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

Friday, April 20, 2018

Stay Cool In That Summer Sari: 11 Favorites To Inspire Your Summer Style

Summer’s in its element. If she was a lady, she’d be reigning the season in her marmalade and gold sari, her auburn hair swirling around her head in wild curls. Summer has fire in her belly and the sun in her heart. She rules with a fierce passion, weaving lava-hot sun beams into the dry landscape and trailing velvety ribbons of heat wherever she goes.

In one of my fav breezy Kota doria sari

But as Summer dances her wild dance, we on Mother Earth resort to everything cool and calm to seek balance in our lives. Chilled beverages, ice-cold luscious fruits, and gossamer fabrics.

Summer saris in crisp cottons, gauzy lace and breathable weaves are the perfect go-to-garments for our hot tropical climate. For this feature, I’m sharing a few of my own favorite summer weaves as well as showcasing what some of my sari sisters from across the country enjoy draping as the season notches up the heat. Get ready for a profusion of gorgeous summer saris that are lovingly worn by equally gorgeous women.

 Kanika Manaktala wearing her mom’s cotton sari and teamed with a top

Mukulika Sengupta in a Gamcha cotton sari

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

12 Things Nobody Tells You About Life As A New Fauji Wife

I got married to a man in blue 12 years ago, and even though I spent my growing up years in the defense services (we're called "fauji brats"), there’s a lot I didn’t know about the "other side of the fence". When I moved to a station in the boondocks (complete with fields of sarson and battalions of buffaloes), I truly understood how different it was as a service kid and a fauji wife/military spouse.

Married to the military

Are you a new fauji wife? Well, if you are, here’s some news for you. (And for those who aren't newly minted fauji brides, I'm sure some of the points will resonate!)

1. You’ll get a ‘welcome do’ that you’ll never forget. In my case, I was already familiar with the famous welcomes that new brides get, so when I was asked to turn up for a party in my pajama suit (they said it was a pajama party), I gave everybody a surprise by landing up in a silk sari. But if you’re lucky, your welcome will always be a memorable part of your time in the services.

Pick up, not pick up. Pick up, not pick up...

2. Picking up a plate at a party will never be the simple act that it always was. When dinner is announced at a party, the senior most lady (who is the wife of the senior most officer in the unit, generally the Commanding Officer’s wife) must pick up her plate before the next lady in the seniority chain picks up hers and so on. I remember goofing this up several times as a new wife and then being ‘counseled’ for it too (I’m very slow on the uptake when it comes to protocol and hierarchy).

3. You’ll get plenty of occasions to dress up like a queen. In fact, you can turn into a fashion diva, if you so wish. Whether you’re wearing a heavy sari for a formal party or a dress for a theme party, or salwar-kameez or crisp cotton for a welfare meet, there are plenty of occasions to dress up for.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Corporate Sari Style - Tips & Tricks To Make Saris Work For You At Your Workplace

by Ankita Priyadarshini

Corporate dressing for women has come to mean business suits in predictable combinations of black, grey, blue and white. There is neither much room to experiment, nor many options. While I have nothing against business suits, I prefer the freedom and elegance of a sari. Its flexibility to suit any shape and size and the comfort it offers for all-day wear, is what makes it a great work-wear option.

Ankita - dressed for work

Choosing and styling saris the right way goes a long way in helping you look put together while being comfortable. Some aspects to keep in mind while creating your sari look:

Fabric: The fabric is the foundation of your attire. If the fabric is uncomfortable it will be difficult to bear it all day and will show in your demeanor. Choose easy-to-carry, comfortable fabrics. Handloom cottons and silks are a good place to start. Try your sari beforehand to make sure it’s not too much to handle for a 10 hour workday. Lighter fabrics such as georgette or chiffon are acceptable if the sari is not sheer.

Some fabrics to begin with – Linen, soft cottons, silk cotton and Mysore silk are light and easy to handle. Choose breezy fabrics for summer and heavier silks or thick cottons for winter. Avoid stiff fabrics such as Organdy, Organza and Tissue.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Payal Mittal Talwar's take on building a business & juggling service commitments

Hello everyone! 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 Payal Mittal Talwar, a Life Coach, Trainer, Co-founder of WINGS Team and Army wife. I was introduced toPayal a year ago, when I was looking for ladies to interview for my article about Military Spouse Entrepreneurs. Since then, we've followed each other's journey and Payal has been especially supportive of my sojourn as a Green Wellness Educator & Entrepreneur

Here's our chat about what it takes to build a sumptuous work portfolio, while also living and working at back-of-beyond bases.

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. I’ve been married for over 22 years – a fauji to boot as I’m also a fauji daughter and a fauji daughter in law.

I co-founded a company, WINGS team, with my best friend- Priyanka Renjen Kumar(a  fauji wife herself). We are into Life Coaching, training and facilitation, and content development (social media as well as academic).

Friday, April 6, 2018

10 Reasons Why The Sari Is A Sustainable Style Option

At a time, when it’s even more important to make choices carefully, even in the fashion and style arena, the sari – especially the hand-woven variety, offers us a sustainable way of buying and wearing. Wondering what makes the sari a sustainable style option? Here’s why:

Though cotton requires a large dose of pesticides to grow and silk is harvested from silkworms (both of which don't make it very eco-friendly), the sari can still be a more sustainable choice of garment over factory-made apparel. And yes, there are organic cotton saris and Ahimsa silk too, to choose from, if you’d like to invest in a wardrobe that’s completely free of pesticides and cruelty.

However, for those who have plenty of non-organic saris in their closet and are wondering if saris can be brought under the green style umbrella, here’s my two-ana bit about why it is sustainable in so many different ways:

1. Handloom saris promote an age-old craft and tradition.

2. When you buy handloom saris, you're helping keep this art alive + helping weavers to do what they are so good at doing.

3. You can create a fabulous wardrobe with just a few saris. Mix-and-match your t-shirts and blouses + accessories to create new looks.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Fighter Pilots

My husband is a fighter pilot. Hmm…now did I hear some oohs and aahs?! Because I always do whenever I mention this fact. With Tom Cruise aka Maverick having done a splendid job at creating this larger-than-life and smart-alecy image of fighter pilots, just the mention of this profession has people conjuring up Top Gun scenarios. 

Pic credit: The Fiscal Times

So, are fighter pilots like Tom Cruise in Top Gun? Do they wear their Aviator sunglasses all the time? Are they just as cheeky? Well, read on to find out.

I’ve been married to S aka Smokey Bandit for 12+ years now. I’ve also met and interacted with lots of other fighter pilots – his buddies, squadron mates, course mates and our friends. And this is what I have to say about the images and avatars that are attached to fighter pilots.

Here are the myths and truths (from my point-of-view):

1. The image: Fighter pilots have a larger-than-life persona.
Truth: These are guys with larger-than-life jobs, but down-to-earth personalities. Though not all of them are humble (c'mon we've all met a few stuffy ones, haven't we?), most of them are pretty easy-going.

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