Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Monika Tomar Saroch talks about being an artist & Army wife

The Brigade that Builds Brands is all about Fauji wives / military spouses, who create businesses or stay uber creative while juggling all the social + family commitments. It's a whole new ballgame with multiple postings, plenty of social commitments, living out of boxes + suitcases, stints of single parenting and being posted at super small places. Today, I've invited Monika Tomar Saroch over to the blog for a tete-a-tete about how she can juggled a successful career as an artist & art teacher while being an Army wife.

C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.
M. I am Monika. I am an artist and right now in Delhi. I have been married to an army officer and it’s been fifteen years of bliss.

C. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?
M. I started painting again when my son was three months. One of my friends told me that I could paint professionally and it was a moment of realization for me as this is what my calling was. The journey has been beautiful so far. It has transformed my life completely. Its full of struggles and rewarding at the same time. From someone who started a novice to a professional with many exhibitions so far, it has been an amazing experience.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Book Review: Secrets And Tea At Rosie Lee’s by Jane Lacey-Crane

Book Review by Chandana Banerjee

Here’s a brand new column about book reviews and authors – something to look forward to if you enjoy reading as much as I do. In the past, I’ve written about books that I’ve enjoyed; but from now on, I will be posting my reviews about new + some not-so-new books as well as interviews of authors. Whether these are books for grown-ups like us, Young Adult fiction, non-fiction and even cute children’s books, there will be something we can all tuck into while we sip our coffees and ponder about what to read next over the weekend (or what books to buy for our children).

So, onto my #bookreview of Jane Lacey-Crane’s first novel ‘Secrets And Tea At Rosie Lee’s’:

Abigail aka Abby Cowan is almost 40 with a daughter about to leave for college and a café that needs both – some serious profits and a makeover in terms of the menu and décor to keep it afloat. When Abby takes up a catering job to help out her event manager friend Liz and earn something extra to pump into the Rosie Lee café, the side job turns out to be much more than she bargained for. A chance meeting with the host of the party sends her reeling back into a past thick with secrets and reignites all those sparkler-like feelings that she thought she had got over long back.

Jack Chance – her first love and first kiss is no longer the boy next door, but a successful and dashing millionaire in America. He’s still in love with Abby but this only brings back painful memories for her. Also, with Abby’s emotionally-distant mother and the secrets that she’s got stashed away, an old gangster who resurfaces to collect something that he feels Abby has been hiding and answers that she finally begins to find, Jane Lacey-Crane’s first novel is packed with everything good you’d want in a weekend read.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Nupur Heda Patil crafts a Tarot practice around an Army life

Hello folks! Today, we’re back with another interesting fauji wife/military spouse entrepreneur interview in our The Brigade That Builds Brands series. Meet Nupur Heda Patil, a Tarot reader, Angel Healer and Reiki practitioner + relatively new Army wife. She is passionate about her work, is happy to set up her practice wherever her life with her fauji hubby takes her and has a positive outlook to work-life balance.

Here’s what Nupur and I chatted about setting up a brand on the move, doing work you’re passionate about and juggling the fauji life & our calling in life.

C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

N. I am Nupur Heda Patil. Born and brought up in a traditional Marwari business family, it was a dream to start something of my own when I grow up. My idea of marriage was a choice based union. I met my soulmate in 2010; we were friends for a long time when we decided to take a step ahead. With two different cultures and families coming together, lot of hustle bustle finally with the blessing of everyone we believed in, tied a knot on 1st Dec 2014. Being a fauji wife is not only about being married to the man in uniform but it also brings a lot of responsibility towards my soldier and his life. Thankfully my husband helps me in every single step and he is my friend, mentor and my life partner.

Post marriage I kept juggling between jobs. Picked up teaching at one station, counseling at the other. The only constant job profile I have had is my Tarot. I have regular telephonic clients and events in the city which keeps me busy. Planning to set up an office at the next station so that I can take face to face clients in future. Right now enjoying the best of spiritual growth and a sense of fulfillment in Nilgiris at Wellington.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Maid Of the Matter: 5 tips to save time & energy and stay stress-free

Ever so often, I stumble across intense conversations about..maids (domestic help). During social visits, in parties, at welfare meets, in Whatsapp groups, I see the topic of maids sneaking into conversations. I get it – here in India, we do depend heavily on house help. 

It’s not just the colossal dust that needs to be cleaned and mopped and dusted from our floors and shelves that finds us utterly dependent on domestic help, but also a certain mindset that prevents us from picking up a broom or rinsing our own dishes or even cooking our own meals. And more often than not, when we pay someone else to cook and clean, we find them come up short - more so, in today’s world.

Sweeping and mopping that’s not up to the mark, dishes that retain stains of previous meals, food that isn’t cooked hygienically or tastefully, and unprofessional attitudes (i.e. asking for higher salaries than what’s fixed in a society, answering back, grumpiness etc.) lead ladies into fraught-with-anxiety discussions about maids and the daily annoyance they cause them.

But is there a way around this? Is there a way we can stop this profuse time drain? Can we find a way to discuss maids less (no one needs to stop ‘coz we need to talk sometimes to find a way out), so we can pack our days and conversations with more hearty and interesting things?

Over the years, having employed a variety of domestic help, most of whom entered my home with a bucket load of baggage and attitude issues, I can safely say that the help at the end of my arm is way more reliable. 

As my son crossed his toddler stage, I slowly delegated less and did more to reclaim my peace. We went intentionally maid-free when we moved to as big town (for a while we hired someone for the basics, but again, we noticed that that brought in more hassles, so we went back to our maid-free existence).

Note 1: I don’t spend the entire day cooking and cleaning – in case, you’re wondering if that’s all I do, so I can mange in maid-free mode. With an almost 5-year-old, a blog to write, workshops to teach and a new green start-up to grow & tonnes of books to read and hobbies to tend to, my day includes all of this and cooking & a dash of cleaning.

Note 2: I’m not suggesting firing the maid (like I did).

With these 5 methods anyone can reclaim control over their house chores + time and be less dependent on maids and maid-related issues:

1. Invest in a dishwasher: I bought a dishwasher a year back and can say that it’s one of the best things to have happened to our home. The dirty dishes, once stacked properly, are squeaky clean and germ-free after a wash cycle. Whether its summer and the basin water too hot to put my hands in, or winter with freezing cold tap water (yes, in Punjab, the water was just as temperamental as the climate), I don’t really have to worry about the temperature of the water anymore. Neither do I have to fret about semi-clean utensils or a wild jumble of washed dishes in the drying rack, waiting for a maid to arrange on the shelves. Yes, at Rs 36,000, the cost of a dishwasher might seem steep, but it’s worth every little penny in terms of the stress-free dishwashing experience that it offers.

2. Check if you need cleaning gadgets or tools: There are great cleaning tools available in the market that can make the mundane chore of cleaning and mopping a lot easier. I use a spin mop to wipe up the floors, but someday, I wouldn’t mind getting a Floor Cleaning Robot. Yes, you heard right – there are circular robots that’ll sweep and mop for you (google the offerings by Milagrow). Interspersed with manual cleaning, it’s a great house-cleaning solution. Also, stocking a cleaning caddy with everything you need (baking soda, surface cleaner, cloth wipes, duster, scrubbers and brushes) to dust and wash around the house, makes chores a tad easier. And of course, we all have washing machines, so that's one job less to worry about.

3. Elbow grease and gym workout: We often drive to the gym to work out and keep fit, or invest in a treadmill for a home-based workout. But interestingly, a full-body workout is available for free right at your home via house cleaning and chores. Whether you’re sweeping, mopping the floors (even with a Spin Mop), dusting, wiping gadgets around the house, washing bathrooms or even emptying your dishwasher, you’re engaging all kinds of muscles and keeping those joints supple.

4. A change in how we perceive housework, including daily cooking: A slight shift (okay, Major shift) in our attitude about doing our own work (at least a lot of it, if not all) instead of having to get it done by someone else, even if we’re not happy with their output or attitude, can make a Lot of difference in how we approach housework. Its food for our family and it’s the house we live in – when I keep that in perspective, a lot can get done through DIY.

5. Ask your family members to help: Whether it’s your spouse or kids, everyone can do something for the house – it’s their home too and chipping in just makes the load lighter. When kids are involved in keeping their home or room clean, they understand the value of work, won’t depend on others to clean up after them when they grow up and will learn life skills. My husband helps me keep our home clean, while our little one, does what he can (like grate the cheese, mop up the spills he makes, pick up crumbs, prune the houseplants & water them). I totally believe that just one person cannot do every single task to run a home, especially, if you’re also managing business/project/job.

Try these five tips and see if you can free up time. I get more done with less stress with this maid-free/minimum approach than when I had more help. Yes, when we’re not discussing maids most of the time or following them around to check if they are cleaning/mopping properly or showing them how to clean or cook our way or trying to figure out why they answered back when you were perfectly polite, we can reclaim back precious time (yup, even while doing a fair chunk of the housework with the help at the end of our arms). Time that we can spend reading books, learning a new skill, watching a movie at home or setting up a venture.

Do you do a lot of your own work + cooking? If you have any tips to get it done more efficiently, do leave a comment below.

And hey if you're on Twitter, follow us at @chandanawriter.

Would you like to detoxify your personal care products, greenify your home and introduce your kids to eco-friendly ways? Download my 17-min Online Workshop for Free at Gorgeous Girls Go Green.

#maid #housework #housechores #housecleaning #cooking #dishwasher #spinmop #time #stressfree 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

7 Fauji Wives / Military Spouses You Often Meet

by Tara-Aroha Kabir

Okay, so before I get on with this, let me just say that military spouses are like every other human being, and human beings are similar across the board – in the defence services, in the corporate sector, in villages, in towns. It’s just that whenever we’re part of a tightly-knit, you-know-everyone kind of community, we as people can have a very high impact on each other’s lives. Each person can become an influencer, letting her words, attitudes and actions impact the other lady’s life + the social dynamics, positively or negatively.

I’ve found that we spouses can generally fit into one or a combination of the following personality types.

Disclaimer: These personality types are found across the board – within the services and outside it. However, like I said, since each of us is an influencer in our own right in our tightly-knit communities, it’s easier to spot different personalities, especially if these impact our lives.

Disclaimer 2: Any resemblance to people living or dead is un-intentional and pure coincidence.

So, here are some of the military spouses who make up the social fabric of our filled-with-pride service life:

The warm-helpful-kind spouse: It’s these ladies, who actually make life in the services what it’s known for – warmth and camaraderie. These are the women who’ll be the first to drop in with a hot-case of home food when you move into your service quarters, be there for you when your husband is deployed, and willing to help you out when you’re stuck in the doldrums. These women are the foundations of a good fauji spouse life. They make your time and their time at any base happy and a tad easy.

The I’m-born- for-this-life spouse: These ladies know how to rock-and-roll with everything that the services life throws their way. Multiple postings, 101 house shiftings, endless parties and beerings, welfare meets and more welfare meets – you name it and they know how to fit right in with a charming smile, a helping hand and oodles of gumption. Spotty internet connections, far too many social commitments or even lack of job opportunities do not faze them out, and they settle into every fauji situation + station like Eskimos in the snow. Always armed with the right attitude and the perfect wardrobe for any occasion, these fauji wives/military spouses are a barrel-full of fun to be around.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

#TravelSari – 5 Ladies who sojourn in their saris

Saris have been cherished and bought on shopping sprees. They’ve been carefully preserved in heavy trunks and worn with élan for weddings & parties. But are saris, these days, worn on travels & sojourns; on trains & plains; for road trips & cruises; at beaches & mountains; at museums & monuments?

Our sari feature today is all about the gorgeous ladies, who wear their beautiful saris during travel trips. These are #realtime women, who take their saris out of the social media realm and wear it during their holiday zone. It takes a shift in the way we think of our saris (i.e. party wear or for photo ops or for office/restaurant wear) and a little adjustment in how you carry it off as you trek up a hilly road, walk through golden sands or stroll through vineyards. 

Sangeeta Venkatesh: Going ‘beachy’ in a sari:

My husband Venkatesh and I simply love Goa! With clean beaches, wide roads, great food (even for vegetarians like us), great hospitality  - this is as international as a destination in India can get. I can bathe/ swim in the sea and be the archetypal beach bum for hours! We have come back here again and again, and have celebrated some personal milestones in this beautiful coastal region.

And if it was Goa, it had to be a Kunbi/ Gawda revival saree from Goa Adivasi Parampara.  This saree was originally worn by Kunbi and Gawda tribe women who were basically paddy field workers.

Who says you can't pack a saree for a Goan holiday?”

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sari In Your Suitcase – 6 ways to travel light + in style with your saris (& a call for collaboration)

Even though I love wearing saris for pretty much any occasion, I didn’t like traveling with (yes, with) them. With petticoats, blouses and multiple saris, as well as the usual brouhaha of regular clothes and accessories, my suitcase would be brimming with things to wear. Not my favorite way of packing (I’d prefer to travel light any day), so the saris would have to be left behind or carried along in a larger suitcase. But over the years, when my travel often combines pleasure and work, I’ve found a way to pack light and still take along saris + the accessories to go with them.

Here are some tried and tested tips on traveling with saris and still staying light.

1. Choose saris of similar color to cut down on the number of petticoats and blouses to take along. If I choose a turquoise blue Chanderi cotton, a crisp greenish-blue Bengal cotton and a river blue Kota Doria, I can team them up with the same petticoat, and even the same blouse (I don’t wear matching blouses, but funky ones that can be mixed-and-matched to create new looks). That means two petticoats and blouses less to pack and carry! I use this trick often to reduce my luggage and still have the pleasure of wearing saris wherever I go.

2. Let the saris you pack be light + stylish. Personally, I prefer to take saris that are light (no heavy silks for me while traveling) and can be worn at various occasions. Example: Whether I’m teaching a workshop, attending a meet-up, going out to the club or tucking into a meal at a restaurant, my Kota Dorias and Chanderi cottons are great for all these occasions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Maryam Hasan Ahmad's take on crafting an Artsy Army life on the move

We're back with another interview from the 'The Brigade That Builds Brands' series. It's all about fauji wives / military spouses, who make work work for them through multiple postings, back-to-back social commitments, spotty internet connections, long stints of single parenting, community mindset regarding how military spouses should or should not work and a lot more. Today, I’m talking to Maryam Hasan Ahmad about how she juggles her life as a brush-wielding artist and as a wife of a man in boots ‘n’ beret - an Army officer. 

A talented illustrator and artist, she didn’t give up her work to fit into the fauji life, but instead, carved out a freelance career that she could pack and take along to the multiple postings across the country and world. I hope that this interview will get you revved up to create a freelance career around your passions too.

C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.
M. I am a freelance illustrator of children’s books, fashion and portraits/caricatures. I am, as of now, based out of Haryana and have been wedded to the Olive Green for 15 years.

C. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?
M. I am an Applied Arts Graduate and have been freelancing in illustrations since college, and then did a 2 year stint in Chennai as an animator in a French Animation studio. Those two years were a big learning curve. But all that came to a standstill after getting married and being sent to obscure places where there were absolutely no job avenues. Internet was a blessing that got me hooked onto online freelancing while following my husband around the world. Now I could work from any corner and have clients from all over the world!! This opened up a whole new world for me and my dreams. Our 2 year tenure in New York was another time of personal and professional growth. I started my blog https://homespunaround.blogspot.in/ there, attended a lot of arty lectures and seminars… learnt studio pottery. Participated in a couple of pop up fairs and started selling my handmade products online.

Friday, June 8, 2018

6 Things to do in Nauchukiatal & Slow Summer Travel

Finally, I got my escape. A last-minute, hurriedly-planned and quickly put-together travel to the hills. The moment you type ‘weekend getaways from Delhi’ into Google, you get tonnes of options. From Nainital to Ranikhet, Almora to Mukteshwar, Corbett Park to Bhimtal, these hill stations studding the crown of Uttaranchal beckon you with promises of cool mornings, cloud-swathed mountains and verdant forest cover. But, we decided to go to Nauchikiatal – a tiny hill settlement with a tongue-twister of a name, sandwiched between Nainital and Bhimtal. 

About an hour’s drive from the Kathgodam railway station, the mountain roads twist and turn (dose up on anti-nausea meds if you have motion sickness like me) to bring you to a quiet little place with lesser touristy footfalls than some of the other places in the region.

However, when we made our way into Nauchukiatal , a pretty lake town set amidst lush mountains, there were throngs of tourists, waiting for their turns on the boats or tucking into street food. For a moment I wondered if we’d arrived at the right hill station because honestly, a place packed with people isn’t my cuppa of holiday tea. But as we entered The Camphor Tree’s premises at the edge of the town and nestled amidst hills & woods, the tourist ho-hum seemed to fade away and all that mattered was our 2-day holiday stretching ahead like an ice-cream on a summer’s day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

5 Eco-friendly & Organic Gardening Steps Fauji Wives (and anyone with a garden) Can Take In A Snap

We military/fauji folk often live in green areas with sprawling gardens, prolific backyards, and lush surroundings with trees and abundant fauna. The air there is clean, the skies blue (sans a film of smoke) and the opportunity to tend to the Earth, bountiful. But even though most of us like to get our gardeners to create immaculate gardens and plant rows upon rows of vegetables and flowers, not many of us actually take eco-friendly steps.

Military areas might look lush green and soothing to the eye, but in reality, how green are our gardening and lifestyle practices? Hey, don’t turn this off already – read on to find some super simple ways that you can maintain your garden, enjoy the vegetables & fruits you’ve grown, and still make the whole experience richer for you and Momma Earth.

1. Don’t let your gardeners spray pesticides in your garden. Time and time again I’ve seen that the local gardeners (most of them are untrained) insist on spraying down flowers and vegetables. They don’t really ask for permission to do this (as they think this is a perfectly normal practice), so it’s wise to speak to them beforehand and tell them not to get the chemicals in. Instead, learn about eco-friendly ways to deal with garden pests and pass on the info to them for implementation.
Green go-to tip: In my experience, using neem oil and Panchagavya, and planting garlic and calendula around veggie gardens often keeps pests away.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

5 First Steps For The Work-from-home Fauji Wife

So, you’ve decided to work-from-home and juggle the many social commitments & postings that are part of the military life, while carving out a niche for yourself. But how do you begin working-from-home? 

Here are a few first steps to take the bull by the horns:

1. Get that training/degree/know-how. Now that you’ve decided what you want to do – it could be online teaching, writing, graphic design, art, baking or anything else, check if you need any further education or training to get started in the field. Get on Google and search for online courses and/or Youtube for relevant tutorials and courses. If it’s a paid course, see if you have the budget for the course fee. I personally find that even if a course is expensive, if it’s adding to our professional know-how and we’re sure we’ll use the education, then it’s worth investing in. But then, that’s just me. Set time and money aside for your studies and gen up before you set up your office.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Catching up with teacher-turned-fashion blogger & Army wife Meghna Kohli Vachher

We're back with another interview from the 'The Brigade That Builds Brands' series. It's all about fauji wives / military spouses, who make work work for them through multiple postings, back-to-back social commitments, spotty internet connections, long stints of single parenting, community mindset regarding how military spouses should or should not work and a lot more.

Today, I’ve invited Meghna Kohli Vachher to the blog. She’s a teacher-turned-content writer-turned-fashion blogger & Army wife + a member of Lush Green Wellness (an online community focusing on green wellness). Re-inventing her career options has helped Meghna find + create fulfilling work while also traveling across the country on postings. Like I’d mentioned in my ‘The work-from-home fauji wife’ blog post – sometimes zeroing down on your passions, looking at work from a different angle and doing what you can, when you can, is a mantra that serves enterprising fauji wives well in crafting a career. Let’s find out about Meghna’s journey - I hope many of you will be inspired to re-create your work options to craft opportunities for yourself.

C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.
M. Born and brought up in a small town of Madhya Pradesh in a business class family, I finished my schooling from the prestigious Scindia Kanya Vidhyalaya. I have always been inclined towards fashion and wanted to make it big in the world of fashion as a designer. But fate definitely had some other plans for me. After completing my schooling, pursued graduation in Commerce and then masters in Business economics.

I got married in my last semester to a fauji to whom I met through arranged alliance almost 2 decades back. Being a fidgety soul right from childhood days, when I realized that my management degree was no use, I did my Bachelor’s in education and then started teaching, so I could travel with my husband on postings. To keep me intellectually occupied and stimulated, I taught at various stations for almost a decade and had an absolutely fulfilling experience.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Sherline's Sari Style: Inspired by art & worn with boho-panache

Hello Sari/Saree-loving ladies! Today, we have sari style with an interesting twist.  Sherline Pimenta, a storyteller and Lush Green Wellness member (check out da community – you won’t be disappointed), shares a fun, fuss-free drape with us. 

Here’s what she has to say:

Sherline says:

“This is all about the Sari drape that I've been flaunting:).

The story behind the drape is a simple design problem that I faced.

I am a storyteller and I need to have both my hands free as gesturing is an important component of narrating oral stories. I am also a lover of saris and wanted to use it as my trademark costume for my storytelling sessions.

In the most common way of draping a sari the pallu is left hanging over the left shoulder. This did not allow me to use my hands as freely as I wanted to so I looked at alternative ways of draping the sari.

The other issue was the blouse, I have been losing weight and gaining weight so my blouses just don't seem to fit me well. So I was looking for something that does not show the blouse too much.

Additionally, since I am a performer, I will have people looking at me and I get very conscious if my midriff or cleavage shows.  So all in all i wanted a one step solution to all the above.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Work-from-home Fauji Wife – 5 Beginner Issues & How To Crack It

For every feisty fauji wife/military spouse entrepreneur I meet – the ones who make working-from-home work for them through the thick and thin of fauji life, I meet 10 others who are equally qualified and super talented but are not sure how to turn their talents into a viable career. The question is, whether working-from-home or military spouse entrepreneurship can be made to fit into our already buzzing fauji life and how to go about doing it.

Can one set aside time to carve out a career while also hosting Ladies’ Clubs, welfare meets, coffee mornings, weekend parties, beerings and breakfasts?
Is working-from-home easy or difficult? Is it worth giving a shot?

These are a lot of questions, but let me zero down on the first step - how to hack through the beginner issues of working-from-home and get down to business.

Let me begin by the quickly outlining the common issues that many fauji ladies face while taking the work-at-home/entrepreneurial decision & how to find come up with viable solutions:

1. Issue: “How do I know what I should do from a back-of-beyond place (because I can’t find anything to fit my college degrees) or where do I start looking?”

Crack it: Make a list of your strengths and hobbies and interests. What floats your boat? For me it’s writing and green living & women’s wellness. For you, it might be art, craft, fashion, counseling, baking, teaching or designing. Do a quick online search to see what kind of entrepreneurial careers can be fashioned out of these. Would you like to exhibit your art or sell within your community (a lot of my friends do this); can you take permission to create a baking business from home (I’ve seen this too); would you enjoy teaching online (this is getting popular); or, working with a karigar to create your own jewellery range (a friend had a home-based silver business)? Pick out one or two ways that you can work with a talent or qualification to set something up for yourself.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fort Kesroli - A Queen-size Holiday

As the summer see-saws between mind-numbing heat and raging storms, I yearn to escape the dusty furnace that this big, jammed-with-traffic city has become. 

I want to go to the hills with its lush forests and slower pace, bright sunshine and rolling breeze. We live in a huge apartment society with too many flats and lots of concrete; an island set amidst rivers of busy roads. If there’s anything I crave right now, it’s to sit on a patch of fresh green grass, listening to the birds (the only birds here are flocks and flocks of pooping pigeons) and the rustling of leaves.

But I’m not sure whether a holiday, even a teeny-tiny one, is on the cards. Not everyone in our house works from home, and so, out of the schedule holidays are hard to come by. So, the best I can do is escape into photographs of faraway lands that we traveled to this February, and create an imaginary holiday for myself.

Earlier in the year, we traveled to Fort Kesroli, right outside Alwar. Set on a small hillock, amidst dwellings of the local people and surrounded by a patchwork quilt of fields, Kesroli is designed like a fort, but is small enough to pass of as a haveli. Once upon a time it belonged to a jagirdar, but now it’s under the luxurious care of the Neemrana Hotels.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Fauji Wife Sari Style - Standing Out In That Regiment/Squadron Sari

Earlier, when I’d hear about ladies of entire (fauji) units wearing the exact same sari, I’d roll my eyes and wonder why anyone would want to turn up in the same thing? I mean, why 'uniformalize' the sari for a party, even a super special party? (Ah! do wait...the gorgeous photos will change your mind.)

Photo credit: Strand of Silk

Over the years, I’ve seen ladies of units place an order for and dress in saris for official occasion that represent their unit colors (example: red & gold, or blue & white, black & gold), and the impact has been stunning. Instead of blending in, ladies decked up in that same shade of sari, stand out and proudly so. Wearing the same sari on a planned date generally takes place when there is something momentous happening for that particular unit – like a Raising Day function or a jubilee celebration, or sometimes even when the ladies are hosting a Ladies Club event (monthly evening get-togethers hosted by ladies of a particular unit and often with a theme).

Today, thanks to my fauji lady friends, I’m sharing some of their photographs.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Meet Artist & Air Force Wife Monishikha RoyChoudhury

We're back with another interview from the 'Brigade That Builds Brands' series. It's all about fauji wives / military spouses, who make work work for them through multiple postings, back-to-back social commitments, spotty internet connections, long stints of single parenting, community mindset regarding how military spouses should or should not work and a lot more.

Today, I'm chatting with Engineer-turned-Artist and fellow Air Force wife, Monishikha RoyChoudhury about how she juggles fauji life, motherhood and her art through postings and social commitments.

C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

M. I am a fauji daughter, an Electrical Engineer by profession and an artist by passion. I have been married to an Air Force officer for 14 years now.

C. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?

M. I have always had a passion for sketching but until a few years ago, I regarded it as a hobby only. I began painting two years after getting married, when I saw my mother in law painting .She introduced me to the basics of oil painting, and from there I took wing. A few months down the road however, a long cherished dream came to fruition when against significant odds, I became pregnant.So, I put away my paints so as to keep my baby away from noxious chemicals. 

Once my son was born in July 2009, I returned to blogging and sketching late at night while he slept. By the time he was a year old, I realized that watercolours would afford me the freedom of painting while being around my baby, without having to worry about any potentially toxic fumes. So I jumped in head first into what is mostly known as the most difficult medium of painting, namely watercolours. Thus began a long and happy creative journey of discovery from teaching myself how to paint, onto eventually teaching many a painting class and of late having the confidence to exhibit my work in exhibitions. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Sari Folding - An Art Or A Science?

Hello there sari/saree girls! Today, I'm popping in with a different kind of #sari Friday. Not about style, but about sari humor. Cartoonist and writer, Ramya Sriram shares her take on sari folding through her images. Have you struggled with folding a sari on your own? I sure do :-).

Shares Ramya, "Every time I have worn a saree, I have struggled to get the folding right. I was inspired to draw this comic when I realised that I'd given up and asked my mom for help almost every time. I don't get to wear sarees often, though I do have a small collection that I hope to unleash one day. I adore Sambalpuri weaves and Kalamkari prints."

Posing with an Ethicus saree in Pollachi. Pic: Pravin Shanmughanandam 

Who is Ramya?

"I'm a cartoonist and writer, and I run The Tap (thetap.in) independently. I currently live in a small town in the UK, and go back to Hyderabad often, where I'm from. I like long train journeys, filter coffee, monsoons and the Western Ghats."

#sari #saree #sareefolding #ramyasriram #saricartoon #saristyle

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

19 Things I Like & Don't Like About The Fauji Wife Life

I’m married to a man in uniform. I’ve also grown up as a ‘fauji brat’ + my uncle and grandfather were men in uniform. And I have this to say: I like a lot of things about the services, but I’m also not totally gaga over it. Like all things in life, there’s always a good and a not-so-good side to every situation, and the same can be said for the service lifestyle.

Here’s what works for me (and what doesn’t work) in my life as a fauji wife/military spouse. 

Disclaimer: Your opinions may differ and this post isn’t meant to offend anyone. However, what I write here is based on what I’ve experienced as I've bumbled along in my ‘career’ as a military spouse.

Here’s my non-sugar-coated list:

What I enjoy about the service lifestyle:

1. Some of my deepest bonds have been built in the services.

2. I love how laughter and light are part of gatherings with friends. Most people in the fauj don’t take themselves too seriously, and that makes our banter lighthearted.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Burja Haveli in Alwar - The Tango of Starlight, Slow Living and Scrumptious Fare

We love traveling, exploring the length and breadth of India in our little silver Wagon-R (this little buggie just completed 1 Lakh kilometers on our recent trip). Before my son was born, my husband S and I had chalked-up quite a list of places – about 52 little towns, forests and mountain tops. But all of that came to an abrupt end after our naughty munchkin with the face of an innocent monk and the mischief of a goblin, appeared in our lives.

We just didn’t have the gumption to pack all that baby gear or deal with oodles of fussiness that was the USP of my son, till recently. Add to that S’s postings and assignments that left us with meager holidays, most of them at last minute notice with the Damocles Sword of being called back from leave hanging on our heads. But this year, as 2018 rolled in all bright and dazzling, we decided to pack in a few places we’d been craving to visit. And with holiday destinations a drive away from Delhi, this seemed too good an opportunity to pass up.

Holidaying in a Haveli: Our first stop during our February holiday was a quaint heritage haveli in Alwar. Burja Haveli, which is three hours from Delhi, is just the place for spending a quiet little holiday in. A 240-year-old manor that once upon a time belonged to a prosperous Jagirdar, it’s still run by the descendants and offers a medley of comfort, old world charm and a taste of rural Rajasthan.

With rooms set around a courtyard that also doubles up as an outdoor restaurant, Burja Haveli is ideal for unwinding, soaking in the slow pace of this small town or curling up with a good book.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Prabhjot Kour Dhillon's sojourn as a pilot-turned-paper artist & Air Force wife

Hello friends - faujis, fellow fauji wives & non-faujis! Welcome to 'The Brigade That Builds Brands'. It's all about fauji wives / military spouses, who make work work for them through multiple postings, back-to-back social commitments, spotty internet connections, long stints of single parenting, community mindset regarding how military spouses should or should not work and a lot more.

Meet Prabhjot Kour Dhillon, a Paper Craft Artist, former AF pilot and fellow Air Force wife. When I sent out the message for interview requests for this series (The Brigade That Builds Bands) and connected with Prabhjot for the first time, it turned out that she was my husband's course mate from the Air Force Academy. A happy coincidence that re-asserts the fact that this world of ours is truly a small and cozy one.

Let's get on with our chat as Prabhjot and I 'talk' about how she re-ignited her creativity after leaving the Air Force, turning her art into a creative venture. I do hope many of you will be inspired to do the same and create your own craft-based brands while juggling the many commitments of the service life.

C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

P. Hi, I am Prabhjot Kour Dhillon, married to Gp Capt Anurag Khurana since 2003 and currently based in Jamnagar. I am a creative entrepreneur. I am into intricate cutting of paper works, mostly defence related themes like aircrafts, carriers, submarines, insignias as well as other things. Along with this, I also do paper craft, hand embroidery, bottle texturing, tatting and upcycling of folders. I have also taken workshop for ladies and children in basic and advanced paper craft, and stencils. I have put up my work at the AFWWA shop. I also take online orders, my work displayed on my Facebook page HandKraftd. Recently I had also put up my work at Kala Ghoda Art Festival, in Mumbai, along with another paper artist. 

C. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?

P. I have always been into creative arts since my teen years. Lost touch when I was serving in the IAF as a Pilot. I restarted my hobbies after I left service and only recently commercialized my work since Oct, 2017. 

C. Fauji wives make their home in an assortment of obscure places across the country. Our lives are about living in the moment and doing what we can, when we can. Can you share how you stayed creative or found work that satisfied you while moving across the country?

P. The resources for my kind of work are available everywhere. Thankfully I have been based at places which were well equipped, so never had that problem. Things like finding a good framing shop was a hassle here in Jamnagar. The best I could find was in Rajkot which is around 100km. But since I can drive and am independent, I just drive to Rajkot and get my work done. 

C. How do you juggle that load of social commitments & welfare activities that are an integral part of the fauji community, while nurturing your passions and meeting work deadlines?

P. Hobbies are about spending your leisure time in something you love to do. If it makes money as well..I guess that’s the perfect job satisfaction. And, taking time out for something is all about priorities and time management, which with so many years of experience we have all learnt to manage. 

C. How do you market your business and products while moving from base to base, place to place, and often to remote areas?

P. I have a page on Facebook named HandKraftd which showcases all my work and I take the orders online. So even if I move to different bases, the work does not suffer as I can courier my parcels. Otherwise , there's always the AFWWA shop to keep my products. 

C. As a creative/entrepreneur + fauji wife, is there something that you cherish very much about being part of this community? And is there something you feel must/can change for the better?

P. As an Entrepreneur and a Fauji wife, I love the belonging and connection we have to where we are. Nobody is trying to put you down. The change is coming, and it can be felt in every aspect, in the sense that now women want to be independent. This was not the way earlier. They were content with their situation. This I feel is the first big step for everyone.

C. What challenges have you faced in balancing work and fauji life?

P.  In fauj we are like 'Koop Mandook'. It's the frog in a well who doesn’t know about the world outside. It's the same for us. A lot is happening in the world. Even though we live in the age of internet, we lack the exposure to various art festivals, exhibitions and so on.

C. What tips would you give to fauji wives out there who’d like to pursue their dreams while living at small and busy bases (many still believe or led to believe that you can either be a fauji wife or a professional, and that’s not true)?

P. It's all about priorities. Where there's a will, there's a way. With work going online, there’s a huge door open to all. There might be few difficulties, but not so much that we can't find a way through it. And, we are genetically built to multi-task, so we know how to juggle work and home.

C. A parting quote or philosophy that helps you stay calm and do what you do?

P. Hobbies are therapeutic. And if they pay you as well, what more can we ask for. We just need to prioritize things in our life and decide what’s more important to us.

C. Thank you for joining me at my blog!

Hey reader, would you like to read more military spouse/fauji wife interviews and stories? Here's the entire section.

And while you've still got your read-a-roo cap on, hop over to our Women's Wellness & Green Living e-Magazine - Gorgeous Girls Go Green, for a clutch of interesting articles.

#militaryspouse #armywife #faujiwife #TheBrigadeThatBuildsBrands #faujiwifeentrepreneur #gorgeousgirlsgogreen
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