Friday, July 28, 2017

For The Love Of Six Yards – Part 2

* This is a continuation of my previous post. Read my previous post about Sakhi Fashions here.

Sakhi Fashions offer sarees for both formal occasions as well as for a relaxed and casual evening out. For instance, their Kanchi sarees are a class apart. Kancheepuram silk sarees have a rich history behind them. Draping a Kanchi saree instantly gives an opulent and royal look to any woman. No doubt, Kanchi sarees have always been on the wishlist of any saree connoisseur and in many families, the Kanchi sarees of mothers and grandmothers are preserved gently and passed on from one generation to the next with great care and love. 

However, if you are looking for something a little more affordable, then I would suggest Sakhi Fashion’s chiffon sarees. Bright, trendy and vibrant, their chiffon sarees are not only pocket friendly but they will definitely make you stand out in a crowd.

I’ve always been a fan of women-led businesses and was delighted to learn that the entrepreneurs behind Sakhi Fashions are a mother-daughter duo! Chandra and Neeta Rajendran have been in the Indian ethnic wear business for quite some time and over the years they seem to have built Sakhi into a one stop shop for all your fashion needs. Not just online but in fact, they even have physical stores in Bangalore and Hyderabad. 

What’s more, I found it heartening to know that like me, Neeta too has switched career tracks from Engineering to another field (which happens to be Journalism in my case and Fashion Designing in Neeta’s) because she wanted to follow her heart. It’s heart-warming indeed to come across a business that is being run so efficiently and successfully by a mother-daughter pair, thanks to their passion for design and fashion. It certainly wouldn’t be surprising if they soon become one of the top names among Indian saree designers in my opinion! Go girl power!

They have such an amazing range of sarees that it is quite difficult to pick one to be honest! I have at times felt that the world of online saree shopping hasn’t quite kept pace with the online shopping boom. While it is easy to shop for western wear, books, toys and electronics online, the choices for reliable and dependable online saree shopping is somewhat limited. Hence, it was really satisfying to come across Sakhi Fashions with their user friendly website and wide variety of designer sarees

Actually, even my family members were initially sceptical when I told them that I have ordered a saree from Sakhi Fashions. However, once they saw the saree in person, they admitted that their fears were misplaced. So once again, if you are looking for a saree which will win you over right away, do check out Sakhi Fashions on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram

For The Love Of Six Yards – Part 1

If there is one garment that has always held my fancy, it has got to be the saree. Right from my innocent childhood days when I used to indulge in some pretend play with my mother’s saree to this day when I own a shelf full of sarees, the saree has never lost its charm on me. So, when I got a chance to review Sakhi Fashions, naturally I was more than thrilled!

They have such an amazing range of sarees that it is quite difficult to pick one to be honest! I have at times felt that the world of online saree shopping hasn’t quite kept pace with the online shopping boom. While it is easy to shop for western wear, books, toys and electronics online, the choices for reliable and dependable online saree shopping is somewhat limited. Hence, it was really satisfying to come across Sakhi Fashions with their user friendly website and wide variety of designer sarees. Actually, even my family members were initially sceptical when I told them that I have ordered a saree from Sakhi Fashions. However, once they saw the saree in person, they admitted that their fears were misplaced.

Eventually, I chose a beautiful green and yellow lace crossover saree. The crossover saree is a unique design that has been conceptualized by Sakhi Fashions. This saree gives the illusion of wearing a half saree, but it is much more graceful and elegant! The pallu is made of chiffon which makes it lightweight and quite easy to drape. The lace material is of high quality and flows beautifully when worn. 

The red raw silk border serves to enhance the entire look of the saree while the contrast applique work on the pallu shows the amount of thought and attention to detail that has gone into this lace crossover saree. 

What’s more, I am wearing this saree without a single safety pin! And mind you, it’s not as though I am a saree-wearing veteran who wears sarees every day! I only wear sarees for special occasions because although I love sarees, I am a bit clumsy in handling it – added to the fact that my toddler keeps me on my toes all the time. However, I must admit that this lace crossover saree was highly manageable to wear and I could drape it within a few minutes.

Do you know what is one of the most frustrating things about deciding to wear a saree? It’s finding the correct blouse to go with it! Tailors these days are a dime a dozen no doubt. However, they take their own sweet time to stitch one blouse. Despite charging a high rate, often they mess up the stitching as well. An ill-fitting blouse can spoil the entire look of the saree, even if the saree by itself is exceptional. Like me, if you find that you too are at your wits end about getting the perfect saree blouse, fear not. Sakhi Fashions will even tailor a blouse for you according to your specifications! The blouse that I am wearing was stitched by Sakhi Fashions. 

The process is pretty simple. Once you choose your saree and decide that you want your blouse stitched by them, they will send you a blouse measurement chart as well as a list of choices for various parts of the blouse such as the style of the neckline, length of sleeves etc. You will need to get someone to take your measurements and fill up this form accordingly. Once you send them the filled form they will start working on your blouse and it should be ready within a few days.

Regarding my experience with the blouse, I would rate it 6.5/10. It was a bit loose for me and I had to alter it here and there. However, I am not very sure if the mistake is at my end or theirs, because as I do not have any tailoring experience, it stands to reason that I might not have taken my measurements precisely. Therefore I assume that this might have introduced a slight margin of error.

Overall though I am quite happy with Sakhi Fashions. Their customer service personnel were very polite and understanding. Their packaging was neat and professional and shipment was speedy. If you are looking  for a saree that speaks for itself, then you must check out Sakhi Fashions without fail. They are also on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Happy shopping!

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Scarf Story

One of the things that I really liked about living in places where there is a notable change in the weather conditions throughout the year, is the opportunity to dress up differently according to the season. Winters meant thick jackets and heavy boots, Springs meant it was time to pull out all the light cardigans and shrugs, Summers meant light, flowy fabrics and sandals, autumns meant maxi dresses and pretty scarves. However, originally being from Chennai also meant that I have a limited number of stoles and scarves in my wardrobe, because let’s face it, no one wants to wear a scarf in the heat of Chennai – except perhaps on a few cool days in Dec/Jan.

 I did possess a fair selection of scarves in various colours, materials and sizes, but somehow I hadn’t yet got my hands on a proper square scarf. I wanted a neutral scarf which could be paired with a handful of outfits at the very least and hence started my hunt at Jabong. Bam! It is really easy to get overwhelmed by the load of options that will fill up your computer screen despite all the filters that you might apply! After wading through innumerable choices, almost all of which, were literally calling out to me, I somehow decided that I liked the scarves by a brand called CoolThreads.

I had never heard of this brand before but their designs were attractive and their prizes were pretty affordable as well, so I decided to give them a shot. After much thought, I finally zeroed in on a square black silk scarf with little skulls printed all over it. Loved the grunge effect!

I received the scarf within a few days as expected of Jabong and the scarf is everything that I wanted it to be! It is pretty lightweight and so doesn’t feel heavy around your neck. It is also smooth and silky and so doesn’t feel scratchy or uncomfortable at all, which is a pet peeve I have against many scarves. Also the printed skull design is on the smaller side ; so it is edgy enough without being over the top. To be honest, I’ve only tried on this scarf a few times – I am saving it to wear on a special occasion next month – my birthday! Black is my favourite colour and I intend to go all black on my special day- a black maxi dress, black strappy wedges, a black belt to cinch in my waist and of course my new black silk scarf! I shall round up the whole look with some trendy oxidised silver jewellery and a touch of makeup voila! The birthday girl is ready to party!

Of course, this scarf can be worn in a number of different ways. If you need any help on how to style a square scarf all you need to do is a quick search on google. If you are looking to pick up some nice scarves do check out CoolThreads at Jabong. I’m sure you won’t be able to stop yourself!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Discovering Colorbar

I’m someone who isn’t an expert in makeup. Although I have an interest as well as access to a wide variety of cosmetics, I use only the most basic stuff, mostly because I don’t really know how to use many of the products that are available in the market today. Honestly, I’m impressed with those people who can pull off a perfect and flawless look in what seems like minutes!

Eyeliner is one of those simple make up items that I have somewhat managed to get the hang of in recent years and so it is one of the few things which gets over quickly in my vanity box. I’ve been on the hunt for a good and affordable eyeliner for quite some time when I came across the Ultimate Eyeliner from Colorbar. I’ve tried several brands in the past such as Lakme, Revlon, Maybelline, Benefit and L’Oreal but till now I didn’t get a chance to check out products from Colorbar. Having heard a lot about the quality of this brand I decided to give it a shot and promptly placed an order for the Ultimate Eyeliner from Colorbar in Black on Jabong.

I was travelling in a few days and I was worried if the eyeliner would reach me in time but thankfully it was deliver within a couple of days. Note that this was also the first time that I was ordering from Jabong and I must say that I am quite pleased with their service.

The Ultimate Eyeliner from Colorbar in Black retails for 550 INR at Jabong and you get 1 ml of product. The packaging is neat, sleek and very portable – you can easily carry this in your handbag for any touch ups if needed. 

The black is dark and intense – just the way I like it! I wore the eyeliner for entire day and despite the busy day it did not smudge. It is not a waterproof eyeliner which works for me since I wear contact lenses and waterproof eyeliners tend to spoil my lenses eventually. This eyeliner comes off your eyes smoothly with a little eye makeup remover or some cotton dipped in baby oil – absolutely no need for excessive rubbing and tugging the delicate skin around the eyes. The flexible felt tip is a definite plus in my book as it makes application easy and effortless, especially for people with unsteady hands like yours truly.

-  Affordable
 Intense Black
- Easy to use felt tip
 Sleek and easy to carry around in a purse


 Not waterproof; so if you sweat a lot or if it is going to be a rainy day, then beware!

I was really happy with my Colorbar eyeliner that a few days later when I happened to spot a Colorbar counter at the Angels store in Egmore, Chennai, I decided to explore other Colorbar products as well. I ended up buying a face highlighter/blusher in a lovely bronzy shade. Many of the face highlighters that I found in India tended to have a fair amount of glitter in them, which I totally did not want. However, this particular one from Colorbar doesn’t add any shimmer but simply gives a beautiful glow to my face. So pretty!

There are a whole range of Colorbar products that are beckoning to me and you can be sure that I’m going to try many of them out soon enough! Some of the products on my wishlist currently are the Radiant Glow Illuminator, the BB Crème, Teal Just Smoky Kajal, Peacock Blue Nail Paint, Amethyst Spark Glide Pencil… and the list goes on! What about you? Have you tried any products of Colorbar? Which are your favourites? Do let me know and I’ll check them out!

*This post is sponsored by Jabong. However please note that it is an unbiased review of my personal shopping experience.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Book Review: Ravi Subramanian’s The Bestseller She Wrote

When the opportunity to review popular Indian author Ravi Subramanian’s latest book came up, I jumped at the chance. I’ve read some of his earlier books and have found them to be quite engaging – except for certain chunks in most of them which delved far too deeply into the world of banking; In my opinion for a layperson such as myself most of the banking processes and procedures that he usually describes in depth tends to be a little dry and I often just skimmed through those passages. However, touted as a “middle-aged romance thriller” The Bestseller She Wrote, promised to be a little different.

At first, The Bestseller She Wrote seems to be just another novel based on the drama and dilemmas involved in relationships. The character sketch of Aditya Kapoor definitely reminded me of Chetan Bhagat – or perhaps Subramanian was simply describing who he aspires to be? In any case, we have the male protagonist who apparently has it all – money, fame, success and a loving family to boot. And we have the female protagonist, the femme fatale in the form of Shreya Kaushik – beautiful, smart and sexy. What transpires between them when there is mutual admiration and crackling chemistry between two people who see each other and interact with each other almost every day, especially in this age of social media and instant messaging when it is oh-so-easy to always remain connected to each other's consciousness? I liked the fact that Subramanian has added several layers to most of the characters and made them believable. He doesn’t really project anyone as totally bad or completely good – he shows them as human, with their positives and negatives. He doesn’t paint anyone as a saint or a sinner, but rather as people with different shades and facets to them. I also like the fact that he weaves in real life events, situations and people into the story, thus making it more relatable and relevant.

I think that Subramanian wanted to push himself and explore a different genre of writing with this book. After a series of books on banking, crime, fraud and the like, perhaps he wished to test himself, to try and see if he was as good with writing romance as he is with writing thrillers. Or perhaps he wanted to reach out to a wider target readership base. Or maybe he figured that a little bit of spice could help him land a movie deal in Bollywood for his book. Whatever be the reason, I must confess that I personally feel that although the romance part of the novel is altogether fine, it does not match up to his skill in crime fiction. At one point in the book, he talks about how Aditya Kapoor doesn’t seem to be comfortable writing erotica – and I have a sneaking suspicion that he is talking about himself. Maybe it is a cultural thing but many Indian authors – especially male - seem to be unable to grasp the sensuousness of intimate scenes.

While the intimacy might be racy or even straight out of the fantasies of the male mind, it isn’t as seamless and smooth as one might have liked. The pace of the book only really picks up halfway through, when Subramanian lands onto his comfort ground and does what he does best. The twists and turns that one has come to expect from his books don’t disappoint here as well.

The Bestseller She Wrote is also peppered with helpful tips and useful pointers for wannabe writers. Perhaps, the author got tired of doling out the same advice for the rather repetitive question that one tends to ask authors: “What tips would you give for new authors?” and decided to pen them down once and for all so that the next time when someone asks this question, he could simply direct them to this book!

On the whole, The Bestseller She Wrote makes for an interesting read. It gives us a peak into an author’s mind and life, and also a glimpse of how the publishing industry works today, while simultaneously living up to its promise of being a good thriller, if not a great “romantic” thriller!

I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Expat Life: How To Get A Driving License In Ajman

A long-time dream of mine came true recently – finally managed to get my UAE driving license! I’m pretty thrilled about it and I’m definitely looking forward to drive regularly from now on. I did have an Indian driving license as well, which I had obtained about 10 years back, but honestly I didn’t really know to drive till a few weeks back. Although I still need to practise a bit in our own car, I can see myself becoming an independent and confident driver a few months down the line. It doesn't seem like an impossible dream anymore!

How To Get A Driving License In Ajman: Getting Started

As most people in this region are well aware, getting a driving license over here is not an easy task. I thought of sharing my experience so that it might be useful to anyone who is thinking about getting a driving license in Ajman. The first thing that you would need to do is to go to the Traffic & Licensing department, commonly known as Muroor, and open your license file. Ladies are eligible to apply for a license to drive automatic light vehicles. You will need to make an initial payment of 1350 AED for this, which includes the cost for a lecture and the theory test.

The lecture will be held within a week or so and it lasts for approximately a couple of hours. Topics such as signals, road rules, best practices while driving, safety tips etc will be covered and you will be provided with a guide book as well. Once done with the lecture, you will be required to take an online signal test within a couple of weeks. If you’ve paid attention during the lecture and read through the guide book it is quite easy to clear the online test.

Prepping For The Parking Test

Once you pass the online test, next comes the eye test followed by the parking test. An initial payment of 170 AED needs to be done for this and then you will need to contact a driving school or a driving instructor for classes. Classes cost 50 AED for an hour and you will be taken to a practise area where a mock test area is setup. Please note that you need to pay 10 AED entry fee to practise in this area. The Parking test involves 3 tests in all: garage parking, parallel parking as well as bridge/slope.

It takes about a week’s time to get familiar with the parking techniques and once you feel confident you can pay 250 AED and take up the parking test. There is no need to book an appointment in advance for the parking test. On whichever day you intend to take the test, show up at Muroor, pay the fees and proceed to take the test. You will need to pass all three parts of this test; if you fail any section, then you will again need to pay 250 AED and redo the failed parts till you clear all three.

Almost There! Road Test

So you have successfully cleared the parking test. Congrats! Next up is of course the road test. Again, you will need to take up driving classes and your instructor will teach you the nuts and bolts of driving in Ajman. The number of classes that you will need to take will depend on how quickly you grasp the concepts of driving! Usually, you will be advised to give the first test a couple of weeks later. It helps to go for regular driving classes so that you don’t lose touch, especially if you are new to driving. The first few days can be pretty confusing and frustrating; you might even wonder if you will ever learn to drive. Don’t worry and hang in there! You will get there, trust me!

Generally it takes a few attempts before you will clear the road test. I took 6 attempts. Each attempt will cost 200 AED. You will need to make an appointment in advance and they typically allow you to choose any week day which falls one week after your last test. You will be expected to show up at Muroor between 8 AM – 11 AM on your test date and submit your papers and your learner’s license to the lady police inspector over there. She will sort out all the candidates and will allocate you to a traffic policeman along with 3 other lady candidates. All 4 will be taken in a single trip and each will be given about 5 minutes to test your driving skills. 

Most people, including me, tend to get nervous before the test. Take a few deep breaths, stay calm, concentrate on driving and follow the traffic inspector’s instructions. There is no need to be afraid of the inspectors – the majority of them are polite and will help you out while driving in case you are unable to control the car. You will be assessed on a variety of things such as how good is your steering control, brake and accelerator control, overtaking, changing lanes, at roundabouts and at signals, respecting other road users, following traffic rules and regulations etc. Even if you do fail a few times, do not get discouraged. View it as an opportunity to improve your driving skills.

At last, the day which you thought might never come will arrive and ta da! You will pass! Yayyy! Now you will need to pay another 200 AED and submit your photo along with your learner’s license and voila! Your brand new driving  license will be ready in a few minutes! All the best!

P.S: Keep in mind that in Ajman only lady instructors can teach ladies and only male instructors can teach men. In case you need to contact a good lady driving instructor, do drop me a word and I can pass on the details of the woman who taught me to drive. She is friendly, punctual and really good J

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Diwali - My Way!

Happy Diwali! People say that one should never forget our roots…. Where we came from and from where our story began. In today’s globalised world, traditions remain one way to stay in touch with our roots. India is a country which is deeply steeped in traditions owing to its diversity and vast cultural heritage.

Each region, state and even family in India have their own set of traditions which carry special significance and meaning to those who practise it – and these traditions even transcend religious boundaries. Case in point, despite being a Christian, we have always found ways to celebrate Diwali in our home too. Be it donning festive clothes, feasting on delicacies or having fun with fireworks, it is really too hard to resist joining in the celebrations with your neighbours and friends during Diwali! Frankly, I think that Diwali is more of a national festival than a religious one!

However, while it is indeed nice to continue our age old traditions, the truth is not all traditions continue to make sense in this day and age. Some traditions might no longer be applicable in this era while we choose to give up certain traditions due to lack of time and there are a few more traditions which we go ahead and modify for the sake of convenience to suit our lifestyles today. Moreover, let’s face it – sometimes traditions tend to get a tad bit boring, repetitive and monotonous. This is precisely why, this Diwali, I decided to give a twist to the humble gulab jamun this year and made sweat potato gulab jamuns instead! They were soft, plump and delicious- not to mention healthier than plain old maida gulab jamuns – #TraditionMyWay done right!

Apart from food, the next obvious aspect of any festival is of course dressing up! And a traditional festival like Diwali demands us to bring out that mesmerizingly traditional piece of garment called the sari!

I love donning saris and honestly feel that it is one of the most versatile and alluring outfits that a lady can wear. In my opinion, an Indian woman’s wardrobe simply cannot be complete without a decent collection of saris and what’s more one can never have enough saris what with the sheer variety and choices of saris available in the market! There is a sari to suit every occasion, shape, complexion, mood, weather and what not!

Having sung paeans to the sari, let me also state that saris can also be quite finicky and cumbersome especially to people like me who are not used to wearing saris every day. Add in the responsibility of managing my frisky little toddler in the picture and you can understand my predicament about wearing saris! So, although I do enjoy wearing saris, sadly I do not get the opportunity to indulge myself as much as I would like to. But Diwali calls for special looks and of course, a beautiful sari can make anyone look extra special in a jiffy!

I am sure that everyone would agree that one of the most memorable moments of Diwali, is the time spent sitting out in the balcony or terrace and looking up at the dark night sky as it explodes into a thousand different colours! Hence, inspired by this shimmering night sky, I designed a sari for myself. A smooth, satiny sari in deep blue, studded with numerous tiny sparkling silver mirrors reminiscent of the velvety night sky that glitters with the happiness of a million celebrants! 

But when everybody wears a sari, how can you stand out from the rest? Simple! Add a modern twist to the sari! One of the easiest ways to grab everyone’s attention when wearing a sari is by pairing a unique and attractive blouse to go with the sari. Say goodbye the boring attached blouse which comes with the sari. Improvise! With a thousand things on our plate during festivals, often we find that we have run out of time to stitch a matching blouse for our saris, Plus, tailors are also pretty busy during this time. My #TraditionMyWay tip would be to make an interesting style statement by wearing your sari with a pretty crop top instead! 

For this particular silky blue sari with mirror work, I would choose this Silver Solid Crop Top by Faballey from Jabong

It adds a sleek and super stylish touch to the sari and will definitely garner second glances and compliments as well! Online shopping has made Diwali shopping a breeze. Absolutely no need to sweat it out with the crowd, You can order it from the comfort of your home and rest assured that it will be delivered within a few days at your doorstep.

To complete the look, I would add some lovely silver jewelry but nothing over the top as it would be too much bling. This Silver Ear Cuff and this Silver Statement Ring is eye- catchy and trendy and the star design also ties in with the theme of night sky. 

No need for any neck-piece as it would be an overkill but some jangling silver bangles would be nice. This over-sized Carlton London silver clutch and this pair of  comfortable yet chic Urban Country silver heels and you are all set!

Do you like this ensemble? What did you wear for Diwali? Do let me know!

*This post is my entry to Jabong's Diwali contest.  


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