Ghumakkar Monthly Digest – December 2013

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Now back to our roster on December. The month definitely belonged to Ajay Sharma who kept driving, almost every single day. If you have not been able to read his road-trip spanning thousands of kilometres then please take some time off and cherish this real road-trip. Closer to home, Avtar Singh brought two poetic and lyrical logs on Amer Fort (Rajasthan) and ‘Sabir Ali’s Dargah’ (Western Uttar Pradesh). Both the logs were tremendously liked, commented, discussed and excited among us also took well-meaning jibes at our Editorial desk. Thank you. Going further Ram finished his North-East trip with a excellent log on Majuli, a nondescript island town and treasure trove of art and culture. Before we move further, let me take a little break and take you through this snippet from the Interview post where Archana interacted with Upanshu Singhal, our outgoing Featured Author.

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Ghumakkar Monthly Digest – November 2013

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As a travel blogger and in some sense an amaetuer writer on internet, I have often wondered on how we can formalise the authorship process. Anyone can have a blog with any name. How do we authorise a certain piece by a certain person. In the old world, one can get a unique ISBN number for a book. Each book clearly mentions the details of the authors, there is a publisher to connect to and so on. Eveneven if you copy-paste Premchand’s work and put it up as your own and publish your own book, it is hard to get enough readership to sustain such an effort. Publishers of repute would ensure that it is your original work and your ‘Authorship’ gets formalised. This institutionalisation is something which I have seen missing on internet. And it is a paradox, a big paradox. It is a paradox because unlike printed work, everything is far more easily accessible and more importably, auditable. So a work of plagiarism is easy to catch. The great thing about internet is that it has made writing and publishing accessible to almost anyone, which is brilliant and needs celebration. If you work is good, it would travel. Now from the same premise, it should have been simple to institute a process around ‘Authorship’.

I have a feeling that people who are more connected to the world of writing, unlike me and some of my fellow writers at Ghumakkar, probably have some kind of ‘Author Authentication Directory’ or some such thing. There are many ways through which one can establish one’s identity on internet. An identity once created in the form of a profile, can then be blessed by the relevant community, in a way authentication it. Almost akin to the attestation process by a Gazetted officer serving for Government. If there are enough authentications, then that profile gets approved and sort of certified. Any work coming out of that profile, say a poem or a travel log, can then be attributed to that profile or that person. If you are using a pen name like mythical Silent Soul then your journey is a little longer where as if you are some one like dear Mukesh (with h) Bhalse with enough of personal photos of self and family then you get certified much faster. Phew, problem solved, at least on paper. Places like Ghumakkar should contribute towards this process and may be act as platforms, like signing authorities.

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Ghumakkar Editorial Monthly Digest – October 2013

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I am an year older and hopefully wiser when this digest goes for publication. But that is not a significant event in October. A little more scratching and you realise that the month almost starts with Gandhi’s birth anniversary. Someone who established ‘Non Violence’ as a primary and only weapon to fight for greater cause. He once said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind”. As you get old (and hopefully wiser) it becomes more important to introspect, to reflect and to course-correct. We also look back at our reasons behind Ghumakkar. Through travel, one gets exposed to things which are alien to him, whether it is as simple as what one eats to the greater realms of spiritualism. When one sees more of what one doesn’t know and follow, he slowly begins to accept the existence and more imporatntly starts appreciating the relevance of them. I am far more accepting to those scorpion, proudly displayed on wooden slates, ready to be consumed on my recent trip to Beijing then on my first trip and the constant feed of these small and little experiences gradually leads to greater tolerance. A tolerance towards something which is not you. Traveling builds tolerance and tolerance builds peace. QED.

And if this is making you jump off to other sections of this digest then let me dress this with something more appealing. Yeah, Okotber is a month of fest. The Dusshera and Durga Puja celebrations just finished, Bakra-Id followed soon after, Halloween is all around and we are all ganged up to make the most noise on Diwali. The card parties are in full swing, lights are out and the weather is at all time great. So one way or the other, October is a great begining and I prod you to make the most of it.

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Ghumakkar Featured Author Interview with sweet and prudent Reema

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There are so many good and bad memories linked to all these places. In Puri, I tasted one of the best cooking of all the hotels/restaurants I have ever visited! Araku Valley was the first mountainous road I travelled and suffered a lot due to motion sickness. But recently I visited North East India and had no trouble whatsoever! The MTDC resort in Mahabaleshwar is one of the best places I have stayed in. When we were going to Digha, we missed our train even after running like crazy through Howrah station. ☺ We had to catch the next one. There are no words to describe Goa..it’s simply incredible! In Cherapunjee I explored the inside passages and chambers of an ancient cave (Mawsmai Cave) where at some places I had to sit down and cross the gap between the formations. It was something I never thought I would be brave enough to do! I even had the chance to see the Bangladesh border in that area! In Guwahati, I had a bad fall at the Kamakhya temple and my arm got cut badly by my broken bangle. The Nilgiris Mountain Railway ride between Ooty and Coonoor, winding through the tea gardens and hills is a must have experience for any traveler. Similarly the boat ride through the backwaters of Kerala at Poovar proves the tagline of Kerala tourism – God’s own country. Last but not the least, watching the sunrise with the Swami Vivekanand Memorial in foreground and conch shell sounds emanating from the temple at India’s southernmost point is one of the most breathtaking experiences!

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The Spell of Bundi – Exploring Heritage

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It has a big entrance and you land up into a courtyard flanked on all sides by large, tall halls with stairs going up to the next level. You catch a breath to take a good view of overall topology and head towards the stairs. The initial bat-poo-smell is familiar but gradually the stench begins to get the better of you. The palace has seen good times and that is apparent from those murals (and more when we would visit Chitrashala), persian glass-ware and all things which are signature of forts. The jharokhas (Bay windows?) give an impressive view of the town and the Baoli. In December, the haze was thic but I would guess that in a better weather the view would take you few ages behind. The old, stunted-appearing, town almost feels like a scene from the film ‘Rudaali’. We walked around, with the help of a local guide/care-taker who patiently opened the locked doors so that we could appreciate the once-royal palace. The overgrowing stench, bad upkeep was now winning so I got into a conversation with the caretaker. He told me that the place is undergoing a litigation. There is a very thin layer of support staff to take care of the place but all they try to do is to keep the hooligans off and wait for well-meaning travellers. I didn’t want to make it more difficult for the caretaker and wished him luck and we proceed to 2nd floor/3rd level. Large rooms, supported with crafted pillars and brackets. The usual Torans (welcoming motif at the entrance) with elephants proudly protruding their long trunks.

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Featured Author Interview with happy and earthy Naresh Sehgal

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Ghumakkar: So who else is there in the family? Tell us about your formative years. Was early education in Nanhera?
Naresh: We are three brothers and I am youngest of them. I got my primary education along with my brothers in village Govt. school. As the school in village was up to fifth only, I took admission for sixth class in Banarsi Das High School Ambala Cantt.

Ghumakkar: I have a feeling that you were very sincere in your studies and must have done well. Right?
Naresh: Yes, ha ha. I was good in studies and till fifth class I was topper of the class.

Ghumakkar: So all three brothers were going to same school? Any memories you would want to share?
Naresh: Yes, mostly. Actually after class V, we moved to a new school and it was not close-by. My eldest brother used to walk up to the school which was 4-5 kilometers away from our home. This went for two years. Then my father bought second cycle (other than my father’s) for my brother. When I took admission in that school in sixth then my elder brothers were in 7th and 9th. We had only one cycle to go school and out parents did not allow my eldest brother to carry both of us so one of us used to walk. I used to walk in the morning and my brother in the afternoon. This may sound very harsh but we were always up for any kind of hard work.

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Ghumakkar Interview : In an insightful chat with Rakesh Bawa

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Ghumakkar: Yes, Spic Macay was very active in ‘University of Delhi’ as well. Infact for one of the ‘North Zone Fests’, back in 1994, a large contingent from DU was in Chandigarh . I was part of the theatre group from Kirori Mal College. I was pretty impressed with the overall infrastructure. So did this continue post college ?
Rakesh : Yes. When I joined H.P. university Shimla, I simply auditioned for the plays to be held during annual function and student organisations functions and did 7-8 plays there during that stint, not more. But I was more a part of their Quiz team and Debate team which I used to enjoy more as i was a good quiz master to be sure, if not perfect and was highly influenced by Siddhart Basu,s programme Quiz Time. During University days I once interacted with Vijay Kashyap jI, theater personality and local theater artists . I remember one name, Deven. Nothing specific or any juicy titbit about those days except for long rehearsals and endless cups of tea in dhabas.  A great influence on me , those days was of Prof. A.R. Khan, who is no more. He was an eminent historian though I was not his student as he taught medieval India whereas I was student of modern India. Simla is famous for Indian institute of Advanced studies and myself and him used to go strolling there from campus discussing intricacies of History.

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Ghumakkar Featured Author Interview with sweet and candid Abhee

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Ghum: That was indeed a short one but I think the spurts of travel, this urge to get out, that travel-rush is probably Ghumakkari. Any other travel during this time, you would want to share.
Abhee: If I wanted to mention any worth Ghumakkar trip, then it was at Aurangabad. When morning 0600 we started with a plan to go Ghrishneshwar Jyotirling, which further got extended, and we went to Daulatabad also on the same day. It was like most enjoyable and memorable trip.

Ghum: My guess is that because you lived at so many places, quite far from each other, you would have visited many more cities? Correct?
Abhee: Oh, that’s a good question. It’s a long list, but I must say. I started from Katni (MP), then Lakheri (Rajasthan, near Kota), then Mumbai, then Konkan, Nagpur, Aurangabad, then Kolkata, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Indore and now Canada. Living at so many places has given me vast opportunity to explore places. So if I want to list out places I had visited it would be Katni, Maihar, Bandhakpur, Jabalpur, Kymore, Ujjain, Dewas, Indore, Udaipur, Eklingji, Nathdwara, Kankroli, Neemach, Jahazpur , Bundi, Kota, Lakheri, Indergadh, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Daulatabad, Ghrishneshwar, Mahismal , Jalgaon, Burhanpur, Ajanta, Ellora, Fatehpur (Maharashtra), Pen, Paali, Alibaug, Murud Janjira, Khopoli , Lonavala, Pune, Khandala, Mayapur, Khadakpur, Mysore, Srirangapatnam, Tirupati, Hyderabad, Bhadrachalam, Munnar, Cochin, Rameswaram , Vrindavan, Mathura, Agra, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Manali , Kullu , Manikaran, Mussorie, Dehradun, Nainital, Mukteshwar , Puri, Bhubaneshwar , Amritsar, Jalandhar, Vaishno Devi (Katra),Rameswaram,Pondicheri,Mahabalipuram,Omkareshwar,Maheshwar etc.

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Featured Author Interview – In a lively talk with Vipin Gaur

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en comes Giriraj bhai, I was smitten by his scholarly and informative writing style that conveys his knowledge about the places that he explores. Recently after a chit-chat, I got an opportunity to wander with this amazing wanderer through some lesser known treasures of Aravalis. He is a fountainhead of knowledge when it comes to lesser known places in Rajasthan especially the less explored architectural marvels, his fondness to these structures is just wow!…He is a gem of a wanderer be it any sort of condition…one of his featured story on Kota gorge (https://www.ghumakkar.com/2012/03/04/chambal-ki-ghati-kota-gorge-through-the-hadoti-belt/) conveys his prowess…I have some other trips scheduled with Giri bhai in near future.   

Ghum: It is such a warm thing, just to listen to. I guess it must be a very special feeling.
Vipin: It is so encouraging to see that ghumakkars are meeting and travelling together. A very recent example of this is Sushant Ji’s trip to Indore and meeting with Bhalse family, similarly the well documented meeting of 2 famous ghumakkar families Rathore’s and Bhalse’s, then Panwar’s (Sandeep bhai & family), Gupta’s (Ritesh bhai & family) and Bhalse’s (Mukesh bhai & family) and many more like wise. All praise and thanks to ghumakkar for giving us this platform to share our tales and views and to make such wonderful travel companions and friends.

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Ghumakkar Editorial Monthly Digest – April 2013

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pril 2013 was a great month for Ghumakkar.com. Let me share some statistics with you to quantify this. Between March 28 2013 and Apr 29, 2013, about 120,000 pages were read on Ghumakkar.com. So at some level, your stories touched all those who came here looking for info about a destination or advice on a particular route or just for reading pleasure. This is big and is about 8% more over the previous month. Thank you. I believe, it is the metric of making a valuable contribution towards the greater good of ‘Traveling’. To make it even more joyous, we crossed 50,000 user base on our Facebook page. Wow! So we urge you to spread the word whenever your story is published next. Your story needs to go everywhere and hopefully more people would get inspired to head-out and travel more.

Now, lets go back a little and look at the great travel stories of April 2013. Praveen Wadhwa took us on a long walk, from Nanaksar to Tanakpur to Lohaghat to the real unknown high-reaches of Dharchula, taking a detour or two to Nepal in the process. In between, educating us on various herbs and the daily struggle and wins of local folks. Vishal, who debuted recently continued to dazzle us by his amazing shots and narrative of his ‘Ride to Ladhak’. If you haven’t read this series then I would strongly suggest it. Rakesh Bawa’s romantic journey of Kashmir continues along side Nirdesh’s polite (yet firm) take on monuments in Delhi and around. Nirdesh is now becoming a historian’s favourite and on my occasional talks to other Authors, his name keeps popping up. And to balance the top-heavy (aka North heavy) line-up, Venkat’s Coorgi delights with mouth-watering holidays are a treat to cherish.

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Ghumakkar Featured Author Interview – With hearty Amitava

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Amitava: Again there are plenty of them, but I chose to write one for all of you, which I thought, is very relevant here. It happened during our trip to Kasauli. Just after our marriage, we went there along with one of my friend, Abhi (Abhikarsha Sinha Ray), in his brand new Alto. We had a very nice time together. Though, we had a driver at our expense, he wanted to drive in the hills. We didn’t allow him, as he learned only few months before. We were staying in Hotel Maurice (a very good hotel, near the Church) and after spending two days, we were leaving for Shimla. This time, without giving us any time, he took the key from the driver and asked him to follow us till the Check Post. If you are aware of Kasauli, just after the Church, there is a downhill and a Check Post. Just when we were crossing the Church, he switched-off the engine (all he wanted to check is to save petrol while going downhill). Then we saw a truck just before the barrier and it took a fraction of second for us to realize that he was not able to stop the car. Both the ladies in the backseat didn’t even aware of what was going on. My friend completely surrendered to the fate, closed his eyes, folded his hands and rested his head on the steering. I had no idea about the arithmetic’s of any car at that point of time and waiting for the collision. The car hit the rear of the truck with a loud sound and after a few seconds it stopped, by the time the lower portion of the truck was just in front of my eyes and the windshield is only barrier between us. Everybody realized what had happed and I don’t think I need to elaborate anything further about the over friendly, warm conversation between Abhi and his wife.

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Ghumakkar Featured Author Interview – With warm and colourful Venkat

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Ghum: So I guess we are on to something. Last month, we had a gentlemen whose wife is a teacher and this month again it repeats. You would now need to tell me more about Shanthi and her teaching and so on.
Venkat: My wife, Shanthi, is also from Tiruppur. She too is a graduate in Commerce. She has two elder sisters and one younger brother, all of whom are married and settled not too far from Tiruppur. In the period before marriage, after completing her under-graduation, she had gone to a kindergarten school nearby her home as a temporary teacher. She was so good at it that the school retained her services permanently. And after marriage, she continues teaching Kindergarten kids in the same school. She has such a natural flair for teaching and she is adored by both the students and their parents. Infact she is more familiar in the neighbourhood than myself. Apart from her teaching skills, Shanthi is a wonderful cook too (her non veg dishes are really tasty).

Ghum: I have left a one big section for the food but lets begin it now. Your profile says that you are a foodie ? Tell us more.
Venkat: Me and my wife both are very fond of Non-Vegetarian food, especially the South Indian Chettinad variety. May be it is because right from our childhoold, there has never been shortage of mutton and chicken items in our households. Every function is incomplete without an exhaustive spread of Non vegetarian items. That is the reason we are avid foodies, who go the extra mile for to satiate our taste buds! But while on travel, we like to explore local cuisines wherever possible. With regards to tips to fellow travellers, I think having “dil chahe” dishes in “dil chahe” quantities(of course health permitting) is an integral part of the joy we derive from travelling.

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