December 25, 2016

The Manhattan Chronicle: Part I

With excerpts from O'Henry's  short story, 'The Making of a New Yorker' that chronicles the experiences of Raggles, a penniless poet, who understood the soul of cities, and arrived in the city of Manhattan one day, trying to decipher it, and break it down into words.

She landed from a ferry boat one morning and walked into the core of the town with the blasé air of a cosmopolite.

She was dressed with care to play the role of the 'unidentified woman'. She tried to fit in. Scarves- large, wooly and bright-seemed to be the order of the season. She walked into a store and bought an Amber-coloured one, to match the fall leaves that fluttered around the pavements. And a cap -yes, she must have a cap, with a jaunty bauble at the top - might raise her height by a few inches. And boots with heels - Or maybe not. Wouldn't they worsen her backache?

Yes, she had a NYC map- which she hid carefully in her new luxe Polo Assn bag, and peeked at it only in secluded corners - unless she absolutely had to. She had bought the map from a kindly Punjabi gentleman at one of those shops in the subway, ones that sold everything from chewing-gum to Playboy magazines - for a steep price of $8.

With some money - (unbefitting to a poet), but with the ardor of an astronomer discovering a new star in the milky way, she walked into the great city.

On Broadway Raggles, successful suitor of many cities, stood, bashful, like any country swain. For the first time he experienced the poignant humiliation of being ignored. And when he tried to reduce this brilliant, swiftly changing, ice-cold city to a formula he failed utterly. Poet though he was, it offered him no color similes, no points of comparison, no flaw in its polished facets, no handle by which he could hold it up and view its shape and structure, as he familiarly and often contemptuously had done with other towns. The houses were interminable ramparts loopholed for defense; the people were bright but bloodless spectres passing in sinister and selfish array.
The cold besieged her as soon as she strode out in Central Park, in the mid-morning sunshine.
People ran through the park, in their colourful Nikes. Cyclists sailed past. Dogs ran ahead, their owners not far behind, matching their stride. Nobody stopped and stared. 
She finally found the way to the reservoir she had been looking for. The map said it was right there, but she had not been able to find a way to get to it. 

And there it was. The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Impossibly blue, reflecting the gorgeous Victorian architecture of midtown Manhattan, for many miles. She hurriedly unpacked her breakfast, which she had decided to have in the park. The pizza slice had gotten cold, and the hazelnut flavoured coffee was now sickly sweet and lukewarm, but she sipped it, nevertheless. There was nowhere to sit, so she balanced the pizza on the railing overlooking the reservoir, and tried to take in the beauty. 'This was not supposed to be like this', she thought to herself.
Runners ran past, getting their daily mileage in, as she munched on her cold, cheesy $1 pizza.

Other cities had been easier to fathom-but here was one cold, glittering, serene, impossible as a four carat diamond in a window is to a lover outside fingering damply in his pocket his ribbon counter salary.
The walled city of Manhattan gave her no clue. 
The thing that weighed heaviest on Raggles's soul was the spirit of absolute egotism that seemed to saturate the people as toys are saturated with paint. Each one that he considered appeared a monster of abominable and insolent conceit. Humanity was gone from them; they were toddling idols of stone and varnish, worshipping themselves and greedy for though oblivious of worship from their fellow graven images. Frozen, cruel, implacable, impervious, cut to an identical pattern, they hurried on their ways like statues brought by some miracles to motion, while soul and feeling lay unaroused in the reluctant marble.
Brisk waiters in restaurants - Subway station masters that cut you short when you asked them something- unresponsive metro-card-reader machines - Long ramps through the changing subway lines in the labyrinth that is the Manhattan Underground- People absorbed, in their phones and Kindles-  Kindly bartenders(only if she tipped them well) - ATM machines that refused to read her card-Handsome men that sought acquaintance from others around, who, like them, belonged - It seemed that her mask wasn't holding up very well.

She trudged along, with four bags that were twice her weight, while the streets of 33rd and Broadway hummed all around her. Miles around, neon shop signs as high as the sky, and glittering buildings above them, clouded  her mind, and engulfed her senses. Road crossings, subway stairs, and crowded escalators - She made her way through these, feeling a sense of utter discomfort and alienation that was impossible to describe. Dare she ask one of these people for help? She was not bashful - she had overcome her shyness many years ago- But those impenetrable faces, and the speed at which they walked past  - She thought almost caught a few, but realised after they walked past, that she hadn't. Had she imagined that microsecond of eye-contact? That tiny sliver of empathy that had peeked through? Well, she must have imagined it.

Raggles summoned his courage and sought alms from the populace. Unheeding, regardless, they passed on without the wink of an eyelash to testify that they were conscious of his existence. And then he said to himself that this fair but pitiless city of Manhattan was without a soul; that its inhabitants were manikins moved by wires and springs, and that he was alone in a great wilderness.

She had met places before. Some welcomed her into them, with a natural embrace. Some were intriguing, distant, but exciting nevertheless. And some, so huge, so magnificent, and sure of themselves, turned on her, entirely full of themselves. 

Well, the city did have a heart. She had seen it when she visited it, a long time ago. In the windows of west village. In a steaming hot cup of coffee. Hidden in the complements of an Italian shopkeeper. In the endless delicious layers of a Mexican bowl. 

It was not buried so deep within its glittering exterior, than it was shrouded in the clouds of her mind. She went on to find it as the days passed, and she stored up those memories, treasured, and put them in a bottle like a time capsule. And she will write about it someday, soon, too.

Until then, this is what she did go through, and we capture it in this chronicle, true as day.


November 28, 2016

Traveller, Twice

Lately I have been finding myself going to most places I have travelled to, twice.
Some travels to places are by serendipity, some by design. The feeling that these travels evoke, are always distinct, and interesting. They range anywhere from renewed wonder to glassy eyed boredom. But almost always, they evoke a reflection of your self - of what you were like when you last went there, and what has changed. You can see a distinct difference in the way you looked at things, and how life, as it is, has changed you.

As a feeling, I love the way Nostalgia makes me feel. I love remembering good things fondly, and travels, which always affect me in a good way, are no exception to this! Because of this trait, I am always excited to do things over again, given a chance! It's not like I don't like to try the new things - but I have been guilty, on multiple occasions, of picking out a book that made me feel contemplative when I read it before - or of picking out a movie that I have watched before, knowing the exact reactions that I would have, or of frequenting the same cafe, listening to the same music, and so on.

I love looking at these things with new eyes, and yet sinking into the familiar feeling that they give me. Thankfully this habit of repetition does not extend to my outfits - I DO NOT like wearing an outfit in the same way twice, and hence, since four years, this fashion blog thrives.

As an extension to this, I have made a mental note to not travel to the same place twice, not on purpose atleast. There is so much to be seen,  heard and experienced- and so little time!

Posting some pictures of my most recent travel to Cochi, Kerela. The last time I visited, I wrote this post.  I visited this time again, to attend a wedding, though the experience was quite different :)
I ended up visiting the close friend who got married last time I visited, and visited familiar temples and walked some streets, once again!

Sharing some pictures now!

Stalls decked up in preparation of the upcoming temple festival.

Me, and some retail therepy. The variety and variations of the simple white saree were mind-blowing! Ended up crushing on quite a few and even getting myself one!

Around the street of the familiar temple - got to see the elephant processions again! Though I apparently missed the big temple festival that was about to happen next week!

The demonitization move has affected  everyone quite badly - From arranging for change, to drop in sales of some goods, the effects have been multifold. People do accept  old currency - Our cab drivers took old 500s and 1000s gladly - along with the new notes. 
More Stalls alongside the Temple Road

Spent some time at the Hill Palace, saw some deer in the park, ate some ice-cream - It was like childhood revisited :)

And this is the simple outfit that I wore to the wedding! 
A photograph from last time, the same temple, the same elephant, and the same me.
But not quite.

Writing this travelogue, because I will probably love reading it later on. I hope you will like it, too!


November 03, 2016

Print Parade: Part I

Art, Styling, Creative Direction: Shubhi
Photos: Mom!<3

Well, Diwali is upon us and holiday-dressing is something I always get on to at the very last minute! Mostly, its about raiding my mom's closet. But this year, with my mom's closet far away, I needed to come up with something from my meagre resources. And viola!

This look is so unlike me, for various reasons.  While I grew as a blogger, I developed a niche that fitted very naturally with my theme- dreamy, fairy-tale like, romantic fashion. I still love the theme, though I'm pretty much over the big bows everywhere and ruffles blossoming at every curve. (Suddenly, Henry Higgins'  'Weeds here, weeds there' My Fair Lady reference comes to mind XD)
Secondly, I never ever felt like wearing glasses, until I found these beauties at Colaba last year.

So there you go. This amazing double-sided block-printed trench-kurta-jacket thing is so awesome, I got it from Jaipur's Nehru bazaar streets a month back! The chequered skirt I got online - And the earrings are flee-market shopped as well.(The only new item I got this Diwali.)
Trusty platform shoes are from Mochi.

Part II of this look is coming up verrryy soon! Because, guess what, this jacket has superpowers, and can be reversed and there are amazing things waiting on the other side :P
See you there!


November 01, 2016

Print Parade: Part II


So as promised, bringing to you the part II of my Diwali look! You can find Part I of this reversible jacket, replayed with a cool chic vibe, in my previous post here.

This yellow silk skirt is just so bright, so crinkly and so darn beautiful! I absolutely love to wear it on special occasions! I had got it for my friends wedding, about a year back.

The other side of my double-sided jacket,
Silk skirt from BIBA
Silver purse-neckpiece, a gift from a friend
Platform shoes from Mochi
Earrings: Flee Market shopped

Im posting this as I'm travelling, and I will be posting some travel pictures here soon! Still thinking of a great way to visually document my travel. Oh yes, and did I mention I'm in Seattle, USA currently? So excited! The trees are clothed in their fall beauty, the streets are littered with brightly hued leave of every description, and the air is a cool 16 degrees. There is soo much to see, learn, and do in this world. I feel immensely grateful and privileged to have a chance to travel, whenever I do.


October 29, 2016

Indigo Dreams


Photography, Styling, Creative Direction: Shubhi
Location: Hotel Fairmont, Jaipur

Blue is all around. It is in the golden sun-warmed skies, it is speckled across the rolling Aravalis at dusk, and it is concentrated in bands on my crinkled cotton skirt, which I have decided to wear as a dress, in this post.


October 22, 2016

Cinnamon Girl


Styling, Making, Creative Direction, Photography(Mom helped!) : Shubhi

I'm extremely excited to share this post with you guys, because of the nifty DIY brooches that it sports! I absolutely enjoyed making these glittery felt brooches, and have made tons of them mimicking different quirky things that speak to me!
I plan to pin them on all kinds of clothes, to give them that instant pop uplift!
Anyhoo, outfit details are as follows:
*Denim Jacket-ONLY
*Black stretchy pants- Ginger, I think?
*Shoes (That are undone)- Mochi
*Pop pin-ups, Choker-DIY

Making things gives me immense joy. So does sleeping, sewing, singing, and sipping a quiet cup of tea. And that's just the 's' list.
So here's the battle of my life right now. Making time for these things that give me joy, while turning my head away from numerous kinds of LCD screens that clamor for my attention. I think I'm winning. Putting the phone in another room, face-down, under a large pile of laundry helps. 

You should try it too!

PS: Leave me a comment if you like the look. It makes my day!

October 18, 2016

A Post that Never got Published

Back in April, 2013, I worked on a post that I never published, for some reason. 
I look back at it, and it's almost surreal :) Nothing much has changed since then, except that...too much has changed!

I love how it has references to almost everything that's special to me in my life even right now, especially the friends and the places! So, here it goes:

10 Things I did Last Month

1. Spent some time with my pet cat, and my camera. 

2. Designed and made this DIY lantern with some steel wire and post-it notes. Mood lighting for my room!

3. Did a photoshoot on the building terracce.

4.Spent some time in our vacation home with family.

5.Welcomed in the bright sunshine. Hola Summer!

6.Excitedly received this parcel from Precious You, I won a giveaway at The Fashion Flite! Everything about it was beautiful, the earrings, the package, and the cute little note!

7. Went for a lunch date in town. 

 8. Reminisced about old friends. Dug out old pictures and edited them...I'm an obsessive compulsive photo editor, by the way.

9.Grabbed a coffee at the newly opened Starbucks with a friend. I love the way Starbucks in India has a whole new luxury brand identity, as opposed to the regular-street-corner-cofeeshop look abroad

10. Booked tickets to this place. I'm going next week to attend a dear friend's wedding! So excited, have to get busy planning some Indian traditional outfits soon!

Hope you'll had a lovely week!