Monday, 15 January 2018

An Inclusive Fashion Future!

The Chanakya saw in the capital recently the mint new new  Anita Dongre's Grassroot space, spanning 1500 square feet, that truly emotes the brand’s philosophy – revive, sustain & empower. The d├ęcor is accented by elements in rose gold, cork and sustainable sourced wood. Every detail is special in this store, from custom-made racks that give a nod to the humble shuttle (used to handweave fabric) and dreamy wall panels of handwoven chanderi and handspun cotton that tell the journey of the brand. A unique feature in the new interiors is the ceiling that has reels running across with suspended installations of garments, allowing a three-dimensional view of the pieces. 
The Designer and moi
Grassroots Array at the Store
The designer presented a capsule collection for Fall Winter, to mark the launch of the new store. The collection showcased exquisite hand embroidery inspired by the biodiversity of rural India. Atypical to winter trends, a splash of colour brought warm cheer into this collection. Anita has also experimented with the stretch handloom textile this season, which allows comfort and easy movement while giving the characteristic luxurious feel of Handloom. 
In a freewheeling chat with The Insider on sustainable fashion being a fad or a passing fancy- Here are the excerpts! 
Sustainable clothing and fashion have been in vogue for some time in India. What would be your recommendation on 3 must have pieces of clothing in this segment.
At its core, sustainability is about respecting our planet, artisans and their skills. The objective is to nurture our treasure chest of handcrafted traditions by reviving, sustaining and empowering the arts and artisans by ensuring continuous work and creating livelihoods. I recommend wearing something that makes you feel beautiful and comfortable in your own skin. My three must-haves would be a handwoven jacket— because it is the most versatile piece of clothing. It is an outer layer and can hence can be worn with different looks; A linen top— it is easy, comfortable, breathable fabric and is great for the soil it grows on; A hand embroidered dress that transitions from daywear to evening with the bonus of keeping a traditional craft alive in rural India.
This movement is largely considered to be elitist with forbidding prices of the garment. Where then do you see this movement heading in the future?
The question really is whether there is an alternative to being sustainable and embracing patient fashion. We are already experiencing the effects of decades of neglect; it isn’t going to get any better with time so it is imperative for us to adopt more sustainable practices as an industry. Sustainable clothing feels great— whether these are easy breathing handwoven fabrics, beautiful textures in environmentally friendly Kala or the exclusivity of a carefully hand embroidered dress. Slowly, more people are choosing these benefits in addition to demanding change in how the fashion industry approaches production and its effect on the environment. While the progress has been slow, more people are making these conscious choice and I have no doubt that this “movement” will be the new normal in the times to come.
Is there any chance of seeing sustainable fashion also going towards the plus size fashion or Maternity fashion?
While I can’t speak for the fashion industry, I have always made clothes for the women I know, real women who come from different walks of life and are not defined by their measurements. Anita Dongre Grassroot caters to women across multiple sizes and diverse ethnicities. Body positivity is important to the women of today and fashion is proving to be more diverse both on and off the ramp. “Plus size” and maternity fashion aren’t niche segments anymore.
As a designer do you have to reorient yourself or your design sensibility when designing different labels such as AND or Global Desi? If not, what would you say are 3 signature qualities of a garment coming out of Anita Dongre stable?
I enjoy the entire process of designing. I definitely have to face a fair share of challenges in order to manage multiple brands with such different identities, but I love every moment of it. My garments are designed keeping in mind what the modern Indian woman seeks – effortless grace, style and comfort.
We couldn't have agreed more!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Hark! Thyroid Healing Naturally!

As someone who has had a Thyroid condition for sometime now and having read intensively and extensively on the subject, apart from the many visit to the doctors, I thought I understood the small butterfly shaped gland that controls our body and mind. This assumption of Thyroid cognisance lasted till I read Thyroid Healing from the Medical medium series of Hay House Publishing.  The book helped bring true comprehension of the undiscovered inner mechanics of our thyroid. It is not a disease it is a condition that if left unchecked, can wreak havoc with your immunity and sanity all at one time. Yes I am talking confusion, disorientation, memory loss etc. Since the subject interests me I had done another review of Rujuta Diwekar's book on PCOS and Hypothyroidism on the blog earlier. I can say now that I have in depth information about how my Hypothyroidism works, thanks to no, no this book alone, but my readings earlier and of course my Endocrinologist! But yes, this talks of Thyroid healing expansively.
A handy Guide to all Your Thyroid Issues
So this tome from Hay House, is written by New York Times best‐selling author of the Medical Medium series- Anthony William.
In Medical Medium Thyroid Healing, Anthony William,  reveals an entirely new take on the epidemic of thyroid illness. Empowering readers to become their own thyroid experts, he explains in detail what the source problem really is, including what’s going on with inflammation, autoimmune disease, and dozens more symptoms and conditions, then offers a life‐changing toolkit and many new recipes to rescue the thyroid and bring readers back to health and vitality. It’s an approach unlike any other, and as his millions of fans and followers will tell you, it’s the approach that gets results. 
The thyroid is the new hot topic in health. Across age groups, from baby boomers and their parents to millennials and even children, more and more people—women especially—are hearing that their thyroids are to blame for their fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, memory issues, aches and pains, tingles and numbness, insomnia, hair loss, hot flashes, sensitivity to cold, constipation, bloating, anxiety, depression, heart palpitations, loss of libido, restless legs, and more. Everyone wants to know how to free themselves from the thyroid trap.
As the thyroid has gotten more and more attention, though, these symptoms haven’t gone away—people aren’t healing. Labeling someone with “Hashimoto’s,” “hypothyroidism,” or the like doesn’t explain the myriad health issues that person may experience. That’s because there’s a pivotal truth that goes by unnoticed: A thyroid problem is not the ultimate reason for a person’s illness. A problematic thyroid is yet one more symptom of something much larger than this one small gland in the neck. It’s something much more pervasive in the body, something invasive, that’s responsible for the laundry list of symptoms and conditions attributed to thyroid disease. pitfalls to watch out for and t busts myths and sets the record straight on healing foods, habits and a plan of action to tackling the disease. A comprehensive and exhaustive reckoner of the signs, symptoms and the attendant precautions that one must take in such a condition. 
Trust me there is an 'expert' in Thyroid disease in every house- from your aunt to the neighbourhood uncle- please refrain from following anything blindly. From my experience Yoga and especially Brahamri, Ujjayi pranayam and Bhujang asana have helped me get a grip on it. There are many  books and journals online that can help you understand the condition better but the best is to get a ready reckoner of this book, that by the way also contains doable recipes, food to avoid, signs and symptoms etc- just the handy hints we need! With recipes on Snacks and main course that includes a Thyroid Healing Smoothie- the book is a timeless treasure of positive healing! 
Share your tips to Thyroid Healing... and give this holistic book a shot! 
ISBN: 9789386832160
SIZE: 9.1
X 7.5 INCH

Publisher- Hay House 

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Heritage, Fun and shopping- Tips to survive a Family Travel!

If you have been following me on Facebook and insta and also on Twitter… well what can I say, it’s the age of social media travel- you’ll know that I  ( make that a 'We' as the family travelled) have just had an amazing holiday in the foothills of Aravalli ranges surrounded by the sunny Udaipur!
No Solo trip this!
Man made lakes of Fateh Sagar and Pichola, Swaroop Sagar, etc, make it an ideal getaway from smoggy Delhi to bask in the balmy sun shades of the quaint, historic royal city. Surrounded by hills on all sides, it’s a a valley of history, arts and crafts and of course mirchi vadas!
Armed with Tripadvisor’s advisory and Make my trip bookings – me, mum and my son headed off …leaving Delhi days far behind…. Or so we thought. Flight delayed by 4 hours! Parked at the IGI airport, cooling our heels and twiddling our thumbs- and thanking God for my foresight in carrying my Kindle!We did take off and land! Voila to our five-star abode that we had paid heavily for. Here’s what we did while travelling with disparate fellow travellers - I mean of interest, size and age! 
Heard of an Extra bed?
Just kidding, I know we all have! Always, always ask for an extra bed, rather than booking another room at that cost- pray no! First up - decide who gets to sleep where. This is crucial to a sound sleep and mind, which is equal to a sound body ready to take on the rigours of the next day’s travel.
Loo shoo
Fond of a loobri? Well I am – reading in the loo, but when travelling with family in a room, avoid imposing your habits on others! Also if you have a favourite bathing ritual or ablutions must-do’s- Well, best left at home. Remember you’re sharing space along with shampoos and sachets and hotel toiletries!  
Room with a view- Fateh Sagar Lake in Sight
Itinerary customized- oh yeah!
Great your favourite travel magazines have recommended you must see eat and do things.  Forget all that. Keep the interests of the kiddo- most likely to be museums and boating and mum- most certainly – shopping. Enroute the airport back home, identify the best places to pack local goodies for friends, neighbour’s, family, neighbour’s family etc. etc.…- as check-in luggage must-have. Scouting the streets of the bazaar, more than what you do at home is also a mandatory check in!
The City Palace Light and Sound Show is a Must see 
Hygiene first, second and third!
Hear yourself saying to the kid- ‘Wash your hands’, ‘Where’s your hankie?’, ‘Use the hand sanitizer’- On Loop! In the absence of snazzy eateries enroute forts and back of beyond places, be ready to eat at dhabas (local eateries) big and small. I love the food but not all are great!
Oh and last, know that the hotel room’s weighing scale will be used for? Weighing your travel bags back home, of course!
What are your tips? Travel safe!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

First Date with LitFesting!

The Jaipur Literature Festival,  previewed in the capital- here's what The Insider made of it!
When Shashi Tharoor, equates himself with Elizabeth Taylor's sixth husband, 'having nothing more to add to the discussion' as his co-panelists had deliberated upon all readings of the topic, its the end of the word (pun intended). Its no surprise when in the same breath, the articulate word churner casts his pearls of wisdom with wit and insight, in equal measure. 
Its Time! JLF'18
This was a slice from the discussion I just about made it to, at the packed-to-the-gills, Diwan-E Aamthat trumpeted the arrival of the Jaipur Literature Festival, 2018. (Save the  Date!) 'Populism is the Greatest threat to Democracy', was what was being deliberated upon. The perceptive discussion soon metamorphosed into an elocution by individual panelists. I reckon this was so because of the absence of point of contention within the topic and among the speakers. 
Those on the dais nodded in agreement with the axiom of populism being the ability to pull wool over the eyes of the masses and its variations (similar to the debate in last year's JLF on post-truths), discounting the plurality of truth and also abstained from playing the minority card seeking the majority to call out populists. Populism isn't budging anywhere, anytime soon, was my take away from the presentation and that there are no binaries in populism as Rakshanda Jalil sagaciously pointed out. The absence of a Q&A, I  understand could be because of the running out of time, made it out to appear a rather exclusive chat for a festival meant to be for the public. Perhaps that's why it was the curtain raiser- and the best of the fest is yet to come! Aspects impacted by populism in democracy such as that of discounting merit, impact on nation's security, and its reverberations in the echo chambers of social media would have also made for sound text. 
Is Populism a threat to Democracy?- Panelists at work 
As the talk came to a close, a scene ditto to the one following the plane having landed, flashed at the venue.  No prizes for guessing if most audiences stayed on to hear the many well deserved thank-yous to the sponsors. (I did though!) Such literary and cultural events need to be supported by applauding their supporters!  
The milling crowd spilt on to the sprawling lawns of the hotel,  welcomed by the  classical vocals. In the general networking bonhomie and the din of hearty literary banter, I managed to extricate a couple of moments of soundproof chat with writers and Festival Directors, Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple. Upbeat about the ever increasing enthusiasm around the Jaipur Literature Festival, Gokhale made a special mention of young adult  readers and writers who she feels are the future!  "I have 11 year-olds who tell me that they have published their second book and would like it to be launched at the festival!" Though pushy parents is something she said we all could do without. There is, she shares,  no dearth of invigorating topics, year after year for the festival! Kudos to that!
Writers and Festival Co-Directors William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale with  Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts
Talking about the behind-the-scenes process of realising the festival, Dalrymple shares that it begins with the choice of writers and not themes, especially skirting those that limit the scope of the festival. There is also room for spontaneity as the expanding list of writers stays organic-till the  directors' cut-offs make it to the final one!  'This year I'd say we have the best line-up of writers. I am especially happy about 15 poets that figure in on the list, the maximum we have had at the festival!' 
As the evening progressed, networking took over, no sooner than the hors d'oeuvres glided in. With a power packed line up of writers  the coming year at JLF - safe to say 2018 will start with a literary  bang! See you on the other side with more Insider views! Oh yes... ,  keep the conversation going! Will you?
What they said!
Writer and Festival Co-Director Namita Gokhale, “Literature is an infectious form of magic, and shared stories and narratives reinforce our human bonds and understanding. As the new year approaches, readers, writers and book lovers look forward to the much awaited 2018 edition of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. At the Preview, we share some of the sessions, themes and speakers who will bring the Festival to life.

Writer and Festival Co-Director William Dalrymple, “I am thrilled to launch our line-up in Delhi. The audiences that come to the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival always contain a large number of Delhi literature-lovers and our list of star writers is always full of Delhi literati. We hope to see more Delhi wallahs than ever at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2018 and I look forward to welcoming them at the Diggi Palace in January.
Here's what is happening!
This year’s edition of JBM sees new trends and innovation take centre-stage. Nikko Odiseos from Shambhala Books, speakers from Walking BookFairs and Books on the Metro teams will share their passion for the written word at a session that celebrates unusual booksellers and curators who breathe new life into preserving books. P. Sainath, India’s best known development reporter, will shed light on the heart of darkness within India’s agrarian and rural reality; filmmaker and environmentalist Pradip Kishen will unravel the ancient history and the rugged topography of the mysterious Aravalli hills; debut novelists Prayaag Akbar and Preti Taneja will discuss their chillingly dystopic novels, Leila and We That Are Young respectively; Bollywood royalty Sharmila Tagore will speak to her daughter, Soha Ali Khan, who has authored a witty memoir titled The Perils of Being Moderately Famous; the sassy septuagenarian Shobhaa De, with her characteristic charisma and irreverence, will discuss turning 70, the subject of her latest book; environmental crusader Sunita Narain will make an impassioned plea to overcome the impending global climate catastrophe; diplomat T.C.A. Raghavan, author of The People Next Door: The Curious History of India’s Relationship with Pakistan, will discuss cross-border dynamics; and columnist Vir Sanghvi will regale festival-goers with his refined palate on the unlimited potential of food.
More on -

Monday, 11 December 2017

What's Cooking this Christmas?

Here's what The Insider is cooking...well at least trying to, this X'mas! Recipes shared by, Executive Chef Anil Dahiya, The Bristol Hotel, Gurugram.
Red Velvet Pancake 
10 cups all-purpose flour                             1/2 
Sugar                                                     1-1/4 Cups
Baking Cocoa                                        2/3 Cups
Baking Soda                                               6 tsp
Baking Powder                                           4 tsp
Salt                                                              5 tsp

Additional Ingredients (for each batch)

Buttermilk                                                     2 cups
Eggs                                                              2
Red food coloring                                         2 tsp
Butter and maple syrup

  • ·       In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking cocoa, baking soda and salt all together.
  • ·       Place 2 cups in each of five resalable plastic bags or containers.
  • ·       Store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months

To prepare pancakes
  • ·       Pour the mixed ingredients into a large bowl.
  • ·       In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs and food coloring.
  • ·       Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  • ·       Pour batter by 1/4 cupful’s onto a greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top.
  • ·       Cook until the second side is golden brown.
  • ·       Serve with butter and syrup. 

                 Mocha Cashew Butter                                                             

Salted Cashews                                                            3 cups
Softened Butter                                                           1/2 cup
Semisweet Chocolate Chips                     1/2 cup
Instant Coffee Granules                                    2 tsp
Water                                                                                             2 tsp
Salted Cashews (optional)
  • ·       Place cashews in a food processor.
  • ·       Cover and process until finely ground.
  • ·       Add half of the butter; process until smooth.
  • ·       Transfer to a small bowl.
  • ·       In a small saucepan, combine the chocolate chips, coffee granules, water along with remaining butter.
  • ·       Cook and stir over low heat until smooth.
  • ·       Stir into cashew mixture.
  • ·       Top with additional cashews if desired.
  • ·       Store in the refrigerator. 

Mother Christmas Cake
Ingredients                                                              Quantity
Chopped Peeled Tart Apples                  3 cups
Sugar                                                                                                              2 cups
Apple Juice                                                                                        1/2 cup
Eggs                                                                                                              3
Vegetable Oil                                                                                 3/4 cup
Vanilla Extract                                                                            1 tsp
All-purpose Flour                                                                  3 cups
Apple Pie Spice (Cinnamon)                                2 tsp
Coarsely Chopped Pecans                                          2 cups
Candied Red Cherries, halved                              1/2 pound
Candied Green Cherries, halved                       1/2 pound
Diced Candied Pineapple                                             1/2 pound
Salted Cashews (optional)
  • ·       Line three 8x4-inch loaf pans with waxed paper
  • ·       Grease the paper and set aside.
  • ·       In a large bowl, combine apples, sugar and apple juice; let stand for 15 minutes.
  • ·       In a bowl, combine the eggs, oil and vanilla.
  • ·       Add to apple mixture; mix well.
  • ·       Combine the flour, apple pie spice, baking soda and salt; add to apple mixture and mix well.
  • ·       Fold in pecans, cherries and pineapple.
  • ·       Pour into prepared pans.
  • ·       Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • ·       Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
  • ·       Remove waxed paper.
  • ·       Cool completely.
Do let us know if you happen to make any of these!  Merry X'mas!