Presenting Nikhil Chandra, “Ghumakkar Featured Author” for February 2012

Before I pick my phone to start a conversation with a ‘Ghumakkar Featured Author’, I do have my share of stage fright. I try to overcome this by reading about the Author from the Bio in his profile. I try to extrapolate a person from those 3 lines of text, reading some of the recent stories, creating stories on the places where the Author was there and doing some further social profiling. I also apply the usual tricks of showing interest in those things that has been mentioned in the Bio, and try to put up a fake face of being someone who is so passionate about those interests as no body’s business. I know it sounds so stupid and average but then you have to do full justice for any job you take on. To appreciate and understand this better, I would encourage you to read his profile at Ghumakkar. For February 2012 ‘Ghumakkar Featured Author’, I did all of this but realized that I am as ill-prepared and un-equipped as I was a fortnight back. There is hardly anything (Ok, may be 3-D modeling is not listed) which is not there.

To make things worse, there was a scheduling gap so the interview didn’t happen at the identified time. The few hours delay, didn’t make the things any easier for me and I braced myself for a eventful and adventurous talk with Nikhil Chandra, the ‘Ghumakkar Featured Author’ for Feb 2012.

What ensued thereafter was discoveries (we both are from Bihar and did our Graduation from same college, though in different decades), anecdotes, philosophy, gyan and almost everything else which has not been mentioned in the Bio. Without further ado, presenting Nikhil in a frank, involved, highly engaged, almost ecstatic conversation with Ghumakkar.

About Nikhil
Ghumakkar:Tell us more about yourself, things that are not mentioned in your biography.
Nikhil: What!!! Did I leave something in my biography? Haha :-) Well the word that comes nearest to defining me is “melange”. There’s so much I wanted to do in my life. I wanted to be a magician too when I was a kid :-). Then I got over it. I once wanted to be Maldini but football stopped when my school years were over. I even tried painting but failed miserably, Guitar is my latest passion but I am yet to compose my own music I could only play cover my fave is Stairway to Heaven :-) Even since I was kid I loved gardening and once wanted to excel in that. I am a dreamer too and when I was a child I thought given the right practice and effort I could fly. Well Never happened but I let my imagination soar as high as it could. I finished Mahabharata when I was 10 and turned atheist. With the benefit of hindsight I realized kid shouldn’t be taught epics or they’ll all turn atheist provided they possess inquisitive mind like I do :-). Watching movie is one of my passions and I love Scorsese, Burton, Eastwood, Capra, Coppola and Woody Allen’s movies. Another thing I love is Ludo and I was a local champion too when I was kid. Nowadays I play it everyday with my family and I also believe that a family that plays together – in this case ludo – stays together :-)

The mystery man


Ghumakkar: You seem to be an avid reader of poetry and fiction. From where do you get this passion about reading? And what types of books do you like to read and who are your favorite authors and poets?
Nikhil: Reading runs in my family and I inherited it. You see even my name is inspired from the character’s name in the novel – Kahani puri Filmi hai – my mom was reading while I was gearing up for my stint in this world. At the age of 10 I had finished 2 great Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. When I was a  kid I also enjoyed India’a very own Sheldon a.k.a Ved Prakash Sharma and still have vivid recollection of Vardi wala Gunda and Lallu (which was used as script of Sabse Bada Khiladi). Literature was my favorite subject in school and I loved all three; English, Hindi and Sanskrit. Reading English non syllabus fiction started very late. It was my elder brother who initiated me into what was going to be a defining point of my life. Like my brother, I become a passionate reader. The thing with my reading is 99% of time I finish books that I read in 1 go without any break. I love whatever I get hold of. Poetry, drama, science fiction, fantasy fiction, general fiction, memoirs and travelogues; I read them all. There are so many favorite that it’s very difficult to choose a few but let me try to name some of my favorite books include 100 Years of Solitude, Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy, Midnight’s Children, Catch 22, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Waiting for Godot, Catcher in the Rye etc etc. It’s the same with poets and author, there are so many a few name I’d like to mention Shelley, Blake, Shakespeare, Horace, Harper Lee, Bill Bryson, Tagore, Marquez, Tennyson, Amitav Ghosh, Camus, Neruda, Plato, Machiavelli, Byron, Mark Twain etc etc. One of my favorite travel book happens to be City of Djinns. That is kind of travel writing I’d aspire for.

A reader in the making

Ghumakkar: That is an envious collection. 100 Years, Midnight’s Children, Catcher are all splendid books. Zen and Waiting for Godot can be a character building material though.

Ghumakkar: As you have yourself confessed, you are idiosyncratic. Can you give us some examples of your quirks? What are some quirks in other
people you are fond of or cannot tolerate?
Nikhil: One of my quirk happens to be my reading habit. I had this book Eye of the World by Robert Jordan for some months. Every time I tried to
begin with it, I somehow couldn’t. Then I had to travel to Nagpur and I took the book along. I started reading the book at 8 O’Clock in the morning and at 10 in the night my co-passenger told me “Bhaisaab light off kar lien kya…sona hai”. I had read some 1000 pages. The first thing I did the next morning was finish the book in the hotel before even changing my clothes. 3 days later I arrived back in Delhi and bought next 9 books in the series and finished them all in a week. There are 13 in the series and I am still waiting for the final book in the series “A Memory of Light” which is slated to be published this year. Train happens to be the best place to read and now I always carry at least 3 books which I do finish during the journey itself. The only thing I can’t tolerate is hypocrisy. Quirks are good I love them :-)

Ghumakkar: For how long have you been a traveller? Does it run in the family?
Nikhil: As far back as I remember I have been traveling. When we were kids, our parent used to take us to our ancestral village for summer vacation. Then owing to the nature of my father’s job, life was always kind of Nomadic. The places we lived in (mostly in now Jharkhand and Chattisgarh) were great from travel point of view. As a child I loved to travel – My cycle and I used to explore mountains and roads less traveled. Then I graduated to scooter and then 4 wheeler. Even before dad would leave for office I used to sneak into his Jeep and take it for ride. Later my education/interviews took me to many places which include Puri, Mumbai, Pune, Goa and Calcutta. By brother is an inspiration in traveling too but he is more of a biker and do trips like Bhutan and Ladakh and travels only once in a year.

My shots

Ghumakkar: As you have travelled to a variety of places, can you highlight some problems travellers often face? And how do you think we can be responsible traveller?
Nikhil: As a backpacker who is always on a tight budget, call me lucky as I have yet to face any serious problems till now. Infrastructure is getting better and connectivity – as in buses etc – is quite good. Technological advancement – as in phones, tracker etc – has also added to the comfort. As an Indian traveling in India, I don’t think much problem arises when it comes to touts/fleecing etc. The problem that I often face is battery of my camera which seldom lasts for day. Again food joints are a great place to have the battery recharged on the go.

Ganga

And the Himalayas

As a traveler I have often noticed that travelers create more problem for the places they travel to. A little sensitivity could go a long way in ensuring that we, the travelers don’t leave any adverse impact on the local ecosystem. Sustainable tourism is a great concept so that a place is not “loved to death”. Plastic is the greatest bane of traveling. As I had also mentioned in my “Trek to Dodital” post, I had my lesson very early in my traveling career. Travelers from Western part of the globe are so much conscious and sensitive to the places they travel do. They do not litter and they do not climb on monuments. As a Ghumakkar we should take a pledge that we would respect the character of the place we are traveling to. We use more and more “local product/service” when we visit a place. A great thing at Ghumakkar is that we all bring  home new knowledge and share it with other travelers. It’s a great endeavor in sustainable tourism if the stories of we Ghumakkars  encourage friends and travelers to experience the same thing, which brings continuing business for the destination. We could all through our Ghumakkari strive to add to the “sense of place,” we travel to, to emphasize the distinctiveness of its locale and benefit visitors and residents alike.

Dodital

Nikhil and Ghumakkar
Ghumakkar: You’ve been with Ghumakkar since April last year and since then you’ve wriiten 14 posts already. How did you discover Ghumakkar and what makes you stay?
Nikhil: It was through Google that I first discovered Ghumakkar. If I remember correctly it was a post on Gir by Manish. I kept returning back to Ghumakkar whenever I needed to research on a destination. Then one day I thought why not write for it. Sharing is good and who knows I might help other travelers same way Ghumakkar was helping me. Another aspect which made me stay with Ghumakkar was the local flavor. Being at Ghumakkar was like being with friends so I stayed and I am really enjoying the ride. There are some really passionate Ghumakkars here who do inspire me to travel more, write more and shoot more photographs. Another thing which makes me stay is that since my relationship with Ghumakkar began, I am traveling more and I am traveling responsibly too. With a post at Ghumakkar in mind, I actually see more, remember more, do more and traveling indeed is good.

Har Ek friend Zaroori Hota Hai

Ghumakkar: Did you always want to write ? How long you have been writing ?
Nikhil: I have been scribbling for many years but serious writing has happened only in last 3 years or so. I started writing at a tech site of mine called www.teengocheers.com (teengo means Three). As someone from Bihar, I always had an opinion on Politics so I wanted to write that. Then I wanted to write on abstract things and that sort of drives me more. To share with you, I am not a fan of self-help books, at least at this point of time in my life so I thought that I should write on this topic as well, mostly against them. Ha Ha.

Ghumakkar: What about travel writing?
Nikhil: I started my travel writing on Blogger.com , late I switched to my blog called www.chandrablog.co.uk and then the real serious travel writing started after Ghumakkar. Ghumakkar pushes me to travel so that I can write more and if I want to write more, I need to travel more. It has become a great example of a symbiotic relationship.

Ghumakkar: Your posts have so far taken us to the Himalayan heights, National Parks, Historical monuments. Where are you headed next?
Nikhil: Well the nature of my job doesn’t allow me to go on long trips as I only have weekends at my disposal. Hence you’ll see more of Himalayas. This year, I have plans for Himachal especially Dauladhar range and a few treks to may be Beleni pass and Kareri lake.  A trip to Ladakh on Bullet is a dream which I have for last few years and I am keeping my fingers crossed this time. But then whenever I plan to travel in advance it somehow doesn’t materialize.

My Shots

Performers from Rohtas in Surajkund

Ghumakkar: The series “Of Seven Capitals and New Delhi” is very inspiring. How did you come up with the idea? And what motivates you visit
the monuments and write about them so regularly?
Nikhil: Thank you! Well I was writing a post for my blog on Delhi’s Centenary when the idea to write this series germinated. This series is my tribute to the city I love and made my second home. Motivation to visit the monuments are part Ghumakkari, part photography and getting to know Delhi as I had never before.

Ghumakkar: How does it feel to be awarded the featured author of the month of February?
Nikhil: It’s an honour and I feel great. And who does not like to receive “an occasional pat on he back”.

Ghumakkar: And has Ghumakkar changed the way you travel ?
Nikhil: Oh yes, most certainly. Now I see more. I have been in Delhi for 12 years, i have not given a thought about those structures but now I am writing so i know 100 times better than what i knew few months before. Thanks to Ghumakkar.

Ride On

Ghumakkar: Before I end, tell me your favorite Ghumakkars.
Nikhil: This one is difficult. There are many but some stand out. I really like Aditya’s logs, more than the log the photos are simply out of this world. DC is a fabulous writer and photographer. I like Shubham’s style, much more free flowing and fluid. Among Hindi writers, I like Sandeep Jatdevta, Mukesh. Then how can I miss SilentSoul, then we have Aurojit. I can go on and on , I believe each one of them has their own ‘Core Competence’. lol

Ghumakkar: Would you like to say something to your fellow Ghumakkars on this occassion?
Nikhil: Carpe Diem! Don’t wait, seize the day. Traveling is an essential ingredient of self discovery and NOW is the right time to do it. Travel responsibly and respect local culture and ecology.

And here is the bonus pic, showing the man behind the fabulous interview, the one on the right.

Aiming for another run

Thank you Nkhil for the talking to us. I wish you many more trips. May the travel bug never leave you.

51 Comments

  • Silentsoul says:

    Congrats Nikhil Chandra… very happy to know more about you..

    And about nandanjha, I would say a great writer has been lost in mayajaal of moderation and editing. I expect to see some more writings from him, while continuing his interviews. It was actually his first post I saw on Ghumakkar and I became a member here.

    Congrats and thanks again Nikhil ! bravo & keep it up

  • Nandan says:

    @SS – you are being very generous. Very soon , I would publish a short log. Inshallah , God willing.

    • Chandra81 says:

      Hey Nandan!
      Sorry for replying late.
      Now that is what I call Midas touch :-)
      You took something ordinary and through your superb presentation turned into extra ordinary.
      I must thank you for that. And it was really great talking to you :-)
      Hope to have more conversations in future.
      Cheers!
      Nikhil

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Nikhil,
    Congratulations for being honored as ” The Featured Author for the month”. It was really great to know more about you. You look cute in that B&W photograph of your childhood.

    I always appreciate your writing skills. Looking Delhi through your eyes have been a great experience for me.

    Thanks.

    • Chandra81 says:

      Thank you Mukesh ji for the compliment. More than cute I think you could see how curious I am :-)
      And thanks for liking the series. I hope I exceed your expectation in upcoming installments too :-)

  • Kavita Bhalse says:

    ?????,
    ??? ????? 2012 ?? ??????? ???? ???? ???? ?? ????.
    ???????? ?? ???? ??????????? ????? ??? ???? ???? ??? ?? ???? ????? ???? ????????? ???, ?? ????? ???????? ?? ??? ???????? ??????? ?????? ??? ?? ?? ???. ????? ?? ???? ?????? ?? ??????????? ???? ???? ???? ??.

    ???????.

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    @ Nikhil: Congratulations on being conferred with a highly deserved accolade. Looking forward to seeing you scale more heights.

    @Nandan: Loved reading your tete-a-tete with the multi-faceted ghumakkar. Your trepidation at interviewing him is understandable, lol. Would have loved to know more about his interest in ornithology but I guess that it is well nigh impossible to cover all his interests in one post. Thanks once again for a highly interesting read.

    • Chandra81 says:

      Thank you D.L.
      it would be great to scale new heights and wishes and compliments like these are great motivator indeed. And well regarding ornithology I am just a curious traveler nothing more.
      You humble me with such high praises and affection.
      Thanks a lot!
      Regards!
      Nikhil

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    @Nandan ji : ????? ?? ?? ??????????? ?? ??? ??????? ?????? !

    @ Nikhil ji: Congratulations for being “featured author of Ghumakkar.com”

  • Sudip says:

    Congratulations Nikhil! Your post on Delhi – Seven Capitals is a collectors items.

  • Congrats Nikhil,

    You truly deserve the honor. The series Of Seven Capitals and New Delhi is very inspiring.

    Specially I like “Sustainable tourism” concept. Definitely we should respect the culture and character of the place we are traveling to.

    Keep it UP….

  • ashok sharma says:

    quite an interesting person mr.nikhil seems to be.his expression with lens is commendable.keep it up,both of you.

  • Julie Jarvis says:

    Congrats Nikhil on achieving “Featured Author of the Month”…it’s certainly well deserved!! :))
    A truly lovely insight into your passions of your life and your adventurous childhood. You really can be described as a “melange” (great word ) and I agree; “quirks” are wonderful! …fab taste in music too!
    Your respect for nature and responsible travel is very commendable,something we all need be more aware of…
    Carpe Diem!! :))

  • Nikhil ,

    First of all congrats on becoming featured author of the month………………………..

    You know to play Stairway to Heaven by LED ZEP.That’s one of the top 5 Rock songs of all time .That’s Great. That means you are a very good guitarist or will be ………………………….

    Secondly in your answer you have written that you became atheist after reading Mahabharata.

    Are you still atheist at this age ???????

    Finally your series Of Seven Capitals is going Great ………………..

    • Silentsoul says:

      Vishal ji…. I am sure he must be having an IQ above 300 at the age of 10… because understanding Mahabharat at such tender age, and then rejecting it and becoming atheist is something which only a rare genius can do.

      Aam admi like u n me… cant do that even at this age. :)

      • Dear SS,

        My point is in Mahabharata there is a small part just before war called Bhagvad Gita………..

        If anyone has read and understood the real meaning of it, there is no way the person who reads it becomes atheist. If he still becomes then he must have read but not understood………….

        Also if you believe in the occurence of Katha of Mahabharata ( Since proofs are there that it happened approx. 5000 years ago) and understood it , there is no way you can become atheist.

        I am not offending anyone , but its true………………

        • Silentsoul says:

          Yes I agree… that z why i wrote my note above. I am +50 and still when I read Geeta, it gives new meanings… Mahabharat too is not simply a story but has very deep philosophy inside. If someone says at age 10, when even the course books are not well understood, he read Mahabharat & became atheist … can not be digested. Our philosophy is so deep and profound.. it takes a life time to understand an iota of it.

          that z why i said ..He must be having +300 of IQ… : -)

          • Nandan says:

            @ Vishal, @ SS – It is youth which none of us (at least me and SS) would be able to appreciate at this age. lol. Take it easy.

          • Chandra81 says:

            Oh and Mr Silentsoul.
            I was indeed exceptional as a child…a rarity…a truly unique individual. I agree Mahabharata has a very deep philosophy inside and I rate it among as great work of literature as a Catch 22 or any Shakespearean drama or even Myth of Sisyphus for that matter. The complexities and contradictions inherent in the book are so truly human. I mean the interplay of emotions, relations, power, feminism and hegemony are epic. But then the lesson is that if you are not the victor “dharma” inevitably fails you and in Mahabharata it even failed Pandavas and such a great hero as Karna come to think of it Vyasa himself put yato dharma tato vijaya but with the benefit of hindsight I have no qualm in admitting that it is the victor who decides what Dharma is :-)
            Ah and why is that when I say that I am no speech maker I have to go on and give a speech to prove it :-)
            Please don’t mind it, these are my personal opinion and you know how idiosyncratic I am :-)
            Cheers!
            Nikhil

        • Chandra81 says:

          Vishal
          You see when I was a child I had plenty of time up my sleeve. I used to think a lot, I used to question things. When I said I turned atheist it wasn’t immediately after reading Mahabharata. It took time I read a lot I questioned a lot it took years for me to turn into an atheist. So as for the question whether I am still atheist or not. The answer is that I am not. Since my professional life began I hardly have time to be an atheist. I now firmly believe in power of “I” perhaps I was asking wrong questions then :-)

      • Chandra81 says:

        Dear Mr. Silentsoul!
        I am unsure whether to take it as a compliment or sarcasm but reading your next comment I am left without an iota of doubt that is anything but the former! Let’s not get personal here for the sake of it and BTW if I agree with you we’d both be wrong :-)
        As far as meanings are concerned, I believe they are contextual. It is just that when I was young I used to question things a lot. And I didn’t reject Mahabharata I accepted it and some logical conclusions I did draw but going into that is not appropriate here :-)
        And I assure you I am not an atheist anymore!

        • Silentsoul says:

          nothing personal dear…. it was just a “guftgu” with vishal… about becoming atheist at such young age of 10. I am a fan of your writings and your being a religious or atheist has no hinderance in liking your posts…. take it easy….. nothing personal

          (btw i was also an atheist in college days, but changed later after reading Geeta.)

          • Chandra81 says:

            Mr. Silentsoul
            Believe me, no offense taken :-)

          • Dear Nikhil ,

            Same thing with me, what SS has said its just a Guftugu yaar ,about one topic and such sort of sporty Guftugu should be there. It creates spice that is what i feel………………..

            @ SS :- I was also atheist before marriage , then my wife taught me bhakti . Initially i used to do bhakti for materialistic gains. In fact i used to beg in front of God. When my materialistic gains were accomplished with the help of God , i used to forget him.
            I was selfish , materialistic and egoistic with lot of attitude……………
            Then i got a big backpush from the Lord and my life became topsy turvy and i was no where.

            After that somehow Lord showed some way through Bhagvad Gita. After reading that my mind became calm.
            Now also I just try to understand and try to implement Bhagvad Gita in my life , I get
            two things peace and satisfaction………………
            Rememeber SS jee, TRY TO , I am not telling ABLE TO. Because its very diffcullt and simultaneously very easy to implement any of the Yoga’s mentioned in Bhagbad Gita.

    • Chandra81 says:

      Thank you Vishal
      Well as far as guitar is concerned I am still ‘learning to fly’ :-)
      Led Zep is one of my fave band and I have a dream that one day I could reproduce their greatest song “All My Love” on my guitar :-)
      Your second question I’ll answer in your second comment :P
      Read on…!

      • No if you know to play stairway to heaven that means at least you have potential to become a good guitarist………….

        Record this song ( Stairway to heaven) on youtube palyed by you and send the link Sir,

        And all the best of all my love …….

  • Naman says:

    Congo Nikhil ! ! ! ! ! 1000 pages in a go!!! Oh god! :O :O :O

  • Nandan says:

    Ghumakkars – I put a new pod in the right side-bar which would display the recent 9 ‘Featured Authors’ and when clicked, it would take to their interview page. Hope this gives some more prime-time feature to the featured one.

    @ Kavita – I was struggling for a right word for ‘Featured’ when I was writing the interview post last month. I would borrow your terminology i.e. ??????? for any future references. :-). It reads perfect. Thanks.

    @ DL – Thanks. You are the first one to acknowledge it. I have now come out of and am confident that with the able and involved support of all of you, I would do better. lol. Regarding Orinthology, I stayed away since it was difficult to put a fake face, frankly I can’t distinguish a bird from a bee. lol

    @ Ritesh – Thanks Ritesh. I would try more to ensure that these interview read even better.

    I have also sent a note to birthday boy to acknowledge the love and encouragement. I am hoping that he shows up soon.

  • Silentsoul says:

    ??????? ( not ??????? …there is a small of difference of “?” & “?” in the end.)

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Nikhil: You have a very impressive personality. I am impressed by the voracious reader, thinker, observer. The one who seems so lost in his books, seems to have such an interesting eyes in his surroundings as well (visible in the pictures you take). Incredible! wish you the very best that you deserve.

    I am not sure that the credit goes to Nikhil, the honoured featured author, or to Nandan, but it is difficult to stop once you start reading the interesting conversation.

  • Chandra81 says:

    Sorry I am replying late… actually I was out of station :-) Thanks for such commendation …and I should thank you for getting me involved in the Ghumakkari thing :-) Nandan of course deserves the credit to have metamorphose something ordinary into what is known as Midas Touch. And I should thank him for coming up with such a brilliant idea as Ghumakkar. Owe him …I do… this platform teach and encourage travelers like me to be a better Ghumakkar.

    • Manish Khamesra says:

      I “MUST” add Nikhil that I was elated to read that “The Prized Cap” of ghumakkar has my contribution as well. I already patted my back several times :-)

      And for sure, Nandan really had that Midas Touch and this time he had such an interesting personality to work upon :-)

  • Vibha says:

    Hi Nikhil,

    First of all, sorry for the late comment. :) But then congratulations once again and thanks for such a wonderful interview. It was entertaining and enlightening and also brought to light, how little all of us actually know each other. I just found out about several new aspects of your personality, which as everyone says, is quite a personality. :)

    We are also looking forward to the next part of your Delhi series. Do write whenever you get time. Try to get time soon. :)

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Nikhil,

    Belated congratulations for being honoured as ‘featured author’ on this post. Excuse me for a late response, but a heartfelt one, nonetheless….

    Hoping to see more of your travelogues in Ghumakkar.

    Auro

  • Anushree says:

    Interesting… if its true

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *