Come summer and a guidebook on north India in Polish

April 26th, 2009 - 12:33 pm ICT by IANS  

By Vishnu Makhijani
New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) Emelia Kubik was majoring in geography and tourism at the University of Lodz when she developed a fascination for India and, come summer, that will translate into the first guidebook on northern India and Nepal in Polish.

“There are plenty of guidebooks on India but most of them are in English. I felt there was need for one in Polish written by a Pole,” Kubik told IANS of the work, co-authored by her husband Rafal Kubic and researcher Felicja Bilska.

The work has been meticulously researched, with information being gathered on the ground rather than relying on official handouts.

“I was in Ajmer, gathering information on bus connectivity. There was a board at the bus station but it was in Hindi, so I took a photograph and later had the material translated,” said Kubic, who makes a living as a specialist with the strategic planning department of the Polish Tourist Organistion.

“I am now planning a similar guidebook on southern India,” added Kubic, who was here for the three-day SATTE Travel Mart 2009, one of India’s largest B2B exhibitions on travel and tourism that concluded Saturday.

The Ajmer incident had a rather unexpected fallout: she started to learn Hindi.

“Aaj, mein thoda thoda Hindi bolti hoon. Mere pati bhi thoda thoda Hindi bolte hain (Today, I speak a bit of Hindi. My husband also speaks a bit of Hindi),” the 29-year-old Kubic said with an impish grin.

Kubic first came to India as a backpacker in 2002, while still a college student, and that’s when the idea of the guidebook emerged.

“I first came to India as a backpacker and spent nine months doing a case study on (the hill stations of) Shimla, Nainital and Darjeeling. That’s when I thought of writing the guidebook and finally it’s complete,” she said.

Since then, she has been visiting the country every year, sometimes more than once annually.

Not surprisingly, the logical outcome was her job with the Polish Tourist Organisation with a focus on the Indian market.

“After my studies, I joined the organisation as an intern. At that time, they started to think of India and as I happened to be there, I started to look into this and was employed.

“In fact, we are looking at India and China as prospective markets, away from our traditional markets of the US, Europe and Israel,” Kubic explained.

“We first started looking at India three years ago and from small beginnings, tourist traffic from India grew to 11,000 in 2008.

“It is growing, slowly but very steadily at about 1,000 (additional arrivals) every year,” Kubic pointed out.

At the same time, she admitted to problems of connectivity due to the lack of direct flights between Indian and Polish cities.

“You have to take a flight from Vienna, or Frankfurt or Helsinki so we become a kind of package destination,” Kubic pointed out.

But, on the flip side and thanks to the global economic meltdown, Poland has become what she termed a “value for travel” destination.

“We are part of the European Union but not part of the Eurozone. So, the dollar is still our international currency. Last summer, one dollar would fetch you 2.3 zlotys. Today, it will get you 3.5,” Kubic explained.

Kubic is also in the process of completing another project - Comparative Studies Between Civilisations - that she will submit as an MA thesis to the University of Krakow.

“This is also about India. It deals with sociological aspects; for instance, why westerners travel to India for spiritualism,” she explained.

(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at vishnu.makhijani@ians.in)

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