From the Editor – What if we had a year?

There are several stories that we love to share with everyone. I have some such stories as well. And one of them is of Jim (name changed), my friend from the UK. We were in the same batch. Five of us would often hang out between classes for lunch and a coffee. While the four of us were always buying full meals, Jim would first look into his wallet. If he found enough money in there, he would order a coke and a burger else would go without lunch. Sometimes he would allow us to buy meal for him. But he would always repay it some other day by buying a meal for us when he had money. No, he wasn’t poor. In fact, he was amongst a select few from our batch who had a good part-time job to sustain him – he worked as a bartender and earned quite a bit. His parents were well-to-do as well. Then why did he give up on food so often? I was curious but was vary of intruding. British are private people. But I am an Indian and, true to my roots, my curiosity got better of me until one day I asked him. And to my surprise he was very forthcoming with the answer. I will share that with you too but before that there are some important announcements that I know you are all eagerly awaiting. So without any further delay, here they are, the awards of the month:

The Featured Author for the month of September 2012 is none other than our very own Mahesh Semwal, who has been with Ghumakkar for 3 years and has published 49 stories. He has been awarded the Ghumakkar of the Year 2 times. While he was missing from active writing scene for some time, he was always encouraging us with his comments and support. Now he is back in full force with his Johannesburg series and we couldn’t have asked for more.

The Featured Story for the month of August 2012 is Amitava Chatterjee’s “Summer Vacation” for his nostalgic account of the place of his childhood. With beautifully chosen words and heartfelt expressions, the story touches every reader, bringing forth those faint memories of childhood that we had buried deep inside under the weight of everyday issues. While the entire series was lovely, the last part takes the cake. Click here to read it.

Congratulations Mahesh and Amitava for the awards! We are proud to have you with us. Hope to read many more stories from you.

Coming back to Jim – I asked me why he was always so short of money. “I’m saving up for my trip,” he replied with a smile and a twinkle in his eyes. I wasn’t impressed. Not yet anyways. I had expected a much more dramatic reason. But this was frankly quite boring. Nevertheless, I asked him where he was off to. “The entire world!” “What?” I was surprised naturally. He was apparently saving for a year long trip that he had planned with his girlfriend at the end of our course. He wanted to wait for a while before he joined a serious job and wanted to fulfill his dream of travelling across the world before he got caught up in the mundane stuff. Now I was impressed. He was only 22, way younger than me and much surer of himself than I had ever been. He was ready to take the responsibility of saving up for his own trip when he could easily have borrowed money from his rich parents.

Today it has been exactly one year since I saw him and the last I heard was that he was somewhere in the wilderness of Australia, braving the harsh terrain but probably having the time of his life knowing that he was living his dreams. I salute his Ghumakkar spirit.

Jim chose to take a break from the routine life and spend it travelling. The concept is often called Gap Year where people take time off and chase their dreams, learn the skills they’ve always wanted to, or simply introspect. The options are limitless. The choice lies with the “Gapper”. There are some Gappers who visit other countries and try to experience their culture first hand. Many visit India and spend time with Indian families, getting involved in their day-to-day chores. I was particularly impressed by this particular Gapper, Lina, who not only lived with an Indian family in a village of Rajasthan but also helped around in the chores, including the construction of a building. Her tone is curious and non-judgmental. I enjoyed reading her blog, I’m sure you would too. Click here to read her blog.

The concept of a Gap Year is much more formal in the Amish, a traditional Christian community. The Amish are known for their simple living and traditional lifestyle. They shun all modern inventions and still ride horse-carts. They don’t use computers, television, radio, food processors, cameras, phones or any other machinery. They don’t believe in indulgence. Life in so many restrictions can be very difficult. So some communities of Amish allow their youngsters to go for rumspringa (“running around”) for one year. During this time, the youngsters (both boys and girls) stay away from home and are free to explore the world. And it is during this time that they need to decide whether they want to embrace the Amish way of life or to leave it forever. It is said that most Amish children choose to come back into their community after Rumspringa ends, committing themselves to the Amish way of life for the rest of their lives. There are very few who choose to stay away.

While the concept still sounds new to us, here in India, and many of us don’t think we can ever take the risk of losing one year of our lives, the acceptance has increased. Employers, today, are much more open to their employees taking a long sabbatical for no dire reason – the urge to write a novel or to travel around the world are considered good enough reasons.

The tolerance towards grown-up people trying to learn new skills even when they are older has increased. And there is some support in the country for such a desire, even though a lot more can be done. For example, the Centre for Holistic Learning, which was earlier called “Gap Year College”, is one such institute that originated from this concept. Vipul Rikhi, a writer and teacher who is closely associated with the Centre, was one of the people I sought advice from before I went back to studies. This centre perhaps is in line with an artists’ retreat where artists can stay and concentrate on their craft, far away from the world. Most of these institutes are tucked away in the pristine parts of the country so that artists can take inspiration from the surroundings. There is certain glamour in taking a break. And sometimes the results can be quite spectacular.

I think most of us like to imagine ourselves taking such breaks but very few of us manage to do it. But there’s no harm in dreaming. You never know your dream may just come true. If I am given a chance to go on a break for a year, I would probably choose to go to a place where I can read, write, grow plants, and pet a dog and live a life amidst Nature. The only problem would be to drag me out of it at the end of the year. What would you do if you are given such a chance? Which dream will you chase?


  • JATDEVTA says:

    Mahesh Semwal & Amitava Chatterjee
    congratulations again.

  • Congratulations

    Mahesh Semwal and Amitava Chatterjee

    @ Vibha :- Jim’s story has given me motivation. But it India it will take some time to digest. And yes If I am given a break I would go to Himalayas and try to cover every possible corner of them.

    • Vibha says:

      Thanks for your response Vishal. I agree we are still far away from being so flexible, here in India. But I think we’ll get there sooner or later. :)

  • Thank you Vibha.
    …and Congratulations Mahesh for adding one more feather in the cap…so September is going to be good for all of us.

    I am extremely happy because initially there was a fear of rejection.
    I will be extremely happy to live up to the expectations of the readers and carry the additional resonsibility on my shoulders.

    I would also like to thank everyone in Ghumakkar; from authors, editors to readers and Nandan for sharing their experiences with us, taking some time out to review the posts and making this site a enjoyable place to visit.

    The story of Jim and Lina is an example in front of us and I am sure there are many more such stories. Life is a dream and everyone of us has some dreams to fulfil. Once I read about a young boy, ‘Ganeshan’ from Chennai who toured the world in his bi-cycle (in 90’s) and I preserved the cutting for a long time (published in the then USSR monthly magazine) and must be somewhere in any book at my home in Bengal. He still inspires me to chase my dream…and I will be happy once I fulful this dream of mine…

    Have a wonderful day,

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Many congratulations to Mahesh ji for being chosen as featured author of the month September. Congratulations to Amitava for his story being the featured story of the months. And lots of thanks to Vibha for bringing this to us.


  • Kavita Bhalse says:

    ???? ??,
    ??? ?? ??????? ???? ???? ???? ?? ???? ??????? ????. ???? ???????? ?? ????? ?????? ??? ?????? ??????? ??. ???? ??????? ??? ????? ???? ??????? ????? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??? ?????????????? ??? ???.

    ?????? ??,
    ???? ????? ?? ??? ?? ??????? ????? ?? ?????? ????? ?? ????. ???? ?? ??? ??? ???? ???????? ?? ???? ?? ??? ????? ???? ??.

    ???? ??,
    ?? ?????????? ???????? ?? ??? ??? ?????? ?? ?? ???? ?? ??? ???? ???? ???? ???????.

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    @Mahesh: Congratulations on being selected as the featured author of the month. Your series on South Africa was amazing even though you made us wait a long time for it.

    @Amitava: Congrats, once again and looking forward to many more such stories.

    @ Vibha: It is amazing how you manage to conjure up such inspirational stories month after month. Embarking on a long trip across Europe was considered to be an essential part of the learning process (they called it “rounding off one’s eduction”) after one passed out from college, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries among the British, since most of the graduates were from the aristocracy and could afford to do so. Lord Byron spent a couple of years touring Europe after graduating from Cambridge with a large entourage in attendance! For Indians of my generation, the gap between graduation and employment is a nightmarish experience; applying for jobs, attending job interviews and waiting for the elusive employment offer. Maybe things are far better now.

    Coming back to Jim, I think that you should use your considerable persuasive skills to get him to write about his experiences here on Learning is an endless process and I am sure we can learn a lot from Jim’s experiences. Thanks once again for this lovely, insightful editorial.

    • Vibha says:

      Thanks DL. It isn’t difficult to come up with such stories when there are so many people around me setting so many inspiring examples. And another inspiration is your comment. It always adds so much value to my post. I guess things are changing. And society today is much more adventurous. The sheer number of people starting their own companies has increased and a lot of people are opting for far more creative careers than the typical day jobs.

      I think our generations are reaping the fruits of all the hard work of our previous generations. Hope we are also able to make the world a bit better for the coming generations, in turn.

  • Sudip says:

    Another great post, Vibha!

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Congratulations my friend, Mahesh. You have been a pillar of strength for us all through, thick and thin. You (and Kahmesras) are there from very beginning and have witnessed all ‘batches’ of Ghumakkars who have been active in these years and then moved ahead to find their other callings. Thank you. Look forward to speak to you soon.

    Amitava, well done and thoroughly deserved. RIM is not doing well else they would have chosen you as their brand ambassador :-). Look fwd to read more from you. Congratulations.

    Now about Jims and Linas and Ghumakkars. I guess DL made a strong point. If I were to get it, I would probably spend driving across the world. Not many people know that , Arvind ( took an year off as well traveling across India. A few of Ghumakkars (Arun, Lakshmi ++) have left their regular job to spend full time traveling and making a profession out of it. While reading I thought that I would start with a smaller period and would grow it by at least 1 day for every next visit. So as of now, let me plan for a 9 day tour (I did a 8 day konkan recently so let that be the benchmark) and make it happen. Thank you for the inspirational stories and the push.

    I do have a place in mind for your own wish around write, walk, dog and all the paraphernalia. :-)

    • Vibha says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment Nandan. I deeply admire the ghumakkars who have taken the road less travelled and I am glad you have brought these names to our attention.

      Hope you also get to fulfil your dream soon. But increasing one day per visit may be a slow progress. :)

  • Roopesh says:

    Congrats Mahesh, Amitava!

    Very nicely put Vibha. The concept of sabbatical is catching up especially in IT sector where after few years people are drained of their energy. I have friends who left jobs to pursue their interests and then rejoined. For me an ideal sabbatical would be travelling across India to every state, historical places with some like-minded company. Travelling across the World would be ideal but then we have to keep dreams also realistic :)

    • Vibha says:

      Thanks Roopesh! True, IT sector is probably the furthest ahead in this flexibility. I guess If you set out to explore India, one lifetime is definitely not enough. If you are on a world tour, you are probably just skimming the surface of things. So yes, it all depends upon what you wish to do with your Gap Year.

  • SilentSoul says:

    @Mahesh Semwal – When I came here, Mahesh was one of those few souls who would comment on every story and encourage new authors… I have read his new stories and found them interesting. Mahesh is a good writer, a good person and a good reader too. I am so happy that he has been given focus.

    @Amitava is a new writer and I found his stories very fascinating, specially the featured one. Hope he will shine in his future stories too

    Vibha Ji this was a very interesting and inspiring article. Story of Jim and Lina is worth mentioning. I personally feel Lina’s Gap year has more Virtue than jim’s…thanks for sharing these.

    • Vibha says:

      Thanks for your comment SS. Your comments always make me think. For me, it is very difficult to compare both the Gap Years. They probably mean a lot to both Jim and Lina. I personally wouldn’t mind being a little selfish in my own gap year — not caring about what it means to anyone else but me. :) Don’t we anyways spend our lives worrying too much about the society? But these as well are my own opinions…

  • AUROJIT says:

    @ Mahesh – CONGRATULATIONS Mahesh. A well deserving recognition for your valuable contribution to Ghumakkar and enriching us all with your varied experience.

    @ Amitava – Congratulation for the ‘featured story’. I sincerely wish that you keep travelling and keep telling us more and more such interesting and informative stories.

    @ Vibha – kudos once again for such a gripping post. Stories about Jim and Lina are are something that every Ghumakkar would like to realise.
    Thanks for giving us a nice dream …. and the inspiration to attempt chasing it.



  • ashok sharma says:

    Congrats to Mahesh and Amitava.

    Vibha,thanks for providing a new opening in the way of ghumakkadi.This spirit is the essence that Jim and Lina have shown in abundance.Someday it will be true for our countrymen as well.With growing economy, and education , it is very much possible.Our children look much more confidant,while we people struggled to keep the family going,raising the children and providing education to them,but this ghumakkadi in us never died, a small flame of it keeps burning deep inside somewhere that keeps us planning and grabbing even small chances to take a tour.
    Keep moving and keep sharing.

  • Vibha says:

    Thanks Ashok for your comments. I hope this spirit of Ghumakkadi goes a long way…. :)

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    I am extremely Sorry for the late response. I was traveling , reached yesterday night only.

    I am thankful to the editorial team for considering my name as Author of the month. It is great honour for me.

    I am thankful to all the reader who comments on our post & encourage us to write more, without you our posts are incomplete. Some of the comments are full of information.

    Once again thanks to @ Sandeep , Vishal , SS , DL , Ashok , Sudip , Auro dada, Roopesh , Amitava , Mr & Mrs Bhalse.

    My especial thanks to “Ram Sir” who motivated me a lot when I just started writing stories , We miss you a lot Sir ! . If possible its my request to Nandan , please pass on this message to him.

    Last but not least , thanks to Nandan & Vibha for bothering you always for small small matters.

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    @ Congratulations Mahesh Semwal ji for being featured Author for Sep. Month. you deserve it.

    @ Congratulations Amitava Chatterji for featured Story.

    @Vibha Ji…Thanks for tell us about awards ……and Thanks for nice & motivation story of Jim…

  • Harish Bhatt says:

    Congratulations Semwal Ji and Amitava Ji…

    Vibha Ji – A very well written post. It reminds me of the school days when i used to save a portion of my pocket money to buy toy helicopters, my favorite music cassettes and other gizmos that would be showcased in shop in my neighbourhood market. Instead of having a cold drink and two bread pakoras for which I used to get money; I often used to skip one of the two or sometimes both depending on the price of the piece I wanted to by….

    If I was given such a chance now. I would go to Himalayas and never come back again :-)

  • ram dhall says:

    Dear Mahesh ji,

    Thanks for your kind rememberances and your sweet words.

    Heartiest congratulations for being the featured author of the month – a richly deserved honour. Winning these awards seems to have become a habit for you. I have read your series on Johannesburg. Needless to say that the entire series has been presented brilliantly.

    Warm regards and God’s blessings.

  • Surinder Sharma says:

    Congratulations Mahesh, and Amitava.
    Vibha also describe a wonderful story which may not visible in India but in Foreign everyone has own life style. Parents or Young generation not seek money from each other and people enjoy own life. In India parents just live for their kids and when Kids make their own way then tough for parents to adopt it. Thanks.

  • Manish Kumar says:

    Nice article Vibha and congrats to the chose one’s for the month.

  • ???? ?? ???? ??? ?? ?? ??? ?? ????? ?? ??? ???? ???? ??????? ???? ? ?? ?? ?????? ???? ??? 15 ????? ?? ?? ???? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ???? ??? ??????

    ??????? ?????? ?? ?? ?????? ???? ?? ??? ????? ?? ???? ????

    ???? ??

    ????? ????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ?? ??? ??? ?? ????? ?? ???? ???? ?? ??? ???? ?? ???????? ???? ?? ??? ????? ?? ????? ??? ?? ???? ?? ??? ??????? ??? ???? ?? ?????? ?? ??? ?? ??? ???? ??? ?

  • Congratulations Mahesh and Amitava for the well deserved honour.

    Vibha – These wonderful stories from you are always a great motivation factor for us to travel more, more and more………

  • Vipin says:

    Hi Vibha, thanks for bringing out such a wonderful log with such inspirational stories…my dream would surely be walking/cycling around all natural places away from crowd around the world!

Leave a Reply

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