Darjeeling # Improve Vocabulary


Toy trains, excellent tea, and impressive views of four of the world’s highest peaks. Darjeeling’s trademark charms are surpassed only by the niceness of its people, found wildlife photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee and Bollywood composer Shantanu Moitra on the West Bengal leg of their #100DaysInHimalayas project. Between February and December 2016, the duo will make a series of trips in the Himalayas covering reaches running from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, and into the neighbouring foothills of Nepal and Bhutan—and they’re taking National Geographic Traveller India along for the ride. Their latest dispatch is from Darjeeling. For centuries, the cool hill station at the foothills of the Himalayas, has been favoured as a health resort for its brisk weather, first by the British, and then by tourists across India and the world. It’s predictably lovely and laid-back, except on some days as this twosome found out.

Ice, Ice, Baby


When Moitra and Mukherjee visited, Darjeeling was reeling from an unexpected hailstorm that caused an hours-long traffic jam. “It was white, covered in 3-inch ice,” said Moitra. As soon as they checked into the hotel, Moitra recalled, “Dhritiman said it’s time to take photos now.” The hail had dented cars and smashed holes in roofs and windows. “That’s the difference between us,” Moitra says. “I say, ‘There’s chaos outside, let’s stay in.’”

Outside, they found a town making the most of the bizarre weather. Life was at a standstill and people were playing with the ice in the streets. It was lovely but Dhritiman was surprised with the number of international food-chain outlets. “The Mall Road now has CCD and KFC,” he said. At the very least, they should “blend with local culture; use Lepcha- or Gurkha-style design for the interiors.”

Hitting The Right Note

For Moitra, each place they visited came alive with the locals they encountered, and the stories they had to tell. At their colonial-era stay Cochrane Place in Kurseong—famous for birding and tea estates such as Makaibari—Moitra discovered that the hotel’s singer honed his craft on the road. A taxi driver by day with dreams of being a musician, the singer picked up playing the guitar from his church group, bought his instrument at a pawnshop, and expanded his repertoire by asking the Indian and international tourists he ferried daily to play their songs off the car speaker. “I suddenly remembered my college days, when I was not trained in music but I just enjoyed singing,” said Moitra. He was so impressed that he made a recording of the musician before leaving.

A World Without Pandas

En route to Sandakphu, West Bengal’s highest point, they met a tea-stall owner in his early 30s, who was involved in conservation efforts for the endangered red panda, native to the Himalayan forests of this region. The high school graduate had moved to Dubai to fund his kid’s education but returned two years later when he “realised that family is more important than money,” Moitra said. Deciding that he could just as easily put in the taxing 16-hour work days to develop his village, he started conservation work and joined in community initiatives such as coaxing locals to keep off alcohol and save up for solar panels to help their kids study at night.

Mountain Lessons

On their return from Sandakphu, Moitra and Mukherjee shared their jeep with a father and his sick child whose smiles and conversation showed no sign of the gruelling ride and the desperation at the remote access to a hospital. “The Himalayas have a really surprising happiness quotient,” Moitra said, who puts it down to the local philosophy: not to fight the elements but accept life as it comes. “The Himalayas teach me to stop complaining, and life will be better.”

Keep posted for updates from Mukherjee and Moitra, as this mountain bromance yields stunning photos of the Himalayas’ stark beauty, and stories of its charming people.

1ExcellentExtremely good; outstandingAccomplished, admirable, attractive, distinguished, exceptional, exemplary, exquisite, fine, finest, first-rate, good, great, magnificent, outstanding, skillful, sterling, superb, superlative
2ImpressiveEvoking admiration through size, quality or skill; grand, imposing or awesome.Dramatic, exciting, extraordinary, important, imposing, intense, massive, monumental, notable, profound, remarkable, splendid, superb, thrilling
3SurpassedExceed; be greater thanBeat, eclipse, exceed, outpace, outperform, outstrip, outweigh, pass, rank, top, best, better, cap, excel, outdistance, outgo, outmatch, outrank, outrival, outrun, outshine, override, overshadow, overstep, surmount, tower, transcend, trump
4dispatchSend off to a destination or for a purposeAlacrity, celerity, expedition, expeditiousness, haste, hurry, hustle, precipitateness, promptitude, promptness, quickness, rapidity, rustle, speediness, swiftness
5briskActive and energeticEnergetic, lively, quick, speedy, spry, vigorous, alert, animated, bustling, busy, adroit, agile, nimble, sprightly, vivacious, zippy
6predictablyAnything that you can see or know before it happensCertain, anticipated, calculable, expected, foreseeable, foreseen, likely, prepared, sure, sure-fire
7reelingWind something on to a reel by turning the reel.Addled, befuddled, bemused, bewildered, blind, blinded, dazed, dazzled, distracted, disturbed, dumbfounded, faint, light, muddled, puzzled, staggered, swimming, upset, whirling
8hailstormA storm of heavy hailBarrage, bombardment, rain, salvo, shower, storm, volley, broadside, cannonade, pelting
9bizarreVery strange or unusualComical, curious, extraordinary, fantastic, freakish, grotesque, ludicrous, odd, offbeat, outlandish, peculiar, ridiculous, unusual, weird
10outletsA pipe or hole through which water or gas may escape. OR A point from which goods are sold or distributed.Channel, aperture, avenue, break, crack, duct, egress, escape, exit, hole, nozzle, opening, orifice, porthole, release, spout, tear, vent, safety valve, way out
11encounteredUnexpectedly be faced with or experience; meet someone unexpectedlyBear, bump into, come across, come upon, confront, detect, experience, face, find, meet, run into, suffer, turn up, close, descry, espy, front, sustain, undergo
12estatesAn area or amount of land or property, in particularArea, farm, parcel, plantation, ranch, residence, acreage, demesne, domain, dominion, freehold, grounds, holdings, territory, villa
13repertoireA stock of plays, dances, or items that a company or a performer knows or is prepared to performRepertory, range, repository, reserve, stock, stockpile, store, supply
14ferriedConvey in a ferry or other ship or boat, especially across a short stretch of waterCarry, chauffeur, lug, send, ship, shuttle, tote, transport, bear, buck ,convey, pack, run, move across, schlepp
15musicianA person who plays a musical instrument, especially as a profession, or is musically talented.Artist, composer, conductor, entertainer, instrumentalist, performer, player, soloist, virtuoso, vocalist, artiste, diva, session player
16enrouteDuring the course of a journey; on the wayAdvancing, along the way, bound, driving, en voyage, entrained, flying, heading toward, in passage, in transit, making headway, midway, on the road, pressing on, progressing, traveling
17conservationThe act of conserving something, in particularCare, conservancy, control, maintenance, management, protection, supervision, attention, custody, economy, governing, guardianship, keeping, safe keeping, salvation, saving, stewardship, storage, supervising, sustentation, upkeep
18endangeredSeriously at a risk of extinctionThreatened, at risk, facing extinction, in danger
19nativeA person born in a specified place or associated with a place by birth, whether subsequently resident there or not.Endemic, indigenous, natural, constitutional, essential, fundamental, natal, original, real, wild
20graduateA person who has successfully completed a course of study or training, especially a person who has been awarded and undergraduate or first academic degreeAlum, alumnus, doctor, grad, recipient, baccalaureate, bachelor, collegian, diplomat, holder, licentiate, master, Ph.D, product, former student
21initiativesThe ability to assess and initiate things independently ; The power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do.Action, drive, leadership, push, ambition, dynamism, energy, enterprise, enthusiasm, get-up-and-go, gumption, inventiveness, moxie, originality, punch, resource, spunk, steam, vigor
22coaxingPersuade gradually or gently to do somethingCajole, entice, induce, tease, tempt, wheedle, allure, barter, beguile, blandish, blarney, con, decoy, flatter, get, hook, importune, influence, inveigle, jawbone, lure, pester, plague, press, soft-soap, soothe, sweet-talk, urge, wangle, worm
23gruelingExtremely tiring and demandingArduous, backbreaking, brutal, demanding, excruciating, exhausting, fierce, laborious, punishing, strenuous, tiring, torturous, trying
24desperationA state of despair, typically one which results in rash or extreme behaviorAgony, anguish, anxiety, desolation, despair, discomfort, fear, gloom, grief, heartache, melancholy, misery, pain, sorrow, unhappiness
25philosophyThe study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence, especially when considered as an academic disciplineAttitude, doctrine, idea, ideology, logic, outlook, reasoning, system, tenet, theory, thinking, thought, truth, view, viewpoint, wisdom, aesthetics, axiom, beliefs, conception, convictions, metaphysics, ontology, rationalism, reason, values
26complainingExpress dissatisfaction or annoyance about somethingGrumbling, protesting, whining, accusing, bellyaching, bewailing, charging, deploring, disapproving, discontented, dissenting, fretting, lamenting, moaning, mourning, murmuring, regretting, repining, weeping
27bromanceA close but non-sexual relationship between two men
28charmingVery pleasant or attractiveAbsorbing, alluring, amiable, appealing, attractive, charismatic, cute, delightful, elegant, engaging, engrossing, fascinating, glamorous, graceful, inviting, likable lovable, lovely ,pleasant, provocative, sweet, bewitching, electrifying, enamoring, enthralling, entrancing, fetching, infatuating, magnetizing, pleasing, ravishing, seducing, tantalizing, tempting, titillating, winning

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IELTS Speaking Sample Questions # Advice

Advice is one of the most common word in English and also in our lives. There are so many times that we give advice. So, many times that we are given advice. Sometimes we follow them, the other times we go by our heart. Today, let us have a look at some of the questions related to advice.

What three pieces of advice would you give to your children?

I don’t think I would be one of those giving lots of advice to their children but I would love that my children know three things in their lives. First, no failure or success defines you. It is what you do in the present that matters. Second, there is no point thinking about future if it takes away present. So, plan for the future only when you have lived the present. Third, it is your right to be free to take decisions for your life.

Whose advice do you follow more, your parents or your friend’s advice?

I listen to both of them, because they are important for me. But, in the end, I do what I feel is right. There are times when both of them said the same thing but I did something completely different. And even times, when they said what I felt was right. At that point of time, there is nothing  like family or friend it is more like individuals giving me advice and I decide what to do.

If you could give the leader of your country some advice, what would it be?

If I was ever given a chance to give advice, I would say, talk more. Our present prime minister is very active on social media and it is a great thing. Because we as youngster are in social media and we can easily connect with him. So, I would say do that more. Talk about issues like poverty, rapes, adoption, gender discrimination so that we as individuals know about them more and do what we can do as individuals.

If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice, what would you
tell your younger self?

I would say, relax and do what you feel is right. No matter how scary it seems like, no matter how much you feel is at stake, if there is something you feel is right and should be done, just do it. Don’t think too much. Life is not about responsibilities and growing up, it is about living present, being free and doing what you love.


Who was the wisest person in your country’s history? What kind of advice did they give?

According to me, Mahatma Gandhi was the wisest person of our country. He in a very unique way told us that life is about living with people and doing good with them. It is about non violence, about truth, about dying for what you believe in.  And I wish that some day I am able to follow him entirely.

Where do you go to get good advice?

For a great advice, most of the times I go to a silent place where there is only me and I can talk to myself and brainstorm myself about something. Think about what all people near me have told me and then think. Ultimately, a place where I can just shut down and listen to my heart.

What according to you should be done to get more free time?

I think one thing to do get a free time is to work. It might sound weird but for starters the more one works, the more one realizes the effective work does not take much time. So, after one has done the work effectively and when they realize that they are just sitting and piling on, they can move out and do something better.

What should someone do to be happy?

In my opinion, shutting the brain is one thing that we need to do to remain happy. Because, I believe that our heart always knows what is right and when we just go with our gut and do things not thinking about what will happen next, things do turn out well and it is magical and we are happy. So, I think, listening to heart and giving importance to people in our lives, does bring happiness.


IELTS Listening Sample Question # Living Abroad

Living Abroad

The audio given below has been taken from BBC 6 minutes English. The audio talks about how it is like living abroad. You can download it, from the given link –

Answer the following questions in NO MORE THAN FOUR WORDS

  1. The speaker uses a word to describe the movement to new country permanently. What is it?
  2. How many people migrated from UK in the year July 2005 to July 2006?
  3. Which countries has Callum already lived in?
  4. Elena plays a program clip in the audio. Name the program’s clip.
  5. Where did Michelle emigrated from UK?
  6. What is the group of British people called?
  7. The speaker uses an expression to talk about people with same interest. What is it?
  8. Which country will Callum prefer to emigrate to?
  9. Which country will Elena prefer to emigrate to?

Living Abroad


  1. emigrate
  2. 385,000
  3. Denmark,Japan
  4. Woman’s hour
  5. Australia
  6. Britpack
  7. like minded people
  8. Australia, New Zealand
  9. Barbados



IELTS Cue Card Sample Answer # TV Presenter

Describe a TV presenter.
You should say:

  • who is she or he?
  • what programme does she or he present?
  • how does she or he present the program?

and explain why you like / dislike him/ her.

I love watching shows presented by someone and the one presenter that I am really fond of is Rannvijay. He is one of the best TV presenters that our television industry has seen in almost a decade. The way he connects with the audience both inside the show and the one outside is amazing. He is the presenter for the most famous youth show, Roadies and apart from being its presenter, also takes part in selecting candidates for the show.

The one thing that I really love about him is the way he speaks. And it is not about the accent. The way he speaks, as in, the way he treats the candidates, when they are wrong he finds it not at all difficult to tell them they are wrong and in times when there is an injustice being met to any of the candidates, he is the first one to come forward. So, it is not just about reading the given script, but about, managing the entire show, making sure that the candidate’s true color comes out, in spite of the camera and they get the great content they produce.

Rannvijay was also the participant of the show and played it really well. He is even regarded as the true roadie because in spite of how hard the game was and how impossible the tasks felt, he did it. There were times when he lost and the other times when he won but what is more important is his never die spirit. And this is the spirit that he tries to bring in the contestants and in some way the entire nation.

It is his this nature where he is able to connect not only with the candidates but just by actions with the entire nation, that I love him.

TV Presenter

The one candidate that has come and changed the way the comedy shows are presented in Indian T.V is surely my favorite. He is our country’s favorite T.V show presenter, Kapil Sharma. His serial, comedy nights with Kapil is one of the most famous and funny television show, where people from even foreign countries watch the show and come to experience Kapil live.

Some people often say that he is the country’s finest comedian and one of the best presenters our industry has ever seen. There are Bollywood stars who die to come onto his show and every movie that is about to get released is surely promoted on his show.

The one thing that I love about him is that he knows how to make people laugh and the witty answers that he gives, it is truly amazing. There are people in the audience that tries to be over smart with him or maybe sometimes rude with the stars, but in a comic way, Kapil Sharma teaches them both the lesson and makes everyone laugh about it.

In his program, it is about a scene from his family. So, he is part of the play and the act is about the funny things happening in his family, the funny characters of his family and their funnier life. In the second half of the show, there is a guest that comes to his house and Kapil Sharma and the other characters try to be funny with them.

I think one reason why everyone loves him and his show is because in some or the other way it strikes the chord. So, you do find some irritating and lovely characters in his show that you can relate to. And then, the dialogues are so amazing that people tend to repeat them in their daily conversations, making it a great show.


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