My 30s Are Getting Scary, So I Took Help From A Friend Who Kicked Ass At It!

2018 is getting better than 2017 – of that I’m sure. Because I’m identifying issues that bugged me and am doing something about them. Not that I was a whiner, am a fixer. And worse, I’m a compulsive fixer. Most days, I am that beautiful ostrich, running helter-skelter in a big hurry and the first sign of distress, I hide under the sand and live in my own blissful cocktail of Netflix, popcorn, Caramel macchiato and avakkai pickle with rice. It takes a lot for me to come out of that and acknowledge an issue and once I’ve identified it – I have to fix it. My husband is of no help, he’s a realist. Life’s tough, he says nonchalantly. Me, on the other hand, wants life to be no less than rainbows and butterflies and Dior bags with shiny clasps.

So the latest problem, am on the awkward side of the 30s. Age or growing old is not an issue for me. But what I do with that age is my problem. Lately, I’ve been trying to find my groove, some new passion, something new that will get me out of the mundane-ness and haven’t really zeroed in on anything. Then, one night in a haze of wine, I realized I’m in a crisis of sorts and I need medication. So, I started fixing. I also started having burgers with all kinds of “fixins” – that got me more annoyed with my life. But really, how do people do this? The answer came in the shape of a friend, Heather.

Heather, used to my HR at this company I worked and she always came across as “sorted, mature and so approachable”. Over the years, we became friends, occasionally exchanging notes, asking advice and just keeping tabs. She has her own HR site, Heather Gupta and a really fun blog where she talks about her Indian life. Well, she’s British Y’all, another great reason I’m taking her advice because – NO BULLSHIT. And oh, she’s in my list of awesome moms because she’s a worker bee who manages her job, two boys, aging parents, travel and life in a nice, no-nonsense kind of way.  And she’s older, already gone through her 30s travails and knows her deal. So, this is my attempt at fixing my doubts with a person who I know, has navigated her 30s bigger and better! So over to Heather…

9a9b5760-2215-4bb9-9bae-ca32f77c2ca5

(words of advice from the wrong side of 45!)

  1. Don’t panic! You have plenty of time

Mid 30’s can feel like you’ve run out of time already, especially in India where the population is very young, and 20-year-olds are snapping at your heels. I actually started my “second career” (in HR) when I was 35, and I’ve gone on to be pretty good at it. I’m now on my third. You’ve got loads of time for everything – career, personal dreams and ambitions …. even more kids :))) (I had mine at 40 and 42!).

  1. Enjoy the “best years”

It sounds clichéd but your 30’s are amazing. You still look really young plus you’ve gained some life experience. It’s not that life goes downhill in your 40’s, (far from it!) but you do start noticing that age takes its toll a little bit as the years go on. Being in your 30’s is the perfect decade when it comes to that sweet spot of looks + energy levels + emerging wisdom.

  1. It’s not a competition

I think the 20’s are particularly challenging years when it comes to making comparisons. It’s like you’re at the start of a race – everyone graduates at the same time and then there’s this unholy rush to “make it” first, whatever that means. People start comparing “designations” and salaries and it’s all actually really unhealthy. In your 30’s that peer pressure thing starts to recede, although many of us still keep those internal obsessive benchmarks of success.

  1. Start being “wise”

Now you have over a decade of solid work experience, and you can really put that to play to help others. The kids coming into the workplace, whether into corporate jobs or as entrepreneurs think they know it all, and let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Actually, they know nothing and you can really help guide and inspire them, especially because you have such a warm and bubbly personality.

  1. Start/keep building that image

This is something I didn’t do enough of, being all bashful and British, and now I finally have my own business I’m kind of starting from scratch. You are perfectly placed to do this, with the kind of expertise and focus you have, so put yourself out there. You are a fabulous brand and people need to know about you.

On a side note: This. c2e6a67ee7e812cbbce480a5e2543e66

 

  1. Consider a second career

Apparently, most successful people go through 3 different careers these days! I think mid 30’s is the perfect time to do something completely new and different, even if it means retraining or learning something new. It can be connected to what you’ve been doing, or something in a brand new space. It’s very acceptable these days to do this, so make the most of that. Follow your passion, if you’re not already doing so.

  1. Take the opportunity to learn

I went through my 30’s thinking that learning should only happen “on the job”. I was actually quite reversely snobby about it all, turning my nose up at the MBAs and such like. While I still believe that learning through experience is vital, I also rediscovered (in my mid-40’s!) the value of formal “education”. Since I did my coaching course, I’ve discovered a new passion for learning about psychology, how the mind works, and all the theories behind the practice. Honestly, I wish I’d started this learning journey 10 years ago!!

  1. Take care of your body

It’s true what they say – the body does get a little bit creakier as you age. You can’t abuse it and expect it to perform as well, as you get older. In your 30’s, you still have that energy and flexibility, and although that by no means disappears once you cross 40, you are certainly more resilient pre 40. I did a lot of exercise in my 30’s and I continue to do so in my 40’s but somehow I wish I’d pushed myself even further.

  1. Don’t stress

This is the easiest thing in the world to say and it’s really hard to do. Everyone stresses about stuff, and the stresses seem to multiply as “life” happens. Having kids I think is the big one – before I had kids I was super chilled about everything, especially money. Once I had my kids, then my subconscious shifted to bombard me with non stop worries about them – how am I going to feed them, clothe them, educate them, keep a roof over their heads? Funnily enough, men don’t experience the same kind of stress, in my experience. I guess it’s all very primeval and related to survival, but for a modern woman struggling to do it all, and more, it can be very debilitating.

10. Don’t expect to become magically confident as you get older

Weirdly, I was more confident in my 20’s, and that confidence seems to have eroded over time. I guessed that it would be the other way round … I think confidence is highest when you’re really young, then all those really annoying societal pressures/fear of being “left on the shelf” / trying to juggle everything and be good at everything kick in. I still feel like a big kid most of the time, and also I’ve recently started feeling that I’m “faking it”. Maybe it’s because I’ve moved into another career space, probably also because I’m now doing my own thing, which while very liberating is also very challenging!

Oh Heather, thank you for pushing me in the right direction. This piece is for everyone who’s lived their 20s awesomely but are struggling with the aftermath of those 20s. Those in their 30s and beyond and trying to equip themselves to meet modern demands and expectations. 

P.S This series is looking good, so if you’re past your 20s and looking to give me some advice. Do me a solid and mail me at rocksaltedit@gmail.com and I’m happy to collaborate. 

Pic via PixiStock

Advertisements

My Favourite 12 Nude Lipsticks For Indian Skintones. In Every Budget. In Every Shade.

Signature color lipstick. Does anyone have those anymore or are we picking up a color and style that just came in trend on Instagram? See, that’s tricky. To own a hue, to have your own color, to never experiment – that’s the problem with signatures. They become boring after a while. But you see, I’m in my 30s, that means I must navigate this tight space between adventure-driven YOLO and classic Audrey Hepburn-ish vibe that’s timeless. It’s a tiny sliver and it’s damn annoying.

On a side note: Audrey isn’t someone I admire for her style. She might be stylish to some, but not me. I can attribute style to the bold, the uncommon. My favorites are: Rani Gayatri Devi coz she da bomb. She wore pants and that sheer as a veil chiffon sari to perfection. Indira Gandhi coz man, that woman carried her sunnies with equal panache as her starched sari. A bit of Frida Kahlo coz she defied the norm and wore flowers on her forehead. Amala Nagarjuna because she wore structured Kurtis and an attitude to match. So many amazing women.

Snapseed

But yes, for me, a signature is as much comfort as it is a challenge. You need to wear the “usual” in such a way that you make it look amazing every single day. That’s where my signature lipstick shade comes in – Nude. While it’s boring and so “massy”, it’s also got character and a few million shades that can make you look like a star. And the big thing about nudes, they’re versatile and so much fun – only you got to pick the shade that’s perfect. For a long time, nude lipsticks for me meant two things – dull and lifeless (because I am already a browny-brown chick and brown on brown seems like whaaa?) or Kareena Kapoor-ish vibes circa 1999 ( where the brown liner is so apparent and her lips look like they were kissed by an ogre).

In 2018, they’re so in, they occupy 90% of my lipstick wardrobe. Now, I’m as brown as they come – NC 43 on MAC leaning towards yellow undertones. And it took me a while to find these gems – from budget lipstick labels to luxe lippies – I got some awesome in 12 amazing shades so dig in.

From Left to Right. 

Snapseed8

ColorBar Kiss-Proof Lipstick in Haute Latte, Rs 900

Charlotte Tilbury KISSING Lipstick in Stoned Rose, Rs 2250 (Approx) Available on Cult Beauty. Shipping isn’t a pain if you shop above 40 Pounds.

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor in Infatuation, Rs 1195

Colorpop Ultra Blotted Liquid Lipstick in Zuma, Rs 400 (Approx) I got it shipped from an Instagram store.

Maybelline Lip Gradation by Colorsensational in Mauve, Rs 600

Huda Beauty Liquid Lipstick in Sugarmama, Rs 1650

L’Oreal Paris Color Riche Moist Matte Lipstick in Maple Mocha, Rs 950

Wet n Wild MegaLast Liquid Catsuit Matte Lipstick in Give Me Mocha, Rs 499

Colorpop Ultra Matte Liquid Lipstick in Bumble, Rs 400 (Approx) I got it shipped from an Instagram store.

L’Oreal Lip Paint Laquer in Gone With The Nude, Rs 799

L’Oreal Paris Balmain Limited Edition Color Riche Matte Lipstick in Domination, Rs 1050

Huda Beauty Liquid Lipstick in Girlfriend, Rs 1650

Swatches Galore!

The First Six.

Snapseed1

The Second Six.

Snapseed4

Five Points to Note:

While all of these are cool, I usually use the Color Bar Haute Latte and the Wet n Wild Give Me Mocha more since they have longer lasting power.

The Huda ones ( I got the Minis Set – so that explains the size) need a brown liner to set them right and to make them darker, otherwise, you look like you have a disease. At my skin tone, maybe not for everyone.

L’Oreal Balmain has the best, sturdiest packaging along with Charlotte Tilbury. I like packaging that’s luxe and heavy. Hardware is important fellas.

Colorpop Bumble has to be a universally awesome hue. No skin tone looks out of place with it.

L’Oreal Balmain shade looks like it’s brick red in the swatch. It looks browner on my skin tone.

The Five Places That Helped Me Find My Current Playlist!

Music is a big topic in our home. Not because my husband is embedded 6-feet into it. But because it’s really not something I know much about – so I get by with a little help from him. While my husband can rattle off his favorite genres and artists, I look for a nice beat, a stylish artist and a sound that sticks with me. I have my favorites, but they’re few. I don’t pledge my allegiance to one genre because I really don’t know where I belong. The good thing about not knowing which genre you belong to is the freedom to love everything.

Snapseed

So recently I needed motivation – for fitness, for life goals and generally, life. And I needed a playlist that’s random and new and off-beat. And I looked through my Shazam and boom, I found some neat stuff.

You see, I have this habit of watching random, crazy stuff on Netflix, Hotstar, Youtube and Prime Amazon and when a soundtrack plays that I like, I at once Shazam it and keep it for future reference. And lately, I was watching a mish-mash of crazy stuff, from Hindi films I missed, a TV series that’s so old that I found on Amazon Prime etc. But whatever it is, my playlist is teeming with old and new songs but odd ones and things I wouldn’t have discovered if it wasn’t for soundtracks. Nice no? Here we go…

  1. Suits 

My obsession with Harvey Spector isn’t healthy. And to top it off, am still waiting for season 7 to land in India. It’s exhausting, the wait. You know why I love Suits – and not just for Spector? The outfits and the motivation you get. Suddenly you want to get skinny, carry a latte from Starbucks and you’ll want to fit into that stunning corporate dress and kick some ass. Seriously, try it. How do all these women wear such body-hugging stuff and have no belly fat? Like nothing, not even a food bulge. That’s a discussion for another day but the songs I found on Suits are amazing.

Some amazing ones that stuck with me:

John Newman – Love Me Again 

Kaleo – Way Down We Go 

Bobby Banzini – Blood’s Thicker Than Water 

Desi Valentine – Fate Don’t Know You 

 

2. Befikre

Hmm, I know what you’re thinking. Like WTF. Why this stupid rom-com. Believe it or not, it’s got some hiccups but it’s a decent film. In fact, the biggest love story of our times with some filmy shit thrown in. I don’t like both the actors but I’ll tell you they did a good job. Anywho, as I was watching it one day, there was a French song playing at a strategic place in the movie. Yep, a French song, with a great beat. And after careful research, it turned out to be the one below and damn, it’s addictive!

Mika – Boum Boum Boum 

3. Criminal Minds

I watch this show all the frikkin time. So much so that I do stupid quizzes like “Are you JJ or Emily?” or “Who is your date – Morgan or Reid?”. In case, you wanna know, the answer for the last one is Morgan all the way. So anywho, constant exposure to this series got me Shazam-ing some gems.

Lifehouse – Broken 

Five Finger Death Punch – Far From Home ( This is like on loop right now but I like the acoustic one)

Daughtry – Home 

Hodges – My Side Of The Story 

Sia – Bird Set Free

4. Sex and The City Last Episode

Ok, I rewatch this all the time out of habit. But surprisingly, it’s held up as an interesting show as you age. But I relate to a different girl everytime I watch it. So this last song has been one of my favorites coz it introduced me to an amazing artist – M.C Solaar. You’ll love the song and you know, this took me the longest time to find. The sound was so low, I had to watch the scene like a million times to get past this.

MC Solaar – Le Belle Et Le Bad Boy 

Before We Go

Am not big on love stories and romance. I like watching thrillers better. So this one is my current favorite and that means, the story had to be that realistic. Such a neat, effortless, simple movie. Also, Chris Evans is surprisingly good. But the ending is so heart-breaking and the song that comes with it – even more so. And P.S It has the best dialogues.

Andrew Lockington – Move On 

So, what’s your deal? Have you ever found an amazing song while watching something? Pls hit me up. I love such stuff!

Featured image: Pixistock 

Would You Wear Taant? Meet Bhomra, My Summer Fix!

I’ve known Sriparna Ray Sengupta aka Chipi for years now. She’s a friend of a friend and when often bumped into each other at malls, she always gave me that beaming smile and that tight hug. We connected in our respective jobs and admired each other from afar. And now, she is back again in my realm with a label of her own called Bhomra Design Co and boy, it is gorgeous and totally up my alley. And with summer right next to us, saying hello, it’s best we stock up on cotton essentials that feel good and look good!

1517388564_Picture_7BDC_SindurKhelaBoxPleat

Taant has always been part of our wardrobes, at least our moms – that crisp, effortless and easy to wear in any season fabric is all about comfort and chic mixed together into this new-age cocktail. I was introduced to it by my mom who regularly dragged us to exhibitions to buy the Bengal cottons almost every 3 months. Taant is no longer just a sari – it’s a dress and a kurta and an easy silhouette you slip into to brunch, a party, a pooja at home or even to work – courtesy Bhomra.

23755418_154612721818656_8687938750588987629_n

And not just dresses, the label also comes with super stylish jackets, kurtis, tops and beach-friendly camis that totally mix and match tradition and new 2018 cuts. It’s just launched last year (2017) at the fag end and it’s still very very new. But I just couldn’t wait to showcase it – finding these new fabrics that are producing so much potential is part of my job. Right after eating red velvet cake straight from the fridge. Talents heh!

26230308_166880253925236_5155005333917974537_n

 

The fabrics that Sengupta deals with are traditional weaves of taants, dhakais and tangails, considering she lives in Kolkata – things Bengalis cannot live without and fabrics the rest of India, salivates after.

1517388564_Picture_5

Sengupta calls Bhomra, the story of a bumbling bee.Some of my fondest memories of taant are of Ma beautifully draped in the lightest of Bengal cottons. Then there was my Nani Ma’s sari which I used as a ‘shurshuri kapod’ (baby blanket or comforter) when I was little. It was the softest, most beautiful bundle of taant, worn out over years of me falling asleep wrapped in it—finding indescribable comfort with my face buried in its gentle cotton folds and familiar scent. Many an afternoon melted into the evening  with my mother and aunts, all draped in their lovely cottons, immersed in conversation about everything and nothing. My wedding (still a couple of decades away at that point) came up in these discussions every once in a while. Young as I may have been, the thought of donning gorgeous saris—maybe a yellow and red border taant for gaye holud, a typical red and white dhakai for my aiburobhaat, a delicious lime green tangail for one of the other days—filled me with excitement and anticipation. The idea for Bhomrathe adventurous little bumbling bee—was born from my desire to celebrate Taant, the extraordinary traditional cotton weave of Bengal, by bringing its unassuming elegance, lightness and simplicity back into our everyday lives while also introducing this and other fine weaves such as Tangails and Dhakais to others with appreciation for such artistry,” she adds.

27545725_176310539648874_963529148910350245_n

And Taant is that artistry that Bengalis celebrate and it has its unique tale to tell. It was made famous by the Moghuls and comes with pretty motifs like the half moon, blue sky, twinkling stars, elephants, fish scales, flowers swaying in the breeze, the adventures of bees (bhomra) and so much more.

 

As of now, you can explore a wide range of Label Bhomra’s collection on Instagram and Facebook. They are regulars at most exhibitions in your city so look up their social media and you’ll know where they’re available and their pop-up situation. I just cannot wait to get to Bombay to grab a piece myself. They have just launched their exclusive range of the men and kidswear + home decor is next on the anvil. So you got your summer stitch right there!

 

 

Price Range: Rs.1800 to Rs.4000

Address: Bhomra Design Co., New Alipore, Kolkata-700053.  Contact: 9930599127
Picture Credits: Label Bhomra

 

20 Realistic Goals To Have In 2018!

Yeah so I’m gonna give you oodles of gyan on meditation and finding your passion and some such. Fat chance! If there’s one thing I learned in 2017, it’s the fact that I’m nowhere close to attaining nirvana. I struggled with trying to be that “Keep-Calm-And-Bullshit” person and somewhere in November (at the fag end of the year) realised that I’m human-er than most humans and I am mega-failing (not the normal standard #fail but an express one at that) at doing the gyan-filled goals the internet and Instagram is teeming with.

“Swipe up and stay healthy” it screams. “Stay focussed and be xxxx” says an Insta-story by a major influencer and here I am, struggling with big things like resisting Salted Caramel-somethings in my fridge and rechecking FB statuses well into 3 pm on a daily basis. And no one cares! 😦 Every swipe wants me to do something which I’m incapable of. And I am at that age (careening into 36 like a freaking race car driver with no brakes while eating french fries from the dashboard) when swipe left-right is out of the question, swipe up and know why your sun sign is an ass**** is more likely.

So I researched like a troll on heat and found loopholes and ideas that will resonate with “human-er” people like me. Also, to be honest, I think I found the solution to life’s problems – it’s stationed at “Suck-it-and-live-life” stop right now instead of “Leave-job-travel-more-meditate-more-and-switch-off-phone” junction. If adulting is a skill, dear children, learn this – adulting is not effing everything and “giving no fucks” – it’s about taking the challenge and meeting it mid-way in a place where the practical and monetary and passionate park their well-experienced asses. Give the “effs” but for the most important things, the ones that change your life for the better.

Any-whooooo, since we are on Jan 1 and I’m brimming with wisdom today, I thought I’ll give you my 20 rules – the ones that really will make a difference to your life and mine. If you’re following these, just occasionally check back with me to keep me on track. Coz my biggest talent is not following my own advice #truestory. I burned my midnight Insta-story oils to finally find my peace and I’m hoping this practical guide will help you too.

P.S It’s a long read. Not a buzzfeed-scoopwhoop article so get a drink or two, settle on the couch and just humour me, okay?

unnamed

  1. Balance life-work-social life

Okay, I had talked about it before but please – don’t think balancing is possible. It’s a unicorn with mauve wings downing jello shots on a tree top. Found this beautiful creature anywhere? Thought as much. My 2013-17 was about finding that balance and often I would get frustrated if work got into my life at 11 pm on a Saturday or when my baby cries for attention when am busy filling out a questionnaire for an interview. I was frustrated like I could break a TV and get away with it and call it, mid-life crisis. But slowly I said to myself, fine no balance, what about prioritizing – every day is about prioritizing stuff differently. Today might be my kid’s school project, tomorrow is all about my new story at work. I started making lists of important things to do and it worked – stuff got done. I got away with minimal issues ( this method won’t guarantee smooth living and work situation, it will ease up situations, that’s all). So write down what you need for THAT DAY ONLY. And change it up according to needs tomorrow.

2. Travel more and have that nice 9-5 job – what?

Yeah did you not know that it’s possible? We read and re-read so many articles on a daily basis on how someone quit their job and traveled the world. But what we forget are the tiny details. How did they do it – did they stay in hostels, did they work on weekends? What did they sacrifice or compromise on to do it? Because everything comes with a price. And if you want to travel more and travel better in 2018, be mindful of how you earn your living. It also depends on what kind of a traveler you are. But mostly, the mindful thing because it’s not all glam, that side of Hostel-living. Neither should we quit our jobs to travel and complain about those who travel to eat at Michelin-star hotels.  Some have earned that position – the one of eating at The Fat Duck by working #prettydamnhard, all 9-5. Nope, this year, just try this – wanna go to Peru and live in an Instagram-worthy hotel? Just work, earn, spend! Okay? Okay! And it’s a good thing you have a 9-5 to back your dreams, no? Just respect that, please. And your organization. And occasionally your boss.

3. Work on holidays

What the what, you say? It could be the worst advice I can give you? Not really. If you’re living in 2018 like me, face the fact that work is all around. It doesn’t mean you have to stay plugged but it’s okay to be plugged if something comes up. Make sure it doesn’t eat into your travel plans. I was in Lisbon this year and I was traveling with two lazy butts who did not wake up till 10 am every day. So what does a 6 am waking-up-person like me do? Finish important projects, work and plan my travel day. Or plan your work so well on the trip that you don’t derail anyone dependant on you. And this whole shut work all down is not needed – just watch what you need that day. I enjoyed my holiday because there was no pressure to not check work emails, I checked, I answered a few and chilled with my Porto Tonic.

4. It’s ok to be on your smartphone

Actually no, it’s not. But if we still do it, let’s at least stop lying to ourselves and start moderating the usage. Also, no reading scoopwhoop-type articles that do nothing, wasting time on timelines, insta-stories during work etc. I’ll find my balance, soon.

5. Meditation is not for me, you too?

Try a new skill, a new something that calms you down. Mine is cooking – am secretly trying this year to cook more of the recipes I had pinned on my board. Also quick question? How many of you actually cook the pins from your food board? I was a hoarder who hoarded pins, now am trying to use them. Pinterest-cleanse!!!

6. Figure out your besties and work on those relationships

Duck faces on Instagram with people don’t mean they’re your BFFs. Think for a bit about the ones that matter – ones who care about being friends with you and work on those relationships. Plan trips with them, spend money to meet them. My besties and I plan carefully, strategize and meet up – it’s good for the soul. Others are just background noise.

7. Give up toxic foods: Sugar / Smoking – things you know are practically death

There are two kinds of food. One, straight up baddies that lead to ill-health. Two, ones that need to be moderated. It took me a few years to figure that out. Smoking, sugar, and overeating are known to get you into the fat zone and ill-health zone faster than others. Carbs and fatty cheese can be eaten mindfully. The past year, I denied I had health issues – I was on borderline Thyroid and I told myself – “whattt? It’s all good, let’s have another Dominoes pizza, this time with double-scoops of pepperoni”. Big mistake! I finally reached a place where I had no energy and I was literally in tears. So I stopped, went and got my tests again and started following the medicine trail and a bit of diet advice. So, I now know that I can stop when I’m full. I can eat veggies sometimes, I can limit carbs and maybe, cut down sugar without weeping bucketfuls.

8. Have a social life that builds to a good life 

I love social life. But personally, am tired of partying with not-my-friends. I also on a side note became an introvert – I hate going out. That’s not good though. Anyways, I think your social life should be about hanging with people who matter. And that should translate into a good evening, a nice drink, nice music, pouring your heart out, dancing a bit and meeting up with a new agenda the next week. Not mindless partying and wasting time and money on people you care least about. After a kid, I realize that if I am spending an hour with someone and carrying a half-crying kid to a restaurant where she will fuss, it better mean something. If not, stay at home, watch Netflix and actually really chill.

9. Criticise less, prop up more

I can identify good criticism from plain assholic behavior. Ooh, new talent alert! I like healthy advice and genuine “no”s from my friends as long as they give me a good explanation and better debates. Also, be around those who prop you up more and tell you I told you so but hug you enough times for you to know that they mean well.

10. Balance out experiences with material comforts – it’s not wrong. 

Okay, I’m all about kayaking in the Ganga and finding that hidden flower on the Inca trail. But hello, it’s okay to spend your last few minutes at Duty-free buying that Gucci bag (after calculating tax + value for money +guilt-free emotions) if you want. Let no one tell you that both are mutually exclusive. They are not. Wanting nice things is not frivolous. I want a Prada Saffiano and the Fendi Peekaboo next year but you know, I might not get them coz I’m borderline broke. But it’s nice to know that I’m not a terrible person for wanting them. Just touch that napa leather and tell me you don’t feel anything. Nothing? Holy sweet potato fries!!!!!

91e2efc0-83d7-4b95-96ac-281be1ae2924

11. Crib only if you can do something about it 

I have figured out an algorithm. Everyone has issues and problems, but hey, why don’t we try this – do something about it after the 4th or the 5th sesh with your girlfriends. This is applicable only to issues that are self-created or those with work or with family or with friends. Not the accidents, the unusual and the very serious ones. I had a few of my own in 2017 but this year, I decided to work on some, let go of some and ignore many.

12. Make the effort to respond, mail, meet with people who follow up, people who care

I have always had many friends – what with the great school, college and work experiences I had. And some, over the years have stayed on as good-er than good friends. But this year, am gonna make more efforts to see them, meet them etc. Life gets in the way, but with a little (financial) help, we can meet in Paris ( midway for her in the US and me in India). Hai na?

13. Learn one new thing but don’t ignore practical things

This year, I’m gonna learn two languages ( hopefully) – Spanish because I love it and Malayalam because I need it. I have been married to a Malayali for 10 years now and I know a fair bit but really, why should I not learn it better. Same for Telugu – it’s my mother tongue and I have never read a novel in Telugu. I should no? Basics first, over-the-top things later.

14. Shop mindfully – Wear strategically

I don’t know how to avoid shopping on Koovs, Zara, Forever21, H & M, Lifestyle etc. So many sales and such nice clothes that cost like nothing. But this year, am gonna wear the stuff I like, stuff that means something. Not stuff that’s like “ooh-it’s-on-discount-from-5000-to-200” so I must wear it. Am trying to also multi-task my accessories instead of buying anything that comes to my FB Feed saying buy me. I’m trying out new indie labels so this year might be promising on that front.

15. It’s tacky to not be part of the political discourse

I could not vote. It’s complicated – our papers are from Andhra and Kerala and Baroda and Chennai and it’s a bad cocktail of excuses. Also, because it’s last in my priorities to get my voters card. Plus, we shift cities so that’s that. But this year really made me sit up and take notice of things going around and the only reason I did not crib about the poor way this country is being treated is that I did not vote! No beef? Love-Jihad? Non-vegetarian issues? Religious crap!!! Embarrassing and worse, it’s in our hands. I told my dad about this once and asked him “why should I vote, my one vote won’t make a difference” and he replied “because it’s your country and it’s always good to have a say in your governance whether it works out or not. And good governance” he replied, nonchalantly. I took politics too lightly. But with a kid now, I want her to be proud of her country and have a say in it – it all begins at home and well, I want to leave a better country for her. Maybe we won’t change too much, but we will change the stupid things. No beef it seems, nonsense!

16. Wear sunscreen, also Vitamin C, also AHAs and BHAs

Just when you thought I was running full steam into philosophy, I stopped over at the glam side of things. This year I realized that wearing sunscreen alone does zilch to your skin. Sorry, Baz Luhrmann. I used to be a person who invested in makeup. New mascara with magnetic caps, bring it on. Blush/ bronzer combo for travel, ooh. New shiny gloss, why not. This year, I invested in the stuff that doesn’t need makeup to look good. I still swoon at the latest matte lipstick but I now prioritize good skincare over it. Vitamin C is now gonna be part of my routine, occasional AHA and BHA action and slight retinol love. Even gonna check that Dermarolling thing out. Not that these will magically erase years of sun damage and non-care but it’s baby steps in pretty Zara shoes.

17. Work so damn hard that the universe has to give it to you

I realized that we can cheat, deny and do everything we want to do to avoid the big question – “how do some people do better than others?”. The answer is here – hard work. It’s the lamest reason we think coz it’s so out there, so common like freaking vada pav. But it’s the magic potion – work hard, get paid, enjoy life fall into place like a pack of cards. I remember my dad’s advice again “you either work hard when you’re young and enjoy later or work hard when you’re old and enjoy now – but there’s no escaping hard work because you have to do it to get somewhere in life.” Unless you are Abram or Taimur. And as Abhishek Bachchan stands as an example, even being a superstar’s son might not make you successful so beware Taimur.

18. Be nice. On social media. 

Everyday social media is crib-crib-crib-mindless debate-bad political discussions- ooh new insta- filter. But really, am tired of the cribs. And the solution refer to point 11.

19. Work is not everything. Find a freaking identity that goes beyond it. 

I was in my 20s and I decided that my work is my identity. Let me work at the biggest magazine houses and the greatest companies because – Latha of xxx is what fluffy dreams are made of. Brrgghhh! Cut to 2017, I realized some great truths that helped me make better career decisions.

  • work anywhere but be yourself
  • 24/7 doesn’t automatically make you a better worker. It only means you time manage badly. I am a flexi-timer so my time management is screwed, but we all got to work out our shortcomings, innit?
  • Life must always come first, then work, it’s actually healthy. We work so we can live better and live so we can work better.
  • Passion at work is overrated, the kind of passion that asks you to sleep and wake up with a laptop. Do well, work hard and find ways to enjoy it.
  • You must love what you do though. But don’t expect it to not have the mundane entwined with it. Even the awesome-est of jobs will have regular follow-ups and mundane checklists to do. No job is a cakewalk – it just looks like “Suits” is playing on social media because some choose to only showcase the fun/glam side of work. Good PR move.
  • Be loyal. Be sincere. Try every day to do better. Not just crib about what you are not getting.
  • And no, startups and big companies are one and the same. Both pay you for work you do. So in 2018, paying people less or making people work till 2 am because you’re either one of these companies is NOT COOL. Work is work.

20.  Be a feminist. 

Be one because the world needs it. Women everywhere are subjected to the worst just because they’re women. You can do your bit.

So among other things: love your family, live well and try every day to be better. I’m trying and failing for 36 years now but baby steps.

Pic via Pixistock

Tripping: 5 Things I Loved In Porto, Portugal

My travel diaries: Everything on my travel here so I can relive it. That’s the plan!

unnamed3

Picking up Porto to visit was really a random decision. Randomer than picking up an ice cream flavor on a dull day. We knew only two things about it – that Port wine was invented there and Claus Porto soaps are made there. I remember seeing Claus Porto soaps at Good Earth 9 years back – sweet-smelling and so pretty and I could not believe that they arrived all the way from Portugal. Soaps aside, it seemed like the only other place you could visit with great postcard-level prettiness to vouch for in Portugal. But boy, I couldn’t believe how amazing it was until I got there. It had so many things going for it – the exotic places, the cool Duoro river, amazing colorful homes by the Pier, great spaces to chill out and amazing food. Oh, the wine, the wine was divine. Here’s why it was great: (In no random order)

IMG_3908

We stayed at this really cool Airbnb in the center of the town. Dixos was just right for a family of three – it was cozy, it was closer to the main center. Plus, it was in the neighborhood that made sense to tourists –  50 mts from the main square of Porto (Avenida dos Aliados), bang near Clerigos Tower.

Take a look at the space, so comfy!

 

4ae439f1-e02f-4b30-b781-f798a808a270Pic via Airbnb

With a 4-year-old kid, we make sure we always choose places that are walking distance and super cozy and this one met us on all counts – it was straight on the place I wanted, on Rue Bonjardim. We hate traveling far, so the neighborhoods we chose are pretty much close. Pedro, the guy who owns the place was super nice – he marked everywhere we need to go on a map and even gave us some handy travel tips. So far so nice!

Other neighborhoods we heard are good: Ribeira; Baixa/Sé and Cedofeita.

We reached very late in the evening and since it was winter, everything was either too far away or shut so we decided to chill at home. So off we went to a supermarket and got some food supplies and made a simple meal. I love exploring local supermarkets, they really rock – we saw amazing sauces and it took all of my willpower not to cart it home. I even saw Biryani, yes Biryani in boxes ready to be reheated. Now that’s an idea!

IMG_9700

These two were figuring out life – inside a map.

 

We had some pizza, random bread, chips, eggs, Ramen, a bottle of cheap wine and some jelly. We love cooking – minimal cooking really, in places where we stay. But it’s the cleaning up that gets our goat.

 

Ramen with eggs with crunchy chips was a delightful meal and brekkie was eggs, cheese, juice, jelly, coffee and a couple of raspberries!

There was something so old school-ish about Porto. Houses in symmetry, blue tiles everywhere, old cocktail gowns in shopping windows. So much drama!

 

IMG_9724Tinned sardines were big. Such retro packaging. All stores had them lined up at the windows. And they weren’t that expensive either – they start at 1 euro and go upwards. Sardines in tomato sauce is supposed to be great.

Porthos was the popular choice to buy if you’re looking to take some back home.

3808043_orig

Pic via Thetufftruffle

First impressions: The houses were super pretty and colourful. Even the ones that look like they have no one living in them. This house was on the other side of the road and we told our kid that it looks dilapidated and a witch lives there who can fly on a broomstick. It sure looks magical – in a good kiddy way, not in a Stephen King way y’all.

DSC_4246

The streets were just like a postcard and so dreamy.

IMG_3767

  1. To see: Clerigos Tower 

IMG_3777

 

The view was to die for – it’s pretty much the entire city. There’s a church inside and we attended a small mass where there was a neat choir. The steps then ( super steep and you really bump into people!) take you to the top. After a lot of cribbing we reached there but the view more than made up for it.

Lunch at O Forno dos Clérigos

23134710_1458295964225704_1392587944_o (1)

Pic via Beatriz Trindad

 

It’s a small bistro-style cafe at the start of the tower filled with yummy pastries and the best coffee ever. We ordered some rice dishes, a jug of Sangria, crab and some chicken with less spices. We just got back from Spain where no one really understood English so when I walked in here and the waitress spoke impeccable English, I was so happy to explain to her exactly what I needed. And in turn, she was surprised I spoke good english, so yeah.

Note: Portugese people love Indian food – everywhere we go they recco it and ask us if we’d like to try it. There are certainly some, if not all, Indian-ish dishes on the menu.

2. Wine tour: Taylor Wines 

 

It was my very first wine tour and Port wine is actually my favourite, so this one was much-needed. There are lots of wineries in Porto but Taylor is supposed to be the best – ask anyone on the street, on blogs and on forums and they say Taylor #forthewin. So off we went to find it but damn, the roads were steep, misdirections led us to lonely places and oh, it was sooo far away. We almost gave up when we found it.

IMG_3950IMG_3932

I won’t say skip it but all that history was a tad boring. That said, my daughter loved the videos and pictures of grape-crushing. I’d say it was more technical but it’s still history, that part was cool. It costs 12 Euros per person and you get to drink your favorite wine at the end of the tour. The garden was my most favourite there – as you sip wine, you see flower trees and peacocks running around. Pretty, pretty!

Porto Calem was another popular wine tour most people headed for – we saw these little trucks carting them back and forth.

IMG_3875

Random Citroen 2CV near the Ribeira is one hella pretty photo op. 

3. D. Luís bridge, the famous iron bridge of Porto

IMG_9892

The backdrop is spectacular and the bridge has the metro running on it. Quite a beauty – you can stand there, take pictures and just enjoy the sunny weather and the nice breeze. You can see the whole of Porto from there.

 

It was a nice walk there – and you could see the wineries all tucked into one another and the Ribiera, the riverfront restaurants on one side along with the graffiti and the spectacular Duoro river.

 

4. BFG – Bernardino Francisco Guimarães store and cafe 

 

Like seriously, prettiest store in the city. It had multiple locks and handles – it’s a hardware store that sells pretty things – lets put it that way.

 

It had a quaint cafe and the sweetest couple who run the store. We bought some knick-knacks and loved the retro-ness.

5. Cais De Ribiera – The Riverfront 

 

OMG, this is the best bit of Porto really. The spectacular Duoro river really makes it work – with multiple colourful houses and amazing restaurants. There are boat rides and nice cafes, pretty shops – ah, bliss! You can spend the whole day there.

 

 

IMG_9882IMG_9885

 

It was here that I had the popular Francesinha – a traditional meal of Portugal that came with meat, fries and soup altogether in one bowl. The meat was a lot so I couldn’t finish it but it was a nice dish to warm upto in November eh?

IMG_9871

Also had copious amounts of cream coffee – that is now my fav!!!

Those are my favourite things to do in good ol’ Porto. But I also have a list which Pedro gave us and friends who recco-ed stuff that did not get completed due to lack of time. I’m leaving them here for you. Highlights:

  1. Miss Opo: Hole in the wall place to eat, yummy food apparently.
  2. Palacio De Cristal: Supposed to be dramatic!
  3. Livaria Lello: One of the oldest libraries in the world
  4. Casa Da Musica: We really wanted to go, it’s for every music freak, but had no time.
  5. Cafe Majestic: One of the oldest cafes, very instagram-able.
  6. Sao Bento Station: Heritage building, a 19th-century railway station
  7. Best bar to go: Yeatman Terrace
  8. Eat: Bacalhau com Natas and Pasteis de nata or Portuguese egg tarts
  9. Drink: Porto Tonic, Ruby Port, Tawny Port and Ginja.
  10. Best place to have a drink at 6 pm overlooking the Ribiera: Terreiro

 

IMG_4045

This is my favourite picture of Porto – from the plane, look at the beauty!

I am not a big traveller, I do my own thing and I like to do the more offbeat things when I travel. Upcoming: Lisbon, Srilanka and Madrid. I love remembering the little things and getting all nostalgic so this is more of an exercise for my memory than anything and if it helps you plan a trip there – am happy!

All pictures by Bobin James unless stated otherwise.

 

LookBooks To Love: Raw Mango’s Festive Sari Edit, Shamiana Collection 2017

Sophisticated but down-to-earth – two opposites that hurl themselves with extreme, all-consuming force into a giant ball of beauty. That’s Raw Mango for me. Subtle but drenched in power. And this time, right on time for the festive season, there’s a new collection by Raw Mango called Shamiana, just festive saris and it’s on fleek. My favourites here:

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 10.57.54 PM

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 10.58.31 PM

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 10.58.21 PM

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 10.58.12 PM

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 10.58.02 PM

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 10.58.39 PM

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 10.55.19 PM

22310570_1078378898931708_5778505524432612930_n

Style Level: Powerhouse!

Pictures via Raw Mango + AFashionistasdiary