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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