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Showing posts from December, 2017

The Hills are alive... with the sound of music... and great food...

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In the bustling M Block market of Greater Kailash One there used to be a quaint little café called Sakley's - The Mountain Cafe. The eatery, fashioned on the idea of a log cabin in the hills, has been a favourite haunt of ours whenever the girl gang is done with retail therapy. My bestie introduced me to it a few years back and since then, notwithstanding the new launches in the area and the lucrative happy hour deals, we sauntered into Sakley's without a doubt. Every single time.
Yesterday, as we spoke about where to meet for dinner, my friend informed me about it shutting shop. My heart sank. I have fond memories of the place. Not only is the food delicious, but the décor is also pretty, the lights soft and the ambience cozy. Pine cones studded floors, a woody complexion for the entire insides, the place transported us to a colonial hill station every time we stepped in. Such was the vibe. She suggested we try the place that has opened up instead. Initially reluctant, I …

Dance like a Diva... in your Payal Singhal number

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Bette Davis. Bang. That’s the name I was trying to locate. The powerhouse belle who perfectly describes the glamour conjured by Payal Singhal. Wavy coiffured air, bronzed cheeks, marchesa lips, a delicate seductive gait and a subtle sheen that does not take away from the woman who is carrying the luxurious ensemble---that is exactly how I would describe the Payal Singhal woman. She’s sure of herself, takes no nonsense and leaves an imprint of her timeless charm as she leaves the room. She’s confident, enigmatic and sure of herself…
More often than not, while witnessing models strutting down the runway during fashion weeks, I’ve often questioned the functionality of the designer outfits. Even as many creations bedazzle the ramp creating a sense of drama and opulence, I have turned to my neighbour and passed remarks about its transition from the ramp to the rack. But there is a certain stamp of surety in Payal’s design that does not let me conjecture about its saleable transition. It’s …

Ringing in Christmas with what else but good food, and fond memories...

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A few days to Christmas in the December of 2006, my resident editor at Indian Express, Kolkata,
walked up to me with a, "Pen a mood piece on Christmas today, for the anchor..." Taking the cue, I immediately picked up my tote and headed towards New Market and Park Street, the hubs of action at this time of the year. Arming myself with information about the festive offerings in restaurants, party packages and capturing vignettes of the preparations I returned to type down a write-up that graced page one, next day.
Nothing much has changed in 12 years. Except perspectives. Here I am jotting down yet another mood piece on Christmas. But this time, I do not need to venture out. Because Christmas for me today is much more than the hottest party package and the prettiest tree in a luxury hotel. Today, the festival is about a deluge of fond
memories---memories of childhood, fun, carnivals, picnics and lots of good food. Even as I think about the anchor I wrote so many years back,…

Good times at a great cafe...

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Have you ever been accidentally locked up in a tiny room? When you bang and yell to be rescued while the walls almost close in on you. Frustration and desperation builds up until the door is prised open suddenly and you walk out in the world again. Feeling alive. And HAPPY.

If yes, you’d probably get my next point.
Navigating through the great Delhi crawl for almost two hours, when I reached Café Dori today afternoon the pent-up frustration and anger at the epic traffic snarl and burgeoning automobile population almost dissipated in a snap. Cheerful, sunny and with lots of leg room, the casual diner, housed in what used to be Nappa Dori’s warehouse in Chattarpur, is exactly what you need after a rough day. If I was looking forward to a luncheon with my girl gang, the look of the place just heightened the excitement. To top that, the naturally lit-up restaurant housed a bedecked Christmas tree and Yuletide decorations to ring in the festive spirit. And of course, the  innovatively curat…

A Silver Jubilee of Success with The Alika Project

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I meet him a week before the big celebration, at his workshop. The sun is playing truant on a foggy December afternoon…
Stepping into his room I find statues of Indonesian relics, rolls of heritage weaves, stacks of coffee table books and life-size images of yesteryear models scorching the runway in his creations dot the walls. But, my eyes immediately gravitate towards the huge pencil sketch of the couturier by artist Satish Gupta. “There’s two of them. The other one, an acrylic portrait, hangs in my living room,” JJ Valaya cuts into my reverie. “This is quite something JJ. I’ve actually grown up seeing you like this on TV, turban, sherwani et al,” I remark instantly. Guffawing, he says that he is considering wearing the headgear again, fills me on some memories from those days when he, along with his old friends Rohit Bal and Suneet Varma, were birthing a phenomenon called fashion in India and just like that the chill in air dissipates.
Poring over a few hundred images that would mak…

Twenty Five years in the limelight of Textiles

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Nine years ago, while directing an elaborate feature on textile revivalists for Hi Blitz, I was piqued about a label called Abraham & Thakore. My good friend, Pareina Thapar, filled me in on the two gentlemen and I set up a meeting with them at their Noida atelier. I returned overwhelmed at their stupendous body of work. 
Two weeks later, we conglomerated at the stunning Surajgarh Fort for a fashion shoot. In the excruciating month of May while the hot air of Rajasthan almost baked us, I studied how Rakesh Thakore and David Abraham take pride in sticking to their unique aesthetics. "Let the clothes own the show, no need for too much accessories," Rakesh instructed the stylist. The final shot showcasing a crisp white shirt and classy black trousers was stark, edgy and stylish, in tandem with the creations the two are lauded for. 
Over the years, the respect for A&T has grown manifold. Reason enough to pay this tribute...
Nothing excites David and Rakesh more than dabbli…

Weaves that transcend borders

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A funny thing happened a few days ago as I chatted with Darshan Dhupia at her pretty little studio, The Silk Tree, in Shahpur Jat. Two women walked in to browse the collection, which according to me immaculately marries handwoven textiles and contemporary silhouettes. One of the women, zeroed in on an intricate black jamdani dupatta strewn with colourful flowers and inquired about the price. The next 15 minutes I stifled a chuckle as Darshan tried explaining to the baffled customer as to why these luxury weaves are steep. “The weaver pores over them for months. It’s handcrafted,” she reasoned.
When the ladies exited, enlightened and visibly happy with their purchase, Darshan turned and sighed, “See, most of them aren’t even aware about traditional weaves. But it’s okay. Those who appreciate the art, love us." Darshan’s strength lies in translating age-old weave traditions into a modern design language. By reviving the dying motifs of Banaras, her label is crafting silhouettes t…

For the love of art...

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“While Roohi described the christening of these paintings called The Needle, and reflected on the pain she felt when her parents passed away, I saw how deeply the loss affected her. The sadness was insurmountable and it understandably surfaced in her works. That moment, as I watched my dejected friend recalling her parents, who hailed from India, I remembered mine who were forced to quit their home in Pakistan. The chants of the Azaan and the reflections brought tears to ours eyes, and us even more close.”
Even as I hear Manisha Gera Banswani talk about her friend, the Pakistani artist Roohi Ahmed while taking me through the austere but sharp works of the latter in her eclectic Gurgaon home, I can sense that for the painter art is something that touches the soul, a calming balm that she has secured a relationship with. Why else, would she narrate this poignant story to me while talking about Roohi. Because somehow, when she sees these works in her bedroom, she is reminded not just abo…

A tidy little gem, envisioned by the creative Anupamaa Dayal

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I lie on the grass. It’s still moist from the dew wash. But the winter sun is slowly firming up the earth. Mahesh gets a plate of hot Gobi paranthas, fresh yoghurt and homemade pickle. Malhar's poring over something in the bushes. I get up to bring him to the table. He runs after an innocent pup and I run after him. What’s this feeling beneath my feet? It feels cold yet comforting. It’s called velvet in nature's parlance. And for once, I don’t grudge not slipping into my flipflops…

I spent the Sunday gone by chasing butterflies with my five-year-old at Anupamaa Mangar. Little did I realise that life can suddenly become idyllic an hour away from Delhi. A quaint farm house designed by my good friend Anupamaa Dayal, who is toasted in the fashion industry for her penchant for colours and kitsch. After a long, long time I didn’t bother that my phone lay on the bed like a block of brick. I soaked in the sun without caring for my RayBan, ate without bothering about the weighing scal…