The super fruit of our Hearts

Our jack fruit tree stands in the pretty little corner of our much loved and much tended-to lawn. It exists, with no pretension of being the best jack fruit tree in the neighbourhood, branching and jutting out to the sun, over the fence.

Journeys of the sweet fruit

For years I have watched this one garner heartfelt phone calls of happiness and appreciation of its treacly sweet jack fruits that are parceled to our friends in the city, in the backseat of a car, perched carefully between the legs on a rickety scooty or exchanged for a 12 pack of garden-fresh eggs. Yes, the barter system still exists, it’s awesome, I don’t know why we had to drag currency in it!

 The most common beneficiaries of our chakka(jack fruit in Malayalam) are the next door aunties who would eye the fruit as they walk past our gate and walk in to claim their’s the next day. Since the best of them hang from the highest branches, if you need the chakka, you probably will have to pluck it with the pole yourself, under the supervision of amma,(planter, caregiver and benevolent distributor of the goodies)of course. 

Our neighbours and my family love their chakka. Any form, size, shape, ripe or unripe, none goes to waste. Chakka season, usually the peak of summer will see a plethora of dishes styled from this bad boy. Myself, on the other hand, shies from it, I may have one or two of the fleshy petals for the whole season.

I fall for the jackfruit

But this year it was different. I can’t say if it was the lockdown and a sense of contingency that had me more interested in this fruit. Whenever a chakka was ripe, we would man the plucker, aim for the slender stem and it drops to the grass with a thump. The hefty fruit is then axed down to reveal the golden petals tucked in the emerald-green-spiked-fortress outside.

“Aishwaryam” of the golden jackfruit arils

It’s quite a sight really and mom, who always has a sparkle in her eye when plucking chakka, remarks, when I ask her about this obsession, “It looks so prosperous. Its so inviting  and full of the fruit.” The sweet ones are picked, cleaned and sorted into large boxes that go into the fridge.

The ripe fruit is my favourite which makes for a sweet snack to munch on as you walk past the kitchen all day. It makes for a delicious treat that beats Häagen-Dazs, post a spicy Kerala lunch as well.

One fruit, Unending list of dishes

 The unripe ones go into making some of the most delicious dinner servings. The much-adored chakka puzhukku(steamed jackfruit garnished with fresh birds eye chilli, shredded coconut, turmeric powder and a dash of cold-pressed coconut oil), a dish so simple yet the aroma can have you rushing to the kadai for a spoonful.

Then comes the chakka thoran(stir fried jackfruit) in an inviting sunset yellow garnished with mustards. Chakka avial is yet another crowd-pleaser dish with the young jack fruit, aburst of flavour that can’t be put to words. 

The sweet and mature jackfruits go into making the finest sweetmeat. The chakka ada(jackfruit steam cakes) and the chakka varatiyadu,(a blend of overripe jackfruit and jaggery slow-cooked in a large bronze uruli or heavy vessel over wood fire) are the classics in this category.

It’s such a satisfying sight to watch the jackfruit-jaggery mixture crackle to the raging fire as the golden chakra saturates down to a dark brown tint. The young jackfruits are also split into fine pieces then fried to crisp making the chakka varuthadu(jackfruit crackers). 

The jackfruit seeds are a whole other category. Taking up almost half the volume of the jackfruit itself, these were traditionally roasted in the wood fire to make tasty evening treats for the starved 7-8 kids at home to munch on. Since there are not as many mouths to feed in modern homes, we experimented with finer things.

Renaissance of the Superfruit-Thanks to Lockdown

The lockdown was also a period of renaissance for the Jackfruit seeds. The possibilities were jackfruit seed cutlets, unda(a ball of ground jack seed, jaggery and powdered rice), and even jack seed shake and jack seed brownies, the last two, very millennial choices. 

The jack seed shake truly blew my mind. It made an entrance with being shared in the family WhatsApp group and was lauded as the bomb! We couldn’t do without giving it a try and I have to say, it was a winner. Thick and flavorful, I have now found a new way to get my share of protein for the day. 

Rewinding back in time

The quarantine surely has us confused and uncertain, but I would like to reiterate the cliché phrase with more conviction today.”Take life one day at a time.” I have a newfound appreciation for everything that grows in my garden,of homemade and doing things that take time.

Life is NOT a race, savour, like you would our jackfruit!

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How real is compulsive shopping?

I am not one, yet sometimes my thoughts drift down that lane and I see myself asking ‘Am I’?

As women, we are assumed to have a love for clothing, shoes, bags and oh, the almighty makeup. Do we love them or are just conditioned to do so, that’s a question for a whole other discussion.

The occasional splurge

Clearly I love all things above mentioned so much so that I never fret in buying them if I I fancy it and is within budget. But yesterday, a tiny package from an online store arrived with an even tinier bottle inside, the bill(already paid by yours truly) blared Rs 5000. I could’ve bought a shoe box for less, which we desperately needed at home but I chose this luxe skin treatment solution, which surprisingly isn’t something that I don’t really need so bad but now its perched on my shelf and making its way into my daily routine. I call these my  ‘splurges’, since I recognize it, it shouldn’t be that bad, right?

Not new clothes, but same clothes styled differently

In my effort to keep my sanity and borderline OCD for shopping under control, I vowed to finish off products that I own before I cave and buy another. The same drill translates to my clothes, a mighty harder arena to let go off, but now my clothes go in circles of mix and match to keep my looks fresh and crisp without carting more. As one who finds a good share of her confidence stemming from clothing, this is a challenge both as a task as well as an exciting chore to look forward to in the morning.

Re-purposing is an understated art

One thing I do give myself most credit for is making my own clothes from scratch which gives me liberty to wear my favorite designs without costing me a fortune.I also do this awesome hack, where I use Amma’s beautiful sarees after they have done their time to make kurthis, or tops or even designer replicas for myself.

The (other) love of my life

I find incredible joy in doing this and it is easily one of my favorite pastimes that also extends the lifetime of the fabric. I have met a couple of designers who do the same reusing and repurposing clothes that they have grown out of for themselves, how cool is that!  Especially today, when fashion is so fluid and individualistic, it is easy to find ways to make the most of your clothing if you really put your heart in.

Of course, I could do so effortlessly because I have a flair for the fashion and I can tailor my own clothes(your tailor isn’t going to be super excited about redoing clothes, understandably). We all have our vices, but it is always a step in the right direction if we can initiate change, even in the slightest possible way.

Sustainability is easier said than done, but if you won’t try you never know, will you?

I still falter when I see a pretty saree or shoe, but a good benchmark is to think back at the number of them sitting still, in your closet. Price over sustainability is a battle very often lost for the middle class. I found my happy medium in organic fibers like cotton and linen that are good for the body and isn’t toxic in its afterlife.

You can do it too!

One of the most enlightening conversations I had with a designer revealed that synthetics aren’t all that bad if they are investment pieces, i.e., you wear it to tatters, then it’s not so bad. On a side note, let me also stress that giving up hoarding does not translate to burning clothes you don’t like anymore, but to buy less, buy good and keep them running long. Pass on the clothes you have grown out of but still in good condition to people who will accept.

I remember I used to wear clothes handed down for generations for a very long time. Most of us have, it wasn’t embarrassing, it was carefree, usual and the comfort of worn in clothes. It’s high time to give up the barriers of singularity and mingle, mix and merge. It’s good for everybody! 

Quit the Smoke and Burn some Incense

Today was a trigger morning and for one who had recently found a little tranquil in her life, this was pushing the boundaries. This is how I tried to achieved mental health goals in my everyday.

The scene is no different than at any other metros, buses hissing dust monsters as they raved on to onlookers, and if you aren’t eyeing it’s every move, there is a fair chance of losing a limb or two. 

I have loved Kerala, and have gone to length defending the state in arguments for its great living atmosphere. 

It’s so nasty to live here!

But when my expat aunt walked in and casually mentioned in conversation that the state wasn’t such a dream to settle blissfully, although I doused her claim with Malayali fire, it got me thinking.

Why? The traffic sucks. Not the stuck in traffic for hours kinda terrible but the reckless version F1 driving that bus drivers do, that can send your adrenaline rushing from a mile away. You thought private buses were bad? Think again.

Public transport is more of gymnastics

Even if you are travelling by car, the KSRTC buses are a straight threat, and if you feel all Jason Stathom to drive in the vicinity of the Aanavandi(the elephant bus), be prepared as it could take a sharp turn out of the blue and  gaily graze past you, leaving a blaring dent on your car and not even blink an eye(it’s like a toxic relationship really). 

More interesting was the bus I took, packed to the door, the driver had been honking all the way through that I had to assume it’s his power music because car in front or no, He will honk through. Even through the bottleneck of traffic is trying to squeeze through the metro corridor, he would push through the sidewalk, scaring away pedestrians as a stone would a crow. Because who cares for safety? Let’s race.

Chill pill?

The driver in the black dhoti and shirt sped on with the door chettan shouting praises at his skill to rummage through the mess. I wanted to walk up to the driver and offer him a lesson in meditation because he clearly needed it, but I’m yet to reach the peaks of peace so maybe I should hold on. Whenever I am on the road, my first thought is when is this bus going to falter and cause danger to a pedestrian or a bike rider.

So I guess Kerala isn’t the safest place to travel after all. And definitely not a haven if you are looking for a stable mental health. People, which includes yours truly are frantic, vexed and in a constant run, the faces are stress-ridden and the rush is unending. It’s important to take a step back and look at life.

Mental health comes first

Take that perspective, look at what you are doing, where you are headed, is this for you/ Is it good for you? Evaluate, slow down, sit down with a cup of chai on an evening by the lawn, read a book (this is cliché but it is such an immersive experience your body will thank you for it) and take a slow bath. Really if you take the time to get treat your body, get a massage or just take your time in the shower with a scented body wash or bath bomb if you are posh enough to own a bathtub in India! Kudos to celebrating you!

P.S: I still adore my state, but don’t go mad sweetheart!

Agents of Shhhh….

Sex and taboo are found together too often in a sentence that you have already lost interest in this piece, but sex should keep you reading. This is a piece on one of my finds on Instagram, @agentsofishq who have made the uncomfortable topic relatable and out there.

A topic that is quite the shocker

Something as fundamental as breathing, or okay, let’s tune it down, like eating is un-discuss-able, hushed and shoved under the carpets bringing up a generation of clueless and therefore irresponsible citizens for an act that calls for a great deal of responsibility. And even when the Hindusthan put out the book of love, we still cannot mention it in conversation lest you arouse a googly eye, a heave of shock from aunties and shy giggles from anyone else. 

While the whole world breeds through magical stokes and gift hampers from heaven, some Mumbaikars have taken it to themselves to break the barrier and discuss sex as it is, stark, playful and graphic. The name of the Instagram handle is @agentsofishq, how much more filmy can it get. And I love the style they have taken which would appeal well to the masses as well as the sophisticated sentinels of the internet. 

Taking us back to comic books and chithrakatha for sex-ed

The page is a collage of colours, illustrations and instructional stories very akin to Tinkle or Balarama, the adorable storyboard format in place to tell the tale of Ishq. Everything from Bollywood to Ramayana is portrayed with the same hint of hilarious zing in their interactive stories.

Open for discussion

Everything is on discussion and debate in a very senile, sensible manner here, throwing the occasional satire here and there, the page delves into love, sexuality, sexual pleasures, orientation, positions, protection, privacy, sanskar and sankriti too. And a true patriotic site too, switching gaily between Hindi and English because accessibility is important and so is the swag. 

It is particularly interesting how they portray childhood issues and trauma through illustrations that are healing for many people and it is amazing how people relate to and respond to these because everyone has been there some time or another. The crowdsourced material is so real and showcases real people, vulnerabilities, mistakes that are learning curves and realisations. 

As entertaining as informative

This page is exactly what sex education would be to the young Indian, who otherwise gets his classes in coitus from all the wrong places. This page broadens you, makes sex look so effortless and beautiful, you will come back for more!

And if you happen to browse, do check out their Q&A which is up and running on different topics on a daily, with cheeky answers and graphics that will send waves of warmth and giggle storms your way. Also there is no hate here, no judgement, no nasties, its simply talking about the best bits of love. It’s erotica in its true sense at times while at other times it is WebMD for those delicate questions which are answered in the most creative way possible, no sugar coating but well said. 

When Biennale comes to town.

Disclaimer: The writer becomes an art enthusiast every two years!
The Muziris Biennale, an extravagant, global event happening at Fort Kochi is sensational. This contemporary art show brings high drama and sophistication to a meek town, but the event has so much more to offer. For an average Malayalee, art shows are not our thing, we would rather watch a Mohanlal movie. For such an audience, would I recommend something of this sort? Not really. But set in this shadow town, I can vouch for the experience, for it’s amalgamation of the cosmopolitan and the basic. The contrast between the art displayed, which would probably find it’s place in Art galleries or auctions to the hub of the common man, a city that boasts ancient Portugese and British colonies, unglamorous buildings with a vintage vibe yet so ready to fall apart.
Enter from the outskirts of Kochi, you know you are approaching the place, as the landscape of modern houses and skyhigh towers make way for humble homes, streets lined with huge droopy trees, a couple ancient relics, in rubble but with glorious wooden verandahs, the double storey offices with foot thick walls and curved accents done to perfection and still standing. The streets get narrower, every street leads to every other, you would be lost in a loop, even a pro.
On a shutdown Sunday, these streets beam a lost city, padlocked doors and grills of paint faded, sun burnt buildings may come off as sealed off for reconstruction. Come Monday morning, the same roads are stuffed with trucks unloading commodities, shops well oiled in business, an array of bikes jutting into narrow lanes and autorickshaws, (you can talk Kerala without them), blurting out of every corner and you have to horn your way through, hoping not to bump into anyone.
The view is incredible though; luxurious silk and precious gem stores neighbouring commodity merchants, the steady waft of spices accompany, exporters of sculptures, renovated English buildings now housing luxury diners, shining in glory of varnished wooden floors and brass doorknobs. In this scenery, you can’t miss the mundu clad folk intermingled with tourists, reddened by sun, taking a stroll in heavy backpacks.
The Biennale showcase starts at the historic Aspinwall house, which couldn’t have been a more fitting venue. Overlooking the Arabian sea and the beautiful Vembanad lake, a glorious picture, the building is hued in perfect white with pitch black windows and doors. A sight to behold, the spaces are reimagined to the artists’ taste. The winding stairs with carvings and filigree partition walls are a dream alongside the swaying letter flags by one of the artist.
As you make way from one room to another, new worlds open up. Behind the heavy velvet curtains is a dark room with a square bench, perch on it and take in a surreal and shocking tour of the experience of nuclear bomb detonation, as it hits and dispels life in the blink of a second. The solitary humongous tire suspended in an encasing drew blank on all onlookers till we read about it representing the devastating floods of Kerala, attributing widespread developmental projects and quarrying to the same. Powerful in its minimalism, that image will last.


If it gets too much, relax at the vast open grounds central to the building, the branching tree both a shade and a seat, the light breeze from the waters gentling cooling you down, and behold! a glass enclave at the centre, bustling with life. As you enter, it is an enclosed glass wall where you can draw on with water, lasting a few seconds before it mists away. Crowd interaction with the art is delightful, you can scribble, draw or just watch. From kids to adults, this is an indulging experience. For a moment you drift away from the emotionally charged art and loosen up. There are giggles smiles, selfies and adoration. Tiny tots with brushes in hand were at home and so are you, transported back to childhood and the graffiti age that cannot find its place in modern well manicured homes. This is just the story of a single venue, a couple shots to speak of its pulse, each venue is a different story on a different heritage.

New year, New me…hold on, back up!

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.

The everyday bus riot

Come, have the ride of your life, with its pains and gains.

Have you ever had a ride on a typical private bus in Kerala? If you haven’t, you are missing out on an adventure sport. It wouldn’t exactly give you the kicks of a mile-high roller-coaster, but would definitely hold up against some zig-zag skiing along the Alps sans the knee caps or helmets for that matter. These should pretty much be standard equipment on these buses, too.

Boarding a bus is where the joyride begins. As you wave your hand, way into the middle of road, the loaded bus, titling dangerously to the right comes to a steep halt, thank God. The conductor who mans the door — for the uninitiated, he is the equivalent of the sophisticated mechanically operated doors: we pride in employing manual labour —swings it open with a loud bang on the bus body and there is a crammed multitude streaming out, mostly two people at a time because we just cannot wait.

Rule No 1 of public bus ride: wait for the passengers to alight before you get on, looking on eagerly as you would at a shrine, the only rule we adhere to with god-fearing dedication. As we swarm at the door, our hands are already holding on to the railings and we are strategising on how to get in first and grab the only seat left. Once you finally manage to get in, you probably end up standing, as somebody raced you to the seat from the back door!

Now, standing in a bus is a sport in itself. For a person of below average height, holding on to the sky-high bars above is near-impossible and you are at the mercy of the seat scaffolding if your hands can reach it through mob.

As the cattle carriage (think Shashi Tharoor) snakes through the winding roads and the numerous bike-riders, swivelling past in a zoom, or the slow driver who refuses to let any vehicle pass, or the delightfully annoying autorickshaws which require no signal or care in the world to enter the main road from bylanes, just like that.

And there you are standing, holding on to dear life, as the acceleration sends you into an animated back pull, while the sudden brake has you flying onto the person right in front, which has a domino effect till we smash on to the front handrail ultimately. It takes a bit of practice and unnatural balancing skills to hold on through the ride while digging into your handbag for change, since the conductor refuses to take no change for an answer.

I think Metro is not doing too well here because we are too cool to let go of the rush that comes of these rides. The Metro is too balanced and steady, and tickets are taken before you board it, which takes the exhilaration and adventure out of the ride.

It’s not all that bad; if you are a regular in a bus passionately named ‘Sonya’ or ‘Srambickal’ or ‘Ave Maria’, there is the small talk with the conductor, there are familiar faces joining in from each stop and it almost feels like family!

From the perspective of the traveller, if you don’t get a seat at the beginning, you are always on the lookout for a person ready to alight, constantly running algorithms in the head as to how you can scurry past to the vacant seat before the other person realises it has been cleared. The slightest movement of the bag or the person should be enough to trigger this fight or flight reaction. Then there are, of course, the schoolchildren with bag appendages almost their own size trying to squeeze into a safe spot. Backpacks are tools to nudge through the crowd and make way with comfort.

But I enjoy the courtesy of the conductor and people in general to offer seats to the invalid, or the lady with the baby. We go, ‘oh, god, another, lady with a baby’ (we all do in our heads!) but we do find it in our hearts to smile as we spare the seat.

If you happen to find a seat at the front, next to the driver, you might be able to catch a live chase on the highway as our driver would blare and tailgate the driving school car, the poor chap trying to keep the car steady for the least, in this mayhem that is breathing down his neck.

I can remember bus rides when the rush was too much but more passengers would be packed in at every stop, thus everywhere was a place to sit or perch, more appropriately. The engine bonnet next to the driver used to a popular spot too, till ‘safety’ guidelines came into place!

Wicked tactics to keeps school kids off buses, too. As they paid discounted fares and peak hours saw only a bunch of uniforms, not a pretty sight to the bus staff. The tricky drivers would either not stop, or if they have to, stop a mile away from the stop and you have to walk all the way back. And getting out of rush-hour buses, the struggle is real.

This is a scenario everyone can relate to, Bus or Metro, how you have to rise from your seat at the stop before that of yours, and push and wade through people, bags and luggage through the crowded darkness towards the heaven’s door of light, just in time for the bus to reach your destination. That’s good planning, right there!

Through all this there are monologues in my head. Where did she get hold of that stunning bag? How do the nuns sitting across keep their smocks so spotless white through the whole day?

And then we alight and walk into the boring everyday chores. It might be hard, very erratic and tiring too, but I guess finding a bit of fun and frolic in every bit of the day is what makes it complete.

Sassy New Age Salwars? More than you think

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.


A House of Masaba beauty

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.

Image result for dhoti pants draped threads and tassels
Threads and Tassels

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.

IMG_20180813_112706.jpg 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.’

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