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Author from the Valley’ hosted author Nitin Jugran Bahuguna

Pic Courtesy: Sachin Chauhan

By: Dr Tania Saili Bakshi

In its 13th Edition, the Valley of Word series ‘Author from the Valley’ hosted author Nitin Jugran Bahuguna opened to houseful. Nitin is a Dehradun based author-journalist with over 35 years’ work experience in human development issues related to gender, health and women empowerment. Nitin has worked for 17 years with United News of India. A PIB – accredited journalist, she has worked as media consultant with several UN organizations and was Communications Consultant with Worldwide Fund for Nature - India.

Settled in Dehradun Nitin describes it as a homecoming, discovering her roots and how she was enchanted by the beauty of our hills of home and the unique characteristics of its hill folk. Nitin’s first novel ‘Comet in the Village’ is based on the author’s various travels into Uttarakhand, where she was struck by the resilience of the people who live in the hills, especially women. Nitin expressed her thoughts stating, “The mountain communities face excruciating hardships due to natural calamities such as cloudbursts and landslides. Despite these tough challenges, they continue to survive with grit and determination. This is a side of Uttarakhand is not always visible. I have tried to capture some of the issues which affect the mountain communities. At the end of the day, my story is about celebrating life and woman power.”

Nitin was in conversation with Dr. Aloka Niyogi who can best be described as an educationist. An international motivational speaker, Aloka has rendered talks on a Rotary Platform in Druid Hills, Atlanta, USA. She was also a part of a Full Bright Hays Group Scholarship Program from USA where she had the opportunity to guide and interact with Professors from United States. A life coach by profession, Aloka has been imparting Life Skill training to the Scientists of DRDO, all over India and to ONGC superannuating officers and is also a visiting professor for management Institutes like MIT and UPES in Dehradun. At present the moderator is working on her debut novel.

Author from the Valley is a monthly interaction with an author hosted by VoW Cafe - Gallery - Studio along with Garhwal Post. The event gives people associated with the written word a befitting platform to interact with like-minded people and exchange thoughts, idea and views on their latest and upcoming works. The hour long session is attended by a limited but engaged audience.

The conversation began around Nitin’s debut novel ‘Comet in the Village’ that revolves around Delhi-based journalist Ulka Bhatt, world-weary at the ripe old age of twenty-nine. Ulka Bhatt is enroute to Mirasu, her home in the hills after the sudden tragic demise of her father in a road accident enroute to Yamnotri. Once in Mirasu, the dynamic city-bred journalist is in for a rude awakening. The existence of an unknown young half-brother is just one of the many bizarre sequence of events that she finds herself embroiled in. Swept away by unforeseen and often jarring events at every corner leading to a chilling climax teaches Ulka that evil can lurk anywhere, even in a remote scenic mountain hamlet.

“Apart from penning her award winning novel Comet in the Village which brings in many themes – of prohibitions in love , extramarital affairs , nature, conservation, panchayat politics and the use/misuse of development funds, it is a fascinating tale of how so many different lives are intertwined. Nitin Jugran Bahuguna ‘s non-fiction pieces are equally strong and versatile – they range from organic farming to how the widows of Kedarnath rebuilt their lives with the power of resilience,” said Festival Director Valley of Words, Dr Sanjeev Chopra.

Presently working on the sequel to 'Comet in the Village’ the author shares a few insights: we find the protagonist Ulka pushed into the Local Panchayat poll fray by her near and dear ones who don't want her to leave the village. In the sequel, Ulka continues to face new challenges as she enters her second year as Pradhan. (Yes, she wins the election or else the first book would not exist!). Due to events in the first book, two of the harshest detractors on her team are out, but the new entrants are equally daunting, giving the young Pradhan no leeway as she tries to tackle the daily task of rural leadership. “Don't want to say too much, as I'm still writing it, but I hope to give Ulka bigger and better shocks in Comet 2!” Nitin states. The author also spoke about her association with the print media and the challenges in the age of social media; changes in reading books through time and ended the session with book signing.

Signing off with an advice for budding authors – Nitin states, “write about things which touch you personally. Everyone has a story to tell. Read extensively - whether classics, thrillers or best sellers, anything that interests you, The love of writing springs from a passion for reading and for a sensitivity towards one's immediate surroundings.”

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