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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Ghumakkar Interview with Soulful Sushant Singhal

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Even before I could earn a driving license, and even before the elders could know of my newly acquired driving skills, I had once taken away a car (Landmaster -perhaps older version of Hindustan Motor’s Ambassador) of my father’s friend filling it to the capacity with small children of our neighbourhood (nearly 12 of them). The old car was entrusted to my father for finding some good customer for it who would be willing to pay Rs.10,000/- for it.  With all those children in it, I stationed myself at the driver’s seat and had a circular trip upto Kuthal Gate (between Rajpur and Mussoorie).  When the parents of all those ‘missing’ children came to my father to enquire if he had any clue as to where all the children could had gone, my father, discovered to his great horror that not only I was also missing but the Landmaster car also was not where it was supposed to be.

Today I can visualize how he must have been going through in those moments. When after an unbearably long wait of an hour, he finally saw the black Landmaster coming in the lane like a fat, pregnant buffalow, and then 12 children jumping out of it one after the other, giggling and laughing, he was red hot with rage. I had already seen him standing in front of his clinic in the lane and if I had any option, I would never have come out of that car but as I stood before him trembling with fear, he gave me good thrashing. As revealed by my father later, he was most perturbed because I had taken 12 children of different families of our lane.

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The Spell of Bundi, Rajasthan : Reaching Bundi

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Hence, our first stop was at at ‘Salim Paper’ at Sanganer. From what we had learnt, this would be a cottage industry like place where one could see paper making and block printing. So we reached after going circles in the village, and ultimately realising that the place was right at the beginning. If you tell them that you are from ‘Arya Niwas’, they take you through a guided tour of ‘Paper Making’. This was our first visit to a ‘Paper Making’ factory and it was an extremely educative experience. The place was large, expansive and had sections where different jobs took place. The lady took us through the entire process with a lot of patience. The first step is to make the pulp by mashing waste cloth-cuttings that they procure from all the factories around. So essentially the raw material was waste organics being recycled and that was heartening to know. The cloth is shredded to very tiny pieces that are kept submerged in water for a few days. After that the whole cloth-water solution is rolled over and over again to form a thick pulp. This pulp is then further rolled to form a smoother paste. Color and condiments like rose/marigold petals, leaves are added now. Then the paste is spread on metal sheets and left to dry in the sun. Each sheet individually! Hence the paper is born. The dried paper sheet is taken off the metal based and pressed through machines. And thereafter, different actions are taken to make use of this paper. So we saw techniques of cutting, printing, pasting and finishing.

To give the viewers an experience to take home, and of course as a model for this tour fee, they also have a small shop/display counter. The only way we could have reciprocated the gesture was to buy some stuff so we bought quite a lot. Most of that was exciting and relatable as we were purchasing exactly what we saw being made right then. All of it was for European and American markets and were indeed of supreme quality. So we made a good collection of fancy paper bags, craft kits, various kinds of papers etc. that my daughter is waiting to rob off her mother for her school projects.

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Ghumakkar Featured Author Interview with the super talented Shubham Sarcar

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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 and SS, 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. 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: 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.

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Ghumakkar of the Year – 2012

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A big thank you to Manish, Vibha and DL for allowing us to stalk them, bombarding them with conflicting parameters, contradicting and cajoling them on every opportunity and being the source of constant worry for the last two weeks of 2012.

After that, we agreed on some common guidelines and shared them with our esteemed Jury and the game began. After multiple rounds of conversations, jigs and re-jigs, we arrived at the final list. But before I announce that, a special shout out for Rishi Raj Gupta, Sushant Singhal and Praveen Wadhwa for giving the winners a fighting finish. All three of you were favorites to more than one Jury member and need a special hug. Congratulations.

And now, to the blow of a thousand trumpets, here’s the announcement of the fab final four Ghumakkars of the Year 2013, in reverse alphabetical order:

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Ghumakkar Featured Author Interview with Suave and Sophisticated RRG

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Actually, yes. Ghumakkar has had a positive effect on my travelogs. I have learnt from several Ghumakkars – I was new to writing travelogs before meeting you guys. So, while writing comes naturally to me, I did learn the nuances of travel writing from Ghumakkar. Before I started writing travelogs at Ghumakkar, I was travelling to gratify myself, without noting down a lot of details. After joining the Ghumakkar club, I now try and learn more about the places I visit, people I meet, etc. This helps me improve upon the travelogs; ensuring that all the right details reach every reader. During the Ladakh ride, I used to right down every day’s details, sometime even on a paper-tissue when proper writing papers were not available! Even images! Earlier, I was nor much into clicking images; now I do so more to share, and I must confess, Ghumakkars have been really generous with their praise about the photographs. It goes for videos too; I made my first ever travel video at Khardung La! I believe I still need to learn many more things that make a travelog meaningfully useful for others…

Other than that, my travelling habits haven’t changed much, though. I have always been a details-freak. Thus, doing homework about a place I am visiting is important for me. Ghumakkar, in fact, helps me ease up about travelling – may be, one day I will go backpacking in Europe, without the usual ado!

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Featured Author Interview : A walk with Praveen Wadhwa

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My father loved walking, he had a hard job. Railways employees seldom get any holidays as other government people in India. He was the in-charge of train’s maintenance crew who undertook the mechanical and physical repairs of all trains, goods or passenger carriers. Bhatinda is one of the biggest railways establishments in whole world and he walked a lot on his job because each goods train is about a kilometer long and as a part of his job he had to walk around each train at least once; sun or rain, hot or cold, day or night.
We all three brothers love walking. We all brothers went to public schools. Our school was far away and we walked to our school and then college was even farther and we either walked there or took our cycle. One by one we all three brothers immigrated to USA but love of walking stayed in our blood. Even my uncles and cousins love to walk. When we all get together then we take a long walk in the wilderness.

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Ghumakkar Featured Author Interview – Presenting Romantic Ritesh Gupta

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घुमक्कड़ – आप घुमक्कड़ी का शौक कब से रखते हैं? यह बचपन से लगी हुई लत है या फिर आपने बड़े होने पर आपने इसे अपनाया है?
रीतेश –  वैसे तो बचपन से ही मैं अपने परिजनों के साथ पता नहीं कहाँ-कहाँ गया पर अपने होश में (उस समय भी काफी छोटा था) सर्वप्रथम मैं अपने माता पिताजी और उनके मित्रों के साथ वैष्णो देवी और उसके बाद हरिद्वार गया था । इस यात्रा से मैं बहुत प्रभावित हुआ और घूमने के भूत मेरे सर पर चढ़ गया, पर छोटा होने के कारण माता पिता के बिना नहीं जा सकता था । फिर इस यात्रा काफी साल बाद सन 1995 में अपने आठ मित्रों के साथ स्वछन्द रूप से मैं वैष्णो देवी और पत्नीटॉप अपने परिजनों के बिना गया । उसके बाद मैं अक्सर अपने मित्रों के साथ नई-नई जगह सोचकर जाने लगा । अब तक मैं देश की काफी नामी-गिरामी स्थल घूम चुका हूँ और आशा हैं की आगे भी घूमता रहूगा । आजकल यदि साथ में घूमने वाले मित्र जाए तो बहुत हैं अन्यथा मैं अपने परिवार के साथ ही घूमने जाता हूँ । वैसे नंदन जी ! घूमना यह कोई लत नहीं बल्कि मेरा शौक हैं, मैं अपना समय के अनुसार और पूर्ण सहूलियत से घूमता हूँ  ।

घुमक्कड़ – माफ़ कीजियेगा रीतेश जी, पर हर शक्स अपनी हर लत के बारे में ऐसा ही कहता है | हे हे | 
रीतेश – हे हे 

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Featured Author Interview with Warm and Kind Mahesh Semwal

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For the month of August 2012, Mahesh is our ‘Featured Author of the Month’ and I had the privilege to talk to him again, this time armed with a formal agenda. I knew very well that I am carrying a lot of expectations from our community to know Mahesh more. Mahesh was traveling (what else) and was in Mumbai when we spoke and we had a hearty and honest chat, I know he is in ‘Sales Function’. Mahesh touched upon various subjects , from family to traveling to his current job and it was one of the most smooth and easy conversation I had. His simplicity and good hearted intentions were more than evident so without any further build-up, presenting Mahesh Semwal, in conversation with Ghumakkar.

Ghumakkar : Welcome Mahesh. Congratulations for being the ‘Ghumakkar Featured Author of the month’ for Aug 2012.
Mahesh : Thank you Nandan. It is a privilege and Ghumakkar is a family for me and there is no greater joy then to have a moment of celebration with near and dear one, so thanks once again.

Ghumakkar: I know, I have asked you this question before but for the benefit of our readers, please share the story on how did you find Ghumakkar ?
Mahesh: Sure. I would again repeat the same story. (hehe he). As you know, I make an annual pilgrimage to Dehradun

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