Hey! Welcome back!

Can you believe we’re in December already? I’ve been in Goa for the last 10 days or so, and I hoped to catch up on my posts, but as usual, there’s so much to do here, in my home-state, that I have EVEN MORE to fill you in on!

In case you missed it, check out the highlight of my November – the World Fair Trade Week in New Delhi, where I spent 7 days learning about the fair trade movement.

No, it’s not one of those boring history-economics type of ‘movements.’ It has something to do with how we live every day, the products we use and the clothes we wear. It’s hard to fathom that if everyone made a conscious decision to support poverty-stricken farmers, weavers and artisans rather than already-rich MNCs, the world would be so much richer in terms or art, and fairer, by providing a decent living to everyone.

While the World Fair Trade Conference fed me all the info, it was the Fair Utsav and Fashion Show that drove the point home.

fair utsav dlf place

indian handicrafts

The Fair Utsav was held in the courtyard of DLF Place, a mall in Saket. Over 100 stalls saw craftsmen from around the country sell their wares – accessories, clothes, trinkets, jams, pickles, cloth, shoes, and artifacts made of cane. These items were made by hand through trade secrets passed down from generation to generation and many were symbolic of the area from where these craftsmen came.

indian artisan

artisan fron india

The sheer variety was outstanding and in many cases, you would never have guessed it was handmade at all! The attention to detail and perfection in many items could fool someone into thinking it was bought at a luxury market. And in fact, many ARE sold in luxury markets at quadruple the price, while these artists struggle for their next meal. They don’t have the means or knowledge to open an e-store and as their reach is limited, NGOs step in to help them sell to a wider audience.

handicraft shoes delhi

DLF Place fair utsav

I could think of a dozen friends who’d love bags and accessories like these, and I’m sure you do, too. Sadly, as is our nature and habit, the next time a birthday is around the corner, we’ll all rush to the mall to pick out a gift instead. That’s probably why we need to turn into fair trade consumers – the items are gorgeous and unique, the cause is worth it and all it takes is a little extra effort and will to support local craftsmen by buying local.

artisan jewelry

artisan bags

fair utsav delhi

The Fair Trade Fashion show was probably the highlight of the event! I always thought sustainable, fair fashion was restricted to khadi items. You know – those loose dresses and kurtas! I first got a real glimpse into it when I checked out Ninoshka’s workshop. But nothing could have prepared me for all this fair-trade glam! <3

The Fashion show conducted in collaboration with the  Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, North East. It was held at NIFT in Delhi and 7 brands showcased their collections and amazed the crowd with the ingenuity of their designs coupled with social responsibility.

Upasana from Auroville focuses on ‘design for change,’ and the brand showcased its Indigo Collection made using khadi (handspun cloth), organic cotton grown by local farmers and Khadi Jamdani, a traditional weaving technique.

upasana artisans

The brand Sasha from Kolkata is engaged with over 5000 artisans, 100 craft enterprises and 16 craft lines, connecting craftsmen to new audiences. The collection showcased ensembles primarily for women in woven textiles and Kantha embroidery.

sasha fair trade

Mahila Umang was next, a collective of women farmer-producer members and is located in Uttarakhand. Through a consolidated network of 1500 members involved in various viable business activities, small, yet significant income is made and every business activity is directly controlled by the producer group. All the garments were hand knitted by the women of Uttarakhand.

mahila umang

Rangsutra, the next brand is a community owned craft company comprising of artisans from remote regions of India. Rangsutra ensures sustainable livelihoods for farmers and artisans by creating top quality handmade products celebrating India’s rich craft heritage.

rangsutra

rangsutra fair trade

GoCoop, an award winning company for hand loom marketing owns a brand, The Good Loom, the designs of which were also showcased. Like all their collections, this menswear line symbolized a thoughtful approach to retail, the environment and Indian arts and crafts.

the good loom

Eco Tasar Silk Pvt Ltd runs a sustainable and commercially competitive textile business to help generate wage opportunity for rural based producers like yarn makers, weavers, dyers etc. Through these activities, small artisans and producers do not need to migrate in search of work.

eco tasar

Lastly, the AagorWeavers from Assam showcased a vibrant collection and even had a weaver walk the ramp, much to the delight of the audience.

aagor weavers assam

I’d also like to give a special mention to the brand  Ethic Attic by Fairkonnect, who help their clients source ethically produced, sustainable and Fair trade products. All the ambassadors and hosts were presented with an Ethic Attic stole during the course of the conference.

ethic attic

Models walked the ramp to the mesmerizing voice of Sunita Bhuyan, a leading violinist and singer who blew the crowd away with her breathtaking performance. Finally, the event was brought to a close by Fashion designer Jay Ramrakiani who created some gorgeous designs especially for the occasion.

jai ramrakhiani

Hope you enjoyed reading about my experience at the World Fair Trade Conference, organized by World Fair Trade Organization and Fair Trade Forum – India. Do try and visit one of these exhibitions and buy fair trade products when you can. We’re in dire need of protecting age old crafts in this age of technology, and a little support goes a long way.

Next up, all the adventures here in Goa! See you soon!

As most of you know from my barrage of posts on social media, I recently attended the World Fair Trade Conference at Crowne Plaza, Delhi from 9-14th November 2017. It took me until now to actually sit down and write about it, because over the course of that one week, I was exposed to so many new things, met delegates from all over the world and was bombarded with information. I needed to sort out my thoughts before actually blogging about it in order to do justice to the experience.

A lot of you asked me how I landed up at a fair trade conference, when it has little to do with my areas of interest – food and travel. Well, opportunities like these don’t come along everyday and I was privileged to the only blogger invited by Escape To. Secondly, a lot of us, including me, are experts in our own field of work but there’s a mind-boggling amount of things we don’t know and may never know.

So I decided that even if my experiences and learning is just the tip of the iceberg in the field of Fair Trade, it’s better than knowing nothing at all.

Until I visited the Fair Trade Week organized by WFTO and FTFI, the terms ‘fair trade,’ ‘sustainable fashion,’ and ‘marginalized artisans’ were just words I read on labels. It was eye-opening to witness how many NGOs and organizations around the world work to uplift farmers, weavers and craftsmen, helping them to prevent being exploited by the middleman.

While a lot of these artisans live in poverty, practicing age-old crafts and keeping tradition alive, their wares are sold in luxury markets around the world. Yet, due to poverty, they’re forced to abandon their craft which slowly dies out. Fair trade helps them get fair wages for their labour, have a decent lifestyle and carry on their legacy by connecting them to fair trade consumers.

delegates wfto

The experience was intense, with a good mix of fun, networking, workshops and talks. Delegates would assemble at the Crowne Plaza at 9 am everyday for a keynote address by renowned name in the Fair Trade industry, followed by workshops, lunch-break, workshops again and then dinner. There was a Fair Utsav at DLF Saket and Fair Fashion Show at NIFT Delhi, followed by an outdoor dinner at a restaurant called Junction. A day would typically start at 9 am and end at around 9 pm or later.

On Day 1, Rudy Dalvai, the very charismatic President of WFTO aptly said, “As we’re in the peak of global economic changes, farmers struggle to survive, shops close and new sales channels emerge. It is a responsibility to ensure that these changes are positive and don’t create new poverty, Fair trade needs to be discovered in small things and needs to be rediscovered every day.”

rudi dalvai president wfto

Panchaksharam, member of the the Fair Trade Forum India who co-organized the event gave participants glimpses of the WFTO conferences through the past 14 years in all parts of the world, also sharing fun anecdotes. This was followed by Mallikarjuna Iytha, President of Fair Trade Forum India thanking participants for choosing India as the venue for the event as it will build credibility among policy circles. He expressed that fair trade can eliminate poverty and each case strengthens his belief that inclusion is possible and is the means to sustainable development.

keynote speaker wfto

Tomasz Kozlowski, European Union Ambassador to India also delivered an enlightening speech, stressing that Fair Trade is high on the EU agenda and there is a need to make manufacturers aware that Fair Trade is not a burden but an opportunity. “There is a need for clear governance in favour of Fair Trade,” he said.

keynote speakers wfto

While all the keynote speakers were brilliant, Devinder Sharma and Vandana Shiva had the most impact on me, personally.

Devinder Sharma is a food trade policy analyst and was once a leading Indian Express journalist. He said that the problem with mainline economics was that it covers how damaging unfair trade is through fancy words. With over 3,30,000 farmer suicides in 20 years due to income insecurity, globalization has destroyed livelihoods. India boasts of 8% rise in growth but there aren’t enough jobs,” he says. “If a tree is standing, GDP doesn’t change. If the tree is cut down, money changes hands and GDP increases. Don’t believe growth is the path to development. Believe in sustainable development.” Devinder Sharma also stated, “Importing food is importing unemployment. China has reduced its grain prices for the first time in 10 years. Fair trade can bring change to those who never dreamt of it and these changes have to move towards ecological stabilization.”

devinder sharma wfto delhi

Dr. Vandana Shiva, an activist for peace, sustainability and social justice had a message for small fair organizations fighting against giants – “We need to promote skilled entrepreneurship without migration.” Her words were backed by decades of experience and she shared snippets of the work she’s been a part of in various parts of the world. Vandana said that while coffee producers incomes dropped from 9 billion dollars to 5 billion, the profits on coffee jumped from 40% to 70%. Trade by ‘MNC dinosaurs’ is designed to transfer wealth not where it is produced, but where it is stolen, she said. She also educated the crowd about National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme and said that Fairness should take into account ecological sustainability, what is happening to the soil and climate.”

vandana shiva wfto

Other prominent keynote speakers included Nicolette Naumann, VP of Ambiente and Tendence at Messe Frankfurt and Geoff White, CEO of Trade Aid Importers Ltd, New Zealand and Vice President of WFTO, who said ” Fair Trade doesn’t connect with consumers well enough. We can’t be a passive retailers anymore. We need to be an active organisation.” True words, I realized, when I thought about how many fair trade organizations I was even aware of. Negligible!

wfto conference india

Workshops filled the rest of the day, again, held by notable dignitaries to educate and share experience in various countries and organizations. Gender policy, Go coop, Fair Trade Towns, Ethical design and trend forecasting, inclusion of refugees in fair trade, steps to attract new customers, using social media to reach new markets – these were one of many, many topics discussed. While I’d have loved to attend all of them (nerd alert!), there were 5 held at the same time in various conference rooms and I was darting from one room to the other to be a part of them all.

wfto workshops

world fair trade week workhops

The breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets and coffee breaks provided ample time for networking, but still didn’t seem like enough! And of course, like every organization meeting, new members were elected to the board, changes in the constitution were made, and it felt pretty great to be a silent observer in the gathering, watching it all unfold. Over time, just like in a new college, faces became familiar and everyone started talking to each other much more freely.

fair trade forum india

The Fair Trade Week 2017 had activities outside the confines of the conference room, too, like I mentioned – the Fair Utsav at DLF Saket and Fair Trade Fashion Show at NIFT Delhi. But I’ll leave that for another blog post.

rudi dalvai wfto

Catch you on the other side!

xx

If you exclude all the blogs I’ve been stalking and the occasional e-paper, I haven’t had the time to read much this year. And if it wasn’t for Tanya Pinto Dias, it would have probably stayed that way. Although we met only once during a trip to Sikkim – I in the 10th standard, and she, in probably the 8th, I was surprised when she got in touch and asked me to read her debut novel.

tanya pinto dias

Tanya hails from Dona Paula and her book ‘The Secret of the Sea’ makes a wonderful weekend read. What makes it so special is the fact that the book is amusingly ‘Goan’ from the minute you set your eyes on the first line. It begins with Inspector Cajetan, or Caji, pouring himself a glass of whiskey on the rocks before settling himself into his wicker armchair. It was then that he receives a call from his dim-witted, yet lovable subordinate, Joao, informing him of a murder of a young girl in Morjim.

The duo from the Panjim Police Station tries to uncover the mystery as discreetly as possible, owing to the fact that police from one jurisdiction aren’t supposed to meddle in the affairs of another. The plot is peppered with such hilarious Goan-dialogues that you literally began reading them in the same sing-song tone that you’d hear two aunties talking in, in the market.

As you began flipping, rather, scrolling though the pages, you are drawn into a murder mystery reminiscent of an Agatha Christie Novel. The writing is simple, light and the narration is unique. Every scene resembles life in Goa perfectly, since the author has an uncanny knack for bringing everyday mannerisms to the fore.

the secret of the sea goa

The plot moves quickly, but not without offering a huge helping of Goan humour, some tiatr-style mog, and, as many Goans would relate to, a squabble dating back to a couple of generations. That’s just the tip of the iceberg – the book keeps you guessing with every twist and turn until the very end.

Like many mystery novels, the book is unpredictable in many ways, especially the ending. Would I have liked a different ending? Yes. I had grown rather attached to the charming characters and was a tad disappointed when I found out who the perpetrator was. Nevertheless, the Secret of the Sea has an uncommon advantage – it brings out a touch of current environmental issues to the fore, too.

As someone who lives away from Goa for most of the year, I found myself nostalgic on several occasions while reading. I craved a ros omlete, thought of calling a friend just to hear him say “Good one, ah!” and considered making a dish whose recipe Tanya has thoughtfully weaved into the plot.

Grab yourself a copy of The Secret of The Sea on Amazon (Kindle Edition) here: http://amzn.to/2A5Ov1C

Till next time!

I’ve had a lot of adventures these past few months – from trips to beachy Ratnagiri to travelling high up in the hills in Mahabaleshwar. I’m trying my best to explore as much as I can and cross off as many places on my bucket list.

woodland 7

I need to talk to you about these newbies on my feet!  Unlike my tomboyish wardrobe, my shoes are girly – strappy sandals, heels, ballerinas and juttis. My sneakers are probably the most masculine looking pair of shoes I own. But none of these were versatile enough to go off exploring in.

woodland 4

tgg woodland

I’ve had a couple of trips that required walking on rocky paths, short hikes and road trips. The next one involves a month in the snow. So I wanted to get some cute ankle boots that would serve a purpose on all my adventures.

thatgoangirl woodland

It was love at first sight with these babies from Woodland’s summer collection! I love a little bling and couldn’t get enough of the gold toe strip. The chocolate brown leather makes it perfect to pair with denim dresses, shorts-and-tees, black and white outfits and they’re light enough to wear with patterns and colours. I tend to be a little (read: very) clumsy and these have protected my ankles from sprains and my feet from all the nasties that the lively jungle brings. woodland 9

thatgoangirl

All that aside, wearing them makes me feel so sporty that I wish they’d come with a six-pack too!

thatgoangirl x woodland

The only downside is that if I pack them in my suitcase, it occupies so much space that I’d need to leave clothes behind. So if I do plan to take them along, I have to wear them on the onward and homebound journeys to solve the space situation.

woodland shoes

I’ll definitely be packing them in a couple of weeks when I hit snowy Canada (brrrr). Make sure you keep an eye on my social media channels to see how I do! Wish me luck in that cold, cold land!

If you’re a regular reader of That Goan Girl, you’d know that fashion-related posts with pictures of me in them are few and far between. Let me know if you enjoyed this one by dropping a line in the comments below. I may just do a few more if you like what you see 🙂

Bye!!

If you’re a man who understands and respects the value of time, wearing a watch is an inherent part of your daily routine. Just like the rest of your outfit, your watch is a great way to leave a lasting first impression. A sophisticated timepiece holds the power to narrate your life story, ironically, without uttering a word. Of all types of watches and what they say about you, chronograph watches are undoubtedly one of the most sought-after timekeeping devices of today’s day and age; safely positioning you in the category of men who are sure of where they are and where they want to be.

Luxury watches for men, that can be found at Ethos Watch Boutiques, come in various shapes and sizes, boasting of multiple functionalities – be it date, seconds hand, chronometer, tachymeter and the like. Of all these, the chronograph functionality has found a loyal base amongst influential men across generations. Literally translating to ‘time writer’, the chronograph coupled with date functionality makes your wristwatch the most important accessory in your wardrobe – one you wouldn’t be willing to step out of the house without. It is more than just a fancy aesthetic addition to your watch. With its ability to accurately record time with precision, your watch is made all the more powerful and indispensable. Going beyond their traditional use for timing races, contemporary chronograph watches have found practical use in the modern man’s everyday life – you can track your evening run, fitness routine, cooking time and the list goes on.

Owning a luxurious timepiece with the functionality of a chronograph is an invaluable addition to your trunk of accessories, one that’ll successfully stand the test of time. Here’s looking at 3 Chronograph Must-Have Watches this season:

Rado – Diamaster Collection

cat_diamaster_650_0076_3_410

No matter your personal definition of style, you’ll find your match in the . Popular for its easily legible dial, the range of timepieces boasts of a chronograph, small seconds totalizer and a date display. The collection is a flawless amalgamation of durability, class, elegance and functionality; an ideal fit for any man willing to go the extra mile to leave a lasting first impression. For a practical yet ultra polished look, go for a clean white dial strapped in with a perforated leather strap (fascinatingly inspired by driving gloves).

  1. Longines – Watchmaking Tradition Collection

longines-saint-imier-collection-l2-669-4-78-6-large

The Longines Watchmaking Tradition Collection of timepieces is an exemplification of immaculate craftsmanship, premium technology and elegant aesthetics. Living up to the high standards set by Longines in the world of time keeping, the collection is proof why the brand name is used synonymously with trust, credibility and timeless style. Keeping durability as a top priority, every model from the collection is encased with sapphire crystal glass to ensure scratch resistance and endurance. In terms of shape, the cases range from timeless tonneau to classic circular designs, made from materials such as 18k gold and polished stainless steel. The collection is made extra special with its advanced chronographic models, boasting of secondary tracks and varied sub-dials.

  1. TAG Heuer – Carrera Collection

tag-heuer-carrera-car2b11-fc6235-large

If you enjoy the thrill of high speed, the Carrera collection by Tag Heuer is bound to be a favorite. Initially designed exclusively for drivers and racers, today the collection has evolved to find mass appeal in the world of timekeeping. With cutting edge technology and awe-inspiring design – characteristic to five decades of its existence – the Carrera collection truly serves as an inspiration for other watchmakers. It has emerged as a flag bearer of chronograph watches, setting high standards in terms of aesthetics, practicality and precision. The Carrera dial is known for its easy readability, complimented by noteworthy features such as waterproof, shockproof and anti-magnetic qualities.

https://www.ethoswatches.com/brands/tag-heuer/carrera.html

For a man who realizes the value of design, practicality and luxury packed in one strong piece of timekeeping machinery, any of the above mentioned chronograph watches are a must-have this season. Find yourself a watch that perfectly encapsulates your unique sense of style and fashion.

In a very short span of time, India has taken leaps in terms of development and adoption of online payment systems. For a country that always relied on hard cash to make payments, digital means have not only caught up, but is on-par, and will soon overtake cash dealings. It could be the whole #DigitalIndia movement to drive India into becoming a cashless society, or maybe the horror of having to stand in bank lines for days when one fine morning, the money you hold is no longer legal tender (courtesy PM dearest).

Reasons aside, have you ever wondered what takes place when you make an instant online payment to shop for apparel online? What happens in those few seconds between entering your card details and receiving the “Transaction Successful” SMS on your phone? What happens when you walk into an Axis Bank ATM with your SBI Card and withdraw money? How do these two different communicate internally and give you the cash you need? Or when you enter your CVV number and pay for a ride through your Uber app?

NPCI

An organization you’ve probably never heard of, the National Payments Corporation of India touches every one of these transactions. The NPCI is an umbrella organization for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India. The world of finance is intriguing and vast and I jumped at the chance to get a first-hand interaction with the company that provides the infrastructure for the entire banking system in India – physical as well as electronic.

National Payments Corp of India

The National Payment Corporation of India has launched a host of digital services since its inception in 2010. Each of these services are aimed at furthering the electronic payment system to make India a financial inclusive economy.

A few of these services include

UPI (United Payment Interface which merges multiple bank accounts of any bank into seamless fund routing and merchant payment through an app)

USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data is an app that works without the internet, enabling transactions to be made by Indians all over the country by dialling a common number, *99#)

IMPS (Immediate Payment Service enabling money transfers through banks around the clock through one’s account number and IFSC, Mobile Number or Aadhar Card.)

Bhim Aadhaar – An app that allows merchants to accept payment for goods and services by authenticating a customer’s biometrics

Aadhar Enabled Payment System – A bank account linked with Aadhaar information lets you turn your Aadhar card into an ATM Card, allowing users holding an account in one bank to transact through another bank.

Bharat QR – Login to your bank’s app, scan the Bharat QR code at an outlet and pay for goods!

…. And a host of others!

kunal kalawatia NPCI

I got an in-depth understanding of two of NPCI’s most popular instruments – RuPay and BHIM

Many of you probably have a RuPay card already. RuPay cards are issued by banks and increase the efficiency of small ticket payments electronically. This is a standardized scheme for all banks in India and currently Rupay accounts for 30% of ATM transactions plus 22% of all shopping transactions. The figures are rising due to some lucrative offers RuPay Card holders can avail of such as deals at dining outlets, shopping, jewellery, lounge access and more.

Deep Sood RuPay NPCI

800+ banks are currently participating with 380 million cards issued already. Within the existing debit card space, Rupay offers different products for different segments and offers payment options across channels – ATMs, POS, E-commerce and Aadhar based transactions on micro ATMS. The switching fees are almost 1/3rd that of International Card Schemes (ICS). RuPay has a strategic tie up with Discover Financial Services and Japan Credit Beaureau to offer international acceptance globally.

BHIM allows you to go cashless anywhere, at any time yet have a simple, secure way to pay. This 24×7 instant money transfer service app allows you to scan and pay, collect and receive oney with a click, instantly. A direct bank to bank transfer is possible using a mobile number/aadhar card/account number and IFSC code. Users can also generate and share a personal QR code and receive instant notifications for every transaction. No more running to ATMs and rendering exact change!

Anubhav Sharma NPCI

The informative session I had with Mr. Kunal Kalawatia (SVP Marketing and Branding), Deep Sood (AVP – Product Development- RuPay) and Anubhav Sharma (AVP – Product Development – BHIM) was intense. I’ve tried to cover the salient points in this blog post, but if you have any questions, comment below and I’ll try my best to answer them.

Hope you enjoyed this change of pace on That Goan Girl. See you next time!

Goa-based fashion designer Ninoshka Alvares-Delaney is one to watch! This fashion pioneer from Saligao is in the organic fashion space and was recently honored by the Union Minister of State for textile, Smriti Irani from over 1660 designers across the country for her unique use of eco-friendly products, handloom fabrics and dyes. In a state that’s always equated fashion with Wendell Rodricks, quiet, graceful Ninoshka is slowly but surely getting the attention she deserves.

ninoshka fashion designer

Apart from the fact that she stays a few minutes away from my home in Saligao, we also have two people in common – her sister, my classmate – Kim and a professor we both admired in our respective colleges – Rajesh Nambiar who taught Ninoshka during her NIFT days and years later, taught me in a subject in MBA. Strangely, the two of us had never met long enough to have a conversation until my trip to Goa last week when I visited her workshop.

I walked around the Delaney’s house to the back and through their garage till I found myself at their little office in the backyard that was buzzing with activity. A few minutes later, she led me upstairs to a much quieter, spacious room that had two tailors at work on sewing machines and another making necklaces out of fabric that anyone else would have discarded without a second thought.

upcycle ninoshka

We’re both reluctant conversation starters, but it wasn’t long before I’m poring over fabric that’s been printed with… of all things… onion peels!! The fabric and print looks so delicate that it feels as if touching it would wipe the patterns away like powder, but Ninoshka tells me that the fabric is just like any other – can be washed, dried, and worn like normal. How cool is that!

onion peel fabric

Ninoshka explains to me the whole process of how she managed to accomplish something so oddly brilliant and then opens out rolls of fabric that have been dyed with pomegranate, marigold, rose, indigo and pigments given out by beetles!

The label crafts elegantly tailored business, evening and casual fashion made of high quality, sustainable and certified materials. In fact, the brand uses a label that’s trademarked to the India Handloom Brand, meaning the quality of the materials she uses have been tested for a period of 6 months before being trademarked. Why is this important? Because handmade fabric is prone to human error and Ninoshka finds that having her fabrics certified beforehand saves a lot of hassles later on.

I didn’t ask her about what sparked her interest in fashion, her philosophy and all the accolades she’s won, because it’s all available on the internet. Here’s what our neighbourly conversation was like:

What is your personal style?

When it comes to my personal clothing preference, I’ve always opted for organic clothing. Synthetic fabric never appealed to me and I never felt comfortable in them. For me, comfort is paramount and what I others think of my attire comes second. Even when it comes to my hair, I don’t colour it or attempt to hide my greys. I let it be as it is – natural. It may be greying, but that’s something that everyone goes through. Why hide it?

What’s it like running a business like yours with a child?

It’s very tough managing a business with a child. Before Daniel was born, the business was slow and I was happy at the pace it was going. For a year after he was born, it was stagnant and slowed. It’s now that he’s started going to school that I’ve decided to buck up and achieve what I want to. I have a few hours while he’s at school to do the bulk of my work. I won a couple of awards this year that quickened my growth, so that helped too!

How do you manage creativity with commerce?

I don’t like getting involved in money and sales. It stifles my creativity and takes up too much of my time. If I think about sales and price tags, my mind is occupied with thinking about what designs will sell and what won’t. So I’ve left the marketing and sales up to my husband so that all my thoughts and energy go into creating the best designs possible.

ninoshka collection

I’ve read that artisans are your biggest inspiration. Why is that?

Artisans are so content with what they have. If we have a mobile phone, we always want a better one. We want a car. We want more luxury. But I’ve worked with these people and I see how content they are with their lives. They think like children and aren’t influenced by the outside world. At one point, I worked with artisans in Gujarat and we had the theme ‘sky, water and earth.’ One lady embroidered a circle with fish inside, and when asked what it was, she said it was the well outside her home with fish swimming inside. Another person created something and I couldn’t quite fathom what it was. He later told me that it was a constellation in the sky.

All these things exist around us, but we don’t notice and aren’t inspired by them. Our thoughts are so complex and influenced by so many things. That’s why I aspire to be like those artisans.

Goans love to dress up in their finest gowns for feasts and weddings. Since you only wear organic clothes, do you find it odd to wear simple, understated clothes on such occasions?

Not really. For occasions that need formal or showy attire, I pick linen or silk garments instead of cotton. I once wore a linen skirt and organic white shirt for someone’s 50th wedding anniversary – and you know what huge occasions those are! Golden jubilees are even grander than the wedding itself! Everyone was in their beaded, shimmery clothing and I was the complete opposite. I was surprised to have got a lot of compliments that night – and even 3 orders for the skirt I was wearing!

I think Saligao is still more open-minded and accepting of organic clothing. When it comes to the south and the coastal belt, you will find that for formal occasions, everyone looks identical. All the women wear the same, tailor made suit-skirt set or a top and skirt made from the same fabric. It will have some small differences like beads or embroidery but other than that, it all looks mass produced.

ninoshka studio goa

Tell me more about your attempts to revive the Adivasi weave in Goa

My husband and I are working on marketing the Adivasi weave in Goa. We are helping Dr Rohit, a historian to market the weave which is presently being made in Karnataka, as there are no weavers left in Goa. however our aim is to get the weaving industry started in Goa again with the support of the textile ministry.

The Kunbis are aboriginals of Goa and wore the Adivasi Sari, also called ‘kaapad.’ Their way of draping the sari was basic, called ‘Detli’ and involved wrapping the sari around the waist and typing it over the right shoulder in a knot. This style of draping facilitated fieldwork. The sari ended just above the ankle and did not need a blouse or petticoat, although younger women did use blouses with puff sleeves. A white shawl called ‘voll’ was thrown over the shoulder and the pallu was tucked in at the back to form a pocket of sorts.

This weave was compact and made in Goa on handlooms but with the decline of handlooms, the weave stopped in 1985. It is one of our endeavors to get the original Adivasi weave revived here in Goa.

Which celebrity’s personal style do you admire?

I love the way Kiran Rao dresses. She’s always comfortable in sarees and kurtas. In Hollywood, they’re all well dressed, but I like Emma Watson’s style the most.

Where can one buy from the Ninoshka label?

We’re available online on sites like Jaypore, Bunosilo and Peacock Colours along with a handful of retail stores..

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It’s always a pleasure meeting people who enjoy doing what they love and whose benefit to society is their biggest satisfaction. Ninoshka’s philosophy of ‘fashion with a conscience’ is refreshing, to say the least and just goes to show that the future is definitely hand-made!

That wrapped up my chat with Ninoshka Alvares- Delaney! If you enjoyed this one, don’t forget to subscribe!!

Let me know what you think and keep in touch on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Bye!

I’ve always believed that India’s real riches are the diversity of food it offers – food that’s as multi-flavoured as the country itself.

Outsiders may generalize Indian food to be just about curry, whereas even in India itself, we write off North Indian food as butter-chicken-naan and south Indian food as dosa-idli-sambar. But food in India is more than a means to satiate hunger, it is the way to an Indian’s heart. Any Indian!

At the Marriott Goa, the kitchens are abuzz everyday from the 14th till the 20th of August 2017 to bring these different flavours, tastes and associated emotions to life! With one day dedicated to the cuisine of one region, they’re dishing up the most elaborate spread of regional cuisine under one roof! It helps that the team of chefs hails from all parts of the country, and on the day I visited, I had the richest, most decadent cuisine of all – Punjabi!!

Head Chef Pawan Chennam greeted me and introduced me to Chef Gurneet – the man behind the dinner for the day. Punjabi food is luxury, in every sense of the word and the spread of food from salads to mains and even desserts was jaw-dropping! They even went so far as to bring the vibrant madness of Punjab’s streets to the hotel, with carts selling chaat, corn on the cob, golas and chole kulchas!

AMBIANCE

Until now, I had only visited JW Marriott properties. JW Marriott is a tier higher than the regular Marriott brand that recently took over Starwood Hotels. The difference in ambiance was apparent right away. The quiet, luxurious interiors in earthy and gold tones I was used to in Mumbai’s JW properties was absent and in it’s place, loud coloured furniture in red and green. There was a lot of red and blue neon lighting which was a bit jarring at first.

marriott interiors restaurant

The decor had a ‘Punjabi dhaba’ theme that was carried through in the truck/cart styled set up and huuuge utensils of biryanis that I’ve only seen before in videos of the langar (communal meal) at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. On the other hand, the desserts were daintily placed on hanging swings.

marriott interiors

culinary journey of india marriott goa

Given the fact that the theme of the restaurant would be changed every single day in keeping with the region, the level of attention given to decor was impressive! Overall, the ambiance was super casual and noisy, more like a pub on a Saturday night, minus the music.

marriott food festival interiors

marriott punjab food

SERVICE

This was one place where I felt that everyone, from the staff to the chefs, were genuinely happy to be there, doing their jobs and giving more to it than was expected of them. The service was extremely warm and welcoming! They kept checking up on us, suggesting and bringing the next course from the buffet which was a few feet away – right to the table. I was quite surprised to find out that most of them already follow me on Instagram!

FOOD

Like I mentioned earlier, I was glad to have made it for the Punjabi feast! I’m sure the cuisines of other states would have been equally fantastic, but Punjab is a state you can eat your way through. Dollops of ghee, cream and butter, soft, tender meat, rich spices, deep flavours and indulgent sweets – all of it makes for a hearty meal!

Here’s a fraction of the spread during the Culinary Journey of India food festival at Marriott, Goa

buffet marriott goa

gurneet dhaba marriott goa

Never seen a spread of pickles like this before!

pickles marriot goa

salads marriott goa

Coming to the food I actually sampled, Marriott once again leaves me torn when it comes to choosing my favouirte dish. Every time I thought I had found it, the next dish outdid the last.

We started off with Chole Kulcha, a quintessential street food item that I’ve never tried before, simply because I always run straight towards the Chole Bhature. It was a meal in itself! Masaledaar chickpeas mounted on a soft, flour bread called kulcha, garnished with onions, tomatoes and a squeeze of lime. For those who love spicy food, this is as good as it gets!

chole kulcha marriott goa

Melt-in-your-mouth galouti kebabs from the Awadhi table followed! What distinguishes this one among other kebabs is that the tenderized minced meat and mild spices are formed into patties and roasted on the tava. My favourite kebabs are Malai chicken – so heavenly!!

galouti kebab

Mahi Amritsari followed. You can tell how crispy that batter is by just looking at it, right? Inside was still piping hot and flaky Mahi fish. Love these bite-sized snacks!

atter fried fish marriott goa

What is a Punjabi meal without Dal Makhani and Naan! Rich, satisfying and so creamy, this delicious mixed lentil dal left me floored and I couldn’t get enough of that naan either!

dal makhani marriott

We tried capturing the steam on camera as we opened the flour casing over this Mutton Dum Biryani and some of you may have caught it on my Instagram stories too! Set in deep silver cauldrons, the mildly cooked mutton is added to the fragrant rice and thereafter fused together. This biryani was low on spice, light on the stomach and makes you want to keep eating it!

dum biryani mutton

My favourite dish was the Rara Ghost! If you ever go to Marriott Goa, ask them to make it for you! It tastes like ROYALTY.. seriously!! It was so good that I tried ordering Rara Ghost at 4 other places during my visit to Goa but none of them came remotely close to this one. The lighter curry in the picture is Dhaba-kukkad or to translate literally, chicken from a restaurant/stall by the highway. Pair it with that flaky Lacchha paratha, and you’ll be on Cloud 9!

rara ghost dhaba kukkad

I’m not a huge fan of kadhi (yoghurt based curry with besan doughballs) so I just nibbled this dish. While the ever-popular rajma-chawal was good, I was too star-struck with the previous courses to pay much attention to it.

kadhi pakoda

*clears throat and points below*

gajar ka halwa

How amaaaazing does that Gajar Ka Halwa look! It had a divine taste and texture of milk, carrots and nuts cooked for hours, and wasn’t dripping with ghee. The dessert spread was actually pretty vast and featured all kinds of cakes (even a gajar ka halwa cake), but I took the traditional route and tried some pinni laddo too! Pinni Laddoo is a traditional sweet eaten during winter and is made of flour, khoya, sugar and nuts. Those who don’t like very sweet desserts would enjoy this one!
pirni laddoo

Last up, Chef Gurneet got me a gola!! Wheee!

Look at that happy face after all that decadent food! Little things like these make my day!

gola

That brings me to the end of ‘Punjabi Food Day’ at the Culinary Journey of India Food Festival! One of the chefs generously asked me to visit everyday to sample every cuisine – and as much as I’d have loved to, I got to keep the waistline in check 😛

I however LOVED the concept of the food festival and it is one that will open your mind along with your taste buds. You will experience a burst of taste as you travel from one corner of the country to another with Marriott Goa. There are 2 days to go, so make your way down to Bambolim soon!

Let me know your fave Punjabi dishes in the comments below and keep in touch on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Bye!

P.S. I know the pictures aren’t the best, but I did what I could given the lighting situation. <3

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own

The Rajasthani Food Festival is underway at Grand Hyatt, Goa and ends on the 16th of August. It was my first time visiting the property, which is funny, considering I’m sampling the fare at Grand Hyatt Mumbai every second weekend! I was lucky to have made it to the bloggers table during this visit home and not only sample some decadent Rajasthani food, but also catch up for the first time with some other Goan food bloggers I’ve been interacting with in cyberspace.

grand hyatt goa rajasthani food festival

The Indian restaurant, Chulha was decorated keeping in mind the Rajasthani theme, with standing umbrellas and decorative fans made of colourful fabric. Little dolls dressed in bandhini + mirrorwork sarees hung everywhere and there were dozens of flower streamers for added ethnicity.

We sampled on some vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters. I loved both the chicken starters, with a slight bias towards the Banjara Murgh Tikka, having a rich cashew base with a little crunch.

banjara murgh tikka

Although, how delicious does this one look!

chicken tikka hyatt

Bikaneri wadi aur subz ke seekh were looked cute and I couldn’t help but notice how consistent they all appeared. They were melt-in-the-mouth goooood!

shammi kebab

As we relished the starters, the mixologist gave us a live demo as he prepared our cocktails, explaining to us why he paired ingredients together and the inspiration behind them. Since the upper class folks of the Mewar region of Rajasthan enjoyed their whiskey, the Royal Mewar cocktail was made keeping that in mind. It was strange to see cardamom paired with whiskey in this cocktail, but those who tried it, absolutely loved it!

grand hyatt goa cocktails

I was torn between ordering lassi and a ramgarh milkshake and ultimately chose the Rose Milkshake. I’m glad I did because the Hing and Chilli Paneer Tikka proved too fiery for my tastebuds and a fragrant milkshake was the perfect antidote!

hing aur mirch ke paneer tikka

pithod ke tikka

All the Rajasthani classics featured in the main course of the menu and it was indeed fit for a Maharaja! In order to let us sample everything on the menu in small portions, the chef smartly presented it to us in the traditional thali.

We learned that though 75% of Rajasthais are vegetarian, the non-veg food is so legendary that those who eat it, devour it!

One such crowd favourite is Laal Maas (or red meat) – bright red hot gravy made with red chillies and mutton pieces. It was no-doubt, one of my favourites on the menu.

Another dish that had everyone singing its praises was the Maans ka Soweta – lamb chunks cooked in Indian spices, corn kernals, capsicum, red chillies and spices. The meat was so tender and well flavoured that we could tell it had been marinated for a long time! The gravy was amazing and thick too!

rajasthan food festival hyatt goa

What Chole Bhature is to Punjab, Dal Bati Churma is to Rajasthan – a classic with a history that’s as extraordinary as its taste. I loved this quintessential three-in-one-treat with baked bhaati/little dough balls in a spoonful of ghee, spiced dal and sweet, crumbly churma – it’s as fun to eat as it is to mix up!

Other things on the menu that featured in our thali included Ker Sangria (wild beans and local berries in mustard oil), Papad Methi Aloo Mangodi (potato, papad, fenugreek, dry lentil dumplings), Rajasthani Dal Dhokli (mixed lentils, chickpea flour and hing) and jodhpuri kabuli (saffron basmati rice with spices).

Desserts – the section to which my eyes are instantly drawn held only two items, to my disappointment. The Malpua, a deep fried pancake made of khoya and soaked in sugar syrup, served with rabdi, a condensed milk based dish is too delicious for words! I love mine slightly crispy, like the ones they have at Bhindi Bazaar and Mohammad Ali Road in Mumbai.

malpua and rabdi hyatt goa

We were also given a serving of badam ka sheera (a semolina based sticky dish with almonds) that was literally swimming in ghee! While ghee is an essential part of Rajasthani food, it was too rich for me to handle and I couldn’t eat more than a spoonful. I’d have loved to see some more desserts on the menu though – perhaps jalebi, dilkushar or rabri ghevar? Ooooh!!

Make your way down to Grand Hyatt Goa for a taste of Rajasthani Cuisine! We don’t really have restaurants in Goa that serve up authentic regional fare, and if you don’t plan on travelling to Rajasthan anytime soon, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a culinary trip there instead.

There’s a lot more of my Goa adventures to share with you guys! And God, so much food!

I love interacting with you on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – so come over and say ‘hi!’

xoxo

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own

Welcome back!

I was recently invited to attend the launch of Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance’s New Product – Future Wealth Gain. I told you a little about it during my post on the importance of Long Term Investments. I’ll tell you all about the new product right here!

But before the plan was revealed to us, an interesting game was conducted. We were divided into teams of 5 and given a sheet of paper on which there were 10 items listed that we had to buy within 10 years. The amount we had in hand was Rs. 10,000/- The items included things like a recliner for old age, a health check-up, gym membership, a trip to Goa and the like. We were also given market rumours – the price of so-and-so item would increase in 2 years or fall in 6; and we were given tips – You are 50 years old now. Buy the recliner before you hit 55.

Like the stock market, the year wise prices of these items flashed on screen for 30 seconds and we had to take our pick of what we wanted to buy. Should we save a fun trip for next year and buy a mobile this year? What if the mobile phone prices increase next year? Should we just get a gym membership instead?

bajaj allianz event

The goal of the game was to purchase all the items from the list. The team that saved the most money at the end of the decade would win the game! It was an interesting game – showing us how the money we had in hand could get us less of a product in future or maybe even more! It also showed us how to spend wisely, curtail expenses and save! My team of girls won, by the way! Woot!

Coming to the launch of Bajaj Allianz Life’s New Product:

About The Plan:

Bajaj Allianz Life is one of India’s leading private life insurers. Their latest offering, Bajaj Allianz Life Future Wealth Gain is a unit-linked investment plan that gives you a choice of two variants – Wealth Plus and Wealth Plus Care. Besides protecting your loved ones and yourself, the plan aims at maximizing wealth by investing in capital markets to help you achieve your financial goals in future.

future wealth gain

How does it work?

This non-participating, individual, unit linked, regular/limited premium payment plan offers the dual benefit of protection and growth. The most important advantages I can see are the high insurance cover, choice of 2 investment portfolio strategies, loyalty additions at each interval of 5 years from the 10th policy year onward, fund booster to enhance fund value at maturity, option to take maturity benefit in installments and the option to choose from multiple policy terms.

bajaj allianz future wealth gain

So how it works out is pretty simple to understand:

  1. Once you choose between Wealth Plus and Wealth Plus Care, you choose the premium you want to pay as well as the sum assured multiplier to decide your life cover.
  2. Next, choose your policy term and premium payment term.
  3. Choose the premium payment frequency
  4. Choose between two portfolio strategies
  5. Choose the riders (optional and with rider charges applicable)

At maturity, a person will receive the Fund Value plus top up premium fund value, if any including loyalty additions that help you get better returns as it provides up to 90% of one year’s premium for a policy term of 25 years. Loyalty additions are payable at the end of every 5 years starting from the 10th policy year.

That’s not all! To enhance one’s fund value, Future Wealth Gain offers Fund Boosters – amounts added to the regular premiums Fund Value at Maturity, when all premiums have been paid up to date and the policy is in force. This can be as high as 90% of one’s premium if the policy term and premium payment term is more than 15 years.

The death benefit under the ‘Wealth Plus’ variant includes the higher of the sum assured and fund value as on the date of receipt of intimation of death.

Under the Wealth Plus Care Variant, in addition to the death benefit, a customer also receives an income benefit that’s payable on death or first diagnosis of cancer of the Life Insured. The benefit payable will be the sum assured plus top up sum assured if any OR fund value as on date of receipt of intimation of death plus income benefit, whichever is higher.  The minimum premium for Future Wealth Gain is capped at Rs. 50,000 annually. The maximum policy term is 25 years and the minimum premium payment term is 5 years.

bajaj allianz insurance

What’s interesting to note is that the company has introduced a NEW FUND-PURE STOCK FUND II. Earlier, an investor could select his portfolio strategy from from among 7 fund choices in the ‘Investor Selectable Portfolio Strategy.’ Now, with a new addition of ‘Wheel of Life,’ regular premium fund value and top up premium fund value if any will be reallocated among various funds in the pre-defined ratio based on years to maturity.

For more information on how to #InvestBefikar to #JiyoBefikar, head to the Bajaj Allianz Website or the Future Wealth Gain product page

Got questions or opinions? Let me know by commenting below!

Bye!!

During the last half decade or so in Mumbai, I’ve travelled to a number of places around the city for short weekend breaks. And ever so often, one friend or another will want to make their maiden visit to one of these places and ask me to come along. Every time I find myself in such a situation, I “uhmm” and “ahhh” about it, trying to squeeze my way out of their persuasive efforts to get me to go, before finally committing.

My reasons are simple. I don’t want to spend precious time and travel budget to go somewhere I’ve been, when I can see some place new. There’s so much more to see out there!!

Strangely enough though, whenever I have gone along, I’ve never regretted making that second trip and it actually turns out to be even more enjoyable than the first.  I posed this question to my followers on Instagram and their response was unanimous, although with different reasoning behind it.

Here’s why you should visit a place you’ve already travelled to:

It is impossible to see everything in one trip (Ashfina Charania/@thewickedsoul) – Whether you’re visiting over a 2 day weekend or taking a month-long holiday, there will always be so much more to explore.

Places change (Martin Smith /@shirtman99)– Ever visited the city you grew up in? You wouldn’t even recognize it. Cities change over the years. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but you’ll have new experiences, that’s for sure. When I visited Canada two year ago, I learnt that the government keeps innovating and creating new things to do to attract tourists and locals alike.

You change! – Visiting a city as a 20 year old back-packer and as a 35 year old with funds to spare make a huge difference in how you experience the city. As you age, you’d choose a swankier neighbourhood to stay in over a dorm room and spend more money on the arts, the culture and food as opposed to mere sightseeing.

You’d experience different seasons (@sunflower_seeds_) – Take Goa, for example! Those who’ve visited during the monsoons will tell you how picturesque the state is, with its lush green fields, looming clouds and raging waves! Visiting in the winter (if I may call it that) will give you a taste of parties, water sports, street shopping and meals by the pool. Similarly, visiting Himachal Pradesh in the winter is a completely different experience, that too, without the tourist influx!

You get to live like a local the second time (Karan Bhatija / @karansbathija) – … and not like someone with a checklist of places to tick off. Re-visiting a place takes the pressure off what to see, eat and do, giving you a more authentic experience. Once you’ve accomplished those major things on your first trip, you can then experience the place more slowly and deeply. You have more time to interact with the locals, too!

You know what to expect and it makes you nostalgic ( Tharun Bangera / @bangeratharun) – The first time all of us travel to a new place, we build up expectations that are not based on reality. These expectations can leave you overly impressed or disappointed, depending on how high you set them. The second time, you know what you’re getting into!

You start uncovering secret spots and noticing details (Marissa Fernandes / @marissa_fernandes) – Little bookstores, vintage cafes, beautiful by-lanes, the strange windows that houses have… you begin noticing details and exciting spots the second time around. You can taste more of the cuisine or go back to that restaurant you loved. Another experience you can probably relate to is the fact that the first time you see something new, you’re probably looking at it through your camera, trying to get the perfect shot. The second time, you can actually appreciate it!

Time with your friends who live in the city – Thinking back to all the places I’ve visited, I realize that I spend a mere half an hour with the friends I have who live there. I was so busy with the sights I had to see that I had a rushed coffee with them! Alternatively, when travelling with friends, discussions were all about planning the next hour, lunch, things to do… and not enough aimless banter. Revisiting means having time to chill with friends when you travel

Because the place calls you back (Gautam Shah / @an_indian_abroad) – There are certain places that just make you happy and you feel the need to return. You loved the time you spent there, enjoy the vibes and just can’t get enough.

How do you feel about revisiting a city you’ve been to? Let me know in the comments below!

Catch you later!

xoxo