Monday, December 29, 2014

What I've been up to...

Our Christmas day photos - Neel was dressed up as a tiger cub for the party...

Hey there! How was Christmas for you?

And how are the winters in your part of the country?

The season here in my neck of the woods is setting in thick and fast. Everything is wrapped up in chunky swathes of fog from 6 pm to 11 am. You can hear the mist dripping on the leaves and windows. Yes, it’s that wintery. We are already dressed up like nesting dolls, in five layers of clothing. Soups and stews are a staple. And the heaters are threatening to work overtime. Winter is officially picking up speed, touching sub zero and ready to plummet to the minus numbers.

So anyway, with the sun on a hiatus around here, I’ve been trying very hard to stay perked up. Whatever that means with long hours cooped up inside and a tantrumy toddler in tow. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

Doing: Nipping out for long walks in the afternoon - the only window of time when the mists thin out a bit. I’ve also been trying to fit in a 30-minute session of yoga in the evenings and a couple of sessions of strength training and stretches through the week.

Reading: I’m trying to figure out the concept of square foot gardening, and the new book by Mel Bartholomew is on my Kindle. Also, reading Gorgeously Green Diet by Sophie Uliano. I’ve read Sophie’s other two books in the Gorgeously Green series and quite enjoyed them. This one’s turning out to be just as interesting.

Eating: Stews and soups, and the international cooking that I dish up every other day.

Studying: The Aura Wellness Yoga Teacher’s Training course. I’ve finally taken that step of enrolling myself in this program and I’m so looking forward to the journey. There’s a whole lot to study and various DVDS to learn postures and alignment from. So, I’m right in the middle of planning how to eke out that time to focus on my studies, a task that’s proving to be difficult with my shifting schedules.

Creating: Watercolor cards. I don’t know if I can hold out on this new creative challenge, but I’m thinking of sending and gifting handmade cards to family and friends this year. I used to make a lot of cards when I was in college, but all of that stopped when emails and texts became the usual way of sending over greetings. I want to revive that tradition of creating cards this year because that maybe the only way to get some art work done, something that I’ve been craving to do for weeks now. I take anywhere between 30-60 minutes to paint a card and I can do so on my dining table with just a few supplies. So, this seems doable and will satisfy my creative urge in bite-sized pieces of time – just what I have right now.

Listening: To wellness podcasts. I just downloaded a bunch of them on my phone from some of my favorite websites, and am listening to them when I’m awake at odd hours or cooking.

P.S.  And if you’ve been wondering about the mini creative challenge I took up a fortnight ago. Well, I couldn’t get around to creating that Christmas tree, but I have been cooking food from around the world + learning eye make-up + taking more photos (though I want to take pictures more regularly.

Happy Monday + Hello New Week!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

An outdoorsy toddler, his mom and the gray days...

The days are short, the darkness long.
The mornings are a swirl of thick fog and chaos, indecision and yearning for the light. The afternoons a shade of gray, that shade of dull that creeps up when the sun plays truant and the mists threaten to roll in.
When sunny picnics in the garden are a memory to look back on and the toddler's pent up energy is frayed at the edges, grating on your nerves.
When a quick walk on the desolate roads is all you can nip out for. When you're counting down the hours to the end of the day.
The evenings? They pass in a haze of gloom, a gray footnote to an equally gray day.
Sunless days like this, with a toddler at home and a distant dream of 'me-time' on the burner, stretch like bubblegum overchewed to its stringy limits.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What we're eating to boost our immunity this winters...

How I miss the sunshine...

The winter up here, in the plains of Punjab where we live are chilly at the best, and gloomy, bone-bitingly cold, teeth-chatteringly miserable at the worst. And where we live, central heating is the thing that you dream of while toasting your hands around a room heater, dreading that moment when you have to walk out of the room into the chillier parts of the house. You get the picture, right? ;-)

So as days slide between thick foggy mornings, cold misty evenings and pale yellow afternoons with a poached-egg of a sun, it’s getting even more important, and more challenging to stay healthy and flu-free. With bugs thick in the air and sniffles and fever knocking on every door, I’ve been trying different ways to boost our immunity and keep us an arm’s distance away from winter infections. I’m not sure how much of a victory I can claim, but I’m going to try every little trick in my book of holistic living.

Eating healthy and fresh is one of the essential ways we’ve been trying to stay fit in this difficult season. We’re tanking up on things that fill us up with nutrients and keep our immunity at its hilt (at least that's the aim). Here are a few simple things we’re eating.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Setting myself up for a mini creative challenge

Missing the ho-hum of family time...

I’ve been looking forward to Mondays ever since my husband’s been off on another tour of duty. Emotionally and psychologically, it sets the week rolling on a merry pace bringing his homecoming date a bit closer, with just the long weekends to break the pace. It’s the weekends that feel like blocks of concrete. Chunky. Static. Boring. It’s the day when your friends are with their families, when people around are out on weekend trips, when everyone has something else to do. It’s the day that reminds me of what we’re missing out on. Cozy family time and movies in our leisure room, long chats and lots of home cooking, unwinding and slowing down.

So the weekend that just hobbled by was slow and gray and dull. The skies were overcast with a steady drizzle notching up the chill factor of the winters here. We sat cooped up inside, huddled in front of the heater, entertaining Neel and getting him to expend some of that coiled up energy that he so thrives on.
Thoroughly numbed by the deadpan of the days, I decided that I needed to do something to ramp up the creativity, to shake up things in a good way, to add fireflies to the grayness of the days. 

What could I do bring a sway and a stir to my long single parenting days? So, I came up with my own creativity challenge. A set of new creative mini adventures to add sparkle to my otherwise long mommy days. The activities should be such that I’m able to fit them in during Neel’s naptimes or do them in small snippets of time when he is up and about (this means he should be happy to play alongside while I do that particular activity and if you’re a mom, you know how implausible that can be with toddlers). The activities should be fun for me, should teach me something, should get me to flex different creative muscles.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Celebrating this big person called Neel - 1 year and 5 months

I landed on this terrain called motherhood with my face flat on the ground. I stumbled often. I grumbled. I wondered if this endless baby phase would ever pass. If I would ever get 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If I’d ever feel sane again. If I’d ever feel a little less harried. I wondered how other mothers did it all (there really isn't anything called 'doing it all'...I know that now). I wondered if I was a real mom, or a fake. Really.

Maybe it was the postpartum depression that made me feel so tightly wound up, so joyless. Maybe it was just me and the fact that I’m not wired to be a ‘baby person’ (my son was the first baby I’d ever held). Maybe it was the 2 long long weeks at the Neonatal ICU and the way that experience shattered something inside. I really don’t know, and I guess, 17 months down the road, don’t much care.

What I do care about is that I’m finally getting my groove. I’m finally getting it. I’m finally coming into my own as a mother. I’m finally able to take the wails and the meltdowns, the chuckles and the tears, the sunshine and the rain, and run with it, all tucked into my stride.

The toddler, small kid, big kid stages are more my thing. I get children, the way I don’t get babies. I see them as little persons with a language of their own, big personalities of their own, minds of their own and a strange logic of their own.

So, as Neel turns 1 year and 5 months old on December 13, I rejoice, I offer gratitude, I pray.  I celebrate the big person that he always was, the old spirit that he is, the eccentric ‘old-man-habits’ that make him both annoying and adorable. I’m grateful for this patch of clear sunshine that we are in at this moment. I pray to the Power above for guiding me on this journey, for returning my son to me when he almost called him back.

It’s such a joy to parent this 17-month-old boy, who is a quirky mix of cute, funny, loud, stubborn, determined, intelligent, charming, challenging. Whether we’re reading picture books and poems at bedtime, scribbling (in the name of art) all sprawled out in the sunshine, playing in the garden or going for our signature long walks at weird times of the day, we’re a team, we’re allies, we’re inseparable.

I’ve always wanted to be in this place of motherhood, when I’m having more fun than fretting, when I’m able to view the exhaustion as just a byproduct of parenting, when I’m more confident as a mom. When I’m still learning and growing but whooping with laughter (and sometimes hollering) on this roller coaster ride called parenthood.

So, when other moms confidently assume that I might be nostalgic about the new baby days, the pre-crawling, pre-toddling days, I couldn’t agree less. I love the present - the sailor’s walk and the Bushman babble, the endless exploring and the busybody bustle, the cuddling and the strawberry kisses, the little games and the funnies. I can sit and watch my son play and babble for hours at an end. It doesn’t make me restless or harried, like I have another place to reach, another route in life to take. 

And that is a piece of precious that I’m going to savor like a lollipop in its last sliver because well, mothering is a roller coaster ride and who knows what each day, each month, each stage will throw at me. But for now, for today, I’m wrapped up in this blanket of gratitude & joy.

 text & photos by chandana banerjee

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Dirty Dozen - 12 simple steps towards a sustainable lifestyle

Neel - in touch with earth ;-) (pic by sandeep banerjee)

So I’ve been telling you about the 50 different things (err..well not 50, but you know what I mean) that I was up to this November. A lot of which centered around living greener & cleaner while reducing the carbon footprint of our family and leading a more sustainable life.

Now I’m the last one to preach a certain lifestyle. But once you’ve tasted the freshness, the goodness of a more natural way of living, it’s difficult to turn back to your older one. It’s difficult to go back to a more materialistic, more toxic, more ‘I don’t have to think about the environment’ way of life. And it's just as difficult to not share some of this goodness.

Also, a lot of you responded to my previous post with questions about living a natural life. So I thought what better than incorporate these 12 steps into your daily life. Take one simple step and make that change before moving onto the next. Choose whatever catches your fancy out of this list or whichever change you feel yourself gravitating towards. Work on it, and then add another one, slowly and steadily working through the list.

Let’s begin with these 12 things to add a pinch of green to our lives.

Cloth shopping bag - noricum

1. Carry a few cloth bags in your purse/tote/shopping basket whenever you step out to go to the veggie market, the mall or to the local bazaar. Stuff the goodies you buy into these rather than bringing home a dozen plastic packets along with your purchases. You can even recycle old plastic packets by taking them along for your shopping trips (yes, I’m known to do that!).

Monday, December 8, 2014

Why I’ve not been around online…

Hello! I hope this post finds you well. Not just well, but at that point in the year when you’re savoring your days. When you’re letting in sunshine into your home, your life. When your days, at the brink of winter, are like crunchy buttered toast with a generous dollop of sunshiney honey. It has been like that for us this past month.

My husband, S, was at home with us (much-awaited holidays!) all through November, and we led simple, creative, happy days, gardening, creating, traveling, being a family. We went with the flow. We planned, but didn’t let the plans rule our days. We slowed down and enjoyed the merry trickle of the weeks. We huddled in and held onto the precious feeling of staying together as a family for a whole month. We learnt to connect more deeply with the earth, and cut down on our carbon footprint by a measure. We cooked, picnicked, played, read. It wasn’t a holiday spent jetsetting to luxury resorts, but it was just the kind of holiday we wanted (I’m working on posts on some of those things.)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Getting Political – Sari in Style

Pic credit: Debjani Basu

I’ve been raving and ranting, sharing and saying things about one of my favorite things – the sari. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’m a recovering sariholic. Well, I’m still a sari aficionado, but the reason I say I’m a ‘recovering sariholic’ is because being a sariholic can cause a serious dent in your budget and a bump, or rather a bulge in your wardrobe. So, I’m retaining my love for the garment while cutting back on over-the-top sari shopping by wearing what I have in my closet (say about a 100 saris, give or take a few) and sharing that love via my blog.

So, if you’re still with me on this sari journey, thank you. Thank you for reading these Sari In Style posts, for sharing your enthusiasm, for participating (and co-hosting) a fabulous Giveaway, for spreading the word around.

So for this Sari In Style feature, I’ve chosen to share some sari inspiration from the political scene.

I don’t much like politics, be it on the governmental level or personal. But I do like how these women wear power on their pallu (and the the clear message that you don't have to ditch the sari in favor of a sharp suit to look-feel-be powerful!). How they look graceful and elegant, smart and authoritative, all at once in their saris and with their definitive sari style (Brinda Karat in her handloom sari + big red bindi + silver bangles; Jaya Jaitley in her handwoven saris and contrasting blouses and silver jewelry; Sonia Gandhi in her crisp cotton saris with sharp pleated pallus; Priyanka Gandhi in her thick cotton saris and short cropped hair).

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Devil in Us by Monica Bhide - a Book Review

I’ve known Monica Bhide, or rather about her, for years. I’ve followed her food writing, read her interviews in magazines, thought about taking up her food writing course. So, when I got a mail from her about her debut into the world of short fiction, I wanted to review her book, ‘The Devil in Us’ (Thanks Monica, for sending me a copy personally). I loved the turquoise cover with the imprint of Indian art. And I liked the name, an interesting twist on human nature and the dark side in each of us, the tweaks and turns that weave our daily life into a fascinating tapestry of stories and secrets.

The 13 stories within the pages of the e-book take you through the alleys of the mind, through the by lanes of life, through hidden pasts and better hidden memories, through shades of grey and the frayed edges of human personalities. I liked the thought Monica has put into creating each story, etching out each character. I also enjoyed how she’s brought forth each story, while making her way through the weave and weft of complicated lives.

Monday, October 27, 2014

6 Ways to Slow Down

For us, here in India, the last few days were a rush. The rush for lights and candles and sweets, the rush for cleaning up the house to a sparkle, the rush to light up, the rush to party and meet people and have a good time, the rush to take photographs so we could be up there on social media without a minute’s delay, the rush to….

With Diwali (the Indian festival of lights - just as busy as Christmas) just behind us, what else could we expect, right? While the past week stirred up my days to the speed of a merry carousal, it also made me want to slow down by the end of it. I am a bit like that. I enjoy meeting people and like dressing up, but after a while, I need to scuttle back into my shell. I need to look inside, I need to loll around with my family, I need a sip of slow.

Also, with the frenetic pace of my husband’s days (he is a fighter pilot and works endless hours) and the lack of total family time, I’ve been craving slow even more. I’m looking forward to an oasis of time when we can just hang out as a family, read, paint, watch a DVD or two, catch up over cups of coffee. Maybe, if we’re lucky, ditch the routine for a while, and pack in a short trip to the hills and visit friends in another city.

But while that happens, here are some of the ways I’m trying to slow down in the now.

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Sari Fiesta - Festival Style

With Diwali (the Indian festival of lights) just a day behind us, I thought I’d post some pictures of the sari fest that I indulged in. For three days straight, I wore hand-woven saris for the parties and the festivities. And what could be better for a girl who loves her desi style and her treasure trove of saris ;-)!

I dug out this earth-colored #sari with a mustard border in thick, hand-woven cotton for the party that we attended a couple of days prior to #Diwali, and teamed it with hand-painted papier-mâché earrings, a stack of wooden bangles and a lime green mother-of-pearl pendant.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

And the Winner is...

And so, it's time to pick the winner :-)
(That's my son Neel picking out the lucky winner!)

Our winner for the Diwali GIVEAWAY is....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rescuing Ourselves With This...

With winter striding in stealth mode, towing along a bag-full of germs and viruses, it’s time to rev up our immunity and get ready to battle the cold. This past week, we’ve had someone or the other sick at home, down with a scratchy throat, a running nose, a fever or body ache (I have a scratchy throat right this moment). And even though 13+ months of breastfeeding my son did arm him with good germ-fighting abilities, the viruses swirling around in the air are beginning to take a toll on him.

The winter’s only going to get colder, more severe, more sun-less. And the air is only going to get thicker with germs and viruses. So, to prepare for the five months of long, chilly, flu-full winters, I’m dipping into my box of essential oils to prevent illnesses.

Friday, October 17, 2014

5 Ways to Pick the Right Bag(s) for your Sari(s) + A Fabulous Festival Giveaway

 If a sari is a story, how do you embellish and accessorize your ensemble to make it even more interesting? Choose a bindi with care? Add a splash with your jewelry? Wear a funky blouse? And how about, toting a fun bag? While, I’ve never been much of a bag person ( I couldn’t care less about branded totes…those hugely expensive bags that would double up as your overnighter), I do have a soft corner for jholas (handmade cloth bags) and batuas (drawstring bags) and hand painted clutches. Anything with a whiff of handmade and fabric and color and embroidery, and I’m in.

These kind of handcrafted bags not only add a new dimension of interest to your sari, but also have their own little story to tuck into. So, here are a clutch of simple tips so you can team your saris with bags that add to the entire look rather than take away from it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What I’ve been upto the past few weeks...

Hello! I’ve been away for a short while…

Days full of childcare and picture books, picnic lunches and watching the rain. Hours chockfull of thinking and planning, reading and deciding. Sometimes, a lot of this is best done away from the internet (not always because I’ve chosen to be away from the Internet but because our internet connection in the boondocks where we live, has been erratic these past few weeks), in a little ‘downtime’ to slow down and live fully.

Decisions and what you want from your days often change on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis, your guideposts being what makes you feel more fulfilled at the moment, what fills your cup with joy, what you feel more inclined towards.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sari Simplified for the Western Woman (6 FAQs, Tips & Tutorials to get you started on your sari journey)

Over the past few weeks, I wrote a bunch of posts on the sari – 6 myths, quirky sari styling tips and whimsical sari blouses that stirred up a lot of interest globally and got women across the country rummaging through their stash of saris. My basic premise for writing the #SariInStyle series is to inspire women to wear saris more often, do casual in it (in urban India, a sari has become the go-to ‘function’ costume and no more), and let their sari collection see a bit more of the sun.

Interestingly, I’ve got a lot of queries from women in the USA, Europe and Australia about wearing saris. The how-tos, the rules, the do’s and don’ts. So, this week’s #SariInStyle is about that – things that non-Asian women/ Western women, may want to keep in mind when they wear a sari.

So ladies, here are a few FAQs on wearing #saris as a Western woman.

I’m a white woman and was wondering if it’s okay to wear a sari?

Absolutely. In spite of the assortment of views that pop up after a search on Google about “western woman in a sari”, I say, wear a #sari if you want to. Sari is not just an #IndianAttire but also a #style statement. So, if you want to express your own style or experiment or just wear one out of curiosity, then go ahead.

Will I offend Indians by wearing a sari?

I don’t think so, as long as you wear it correctly. In fact, my Indian friends and I are always pleasantly surprised to see non-Indian women in saris.

How can I learn to wear a sari?

The internet is the best bet if you don’t already have an Indian friend who can teach you to wear a sari. There are several helpful tutorials out there that can teach you how to drape a sari in a matter of minutes. Of course, you’ll have to practice wearing a sari several times before you get the hang of it (it took me many months to perfect the art of draping a sari!). Here’s a tutorial that may help you learn the ins and outs of #wearingasari and here’s a blog post with lots of tips on getting the sari right.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Why I've rethought my work goals

I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals over the past 14 months, ever since my son was born. After having worked for several years, both in the corporate office set-up and then as a work-from-home professional, I was ready to take a break (sort-of) when my little boy was born. But, strangely, during those first few months when I seemed to spend a 100 hours on the couch nursing my newborn, my desire to get back to full-time work ignited to a roaring, crackling bonfire. I wanted to work again, and couldn’t wait to get back.

I joined up with an entrepreneur friend to head the content division of her company. But several team meetings and con calls and ideating hours later, I discovered that I needed to write again. To share my stories, to breathe life into words. Managing a team of writers and sitting on con calls wasn’t cutting it for me.
And so I started this blog. To write, to share, to build a community. I wasn’t sure if I’d make any money out of blogging, but after years of having written on demand (assignments for magazines and companies), I was craving a writing realm of my own. A place where I could write what I wanted to, when I wanted to; share a slice of my life online; romp around in a happy heap of stories.

One blog grew into two – the second one – Baby Steps to Working-from-Home, about another passion of mine – working-from-home. I write about starting a career from home, about taking those baby steps that seem so hard at the beginning, to stay true to yourself in the busy jostle of jobs and pay cheques. I also started taking lots of online courses, learning about writing, marketing, art and photography.

Friday, September 19, 2014

7 Sari Blouses for that Casual/Chic/Smart Look

Pic Credit: Calantha Wardrobe

So, how has the sari been treating you this past week? Err…or rather, how have you been treating the sari? Have you managed to take those gorgeous yards of fabric out of your closets, dusted them out and worn them? Have you collected a fair share of compliments and comments? Have you fallen a tiny bit more in love with this garment that often gets traded for a pair of jeans and a polyester top?

Well, if my Sari in Style (#sariinstyle) posts (here & here) are inspiring you to give the sari a chance, then read on for this week’s dose of styling tips. Now that we’re a little more convinced about doing casual in a sari (I hope!), let’s move on to that ‘thing’ that can make or break your casual/chic/smart look. A sari blouse.

Like I said last week, by wearing a matching sari blouse you risk going down the traditional route, which is fine if you want to wear it like it’s always been worn. But if you want to flaunt your sari at a casual do and stand out, then a bit of chutzpah is called for. So, let’s add a twist to the sari ensemble by choosing from an array of blouses. Let’s add an element of interest, a dash of quirky, a sprinkling of casual with a blouse.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua - a book review

I finished reading Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother over the weekend. And it made so many things crystal clear. For instance, why my parents were so strict with me when I was growing up; why my mother goaded me to bring home the gold (i.e. come first in class) till I was 12 and couldn't understand why I couldn't or wouldn't; why my parents had such strong views on everything that I did. Why disciplining the hard way seemed just right (to them, not me!).

While, unlike Amy Chua, my parents never pushed me to excel at Piano, Violin or any musical instrument for that matter, they had their own parenting methods. And I’m sure, if you’re Asian (the Asian style of parenting is not just for the Chinese!) and over 30, you may have experienced one or the other form of the intense, firebrand parenting that Chua writes about.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Why Staying Happy Needs Practice (and the 7 ways I try to keep my handle on happiness)

photography by chandana banerjee

There’s so much being written about happiness. From books to projects to blogs, the subject of happiness is buzzing around in sunshine yellow circles. With enough being said and researched about what happiness is and how to stay happy, I’m not going to try to analyze it further. I’m sure each of you has her own definition of happy.

But, being an inherently happy person (my mother still calls me her “sunshine girl”) as well as someone who gets bitten by the anxiety bug very quickly (we’re all a bundle of contradictions!), I’ve realized that staying happy (and this is different from ‘being happy’) needs a lot of work. It needs more than just the will to be happy. It’s more than getting wrapped in a haze of excitement and then tumbling town the scales just as quickly. It’s more than 7-hours of chatting and laughing (the parties in the services are for approx 7 hours). It’s more than a few hours of giddy joy or a shopping spree or a bushel of praise (though all of these contribute a little bit towards creating this mosaic of happiness).

Happiness, the one made with solid gold, the one made of sterner stuff, takes practice. It takes effort. It takes a lot of deep breaths and a lot of letting go. It takes self-nourishment and wisdom, heartbreak and love. It takes more than a few dinner parties and social media joy, more than a big bonus and a spectacular car/house/dress/gadget. It can take years and days before you start getting the hang of it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

7 Ways to Style a Sari

So, we’ve been talking about looking stylish in a sari. About doing casual in a sari. About turning the sari into the little black dress of your wardrobe. All the things that seem impossible with 6 yards of hand woven fabric, especially when cute cocktail dresses and jumpsuits seem to be the new chic.

Like I said in my previous post, wearing the sari with panache is often about creating a look around it rather than slipping into a sari and matching blouse without giving too much of thought to how you want to look when you’re done with the draping and ready to walk out of that door.

So, I thought I’d share some of my tips. Things that I’ve been doing to create a look around the saris I wear. And I wear a lot of them. I own a 100 saris and enjoy taking the ‘boring’ out of the concept of wearing these beauties.

So, here we go. Mix and match these tips, personalize them or add to them. Use them when you slip into a crisp cotton for an office meeting or a Garden chiffon for an evening at the art museum; when you wear silks – the brocade or the raw kinds; when you wear a sari for a cocktail evening or dinner in town.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Thank You + Sari in Style Feature

On Friday, I wrote about the sari, the myths that are woven around it, the things that prevent us from wearing this luscious garment with élan. The things that have turned the sari into a costume to be donned only at special occasions.

Spurred on by a conversation about wearing Indian attires with style, I wrote about stuff that’s always been on my mind, the things that jump out at me whenever I wear a sari and am met with a barrage of reactions. And I was so surprised to find out that it struck a chord in over 800 people across the globe. From working women in urban India who had stopped wearing the sari for the fear of attracting bemused reactions to moms in the USA who want to learn how to drape a sari and wear it often, 6 Myths about the Sari made a lot of people smile. And I’m so glad about that.

Its conversations like this that remind me again and again why I’m blogging. Why I sit in my little studio office in one corner of the country, typing out my thoughts, giving words to my rants, sharing my affirmations. Why I rush during nap times (my son’s) to write, to share.

Friday, September 5, 2014

6 Myths about the Sari


Yesterday, there was this interesting conversation happening at a friend’s page on a social media network. All about desi style. The kurti, sari, big bindi, kolhapuri (handcrafted slippers), big jhumkas (Indian-style chandelier earrings) and jhola (traditional handmade bags in India) look. The kind of look I love, and was surprised to read, that several other women love too.

For years, I’ve found myself alone in my love for the desi look. Oh yes, I do wear maxi dresses or treggings occasionally, but my preferred go-to ensemble is anything Indian, natural (fabric) and hand woven. I favor saris (6 yards of handloom fabric) heavily, my wardrobe and boxes bursting at the seams with them. I team these gorgeous beauties with embroidered blouses, lots of chunky silver and wooden jewelry, and a big bindi. While I’m confident and happy in this kind of attire and wear this to parties, malls, restaurants and work do’s, I’ve noticed that just wearing something that’s so Indian (in India!) and not fitting into the standard style mold, attracts all sorts of reactions.

Monday, September 1, 2014

When mining the gold in our days is a simple step away...(friends, stories & positive stuff)

Photo credit: Tina A. Mathur & Sandeep Banerjee

Life’s what we make of it. And so is our internet time. Whether we fritter away those moments online (or offline), posting negative comments, angry words or wisps of judgment, or leave a bread crumb trail of positivity -  what we do with our time, our life, our days, is often up to us.

Just the other day, Priyanka - a friend, fellow writer and Air Force wife, passed on a gratitude challenge to me. We had to list out and post all those things we are grateful for; the abundance and the love, our family and our friends, the food on our table and the clothes on our back. The small and the big, the old and the new, the tangible and the intangible. Gratitude in all its forms, in all its glory, in all its simplicity.

Friday, August 29, 2014

6 Style blogs moms can't miss

I’m all for mom style. Two words that tell the entire story - from a post-baby body to getting out of your comfort zone, wearing clothes that are comfy yet make you feel good about yourself, accepting this new body image with an extra layer of chubbiness and rediscovering this new you. Loving yourself and creating your own story by wearing your personal style on your sleeve, literally.

Mom style isn’t about fashion weeks and cat walks. It isn’t about dress sizes and washboard tummies. It’s so not about blindly following what others are wearing and hating what you’ve just slipped into. Mom style is about owning your story and creating your own look irrespective of what others think (because that's why it's called 'personal style'). It’s about ditching the track pants and trying out new combinations, all from what’s in your wardrobe and maybe, a few simple additions.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

What if...(newborn pictures, wishful thinking & a mother's memories)

(In Pic 1 & 2, Baby N is 10 days old. He was off the ventilator by this time but was in an oxygen tent because he still needed assistance with his breathing. Whenever I went down to be with him in the NICU, he was taken out of the tent, and I gave him whiffs of oxygen from a tube.)

Just yesterday, I was reading another blogger’s family update and looking at the happy pictures of his newborn. A fourth member, all tiny and wise, with almond eyes and tightly-curled fists. Dressed in a pastel-hued onesie, the newborn baby was at peace on the soft white sheets of his bed. Gauzy morning sunlight streamed through the window…just the right light conditions for a newborn photo shoot.

I looked at the photographs with part amazement and part wistfulness. I have a 13-month-old baby boy now, but I still don’t know what my own baby looked like when he was a day old, a few days old, a week old, a fortnight old.

(Pic 3. Baby N, 1 day old, on ventilator)

I don’t know how he would have looked without all those tubes and canulas snaking through him. I wouldn’t know how he would have looked without the pin pricks and splatters of dried blood on his translucent skin. I don’t know how he would look if he had been at peace, on the crisp sheets of a bed at home, in my arms, in a pastel-hued onesie.

And I’ll never ever know.

While I’m plenty grateful for having him with me today, for not having lost him to the dark shadow of death, I still wonder. The thought crosses my mind every time I see a newborn baby’s picture; every time I see a very new baby dressed in rompers and lolling around amidst a sea of crisp cotton sheets.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

9 Must-reads for Moms

As I was flipping through photographs from the year past, I couldn’t help but think of those intense first few months. A phase steeped in exhaustion and uncertainty, diaper duty and nights spent decoding a newborn’s piercing cries.

Eight hours of sleep seemed like a luxury I couldn’t afford for the next 20 years.  And eating an unhurried meal at home, watching a movie in a theater or shopping in my favorite store – simple pleasures that I took for granted earlier, were elements that I could say goodbye to forever. Or so it seemed, at that time, when New Motherhood seemed like a job description from Mars.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

6 Style Blogs I love + my style journey

I’ve been experimenting with my personal style. Not with fashion, and what’s hot and what’s not. But with that thing that defines a person’s look. That creative combination of clothes and accessories and attitude that tells a story of its own.

For a very long time, I was kind-of clueless and disinterested in ‘style’ (and I still am about anything related to fashion). Give me a pair of old jeans and a comfortable t-shirt and sneakers and I’m done for the day. I couldn’t afford a whole lot of clothes, and even when I could, I just wore what was practical and what was available.

Monday, August 4, 2014

My Attitude to Gratitude: This is what it looks like for me…

From my window, gratitude looks like a piece of bright blue sky, a day full of golden sunshine and a picnic lunch, a plate of buttered toast with real fruit preserve. An hour’s worth of exercise with blood rushing through my veins and oxygen through my lungs, a good book savored sans interruptions, half-a-cup of delicious coffee – strong with just a hint of sugar. My husband coming home after a day of flying.

Gratitude for me is about a day full of peace and joy. A holiday spent with my husband and son, a walk with my dog, a bowl of soup relished in a pool of lamp light. Gratitude is cooking a nourishing meal for my family, watching a movie at home, a snuggle and a cuddle, kind words and laughter.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

12 unexpected (and a few expected) facts about working-from-home

photo credit: Paul Shirey

I’ve been working-from-home for over eight years now, trying out new roles, practicing my craft. In these years, I’ve been an employee and an editor, a content writer and a freelance journalist, an entrepreneur and a Holistic Health Coach, a blogger and a writer mama. I’ve done a ton of writing, and then some.

I’ve followed home cheques and lost some. I’ve worked with magazine editors and company owners, and created projects on my own. I’ve set up my home office in corners of bedrooms and dining tables, and when lucky, in entire studio rooms. I’ve worked through days, when working-from-home seemed almost impossible. I’ve worked through failed Internet connections and major power cuts. I’ve always met my deadlines and hardly ever my editors. I’ve dabbled in health coaching and now, in blogging.

I’m always on crossroads because I’m a work-at-home professional adapting my goals and to-do’s to my life situations.

So, here’s my dirty dozen on the things you may not expect working-at-home to be.

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