August 30, 2015

Understanding Islam and Muslims

Islam Carole Hillenbrand

Soft spoken, calm and a leading authority on Islam, Carole Hillenbrand is a Professor of Islamic History at both Edinburgh and St Andrews Universities. Her new book, Islam: A New Historical Introduction aims to allow readers to gain a sensitive understanding of the essential tenets of the religion and of the many ways in which the present is shaped by the past.

The author’s hour long event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival was the perfect split between highlights from her book and questions from the eager audience.  I thought this event would be too much of a niche interest but interestingly it sold out. We can’t Continue reading

August 27, 2015

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Bidisha & Mohammed Osborne

Yasmin Alibhai Brown and Bidisha

For a few seconds, time stopped and the audience dropped a collective jaw as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown asked if we knew that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne’s brother was a Muslim convert, Mohammed Osborne. No we didn’t! But…but… how did that happen?

exotic_england_ Yasmin Alibhai Brown

It was a sell out session with the charismatic journalist and writer, Continue reading

August 23, 2015

The Challenge of Things, A C Grayling

AC Grayling The Challenge of Things

Professor of Philosophy, A C Grayling gave a wonderful presentation of essays yesterday afternoon at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. His new book is a collection of essays of a variety of subjects quite like in the ‘pre-novel’ era when essays were highly regarded.

An example of of one of his adapted essays: In the future would developing countries look to China as a model for development rather that the West and democracy? The Chinese model works well Continue reading

August 22, 2015

Forensic Science with the C.S.Aye Team

Val McDermid

Without the snazzy graphics and collagen-filled lips of the real C.S.I. the totally fabulous C.S.Aye team consisted of internationally acclaimed crime writer, Val McDermid and forensics expert extraordinaire, Niamh Nic Daeid who often appears on BBC Radio 4 to explain forensic science to the general public with ease and she was interviewed for the wonderful Life Scientific programme.

The hour in their company at the Edinburgh International Book Festival event flew by and it was full of fascinating information about a world that most of us are rarely touched by but nonetheless find Continue reading

August 20, 2015

Uphaar Cinema Tragedy

Uphaar cinema fire tragedy

It was just an ordinary evening one day in Delhi way back in 1997 when people went to their local cinema to catch the latest blockbuster. But ordinary soon turned into tragedy as a fire that started in the parking lot engulfed the cinema building itself.

Fire exits had been blocked and building safety norms were not followed by the owners of the cinema. As the fire struck, in the ensuing panic 59 men, women and children (some as young as 4 and 6 years old) lost their lives.

Eighteen years later and following an epic battle through the Indian legal system a verdict was passed by the Supreme Court that the Continue reading

August 20, 2015

Why Did Europe Conquer The World?

Why did Europe conquer the world

In 1914, 84% of the world was under colonial rule from a European nation. Quite an achievement considering that Europe makes approximately 8% of the world’s land mass. These were some of the attention-grabbing opening lines of economic historian, Philip T Hoffman’s event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

How did that happen? Continue reading

August 18, 2015

Mecca, The Sacred City?

Mecca the Sacred City by Ziauddin Sardar

Ziauddin Sardar at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015

I arrived at the Edinburgh International Book Festival today for my first book event of this year’s packed programme, brolly in hand and wearing two layers of cashmere. Yes, it is August, welcome to Summer in Scotland.

Ziauddin Sardar’s new book, Mecca The Sacred City was the topic of discussion and the charismatic author was full of hilarious anecdotes and opinions of Saudi Arabia that mirror my own. Of course, unlike him, I’m not a respected scholar nor have I spent time living there.

It is in the direction of Mecca and the Ka’aba that all Muslims turn to when (or if) they pray. Mecca is the birth place of the Prophet and pilgrimage to the Ka’aba is one of the five pillars of Islam, a duty for all Muslims. So why do the guardians of the holiest sites in the Islamic behave like ‘cultural terrorrists’? Ziauddin Sardar is no fan of Continue reading

August 18, 2015

The Empress Story by Manish Malhotra

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Manish Malhotra, AICW 2015. Photography: FDCI

With this collection, Manish Malhotra celebrated 10 years of his couture house and 25 years as a costume designer for the Indian film industry. His Bollywood fan club was out in full support on the night, generations of stars and super stars sitting in front row, the paparazzi going wild.

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Manish Malhotra, AICW 2015. Photography: FDCI

As if these two fantastic milestones weren’t enough to celebrate, demonstrating that good things come in three’s, Manish Malhotra announced that two new flagship boutiques would open in 2016, one in London and the other in Dubai. Both world class shopping Continue reading

August 18, 2015

Rohit Bal’s Birds of Paradise

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Rohit Bal, AICW 2015. Photography: FDCI

Continue reading

August 16, 2015

Through The Cinematic Lens with Debarun

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Debarun, AICW 2015. Photography: Mashungsang Sangkhro

Debarun Mukherjee’s couture collection embarked on a journey through Indian cinematic costume through the decades from the black and white days of the 1930s to the present time. Of course, little has changed in hundreds of years of traditional Indian fashion let alone a few decades. Colours and trims come in and out of fashion Continue reading

August 16, 2015

The Beloved by Manav Gangwani

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Manav Gangwani, AICW 2015. Photography: Mashungsang Sangkhro

Indian couturier, Manav Gangwani’s show was entitled ‘Le’amoureuse’ or the beloved in English. He really should have stuck with English as the French is grammatically incorrect and has, incidentally, been widely re-printed with the same error across other media. I know this is a fashion review not a French lesson but if you’re going to have pretensions, at least Google your French.

Back to the collection… The show was set in a floral garden with a long winding catwalk. An hour late, the audience had to wait longer Continue reading

August 6, 2015

Maharadja & Co

Rimple and Harpreet Narula 6Rimple and Harpreet Narula, AICW 2015, Photography: FDCI

‘Maharadja & Co’ was the title of the Preciosa (Czec crystals) sponsored glamorous couture show by Rimple and Harpreet Narula. Celebrating the days and glory of the Raj is the essence of Rimple and Harpreet Narula’s brand (although every Indian designer invariably cites the same inspiration).

Rimple and Harpreet have endeavored to capture the very beginnings of the concepts of bespoke and portraiture in India with Continue reading

August 6, 2015

Princesses of Persia

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Anju Modi, AICW 21015. Photography: FDCI

Anju Modi’s show notes included a poem by my favourite Sufi poet, Rumi so I was won over from the start:

I asked, “Where is your home, beautiful moon?”

She said, “In the wreck of your heart so stone.

I am the sun shining into your ruin.

Long may you call this wild wasteland your home”.

Inspired by Persia, the show was entitled Kashish: an Urdu word, reflects an attraction, a deep desire and yearning for something; something which maybe never was. Well English words don’t mean so much do they? Continue reading

August 6, 2015

Gaurav Gupta’s Nymphs & Goddesses

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Gaurav Gupta, AICW 2015. Photography: Mashungsang Sangkhro

Amazon India Couture Week 2015 might be the show in which Gaurav Gupta got his mojo back after a pretty bad pret collection. The show was called ‘Silt and Cipher’ with models glamorously made up to resemble woodland nymphs and goddesses. The golden hair was amazing! Continue reading

July 31, 2015

Rahul Mishra’s Couture Debut

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Rahul Mishra, AICW 2015, Photography: FDCI

International Woolmark prize winner, Rahul Mishra has his Indian couture debut yesterday. His collection was aimed at the contemporising the bridal trousseau for the busy, multi-tasking, modern woman/bride and was inspired by the tree of life. Continue reading

July 31, 2015

Sabyasachi Opens Amazon India Couture Week 2015

Calcutta based extraordinary couturier, Sabyasachi opened Amazon India Couture Week in glorious fashion. The designer’s trademark indulgent yet sophisticated designs and his meticulously details catwalk stage was inspired this season by India’s most common hunting bird, a ‘Bater’.

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Sabyasachi, AICW 2015. Photography: Mashungsang Sangkhro

 

Continue reading

May 20, 2015

My White Wrists

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My White Wrists (Chitiyan Kalayan) is  the translation of a chorus of a Bollywood song that has been in the top ten in the BBC Asian Radio Charts and on radio loops in India non-stop.

Songs like this make me want to scream: is there no hope of evolution in the South Asian community’s mentality about skin Continue reading

May 18, 2015

Dispatches from the Kabul Cafe with Heidi Kingstone

Dispatches-Kabul

As the Asia House Lit Festival draws to an end, A personal highlight for me was to hear Heidi Kingstone in conversation with Jemima Steinfeld. Both women have written accounts of working abroad and in this conversation we were treated to Heidi’s memories of being a war correspondent in Afghanistan and a reading from her new book, Dispatches from the Kabul Cafe.

Heidi began by explaining the phenomenon, Kabubble, which arose Continue reading

May 9, 2015

An Evening With Xue Xinran

xue xinran

The opening night of the Asia House Literature Festival started off tonight with a wonderful conversation with the acclaimed author and journalist, Xue Xinran, who has a new book, Buy Me the Sky, out now.

Xinran has an incredible talent of explaining Chinese culture through her many books and she spoke very frankly in conversation with Continue reading

May 5, 2015

The Ninth Asia House Lit Festival

UK writer Hanif Kureishi in conversation with Razia Iqbal about new book 'The Last Word'Razia Iqbal is BBC Special Correspondent and presenter of Talking Books. Headline event for opening night of Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival @ Asia Ho

Hanif Kureishi in conversation with Razia Iqbal from last year’s festival.

London’s incredible Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival begins this week – don’t worry, you still have time to get a ticket as it runs from 7 – 18 May.

The line up is as impressive and diverse as ever and launches on 7 May with the acclaimed author Xue Xinran who will be celebrating the release of her new book, Buy Me the Sky. Xinran will be discussing the new generation of China which is such a fascinating topic, we can’t wait to attend. Continue reading

April 12, 2015

Hey Pretty Eyes!

thandie-in-violet make up

We all have a tried and tested ‘face’ that we can slap on to trundle through a regular day. Of course ‘regular day’ is an elastic phrase if, like me, you’re of South Asian origin.  Once upon a time my regular day face consisted of what most women would consider full bridal makeup. As I’ve gotten older my makeup has become significantly lighter and more sparing yet I still haven’t often been quite daring.

nars guy bourdin

About a month went to the amaaaazing Guy Bourdin exhibition at Somerset House just before its final curtain call. The gift shop had an amazing Nars makeup range commissioned especially Continue reading

April 12, 2015

Indian Summers Addiction

Indian-Summers 1

There a few ingredients on TV that rock my boat: period drama, excellent fashion and style, architecture and politics. Mix all of these ingredients together and the outcome is INDIAN SUMMERS on Channel 4.

From the opening scenes of a sprawling villa in the Indian hills with indulgent hanging flowers and vines, you could almost inhale the heat and fragrance from the screen. After making me sickeningly envious of this property, we are slowing introduced to the characters who will keep us company at 9pm on Sunday evenings.  Continue reading

April 11, 2015

Jihadi Brides

jihadi brides

BBC2 ran a programme rather late on Thursday night called Jihadi Brides. I happened to see it after reaching saturation point with Question Time on BBC1 so it was an accidental yet intriguing insight into these young girls and women as well as their ideology. I’m a Muslim woman (selectively practicing), too old/wild to be groomed but quite bemused by these holier than thou Muslims. These are some of the opinions raised from the programme:

1. Professional: These young women are not stupid, they are intelligent and educated.

2. Professional: The young women may lack an ability for critical thinking. Continue reading

March 29, 2015

A Military March and A Risky Affair

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Pero by Aneeth Arora, AIFW AW 2015

This season péro by Aneeth Arora lent her attention to military uniforms and the clothing and accessory items that have become staples over the decades, such as aviator sunglasses and khakis. She continued her exploration of Scottish checks (hand woven in the Himalaya region) and block printed textiles from Gujurat. Continue reading

March 29, 2015

A Voyage of Discovery and The Goddess of The Night

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Sanchita, AIFW AW 2015

This season Sanchita showcased a collection inspired by ‘A Voyage of Discovery’ influenced by multiple stimuli, from gentle contemplation to upbeat, vivid experience. It wasn’t in the show notes but clearly there was a hint of Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty in the moulded feather headwear. Continue reading

March 29, 2015

Photo Diary from Amazon India Fashion Week

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Bodice, Vogue India Fashion Fund Winner AIFW AW2015

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Bodice, Vogue India Fashion Fund Winner AIFW AW2015

Continue reading

March 27, 2015

Divine Diversity at Amazon India Fashion Week

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Samant Chauhan, AIFW AW2015

With a female population greater than the whole of Europe, the Indian customer is as diverse as her social calender. This means that Indian designers can indulge in tried and tested traditional silhouettes and Western twists simultaneously. Continue reading

March 26, 2015

An Early Frost

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Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna, AIFW AW2015

Melancholy show notes accompanied the press and buyers only presentation by Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna titled An Early Frost: ‘And some times the frost visits early. Not just in the temperature but in life and existence seem fragile and cruel…This special collection is together  a lament and a celebration of a life.’ Continue reading

March 26, 2015

JJ Valaya and his Bolshoi Bazaar

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JJ Valaya, AIFW AW 2015

With a toe, or sewing needle, dipped in India and the other in Russia, JJ Valaya’s Bolshoi Bazaar collection was an ode to regal indulgence.

India is of course JJ’s True Love and each season the designer merges Indian cultural inspiration with a foreign heritage as long as Continue reading

March 26, 2015

Kavita Bhartia’s Magical Milestone

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Kavita Bhartia, AIFW AW 2015

Celebrating 25 years as a designer, Kavita Bhartia showed a retrospective of her designs with a collection that cemented her place as a veteran designer. The collection wasn’t so much a celebration of her greatest hit as it was a big cheers to the future. Beautifully crafted in flattering silhouettes and tones, her Ogaan Continue reading

March 25, 2015

Catching the Winter Sun

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Nikasha, AIFW AW2015

No drib, drab colours usually associated with Winter on offer by Nikasha, Payal Singhal or Anju Modi!

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Nikasha, AIFW AW2015

Nikasha referenced the much loved muse of Yves Saint Laurent, Continue reading

March 25, 2015

Doctor’s Orders at Rajesh Pratap Singh

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Rajesh Pratap Singh, AIFW AW2015

There wasn’t an ode to the NHS and the London Olympics opening ceremony in Rajesh Prarap Singh’s accompanying show notes. This is surely the most eccentric grand opening of Indian Fashion Week that I have seen: a catwalk filled with hospital beds and drips together with a live band.

Rajesh Pratap Singh is known for his innovative outlook in fashion Continue reading

February 24, 2015

Oscars 2015: Beauties and The Grease

The gowns were all pretty meh this year so I thought it might be more interesting to concentrate on the hair and make up. After all, how many of us will ever wear a couture gown but we can all afford even the most expensive lipsticks and contouring powders!

Jennifer Lopez

The cold undertones of the bubblegum pink lippie is such a beautiful contrast to the nude dress and really flatters JLo’s skin tone.

2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter - Arrivals

Thandie Newton and Kerry Washington both demonstrate a perfect classic smoky eyes and rose lips look. Continue reading

January 14, 2015

Charlie, Muslims & Me

paris protests

Well, I hardly need to explain the title and the background news story. Shocking on so many levels for so many people.  24 hour rolling news, debates across current affairs programmes had almost every angle covered.

In homes and offices over the world the general public debated the meaning of freedom of speech. What does freedom of speech mean to you? The freedom to offend? Standing up for the rights of other people you disagree with to offend? Why should all Muslims apologise for the crimes of crazy people or reassure others that we are not terrorists?

I’m part of a Muslim family in Britain so what was our reaction? Continue reading

January 3, 2015

New Year, New You…Whatever!!

meditating pose

Happy New Year from The Chatterjis!! Wow, I can’t believe it’s 2015 already, blink and it will be gone.  Have you stopped over eating yet or are there still boxes of bread sticks and unopened chocolate boxes that need munched?

Undoubtedly many of us would have spent at least 60 seconds Continue reading

December 1, 2014

Baby Name Trends, What to Avoid

muppetbabies

Besides Christmas, December means endless lists summarising the year that was and we begin the reflection with a look at popular baby names.  Personally I’d want to know in order to avoid them, just like fashion trends sometimes it’s best to go off piste although perhaps not as much as Gwyneth Paltrow!

Reflecting the diversity of Britain, Muhammad shot to the number one spot as the most popular baby name, perhaps Wills and Kate can consider it for little No.2 next year? I’m a Muslim and this is the Continue reading

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

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