As another year stoops down and people year round pin hopes on 2019, hoping for sparkles and fireworks from day one. Not Delhi people, most certainly. Hop on social media platforms on 29,30 and 31st and what do you see? Welcome to the world of highlights from the year that was, pictures flooding of journeys, meet ups and life events. There is the coy ‘DM me anything you want to ask at the end of this year’, what difference does it make? Does ringing in the New Year give you an inebriation enough, to open up and ask questions that you wouldn’t have dared to otherwise? This boggles me! Long gone are the resolutions package of loosing weight, eating healthy and quitting smoking. We are all too tired to even begin with. New Year parties and raves all over town charging 8k to 15k with glamorous women with hair flying on the posters at five star hotels, which in reality is probably just mature folk sipping drinks over the poolside with a lousy DJ, well DJ-ing.
Even through the brutal truths, it gets us all excited and elated to step into another year. But are we remiss to the act of gratitude, for the year that was, how we travelled the clumsy road, stumbled, picked ourselves up, climbed heights, hitting a few smiles and laughter along the road, here and there, but we got through it all, alive. I like to believe the excitement of the NewYear to be a subconscious gratitude for the journey as yet(one that we have conveniently ignored), and an elated welcome to restart and rekindle the life force that drives us all.
So I went through my phone, swiping hard up to get to the first photo on the phone. Sadly, I had changed my phone last year(2018, we are still only getting used to 2019). Then its a search across drives, from Midrive to Onedrive, My God, the amount of backup we have for our data. A thousand selfies stacked up one after the other, but not the photo that I’m grabbing for. When I thought I could wrap up the job from my phone, I had to pull up the big guns, the computer to further scan for it. And after a frantic search, there is the one of the lonely soul, sly, standing next to a Christmas tree from the year before, Then comes plethora of images with family, friends and colleagues. How cliched!
Even as I mock the thousand pictures that jam the social media of revisits to the past, it is imperative to understand what the year showered us with. At the close of every year, it is only usual for us to think of it as pretty uneventful, hard and something we just pulled through. But its far more than that. There are some pretty awesome, full moments that have defined the life of what we are today. As we harbinger this year in, may gratitude towards life and towards all beings that surround and nurture us be the primeval drive. Let us take moments to thank wholly for this full life, with its shades of grey and yellow, for making the contrast vivid and fulfilling. The landmarks that we crossed, maybe with difficulty, we may have had to pull though it hard, or we may have had the red carpet doing so too. Enshrining the joys that insignificant little events or meeting friends from the past gave, sweeter as we look at it from a future time-frame. The depths of sorrow that haunted our days, which almost broke the very spirits that were ourselves but we got through it all right, of the setbacks and studded thrones, of cringe worthy moments and heart felt smiles. Relive the serenity, the chaos, the jumps and walks, the hysteria and wisdom, all that makes us what we are. It puts a lot of things in perspective, and they are life lessons to remain strong and cherish the journey of life.
Can you look back and think of people, who changed your life, insignificant folk who altered your ego and senses by selfless acts. Jot down the moments when you were benevolent and kind to others, When you put yourself in their shoes and offered a hand. It is not only another he/she who do good in the world, you do it too. It is okay to give yourself due credit, maybe not shout them from rooftops but do.
While it may sound banal and boring, a pinch of thankfulness everyday can be sunshine for the rest of the day. It teaches us to take a step back and appreciate life before judging it for not being enough, it is never going to be enough. Let us be kinder to people, to family who have been and not been there for us, to strangers who look alien, but when you open up you may get to know an entirely different person, to nature, to creatures green and wild, who are no less than siblings to us, and to ourselves upon who we have been so hard on.
Of all Indian attires for the ladies, sarees, ghangra, lehengas and everything in between, salwars and churidaars(I had to google to know the exact difference, wondering if I am the wrong person to write this piece?) have really come out to be the most versatile player. Easily an everyday wear to office, school or college but also a party suit and even a lounge wear for the average Indian, it has encompassed the country from the north to south and the other extend too. A person in salwar blends in here, unlike other outfits, so universal that a five year old to daadi flaunts one with ease. The three piece combination has had its fashion doldrums, from the flared top(reminds me of the kathakali skirt) that made a drastic shift to slitted ones for a chic look sparking many a controversy with the moral police, although they still rule as anarkalis and angrakha suits(both Mughal inspirations at it’s best).There was also the 60’s with its outrageously tight fitted salwars in monochrome with retro hairstyles, made timeless by Sadhana from Waqt. The pants too had its flared, straight, palazzo, patiala, cigarette and chudi phases.
So have you caught on the new rage in this eternal outfit? Salwars are no more the three piece entities nor are its boundaries defined anymore. This season is all about mix up, not only colours and patterns, but most importantly cuts and elements.
The fused kurta and draped dupatta salwars with dhoti pants are really kicking into the scene. The kurta reduced to smaller, yet elaborately worked pieces that go until right beneath the hip and met with high volume dhoti pants, the pleats on meters of flowing fabric giving a beautiful texture to the look. Also the typical dupatta that usually goes around the neck or shoulder now transforms to an elevated regal draped from the back, all the way across in an Athens inspired glide across the front to the opposite shoulder. Unlike a traditional salwar, this one is high on texture and layers, making the heavily embellished as well as plain pastel suits equally appealing and on point.
This season we are showing off pants like never before. As a dhoti, as a draped pant and in various combinations of loose fitted high waisted bottoms, they are amping up the game. The choice of intricacy for the festive season ranges from the exotic embroidery style by Sonam Luthria, featuring unconventional strips of threads and tassels running through the length of fabric, finished off with a synonymous belt. From the fun style shift to a more sophisticated line by choosing pastels in pink, peach and sky blue that exude angelic glow when topped with delicate, minimal bead work with suspended tube sequins at the borders.
Favourite fabrics to look out for these delightful dresses would be flowing chiffons and georgettes in silk with organza for the added luxe aura. Not to forget the adventurous dresser, who can chose from a similar style, rendered on pure printed silk draped skirts with vivid motifs by House of Masaba. The quirky label offers a crazy combination of colours pitch black and white, electcric blue with machli(fish) motif etc. Go a mile further and keep a look out for accents of feather, on dupatta trims and sleeve borders, to nail the finer detail. Ruffle sleeves are also a rage, so you needn’t shell out your purses on high end detail.
To keep the budget intact, you can choose to take parts of any of these styles like the pant-dupatta duo and pair it with your favourite shirt or short kurta to match.
This attire is definitely editable to your choice, budget and comfort level. The length of kurta starts from below the hip then at the hip and finally the bralette top with a contrast floor length jacket is a definite party essential. So this season, be it wedding, parties, or even Christmas, add some fun and sparkle into your wardrobe. You can never go wrong with salwars, never have and never will!
Ring a bell? If you are a makeup fanatic, an ardent YouTube diva and fixated over beauty gurus and routines, it’s hard to miss the emerging trend in South Korea which goes with ‘#Escape the corset”, where women are challenging the long standing beauty standards and unnatural goals set in place. A thriving industry, generating millions of dollars and maligning the body confidence and concepts of beauty to outrageous levels, the cosmetic industry takes a hit when the ladies have taken it to themselves to banish the practice of spending more than 2 hours packing on makeup daily and succumbing to unreal makeovers completely altering how the person looks.
Let’s not go overboard and say India is headed there, but we have a notorious history of an obsession with fair skin and no amount of education or self help has been able to fix the fixation. We too, are on the fast pace to achieve our own versions of Helen and Portia, with desi beauty gurus and influencers on the front-line. For most part in India though, makeup is luxury, saved only for the wedding, a day when you are to look the most yourself, you are mostly as far from you, as has ever been. In some places, a little rouge is also frowned upon as too bold. As in all things here, the spectrum is wide here. Given this, the number of products and brands surfacing here, the luxe collection from Switzerland and Paris to homegrown ones are on a steep rise. A keen onlooker can take a hint as to how much an average women’s(let’s talk about one gender this time) spending on cosmetics have peaked.
Thing about women, well, most of us is, makeup is a fascination, its our little secret of confidence and the new age has showered us with an array of platforms that are pearly gates of tutorials on styles, looks, product reviews etc by beauty gurus of YouTube who are Instagram celebs, keeping a constant presence on Snapchat. This is no rant, because these 20+ minute snippets feel therapeutic and addictive at the same time. Hours fly by, by the time you are done perusing through the whole catalog of videos and teaching yourself about Sisley’s pocket breaking makeup setting spray, when you didn’t even know you had to spray on something to let your makeup stay or about cut crease technique or rainbow highlighter, that you wouldn’t even come across, let alone use at any point in your lifetime. Every tutorial on the outrageous quantity of makeup slathered on with a Mac 252(that’s the brush, by the way. If you thought getting your cosmetics right was a task, you should try stocking up on brushes, that’s a job, right there) creating chiseled looks, never to hold up in real life, or anywhere for that matter except photo-shoots and under beauty lights.
Influencer must haves and routines are enticing as it is and the ‘link in the description box’ makes everything look accessible and price tags justified somehow. I don’t blame them, it is a new age profession, movie stars take back seats in promotions, if you haven’t noticed, but social media celebs are the ones getting businesses done. Real people are easier to sell than stars apparently, and it makes complete sense. I would believe someone like me promoting skincare products than some movie star shelling out millions of rupees on treatments and have a trousseau of makeup artists on hold every waking hour. Also beauty gurus are quick to disclaimer as to what works for me may not work for you, so everything’s covered.
Now the hipsters of this glamorous world are shifting to organic, the premium glass-bottled, muddy tone labelled products most thankfully produced or packed locally, a great initiative. From soaps to moisturizers to masks and packs, it is small yet striking. The price tags are also equally exaggerated but their organic tag should take care of the brain cells ringing alarm. Through all this, the confused cosmetics lover sits, brooding over price or quality, organic or luxe brand, local or international, the dilemma is real.
I thought to myself, why not churn up my own DIY. Being an ardent user of a very expensive face-wash to calm my acne prone skin, it was difficult to let go. But I got my hands on a simple face-wash, churned up in my own head going “why do we wash our face? To clean. How? A gentle scrubbing and a lotion base for texture”. Off to the kitchen and finds a small packet of besan(gram flour) and a bottle of honey. Fancy me gets old cosmetic bottles and transfers the contents. Wet the face, mix the two and work it on. 2 years of this and my skin feels amazing and my expenses went down drastically. So once, in the flow, everything changes, moisturizer replaced by Aloe Vera gel, shampoo goes on to baking soda, small quantity, used infrequently. You can judge all you want but a bit of baking soda is so less toxic that the clutter of jargon at the back of poo bottles. And I bought myself a jar of shea butter for a body moisturizer and its been the best. Not everything can be concocted at home but the little things, a little effort can be actually good for you. If you are still stubborn, here’s my rule of cosmetics, ‘Get the one with the shortest list of ingredients, much safer there.’
While making dinner one night, by dinner I mean chappattis, the only food I can be trusted to get right, I was getting flour from the storeroom when I chanced upon a tiny chunk of fish fry, perched on the cabinet. Must be leftover from lunch, the thought said. I was just starting to get hungry about that time, so in a second look it was chewing between my teeth, bombarding all kinds of flavors in my mouth. The exaggerated tone might be because I am a fish person, no doubt. Not sure if it was the steady piscivorous habit at home that fuelled this eternal love. But what makes fish fry more special, I noticed, is the oil that crisps it into that perfect juicy yet crunchy, flavorful delight. 5 years backs, the smell of coconut oil would send me running out of the house, coconut filled chocolate were a definite ‘no’, even if it was mets délicat, I couldn’t be bothered to try. It must be adulthood that bought me close, and irreplaceable now to this treasured elixir of every Keralite.
Don’t get me wrong, you can fry your fish in any oil each rendering it’s particular taste. It can be the healthy olive oil shallow fry alternative, which tastes funny at first but you can get used to. I should guess, that’s the case with any food with said ingredient. Or it could be the affordable and everyday sunflower/ palmolein(which really has to stay in the market and not creep into home cooking, because it is danger on a plate). But what really brings out the fresh delicate taste of fish is only coconut oil, that too one that comes from the cocos at home, extracted in the local’ chakku’, it’s aroma wafting on till the last drop.
I am not a health junkie who follows news after news to figure out what ‘qualifies’ as good food, but researchers have been going back and forth with their verdict on coconut oil. For some time it was the most glorious component to include in the diet, revered for it’s amazing benefits to the body, intrinsic and extrinsic. But a Harvard scientist recently, labelled our goodness as ‘deadly poison’ and I was left aghast. How can you just tag things like that or is it the snippet of news on social media that raised the alarm note? Let’s get one thing straight. We have been using coconut oil, in fact all of a coco tree, known as ‘kalpa vriksam'(tree of life) for a long time now. From the ilaneer (coconut water) to cool the thirst, tender coconut-slimy yummy kernel which is our version of ‘organic’ pudding, the coconut itself, munched, grated and included in a variety of cuisine from curries to desserts. The fiber from the tree makes natural rope, the dried leaves, braided, were used to roof houses, and when the tree has done its time, the logs make good temporary bridges too. Of course, the toddy from the tree tapped, is a treat like no other, your drink, fresh from the garden. And dried coconuts go on to be extracted to coconut oil and you’d think there will be waste after that, nope, the shell goes on to be potent fuels for the stone fireplace. With that said, most of coconut goes into the consumption of the people at home, and we have been doing it for centuries and been thriving, contributing to the ever growing population of India generously, to say so.
The thing about research is, when you concentrate on a certain factor alone or a couple of factors only, the perception and thus results get misconstrued. The parameters that are in place for healthy quantities of cholesterol, blood pressure or their likes are only approximations and are variables across sexes, locality and body build. But who are we to judge scientific research. Personally, the most primal thing about food and diet habit is, it is the safest bet to stick to the local diet of the place of residence. Globalisation has taken us so far that we ditch the homegrown grains, oils and fruit to get our hands on import avocados and olive oil all the way from Spain and Granola, what that’s the big thing now? Local cuisine is the most holistic and suitable for the body in all aspects. It makes perfect sense. For instance, a typical Indian dish can be considered spicy by a global standard,but spicy is essential for a tropical country like ours,where the chances of catching tropical diseases from what we consume, in terms of water and humidity being higher. Spices help combat these germs, accelerate digestion and keeps the guts healthy. Where as move to the temperate or relatively colder places on the globe and the dishes consist of prohibitive amounts of fats, butter , meat and their likes. If you think about it, a winter would require you to pack on more fat underneath the skin to withstand the cold.
So you see, your diet is very dependent on where you are and maybe a little bit of genes too. The traditional food of each area has its own specific benefits and reasons, befitting the health of the resident. It helps keep the body balanced. When you thrive in an environment, what you are should be from the same. You can derive examples from nature, huge Acacia trees that were planted during a forestation drive in Kerala years back, have been drinking dry the water resources in its vicinity. The trees are a great shade which is probably why they were planted in huge numbers and the effect on water wasn’t know back then. The foreign tree was destroying the balance of nature, which is why, although pretty late, it is being cut down. A few native trees would have done the job perfectly. So maybe coconut oil may not be for all, it might not be imperative to the health of a non-native, but it damn well ain’t no poison.
Very few people are unfamiliar with the scent of rain. It is impossible to un-notice this fleeting yet strong odour that usually accompanies a light rain after a dry spell. First time I instinctively noticed this peculiar smell is a couple years back and I remember looking forward to the next rain to relish this delight. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if it was the rain water, or the atmosphere, the plants or the earth. But by word of mouth, we know that it is ‘manninte manam‘ or ‘scent of the earth’.
The technical name is ‘petrichor‘ a beautiful amalgamation of ‘petri‘ for rock/soil and ‘chor‘, the fluid that flows in the veins of God. And it really must be the essence of God himself. Something so distinctively earthy yet capable of drowning you in its aroma and keep you asking for more. Okay, I am not a freak but I do have peculiar tastes in smell. The crazier scents I love range from kerosene and it’s other relative, especially when they just start to light up! Not that I would wear these are perfume on my being, but it’s an aroma that I can sniff my life out! I guess its the earthy feel that attaches me.
But petrichor is such an experience, that howsoever common it shouldn’t be missed out. I still am drawn to the porch just to get a long whiff of this goodness, but the thing is it fades away too quickly for the senses, its impossible to grab more. And it would be rightly called the most powerful aphrodisiac too, as this not floral, non-sweet scent, in all its earthiness is so not what was expected to top the list.
So research on this says that there is an actual village in India,Kanauj of Uttar. pradesh re that boils down this ecstasy into a bottle. Named ‘scent of the rain’. Kanauj village of Uttar Pradesh, famour for attars of all kind, is where we would discover Mitti Attar. The only attar that isn’t made from flowers, is brewed from clay disks shoveled in copper pots and hammering on as water is poured in. 7-8 hours later, the scents are distilled out. We are not done yet, the distinctive flavour is locked in as long as it is stored in leather kuppis. Attar not stored in it is attar lost, they say. The bottling is also timed as to enrich the flavour. I was wonder stricken to know that the passing smell of rain could be bottled, a volatile, momentary aroma. Also a testament of will, if you want it done, so will it be.
Bucketlisting this favourite, because as easy as it is to find, authentic ones are still a long perfume test away!
Inching towards December and we can’t be more exited. The market is churning out its best in accessories this season, breaking convention and bringing ramp to retail at an exaggerated pace.
Getting married, however exciting is worrisome at times like these when the choices are far too many, but you could easily miss out on the haute details too. Be it the bride or the bridesmaids, the game is on to look your version of perfect and here’s the sneaky guide to what’s in and in and what is not!
If you think Kundans and Meenakaris are the far end of it, you haven’t checked out the raw gold looks that’s making niche yet striking statements currently .
The collection is marked by aggrandized designs in gold, flaunting unusual textures and bold cuts. When most jewellery today steers towards coloured rocks from diamonds, rubies, crystals to sandstone and even enamel, the mostly gold elements of this style are the ultimate sophistication.
If you are in search for the Indian designer who brings out this collection, it is Shaheen Abbas in her series ‘Flowerchild’, for the fierce bride. Her pieces although quite a sight, may not be for everyone. But if you are going beyond and about to get your hands on what’s truly hot, do check the Flowerchild collection. Got to love how the name is as quirky and playful as the jewelry themselves. You can find your alternatives in other abstract concept stores too, you just got to keep a keen eye.
Celebrities from Shilpa Shetty, Kareena Kapoor to designer herself Masaba Gupta are digging on these beauties too.
The classic pearl chokers are making ravishing comebacks this season. The most elegant and elitist have always kept pearls close to heart. It’s simplicity and understated elegance is hard to miss.
Not convinced? Hello! Magazines cover story featured royals Diya Kumari of Jaipur, Radhika Raje of Braodaand Sidhi Kumari of Bikaner, and as gorgeous as the concept, pearl statement necklaces were a sweeping presence throughout.
From mutlilayered choker, pearl strings and layered necklaces with ruby pendants, the choices are endless.
The thing with pearl is, it can bring out the grace of a plain chiffon saree as much as it does a wedding lehenga, and timeless, unlike most jewelry, that’s something you want on your wedding pictures.
Naturale it is
Since Bollywood says sangeet and haldi, so shall it be.
The yellow dipped sunflower look is still on and the bling? Hot neon flower accessories in phool-maala stringed together with pearls are a rage to accentuate the off shoulder crop-top and lehengas.
Ditch the dull and go for crazy colours with a hint of off-white beds to keep the look together. Phoola-malas are at it’s best in sunlit spaces, so you may want to plan out your location likewise.
Synthetic alternatives are also available but do the environment a favour and go natural, they cost mostly the same anyway.
It been a while since we’ve adopted the bare neck look.
Brides too, are now working this road less traveled style.
A heavily embellished( not heavy) jhumka in Kundan-enamel blend with pearl lining and a complimenting tasteful maang-tika should be enough celebration for the neck to look graceful and not blank.
Too scared of aunties coming in complaining, opt for a high closed neck embroidered blouse to create the illusion of jewelry.
Enjoy your wedding shopping ladies, because the journey itself is as beautiful as the destination. Go out of your circle, collect your favorite pieces from their sources, ditch your phone and take a hike to find your your dream wedding styles!!
Sarees are a very intimate and personal affair for me, since this attachment has its roots in my early years. Walking around in saree, draped by myself at a very young age, I have been carrying these 6 yards with so much confidence and pride since. It’s a hobby that I, design with love, drape with finesse and carry gracefully. It is a passion I am yet to unhinge from and don’t hope to anytime soon. Over the years, this flowing yards of cloth have also metamorphized, like all things, from popular to ‘not-the-in thing'(when jeans and kurtis took over the Indian fashion scene) and resurfacing now , empowered than ever, making bold statements and still striking the chord with women all over. My saree inspiration, in the choice as well as drape comes from mom, who is a pro at it. Effortless 1 minute drape is her go, tuck-tuck-over the shoulder and its done. And I have followed suit, achieved the same speed and mastered the technique, almost instantly which leave most in awe.
Only few years later, during my college life did I realise that women actually spend a better part of their lives trying to get the drape right, the pleats in places and put together, 3-4 safety pins later still ending up with sulky faces as it is not good enough. I have learned and loved to use a single pin or no pin at all.
But what has intrigued me is the style of drape remains the same but with subtle differences that are reflections of the society of today. 15 years back, when I saw women in sarees, They were casual, everyday and unhindered. Today the drape is almost the same, but in an attempt of modesty, there are safety pin soldiers guarding the periphery of a lady’s tummy. No gap or even a breather is allowed here. Personally, this looks utterly unnatural to me and it gives off the vibe of something that’s almost obscene being hidden away. It is such injustice to this beautiful piece of cloth, that is meant to cover as well as embrace the beautiful female form needs to be pasted on rather than find it’s natural course. The saree gap is a no-no however small as long as it isn’t a Tamil movie heroine dancing around in almost lingerie. It is okay for that some tummy is showing, you might as well wear a burkha than be so scared. Modesty is a personal choice and not one to be pushed onto to one. It is indeed your confidence that carries the outfit. And as always women don’t dress up to be eye candy to me, trust me, we do so to show off to the other ladies, the ones that can understand that she is flaunting a kalamkari or a shibori or a kundan necklace or a menakari bangle!
So here are some sneaky tips to look sexy in a saree, again sexy is beautiful and confident(for all the people going,’ That’s bold!’.
- Get your drape right and for that you need practise.
- Your saree should suit your body type or close to it, i.e., curvy ladies can go for beautiful cottons that are dreamy and light and the sleek bunch can opt for net sarees and such.
- Outfit must compliment the occasion. No glitters to office and no check and blocks to weddings as long as you are flaunting a Sabyasachi.
- Wear jewelry that goes along. If your saree is blingy, go for understated ornaments, or skip them all if you feel adventurous.
- Be comfy and have fun with your saree. Break convention and try different drapes and styles.
For inquiries on above sarees, please go to https://www.instagram.com/sisleyindia