read related books on my own whenever I could find something, however it did not have any focus. One of the advantage of being a ‘Punekar’ is the wealth of educational institutes and course ware of various subjects available for study to all age groups. I came across an organization called ‘Aranyavaak’ which had started a part time 2 months introductory course in ‘Ancient Monuments, History and Culture’ back in 2007. I just grabbed it. That was a turning point as it provided a great introduction to all topics related to Indian history such as art and architecture, numismatics, religion, social and political history, archaeology, Indus Valley and Aryan Invasions and so on.
Read the complete interview here – http://www.ghumakkar.com/ghumakkar-featured-author-interview-with-manisha-chitale/
And this takes us to share the names of ‘Featured Author for April – 2014’. And we would get there after this little piece of news. Our friends at Pariksha Labs have recently launched a new app called “Filmy Filmy“, an app to enjoy hindi songs. We have already requested for a ‘Ghumakkar Playlist’. Do check it out and we would love to pass on your feedback to the makers of this app.
Another news that I wanted to share with you is that we are working with this new start-up Parallel Dots, to experiment with a new way to expose new readers with some of your old works. Some of you would have already seen this and here is a snapshot.
Hope you like the experiment. If you have feedback, ideas, requests then please send it to us and I would pass them to the authors of this plug-in.
Finally, time to announce the ‘Featured Author’ for April and it is none other than
Roopesh Kohad. Congratulations, Roopesh! Roopesh joined Ghumakkar in 2008 and has penned 27 inspiring stories. We would catch up with him and promise to publish everything which we learn about him.
So go back, read about the Sakuras, read the debut stories, know more about Bastar, Shanitniketan and Bhutan, read the interview, try ‘Filmy Filmy’ on your phone, spend a little time with the ‘Parallel Dots’ widget at the bottom of the stories, read and appreciate the spy work of our Editor in the interview post and finally if you get time then do let me know on how it all feels and smells.
To the long days, long summers and to cooler drinks, wishing you a great time ahead.