Monday, January 24, 2011

Bonjour Pondy!

Also catch this post on Vogue India website here

The famous French colony of 18th century, Pondicherry’s charms are famous far and wide. The relaxed lifestyle, the French eateries and colonial architectural influence are some of the popular attractions. What I didn’t know was that Pondicherry is also becoming one of the fastest growing markets for eco-friendly and natural products. Blame it on its proximity to Auroville or the constant foreign tourist rush, the city’s shops are flooded with hand-made products.

Being hosted by my long time friend, Bidisha Samantray, I was bound to see the places that even lonely planet forgets to mention. So, reporting from a secluded beach in Auroville, I’m writing this post sitting outside my hut with only the sounds of a roaring ocean and some chirping of the birds.

My shopping excursion had to start with Living Art, the freshest store opened in the white town on the street Rue du Bazar Saint Laurant. Housing some of the most beautifully crafted products, providing employment to several villages across Orissa, Rajasthan and Gujarat, Bidisha’s store is full of charming little things from apparel to home furnishings to antiques and furniture. Best thing about this store is its selection of merchandise and its apt pricing. Its a must visit for its gorgeous appliqué bags, kaftan tops and innovative home furnishings.

The second Destination was Via Pondicherry, which was particularly nice for its selection of leather bags and accessories.

Next, Bidisha took me to the magical La Maison Rose, a colonial bunglow converted to a shopping place and restaurant.

This Bunglow houses three beautiful shops Oh la la!, Domus and Amethyst. I loved Oh La La! for its simplicity of design. The crinoline skirt with a wired hem is perfect a statement piece or a petticoat for gorgeous shaping.

Giving high street a break, Bidisha took me street shopping to her favourite roadside vendor, Opposite the Post Office, this is a treasure trove for all export brands that Indians are devoid of otherwise. You would be surprised to find some incredible chic pieces here!

My final stop, before leaving to Auroville was the fisherman market which is a great place for the plastic weave ‘lunch box’ bags and traditional imitation jewellery and other knick-knacks. Do not miss this market. Its a great place for photography too. (Though I forgot mine in all the excitement)

Also, when in Pondy do not miss having cocktails at the terrace top restaurant Qualithe, a rather shady place, popular hangout for the young tourists and savvy locals. Satsanga, a fine dining restaurant is another recommendation for brilliant French food.

While you’re walking down the promenade and past the beautiful Indo-French architectural wonders, you come to realise that this city is as charming as the decadent rosebud carefully nestled in middle of that old romantic novel. So totally classic and yet so endearing and special. A trip I’ll never forget.

Much Love,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Goa : Story of Sara

 A New York Arts student comes down to India falls in love with the Indian arts and stays back for two months to come back to the place she calles her second home - Goa. This is the story of Sara Fisher. She came to Goa two years ago and fell in love with the rajasthani style of paintings.  

Pukhraj ji, her guru and brother took her in as an intern and taught her his traditional painting style. She went to his small family village in Rajasthan and got acquainted with his family and village folks. She keeps visiting them from time to time and spends most of her days in goa in his art gallery on Baga Beach.

Pukhraj ji's younger brother calls her 'mausi'. She says that she hasn't formed a new family but found them again.

Sara believes that Pukhraj ji's one of the finest artist she's come across and deserves the status that most arstistes around the world have achieved.

I was bowled over by her simplcity and dedication to painting. The three days that I visited the gallery, I always found Sara immersed in her painting. She finds it very therapeutic and enoys the quiet and comforting company of Pukhraj ji.

The brass ring is the symbol of their relationship as siblings. 

As I write this post, Sara must be in a small Rajasthani village baking chapatis on make-shift fire burners and spending her days dressing up as a rajasthani folk doll for everybody's amusement.

She's also coming up with a website for Ganesha Arts, Pukhraj Ji's art gallery and trying to put up an exhibition for him in New York. 

So, what new bonds did you form today?

Much Love, 

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Orange Bicycle


Tucked away in one of Bangalore’s quiet residential area - Indiranagar, lies an absolutely delightful little store for all things fun and quirky. Started by 4 young girls as an endeavour to bring together innovative designs from all across India to the shoppers of Bangalore, The Orange Bicycle houses more than 80 designers’ products ranging from apparel to accessories to home decor. The store is sky rocketing on the Quirk quotient and a must visit if you’re in Bangalore.

This being my first visit to the garden city, I made it point to hangout with the happening Bangalore crowd. And who better to take shopping than the super awesome fashion bloggers – Ruhi Sheikh of Republic of Chic and Smrithi Rao of Vintage Obsessions. After a brief catching up and discussing the future of blogging and other random topics, we got down to what we do best – Shopping! Well, almost. So here is a selection of products we recommend from Orange Bicycle:

Ruhi is a minimalist and recommends the powder blue twist lock clutch.

Pic 2
She also finds this printed bag pretty cool.

Smrithi fell in love with the patchwork ankle high thong shoes and purchased them in a heartbeat!

I loved the kitschy vibe of this bag, which unlike the done-to-death movie poster bags, its still very interesting.

The orange Bicycle dress was the first thing that caught our eye. Simple, and so totally chic. Its a must, must must buy!

The ruffles on this top are so perfect for the resort wear mood that I’m in!

The Red, the chains, the statement necklace .... what’s not to love?

Smrithi and Ruhi were the perfect city guides and I had such a blast doing this post with them. 

My next stopover is Pondicherry, stay tuned!

Much Love,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Style Quickie - Olly Alva

Al's Tattoo Parlour at Hill Road, Bandra

This is the second post on my long introduced segment : Style Quickie
The first post was about the incredibly spunky Sapna Bhavnani,

I'm so glad next person be featured here is Olly Alva, a tattoo artist based out of mumbai. He's part owner of the revolutionary Tattoo Parlour run by him and his brother on the Hill Road, Mumbai. Besides the unending list of celebrities who got inked here, most of Bandra's hipster crowd can be seen hanging out here catching up on coffee and contributing to creative thinking.
The tiny place that they run this parlour from is so psychedelic with hand-drawn graffiti and alien posters. 
Here's a nugget of our 2 hour long conversation about random things that inspire us.

One of Tattoo Artists in action

What is the most popular tattoo at your parlour?
Its the butterfly! Even though I'm bored-to-death making this one, I wouldn't stop... its big business!

Olly's favourite tattoo

Which one of your many tattoos do you like the most?
Its the one on my calf. Still Work in progress. Its inspired by William Blake's End of Days picture. I find this painting very interesting. I don't read too much into it. Tattoos represent a person's state of mind at that particular time only.

Do you help a person in deciding on a tattoo design?

Well if they seek my help, I do but I think its a very personal decision and I prefer if people draw their own tattoo. Nothing is more exciting than originality. Everybody is an artist. That's why I promote the Dada-ism movement. We need to stop treating art like some snob's private posession. Everybody has a right to creative expression and all of it is art.

Tattoo inks

Whats your favorite book?

I don't like reading too much. Though I do enjoy my friend Himanshu Shady's writings. Its a Dada form of written expression.

Pokhara Valley in Nepal


Your favourite travel destination?

Pokhra in Nepal is the most beautiful place I've visited. Its only in the mountains, away from the screechy city sounds and in the dark deep woods that I feel like I know myself. I've visited Pokhra plenty of times and don't think I'll ever get bored of this place. I think Alapuso in Kerela is also very captivating.

Olly, blinded by sun!

Your choice of Music?

You'll laugh when I tell you this. I hate meaningful music. I like my music to mean nothing. My favourite sound track is from Ice Age2.  I'm a nut is the best track ever! I enjoy meaningless, shitty music.

You mean, like britney spears?

Haha, No! That is deep stuff.

What is Fashion?

Good enough to cover yourself against the changing weather.

So if you're ever short of inspiration or in need of a random chit chat, do stop by Al's Tattoo Parlour. If you're lucky you might also bump into Olly's 1year old nephew who refuses to eat food without Sheela ki Jawani playing in the background!

Creativity is the key to change and cannot be restricted to a narrow group of specialists called artists.
A DADA inpired graffiti by Olly's German friend

Much Love,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Last Days of Sun

Check out my latest post for Vogue India website...  

Know all about little treasure cove that Goa is HERE

Much love,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wong Kar Wai + Muse + Eva Green + Christian Dior = Nuclear Fission!

This is all I want this year... unbelievable talent, gorgeousness and luxury.
Here's to dreaming on.

HAPPY 2011! 

Much Love,