Sunday, September 20, 2015

Trending Colours in Clothes this Fall

Autumn is here! It is true that India has very few places, like Kashmir, Himachal and Uttaranchal, that experience 'fall' as a season. But autumn months are surely the best time to travel to a lot of places across the nation irrespective of whether the places treat you with the warm colours of the season. Autumn is the best time to visit the North-East, Rajasthan, Karnataka and a lot of states cause as compared to the other times of the year the temperature is moderate and the earth is still green and fresh post the monsoon effect. For people who love the soft warn auburn tinge of nature during falls, these places might not be able to satiate your colour palate, but fear not cause they give you freedom to try trendy clothes during this comparatively cooler season of our tropical land!
So here is the very first guest post on my blog by Minakshi Pharswal, on the Trending colours in women attire this season. Fashion is at times important during travel; so hope you guys like the post.

Trending colours in women’s dresses this season
Women are getting more colourful going by what modern day fashion gurus and style experts tell us! Women are steadily experimenting with brighter colours and palettes these days though something like the little black dress will never really go out of fashion! Apart from the black long dress or traditional and charming white gowns, what are the colours that women are wearing these days? Here’s the complete lowdown:
Nature inspired colours-
It’s a return to Nature as far as women’s wear designers and fashion experts are concerned. Women all over the world are choosing to wear shades that reflect them at their natural best. In this context, it must be mentioned that cute pink dresses and wine colour dresses are also quite in vogue.

Pink is definitely one of the colours that have never been dislodged from the fashion charts along with black. While some of us do like taking out that electric blue dress once in a while, this season is all about more subdued, mellow and soothing colours.

Women are going back to lighter shades of grey, beige, orange, blue, grey, opal, turquoise, magenta and yellow among other colours. Softer hues and textures are now preferred by women instead of exceedingly loud and in-your-face colour palettes.
Minimalism is the name of the game this season and colour choices now follow the same template. Colours like turquoise, opal and beige in addition to grey are quite popular this season, particularly in mild hues and shades. These palettes are being worn at the workplace and even for casual outings by women.

Flashy Party wear-
In a stark contrast to elegant evenings, work wear or casual outings and get together, women are also preferring bold and flashy Party wear this season as per fashion experts and several trends gleaned from global runways. While the LBD is always a back-up, women are preferring colours like red and purple to create a bold and flamboyant look on night-outs. Got a night of hectic partying ahead of you?
You’d do well to pick up a red and black number or simply go purple with relish! 2016 should certainly be the year of the red and this season is a precursor to this building craze. Several global female celebrities and Hollywood actresses are now favouring red over the conventional black for high profile parties and other events. This has sparked a craze amongst women over the world with regard to owning a dress in this gorgeous colour. Red is now being used for dresses and other cocktail dresses.

These are the two most engaging trends that have gripped the fashion world. Both are contrasting yet attractive and women all over the world are embracing the twain with gusto. Women are steadily absorbing global fashion trends and manifesting the same in unique ways. All in all, red is definitely the colour of the season while nature inspired soothing colour tones are also hogging the limelight. This season seems like a curious yet intriguing mixture of flamboyance and earthiness.

Author Bio: Minakshi Pharswal is a blogger working with one of India’s leading online fashion destination. Being a part of the Fashion industry, she loves to write about latest trends in fashion and beauty.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ganesh Utsav

Chintamanni Gananayak This Year, Chinchpokli, Mumbai
Ganapati Bappa Morya!
He is back with smiles and blessings again at homes and pandals cause it is that time of the year again!

17th September aka today is Ganesh Chaturthi which is a huge festival for Hindus, even more for West and South Indians. Yes, South! If you thought the pomp and show of this 10 days long religious festivity was only credited to Maharashtra, thing again cause the tallest Ganesh Idol and largest pandal is actually set up in Vishakhapatnam every year. But it is undoubtedly the most important festival of Maharashtra.

The history of Ganesh Chaturthi celebration goes back to the Maratha period, when Shivaji started celebrating the event with clay model of Lord Ganesha. Though the actual reason behind Ganesh Chaturthi is the birth or re-birth of Ganesha, Shivaji made this a huge festival to get the prominent chieftains of the nearby Hindu Subas and kingdoms under one flag and increase the Maratha foothold against Mughals. With time the tradition seemed to fade but was fortunately revived by Bhausaheb Laxman Javale and Lokmanya Tilak in 1894 when they organized the first ever Sarvajanin Ganesh Utsav in Pune (then Poona), again to bring Indians closer. Since then Ganesh Puja is being celebrated with grandeur across Maharashtra every year, and now across India. Oh and yes, you read it right, it is Indians! Ganesh Utsav has a very active participation from all communities and not just Hindus.

Mumbaicha Raja, Lalbaug, Mumbai
Kesari wada Ganesh Idol, which was set up by Lokmanya Tilak is considered to be the oldest Ganesh Utsav Mandal in India followed by Chintamani Ganesh Idol of Chinchpokli, Mumbai, though the most known one is LalBaag Cha Raja of Mumbai. Skilled artisans set up pandals months before the festival, to make thousands of Idols ranging from 1ft to 50ft. Earlier these Idols were made of clay but with time, majority of the idols now are being made of Plaster of Paris, making this festival an environmental issue as these huge idols are immersed in water bodies post the Puja  (worship) is done. Due to the concerns people are now reverting back to the old ways of clay idols and also have started using bio degradable material like Paper-Mache. Hopefully soon all the idols would become environment friendly and there would be no hindrance to the festival in any way!

The festival also sees a lot of Dhol (a double header drum) players and Lazim Dancers who practice for months and flock on streets to welcome Bappa and bid adieu to the Lord during immersion possession. I haven’t really been to any other part of the state during the festival, but Mumbai sure looks livelier than ever during Ganesh Chaturthi; and that is saying a lot as Mumbai is one of those cities that never really sleeps. So if in Mumbai do not miss out on the festivities! Do visit pandals cause they are worth it.

P.S. - I really feel this is something Maharashtra/India Tourism should promote as frankly every year I am impressed by the skills of the craftsmen, the enthusiasm of people and the positive vibe of the area. This totally seems like a real celebration of life and has the potential to beat the level of any carnival!

Guari Ganesha, Worshiped from the 3rd day to the 5th day of the Festival

Photo Courtesy - Jayesh Whaval

This post got featured! 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Visa Free Travelling on Indian Passport

So recently there was a lot of buzz about countries we (Indians) can visit without visa with an Indian Passport. Fifty nine countries doesn’t seem much when compared to one forty seven of the UK OR USA visa, but you might feel horrible about the FACT that most of the fifty nine countries included in the list only give you partial access to their lands. For most of them, you would need a visa on arrival. Having said all that, there are some amazing places in that list that you should be really happy about! Today I will be sharing the list of five such countries I would love to visit soon.
Angkor Vat, Cambodia (SOURCE)
1.   Cambodia – For people who have been regular followers of my blog, my obsession with culture and history isn’t something they would be surprised with. For the others – yes, this South East Asian country is on the top of my list. From the largest Hindu temple campus of the world to the ruins of a forgotten Hindu/Buddhist kingdom, Cambodia has fascinated me for quite some time now and as soon as I get a chance, this place is going to be ticked off my bucket list!
P.S. – To travel extensively in Cambodia (Even for Siem Reap) you would need a visa on arrival that is valid for 30 days.

Cham Dancers, Bhutan (SOURCE)
2.  Bhutan – How can one miss the Land of thunder dragon when there is no fuss of visa to pose a hindrance to your travel plans? Cloud kissed mountains, cheerful people, artistic Gomphas and high and beautiful monasteries and for all this one just needs an Indian passport or valid voter ID and they are set. Children below the age of 18 years can travel on a birth certificate and a valid school ID card with a picture. Only to enter central Bhutan beyond Paro and Thimphu, Indians need to get a special route permit. And given that Bhutanese Ngultrum is at par with Indian Rupee, Indian Rupee is acceptable all over Bhutan, except Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations. The only issue, if so, is that Credit cards (Amex and Visa cards) are accepted by only few limited establishments and no ATM centers are available.
Ruins of Petra, Jordan (SOURCE)
3.  Jordan – Indiana Jones fans, do you need a reason as to why Jordan made it to this list? Petra! Jordan is a gold mine for a history lover thanks to its Nabatean, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman heritage. (Yes this is a history nerd speaking!) I wouldn’t mind getting sun kissed if it meant exploring the bygone era in the ancient towns of Amman and Jerash. Indians interested in exploring this historical country need a visa on arrival which is valid for 2 weeks and must hold US$ 3000.

4.  Fiji – If basking in the light of history is not your idea of getting tanned, worry not because beaches and white sands of Fiji would also welcome you without a visa. Although Fiji isn’t the only island in the Pacific to let Indians enter without a visa, Fiji has the highest number of Indian Inhabitants when compared to the other islands like Haiti and Cook Islands. Romantic getaway, a beautiful secluded island, surrounded by azure waters and colourful reefs, and no visa – could travel get any better?
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia (SOURCE)
5.  Bolivia – Yes, the last place in my list might seem all weird and far, but I have been fascinated by this place ever since I learned about Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Also I really want to see Salar de Uyuni, the largest natural salt flat in the world which is also known as the largest natural mirror of the world. Interesting place right? And if you can visit such a place without visa, why wouldn't you?
Best part about travelling right now or for people planning to travel in the coming months – there are a lot of offers on flights and hotels. Everyone must have noticed the Air Asia prices that have been making the wanderlust in me go crazy since past couple of days, but recently I came across some amazing offers on also for hotels. For direct links to these offers click HERE, HERE and HERE. The best part about these coupons is that you can download them aka save them and use the code provided directly.
But this was just my list, you can choose any from the 59 available countries! Do let me know your list in the comment section.

Happy Travelling!

P.S - For the entire list of the 59 countries click HERE.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Bonderam 2015

From the Divar Island
Beaches, Shacks, Cheap Booze and Extravagant Nightlife – Any guesses which state am I talking about? Want more clues? Churches, Paddy fields, Jolly Faces, Marine food and Carnivals. I am sure you got it now. Yes, I am talking about Goa – a state where life dances away to a jolly colonial beat even today.

Free Ferry to Divar
I always thought Goa was one place, atleast every Indian knows about and has visited and hence despite of visiting this coastal state several times, I refrained from writing about it. But on my recent visit to Goa – which was sponsored by Goa Tourism – I found out that that trip was the maiden trip to goa of a very good blogger friend of mine. And so, I pledge to give you details of everything amazing and exciting about Goa from now on. To apologize ‘blog-erly’ for my folly, I am going to take you on a carnival walk today.

Lush Green Divar Island
I visited Goa this year during the 2nd last weekend of August – Monsoon time! Yes, monsoons are off season in Goa, but trust me when I say this - been there twice during monsoons and have enjoyed my trips thoroughly. This time was even more special than the last time, because I got a chance to visit Divar Island, which was apparently the first island of Goa that the Portuguese had captured. Every year, on the fourth Saturday of August, Divar Island, located 12 kms from Panjim in Goa celebrates Bonderam Festival – which is a sort of carnival. This year the festival was on August 22, 2015 and I was there to witness the gaiety event.

Flags at Bonderam
Divar Island, has almost all shades of green, the dense fence of coconut trees that fence the island, to the rolling swaying paddy fields. The Island was more like a part of Goa away from Goa, physically and visually. A ferry from the the Ribandar Jetty, took us away from old Goa (with your car) to an even older Goa. Silence of the whizzing winds, narrow roads, and verdant lands led us to a tiny square which was flocked with thousands of people, all gathered there for the festival. Some on roofs, some in some accessible verandahs, some on the sitting areas but most of them standing on the road at the sides of the parade lane.

All set for Bonderam

When we reached there, the festival had actually begun and there was no way to get to a vantage point. Parade, floats and no photo op! To be frank, I was a bit upset at the start but soon we were taken to the sitting area right next to the judges for the parade/carnival and all was better that well. Floats after floats - all immensely creative, ranging from themes like a Goan wedding to families of fishermen, milkmen and carpenters, and somehow relating to the lives of the island people; peppy music that would loop in for any music lover; people of all ages – dancing away in vibrant colours. See, it was a carnival!

Women on the Fishermen Float
Everything with Flags
A very friendly local lady told me, there are seven floats and dance sequences every year, one from each ‘ward’ of Divar. Wards are villages on the island. In olden days, frequent disputes used to occur between wards over property matters. When the Portuguese took over the islands, to bring peace and order, they introduced a system of demarcation of boundaries with flags. The name Bonderam originates from the Portuguese word ‘Bandeira’ which means flag. Eventually to display their might and prosperity post the harvest season, the Wards started parades with their flags and this is how the festival began. She told me that though this year was officially the 32th year of Bonderam, the festival has been a part of Divar Villages since early 1900’s. 

Flower Market Float
She also told me about ‘Fotash’ which was a mock fight with bamboo stems and berries, played as a parody of the past disputes. The parade was followed by Fotash and then dancing and drinking, but Fotash was stopped a couple of years back, cause a lot of kids used to get hurt in the mock fight.

Coastal Life Themed Float

Milkman's Kid on a float
She fondly reminisced about the time when only Patoleo, a sweet made up of grated coconut, jaggery, cardamom and rice flour stuffed in turmeric leaves, and coconut water were a favourite among the crowd. But now, as this festival draws a lot of tourists and government is involved in making this festival huge and successful every year, there are various food and beverage stalls setup for the festival. And the support of government was pretty evident as even the Chief Minister of Goa – Mr. Laxmikant Parsekar and Director of Goa Tourism were present for the festival.

Chief Guests
Apart from the parade by the Wards, the festival also sees performances by many famous bands of Goa. The energy of the festivity that sets in at around 3:00 PM is so infectious that is lingers even after the official end of the festival at 10:00 PM. Bonderam is just one of the many Island festivals of Goa, but is considered the largest one. 
Woman on the Flower Market Float - I personally loved this float!

So next time when in Goa during monsoon, you have can surely pay this friendly island a visit and celebrate the end of monsoon with them.

Float on Goa
 P.S. - The event sees a lot of media coverage and a lot of tourist footfall so in case you are keen on attending the event reach the venue by 3:00 PM so that you get a good spot to see and experience the whole festival. Also due to the festival old Goa and Ribandar Jetty sees a lot of traffic so manage accordingly.

The Media

The Crowd
P.P.S - All photos are personal!