Ghumakkar Featured Author Interview with Suave and Sophisticated RRG

I have never done a long distance ride on a motor-bike and besides some city-driving, my experience in motor cycling is negligible. The longest distance that I ever covered on my Bajaj Calibre (The Unshakeable) in a single ride was barely over a 100 Km, including a break, for 3 hours! I was a proud owner of this machine but I moved to a 4-wheeler early on and the worldly prudence made me part away from my Bike. Hence, any discussion on bikes was kept away from my conversation with Rishi Raj Gupta, the Ghumakkar Featured Author for December 2012. Even though Rishi’s inspiring tale of Leh controlled my thoughts most of the time… but then… I haven’t been to Leh as well. I looked around for an alibi, an escape route but found none. Unlike my last interview, where I ‘earned it’ by doing a 8 KM mountain walk, I ran out of ideas for this one. While all this was going on in my mind at a snail’s pace, the calendar days stuck to their timelines and in no time I found myself staring at my hand phone beeping softly and firmly for the scheduled interview with Rishi. What happened next is best enjoyed verbatim.

Presenting the suave and the sophisticated Rishi Raj Gupta, in conversation with the lost and the helpless Nandan Jha.

Ghumakkar : Welcome, Rishi, and big congratulations for being the ‘Ghumakkar Featured Author for December 2012’.
RRG: Thank you Nandan. I am liking it.

RRG rides...

RRG rides…


Ghu : How did this aquaintance with Ghumakkar happen? Search engines?
RRG : Yes, exactly. How else one would find you?

Ghu: Well, when we started many years back, in 2007, I knew everyone personally, who ever then wrote on Ghumakkar. Actually even the ones who commented! I have made uncountable and sometimes incorrigble phone calls requesting people to read and comment. He He. So it is humbling to face that people are finally not only finding us without me chasing them, but actually writing here. What were you looking for?
RRG: I think it was early this year, probably February 2012. I was looking for information on ‘Pushkar’ and If I remember correctly, I found a story on ‘Brahma Temple’ here. (May be this one – http://www.ghumakkar.com/2012/03/24/पुष्कर-ब्रहमा-जी-का-एकमात/ ) and then started reading more of it.

Ghum: And then I think you travelled and wrote about that on Ghumakkar.
RRG: Yes, that was my log here. Before writing that story, I have read few stories here and I really wanted to write one here so as soon as Puhskar Trip happened, my first ‘Motorcycle Diary’ at Ghumakkar was born.

Ghum: We are so glad that it did. What ‘drove’ you to write on Ghumakkar?
RRG: Because I tremendously liked the word, ‘Ghumakkar’. It truly embodies the tagline, Traveling is Good. It is simple, clear and to the point. It is like the most appropriate thing which I found and it looked something which belonged to me, so why not write. :-)

Ghum: Very well said RRG. We would talk more about writing and your travel but let us detour this via your personal life. Trust me, most of the active members of the community are actually waiting for the personal questions.
RRG: Yeah, Sure.

Ghum : Who is RRG ? Tell us more about your family, where are you from, how you were raised…
RRG : I am a management graduate from Delhi School of Economics. Presently, I work with Bharti Wal-Mart, as Dy General Manager and Region Head-HR for whole of North India operations. You can access my LinkedIn profile here (in.linkedin.com/pub/rishi-raj-gupta/30/299/3b). I have studied, worked and stayed in many cities – Pune, Mumbai, Nashik and Hyderabad. I stay in Gurgaon; have been staying in this city for last six years.

Ma

Ma

Nitin, my brother

Nitin, my brother

Ghum : And are you from Delhi ?
RRG : No, I am from Lucknow. Born and brought up in Lucknow; it were parents who instilled values and culture in me. They taught me to meet everyone with respect – the ‘Lakhnavi aadab’ – that helps me connect easily with people all over the world. From the very childhood, I have been fond of conversations. I can strike a chat with almost anyone; and more than often, knowledge about common points hover around respective hometowns, places we like, places we visited…

Ghum : And I guess your brother also rides with you sometimes. Who else ?
RRG : You are right. Nitin, my younger brother, is a bright young lad and you have seen him with me on recent trips. He is the one who brought a new bike home last year and inspired Neha to book one more for me!

And Neha is my better half, for the last 6 years. Fell in love while travelling with her on Delhi’s roads within three days of meeting her in 2006…the love-story continues to date! She is a fantastic person and a great friend of mine. Neha is a senior L&D professional, currently based at London. She hails from Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh.

RRG and Neha Love Story Continues

RRG and Neha Love Story Continues

Ghum: Wow! Blessing and wishes for the love. Lets glance back a little further, any memories of child-hood visits?
RRG: The most vivid memories of family trips in childhood are of the yearly visits to Vaishno Devi shrine and nearby hill-stations! We used to travel with family friends; and as a child I had lot of fun during those trips! However, you’d be amazed to note that last time I visited this place was in 1985!

Ghum : Was it more fun way back ?
RRG : May be. Another once-in-a-while set of trips that I fondly recall were to my Uncle’s place at Sitapur. Though the road distance is only 90kms from Lucknow to Sitapur and the drive used to last only 3 hours, the very idea of travelling, meeting new people, being on the road was thrilling to the restless child in me!

Ghum : When did the travel bug bite you?
RRG: Actually, I always loved to travel and see new places. But till I was 20, I didn’t travel much on my own. However, much earlier in 2001, I ventured out to Mumbai & Pune for some MBA interviews, and fell in love with the locale. I experienced staying in budget hotels, traveling by buses and being on my own! And I really liked the Volvos plying between towns of Maharashtra and Karnataka. For a young bloke from Uttar Pradesh, who had till then rarely experienced travelling in UP State Transport’s rickety buses, these suave buses were an experience in itself. I still remember taking an overnight air-conditioned sleeper Volvo from Jalgaon to Pune – loved it!

Neha and RRG at Leh

Neha and RRG at Leh

Ghum : I guess it is still a big ‘experience’ for people from UP and Bihar, like me. What about the travel in last 8-10 years ?
RRG : In last 8 years or so, I mostly travelled on work and remained a workaholic for most of these years; still am, largely :o) It was only after meeting Neha, the real bug bit me! She is the REAL Ghumakkar – has travelled the world and even far more within India than I have! In fact, her parents were big into Ghumakkari! You can see Neha’s Mom here cheerfully standing next to Sachin Tendulkar’s replica at the Madame Tussauds!

Mummy at Madam Tussauds

Mummy at Madam Tussauds

When we met, she inspired me to travel, take holidays and be back to the mountains! In fact, she was the one who stirred me to buy the new Enfield and motivated me to travel to the Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey this year. So, that how I resumed leisure bike riding with this newfound rigour!

Ghum : So the last decade has been the most travel-ific time for you. Please pass on my heartfelt thanks to Neha. If not for her, we may not have been interacting here. :-). What did travelling change in you?
RRG : Travel has taught me a lot. I would like to believe that I have become a better person by travelling and seeing the world. It has brought in a lot of acceptance of others’ views, different cultures, thought processes and has had a deep, lasting impact on the way I think, speak and behave. In my view, travelling without learning and imbibing the learning is a gross waste of time and money! You’d recall I wrote a blog about London, where I spent some good time early this year; I noted some amazing things that are an integral part of their culture…

Neha and RRG at Westminster London

Neha and RRG at Westminster London

Ghum : RRG, you are a thoughtful person. I still remember you sending me the story where how during the Wimbledon event, you discovered that there is a provision for wheel-chair bound people. We could not feature it since in our current formats, it didn’t fit but do you what to share more here, for the benefit of fellow Ghumakkars.
RRG : You still remember, hehe. Before I do that, I want to elaborate on why I write here and what is one thing which I tremendously like, to the extend that now when I read reviews in magazines , it is sometimes difficult to read.

At Ghumakkar, people write from the heart in a language which we speak day to day, in a format which is accessible and there is no fake-cover on it. The narration is honest and true. The stories are not written in a dreamy, make-believe fashion, instead they are real experiences which we felt. I am not in a habit of doing a lot of online reading. At max, I pick a book and read but Ghumakkar is changing this. I enjoy reading here and feel much more connected. In a simpler phrase, at Ghumakkar there is is no Gloss, it is all natural sheer beauty. 

Ghum: Wow! Splendid! I am going to use, may even abuse, this quote. Indeed, there is no gloss. The narratives are not laden with superlative text which though can be understood but can never be felt.
RRG: Please go ahead. Coming to what you mentioned that we should plan something on the lines of “Ghumakkar Insights” where one can write about ‘Learnings’ , the larger meaning of travel.

Ghum: You have inspired a lot of fans from the Ghumakkar family. What inspires you?
RRG: As a person, my passion inspires me to do better, be better everyday. I am an extremely positive person; just refuse to back down whenever I fail. I thrive when faced with challenges, troubled situations and obstacles – I enjoy overcoming situations that others give in to.

A lot of my inspiration came from the life of Shaheed Sardar Bhagat Singh – I have read every written word on this luminary. Every day of my life, the vision he demonstrated as a youth inspires me. He is my only role model.

As a traveller, riding my Enfield to the mountains – that inspires me! I have travelled all over India, even abroad. Yet, Himalayas invite me, time and again. The serpentine roads, mystique and serenity of the hills, peaceful hamlets and simplicity of life – they all charm me, a lot.

Bringing True Home

Bringing True Home

Ghum : Bhagat Singh, Enfield, Workaholic . There is some common theme here. How about your childhood?
RRG : All through my childhood, I was a hyperactive kid – still am :o) I was always doing something – playing sports, reading books, talking to people, teaching and studying – all in a day’s time! My father taught me this valuable lesson – there are only two type of people who complain about lack of time – those who are lazy and/or those who don’t know their job! This mantra helps me do well and multi-task a lot.

Ghum : Ok, so that explains. Any big moments of embarrassment?
RRG : Many. Hehe. I learnt swimming at a very young age; swim really well. I recall an incident when I was in tenth standard. My aunts and I travelled to Haridwar. After swimming for hours, I was standing over one of the numerous crossover bridges at Har-ki-Pauri. An unattended toddler slipped into the flowing water, without anyone noticing! Horrified to note this, I jumped into Ganga, without realizing that the depth was only 4 feet! The kid got saved and I came out with a broken toe and a sheepish grin! What an amazing feeling it was!

Ghum : What do you read ?
RRG : I enjoy reading, especially books on legal history and politics.

Ghum : And for this hyperactive kid, what else do you spend time on ?
RRG : Managing a terrace garden is another passion. Neha and I share our liking for good music. You can see us here relishing live sufi renditions at the Fatehpur Sikri…

Neha and RRG at Fatehpur Sikri

Neha and RRG at Fatehpur Sikri

RRG on this terrace Garden

RRG on this terrace Garden

And then I am foodie – love good food. Lucknow offers amazing delicacies and I can almost write a book on the places of a foodie’s delight in the city. Neha and I share this interest – you’d find us eating at all famous nooks and crannies of Delhi.

Ghum : For the roadie that you are, what drives you?
RRG : From the very beginning, two-wheelers have always been nearer to my heart than cars. I am still not very comfortable driving a car – I feel caged! I learnt riding a bike at the age of 10, on my sister’s moped! I recall at that age, I wasn’t even able to kick-start it on my own. So every time I would get to ride it, I needed to cajole my sister into not only allowing me to ride it, but also to kick-start it for me! So, the ride that started at the age of 10 continues to date…

Ghum : You also like to teach and write a lot about organizations and leadership. What are the subjects that excite you?
RRG : Well, I have been teaching right from the age of 16! I have tutored over 75 students during my own education years; and it’s very gratifying that most of them went on to do really well for themselves. I am very passionate about teaching law and HR strategy. The idea of ‘natural leadership’ is very close to my heart. Over last 8 years of my work, I have mentored several students from management schools – feels really good to see all of them very well placed in their careers. At work, I lead a large team in my current role – 23 of the brightest minds of the organization! Built it from scratch and they are all very close to me. So, teaching and leading come naturally to me.

RRG and his team

RRG and his team

Ghum : You have been a blogger for long. Is there any thing Ghumakkar.com changed in your traveling / writing?
RRG: 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!

Ghum : I am guessing that you already have a big plan for next year then. What all is there on the list for next year?
RRG : UK and parts of Europe sometime in March-April with Neha. At least four Motorcycle Diaries are on the mind – one to Srinagar and Kargil in June, a Rajasthan Safari in February, another one to Uttarakhand. Nitin and I have also been thinking about venturing on an all-India trip – Delhi-Kanyakumari-Delhi.

I actually travel a lot – just don’t write about every Trip, unless I feel strongly about sharing it. Just came back from a 2-day solo-driving trip from Jaipur – thoroughly enjoyed it. Again going for a week’s holiday to Uttarakhand in December-end.

I look forward to travel extensively in my life; I feel it completes me and is on an equal footing with reading good books and having great friends. I look forward to travelling to Alps someday; going to Tibet and spend time there. I would love to go see the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China. I would like to spend some years in Scotland and do nothing but teach as a hobby and enjoy life with Neha and our kids. A lot of working professionals speak about the clichéd ‘work-life’ balance! I, on the contrary, wish to live my life by ‘life-work’ balance philosophy. Life comes first!

I am of the opinion that travel is the best way to instill values in the future generations – Neha and I look forward to taking our kids all over the world, familiarizing them with the oneness of this such diverse world.

Ghum : Wow. That is a ‘thought’. Insha Allah. Amen. We are now in December and 15 days away from another bright and big year.  Any resolutions for the coming year?
RRG : One – I will keep improving upon my workaholic nature! Have already promised my team that I will switch off the data services of my BlackBerry at 11pm every night. Ride to Leh for 18 days without the ‘otherwise quintessential’ BlackBerry encouraged me to take this step! Two – will not stop riding, come what may.

Thank you RRG for talking to us, for sharing so much about you and for letting me peep-in and enable me to report many nuggets of gems hidden behind this impressive personality. I am sure that this interview of yours, akin to your writing will be inspiring for all Ghumakkars, especially the workaholic kind :-). And I hope that you, your family and all our readers get to travel more, travel better and travel safer in the coming new year.

Wishing you great success and a very happy new year!

40 Comments

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

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  • D.L.Narayan says:

    @ RRG: Congratulations Rishi on a well-deserved accolade. It was great knowing more about you as a person. You are spot on when you say life comes first. I realised it a bit too late and now, I am trying to make up for it even though sometimes I find that I am physically not up to it. I haven’t been to China as yet (remains on my wish-list) but have seen the Pyramids. In fact, I have written about that visit on ghumakkar some time back. Wishing you many years of amazing ghumakkari and looking forward to your

    @Nandan: As always, a great interview. It is amazing how you uncover the many facets of RRG’s personality so unobtrusively. You would have made a great journalist. Journalism’s loss is software’s gain, I guess.

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    @ RRG: Congratulations Rishi on a well-deserved accolade. It was great knowing more about you as a person. You are spot on when you say life comes first. I realised it a bit too late and now, I am trying to make up for it even though sometimes I find that I am physically not up to it. I haven’t been to China as yet (remains on my wish-list) but have seen the Pyramids. In fact, I have written about that visit on ghumakkar some time back. Wishing you many years of amazing ghumakkari and looking forward to reading about them and see them through your stunning pictures.

    @Nandan: As always, a great interview. It is amazing how you uncover the many facets of RRG’s personality so unobtrusively. You would have made a great journalist. Journalism’s loss is software’s gain, I guess.

  • Vipin says:

    Heartiest congratulations RRG for deservingly chosen as the ‘featured author of the month’! Your rides have surely inspired a lot of us, but you and your thoughts on life too are pretty inspiring. May you always be blessed with ghumakkari!

    @ Nandan, thanks for presenting this neatly woven interview with RRG. While a bit is known about an author’s personality going through the posts, but you very cleverly pull out what a reader wishes to learn through these monthly interviews about an author…kudos to both of you!

  • Hey Nandan – thank you. I like how you started this interview!
    It has been an absolute pleasure being on Ghumakkar.
    Best,
    RRG

  • Praveen Wadhwa says:

    Dear RRG

    I enjoyed reading every single word of this interview. Your life story is very interesting and full of action.

    Congratulations!

  • deepak says:

    Congrats…

  • Surinder Sharma says:

    Dear RRG,

    Very nice interview, I know your love for Bike, but now I know more about you with this interview. God Bless.

  • SilentSoul says:

    congrats to RRG and hope that he would read and comment on others’ posts too to encourage other authors.

    Nandan tks and a billion tks for meeting me. It was wonderful experience to meet you and Vibha. Hope this would not be the last meeting :)

  • anu says:

    Hi Rishi,
    Congratulations for the Ghumakkar Featured Author Interview, truly inspiring,loved it.Hope your ‘life-work’ balance never fails and may your ‘Ghumakkari’ streak keep on burning bright :)

  • RRG

    Once again congrats for becoming featured author of the month.

    Jealousy is what my relation is with RRG now from my side because RRG is blessed with Enfield Bullet and Ghumakkari in Himalayas. May God bless you with a Harley Davidson now and you always roam and write you diaries in your blog and this great ghumakkar.com make me feel more and more jealous. This is helping me because while reading your stories my liking and penchant towards Himalayas and biking is becoming more and more enormous. Hope I may travel all the places which you show in form the posts.

    After reading your interview I feel you are also Multi – talented , Goodhearted and have a pure soul. You and Neha seem to be one of the most loving couple . Thanks to her also for constant support to you. Hence we could read your stories. Keep up your wonderful workaholic attitude , passion for riding and travelling and love for jotting it down in the form of pictures and posts.

    Once again congrats , Happy New Year in advance.

    • Vishal,

      You have been always very generous in your praise; thank you! I appreciate your kind words and hope I keep riding and sharing the stories.

      I am really happy ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ inspires you to venture on to similar trips. God willing, soon you will.

      Also, to share with you, I am a die-hard Enfield fan! Also, you cannot ride a Harley to our mountains, it is just not the bike for that purpose! Try riding an enfield to Karjat, and then try a Harley on the same road – you will also fall in love with the RE!

      Best wishes,
      RRG

      • I cant drive RE or other heavy bikes . I am happy with 100 to 150 cc bikes . That is the reason i told you Superstud in one of your posts because you not only drive RE but also for very long distances above 1000 kms.

        Enjoy your ghumakkari with RE .

        Keep Travelling and Sharing your RE Experiences.

        • Vishal – good to know you are too into bike-riding. Which one you ride, doesn’t matter – as far as you enjoy riding it, mate!
          Best wishes with you plans of covering hills in future.
          RRG

  • Nandan

    Thanks for wonderful interview. We came to know a lot about RRG .

  • Tanvinder Singh Bindra says:

    Hi Rishi ji,

    Very Well said that “travel is the best way to instill values in the future generations”, I wish Waheguru ji gives you and Neha good health and great journeys in this blessed life….Thanks to Nandan for bringing such an insightful interview here.

    I now know a little more about you…and I will always wanting to learn more from this “Ghummakar” in you.

    Keep writing..

    Thanks and Regards

  • JATDEVTA says:

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

  • Saurabh Sharma says:

    good one bro! Most of the details I already knew, but it is still good to read more about u!

    cheers mate!
    – Saurabh

  • Abheeruchi says:

    Hi,

    Many Congratulations. It was great knowing about you and your better half (your inspiration to be Ghumakkar).

    Many Thanks to her too.

    Keep Travelling,keep writting

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ Ritesh – Thank you.

    @ DL – I would try to compensate through these interactions :-) and I am going to write more.

    @ Vipin – Thank you.

    @ Tarun – Thank you again. Have fixed the problem at the other place as well.

    @ Rishi – I am just a medium. Nothing more.

    @ SS – Never.

    @ Vishal – Thank you.

    @ Abhee – You are the only one, so far, who caught this. We must thank Neha enough for everything. Hope she is reading. :-)

  • Poonam says:

    Woh Woh Wh!U seem 2 be a very interesting Guy and must say Neha &U really complement each other.Good going!All the Best…

  • Many Congratulations.
    It was great knowing more about you as a person.
    Wishing you many years of amazing ghumakkari and looking forward to your post thrughout 2013 with True once again.

    and Nandan, it has been six months’ since I am a regular here (though a bit late in the last couple of weeks) – I always look forward to 16th for your post and hope we will have more stories from the man, who had started this. Tx & regards,

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