Viewer's View - movie review

Coffee @ Madras Cafe..a Viewer’s review

images (1)This cafe brewed me a perfect cuppa coffee. Wow! What a film, so engrossing & that too a political thriller.. Madras Cafe does not qualify as a typical Bollywood masala movie. Well you can expect a complete omission of romance & songs barring one or two romantic scenes and a background song towards the end of the flick.

The film is based on the backdrop of early 1990s when Indian & Sri Lankan troops were trying to get control over the Tamil rebellions and the scenario when  one of the major political leaders of India was assassinated by using a human bomb. Most of us are aware about this tragic terrorist event that happened  back then.

#Madrascafe tries to cover all major events that led to the dreadful bomb blast. It deals adeptly with the circumstances of people behind it & their varied reasons. I wouldn’t give credit entirely to Shoojit Sircar, the director of film (also director of Vicky Donor) but would give the credit to the entire team- the writer, the cinematographer & the actors. Especially John Abraham & Sidharth Basu have exceptionally justified their characters. Nargis Fakhri also looks good as a foreign journalist. I cannot comment on the similarity or dissimilarity between the actual  events &  that depicted in the film but as a commoner I would just say that there is no smoke without fire.

What worked for me:

The scene of assassination being executed is very close to real event and I was equally taken aback seeing it in the movie as I was when it happened for real. The story worked for me 110 percent, a majors commitment to his duty, to someone elses’s revolution turning into rebel. Though the movie could look like a historical documentary or a war movie with lot of onscreen blood shed but for the clever handling of the story it doesn’t. If you had liked Kahani for its superb plot then I suggest Madras Cafe is a must watch for you!!

The story..

Major Vikram Singh (John Abraham) is asked to go for a under cover RAW operation in Jaffna, Sri Lanka where the Indian government has already started of their peace operations in the best interest of Tamil rebels. Reporting to Robin Dutta (Sidharth Basu) based in Delhi, John becomes a part of the team there which is headed by Bala. Many events lead Indian government’s peace operation towards failure as an outcome of which the  Indian forces & the Tamil rebels here named LTF in a state of war. Meanwhile John meets a foreign journalist (Nargis Fakhri), who has come to take interview of LTF’s leader.  From her and some events make John conclude of a mole being present in the Indian front. Further the story moves on to conspiracies done to strengthen the LTF leader & it is here that the final conspiracy of assassination is done by him. The climax of movie fiercely advances further on to the final race between Indian front & LTF;  coding-decoding of the conspiracy & the conspires by John to crack the actual plot of assassination and the execution of the assassination plan by LTF.


A Nomad's Diary - travel tales

The less traveled Kashmir..Leh-Ladakh

in this widerness I see God's lamb..
in this wilderness I see God’s lamb..
Pangong lake from a distance..
Pangong lake from a distance..


Tso Kar..
Tso Kar..
Migratory birds @ Pangong lake..
Migratory birds @ Pangong lake..
Prayer flags @ Leh
Prayer flags @ Leh
Picturesque Landscape..
Picturesque Landscape..
Sand Art..(Artist: GOD)
Sand Art..(Artist: GOD)


Yaks shying away..
Yaks shying away..
a dash of Greenery to Cold desert..@ Nubra Valley
a dash of Greenery to Cold desert..                        @ Nubra Valley
Indians..can create records..@ Highest motor able pass in world..Khardung la
Indians..can create records..@ Highest motor able pass in world..Khardung la
Snowy Mountains..near Khardung la
Snowy Mountains..near Khardung la
Remember Pashmina..
Remember Pashmina..

Last year almost the same time around I was relishing my holidays at Phuket, one of the most exotic beach sides in Asia; however this time it had got to be some holiday in saddii (Punjabi word for ‘My’) #India. Beaches being my favorite holiday spot I was browsing through the options available in India few were actually exciting like the Andamans etc. but truly speaking at that moment nothing got me excited. It was then that the idea of holidaying in Himalayas   came to my mind and settled their until I made the final decision of travelling to #Leh-Ladakh region of #Kashmir Valley..

Altogether it was a fabulous journey being able to travel on the same places as have been shooted in many of the latest Bollywood flicks like #3 Idiots, #Jab tak hai jaan & so on..and ya surviving in the – degrees and at the highest motor able pass gives my confidence a real high!

I would like to share a quick guide & an itinerary for 8 nights & 9 days trip to Leh-Ladakh Ex-Delhi

Day 1– Arrive in morning, transfer to hotel. Take some rest then leave for DC office for Inner line permits.

For getting Inner line permit:

The DC Office is usually open between 10 AM to 3 PM on all working days. In the peak season if you wish to get the permits  by yourself, it is better to reach early in the morning at the DC office.  Or else many hotel or the tour package people can also arrange it for you by taking some extra fees. For the same one needs to give xerox & original copies of a valid identity proof . One part of the fees is that which  depends on the varied secured areas you wish to visit and the several days you will be requiring to cover all of those the other part is the environment protection fees. If you go in Office by yourself the process is quite transparent, low on difficulty level and more importantly the fees charged will be far less than the fees charged by an agent. To the best of my knowledge this permit is mandatory while visitng places like Nubra Valley (Panamik-Diskit-Hunder), Pangong Tso (Pangong lake), Tso Morriri, Tso Kar. Permission is not required for places like Kargil etc.

Meanwhile after taking permit you can visit the famous Leh Market and some nearby sightseeing places like Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa etc. Post that you can now relax & give time to your body to acclimatize yourself and prepare to enjoy for the upcoming days.Overnight stay in Leh. 

Day 2 – Depending upon how much has your body acclimatize to the present you can either opt for another day of sightseeing inside Leh or you can go ahead for the a two-day short travel tour to Nubra Valley & Back.

Sightseeing inside Leh: For this the best thing is you hire a local cab which is usually cheapest mode of transport for the travelling to nearby places. Mention the cab driver the specific places you want to see and decide the cab rate accordingly. ‘Bargain for the best price’ is the key point here. You can also referthe cab driver’s association taxi fare book so that in any case you do not pay more.

For sight-seeing inside Leh, start the day by 7-8 AM , have breakfast, then leave for Shanti Stupa, Hall of Fame, Leh Palace, Shey Gompa, Leh Market, Tibetan Refuge Market. Approximately you will cover all those places by 3 PM. So you can either take a lunch break in between the tour or have a late lunch once you return to Leh City.

In the evening you can do some bit of shopping, book a cab or any other mode of transportation for travelling to next destination and lastly relax.

Overnight stay in Leh.

Day 3 –  Have  power-puff breakfast & leave around 7AM for Nubra Valley. While travelling to Nubra Valley on the way also you will find beautiful landscapes. Also you will pass through Khardung La pass that is the highest motor-able pass in the world at an altitude 18379 ft. above the sea level. Since you are planning for a 2 day trip it is advisable that you do not take a long stop at Khardungla while going to Nubra Valley. Rather you can have a longer stop while returning on the next days. This is because at such a height there are a chances that the human body may not be able to adapt & the person is most susceptible to catch AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). You will reach Panamik,

Panamik, famous for hot springs by 12:30 PM. You can have a small stop there and enjoy the hot spring or if you are more interested in seeing the Diskit monastery then you can avoid going to Panamik. While going to Diskit monastery you will get to see the cold mountainous desert area with very limited vegetation & people. It is one of the not to miss monasteries in the Nubra Valley Region. It has a huge Buddha statue placed on one of the hill tops. Also on the nearby mountain top there is relatively more ancient relics of the Diskit region. This is the place where most of the Lamas stay; also be on a look out for a very ancient flat stone on which a chess board has been etched onn the order of the then king for the purpose of entertainment of his soldiers’ guarding the outer gate.

Post visiting the monastery you can visit the Hunder area, near to deskit, here you can enjoy camel ride on the Mountain Bacterian camel in the cold desert. For the rest of the day settle in a hotel/guesthouse relax and enjoy the nearby local settlement.

Day 4 – Start early in the morning& return towards leh. You can have stop at Khardung la pass which is best seen after a mild snowfall & during a snowfall. I would suggest of carefully deciding your itinerary, sometimes you might also need to change it considering the ever-changing weather condition here.

At this point if you are running lucky then you can experience snow fall also. A cup of tea in the snowy weather being offered by military people is a mesmerizing experience.

You will return Leh by 3 of 4 PM & then stay overnight at Leh.

Day 5 – Today you can go to Pangong Lake.  Plan for an early breakfast and leave, if you leave from Leh by 7AM about it takes around 5.5 hrs. to reach the lake. The Pangong Tso as it is commonly known in the Ladakh region has become instantly popular as tourist spot after a scene from 3 idiots movie was shot here. Ignoring the Bollywood inspired tourism here, the lake itself is very beautiful. The lake seen in India is just a small part of the massive water mass whose major part lies in the China Border. Surrounded by Snow capped mountains the lake is best seen from sunrise to noon time, the hours having most sunlight exposure; at this time you can view a thousand shades of blue & green color in the lake water.

You can  have some exclusive photos shot here, end the trip by having lunch here and then return towards Leh. Once you reach Karu ask the driver to take the diversion for Chumthang where you will be staying overnight. An overnight stay in Chumthang will be beneficial for your next day visit to Tso Morriri & Tso Kar. For this type of arrangement I would highly recommend you to discuss the same with driver right when booking the cab for the outdoor trips from Leh simply because few drivers are reluctant to travel in evening time.

At Chumthang there are very few guesthouses but you can find some decent home stays. Expect the stay at Chumthang very very basic however the good part about this place is the prevalence of Hot springs. Have dinner & rest for the day.

Day 6 – Depart from Chumthang after breakfast at around 7 AM for Tso Morriri which you will reach by around 10.30. The lakes in the Ladakh region be it Pangong or Tso Morriri or Tso Kar are best seen in good amount of sunlight. The Tso Morriri & Tso Kar are less travelled but beautiful lakes. On the way to these places you will be able to see some of the wild animals of this terrain like Yak, Horse, Moh, Scalp etc.

Though the road leading these lakes is bad but the lake in my opinion are worth taking the pain; especially Tso Kar is simply awesome.   It has the presence of marshy lands with limited vegetation but a good number of wild animals and birds can be seen.  One can easily complete the Tso kar part of trip by mid afternoon after which  you can return via the Chang la Pass. Chang la pass is also one of the highest passes in the world.

After reaching leh  at about 6-8PM. retire for the day and have over night stay in Leh.

Tip  here is you can chalk out a very customized deal with the hotel or guest house people so that on the days you are not staying in Leh you are free from worrying about again & again checking in & out of hotels while travelling to outside places & returning to Leh. Major the people here are honest and helpful so you can take your basic stuff to outside places and leave the rest belongings in the hotel locker or any safe place at your guest house/hotel but in this case final call should be yours depending upon circumstances.

Day7- Arrange a local cab & do the rest of sightseeing at nearby places of Leh. You can go for Thicksey  monastery, Hemis Monastery, Magnetic Hill, Sangam, Indus river darshan, 3 idiot school, shey palace.

This will take almost your whole day. Come back after this last memorable day in Leh.

Day 8– Depart from LeH!!

Author’s Fav Picks during this trip:

  • Sia La Guest House (Option 1 – Stay)
  • Gangba Homestay (Option 2 – Stay)
  • Rigzin (Option 1 – Exclusive Cab for journey outside Leh)
  • German Bakery (Option 1 – Food)
  • Chopsticks Noodle Bar serving Chinese Food near German Bakery (Option 2 – Food)
  • Lamayuru Restaurant just near German Bakery (Option 3 – Food)
  • September- Mid October (Personally Option 1- Best time)
  • April-September (Option 2 – Best time)
  • Medicines: ORS, Diamox (for A.M.S, breathlessness, dizziness), Normal cold, cough, headache medicines along with first aid box..


Penned Poem..

Lamhe vehle lamhe..

Lamhe vehle lamhe..

Hai chashani mai doobe huye ye pyaar ke lamhe

Lamhe vehle lamhe..

Alsayi si aankhon sai dekhe huye sapne

Hai patango mai bandhkar uddayge lamhe

Haye ye lamhe ..vehle lamhe..

Kabhi yunhi reti k tillon par ghar banate huye

Hai paani ko thamkar bachaye ye lamhe..

Haye ye lamhe ..vehle lamhe..

Sabun k jhaag se banaye huye bulbule

Hai neele, peele, lal sab rang k ye lamhe..