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Sunday, 21 July 2019

Exploring the Mawsmai Caves, Meghalaya



"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek." ~ Joseph Campbell


I have always wanted to go on a cave excursion to see what lies within the old caves. Being with Nature has always taught me something or the other. So, I could envision that an underground cave excursion would not only be an adventurous experience, but also a metaphorical journey. When I heard about Mawsmai Caves of Meghalaya, I was determined to explore the cave. And so was my father. So the next day, we both planned to explore the cave system of northeast India.  


Mawsmai Cave is located in the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, about 6km from the main town of Cherapunji. 



It is one of the most accessible caves in Meghalaya that travelers can explore even without a guide. However, a sane mind and a courageous heart are needed for the underground excursion. 



Before taking the staircase to reach the cave, we had to buy tickets from the ticket counter. There was a board on which instructions to the visitors were clearly given. The map of the Mawsmai cave was also included on the board. 


We had to take the staircase to reach the cave opening. Plenty of tourists were taking photographs outside the cave. Seeing the spacious opening of the cave, no one can tell that it would soon squeeze into a narrow lane.


If there were 50 people outside the cave, a maximum of 5 people went inside the cave to explore it. We were told that the Mawsmai cave is a one-way narrow road. Tourists need to enter from one end and keep walking until they reach the other end. 


Although the cave looked gigantic, I was determined to explore it. We were told that the cave is lit with electricity. Therefore, we do not need to carry candles with us. Moreover, it meant that we can observe the colors and patterns of each and every rock formation. 


The cave looked beautiful and inviting. I saw a few college-goers entering the cave with a lot of enthusiasm. My father and I followed them after taking a few pictures. We knew that as the light inside the cave would be minimal, it will perhaps not be possible to take many pictures.


The weather was quite pleasant as it was a sunny day in December. I was excited to embark on the thrilling adventure of my life. 


Once we entered the cave, we noticed that the pathway is getting narrower. At some places, we had to bend and squeeze our bodies in order to get through. 

I realized that obese people would have a hard time exploring the cave because some passages are too narrow. Fitness is an important criterion to get through the smaller openings of the cave, without getting hurt. We also had to climb a few rock formations in order to walk forward. 


A few rock formations looked like the gigantic feet of elephants. There was no option of going back. The only way was to move forward with hope and courage in the heart. 


The rock formations glinted beautifully in the light. We could find water dripping from the tips of the rocks. Mawsmai Caves helped me understand the powerful force of Nature that created such hard limestones. 

As the realization dawned on me, I surrendered to the beautiful, mystifying force of Nature. And once I surrendered to it, the rest of the journey became much easier. 


I was no longer being desperate to come outside the cave.  Rather, I observed each and every stone formation without the fear of being trapped inside the cave. Yes, I was able to overcome my fear with every step I took. 


Although the length of the cave is only 150 meter, it feels like a long journey due to the narrow passages and gigantic rock formations that do not allow a person to walk faster. 


Finally, we noticed a beam of sunlight that made us squeal with delight. Once we came outside the cave, we couldn't help celebrate our successful cave excursion. My father and I took a selfie with the cave. It was indeed an unforgettable experience, a metaphorical journey that taught me so many important life lessons. 

When we are trapped in a problematic situation (cave), we often feel that it will never change (never-ending journey). But if we walk forward with hope and courage in the heart, we will notice the ray of light at the end of the tunnel. At the same time, if we enjoy each and every scene that we come across without cribbing about the problem, we will have great stories to tell later. 


We explored the nearby forest after the cave excursion. I knew that this underground experience will always stay with me, making me a better, patient, courageous, and resilient human being. I have always believed that Nature has answers to all our questions. Exploring the Mawsmai Caves gave me not only a beautiful experience that I can talk about but also provided answers to the questions I was contemplating during that time. 


I hope you enjoyed reading about my cave excursion. In my next travel post, I will take you to another beautiful place in Meghalaya. You can also check out my photo essay on Laitlum, the Grand Canyon in Meghalaya. 

Have you ever gone for a cave excursion or embarked on any other adventure while traveling? 

Do you feel Nature is the best teacher?

















Sunday, 7 July 2019

Photo Tour of Laitlum, Meghalaya


It was a beautiful December morning when I visited Laitlum grand canyon in Meghalaya. It took around 90 minutes in a cab from Shillong. Laitlum is located in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. The minute I alighted from the cab, I was mesmerized by the landscape in front of me. The curelean blue skies and the verdant greenery were bewitching my soul. I stood, mesmerized and speechless. The soothing wind pampered my hair and whispered softly in my ears to live the moment. 

It was the first time I ever visited a grand canyon. Laitlum means "end of hills" and this place offers the view of breathtaking azure mountains and steep winding stairways snaking their way down to the gorgeous valley. The sky was a beautiful canvas of fluffy cumulus clouds. 



Laitlum was not at all crowded. It is an ideal place for trekkers can explore the canyon by trekking from one end to another. It is extremely difficult to capture the raw beauty of Laitlum in camera. The place is nothing short of paradise. One needs to see the beauty through one's own eyes to believe that such a soothing place exists in North East India. 


As I kept looking at the azure mountains and the deep valley, I was overwhelmed with powerful emotions for the Creator who created this beautiful world. I could feel a sublime connection with Mother Nature. I could sense a deep harmony with every element of Nature...the mighty mountains, the modest valley, the jubilant sun, and the healing zephyr.


I felt blessed for the five senses that allow me to grasp the beauty of Nature. I felt immense love and gratitude as I kept gazing at the landscape. 



I thought about the villagers who stay in Laitlum. Such a peaceful existence they have! They are fostered by the raw beauty and spirit of Nature. William Wordsworth had rightly said in the poem Tintern Abbey: "Nature never did betray the heart that loved her."

In the cities, we destroy Nature carelessly and selfishly. And what's the end result? Depression, Stress. Anxiety.

Whereas the people who live in the mountains and hills are so happy, peaceful and content. They allow Nature to guide them at every step. The people of Meghalaya give high priority to cleanliness. The roads are extremely clean. The people are polite, patient and hardworking. The women of Meghalaya run their own business and are sometimes, assisted by men. At every tourist stop, I could see independent women busy with their work. It was a heartwarming thing to witness. 


I love adventure especially when I am traveling. So, I trekked till I reached the white rock-like structure from where the view was incredibly magical. 


I fell so much in love with the place that I felt like staying there forever. I felt that I am wrapped in the arms of Mother Nature, safe and secure. Wherever my eyes traveled, there was only beauty and serenity. 


Such places are perfect for soul searching. As I inhaled the beauty of the place, I contemplated the journey and purpose of my life. I felt so blessed that this experience of my life will find its way in so many of my poems and stories. After all, as William Wordsworth had said, "Poetry is a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings recollected in tranquility."


I was reminded of the theory of transcendentalists, a literary movement headed by Ralph Waldo Emerson. A human being must have three relationships in order to live better: relationship with one's own soul, relationship with Nature and relationship with the Super Soul/Divine Energy. How beautifully true! That's what I felt at that moment in Laitlum...perfectly at peace with my existence...in sync with my own soul, Nature, and Super Soul. 


Almost 2 hours passed in Laitlum and I must say that those 2 hours are one of the best hours of my life. Even now when I close my eyes, I can visualize the beautiful valley beckoning me. I had to travel to the next tourist spot, but I felt like staying for a few more minutes. My heart was not ready to leave the place. 

I sat on the grass and gazed at the mighty mountains and the modest valley. I have fallen so much in love with the place. I knew that no matter wherever I go or stay, this place will always stay with me. And a part of me will stay in this place.


Wordsworth had coined a beautiful term called "spots of time" to define a moment when time seems to stop, senses get heightened and life gets a deeper meaning. I am sure that I experienced one such moment in Laitlum.


I was rejuvenated with positive energy. Every cell of my body felt healthy and happy. What a joy it felt being alive at that moment!


Someone has truly said, "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away." With a jubilant heart, I said goodbye to the beautiful grand canyon of Meghalaya and headed towards my next destination.



I hope you enjoyed the photo tour of Laitlum. In the next travel post, I am going to take you to another beautiful place of Meghalaya.

Have you been to Meghalaya?

Which is your favorite place in Meghalaya? Let me know in the comments below. 


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Monday, 27 May 2019

Movie Review of Jadu Kadai, a ZEE5 Bengali Original



We all get fascinated by tales of magic and wonder. Therefore, when I saw the trailer of Jadu Kadai (magical wok) on ZEE5, I was tempted to watch it right away. Jadu Kadai is a Comedy drama starring popular Bengali actors such as Rahul, Sayani Dutta, Joydip Kundu, and Dipanwita Nath in the lead roles. The 132 minutes long movie has a fresh and refreshing concept.
Plot and Characters
Jadu Kadai tells the story of an ordinary man, Bikram whose life changes magically after he gets a wok endowed with special powers. When the movie starts, we can see Bikram daydreaming about the girl he loves. A timid and under confident man, Bikram has made peace with his mundane 9 to 5 job instead of pursuing his passion for cooking.
One day, Bikram buys an old vintage wok from a mysterious man who claims to be from Bikram’s village, Palashpur. Before leaving, the man warns Bikram not to say about the wok to anyone. It creates suspicions in Bikram’s mind but he soon dismisses it.
We get to see Bikram’s monotonous life from close quarters. A descendant of the zamindars of Palashpur, Bikram stays in a modest apartment with his friend, Timir. He is in love with a PhD scholar, Rupsha who doesn’t reciprocate his feelings. According to Rupsha, Bikram is not smart and confident enough to win her heart. Bikram is passionate about cooking and aspires to be a chef. However, he does not have the courage to take a loan for starting his restaurant. Despite being a talented and good person, Bikram lives like a loser and we feel sympathy towards him.
However, Bikram’s life magically changes when he starts cooking in the magical wok. Rupsha falls in love with him and he gets a great offer to start his restaurant from business tycoon, Maganlal. A baffled Bikram embarks on a journey to find out the truth of the wok. He also has to protect the wok from greedy Maganlal who is the main antagonist of the movie.
Pace and Climax
Jadu Kadai picks momentum post interval. The first hour has a few dull moments and can test your patience. However, once Bikram understands the power of the wok, the movie becomes fast-paced and interesting. The last 30 minutes of the movie is filled with nail-biting moments. The climax is gripping and does justice to the plot.
Performance
Rahul who essayed the role of Bikram has done complete justice to his role. He effortlessly displayed a wide range of emotions such as fear, confusion, anger, and wonder. Sayani Dutta was pleasant as the confident and well-read Rupsha. Joydip Kundu as Maganlal was pretty good.
Screenplay, Direction and Background Score
The screenplay could have been better especially in the first half of the movie. The direction justified the script. I really enjoyed the background score associated with the wok. It was both funny and mysterious. It reminded me of the fantasy adventure film, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne.
Final Words
Jadu Kadai revolves around the magical wok and the miracles and problems that occur in Bikram’s life due to the wok. If you enjoy watching fantasy adventure films with dollops of humour, you must watch Jadu Kadai on ZEE5 right away. The innovative and fresh concept will definitely leave a smile on your face.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Kolkata Knight Riders Roster: Performance in 2019


Kolkata Knight Riders are known for their consistency and persistent efforts. Although the team couldn’t win in 2019, they began this season pretty well. KKR had won the coveted IPL trophy in 2012 and 2014, acquiring loyal fans. The Baadshah of Bollywood, Shahrukh Khan is the proud owner of Kolkata Knight Riders. There are great talents on the Kolkata Knight Riders roster such as Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, and Piyush Chawla.
In 2019, Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings, and Sunrisers Hyderabad had a great start. They were consistent in their performances. The players in purple and gold showed an impressive performance in the beginning by winning 4 matches comfortably. Although KKR began so well, they lost 6 matches back to back which made them struggle to get into the playoffs. They secured the 5th position this year. Let us take a look at the strength and weakness of the team.
Strength of KKR
There are some good power hitters on the Kolkata Knight Riders Roster such as Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, and Andre Russell. Apart from the power hitters, the team has technically strong batters such as Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, and Shubman Gill.
Due to such an impressive list of players on the Kolkata Knight Riders roster, the team could successfully chase down a big total of 206 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. In 2019, Andre Russell grabbed all the limelight in KKR batting by hitting the ball straight out of the pavilion and rescuing KKR from hopeless situations. Andre Russell had an outstanding strike rate of 268.83 in the initial 5 matches.
Weakness of KKR
Kolkata Knight Riders had a strong bowling unit in the last years. However, this year, the bowling of the team lacked the spark. The trio of Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, and Piyush Chawla have not been at their best. They have leaked a few runs that have hampered the team.
KKR suffered the worst against Mumbai Indians when they lost the match by 9 wickets. In an earlier match at Eden Gardens, they have beaten MI by a whopping margin.
Thoughts on Captaincy
Dinesh Karthik’s team selection and leadership are questionable. Some crucial questions that disturb the fans of KKR are as follows:
Why was Andre Russell not batted higher?
Why it took so long for Shubman Gill to get the opening role?
During a press conference after the match, Andre Russell spoke of “bad decisions” that have hurt KKR. It is easy to gauge what exactly Russell was hinting at. Despite such promising players on the Kolkata Knight Riders roster, the team had to endure the poorest game of the season against Mumbai Indians.
The best player
There is no debate about the fact that Andre Russell is the best and valuable player on Kolkata Knight Riders roster in 2019. The West Indian All-rounder gave a stunning performance this year with an impressive strike rate. As 75% of 510 runs came between the overs 16 and 20, we can easily say that Russell was the most dangerous striker. Every time, Andre Russell came to bat, he was feared by the opposition team. He was also the leading wicket-taker of KKR with 11 wickets.
Disappointment
Kuldeep Yadav’s performance was disappointing. He played 9 matches and took 4 wickets. His bowling average of 71.50 per wicket is his worst performance in the history of IPL.
Play IPL matches on Dream 11

In case you are disappointed with the performance of KKR this season, you can build your own fantasy teams on Dream11 and play the match to your heart’s content. You can choose between numerous cash contests. If you are passionate about cricket, play and win prizes on Dream11 today.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

My 5th book, "Letters from the Soul" launched in Blogchatter eBook Carnival


It's a very special day because my 5th book "Letters from the Soul" is launched today in the coveted #BlogchatterEbook Carnival Season 4 along with other wonderful eBooks. 

"Letters from the Soul" is a collection of 55 poems on soul healing, soul searching, and soul companions. I started working on it last year when I participated in the A-Z blogging challenge. I wanted more than 26 poems in this book and therefore I didn't publish it last year after the blogging challenge. I have experimented with more than 24 poetry forms in the book apart from writing in free verse. That was creatively so satiating.


I have divided the book into 4 seasons: Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer to show that life is just like a seasonal cycle. The way autumn gives way to spring, emptiness gives way to abundance. I got this idea after reading Toni Morrison's novel "The Bluest Eye".

If you enjoy reading my poetry, please go to the link mentioned below and download a free promotional copy of the eBook. 


The eBook will be free for a limited time. So grab your copy and let me know your feedback. I can assure you that the poems in the book will give solace to your heart and soul. 

After the eBook carnival ends in June, I plan to launch the book on Amazon Kindle and then hopefully, release the paperback edition of the book by end of the year. 

The book is dedicated to all the believers, fighters, dreamers, and go-getters. I will need your support and reviews on this journey. Written with a lot of love, "Letters from the Soul" is now all yours. I welcome you on this soulful journey!


Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Trailer Breakdown - The Lovely Mrs Mookherjee, an intriguing ZEE5 Bengali Original


When I watched the trailer of ZEE5 Bengali Original, The Lovely Mrs Mookherjee yesterday, I was baffled and surprised. Is it a woman’s fantasy movie? Is it science fiction? Is Mrs Mookherjee a robot? These were a few questions that popped in my mind immediately after watching the trailer. And if a trailer can keep a person wondering for hours, then that’s a victory for the filmmaker. Watch The Lovely Mrs. Mookherjee online now to crack the mystery.
She is beautiful. She is mysterious. She is extraordinary. She is the Lovely Mrs Mookherjee.
Directed by Indranil Roy Chowdhury, the movie looks promising with its innovative concept and amazing star cast. The titular role is played by one of the famous names in Bengali cinema, Swastika Mukherjee and her husband’s role is essayed by acclaimed actor, Bratya Basu.
Trailer Breakdown
The trailer of The Lovely Mrs Mookherjee starts with a girl’s voice, eager to tell a story that we might find interesting. We are shown a laboratory where a person is gearing up to perform a scientific experiment. We can see an injection and a helmet-like instrument that is placed on a man’s (Bratya Basu) head. There is a mention of millions of electrochemical impulses. We are told that all our thoughts and feelings, sadness and joy are electrochemical impulses.
Now, the trailer takes us from the laboratory to a typical middle-class Bengali household. We can see a demure and homely married Bengali woman (Swastika Mukherjee - click here to know more about her) who is referred to as Minu Mashi by the speaker. Although the narrator tells with a conviction that Minu Mashi is an extraordinary woman, we can find nothing extraordinary or even borderline interesting about her.
She is living a dull and mundane married life. Her husband does not care to look at her even once. She is often ignored and ridiculed by her husband. We can see the pain and dejection in her eyes that makes us feel pity for her.
The Twist
At this moment, the narrator is interrupted by the attentive listener who wonders why she is telling a tragic story. With twinkling eyes, the narrator reveals that the story is now going to take an unexpected twist.
The trailer takes us back to the laboratory again. We can see the face of Mrs Mookherjee’s husband on a big screen. There is a drastic change in the dynamics of the husband and wife. Mrs Mookherjee sits in front of a computer screen and orders her husband to entertain her. The husband from inside the screen obeys the orders of his wife. He also finds his wife interesting and alluring.
The homely wife now gets to live the life of her dreams in front of a computer screen where all her fantasies can come true.
Unveil the mystery
The trailer ends with such a cliff hanger that only after watching the movie, one can understand the plot and the mystery. From the trailer, it is evident that we can expect great performances and an innovative story. If you are wondering whether The Lovely Mrs Mookherjee is a woman’s fantasy tale or a sci-fi movie, you need to watch this ZEE5 Original today to unveil the mystery.



Thursday, 28 February 2019

Between Yesterday and Tomorrow



Between the tempest of yesterday
And the amber sun of tomorrow,
I marvel at the rainbow
In my azure sky today. 

Between the catastrophic past
And the glorious future
Is the wisdom of the present-
The truest of all wealth in the world.
I have earned my sagacity
Walking in the labyrinth of heartache.

Between the tears of yesterday
And the laughter of tomorrow
Is the enlightenment of today;
Success and Failure are like Day and Night
One is followed by the other
Two feet stepping forward on the path of life.

Between the bruises of yesterday
And the radiance of tomorrow
Is the strength blossoming in me today;
Each scar has left behind
A note of wisdom
With which I gather my broken pieces
And construct a new monument
That cannot be shaken by an earthquake. 
I am the architecture of my dreams
I am the creator of my future. 


-Purba Chakraborty
28.02.19'

Monday, 14 January 2019

Richa Chadha shines in ZEE5 Original Film, Cabaret


Yesterday, I watched a captivating movie, Cabaret on ZEE5. The movie, starring Richa Chadha, Gulshan Devaiah, S.Sreesanth and Gulshan Grover in pivotal roles has been directed by Kaustav Narayan Niyogi and produced by Pooja Bhatt. The movie revolves around the life of a successful dancer whose journey begins from a small village called Gumla in Jharkhand.
Plot
The movie begins with a book launch. The author narrates the story of the protagonist who wanted nothing more than love in her life. The flashback takes us to Jharkhand where we see police ruthlessly killing a man, rendering his wife helpless. As the policeman tries to molest the woman (Richa Chadha), she kills him brutally.
6 years later, the woman has become Rosa, a successful dancer. Gaurav (Gulshan Devaiah), an investigative journalist who has lately become an alcoholic due to some unfortunate events is given the task of taking an in-depth interview of Rosa.
It’s through this interview that we learn Rosa’s painful and shocking story. From her escape to Mumbai, her career as a dancer and the dark twists that eventually follow, the narrative leaves the audience gasping for breath.
As time passes, Gaurav and Rosa fall deeply in love with each other. The responsibility of protecting Rosa from constant death threats from the underworld gives a purpose to Gaurav’s life. However, will he be able to save her life? Will he be able to tell the story of her life to everyone? To know that, you have to watch the movie.
Performances
Few minutes into the movie and Richa Chadha’s acting left me speechless. She effortlessly changes from a helpless woman to a confident dancer in the movie. Her dance performance especially in the song “Ghoongroo toot Gaye” is praiseworthy. Her moves are graceful, yet her eyes depict a profound pain.
Gulshan Devaiah’s acting is brilliant. I loved the scenes where he quietly observes Rosa with clammy eyes. He is equally good in the scenes where he is dealing with the villain.
S.Sreesanth who played one of the most interesting characters in the movie did complete justice to his role. It was a treat watching him perform with such panache. Gulshan Grover was impressive in a villainous role with a menacing performance.
Dialogues and Direction
There are some beautiful dialogues in the movie between Rosa and Gaurav. I loved the scene where Rosa, after narrating her life story tells Gaurav: “Dil kyu kisi par aitbaar karta hai ye bas dil hi janta hai.”
The scene where Gaurav takes her interview and asks some general questions was also amazing.
Gaurav: Bhagwan mein yakeen karti hai?
Rosa: Haan. Kyuki mujhe pyar mein yakeen hai.
The direction is clever and good. I loved the way the director chose to oscillate between the past and present to keep the audience engaged. As the editing is crisp, the movie is fast-paced. Once you start watching the movie, you won’t be able to leave it in between. I also enjoyed the way the director pushed the audience towards the climax. The mystery was intact and I could not guess the ending.
Soundtrack
Songs form an integral part of the movie. They are not a mere embellishment and take the story forward. I liked the songs “Do jaane anjaan”, “Tum ko jo paya ab”, and “Ghunghroo toot gaye”. The haunting and sombre background score added to the mood of the movie.
Final words
If you are a movie buff looking for an intriguing thriller, you should watch Cabaret on ZEE5. The acting, direction, and soundtrack will surely impress you. The movie is about 90 minutes long, so you can easily finish it at one sitting. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy the movie this weekend.