November 14, 2014

More or Less Asian?

more or less asian event

Earlier this week, Bunty and I had the pleasure of going along to a wonderful and lively discussion at Asia House about stereotypes in Asian literature.

The panel was formed of leading figures in the creative arts: Yasmeen Khan (writer and broadcaster and shoe-horned to unofficial BBC Representative for the evening!), Daniel York (actor, director and writer),  Anna Chen (first British Chinese comic to take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival), Niven Govinden (author) and Bidisha (author, journalist, broadcaster and Booker Prize Foundation trustee) who was the delightful chair for the evening’s enthralling discussion.

A capacity audience listened intently to the questions, answers and anecdotal experiences giving an insight into a world that many of us Continue reading

October 21, 2014

Rohit Bal’s Spectacular Grand Finale at WI Fashion Week

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Rohit Bal @ WIFW SS15

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Rohit Bal @ WIFW SS15

Wow!

So much beauty, luxury, indulgence, fashion and history all in the most stunning historic Mughal ruins in one of Delhi’s top tourist sites, Rohit Bal raised the bar to tremendous heights for Indian fashion. Even the moon and the weather obeyed the designer’s ode to beauty. The moon shone brightly to the right of one of the tombs at Qutab Minar and the outdoor temperature dropped from Sweaty to Serene. Continue reading

October 21, 2014

Day 3: Blue Blood, Plumage & Fancy Shower Gels

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Rajesh Pratap Singh @ WIFWSS15

Day 3 at Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week featured a couple of unmissable designers, Rajesh Pratap Singh and Ashish N Soni. These brands consistently produce collections that would seamlessly fit in to a woman’s wardrobe anywhere in the world being both sophisticated, exceedingly wearable whilst maintaining traces of their Indian DNA.

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Rajesh Pratap Singh @ WIFWSS15  Continue reading

October 9, 2014

A Dream and an Ode to Master Artisans: Day 2 at WIFW

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Samant Chauhan @ WIFW SS15

Continuing his Rajputana theme this season designer, Samant Chauhan was inspired by romance and illusion and thus ‘dream’.  Samant has a loyal band of followers and stockists sprawled across India and the Middle East and I’m sure they loved the intricate antique-look thread embroidery which is turning into a bit of a trend for next season.

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Samant Chauhan @ WIFW SS15 Continue reading

October 9, 2014

Day 1 WIFW SS15: Tarun Tahiliani & The Singh Twins

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Tarun Tahiliani @ WIFW SS15

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Tarun Tahiliani @ WIFW SS15

One of India’s most coveted coutouriers, Tarun Tahiliani, collaborated with the Singh Twins for his ready to wear collection.  Tarun is known for his grand Continue reading

October 9, 2014

Countryside Chic: Day 1 Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week SS15

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Pero @ WIFW SS15

Aneeth Arora had the honour of the opening show for her still young fashion brand, pero, at WIFW SS15 igniting the buzz for the week ahead.

The catwalk was covered in faux grass and planted with real flowers that looked adorable. The gift for us in the media side included cute little herbs planted in teeny pots, I pinched a tulsi – thanks, Aneeth I’d been meaning to get one for ages!

Pero is a brand quite known for its cottons Continue reading

October 7, 2014

Film Review: Pride

pride

You have to watch this film while it’s currently on general release.

It has been several years since I came out of the cinema and felt this good about a film and it is even better that the story is true. Continue reading

September 15, 2014

Million Dollar Arm

Million Dollar Arm

A few weeks ago I had realised that there were no Hollywood in Bollywood films on the horizon. Could it be? Could the Slumdog Millionaire franchise actually fail to produce another saccharine feel-good Hollywood blockbuster? Are there no more Americans that need to travel to India and “find him/herself” and return a changed human being for the greater good?

And then just like buses, three films come at once. One I’ve forgotten about already. I couldn’t face the Helen Mirren cooking one. But the baseball one seemed palatable, not least because the hunk (haven’t said that for a while) from Mad Men was in it. Enter… Million Dollar Arm. Continue reading

September 15, 2014

Brown Girl

Dear Chatterattis, it is time to embrace bronzer.

A lot of you will instantly say OompaLoompa and a lot of you (tut tut) will say why would I want to look darker??

Bronzer will not make you darker. If applied correctly it will not make you look like you’re wearing war paint either. Apply in a Number Three over your face, i.e. across your forehead, under your cheeks and finish across your jawline. Use the biggest brush you can get to avoid stripes and never ever use the wee brush that may come with the powder. You will still need your usual blusher on the apples of cheeks.

My skin colour is described fair for an Asian (not so fair that I look Italian, I am definitely brown) but my undertones are yellow and that is not a good look.

I have started to experiment with bronzer and I do not look darker, I look healthy. And, quite frankly, I will not be dictated to about what level of colour is deemed beautiful by a backward culture in South Asia when I live in London. Give me a break.

Loadsa Money!!

estee lauder aerin beauty bronzer

If money is not an issue you need Estee Lauder’s Aerin Pretty Bronze Illuminating Powder (about £35).

So subtle, this just kisses the edge of your face to make you glow. Level 2 for Asians skin and darker, Level 1 for white.

Hmm, can I try something a little cheaper? Continue reading

September 15, 2014

Veggie Heaven in Primrose Hill

manna

Ok, so I am a veggie but I don’t like vegetarian restaurants, certainly not vegan ones. Lettuce munchers, allergic to good taste. It’s just something about the atmosphere in them that turns me off. A room full of veggies, a crazy night does not make.

Ah, Manna. Primrose Hill. Beautiful people. Warm evening. Ice cold prosecco. Continue reading

August 27, 2014

Get Lippy

bably lips maybelline

Maybelline’s lovely lip balm, Baby Lips, has been released with a lip tint, in both subtle and neon colours.  They are, simply, amazing and dirt cheap to boot.  My favourite is Pink Punch which will suit all Asian skin colours, especially if you’re a bit darker.

If you’re very pale, I suggest this colour might look a little chavvy but if that’s your look, then go for it. Continue reading

August 27, 2014

Cafe Below

cafe below london

God, I love living in London.

Where else can you eat lunch in a crypt made by Sir Christopher Wren? Cafe Below is an exquisite cafe under St Mary-Le-Bow Church on Cheapside. A hop and a skip away from Bank tube station. Continue reading

August 18, 2014

Fantasy Bobs

Bob Michelle-Pfeiffer-Scarface-bob-haircut

The 90s are still riding the trend wave and so now it is the turn of hair…the bob! Of course bob haircuts have regularly enjoyed a comeback as they are so cute but they are a hairstyle I fantasise about having but will never actually get as I am a chicken and love my long curly wurly princess hair.

Soooooooo……. here are my favourite bob haircuts to inspire you (including gorgeous Michelle Pfieffer’s Scarface bob above) if you are braver than me and can handle their high maintenance : Continue reading

August 18, 2014

Disobedient Objects

disobedient objects

One thing I have in common with my 2 year old nephew is a need to be constantly entertained. One thing I should learn from him is that I can do this by myself.

London is awash with free and cheap “things to do” and I am guilty of losing sight of this.

On a boring Sunday, a day I have recently resigned to a tube-free day, I broke that habit and headed to the V&A Museum in South Kensington.  Continue reading

August 17, 2014

The Honourable Woman

the honourable woman

Summer is fun but you are invariably saving up for a holiday or have recently spent over your budget on one. This is how my sister and I came to find ourselves one evening in London. Water water everywhere and not a drop to sip. (Change “water” to “champagne” and you will have our general mood).

“This looks a bit shit,” one of us murmurs “but shall we watch it?”. Yah, we have nothing better to do. Enter episode one of the Honourable Woman, which I have to admit did not really impress me. Yet I found myself returning week after week to watch it.  (I have not religiously watched a weekly series since Twin Peaks and I’m not exaggerating).  I believe it was because of the women.

When was the last time you saw a tv series filled with older women in strong roles with excellent dialogue? Continue reading

August 17, 2014

Nish Kumar at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

nish kumar

A few evenings ago my sister reluctantly dragged me to see Nish Kumar, the stand up comedian, performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  I’m not into stand up comedy but I laughed from beginning to end whilst sipping my delicious pear cider.

If you’ve never made it over to the Edinburgh Festival then put it on your bucket list it really lives up to its reputation as the biggest arts festival in the world.  Continue reading

August 1, 2014

A Tale of Two Indian Brides

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Manish Malhotra IICW 2014

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Manish Arora IICW 2014

A tale of two Indian brides and two very different Manish’s!

Indian designers, Manish Malhotra and Manish Arora have a cult global following for their distinctive designs, demonstrating the diversity of bridal fashion in India, a segment often overly saturated by lazy embellished designs. Continue reading

August 1, 2014

Highborns Inspire High Couture

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Monisha Jaising IICW 2014

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Monisha Jaising IICW 2014

Mumbai based designer, Monisha Jaising unveiled her  most recent couture collection with some gorgeous designs that stood out from the week’s shows.  The inspiration behind the collection was a little too broad and the result was a confusing to watch but nevertheless there were some real gems. Continue reading

July 31, 2014

Temples of Va Va Voom with Anju Modi

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Anju Modi Couture Collection 2014

Anju Modi’s couture collection for 2014 was inspired by Varanasi ghats, a city dedicated to the gods.  Bold embroidery motifs reminiscing the temple-laden skyline adorned heavy bridal lehengas in a beautifully balanced colour palette of royal blue through to cherry tones and frosty pastels. Continue reading

July 31, 2014

The God Complex Delusion

Richard-Dawkins

Deluded

It is important to have crushes. A fantasy one (Hulk, Brazilian), a real life one (a new friend), an intellectual one (Richard Dawkins) and sometimes, I even fancy my husband!

But I’m here to talk about the sacking of my intellectual crush, Richard Dawkins, who turned from excellent biologist (superseded only by Stephen Jay Gould who wrote in a more “for dummies” way) to monster raving loony.

Since his book The God Delusion concluded that the reason my mother is religious is because she is intellectually inferior, he has continued to offend for Continue reading

July 31, 2014

Cubania

cubania carlos acota

It feels special when you see a living legend in real life.

I was front row for a Michael Jackson concert, went to two Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan concerts, saw Mo Farah win gold in London and I have even chatted to Pele.

Last night I saw Carlos Acosta at the Royal Opera House and was blown away. Cubania is his show, he curates and dances in it. Modern ballet and dance set to some live Cuban music. Continue reading

July 19, 2014

A Ticket To Ride with Sabyasachi

sabyasachi set

Sabyasachi Mukherjee at India Couture Week 2014

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Sabyasachi Mukherjee at India Couture Week 2014

Top Indian couturier and tastemaker, Sabyasachi Mukherjee had the honour of opening India Couture Week 2014 (sponsored by Shree Raj Mahal Jewellers).  If there was ever an award for Most Creative Set, it would almost certainly always go to Sabyasachi.  The meticulous attention to detail entirely immerses one into the inspirational journey that the designer references each season and this year was no exception.  All aboard the turn-of-the-century Sabyasachi Express! Continue reading

July 16, 2014

Boyfriend, Can I Be Your Girlfriend

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I was a serious tomboy. So serious that I told the other tomboy in the school that because she wore knickers she wasn’t really a tomboy, was she? (I wore Spiderman and Hulk pants…. mmmm “Hulk pants” means something so different now.
Anyway, I digress. I therefore hung about with boys. At school, after school, in the holidays. I was a football captain with scabby knees and razor-shaved hair. No-one could beat me at Operation Wolf.
From having almost zero girlfriends, in my late 30s I now have almost zero boyfriends. In fact, I have two male friends that I love (one is gay so I’m not sure he counts).

Continue reading

June 30, 2014

The White Tiger

The White TigerTigers are synonymous with India to the point of boredom.  It is my irrational rejection of tiger references in literature that led me to ignore The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga for years.  Man Booker Prize winner? Meh, so what, I thought, it’s probably full of quaint stereotypes from cover to cover.

I’d forgotten about it entirely until a friend recently recommended it to me and then I happened to find a copy on my bookshelf (not by magic my sister must have bought it).  Well, quite simply: I loved it.  I loved the style of writing, the perspective it is written from, the observational humour is wicked and I loved reading about Delhi (currently my third home city).  Continue reading

June 25, 2014

Passport Control

British_passportMurderers and drug smugglers can hold on to their British passports but the British government is considering revoking passports of Britsh born Muslim men/boys who have decided to go and fight in the Syrian war against the Assad regime and the creeping mission to other parts of the Middle East.

Does the British government represent the people or are we under its rule and at the mercy of its whims and disregard of human rights? Continue reading

June 24, 2014

World Cup Wonders 2014

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The Hulk, Brazil

The world cup 2014 from the eyes of Bunty and Bubbly…. Continue reading

June 21, 2014

All-new India Couture Week 2014

Manish Malhotra

Manish Malhotra 2014

If you’re interested in international fashion, you will be pleased to hear that the dates for India Couture Week have been announced.  The revamped six day event will have new partnerships: Shree Raj Mahal Jewellers as title sponsors, and Logix Group as its associate sponsors. The event in New Delhi will showcase India’s finest design talent in exclusive shows by top Indian Couturiers from 15-20 July 2014. Continue reading

June 13, 2014

Little Brazil in London

guanabara london
Have you noticed the World Cup started yesterday?
If you didn’t, then wow!
The magic of the World Cup has been lost for me. I haven’t been excited about it since when that crazy Cameroon goalie would run up the pitch and score a goaaaaaaaaaaaal!!!!!!!
Try this: my friends and I went to Guanabara last night for the opening night. It’s a Brazilian bar off Holborn/Covent Garden. Usually a bit studenty, we usually avoid it as it doesn’t stock one’s champagne, what what! But occasionally it is rather fun to hang out with 20-somethings during happy hour.

Continue reading

June 13, 2014

Strange Fruit in Uttar Pradesh

Sexual assault against women in India, particularly Uttar Pradesh, seems to be taking turn for the worst as rapists become emboldened by the lack of police investigation and political sympathy in favour of the criminal.   In the last fortnight four women have been raped and hung from trees by their own dupatta (scarf) or sari.

These crimes are outrageous enough but even more so are the continuous foot-in-mouth statements from the chief minister of the state, his father and a growing chorus of male chief ministers from other states.   I watched a TV discussion on NDTV (channel 511 on Sky) where a representative of the UP government repeatedly stated ‘what about men who are wrongly accused?’ Continue reading

June 12, 2014

MF Husain, A Great Master at The V & A

MF Husain ganesha

Maqbool Fida Husain, known as M.F. Husain (1915-2011), was one of India’s most eminent and prolific artists.  Often described as India’s Picasso, MF Husain is one of my favourite Indian artists.  He is one of a group of Indian artists known as the Great Masters and they are indeed great, possessing a quality and perspective yet unmatched by generations of painters since. Continue reading

June 12, 2014

Don’t Do It: Brown Lippie

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The case against brown lipstick: Exhibit 1 the ageing effect

I know the 90s are back and I’m a 90s kid but…yuck.  Brown lips are gross and add 15 years to a face.  I got my first Rimmel Heather Shimmer lippie free with more! magazine and dabbed it on whilst frowning over Position of the Fortnight. Continue reading

June 9, 2014

Double Denim Rocks!

Olivia Palermo double denim

Olivia Palermo in a new ad campaign

We love our jeans and what’s not to love about our indigo darlings in every shape or form?  That’s why double denim is just so fantastic.  Far from cringe-worthy cowboy fashion of yesteryear, it is a wonderful way to look supremely relaxed and cool.  And the best bit?  You can’t go wrong!

I bought a gorgeous polka dot bleached denim shirt from Gap but they no longer sell it and I also bought a tres chic oversized denim shirt from Les Parisiennes in Delhi, however, I LOVE these ones too:

j crew denim shirt

J Crew Classic Chambray Popover £78 Continue reading

May 31, 2014

ilili

ilili

While mooching around the fine island-thing that is Manhattan, one must sample the seafood or one really is a loser.

Enter ilili, 236 Fifth Ave.

Love! A fabulously exclusive Lebanese restaurant (what, you didn’t book weeks ago? You mustn’t have any friends this side of the pond darling). A little darker than I like for a restaurant but phew, the tables are lit well Continue reading

May 29, 2014

Sunday Mayhem in the West Village

beaumarchais

Of course in New York you have to go for brunch. I have plenty places to recommend but my favourite is one that you don’t go purely to eat. You simply must try the Beaumarchais in the West Village, New York.

Don’t waste your time going there in the week, you have to go on a Sunday afternoon to get that truly bonkers feeling of turning repeatedly to people around you screaming oh my god can you believe this crazy place on a SUNDAY??

It starts off ok. A little bit pretentious and we were made to wait over 30 Continue reading

May 24, 2014

My New Seven Year Itch

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Relationships…dontcha love ‘em??  However, the relationship I’m about to ponder isn’t one with a guy…it’s with a country: India.  I first travelled to India at the end of 2006 and it’s been a rough and ready ride.  I travel there for my business and it just doesn’t seem to be getting easier or more pleasant even though I’ve had the most amazing time there.  How does that contradiction work? Well….

I’ve travelled and explored India and my interests have take me to wonderful cities and villages where I have met weavers and wonderful organisations helping creative artisans.  I base myself in Delhi and have an apartment there in  a lush, quiet, tropical paradise and have created a lovely bubble around myself and yet I am often incredibly lonely there while I get on with my incredibly stressful work.

I hate moaners and expats that arrive in Delhi wanting it to have the Continue reading

May 24, 2014

How to…Pack for Holiday?

packing for holiday

Bubbly you’ve GOT to help me!!! That was my sis as she thought of packing for her ten day holiday (3 days before the departure date… a little extra notice would help).  And another friend told me that she recently returned from a trip to Mexico exasperated as nothing she packed went together and she simply couldn’t create looks she was happy with while she was there.  There’s no doubt about it, holiday packing can be stressful.

My first advice to my sis was to make a grid with the number of days at the top and day and night to the left: Continue reading

May 19, 2014

Hall of Fame: Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie at Asia House Literature Festival 2014

Kamila Shamsie at Asia House

Internationally successful writer, Kamila Shamsie sat with the Chatterjis for a wee interview at the end of her event at the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival 2014. Quality literature could be Pakistan’s second biggest export after Mangoes and Kamila Shamsie’s work sits on the most coveted international shortlists. Calm, confident and endearing, Kamila gave a wonderful interview and we hope you enjoy it:

You live and work between three locations in three different countries, what aspects do you enjoy and dislike?

Now I only live in London, I used to live in Karachi, London and upstate New York. But now I live in London the most. What I love most about Karachi is that it’s home, it’s where I grew up it’s familiar. My family is there, the sea is there so it’s everything I’ve grown up with. So Karachi is in the way you love your childhood. And London I love in the way I embrace…the future I suppose.

Do you describe yourself a feminist/ what does the term mean to you?

I absolutely describe myself as a feminist. What it means to me is…being against patriarchy, there are more complicated ways of that. We live in a society that is structured in an unjust way and that’s wrong and should be changed.
What do you think identity means today for yourself as a dual citizen and for British born Asians? Continue reading

May 18, 2014

Amy’s Bread

amys bread carrot cake

If you find yourself wandering around bustling Hell’s Kitchen, New York then there are a million and one places to stop for cake and coffee. So how to select the best one once you ignore all the chains? (Rather alarming posters of Oprah Winfrey currently on every Starbucks window as she’s promoting her new Chai Latte, now that’s random.)

Easy! Go to Amy’s Bread – it is such a find! Too cute – it reminds me a little of Gail’s Kitchen in London but this is a million times better and cheaper. We walked in for $3 iced mochas and read a cute sign “Voted Best Carrot Cake by the New York Post”. Sold! Continue reading

May 18, 2014

Cracking Up: The Evolution of British Asian Humour

British Asian Comedians,Anil Gupta,Sathnam Sanghera, Shazia Mirza, Saurabh Kakkar

From L-R: Saurabh Kakkar, Shazia Mirza, Anil Gupta, Sathnam Sanghera at Asia House

It’s the second time British Asian humour has been the subject of debate and discussion as part of Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival and this year’s event was wonderful.  Everyone in attendance was mostly in good spirits (some wine helped of course!), eager to hear and participate in the discussion. Despite the lightness of the topic, Bunty and I left feeling we had learnt new things and subjects to ponder. The evening event focused on British Asian humour, its development as mark of cultural identity and how it has evolved since Goodness Gracious Me.

Goodness-Gracious-Me

Asia House invited Anil Gupta, Saurabh Kakkar (both writers and producers) and Shazia Mirza the stand up comedian. Anil Gupta is well known for the revolutionary and groundbreaking series Goodness Gracious Me, The Office and The Kumars at No 42. The evening started with a few Continue reading

May 17, 2014

A New Saffron Dawn in Indian Politics

narendra-modi

‘The world’s largest democracy’ cast more than 500 million votes over five weeks to decide who would win and take India roaring into the future and Narendra Modi came out on top with a huge majority.  India has spoken. Decisively.

For the first time in 30 years Indian voters helped create a majority government blasting the incumbents to an insignificant minority.  Right wing and Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) had long been tipped to win the election but most Delhiites I spoke to last month were sure that they wouldn’t have an outright majority and would inevitably have to form a coalition of sorts.  My goodness was everyone shocked, it was time for a new generation.  Even former MPs that had held on to their safe seats for 15 years or more were ousted for the first time.  Continue reading

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