The Himalayan Writing Retreat is the first of it's kind in this part of the world. It runs on the strength of an awesome team.
The On-site Crew
Anand, Kapil, Kanchan, Santo and Pawan are our "Fabulous Five". Nothing would work here without them.
Our chef Anand has magic on his fingertips (Or so say the lovely folks who have visited us till now!) He can rustle up a storm in the kitchen in the blink of an eye and leave your taste buds craving for more.
Kapil is the Man Friday of the retreat. With his observant nature and problem-solving skills, he ensures the retreat is operating smoothly 24*7 without any hiccups by looking after the grounds and water. Whether it is setting up a bonfire, or carrying bags up and down the walking path, Kapil is the go-to man.
Young and enthusiastic Pawan manages a lot of guest interaction and paperwork with his fluent English and soft-spoken nature. From taking care of endless cups of chai and coffee to keep you warm, to ensuring you have a warm room and bed waiting at the end of the day, Pawan manages it all.
Kapil and Santo physically carry the delicious spring water every day for you to drink. Last but not the least, with their ever-smiling nature Kanchan and Santo ensure everything is spick and span at the retreat including the rooms and workspaces.
(In alphabetical order by first name)
Award winning poet and teacher
Described as 'one of the finest poets writing in India today', Arundhathi Subramaniam is an award-winning Indian poet. She is the author of twelve books, of which five are books of poetry. Widely translated and anthologised, her book, When God is a Traveller (2014) was the Season Choice of the Poetry Book Society, shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Her new book of poems, Love Without a Story, published earlier this year with Westland Amazon, is already in its second reprint.
As editor, her most recent book is the acclaimed Penguin anthology of medieval Indian sacred poetry, Eating God. As prose writer, her books include The Book of Buddha; the bestselling biography of a contemporary mystic, Sadhguru: More Than a Life; and most recently, Adiyogi: The Source of Yoga (co-authored with Sadhguru).
She is the recipient of various Indian and international awards and fellowships, including the inaugural Khushwant Singh Prize, the Raza Award for Poetry, the Zee Women’s Award for Literature, the International Piero Bigongiari Prize in Italy, the Mystic Kalinga award, the Charles Wallace, Visiting Arts and Homi Bhabha Fellowships, among others.
Co-Founder & Writing Coach
Chetan Mahajan is the co-founder of the Himalayan Writing Retreat. A Penguin-published author, he quit the corporate world and moved to a village in the Himalayas to be a full-time author, blogger and teacher five years ago. The Himalayan Writing Retreat is all about helping people with their writing. He is also a writing coach with the London based the writing coach.
Chetan blogs about life in a Himalayan village at www.uncity.blog. This blog won the Indiblogger award for Humour in 2017.
He is currently working on his first novel "Tara and Vishnu" and also co-authoring a non-fiction book with his co-founder, Vandita (details below). Chetan often writes columns for the Readers Digest, Mint, Outlook Magazine, Hindu Business Line and the Hindustan Times (Brunch).
Writing Retreat Leader
Erika Krouse leads the Himalayan Writers Retreat with a special emphasis on fiction and creative non-fiction.
Her fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Esquire.com, The Kenyon Review, Story, Ploughshares, One Story, The Iowa Review, and other publications. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize and the Best American Short Stories. Her novel Contenders (Rare Bird Books), was a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and appears in German with Aufbau-Verlag. Her short story collection, Come Up and See Me Sometime (Scribner), won the Paterson Fiction Award, was a New York Times Notable Book of the year, and has been translated into six languages. Erika received her MA from CU Boulder, where she also taught creative writing. She has taught at Lighthouse since 2008, and mentors for the Book Project. She's written everything from book reviews for The New York Times to horoscopes for Glamour. The only thing she doesn't like writing is her bio.
Geeta teaches two storytelling workshops at the Himalayan Writing Retreat every year. She is the founder and Executive Director of Kathalaya, India leading storytelling organization. She created the Kathalaya Trust to revive the traditional art of storytelling,
Geeta is an internationally renowned storyteller and teacher. She uses storytelling as an effective educational and cultural tool for parents, teachers, NGOs and corporate sectors both in India and abroad.
Geeta talks about how she was once shy of speaking in public, forget telling stories. But now when you see her tell a story - where she may roar like a lion or do a brilliant enactment of a little squirrel, you wonder how that could be true. Ramanujam, who was formerly a teacher at the Valley School, bring her classroom genius and applies it to the subject of storytelling to deliver an amazing learning experience.
Jonaki Ray was educated in India (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur) and the USA (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign). After a short stint as a software engineer, she decided to return to her first love, writing, and is now a poet, writer, and editor.
Honors for her work include the Pushcart Prize as well as Forward Prize for Best Single Poem nominations, as well as critical acclaim in India and abroad. Her work has been published in The Rumpus, Southword Journal, Cha, Lunch Ticket, Indian Literature, Wire India, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, and elsewhere. You can read her work at https://jonakiray.com/.
Katrina is a storyteller and facilitator based in India and the US. She is passionate about bringing the transformative power of stories to individuals, communities, and companies across the world. She has performed globally as a storyteller, theatre artist, and dancer in India, South Africa, Thailand, Japan, and the United States. Katrina is certified in Storytelling in the Community through the Centre for Biographical Storytelling, United Kingdom, and in Transformational Communication from UC San Diego. Katrina has worked for 10 years in the field of international education and development, and held leadership positions with the US State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship Program, Princeton University’s Bridge Year Program, and at the American India Foundation. In 2018, Katrina began a new chapter of her professional journey by founding Uncharted Territory Consulting so that she could support leaders and organizations through her innovative facilitation methods globally.
Katrina’s interest in India began in 2006 when she packed her backpack for a solo trip across Maharashthra, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh. She came away from the trip with a new found skills in Nepali plate dancing, a penchant for green chilies, adept saree wrapping skills, and the determination to come back for the long haul. Since 2011, she has lived in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and now resides in Delhi with her husband Arjun.
Katrina speaks English, German, and Hindi. Katrina has a degree in Theatre Arts, Social Justice, and Global Studies (South Asia) from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Thriller Writing Workshop Faculty
Kiran Manral is an award-winning and bestselling author, TEDx speaker, columnist and mentor. She worked as a journalist with before she quit fulltime work to be a fulltime mommy.
Based in Mumbai, she published her first novel The Reluctant Detective in 2011.
Since then, she has written books across genres in both fiction and non-fiction. She was among the top bloggers in India, before she moved on to writing fiction.
Her books include 'The Reluctant Detective', 'Once Upon A Crush', 'All Aboard', 'Karmic Kids-The Story of Parenting Nobody Told You', 'A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up', 'True Love Stories', 'Saving Maya' ’13 Steps to Bloody Good Parenting, Raising Kids with Hope and Wonder in Times of a Pandemic and Climate Change, and The Kitty Party Murder.
Her novella, Saving Maya, was long listed for the Saboteur Awards UK, supported by the Arts Council England. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards for Literary Contribution in 2017. The Indian Council of UN Relations (ICUNR) with the Ministry of Women and Children, Govt of India, awarded her the International Women’s Day Award 2018 for excellence in the field of writing.
Her novels 'The Face At the Window’ and ‘Missing, Presumed Dead' were both long-listed for Jio MAMI Word to Screen, and ‘The Face at the Window’ was also shortlisted for the South Asian Film Festival 2019 .
She also has published short stories in various magazines, in acclaimed anthologies like Have A Safe Journey, Boo, The Best Asian Speculative Fiction 2018,
Manral is also the founder of India Helps, a network of volunteers who assist disaster victims.
Short Story Writing Workshop Faculty
A Pushcart-nominated writer from Jharkhand, India, Kritika Pandey is a graduate of the MFA for Poets and Writers, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Her many accolades include the 2020 grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation and shortlisting for the commonwealth prize in 2018 as well as 2016.
In 2020, she was the Overall winner of the Commonwealth short story prize for her story “The Great Indian Tee and Snakes”. "A gut-punch of a story, all the more shocking in its charged conclusion given that most of it is set at a tea seller's and its energy derives from a few looks between a boy and a girl" says the Ghanaian writer NiiAyikwei Parkes, one of the Judges. You can read the story at https://granta.com/the-great-indian-tee-and-snakes/ .
Her writing has been published in The Bombay Literary Magazine, Raleigh Review, The Common, Granta, and UCity Review, among others. Her other awards include the 2014 Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarship for Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh, the 2018 Cara Parravani Memorial Award in Fiction, the 2018 Harvey Swados Fiction Prize, and the 2020 James W. Foley Memorial Award.
Kritika lives in Massachusetts, U.S .
Writing for Children Faculty
Mariam Karim-Ahlawat has many talents, but her first love is writing books for children. Her children's’ books include titles such as The King and the Kiang, The house of a hundred stories and many more. Many of these have been published in multiple languages.
Mariam published her first book of folk and fairy tales for children under the title Tales Old and New (Harper Collins India, 1994). She wrote a Read Aloud page in Parenting Magazine for eleven years.
She also did the illustrations for them. In addition to her books, she has contributed to anthologies available in several Indian languages. She has also been writing multimedia educational content for kids for over two decades. The Times of India carried her column on education and social issues. She worked with Johns Hopkins University on a project where she wrote and edited five books for children affected by HIV. These will be distributed free of cost through NGOs working with AIDS.
Mariam’s talent goes well beyond kids books. Her first novel My Little Boat (Penguin India, 2003 - pictured above) was nominated for the IMPAC International Award 2005 and the Hutch Crossword Award. Her play Fractals Search for the Real was longlisted for the Hindu Metro plus Playwright Award in 2011. In the previous year her play The Betrayal of Selvamary was shortlisted for the same award. Her children's' musicals 'A Bagful of Dreams' and 'The Undoing' have also been staged in multiple cities.
Mariam is a scholar of French Language and Literature. She was born in Lucknow and studied at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the Sorbonne in Paris. Mariam has taught for many years including at JNU, Alliance Françoise and the Sri Aurobindo College of Arts and Communication. She also teaches at the Himalayan Writing Retreat from time to time.
How to publish a book in India Workshop Faculty
Meghna Pant is an award-winning author, columnist, feminist and TEDx speaker. Her books have been published to critical and commercial acclaim.
Pant's debut collection of short stories Happy Birthday (Random House, 2013) was long-listed for the Frank O'Connor International Award 2014. One and a Half Wife (Westland, 2012)-her bestselling debut novel-won the national Muse India Young Writer Award and was shortlisted for several other awards, including the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
Her book The Trouble with Women (Juggernaut, 2016) is considered a landmark in feminist writing and was described as 'the best book from Juggernaut' by Hindu Business Line. Pant has also won the FON South Asia Short Story Award (2016) and the Bharat Nirman Award (2017) for her writing.
Her books – FEMINIST RANI (Penguin Random House, 2018), THE TROUBLE WITH WOMEN (Juggernaut, 2016), HAPPY BIRTHDAY (Random House India, 2013) and ONE & A HALF WIFE (Westland, 2012) have been published to commercial and critical acclaim. Her book HOW TO GET PUBLISHED IN INDIA (Bloomsbury) is India's first-ever self-help book on publishing and it includes never-before collected essays from experts in their field, including Jeffrey Archer, Shobhaa De, Twinkle Khanna, Ashwin Sanghi, Meena Kandasamy, Durjoy Datta, Preeti Shenoy, Ravi Subramanian and many more. It was #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases and #2 on Amazon's Bestseller List. Her latest book is a women-centric comedy drama called The Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Good News which has been recently released by Penguin India.
Writing Retreat Leader
Paula Younger leads the Himalayan Writers Retreat with an emphasis on Fiction writing. Paula's writing has appeared in many literary journals, including Harper Collins’ 52 Stories, The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal, The Rattling Wall, The Southeast Review, and The Nervous Breakdown. She earned her MFA from the University of Virginia, and received the Henry Hoyns and Bronx Writers Center fellowships. She teaches at Lighthouse Writers Workshop, where she received the Beacon Award for teaching excellence.
You can learn more about Paula at her website www.paulayounger.com .
Blogging Expert & Faculty
Sumit Bansal leads the Blogging workshop at the Himalayan Writing Retreat. Sumit He has been blogging since 2013, and went full-time into it in 2015. The first blog that Sumit started was about Excel Spreadsheets.
Trumpexcel has become amongst the best Excel blogs in the world and enabled Sumit to quit his full-time job at IBM and live a life of freedom he always wanted. Sumit's fascinating story was covered by Problogger podcast, IndieHacker, Ideamensch, Side Hustle School Podcast, and many other sites and publications. In 2018, CEO Magazine featured Trumpexcel as one of the “50 Emerging Startups to Watch in 2018”.
Co-founder, Author & Resident Psychologist
Dr. Vandita Dubey is the author of "Parenting in the age of sexposure: Raising the precocious generation" , published by Rupa in 2016. Dr. Dubey earned her Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in 2006 and obtained her Psychologist License from the State of Indiana in 2007. She trained and worked in private practice, community mental heath centers, and schools in the US. Her research focused on resilience. She started her private practice in Gurgaon in 2008 and has consulted with schools and corporates. Dr Dubey also holds a degree in Medical & Psychiatric Social Work from TISS, Mumbai, and worked with NGOs on the issue of child sexual abuse in Delhi and Mumbai between 1997 and 2000.
Dr. Dubey now chooses to live in the Himalayas, where she has co-founded the Himalayan Writing Retreat. She has designed the Emotional well-being through Writing workshop which she conducts. This is a course which uses writing as a means of introspection and self growth. Through a host of creative writing exercises participants at this workshop get an opportunity to reflect and gain insight into their thoughts and feelings. She is also the expert psychologist featured on the popular you-tube channel Zen-brain.
Outreach and Writing
(In alphabetical order by first name)
Digital & Outreach Coordinator
Namrata is a social media junkie and works as a virtual assistant for various authors. She is also the editor for the Kitaab magazine.
She has been a book blogger for a decade now and her book reviews can be found on various sites and magazines like the Kitaab, Asian Review of Books, Contemporary South Asia Journal of King’s College-London, The Friday Times, Feminism in India and Cafe Dissensus. Namrata also works as an independent editor and beta reader for publishing houses and indie authors.
A published author, she enjoys writing stories and think pieces on travel , relationships and gender. She is a UEA alumni and has studied travel writing at the University of Sydney. She manages the Social Media presence and also all customer interaction for the Himalayan Writing Retreat. She also writes for the HWR Blog.
Writer. Very content.
Savita Narayan is a participant, and she writes content for the HWR website. Earlier in her career she worked in Advertising and Corporate Communications.
Savita's peripatetic childhood resulted in an interest in Indian history and culture. Her articles have been published in Heritage India magazine. She has co-authored ‘Navagraha Temples of Tamil Nadu - Kaveri Delta’, a book that encompasses the modes of worship in these temples, their history and culture in the Kaveri delta area.
Savita has profiled NGOs in MoneyLife magazine. She has written on eco-friendly living, has reviewed books and has contributed articles for the general reader on medical websites. She has edited a book on Vaishnavism published privately.
Currently she is exploring writing historical fiction. Savita is a beta reader of novels and is fiction editor at the online journal of fiction, poetry and art - www.activemuse.org