Ghumakkar Digest – June 2014

I have talked about my love for winters quite a lot. And it is no secret that I hate summers. But this post isn’t about how bad summers are. No, sir! It is in fact about the little blessings of summers, and when I think about it, it wasn’t so difficult to come up with the list. I only had to ask myself “what is it about summers that I don’t detest?”, and the answers poured like a soothing monsoon upon the sun-dried earth.

The most important being that summers help us appreciate other seasons so much better. The mere thought of winters or rains is enough to make us long for them. Summers are also great for weight watchers. You sweat easily, you drink loads of water, you don’t feel like eating anything, so shedding those few extra kilos doesn’t really take as much effort. And we also eat much healthier in
summers. With high probability of germs frolicking in the food of even the best restaurants, most of us are left with no choice but to eat at home. Night-life as well is much more happening in summers. With no day-life possible, that is the only time you can really head out.And I also recently stumbled upon the claim that several experts make that drinking hot beverage is likely to help you cool down faster than drinking a cold drink. Drinking hot drinks makes you sweat and sweating helps cool you down, so this seems to be logical. So now even in summers there is no need to give up on your morning cup of chai – in fact it is recommended.

Summers can be fun for Ghumakkars too. Even though, we know without doubt that no season can stall Ghumakkars, summers offer an additional incentive for Ghumakkars travelling to Paris. They get to see a taller Eiffel Tower than those lesser mortals who travel there in other seasons. As metal expands in heat, the Eiffel Tower can allegedly grow around 6 3/4 inch in height during summers.

eiffel tower

Note: This photograph has been posted in jest. Please don’t sue me for this…

For the more adventurous Ghumakkars who are headed for camping, during summers you don’t need to carry a thermometer to gauge how hot it is, as long as crickets are around. You can calculate it approximately by listening to crickets chirp. The procedure is as follows:

Step 1: Listen to the crickets for 14 seconds and note how many times it chirps. For the sake of this article, let us say 30 chirps

Step 2: Add 40 to the figure:
So, 30 + 40 = 70

Lo and Behold, here is your temperature – 70 degree Fahrenheit

I am hoping all this life-saving information will help you warm up towards summers. And if you know some such things about summers, please do share with us. You never know you may be able to transform some summer-hater to a summer-lover. I, in particular, will look forward to your comment.

And now we welcome our new Ghumakkars.

In June 2014, 2 new authors joined our community.

Please extend a warm welcome to Anil Sharma and Raunak Verma. Anil burst on to the stage with a bang. With 3 excellent solo travel stories under his belt, he is definitely a debutant to watch out for. And Raunak Verma’s unique story on Goa, with his spontaneous to the point writing, had many of us dreaming about our own Goan adventure. In case you haven’t yet red their stories, do so now and don’t forget to leave a comment while you are at it.

And, now, a bit about them, in their own words.

Anil Sharma

Anil Sharma – “I am a senior retired banker, settled in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India. Me and my family have been fond of travelling and hiking. I prefer to travel by my own car, without any prior hotel bookings etc., so that I can enjoy the trip without any time and destination restrictions. Mountains are my preferred destinations and I have traversed virtually the entire length and breadth of Himalayas right from Leh to Shillong.”

Raunak Verma

Raunak Verma – A DBA by profession, Luv to travel(haven’t done much though). Loves long drives, cars, music and movies.

Our regular Ghumakkars, in the meanwhile, carried on their tireless journeys through our motherland. Rupesh took us along the path less taken to Chivla Beach, while Anoop headed solo towards Kedarnath. Munesh continued his exploration of “घुमक्कड़ की दिल्ली” with trips to Teen Murti Bhawan and Gurudwara Shri Bangla Saheb, and Vivek took us on a walk through the lanes of the Holy City Benaras. Pronil was back with his vibrant tale from the pristine side of Andhra Pradesh, whereas Indologist Manisha‘s story about Gharapuri, Ambanath, and Pataleshwar reminded us of her prowess as a writer and an explorer. And apart from these, Mr Phillip Mathai and Mr Jatinder Sethi graciously helped us in publishing their ever-popular travelogues about Palakkad in the South and Fagu in the North, respectively.

But in terms of popularity, Spiti was the clear the winner amongst destinations with no less than three stories talking about the valley. Amitava demonstrated all traits of a master storyteller in his poignantly told story about Spiti Valley. Vas’s story about his Ride to Kibber made a comeback on popular demand, and our new Ghumakkar Anil Sharma also spoke of the valley in his dazzling debut.

Out of these brilliant travelogues, it was as difficult as ever to come up with that one story that deserved to be crowned as the Featured Story for the month of June 2014. The month saw several beautifully written stories and some rich, interesting accounts. However, the story that won this time, emerged at the top because of the undeterred spirit of the writer and his touching narration of the various emotions the devastation and rebuilding of the shrine of Kedarnath invokes. You may have already guessed by now. It is none other than Anoop Gusain’s केदारनाथ यात्रा 2014If you haven’t already read the story, here is an excerpt:

शटल मैं सीटिंग के हिसाब से ही लोग बैठे थे। एक जन भी फालतू नहीं था। सभी लोगों भोलेनाथ की जय बोलकर गाड़ी मे बैठ गए। शटल हमें 3 कि.मी. आगे तक छोड़ने वाली थी। यहाँ से आगे सड़क नहीं थी पूरा पहाड़ टूटा हुआ था। मुझे ऐसा लग रहा था कि मानो गाड़ी पत्थरों के गारे पर चल रही है। बहुत ही सँकरा रास्ता था। थोड़ी देर के बाद ड्राइवर ने गाड़ी रोकी और कहा यहाँ से अब पैदल जाना है। मैं हैरान था सब कुछ बदल गया था। यहाँ  पर गौरीकुण्ड जैसा कुछ नहीं था। पहले तो गौरीकुण्ड मे भी पार्किंग हुआ करती थी। जहाँ पर शटल ने उतारा था बस वहीँ तक रास्ता था। पिछले साल तक तो गाड़ियाँ आगे तक जाती थी। तबाही ने सब कुछ खत्म कर दिया था। यहाँ से गौरीकुण्ड 1-1.5 की.मी. का पैदल रास्ता था। यहाँ पर बहुत सी गाड़ियाँ खड़ी थी। मैंने शटल ड्राइवर से कहा “यार ये लोग भी यहाँ तक गाड़ी लेकर आये है और पार्किंग लगा कर चल दिए हैं। ऐसे तो मैं भी यहाँ तक अपनी गाड़ी लेकर आ सकता था। ” शटल ड्राइवर थोड़ा सा मुस्कराकर बोला “भाई जी ये गाड़ियाँ तो पिछले साल से यहीं खड़ी हैं। इनको लेने कोई नहीं आया। ””

रास्ते की हालत देखिये। कंकड़ और रोडियों से भरा पड़ा है। ये बारिश की वजह से हुआ है।

Click here to read the entire story.

Thanks a lot Anoop for this touching account of the shrine. We salute your spirit.

The Digest can’t really be complete without another glance at this month’s featured author interview. Vasanth has been with Ghumakkar for a long time now. But it is amazing how we can keep discovering new things about each other even after years. Here is an excerpt:

Ghum: Please tell us about your childhood days.

Vas: I was born in Chennai and spent my early childhood there. I believe, the place of my birth had a strong reason behind my innate proclivity to the royal enfield.

Ghum: We would come to bike later, and also about your writing, but please finish what you wanted to say about RE ?
Vas: Haha. Yeah, I am probably dragging you away, so as to talk about my rides, my bike and so on. Lets wait for that talk. I was saying that during my childhood days, I would see burly men belonging to the “nadaar” community proudly going around in their royal steeds. The thump remained in my head since then and a couple of decades later, when the opportunity came I picked up my very own ride and named it “The Messiah”.

Ghum: Wow, that’s quite a name ? Why ‘Messiah’ ?
Vas: Every royal enfield bullet has a name given to it by the rider. I think it is customary that one’s bullet is named since its gives the machine an identity. When I got mine, I could not think of anything less than a name that exemplifies the almighty. For me, my bullet is God personified since while I am with it, I feel safe and that there is no place where you can’t go when you are on one. Isn’t that the same feeling that one has for god?

Ghum: That is quite a philosophical take. Going back to child hood, how long you were there in Chennai ?
Vas: Well, my father was posted in Chennai. I didn’t spent too much time and was there till I was about 8 years.

Ghum: and after that.
Vas: We moved to Jaipur, the pink city. I was there till I was 13. Did my senior schooling there.

Ghum: Any early memories ?
Vas: I dont remember much from my Chennai days, probably because I was quite young. But memories of jaipur still remains fresh in my mind. For some reason, Rajasthan is quite close to my heart. I really like the warmth and hospitality of the people and the myriad forts hiding historical secrets behind their indomitable walls.”

Bikaner-starting for Jaisalmer

Click here to read the entire interview.

Thanks once again, Vas, for your time. It was lovely to get to know you better. Do keep travelling and writing. We will look forward to more stories from you.

And now we come to our final story in this digest – The Featured Author for the Month of July 2014, and it is none other than Jaishree Khamesra. A Ghumakkar since August 2007, Jaishree has contributed several well-researched stories to the community. She has always made her presence felt – through her travel tales, as well as through her thoughtful comments.

Congratulations Jaishree! This was long due and much deserved! We will look forward to speaking to you soon.

What an exciting month! And to think of it, it was June, which is supposed to be the hottest. Now let us all do our bit by congratulating Anoop and Jaishree, and by welcoming the new Ghumakkars, Anil and Raunak, to the community. I think it is one of the best ways to beat the heat!

Till  the next time…




  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Congratulations Anoop for your achievement. Actually I wanted from the depth of my heart that this post must be selected as Featured Story of the month, and finally this happened.

    Congratulations to Jaishree for the featured author award. And finally thanks to Vibha for bringing these two gems before us.


  • Congratulations Anup & Jaishree…..well deserved.

  • Naresh Sehgal says:

    Congratulations Anup for featured story of the month & Jaishree for featured author.
    Thanks Vibha for compiling and sharing monthly digest.

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Many Congrats to Anoop & Jaishree. Both equally deserve the honour respectively. However, my sincere felicitations also goes to the very youthful Mr. Anil Sharma for his inspiring & passionate write-ups on Khibber.

    @ Vibha, thanks a lot for your expert wrap-up on Summer. We in the North extremely needed that. Excellent summary of the Digest. Kudos!

    Keep traveling

  • Jaishree says:

    Thank You Ghumakkar and Ghumakkars. It will be a pleasure to share more about me to people who all have a string that resonates with travel and travelers.

    Thank you Ajay, Naresh, Mahesh and Mukesh.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Vibha,

    Loved all the things you shared about summers – I think this year Eiffel Tower has stretched by a foot! I still like summers even though they have been brutal this year.

    Welcome to new ghumakkars and looking forward to hearing from Jaishree!

    • Vibha says:

      Thanks Nirdesh, for your kind comment!

      I know someone who will be really glad to know that you still like summers. Summers, of course! :)


  • @ Vibha So proposition is, cooling down with hot beverages, and in your words drinking hot drinks makes you sweat and sweating helps cool you down. Ive never experienced that with my hot cup of tea. But in that sense, I mean considering that one must sweat, one may jog, brisk walk or may go to gym, both for sweating and good health.

    What do you get in summer? If you get the answer, I think, it is done and certainly you as a Ghumakkar will wait for it ever.

    We have great Christmas and New Year eve in winter, hot coffees and snow falls too, some great places which we generally love to travel in winters.

    Spring brings the great festival of colour Holy. Our Ghumakkar chase to see Lathmar Holy in Vrindaban/Mathura (Last time our Author Munesh Mishra was chasing it) or even to witness the great festival of Basanta Utsav in Shantiniketan, West Bengal.

    Then we have Autam to offer great festivals of Navratri, Dasera, Durga Puja, Deepawali etc. I went sometime back in 2010 to Varanasi for watching Dev Deepawali which observes 15 days after Deepawali.

    Now about summer, I know everyone in this board will agree with me that summer offers the best to any Ghumakkar. Vibha, you will also agree! Why?

    If there was no summer, there would not have been holy Yatras to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Valley of Flowers, Amarnath Yatra, there would not have been bikers and other travelers in the Spiti and Ladakh, there would not have been great expedition to Mt. Everest and also to some other peaks and base camp as well, the charm of Kashmir would not have been opened to its lovers and there are many to be included in the list.

    For the kids, its a vacation time, some outdoor activities, family gatherings and no study!

    So why should not one love the SUMMER most?

    My Heartiest welcome to all the new Ghumakkars. Congratulations to Jaishree and Anoop.

  • Vibha says:

    Thanks Anupam for your thoughtful comment. You have indeed made me feel way better about summers. It is just the heat I hate! It makes me feel tired all the while and kills my plants. If you take that away, summers are indeed wonderful.


  • Nandan Jha says:

    Ok, first things first. I like summers because it gives me more time to drive, i.e. during day light. I avoid driving after sunset. Only in summers, I can leave by home by late afternoon and cover a good enough distance in day light. 2nd is that longer days help see more (as long as you are not in Delhi, which has no mercy for day dwellers). I have another 3K reasons which I am saving. :-)

    Interestingly, over last few years I discovered that I love winters in Hills. You get good Sun during day and that keeps you warm and happy and evenings are best enjoyed over bonfire. Of course Delhi winters with smog and no Sun is very depressing.

    Welcome Anil and Raunak. Anil with his undying spirit of traveling solo to Spiti and Raunkan with his undying spirit to visit Goa on every little excuse (Ok ok, I am not counting Marriage anniv here). May both of you keep traveling and keep sharing your inspiring and fun tales with all.

    Congratulations Anoop. I hope you would have finished reading that book (I have not started and do not intend to as well, if that is some solace). As Vibha so beautifully noted, your tale stood tall. An honest and real experience touches heart. Thank you again for bringing this to us.

    And finally a big congratulations to Jaishree. She is been around since the first days of Ghumakkar and we look forward to knowing more about you. We would also try to re-publish one of your earlier works so that the currently active community gets more familiar with your work. Wishes.

  • Kailash Mehta says:

    Congratulations Anup & Jaishre. Good work by Vibha & Nandan to inspired many persons to bring out their Ghummakar from them.

    Great works guys. :-)

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