Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
By Dr. Priya Mendiratta
What we don’t see still exists, perhaps despite the 7 billion population, many undiscovered treasures are still out there just on this planet.
Listening to Neil Tyson, my favorite astrophysicist, if the entire Universe’s age was compressed into one calendar year, the life of documented human race would just be a second.
Recently we visited Blanchard Springs caverns: these are one of Arkansas State’s treasures and most unusual underground caves located in the Ozark National Forest in Stone County in Northern Arkansas USA, located a short distance from Mountain Home. They are believed to have been formed, and continually changed, by an ongoing mountain spring that pours into a glassy-surfaced trout pond below the cave, called Mirror Lake.
Previously we had been here for a summer trip and it had taken over three hours to explore the entire cavern but the underground portion is closed during winters, so as not to disturb the 400,000 bats that are hibernating deep underground.
We were taken by elevator down to bowels of earth 21, stories below or approximately at a depth of 216 feet down under though at some places the cavern is 250 feet deep.
The cave was first perhaps discovered by Native Americans, and a body was discovered few decades ago around 1955, which was carbon dated and found to be 1100 years old, though not clear as to how without any flashlight someone ventured this far centuries ago.
This cavern was discovered by teenagers 14 and 16-year-olds, who took some long exposure photographs in the area they were hiking and were really not sure what they stumbled upon with just a flashlight, but on developing them they were shocked to see the surroundings and accidentally discovered it.
The locals knew about it as early as 1955, when it was called the half mile caves. The state tourism took another 8 years from when they were actually discovered and opened to the public in 1973 after making it safe for public viewing, lighting it up, making safe access and elevators to reach a depth of 200 feet.
A Czechoslovakian, opera house worker was hired especially and did an amazing job of lighting the cave, to give it the current stupendous appearance.
Some 50 million years ago water passed through limestone and collapsed the ceilings to form caverns, but current cavern was formed some 100,000 years ago and has been preserved intact essentially.
It is estimated that surrounding Ozarks may have up to 10,000 such caverns waiting to be discovered.
We took the shortest 1-hour tour available called the drip tour and entered a site called “the cathedral site” and was one of the most spectacular sites that only a personal experience can define better.
It appeared to be a scene akin to Indiana Jones movie “The raiders of the lost Ark”.
There was beauty, awe and a sense of spirituality evoked at the marvelous treasures.
It was like one was surrounded by many Shiv linga( Hindu God Shiva’s formation in a cylindrical form worshipped in Hindu Temples as a symbol of generative power) in different sizes glowing an amazing red, grey or white depending on the underlying mineral.
The iron oxide gave a red hue, manganese grey ones and white were calcite.
Calcite is a common constituent of sedimentary rocks, limestone, in particular, much of it is either precipitated or dissolved by ground water, it is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate (CaCO3)
Calcite deposits over 100 years and it grows a cubic inch, primarily by water dripping through caverns causes the calcite to continue growing.
The stalactites (grow from the top) the ceiling formations – grow long enough to connect with stalagmites (formation on the floor), they join to form columns.
The cave temperature year around is at 58-degree f and is100 percent humid. To reach the lower level there are some 700 steps and in the summer, this discovery trail takes 2-3 hours to explore.
A white-nose bats disease has killed or made bats extinct in many other caves globally, which is actually a fungus that prevents them from hibernating so they leave caves in winters only to freeze to death or die of hunger and fall off the sky out of sheer exhaustion, some may consider that a supernatural phenomenon in some parts of the World.
The forests around have been thinned some by conservation officials to decrease the fungus spreading in bats, and to help them survive by opening the canopy, and have been successful in this area in keeping them alive.
The only organism that grows in caves is Salamander, an amphibian that exists on bat drippings or bat poop or guano.
It is rumored that manganese is formed around a microorganism and presence on Mars of manganese might mean a sign of some life.
Interestingly the bats are sort of potty trained and poop in the same exact place or entire bat family does that for generations resulting in big bat black poop mountains in the cave called guano.
The guano or bat poop is used to make fertilizer as are rich in nitrogen, potassium and phosphate, even to make gun powderBat guano from the Mammoth Caves of Kentucky was used to make saltpetre, of the three key ingredients of black gunpowder, up until WWII and rumored ladies that it is used in cosmetics including mascara though lately all cosmetic companies have announced that to be false, saying that it is made from guanine which is obtained from fish gut.
Some formations look like a battleship, some like the opera house balcony, some resemble Indian Shiv Lingas, and some is left to your imagination.
The acid in hands can destroy the calcite growth making it loose the ability to grow, making it dry and chalky, so touching is forbidden, and tour guide does not let anyone step away from the path created to preserve the beauty of the cave. Also, a dry spell or drought can cause the lack of dripping and formations.
I wondered if the place was safe during a nuclear attack though cavern can house up to 29,000 people, the water and air would bring the nuclear effects into this depth even, in under a day.
The depth is surprisingly protected from earthquakes, though has an earthquake meter installed in ceilings and though several in the area, have caused destruction on the surface but none at the depth for centuries.
During summer, the tour guide takes for longer, 6-hour tours called the wild cave tours for some groups who are in good physical health through dark caves and one has to crawl through them to see more inner depths than was visible. Aaron Christopher was our wonderful guide through the trip.
It is true sometimes some such experiences are priceless, not found in books, but meant to just be felt and experienced with our senses, and continue to add on to our entire experience on earth.
Priya Mendiratta is a physician, an associate professor in geriatrics at University of Arkansas for Medical sciences at Little Rock Arkansas, USA.
By Prerana Agarwal Saxena
In all the wedding excitement, it's easy to overlook the impact a wedding has on the environment. While everyone is making their big fat Indian wedding dreams come true, they are also adding their carbon footprint and undue energy consumption. Modern couples are now looking for ways to have a wedding with a sustainably conscious mindset. It's become about incorporating less waste, locally sourced and seasonal food, natural materials over the use of plastic. Mindful wedding planning and decor includes the use of recycled paper and goods along with eco-friendly venue needs. Check out this quick guide to achieve a sustainably conscious wedding without compromising on luxury:
Choose locally sourced material to uplift artisans
Sustainable can be luxurious too, incorporate some native flavour into the decor and theme. With the use of locally sourced materials and local artisans coming into play, the wedding instantly becomes sustainable. Include the work of local vendors ensure minimal packaging requirements, thus saving on unnecessary plastic and lamination. It also decreases the need for transporting elements from other cities and hence lowers the carbon footprint. For instance, at one of our weddings, we made use of sand art for a setup in Jodhpur. This helped promote local work while also being environmentally friendly with zero wastage of other materials. In another instance from Rajasthan, the traditional glass-blown technique was used to build decor items while giving a cultural touch to the destination wedding.
Sustainable can be luxurious too, incorporate some native flavour into the decor and theme. | Photo by Jason Coudriet on Unsplash
Say yes to recycling
One should be mindful and avoid the use of plastic and other non-recyclable materials in decor wherever possible. It can be a small step such as making a conscious switch from plastic water bottles to copper jugs or glass bottles. Also use artificial floral decor thus minimising the wastage produced from real flowers. This recyclable decor is then donated to various NGOs, further ensuring sustainable use of resources. Such steps, however small they might be, keep the environment free from the release of any additional carbon footprint.
One should be mindful and avoid the use of plastic and other non-recyclable materials in decor wherever possible. | Photo by Ravin Rau on Unsplash
Go for zero-waste wedding decor
Make use of fabric as it enhances the elegance of the wedding while being sustainable. Include vibrant colours apt to the theme of the wedding and bring in bright sprightliness with breathable fabrics. Ensure to include LED lights for lighting. They can be incorporated as string lights or be used on passageways with innovative decor items. They also help conserve energy and bring in soulful energy for nighttime decor. Choose virtual invitations, keeping up with the digital times. Make a conscious choice of plated dinner menus rather than a buffet as they allow less wastage of food and ensure enough food for guests in attendance.
LEDs can be incorporated as string lights or be used on passageways with innovative decor items. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Include Sustainable Gifting
Gift sustainable wedding favours -- gifts that grow. Offering a plant or a succulent, is a great idea. One can also gift recycled organic fabrics and cutlery or zero-waste kitchen and bathroom essentials to use in their homes as some distinct gifting options.
Gift sustainable wedding favours -- gifts that grow. | Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
Acting in the best interest of the environment and the society, Theme Weavers Designs has started a social cause, Weaving Hope, where a part of their earnings along with food and decor are donated to social communities. Royal Rendezvous, is an event started by us to put India on the Global Map, inviting international wedding planners to India to experience the rich culture and heritage, also employing and displaying the work of local artisans to this international audience.
By applying the values of sustainability, you can reduce the energy consumed and the resources used as much as possible. Go ahead and have a luxurious zero-waste wedding and navigate into the world of green living! (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Luxurious , Gift, sustainable, wedding favours, gifts that grow. Gifting, recycling, locally sourced, material. zero-waste
The Tamil Nadu health department has administered 16,43,879 lakh doses of vaccine in the second mega vaccination camp organised by it. The state public health department in a statement on Sunday said that this has taken the total vaccination to one crore since the beginning of September till date. The vaccination was administered from 7 a.m. till 7 p.m. and the compiled data was made available late at night.
The health department officials also said that as the state has almost exhausted its quota of vaccines, there would not be any vaccines on Monday. Regular vaccination will resume after the vaccine supplies arrive from New Delhi, officials said. The state health department had expected to vaccinate 15 lakh people on Sunday in 18,824 centres spread across primary health centres, anganwadis, noon meal centres, government hospitals, schools and some auditoriums.
The health department officials also said that as the state has almost exhausted its quota of vaccines, there would not be any vaccines on Monday. | Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash
Of the 16,43,879 people who were inoculated, a total of 10,85,097 received their first dose and 5,58,782 their second dose of vaccine, the statement said, A total of 9,66,568 people in the age group of 18-44 were vaccinated on Sunday and vaccines were administered on 5,02,578 people aged between 45- 59 in the mega vaccine camps.
State health minister Ma Subramanian, who inaugurated the vaccination at Pollachi, also visited the centres in six districts -- Coimbatore, Erode, Namakkal, Tiruppur, Dharmapuri and Salem. The state government, according to the health minister, is to receive the next allotment of vaccines on September 21. Minister while speaking to IANS said, "We will be receiving the next allotment of vaccines on September 21 itself and we will resume vaccinations immediately. The state has already touched one crore vaccine-mark in the month of September till date." (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: COVID, vaccine, vaccination camp, Tamil Nadu, India, vaccinated, mega camp
Festivals are just around the corner and while you brainstorm about OOTDs (outfit of the day), don't forget the right makeup. Hanisha Kapoor, COO, ArchiesBeauty.com shares makeup trends experimented by these Bollywood divas throughout 2021 for inspiration. While some stuck to the classics, others mixed it up... take a look:
The Classic Red Lip
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. The right way to achieve this celebrity look is to focus on accentuating your lips and keeping the rest of the face minimal. Give your lips a good scrub to plump them, moisturize and follow it up with a red lip liner to define the shape of your lips. Now go on with the perfect shade of red and finish your look with a slick of eyeliner, minimal concealer, and foundation.
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. | Photo by Ina Garbé on Unsplash
No Makeup Look
Deepika Padukon is the perfect example of a no-makeup look. This natural beauty does a wonderful job of achieving the minimal soft look by softly cover any dark spots or blemishes and highlighting features she's most proud of. To achieve this start with concealer and use small dots to brighten your darker areas like under eye, corner of the nose or upper lip, and any visible spots, and set it up with loose powder. Apply a soft pink lipstick, light blush, and mascara.
Deepika Padukon is the perfect example of a no-makeup look | Wikimedia Commons
This look shouts pink. When it comes to rosy looks, Janhavi Kapoor does a phenomenal job. Everyone should try a rosy look once in a while. As we are focusing on only one shade, this look is pretty easy to achieve. Bring out your favourite pink lipstick, favourite pink blush, and a matching shade of eye shadow. Start with the base - concealer, and foundation and set it up with loose powder. Follow it up with eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush. Remember to draw a line by not using any pink mascara, eyeliner, or a bold shade of lipstick, as this is meant to be soft on the eyes.
When it comes to rosy looks, Janhavi Kapoor does a phenomenal job. | Wikimedia Commons
Glass Skin Makeup
The glass skin makeup is inspired by Korean skincare. This look is slightly complex with an equal focus on skin before makeup, so slather on those moisturizing serums and creams to prep your skin first. Start with a highlighting primer, keep your foundation and concealer minimal to avoid looking cakey. Follow it up with soft blush & nude lips and lots and lots of highlighter. Use the highlighter on the main points of your face, like upper cheekbones, the centre of the forehead, the tip of the nose, cupid bone, and chin. If you are feeling a bit extra, don't hesitate to put some on your shoulders and collar bones. This celebrity makeup look makes your skin glow without the need for a spotlight.
The glass skin makeup is inspired by Korean skincare. | Photo by 邱 严 on Unsplash
Pop It Up
Put a zing to your party look with the pop of funky colour. This look is meant to get you in the mood of partying all night. This works with your eye makeup while keeping the rest of the face minimal. Start with the base - concealer, apply a bit extra on your eyelids to make the colour pop. Don't mind going the extra mile and colour blocking your eyes with complementary colours on eyelids and under the eye. Apply nude lipstick and a soft blush to balance your look.
This look is meant to get you in the mood of partying all night. | Pixabay
(Article originally published by N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Celebrity, makeup, Deepika, Jhanavi, Korean, Red Lipstick, Glass Makeup, Pop makeup