Featured Author interview – an involving conversation with our beloved DC

I remember the day when I opened Ghumakkar.com to see a wonderful post on Spring and its hues. The post captured the beauty of Cherry Blossoms in the magnetic city of Washington DC . The title “Spring has sprung” immediately paved way for my further interest in the post. Any guesses about the author? A post on the city of DC by none other than our charismatic and vibrant author DC. DC, here is my confession. I hadn’t read your posts before, but after this, I have never missed even a single post of yours! The compositions of the photos, the pink and lively Cherry Blossoms and every detail in the post is still on my mind :)
From then till now, DC has been entertaining us with some of her amazing travel experiences. Her photography skills are commendable and Ghumakkar has had the pleasure to see a few of her best shots. The smooth blend of the science involved in detailing and the art involved in expressing is prevalent in most of her posts. Ladies and gentlemen, with so much to admire , we surely have the onus on us to give this lady a great round of applause.
Please put your hands together for Devasmita Chakraverty , fondly known as DC, who is our Featured Author of the Month of October ‘2013.

DC and I caught up on phone and had a gala time talking about everything under the sun! If only DC had more time during her work hours, I could get to know her more! But for all you curious people out there, here is my humble attempt to bring out some lesser known facts about DC. Here is a gist (in literal sense) of our conversation!

Ghum: Congratulations DC, you are our Featured Author of this Month!
DC: Wow.. What an honor. I am truly humbled and thankful to Ghumakkar for this title!

Ghum: It is our pleasure DC. It is your 3rd win here in approximately 3 years of your association with Ghumakkar. How do you feel?
DC: As clichéd as it might sound, winning stopped being important after the first win. What strengthened my bond with Ghumakkar was the sense of community it provided me. These are people I have never met before, but we all share a common love for traveling and exploring, and no matter how infrequently I wrote, they always welcomed me and appreciated my work. That is what I win with every post I write.

Ghum: I am sure it is this attitude of yours which we all love the most! And of course your posts and the captivating pictures :)
DC: Heh hee.. Thank you!

Ghum: DC, we have talked to you in the past but am sure there was still so much left in knowing you. Tell us about yourself and your family , to start off with.
DC: Sure, why not! My family lives in Calcutta. It’s my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and then maternal grandparents as well as uncles, aunts, and cousins from the greater family. My sister got married last year, and I fondly call my brother-in-law Gobhi (a cauliflower). So now the entire family calls him that!

Ghum: Gobhi? Ha ha.. nice name! It surely is a wonderfully knit family! You live away from them all. Does India beckon you often?
DC: Yes. It does! Which is why I travel yearly once to India.

My personal life these days is in Lincoln. It mostly revolves around my interests like travel, writing, photography, and exploring some exciting opportunities for the future. Bollywood is a big passion that runs in the family, and I am no exception. Also, much of my personal time is spent reading fiction and playing scrabble. Its been 7 years I left India.

Ghum: 7 years now since you left India. Any plans of returning back?
DC: Well, not really sure. But I do believe to go to places where my work will take me to. Be it Europe or US or South America for that matter. If my work demands my travel, I shall go there. I am quite open to possibilities, you know.

A recent trip to Agra

A recent trip to Agra

Flying over Calcutta

Flying over Calcutta


Ghum: That is really a great attitude. DC, I recently learnt from you about your PhD completion. Would you like to share more info on that with our readers?
DC: Of course, I would love to! Put very simply, I looked at the barriers people face in advancing their careers. I could give you fancy names like attrition, pipeline leakage, and workforce development, but it really is as simple as that. Specifically, I looked at the field of medicine and biomedical research. More specifically, I looked at how women report barriers in advancing their careers in the field. I also looked at how some of the underrepresented minorities in the US reported facing barriers in the same field.

The library at my new workplace

The library at my new workplace

Ghum: It is a very unique topic. Where did you draw the inspiration from?
DC: The inspiration came from my own life and career trajectory, where I faced a number of obstacles early on. Really, there are people, and then there are their goals. I examined what slows them down or prevents them from reaching their goals.

Ghum: Excellent. I am sure it demanded a lot of your time! Amidst all this, you have so many passions. How do you strike a balance between them all?
DC: : I really don’t manage time :) I always have an agenda of thirty something tasks on my to-do list. I finish some of them, and don’t finish the rest! However, I am always able to make time for things that are most important to me. And in a certain way, career interests and personal interests feed into each other. For example, when I need to take a break from work, I find joy in fiction writing or photography. And then when I have had enough of those, I get back to work. I don’t think I’d have one if I did not have the other.

Ghum: Now, that is what I call a perfect work-life balance!

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Ghum: Talking about your interests, Ghumakkar has seen some of your best clicks. Am just curious to know, how did photography to this extent, happen to you?
DC: Thank you for complementing! It all started when I moved to Virginia. I used to drive to a lot of places around and click pictures there. Slowly I began honing my photography by reading about how to make the pictures better. I would also read about the place and see some popular pictures taken there. I would learn and then try to use my learning while clicking. Well, that is about it, in a nut shell :)

A recent trip to Kashmir

A recent trip to Kashmir

A sunset in Nebraska

A sunset in Nebraska

Dabbling in photography

Dabbling in photography

Ghum: I see research even in your photography here :) Hee hee.
DC: Ha ha. Yes, some effects of my profession!

Ghum: DC, we know about what you like to do. But what is that something you do not like doing? Am sure there is something falling into that bucket!
DC: Of course yes. A lot of things actually. But specifically one. I do not like to try things I am scared of. I am afraid of water and heights. So when I was in Puerto Rico, I did not do the bio-luminescent bay tour. Everyone who goes to Puerto Rico does that, but I could not get rid of my fear of getting in water at night. Similarly I have never done parasailing, gliding, bungee jumping or skydiving, and nor I plan to. So although I like going to new places, I am not necessarily good at taking risks and trying new things that challenge me to break my fears.

Ghum: Oh is that so? Well, I was thinking it could be cooking, primarily because of your tight schedules :)
DC: No no. Infact, I love cooking. I mostly eat home food and when I get bored or need variety, I go out to dine. But yes, I love to cook. Especially the recipes which my mom excels in!

Ghum: So, which is your favourite dish, sea food am guessing?
DC: No. Infact, it is the Mutton curry that my mom makes. She makes it everytime I go home. I help her in the kitchen while she makes it and it is mostly me who peels the garlic for that. And everytime I smell garlic, I remember that curry :) Apart from that, I also like the Hyderabadi Biryani which is something I really miss here in the US :(

Ghum: Oh oh.. Well, we shall look for some nice place in US which serves good Biryani and let you know :)
DC: Really? That will be of great help! Seriously!

Ghum: We talked to you earlier when you bagged the Featured Author title, way back in December 2011. From then till now, how has your life progressed?
DC: Oh yes.. there have been so many changes that I sometimes don’t recognize my own life from what it was a year ago. I finished my Ph.D., found a job as a postdoctoral research associate, and moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. Each of them has been big events in their own way. For example, I remember asking myself three questions at different points of time:
“Will I ever be able to do a Ph.D.? I have never done it before.” (Asked during the entire course of my Ph.D.)
“How will I ever find a job? It is so hard to find one these days.” (Asked during the entire course of my Ph.D.)
“Who lives in Nebraska? It is really in the middle of nowhere.” (Asked years ago when I used to live in Seattle and had no idea about where Nebraska was)
I found the answers to all three questions :)

I also started dabbling in other projects. I discovered PastelSpace (http://www.pastelspace.com/), which is a great platform for artists to showcase their work. I contribute regularly there, and this is my portfolio (http://www.pastelspace.com/user_wall.php?id=261).

Ghum: That is wonderful. Apart from this, I have also seen your Facebook Page on your Project – Knowing Nebraska. Tell us about that.
DC: Yes. With pleasure :)
I knew nothing about Nebraska when I moved here. Knowing Nebraska involves visiting places in Nebraska, taking pictures, and compiling them into a collection, supported by short stories or descriptions around them. I am simultaneously building a journal of my experience and learning doing this project. This is my effort to showcase where I live thorough my lens.

My first Nebraska football game

My first Nebraska football game

Ghum: This is really a great one. I have been seeing the updates on this page often!
DC: Oh thanks.. That is really nice of you :)

Ghum: You have been with Ghumakkar for about 3 years now. And in your perspective, we would like to know how Ghumakkar has changed over time.
DC: Yes. Ghumakkar has changed has evolved as a travel writing forum, with many new features introduced in the past to make the writers feel more included. I love reading the editorials, featured authors, and featured stories. The interviews give more insight about a person. Overall, Ghumakkar is a very interactive community, and your Facebook page has an impressive number of supporters as well.

Ghum: Thank you DC. We are happy about the number of fans we have on Facebook. We hope to see it grow further !
DC: Am sure it will. No doubt :)

Ghum: Now some feedback time. What are the things you would want us to improve on?
DC: I see that most (if not all) of the authors in Ghumakkar are Indian, and I wonder what would be a non-Indian perspective on travel essays. This way, Ghumakkar can reach out to many international travelers and writers.
The other thing I’d suggest is focusing on published books by travel writers. For example, you can feature a book for people to read every month. Some of the authors I can think of are Pico Iyer and Bill Bryson. You know, when you put a few brains together in a room with paper and a pen, the possibilities are endless.

Ghum: Your suggestion is invaluable and food for our thought. We will consider them. Thanks DC :)
DC: I am glad!

Ghum: Finally, any message for our enthusiastic community?
DC: Keep traveling, keep exploring, and keep writing about them. I’ll do that too. So wherever I cannot go, I will vicariously travel with you.

Thank you DC for entertaining us with your lovely posts. Like your posts, am sure our conversation will also be loved by many. I will take this opportunity to wish you a promising future and we shall be waiting to see many more posts from you soon!

24 Comments

  • abheeruchi says:

    Heartly congratulations DC.Well deserved.It always gives me happiness to read any of ur post and now its ur interview.Good to know about you.Photographs are amazing.Keep travelling keep writing.
    Thanks Archana for such a nice interview.

  • O my good God ! Great magician from Kolkata who capture the beauty from anything like anything. Congrat Devasmita for being the ‘Feature Author of October, 2013’. Your esteemed suggestion of featuring a monthly book with non-Indian writers too is highly appreciable. I afraid what would be the future of readers like me who are not comfortable in english.
    Thanks DDC (Dr. Debaasmeeta Chokarbortee) for such a nice interview which enable us to know more about you.

    @Archana: Thanks for bringing us this highly inspirational interview (you are lesser excavator as compare to Nandan, sorry don’t mind).

  • Pragna says:

    Awesome interview and great write-ups n clicks DC… well done Archana ….

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Super interview Archana. Unlike the past interview, this one reads warmer and friendly I guess :-). Talking to people often brings new insights and I wish you luck and success.

    @ DC – Great suggestions. Let me think it over, as of now it might be difficult to build a good pipeline of reviews and we may not be able to sustain it. Lets see. Regarding getting non-Indian writers, I think I must chase these folks. :-)
    Wishing you great times ahead, in Nebraska and beyond.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Archana,

    Great interview! Didnt miss Nandan a bit!

    It was nice getting to know Devasmita.

    Devasmita – But Nebraska? – I thought only person who lived there was Warren Buffett! I remember driving into Nebraska from Cheyanne, Wyoming a long time ago just to be able to say I was in Nebraska. It seemed we were driving to the edge of the world!

    Go Huskers! How are the Huskers doing this season? College football is the best thing about living in college towns.

    Why dont you include a photography tip in every post of yours – for example I thought you could defocus either the foreground or background but in the library photo both foreground and background are blurred.

    Keep writing!

    • Dear Nirdesh,

      I just happened to see your query about the focus. Usually I am away from this favourite site of mine due to busy bank schedule, but I can’t help replying to this one.

      If you have got a tele lens (your Bridge camera has got very powerful tele-lens) and critically focus at a certain distance while keeping the aperture wide open, you will throw the foreground and background out of focus.

      For example, you keep the lens aperture at 1.8 (or whatever max. aperture is allowed on your lens) and focus at 15 feet distant object, anything beyond 18-19 feet and nearer than 14 ft. is likely to be out of focus. Larger the aperture / higher the focal length / closer the subject to camera distance, shallower would be the depth of field.

      Sushant Singhal

    • Devasmita says:

      Hi Nirdesh, the fact that no one lives in Nebraska is a myth, and we Nebraskans are trying to change that :) Penny from Big Bang Theory is from Nebraska, although she is a fictional character. The other people are Andy Roddick, and Vinod Gupta (VGSOM at IIT-KGP). And of course, I am here now.

      The photo was taken using a 50mm 1.4G prime lens.

  • Hi DC,

    Heartiest congratulations on being adjudged featured author for Oct. 2013. I am a huge fan of your writing and photography.

    @ Archana Ravichander : Will post my comment on your interview once I go through it fully.

    Sushant

  • Avtar Singh says:

    Hi D!

    Congrats for getting the chance of featured author and obliged us to know something about you.

    The pics, you put, are really stunning.

    The Taj looking mesmerizing in black and white…!

    The water, the sun set, the Kashmir…. all are looking more beautiful!!!

  • Rutavi Mehta says:

    Just great interview with DC. Now I got to know more secretes to travel more :)

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