Friday, February 26, 2010

Lakme Fashion Week Summer Resort 2010 Preview - Vijay Balhara

A stylish brand ambassador for his own brand VJB, launched in 2006, Vijay Balhara is no stranger to the world of glamour. As a renowned model, he walked the ramps worldwide, for over 500 shows, strutting down the runway for the topmost brands across the globe. It was this exposure that gave Vijay an inherent sense of style that easily reflects in his designs. Vijay’s show at Lakme Fashion Week Summer Resort 2010, scheduled for 7th March, consolidates Vijay’s position as a promising, emerging designer, as one of the brave new breed that is redefining Indian fashion.
Through VJ B his endeavor is to glamorize his favorite fabric cotton and the centuries old rural Indian block print motifs and silhouettes in the most contemporary way as is evident in his collection “Borala Nautch” 2010
The theme for his Collection, “Borala Nautch” combines two words “Borala” and “Nautch”. Borala is an ornamental head gear used by women in rural North India, while the word “Nautch” is an anglicized version of the word “Naach”, or Nritya (Sanskrit), which means dance. Vijay’s collection takes the best elements of the ethnic, rural silhouettes and motifs, spiked with the rich textures and colors of the Nautch Girls’ clothing. These he blends with the contemporary forms and styles, to create a collection that is perfect for the Urban Indian Woman.
If his past collections, retailed at Mumbai’s leading premium stores like AZA, AMARA and Mogra are anything to go by, this young designer is all set to make true his commitment to taking Indian fashion to the world, one collection at a time.

For event schedule and designer profiles, visit Lakme Fashion Week Site.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Big Fat Indian Wedding

Just a few months ago... and yet it seems like years ago. Things were so different then. This was at my sister-in-law's wedding. On 13th December. Less than a month ago, I had lost my mother. So the occasion was meant to give me a break from my grief.

Indian weddings are, like any wedding in any part of the world, family affairs. They are meant for bonding with your friends and family, and dressing up. There are so many ceremonies, and so many occasions to dress up for. I kept my make-up minimal. Thankfully, winters are good for my skin. And I found this salon in Lucknow where the lady did magic with my hair. The Sari is done by a very talented designer, Vishal Mehra.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Own Wonderland!

Someone recently said to me that you live only once, but you sleep every night. How true! My bedroom is the most private, intimate space I can create for myself right now. So it was that I started with an unsightly hole in the wall, a discolored blue bed left by the owner, and bare walls.

The less you have to work with, the better you can see an idea in your head. Material clutter hampers creativity. So I got to work. I got the bed removed and got more space in return. I got two thick mattresses kept on the floor, and that’s my bed. The windows got draped in blue and two chairs from the loft found new life with a kiss of white paint.

The old set of closets, brown and dull, stood there silently as every other corner of the house found its share of vibrant colors. So I dressed it up a little. The closet, I mean. It looks so alive now, and happy.

I sleep every night in this little wonderland of mine. Soon new colors will find their way into this room. Like fishes in green grass. Like red cows in a violet field. Like yellow birds in a Indigo sky. And I slip into dreams as colorful as the things around me. Not bad!

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Home And I

The relationship between my house and me is thriving. It responds to my needs, it flourishes under my care, and it fills my life with warmth. I think I am going to make my house my Valentine this year. I will buy it some flowers and I will buy it a gift. We will have a quiet date, with a nice dinner for one, and some candles and good music. It sounds better than bouquets and gifts and fake notes which now hold no meaning. True feelings are held within. They are expressed without a sound. Love is a wordless emotion. I think I am falling in love. I feel as if I am in love when I can smell the fresh, hand-washed laundry. I feel on top of the world when I cut and chop vegetables, and watch my simple meals cook. I feel great walking from room to room, watching all the happy colors unfold in my life.

I went through a phase when every memory became regret. When I could not look back without breaking down. When I did not put up the mirrors on the walls, because I could not bear to look at myself. But my house has made all that go away.
I feel a little more like myself every day. I am growing back into my skin. And it feels good. I am sticking to my promise of no clutter. So far, I haven’t bought any furniture for the house, and it doesn’t seem to be complaining. I found two run-down chairs in the loft, and painted them white. I sent away the old bed that was lying in the bedroom, and got two mattresses, that now make my bed. The living room has two bookshelves and some floor seating. My kitchen has all the things I will use for cooking, and nothing else. And as I rid myself of the clutter around me, I feel my life lightening up. I feel as if for the first time in years, I have space to breathe. I am there for my friends I lot more than before. I can see things I did not before. I have become more tolerant, especially with myself.

So far so good. It’s not like there aren’t any bad days. But as long as I can balance them with good ones, I guess this plan is working. On a less solemn note, I felt that the wardrobe in my bedroom needed a make-over. What do you think of Phase I?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Food For Soul

The kitchen is almost set now. I need a shelf, and a table for the microwave, and I am done. I remember the time when kitchen was not just a place where one cooked. Mom would make me sit on the kitchen slab, and I would tell her about my day at the school. She made the food look fun, making a smiley face on the bread, and putting a carrot nose on a small plate full of rice. She always served the food hot, and wanted to know everything about my day. Every subject, from Hindi to History, was discussed. I’d complain about the teachers, and she’d laugh. Then she’d tell me something interesting from her day: Something that a seven year old would find interesting and happy.

Food was simple, and always tasted so good. It wasn’t cooked from ready-cut vegetables, or pre-mixed spices. She did not have the fancy equipment I have. She used pestle and mortar, and made butter at home. And we could eat all we wanted, but we never did put on any weight. She did not get any snacks in the house. We would munch on carrots, or she’d cook something fresh. I was too young to acknowledge, or even register the hard work that went into making it the happiest time of my life. She worked, but never ignored the house. And could always be counted upon to make the perfect “pressure cooker” cake.

Then, years later, I got married and my kitchen was different. It had an OTG, a microwave, a hand blender, a food processor, and my refrigerator was stocked with ready to serve, frozen meals. My dinner was cooked in preservatives, garnished with artificial flavoring, and was served hot off the microwave. I cooked, but did what we commonly refer to as “short-cut” cooking. It’s not that I did not know cooking, I just wasn’t interested. I did not realize that your kitchen, and the food you cook in it, ties your family together. We had house-help who cooked. And I wasn’t even there to see what she was doing. My family ate food made by a paid employee. It had all the right spices and all the wrong emotions. You become what you eat. Since there was no involvement with the process, we became distant, aloof.

In my new kitchen, I have a refrigerator, but it only has fresh vegetables and fruits. The freezer only has ice that I will use for fresh, home-made juices and cold soups. My microwave will mostly be used on the “bake” setting. And there will be no house-help doing the cooking. I will knead the dough, chop the vegetables, puree them in my compact grinder, and finally, I will use a pestle and mortar. The kitchen is full of colors, and soon, it will have friends coming over, sharing stories. We will cook, and tell each other about our day, and we will eat the food that I will make from my mother’s old recipes. Maybe, I will make a smiley on the bread, and garnish the rice with a carrot nose.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Kala Ghoda - A Day At MORA

Second day at Kala Ghoda was for MORA responsibilities, as Elbert and I did crowd control at the stall. MORA is a collection by Ritika Mittal, a dear friend and a talented designer. Her exquisite collection is created from rare fabrics hand-picked from across India, and adorned with traditional embroideries and techniques. The result is a collection where every piece is unique, and special enough to be an heirloom. As the crowds poured in, and appreciation became difficult to handle, I found myself in the role of a bouncer, letting only a specific number of guests enter the stall at a time. My favourite MORA piece of the day was the skirt-set on the mannequin. Made from 32 meters of finest Mul cotton, this piece is held together with 107 pleats around the waist. Along with the dupatta and a beautiful fabric for the tunic, it would be a breathtaking addition to any wardrobe.

Ritika was in her element, personally attending to every visitor. A daunting task, but MORA is about choosing the right piece for yourself. After all, MORA does mean "Mine". I did get to visit some other interesting stalls and will put up the posts soon. And yes, I did pick up some lovely things for the house. You will get to see them too.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kala Ghoda - Day 1

Barely made it in time to see some of Ritika Mittals' awesome collection - MORA - at Kala Ghoda. Day 1 is usually very crowded, and chaotic. Stall owners are still trying to get the logistics right and get in place their own ways of crowd management. Some pretty interesting stuff there. Will cover all that later. For now, just a few pictures that I managed to get.

Roseanne and Ellie pose for the camera.

Me, Roseanne and the mannequin. I am wearing a MORA sari.

Ritika's mother taking a quick break

Ritika, tired but happy with the success of the MORA collection

An interesting installation. In fact, the only one I managed to see.

What makes a home?

What makes a home? Is it the customized furniture, expensive gadgets, or the large crystal vases? Is it the Lava Lamps, the one-of-a-kind chandeliers, or rare ferns? To me, the home is made of small things. Like Old Gods in new forms. Like the Lord Ganesha here… in his “most awesome ever” avatar… a Russian Doll! Bought off a street side hawker at Colaba Causeway. I like.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


This Sunday, I shifted into my new house. And the first phase of a journey began. Friends and family helped put things in place. I needed some new curtains, and a few cushions. I feel that cushions give warmth to a home. There is an episode of “coupling” where Steve talks about the uselessness of cushions. I disagree. I find them integral to a cozy space. As I place things around the house, it seems to respond, by looking pretty one moment and chic the other, and then moving on to being wild bohemian, or classic or contemporary. In short, just the placement and an odd piece here or there can make it look different.
It’s pretty much like us, as individuals. Small changes can bring about all the difference. I am changing. The changes are small. But I feel a whole lot different. After a really long time, it feels as if life is moving forward, things are happening, and I am not living the same day over and over again. A week ago, I made mood-boards for all the rooms. Will try and post those soon. That way, we all can keep track of my progress. You all are free to strike off an element from the mood board, and add your own. While I rework my life and home, I think I will find a stable ground, where I will love the style my house acquires, and the new individual I become.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Moving on...

Yesterday, I shifted into my own house. It’s a rented 1BHK apartment. It’s small and airy and bright. It’s mine.

I grew up in an extremely protective family, with parents who took care of everything we needed. And then I went to live in a hostel where everything was easily available. When I did shift into an apartment, it was with a couple of other friends. We were students living on a minimal budget, but we did not want more than we needed, and life was simple. We lived out of a couple of suitcases, and the first one to buy a cupboard to keep her stuff was considered vain. Then I got married and shifted into my husband’s home. For four years, that was my home too. We bought a lot of stuff we did not need. I have already told you that story.

There is something not many relationship experts tell you. When there is clutter in a house, it invariable finds its way into your relationships. And closed spaces with too many things in them start dying. They cannot survive too much too soon. Too many things, too many thoughts, too many broken promises - We can’t survive gluttony. It’s self-serving, and very destructive. And most of all, it affects your relationship with yourself.

But for the first time in my life, I am living alone. And living alone is not the same as living on your own. There is a subtle but important difference. When you live alone, you live with yourself. When there is no other relationship to lean on, you have yourself. You fly solo. And that’s the most important commitment you make: Longer than a marriage, deeper than friendship, sweeter than motherhood. If you can smile when you look at your face in the mirror, and feel happy, your relationship with yourself is going well.

The apartment I rented was bare walls when I moved in. On the third floor. The door bell doesn’t work. The kitchen tap is leaking. The windows don’t shut properly. I don’t have a working kitchen yet, or an internet connection. The bathroom was left dirty by the previous tenants. And still, when I spent a big part of yesterday with the most important people in my life helping me set up my house, it was one of the happiest days of my life. I woke up this morning and said hello to the best Monday ever. A yellow and red living room, a blue themed bedroom, and a country style kitchen ... And this time friends, no clutter.