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…


(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 and I’m happy to collaborate. 

Pic via PixiStock

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.


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. 


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.


The Second Six.


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.


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!


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.


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!



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.


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.


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


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!


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)


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!


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.


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.


The streets were just like a postcard and so dreamy.


  1. To see: Clerigos Tower 



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

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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.


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.


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

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


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.





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?


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



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:

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Style Level: Powerhouse!

Pictures via Raw Mango + AFashionistasdiary

The South-Indian Star Look From The 80s Is Coming Back Big Time: We’re Loving Brand Latha!

My earliest memories of fashion and style weren’t glossy magazines. Yep, they were big in my teens + college years and I once got severely reprimanded for owning a Cosmopolitan. But that’s a story for another day. My earliest memories of fashion were made up of South-Indian heroines. Nope, not the fancy Vyjayantimala and Hema Malini variety that glossies love to gloss about. I’m talking about a girl from Andhra who watched the quintessential South films with stars like Bhanupriya, Suhasini, Radha or Vijaya Shanti, even Gautami. If you don’t know who these guys are, look ’em up.

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Vijay Shanti in Challenge: Sorry could not find better pictures!

Always with long braided hair, wearing glossy red lipstick and a big bindi paired with these gorgeous hoop earrings and transparent saris and teacher high-neck blouses. They were real beauties and they are the fashionistas who ruled my life in school. Fashion was contrived at that time, I’ll admit. It came with a funny rulebook too (woman with good morals = high-neck blouse/ woman with bad morals = sleeveless blouse and such!).



Especially Vijay Shanti, in this movie called “Challenge”, she would wear such great hair jewelry, it was so amazing and so creative as I look back now, she even drapes her saris so differently in every song.  You can see an example song here, ( Ignore the standard Telugu dancing) really – they were super creative those days with outfits.



Even Suhasini plays this school madam in this movie Aaradhana, pretty cool stuff in starched saris and fully-covered up blouses carrying an umbrella near the beach.

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Anyways, I realized how much this new label reminded me of that era so I had to feature it. Brand Latha has really taken over Instagram last few months – it was even featured in Vogue Russia and Japan and the styling is so so on point. The dark eyes, the light-pastel hues and the sweetest fabrics, it’s just so retro and so wearable.

The model reeks of South-Indian swag – she could be a younger Suhasini ( a Popular South Actress!). Forget the hair and makeup for a bit, the fabrics are like swishy South saris and the langa-voni (Long South-Indian silk skirt with a drape) combo came with a contemporary twist – it’s the langa-jacket now *Sigh, too happy to live in these times, I tell you!

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The simplicity is palpable. The fabrics are light as air. And the styling work done by Meghna Bhalla took me back to those sweaty Rajamundry summers where 16-year olds worked in their home gardens in silk langa-jackets and sipped coconut water while gossipping about the horn-rim spectacled boy next door.

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Meghna used the outfits to create a newer idea of a Southern girl – someone bolder and more poised. I especially love the frowny face vis-a-vis a glazed “I’m-totally-spacing-out-but-am-woke” look models sport these days.

Well, am loving this and so will you – and I think my South-Indian fashion story will continue and this label will flourish and come out with newer silhouettes soon. I, cannot wait to see how this story unfolds. But for now, gloss over the pictures, will you?

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Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 9.46.38 PMThis label hails from the house of Latha Puttanna.

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Consulting Creative Director – Meghna Bhalla
Photographer – Kapil Ganesh
Talent – Teesta Dalvi @ Anima Creative Management
HMU Artist – Mitesh Rajani
Production – Yellow Umbrella Productions
Jewellery courtesy – Naaniki / @diariesofnomad

P.S This post really reminded me of my love for South-Indian filmy fashion. And I’m gonna continue to write more about it. Movie pictures via Cinema Chaat





Weekly Vibes: Life-changers This Week!

This one’s a killer way to tell you what I buy, why I buy, what makes them work, what makes me waste some good monies on things that don’t need their due and ones that makes me go waaaw (that’s the South-Indian wow!). Hello, am a serial buyer of hipster-and-otherwise things and I plead guilty to Instagram-ing them repeatedly to get your attention. Every week I will tell you what makes something work for me, or not. This week’s stuff is here!


#1: Clinique Pep Start 2-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser


ok now, I got bullied into buying it at Sephora. I bought my all-time favourite Clinique Moisture Surge and this was just added by the salesgirl saying, try it. Not free, mind you, I bought it. Fine, I bought it because of that stark pink packaging, okay? OK! But still. From the house that gave me my best moisturiser and my favourite toner, this HAS to work. But no, I wouldn’t say it didn’t work but I saw no visible results. No crazy glow, no OMG clarity in skin. It just did it’s job of washing. *insert saddest smiley. I am on the fence on this. No breakouts, no bad vibes. Just okay-ish. With all the “epic” and “awesome” and “mind-effing-blowing tags everywhere, this seems bland. Thank god it was 750 bucks – travel size, if I spent a bomb, I would have straight lost my shit.

Verdict: Nopes, not for me! I might try the eye cream though, from what I hear, that’s the shizz!


#2: Lindt Excellence Caramel & Seasalt Chocolate Bar


The ONLY chocolate you need. It’s a staple in our home. The fridge is never without it and I think it’s a tad too expensive but worth every penny. Not available officially but duty-free has some great offers. I bought it at Le Marche for Rs 399 bucks.

Verdict: On a scale of bliss to hell, I’ll go for #supereffingawesomeness.


#3: Soju


Living near Korean-restaurant-infested Gurgaon malls means only one thing – Korean Supermarkets filled with nori sheets and what not. The husband and me are completely trying out newer cuisines and ingredients. Today, we got Soju – the trademark drink. Case in point – HiteJinro’s many varieties of soju, especially Chamisul, which is Korea’s best-selling brand. It tasted like Gin to me and went well with the home-made biryani.

Verdict: Require more to finally make decision. It’s strong, I’ll say that.


#4: Label Life Block Heels

These suede block heels have been on my list for a while. Label Life has come a long way as a brand. It had okay-ish collections when it started out but honestly, it’s now my number one place to buy stuff. That’s because it has clean, minimalistic fare and of course, work wear that’s kickass. Yep, it’s a bit on the expensive side but it’s the fabric that makes it click. Fresh, plush and totally great. These block heels look great on dresses but currently, they are not as comfy as I thought they would be.

Verdict: I will still buy. Colour = check. Material = check. Heel = I am determined to check. Maybe a few more wears.


#5: Burger Singh Burgers

If there’s one thing I did the moment I landed my ass in Gurgaon, it was to search for some great food places. And as I was talking by Golf Course Road, this name I saw sounded super funny. BURGER SINGH. And it also said they are open until 3 am. So we decided to check out the menu. Some really great options: The Amritsari Murgh was brilliant, the Malabar Chicken was super nice. I love it when they Indianise western food, because why not? The surprise one was the Punjabi Samosa burger, at Rs 100 it was yummers as hell. In Mumbai, we were crazy about this burger place called Serial Griller. It’s home-made and even sometimes delivered by the owner. The Burger Singh burgers are my Delhi-equivalent. The bun is so soft, you wanna make your bed in it and sleep!

Verdict: We already ordered 3 times from there and looks like it will stay on.


#6: Aarya on Apple Music


This boy I tell you. This is one reason I love the fact that my husband introduces new music to me. This boy has the most velvety voice ever and some really cool songs. He reminds me of Jason Mraz. Maybe a bit of Jack Johnson. Also a masala of Ed Sheeren. But I really liked his music: Download here.  Particularly the songs, Mum & Dad (reminded me of mine so much!) and Wasted For Love.

Verdict: Yep, totes awesome and addictive!

Handcrafted: Quirksmith, The Label That Takes Silver On A Whimsical Flight!

I used to be crazy about silver. In college, it was all about that Fab India kurta and oodles of oxidised silver. Always dull, always antique-y and probably a bit cliched also. But we hardly had any options when we were growing up – not so much social media really and no Insta trends and FB pages to ogle at.

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So we chose a few things that we saw: Posh – chic person, boho-whimsical person and ultra-traditional human. Everyone fell into these boxes and for those bordering on hippie-boho, silver jewellery was the uniform of sorts. But options for silver were very few. We had lots of jhumkas, a pair of anklets thrown in with some random meenakari work and of course, hoops (they were my fav!!!). Some girls wore semi-precious stones with their silver: amethyst, pearls, rubies and even opals. That was 1999.


In 2017, the rules seem to have changed. There are so many homegrown labels that are outdoing one another like no man’s business and excelling at making that humble jhumka into an artefact with a POV. One among them that keeps cropping up on my radar is Quirksmith. I like the label for a variety of reasons.

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  1. They make affordable silver jewellery: The nose rings retail at Rs 600.
  2. They do inspirational words: I like the Aham Brahmasmi ear cuff.
  3. They are almost like modern weaponry. Warrior-like, rustic yet contemporary.
  4. They are all made in 92.5 silver. I like that it’s not sterling silver. (Sterling silver and zircons are the worst!)
  5. They have a new thing on the menu: Ear plugs and they’re gorgeous. *mental note: buy them!


Started by Divya and Pragya – an NIFT ’04 grad with a specialisation in jewelry designing and an IIT Delhi and INSEAD graduate, this one’s got design and business going well for it. I even heard that Divya worked with Amrapali ( my fav store!) for a bit. Woohoo!



What should I buy? I am eyeing the ear cuffs with words on them. Definitely buy the ear plugs, they’re great for those who don’t have piercings. I like the sharp, warrior-like earrings with arrows, the “Nakhrewali” ring and those fun brooches. I might try the septum rings. My favourite piece has to be the Jugalbandi Nath. *mental note: wear more silver!

Well, so that’s Quirksmith for you and may it impress you.

Available here. Pricing starts at Rs 600. You might want to catch them at Lakme Fashion Week 2017 this time in Mumbai.
Date – 16-20 Aug
Place – St Regis

The Only Playlist Your Little Girl Needs!

Music isn’t my strong suit. I mainly go for pop, a bit of metal (that happens because of prolonged exposure to it by husband) and lots of Hindi/Tamil/Telugu stuff thrown in liberally. I own no genre, am loyal to no artiste. Except for those who are rocking the charts at the moment. With the exception of Dave Grohl, Beyonce, A.R. Rahman and Red Hot Chilli Peppers – these guys I will be happy to listen to at any given point in time. These are probably the only artistes I will see in concert I think.

Well, anyway, so when it came to my daughter, I naturally gave her my playlist with a healthy dose of Gaga, Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Meghan Trainor and she loved ’em. She even loves a good dose of Keeravani, Rahman and Arijit Singh – because we love all kinds at home. Infact, my best friend’s husband, let’s call him Sean, thought Meghan Trainor is a great role model especially when the girls (they have a 5 year old) get into their teens. The song “My name is No. My number is No” might just be their anthem when pock-marked teen boys approach them. #futuredating = check!


The husband on the other hand uses his time to show her every damn freaking playlist and plays it to glory. Beatles, Megadeth, Rolling Stones, new indie bands, metal, jazz….blah blah blah. And she has her favourites!

Now, while there is music that we give her, there’s also music she finds. Yep, the 4 year old keeps jumping from video to video on YouTube Kids and finds her own tune. And my daughter, as I’m seeing has a fierce independent streak of her own – you could give her the whole world to listen to but she picks what she wants meticulously and plays it with great care. You can’t bribe her, influence her or bombard her – she simply won’t do something just because you told her so. *Already dreading those teen years.

Anyway, these days, she tells me about this fun song she heard with Daniel Tiger (super cute!) or an interesting version of “Let it go…” that she hummed. A neat Wizard of Oz lyric or an interesting line from Mental Manadhil. I learn a lot from her everyday.

But of all the things she taught me, this playlist was my biggest and my loveliest surprise. As you know, she loves those ponies from My Little Pony and she found this Everfree album to be her favourite piece and it’s been a year now. She still loves it to death and makes sure it plays while she sleeps at night. And if are looking for something to play for a girl (boys too, why not!), this might just be the most amazing one with some kickass lyrics. From what I heard, the Legend of Everfree songwriter Daniel Ingram had said that he was majorly inspired by Mumford & Sons when writing and composing this song.


Here are the best things I thought made me love this one:

  1. It’s not just for kids, it’s for adults too.
  2. It’s so inspiring, like you want to get up and go achieve something!
  3. It’s about dreams and I’d like those better than a kid singing about a boy, a princess waiting for a prince or a fight brewing etc etc!

Just read this chunk of lyrics, would you?

Will you be lost by time or be part of history?/Will your story be told or remain a mystery?/Will they sing your song, telling all that you have done?/Time to make your choice, only you can be the one. 

Will you do something great with the time that you have here?/Will you make your mark?/Will you conquer what you fear?/And when you go back home, everybody there will see/You were part of the Legend of Everfree!

Will you find your greatest glory?/Will you be a falling star?/Here to learn what nature teaches/Here to learn more who you are

I thank my kiddo for this gem. And if you’re looking for something to add to your kid’s playlist, look no more than the Legend Of Everfree. The Equestria girls are a riot and they really have some great vibes and give out good learnings. And P.S there are other albums too but this is our family favourite!