May 27, 2015

How to work the 'Quirk'!

If it's not colorful, attention-grabbing and fun, it's not worth wearing! Fashion trends are predominantly prescribing this. Fashion fads do come and go by the scores but then there are some that will stay for a little while longer. And Fashion being a multi-billion dollars industry undeniably affects each one of us today, especially now that media is getting increasingly influential.

Some fashion accessories and apparels strike a chord with your inner persona and become your instant favourite and you want to style them, include them in your 'OOTD' despite what the fashion Gurus might have to stay. 'LS' or not, you love it, want to keep it and wear it. How do you weave these fun pieces into your everyday styling?

Some pieces on their own are visually very appealing but when it comes to styling them, it can get a tad bit tricky.  Take the Quirky printed clothes and fashion accessories trend that took the world by a storm all over again, only recently. Triggered by a runway success fashion designer, there were cameras and table fans on every fashionable, wearable piece possible. Bold colours, quirky prints and daring new silhouettes in the apparels. It's a tempting but very thin line to walk between looking Haute and a Hot Mess, for those fashionistas sporting such quirky clothes and accessories.

Working the 'Quirk' trend is not only about making a fashion statement, it's also about self-expression. Your choice in the piece also goes to say a lot about you. What colours you club it with, talks even more. Now you wouldn't want to go overboard doing that, would you?

Although there are no strict rules governing the fashion industry and everybody's personal style is well, their personal style! Sometimes however, following the basic principles of design does make a huge difference in the look you want to pull off. Especially for those who love to experiment with their silhouettes, its most essential to know when and where to draw the line.

If one can work it, one must flaunt it. However to get it just right, is essential.
How do you include quirky pieces into your everyday wear? Quirk at office sounds next to impossible? So let's try and ditch the basics and work the quirk in 5 fashionably easy ways.

1. A Witty Handbag:

International Designer Anya Hindmarch brought out her 'Counter Culture' Tote Bags at the Fall 2014. My favourite piece being the one with the Frosties tiger on a roomy blue number. This bag is 'IT'! How would you dress up with a witty bag like this one? I would let 'IT' talk! Keeping the dress monochromatic and plain,  no prints, I'd let my bag give me a field of a day/night. Owning one good handbag that can turn heads makes things easier. It spares us all the rummaging through the jewellery to find matching pieces for the look, too.

2.The Crazy Print Dress:
Closer to home, our Bollywood celebs have been sporting dresses, jumpsuits and sarees that have a full body of quirky, crazy prints. Be it Priyanka in a Masaba Gupta outfit or Katy Perry's outfit by the other 'Master of Quirk'-Manish Arora, both have played by one of the basic principles of design 'Simplicity'.

Sans excessive jewellery, structured silhouettes for the dresses, monochromatic footwear guarantees a well turned out look. Call it 'playing-safe' if you like but that's how you rock it, by me!

3.Whacky Hair Accessories:
 Mentioning fashion and hair accessories in the same breath, one cannot help but think of one name. An iconic persona, Frida Kahlo's floral wreath is the best example of a quirky style carried well. Contradictory to popular belief, I would say her kind of hair accessories would work so beautifully with our Indian apparels too. Imagine a pair of Kohl lined eyes, that nose ring and a head full of flowers. This definitely spells an Indian beauty, so alluring!

4. Maddening Footwear:
Since we are talking about fashion pieces that are wearable on a daily pieces to various occasions, I will skip right past Lady Gaga. She's an absolute Quirk-aholic but what we want to see is how we could do justice to the quirks in us by translating quirk into everyday styling and making it comfortable, chic and wearable all at the same time.

Comic style accessories had caught everyone's fancy and this is how Keisha Cole debuted her design from the Steve Madden collection. She prefers to send those eyeballs rolling at her feet. The dress remains as white as a blank canvas and all the pops of colour have seeped down to her feet.This funky patterned strappy heel, sure is a must have for those days when you see nothing interesting to wear in your cupboard. Bring these babies out and give your feet some serious wings.

5.Eccentric Jewellery:

From Owls to edibles and even moustaches, almost everything under the sun is worn in the form of charms on  bracelets, pendants or earrings. The quirkiest piece I came across was a pair of earrings with Ryan Gosling's face as the 'Stud'. What a quirky idea! I dare you to get your STUD's face onto a pair of earrings and wear them. Whether the idea's a hit or a miss, whether you rock it or you don't, that quirky piece is surely going to get some tongues wagging. Go do it. Just for kicks!

For the less intrepid there are always those handcrafted silver pieces with Gods and Goddesses etched,  embossed or hand-painted .Colour- cordinate them with your Indo-western fusion wear and Voila! you have an interesting ensemble.  

 Isn't it a known trick that you play your cards one at a time? Carrying too many quirky pieces at the same time may just result in a visual chaos.
 So my fashion tip, work the quirk, a piece at a time!

This story had been first posted at

May 15, 2015

Capturing Wildlife Moments in India- Book Review

Capturing Wildlife Moments in India
Author/Photographer: Ashok Mahindra 
Publlisher: Oxford University Press(OUP) & Bombay Natural History Society(BNHS)
My Rating: ***1/2
About the author: Ashok Mahindra of The Hemchand Mahindra Wildlife Foundation is an avid wildlife enthusiast who has traveled to capture his passion through the camera lens.

Ustad! Yes, he is the Bengal Tiger rightfully adorning the cover of the book. The skillfully shot picture of the fierce animal enjoying his moment of royal leisure,,has given me a beautiful mental picture of the kind of brilliant photography I can expect in the book. 

The note that accompanies this picture clicked at Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan also makes for an interesting read.

I wish to highlight the 'Dedication' included at the beginning of the book. It is indeed a very strong message to our generation-

"I dedicate this book to young adults in the hope that they, and through them their children, will understand better that without forests and rainforests, without mangroves, woodlands, wetlands, swampy marshes and mudflats, there will be no species left for the following generations."

What follow are some 120 photographs of animals and birds of India, photographed from visits to over 30 parks,sanctuaries and other locations. Each photograph has a precisely written and very essential footnote which proves to be very informative for amateurs like me. 

I believe that for a majority of Indians like me, it is not so easy to venture into the wild. And I am thankful to photographers like Mr. Ashok Mahindra, who put their heart and soul into capturing some awe inspiring photographs of India's living treasury. While reading his notes I have also understood what risks he must have run to get that close to some fierce animals and reptiles! 

He has indeed brought the wildlife closer to us. What better way than a collection of snapshots in a well compiled book, if not in the real!

One gets to see the spotted owlet-one of my favourite kind of birds. Then there's a photograph of the Snake Bird or Darter, caught at that precise and opportune moment when its rising from the waters with a tiny catch in its beak. 

Oh! How beautiful is that shot of a large Indian hare looking right at the lens with beady eyes and both its ears perked up on high alert.

There's one particular picture in the book that has caught my fascination and that is of the Termite mounds. These mounds seem like such an interesting feature, housing millions of termites in a cool, air-conditioned environment.

"There is more to the forest than tigers.

You only have to look!"- writes the author. So true!

The foreword had included the maxim which goes “When you see it, you will like it; when you like it, you will protect it.”
After going through the book, this statement will truly make a whole lot of sense. 

At the end of the book, the photographer has very thoughtfully also included details about his camera and techniques applied.

For those wildlife and nature enthusiasts who enjoy and revel in beholding God's creation in action, this book is not only worth a dekko but also deserves to be included in one's private collection.

 The book will be available at most of the major retail outlets across India and also through online retail sites like Amazon, Flipkart etc.It will also be available for sale through the BNHS website and is priced at Rs.1450.

This post is a part of the book review program of at Saevus Wildlife India in association with The Hemchand Mahindra Wildlife Foundation for the book Capturing Wildlife Moments in India

May 9, 2015

Hama- Guri Goes To School- Book Review

Hama-Guri Goes to School-Children’s stories
Author- Aditi Bose
Publisher- Cresco Books
My Rating- ***1/2
About the Author- 
A management professional from Delhi, Aditi is a popular Indian blogger who has written numerous interesting stories of Hama-Guri before.

Getting to preview a book before its publishing is a great privilege and to review it is a great responsibility. I am even averse to reading E-books but since it is going to be a book for kids, I couldn't help but jump at the opportunity.

This book has the most minimalist cover and to judge the book by it would be wrong. The solid yellow may create a recall value but since its a children's book, I's expect a little more pains taken for a good illustrated cover. Maybe a caricature of the boy-Hama Guri would have been great! 

This cover may also works in its advantage because I began reading with an open mind. I was looking for good vocabulary and correct selection of words and as I read I was happy to see it was all about that. 

The protagonist's name itself is a very interesting aspect because it creates a level of intrigue for children too. Its not a commonplace name in Pune at least and hence makes a great first impression.

A children's book is best reviewed by a child. So I coaxed my 6 year old son to come hither. I am happy that he is as avid a reader as I am but being a child that he is, he loves a book full of pictures. Reading the black and white paragraphs scrolling on the screen was not a tempting offer for him. However like I mentioned before he was already wanting to know who Hama-Guri is, so he began reading. 

My preview copy of the book has 5 stories, all on interesting topics that primary school and even secondary school students experience at one point of time or the other, in their lives. Learning to accept that losing a competition is also OK, handling bullying, time-management, the doctor's visit or learning the importance of earning or saving pocket money are very important aspects of life which have been beautifully covered in the book.

My son chose to read 'Hama-Guri Learns How to Manage Time'. And here's a video of him engrossed in it. 

Quoting his feedback on the same," How I wish this was not such a long story mummy. I am getting tired but I will read it after a break. Maybe if there were pictures I wouldn't want to stop."

I asked him whether he would like to read more of such stories, part by part or maybe if I read it to him, he said, "The story seems like it will have a great moral at the end. I would like to finish it later mummy!" 

The response brought a smile to my face and I felt my opinion of the book was not wrong at all. Indeed 'Hama-Guri Goes to School' will make for a good book for kids of all school going ages.

I now look forward to May 14th when its slotted to be released and I truly hope it is a colourfully illustrated story book in print, not only in an E-reading format!

Being a stickler for perfection however and also because this is a book for children who are still in the early stages of perfecting their English, I would stress upon a thorough editing and proof-reading before going into print.

There are a few typo' errors that I spotted while reading the first couple of stories beginning with  “Yes Hama it will a be a good day today.” Two words were missing in the sentence. And in ' Everything will be fine.' The first letter of every sentence after a full stop has got to be a capital. 

Except for such minor errors, the story-telling seems flawless and right from the heart. True to life experiences and apt solutions given to the problems in a child's life.

“I love Saturdays.” Hama said as he finished his breakfast.
And my son said " Me too!"