About me

My name is Raghvendra Upadhyay but please call me Nandan. I live in Varanasi in North India.

  • I write a personal blog. It is at this site, GroovyGanges.org.
  • I manage a guesthouse. If you are in Varanasi then you can rent one of the apartments in my home. Read more about Groovy Ganges Guesthouse at GroovyGanges.com.
  • I am a tour guide. Read about the tours I offer at GroovyTours.com.
  • Since 2009 I have been a manager of a child sponsorship organization through which children in my area get foreign money to fund their educations. Read about it at ChanceIndia.org.
  • Since 2007 I have done a lot of HIV education projects, sex worker research, and attend LGBT events. Read about an NGO I founded called Sanjeevani Booti.
  • Since 2007 I have worked with activist Nandlal Master in the nearby village of Mehdiganj. We do lots of projects together, but the area is most known for its protests against the American company Coca-Cola. Read about their organization, Lok Samiti.
  • Check my portfolio to see the media work I have done. In summary, if anyone needs to do interviews, research, filming, or photography in North India then I make connections for them.

I was born in early 80s. I was born and grew up in Benares (Varanasi) and I am proud to be born in Benares because this city taught me myths and might both. I attended Harishchandra Post Graduate Degree College to get a bachelors degree in commerce. I started an MBA course at Sikkim Manipal University but I decided to quit because the program was not in accord with my interests since my business is online and international. It is my dream to complete my MBA and do a Ph.D. in the intersection of sociology and environmental management.

I went to a government school until high school and unfortunately government schools in Uttar Pradesh are nothing but a waste of time if the students are not serious. If you don’t take care of yourself, then school never takes care of you. And I, like most of the other students, did not take care of myself but I was good in English, maths and commerce. My professional life started with a part-time job at a cyber cafe in 1999. Later I did other kinds of commercial sales, and in 2004 I started a traditional silk shop in Benares.

After the silk shop, I started a guest house for foreign students and researchers in 2006 and this business is still running successfully. Currently I have been working with tourists, foreign students and researchers for the past five years as translator (Hindi-English or Bhojpuri-English) or research and production assistant and I just love my job. I have worked with many international media such as CBC, MTV Italy, SBS Australia, VPRO Netherlands, Financial Times and Penguin Group.

I have worked with lots of individual students and some university groups. One example is that I worked with a university from the United States called DePauw University in January 2011. They had a group of students visiting my city who were interested in volunteering and learning more about the social issues my city was facing. I organized their trip to a village and arranged and appointment for an interview with an NGO which is working on community development and which is famous all over the world for its fight against Coca-Cola.

I have worked with a San Francisco based organization called AIDSvideos. I did translation of their HIV & AIDS education scripts in Hindi and Bhojpuri and filmed it in Varanasi. Although the whole project is about translating the scripts in other Indian languages as well and I am still working on it. I have passed tour guide exam organized by Ministry of Tourism for Government of India, have got training and now I am a government-approved tour guide for North India.

I have founded two NGOs named Sanjeevani Booti and ChanceIndia. I founded Sanjeevani Booti with help of my friend Mr. Lane Rasberry in the year 2007. Sanjeevani Booti’s aim is to provide education about sexually transmitted diseases to local community and promote researches. I founded ChanceIndia with help of my other friend Mr. Attila Csapo in the year 2009. ChanceIndia’s aim is to help poor kids in going to school by finding sponsors to sponsor their education. I want to promote activism in Varanasi hence it is just a start and I want to keep supporting and promoting more and more honest NGOs.

I have a deep interest in research so it doesn’t matter what kind or what subject. I just want to learn as much as possible. So if you are reading this site and if your interests match with mine and have any desire to do research in India, then contact me, and I will help you in any way possible to produce quality research data. My interests are following:

  • Environment
  • Women Rights
  • Human Rights
  • Equal Rights
  • Gay Rights
  • HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
  • Sex
  • Drugs
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Human Body Science (I hardly understand science but I have a deep interest in understanding basics about human body)
  • Volunteer
  • Ghosts (I don’t want to believe that there are ghosts around but I love hearing about them and I want to help people who destroy their lives by thinking that their life is affected by ghosts)
  • Easy, Convenient and Effective Solutions to Problems (I have a deep interest in finding easy and effective solutions to problems. I know my society, and I know that Indians never want to compromise with religion so I try to find answers in religious books and stories related to Gods’ and Goddesses’ lives and use them as examples or answers to solve the problems. And believe me Hindu religious books answer each and every question)

I hope to work together with you. Peace.

27 thoughts on “About me

  1. Hi, I am Anutosh Pandey ,doing my BBALLB in National Law University Orissa.I belong to Varanasi.As a part of my course I have to do internship with a NGO in the month of May and June 2010.Although i am getting internships with many NGOs across India,but I want to work in Varanasi.Can you Please provide my some information regarding NGOs in Varanasi working in the flied of Human Rights,Environment or legal awareness and who are offering internships.

    Thanking You
    Anutosh Pandey
    National Law University Orissa

  2. I am not really sure about NGOs offering internship in Varanasi but I know NGOs working on Human rights, environmental rights and a lot of other issues. I will suggest you to contact Lok Samiti in Varanasi. They are situated in a village called Mehndiganj near Rajatalab. This NGO is famous all over the world for its struggle against Coca-Cola. Have you heard of Coca-Cola polluting ground water and doing other kinds of pollution in Mehndiganj? They are doing really great work on a lot of different issues. They are working on NREGA, right to information act, they have started self help group programs in several villages, they have over 20 schools… really great NGO. Need more information about them?

  3. Your blog is very interesting. Being belonging to same background and culture, I can really understand your drive to excel and absorb all knowledge. People like you give me hope that our community can change and become mainstream of new global world.
    Best of luck

  4. Radha,

    Thanks for writing. I think if we can come out of the systems made by British, Mughals and all of those people who ruled us and if we can learn our real religion and culture, it will be enough to become mainstream of new global world.

  5. Nandan,

    Of what you replied to Radha, what do you mean by ‘real’ religion and culture…what we inculcated from mughals and britishers isn’t partly our own now? for instance, the usage of english language..or the english-medium-system of education is a lineage left by the british…mostly young educated indians like me n you ‘think’ in this language these days. what would you call it then…drifting away from our culture?!

  6. Hey Hi There Nandan,

    I read your Blog and It Quite Interested and I am very happy for it. Keep it up. Being Myself is a Gay @ Chennai proud to be liked by many people and nowadays slowly All the Ppl are coming out of the Orientation. Thats Great and You ROCK.All the Best

  7. Karan,

    Thanks for writing. I also liked Chennai pride and I am happy that your city has taken such step to educate people about this issue.

  8. Sana,

    I agree completely with you that what we inculcated from Mughals and Britishers are partly our own now but I do not think that we should just accept everything. I believe in learning and I know that British and Mughals or anyone else who ruled us, taught us many things but I do not want to carry all the problems they left after leaving. India used to be the most liberal society before British and Mughals came and now we are one of the narrowest society in existence on the planet, so many problems with women, huge issues of equal rights, gender inequality… I don’t say that all the problems we have now were given by British and Mughals only but they did some serious damage which is not easy to repair.
    Why do think that educated people think in English only? I don’t agree with this at all. Many people think in English and it should not be called drifting away from our culture. It is learning and nothing else. Learning a new language is really a good thing but forgetting our mother tongue is a serious problem and if somebody does it then it could be called drifting away from the culture because language is a culture itself. And believe me it is a serious problem if we just think in English and English only. You can not learn about others until you know yourself first.

  9. I read your Blog and It quite Interested and I am inspired form ur photoghraphy …….a true article …………….

  10. Hi there! I am interested in volunteering (part time) in orphanages and lobbies that ensure that Gangaji is kept clean. (Sewage and garbage is not spewed into her mercilessly) Could you give me some leads of people doing a good job?

  11. Hey,

    Great job mate. You are doing an amazimng job. I am from a production house from mumbai we are doing a show for MTV and will be coming to Benaras on this sunday i.e 8th jan.Would like to know about your city the music culture,rasleelas and so on.it would be wonderful if you can take out sometym out of your schedule and meet……

  12. Hi Nandan, we met you in Jan this year. and just thought to look you up!! i must say, Varanasi ended up being my favourite part of our india trip, and i think that was largely due to you. you were fantastic and i just wanted to thank you for the experience. do you have a facebook page? thanks, bryony and john reardon

  13. Namaste Bryony,

    I am glad that you liked Varanasi and my tourist guide services. I will send you a friend request on facebook.

  14. Hi Nandan, I found your blog through a rather long route, and enjoyed reading your experiences. A friend was invited to participate in a documentary in Varanasi, and Allahabad, the “Arddh Kumbha Mela”.
    Since I am from India I told him I would do some investigating, unfortunately he has since declined to go because it was such short notice. Lane Raspberry (I live in Seattle as well) was mentioned as part of the group, and Arun Thakar.
    I will definitely look you up and perhaps stay in your guest house, it has been many years since I was in Varanasi.
    You do great work! I think you have done a lot to help foreigners understand a bit more about India, in a true and honest way.

  15. Iam also belong from jaunpur that is my native place .now i glad to your apotunity in furthure place are very best . Have you any way to make a allrounder person in tourist dept for me

  16. Nandan, I have learnt so much from reading your blog, so I am really pleased to have found it. Thankyou for the great job you have done in sharing your thoughts and experiences with the rest of the world. You are fantastic!
    I was in India (mainly Rajasthan) for three weeks recently as part of a small group tour. I have had so many questions about India after my visit, your blog has helped me find many of the answers.
    Keep up the good work….you live in an amazing part of the planet.
    Anna (New Zealand)

  17. you are great nandan
    my name is ali Iam from yemen
    Iam student in bhu phd
    I face som broblms with my study
    can u help me

  18. hi nandan,
    dis is ritu, m a grl of 18… n trust me m just so baffled to choose mah career ahead, i m plannin to do MSW “Master in social works” n wen i went thru al ua blogs n ua convrsatn wid othrs… it felt good, u seem lyk bng into dis social service n al eh. 🙂 wana b lyyyyyykkkkkyyyyyaaaa…… cooolll.

  19. Hi, Nandan. I’m from China. I’m doing a research for a filming and come across your blog. I’ve got a lot of information useful. My team is already in India for a research, and they will arrive in Varanasi in next few days. I’m wondering if you can help us with some research in some old-age homes. I look forward to your reply.

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