I’m not one of those girls that can get on a long flight without being comfortable first. After all, the journey is a precursor to the destination. Jeans, a tee, and the occasional track pant, was the comfiest I’ve ever gotten in transit and in a new place because they’re so low maintenance. So naturally, when I pack, that’s what 90% of my suitcase is full of. The rest is something a little more glam for a night out on the town or dinner at a high end restaurant.

zelocity active wear

There is a downside though. My clothes usually crease and wrinkle easily, they don’t really keep me cool and we all know that denim isn’t the most breathable fabric in the world. You know what I mean?

Let’s get to the point! We’ve all been hearing the term ‘athleisure’ for a while now, but like many of you, I’ve been restricting it to gym-wear. However, active wear has become a lot more versatile and you can wear it when you sweat, when you lounge around, when you catch up with friends AND when you travel. Not bad at all in terms of flexibility!

vacation attire Athleisure is the new kid in town and in fashion vernacular, it’s a fusion of athletic and leisure wear. The word conjures up all kinds of fantasies about workout wear that’s still appropriate, yet glam enough to take on the city in. It’s kind of brilliant – and perfect for travel, be it on long treks, walks around the city, or in planes, trains or cars when satorials don’t make the cut. It’s practical too, and when you arrive at your destination, you can hit the ground running… literally!

zelocity by zivame

Zelocity by Zivame sent me a whole bunch of clothing to try out on my recent trip to Canada. Although the -35 weather in Canada didn’t really allow me to sport them out in the open, I practically wore them all the time, below layers of woollens and down jackets.

The Zelocity by Zivame collection takes technological fibres and materials from the active world and marries them with sportswear styling. They stretch and move with your body, keep you cool and allow your skin to breathe. The best part, it’s practically creaseless so you can pull it out of your backpack and throw it on, without having to bother about ironing it. Oh, and when it comes to packing the clothing in your suitcase, it is SUCH a space saver. These racer back tees literally take up the space that a scarf would have! This makes it great for just stuffing into your handbag/backpack in case you need an emergency outfit change or lose your baggage.

zelocity athleisure by zivame

The biggest problem with active wear is that it is usually seen on par with travel gear, which, let’s be honest, can be quite ugly. But with athleisure, bright prints and classic ‘staples’ make it perfect for mixing and matching – ideal for a travel wardrobe, even if exercise isn’t on the cards.

zelocity zivame apparel

It’s hard to break the thought process of wanting to be dressed uber cute while travelling (hello, Instagram), but stocking up on a few cute pieces can make it easy to give in to your extra cosy side, while not sacrificing on the style. Worth mentioning is the fact that the tees and leggings are loose and comfy enough to be worn as sleepwear if space is a constraint when you pack.

zelocity racer backSo yeah, turns out you can be comfortable and trendy when you travel. And as I pack my bags for another adventure, this time to a more tropical destination, I’m super excited to get some more use out of my Zelocity clothing.

See you on the other side!

Okay, 2017! Where did you go?

I can’t believe I’m writing this post already, the last post of the year! It seems like just yesterday when I wrote my round up of 2016. A whole 12 months has flown past since then, and a lot of change has happened, too!

After bringing in the New Year 2016 and my birthday in Goa last year, I headed back to Mumbai and picked up from where I left off – drowning in work, on marketing and advertising campaigns with around a dozen of the country’s best brands as a part of a leading ad agency in India.

TGG bhandardara

Before long, February rolled around and passed uneventfully, for a change. At home, I continued blogging about the new restaurants I tried and about a couple of experiences here and there. Just as I began finding myself in a rut, BAM! I started getting opportunity after opportunity to collaborate with more brands. The difference was that I wasn’t being asked to create marketing material for them anymore, but to feature them right here on That Goan Girl!

What!! The goal I’d been working to achieve for the last 3 years with a lukewarm results was coming true all at once! The fact that I had to decline most of them because of work commitments was frustrating and that’s when I took the leap to quit in March. Would the collabs keep rolling in the way they were now? Was this spur-of-the-moment decision a mistake, especially since I’m living on my own and have to support myself? Turns out, I shouldn’t have worried so much!

In April, I headed off to Delhi for the launch of Tata Tigor and stayed an extra day to wander around. I saw the Safdarjung Tomb, Agrasen ki Baoli and as usual, visited some delicious Delhi restaurants! On returning, I set out on the next adventure and explored Aayush Resort in Panvel with some close friends.

In the terribly hot month of May, just as I was winding up my professional work commitments, I moved homes. I left the tiny apartment in the city that I hated so much and moved to a bigger, brighter one on the outskirts for less than half the rent (since I didn’t have a job and had big plans to travel, this made a lot of sense.)

aayush resort panvel

Finally, the rains arrived in June, and this was when things really started rolling! My freelance marketing gig turned into a full-fledged company – Digitally Scrambled – with my partner, Sandeep. We worked to on-board new clients, the first of which was Dubl’up, a Goa-based company! Yay!

thatgoangirl bhandardara

This was the time when I also experienced one of the best sights I have ever seen – a million fireflies in Bhandardara! Although it was to be a one-night stay, I stayed another night just to experience it again! Bhandardara was beautiful and I couldn’t stop writing about it either!! It rained almost the entire time and on the way back to Mumbai, I made my second pit-stop at Alibaug, at a property that I think I’ll always consider a favourite – Casa De La Luna. It was around this time that I dabbled in a bit of PR too!

alibaug thatgoangirl

On returning, I caught up with work and onboarded a couple of new clients. Without any planning at all, I headed off to Matheran in July and then Goa in August which was my first Mumbai-Goa road trip. I was starting to develop the kind of lifestyle I wanted, and beginning to love it. Working on my laptop while on the train, in airport waiting rooms, stopping at cafes on the side of the street, and in my PJs in bed, while having the luxury to pack up and travel without having to ask for holidays or adjust to that of others in a formal workplace. Perfect!

thatgoangirl matheran

It did come with a couple of hitches, as is the case with travel, but I’d prefer a nomadic life like this over anything else.

On the way back to Mumbai from Goa during late August, I explored a tiny bit of Ratnagiri and then for a month or so, I visited a bunch of new restaurants in Mumbai. By this time, I was getting used to the remark “so, you seem to be travelling a lot these days, huh?” Such a good feeling!!

thatgoangirl dapoli

Almost through to the last quarter of the year – wow! While I hadn’t explored a single hill station in my life, in September, I explored the 2nd one in one year! Mahabaleshwar was stunning and the resort I stayed at, Brightland, was a great, luxurious escape from the heat in Mumbai! On the way back to Mumbai, I made another stop in Ratnagiri, this time reviewing the Fern Samali in Dapoli!

thatgoangirl mahabaleshwar

November took me back to Delhi where I participated in the World Fair Trade Week, organized by the World Fair Trade Conference and Fair Trade Forum India. This all-expense paid trip at the Crowne Plaza opened my eyes to the fascinating world of Fair Trade and I learnt so much during my time there. This trip reaffirmed my belief that there’s a world of learning, experiences and opportunities out there, which I’d have otherwise missed by sitting in a cubicle all day.

thatgoangirl delhi

And then, of course, another trip back to Goa in November to catch up with all the restaurants I’d been invited to review! By now, I’d collaborated with some great brands – Nubia, 7UP, SkyScanner, Diageo,Woodland, Zivame, and a ton of restaurants!

thatgoangirl woodland

Finally, I headed off to Canada in the first week of December to experience my first White Christmas with friends and family living in Toronto. I’m still here, and while my fingers are numb from the cold, I have so many warm, snowy memories already – and there’s still another 15 days to go! Oh, and the cherry on the cake is that That Goan Girl took home an award yesterday at the Indian Blogger Awards! Yep, we’re officially the best blog in Goa now!

thatgoangirl canada

It brings me so much joy, excitement, and a little bit of nervousness when I look back and realize that the goal of becoming someone who works on the move and travels for a living on my terms is slowly shaping up. In fact, I have the first 2-3 months of 2018 planned out in terms of travel too.

Is there a downside? There always is! The lack of stability, loneliness, the nagging voice in my brain that tells me to sit up and work at 1AM when I’d rather be out partying with friends. I have learnt that there is a lot of pressure to get the best photos, write well and make sure you experience as much as possible while staying genuine and true to what you’d usually do and enjoy. Unlike in Canada, the competition in India is FIERCE, with every second individual trying their ‘luck’ in the blogosphere. I’ve learnt to stop bothering about followers, likes, etc, and go back to why I started blogging in the first place – to document my experiences for me!

It’s been a pleasure meeting and interacting with so many of you this year. Cheers to 2018 and I hope you stay on for the ride.

Happy New Year!

Hey!!

As I write this, it’s already Christmas in India, but there’s still another 8 hours or so for it to be Christmas in this part of the world. And it’s snowing like craaazy out there!

The last time I visited Canada was 2 years ago, in summer, when the temperature was just about perfect for exploring, outdoor BBQs, pool days and all other Goa-things! This time, apart from visiting Christmas markets and shoveling delicious food into my mouth, I’ve not done much yet.

DISTILLERY DISTRICT

I’d been in -3 to -5 degree weather since the time I landed, but that night at the Christmas Market in Distillery District was probably the coldest I’ve been in my life. We later learnt that there was a cold weather alert and the temperature would feel like -21. While the news is constantly on the TV at the house, we all just happened to skip watching it when it counts the most, lol!

toronto christmas market

Taking out my gloves to click a picture on my phone was a challenge I hadn’t anticipated, especially with fingers that were numb from the cold. But frigid temperature be damned, I had to capture the magic of a Christmas Market.

christmas market lights toronto

This pedestrian-only village is full of gorgeous Victorian era buildings, making it a wonderful setting for a Christmas Market. Ranked as one of the best in the world, it resembles those in Europe and even captures the tradition, heritage and romance. Cobblestone streets, ornate street lamps, and charming wooden booths shaped like cottages selling ornaments, baked goods, winter gloves and handicrafts were everywhere. Overhead, fairy lights streamed from one end to the other. And in the centre of it all loomed one of Toronto’s tallest Christmas Trees!

christmas tree distillery district

food christmas market toronto

distillery district christmas market

The main attraction though was a 100 foot long tunnel of lights! On long tables set with a small fires, fondue pots simmering with cheese were served, in which visitors dipped bread, sausage and steamed veggies for a quick warm snack. That apart, stalls also served chimney cakes, potato twisters and Christmas goodies. All that paired with Christmas Carolers singing joyfully in the background makes it impossible to suppress the child in you any longer.

tunnel of lights distillery district christmas market toronto

MILTON MARKET

A few days later, the family and I headed to the Milton Christmas Market. We went while it was still quite bright and much warmer at -3 degrees, so that meant a LOT more photos!!

milton market toronto

It was easier to spot Santa, too!

santa claus milton market

milton market jade

An entire street was transformed into a new Christmas avatar, with over 200 vendors in white tents on either side selling everything from gingerbread cookies to hot masala tea and poutine to one-of-a-kind gifts. Unlike the market at Distillery District, this one had a lot of food trucks! The other one was waaay more Christmassy though!

stall milton market

milton market food truck

Okay! I’ve got to go shower and change for the Christmas vigil in a couple of hours, so I’ve got to wind this post up!

milton market canada

Hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas wherever you are! Wishing you all the love and joy that this season brings! Merry Christmas!

The elderly folk in Goa may not have heard of a ton of new fangled resorts in Goa, but you can bet they’ve all heard of Cidade De Goa.

Situated at the end of the Miramar stretch, on turning left at the Dona Paula Circle, Cidade De Goa is one of the oldest luxury properties in the state. It stands tall on the side of a hill, overlooking a private stretch of beach. The resort is at a fair distance from the buzzing beaches of North Goa but great for those who like being pampered in a peaceful atmosphere.

Through the years, this famed resort has cherished and promoted the cultural traditions of Goa’s past. Noite de Fado or Fado Night is one such tribute and is held on the first Tuesday of every month at one of the restaurants, Alfama. While I’m a lover of art, music and culture, I’ve only heard of this Portuguese style of music in conversation, but never experienced it. Mandos, Dulpods and Dekhnis on the other hand, are far more common.

alfama cidade de goa

Alfama Restaurant evokes comparison to the era gone by and is a befitting location for the event. From the moment you walk in, you are transported to a Latin square in Lisbon, with it’s Portuguese styled balcaos, whitewashed pillars, intimate alcoves and bright murals. Just sitting here makes you feel like you’ve taken a trip to Portugal several decades ago, listening to a live musician playing on the street, entertaining passer-bys and diners overlooking the square from various cafes.

A special 4 course menu is prepared only for Fado night, and as you’re seated, a waiter takes you through the choices you have. You pick one out of 2 soups, one of two salads, one of 4-5 mains and there’s only one dessert option available. They bring you your drinks and a bread basket with flavoured butter and are off into the kitchen. Before long, the lights dim and all eyes are on the musicians who walk out.

bread basket alfama

Sonia Shirsat, one of Goa’s most famous fadistas begins the evening with a short introduction to the soulful music. She explains how Fado, these Portuguese songs, are mellifluously haunting and centre around the sea, sailors, ships, love, loss, guilt, passion, sorrow, yearning, death…

A Fado, she explains, was sung by the families and lovers of sailors who sailed off on voyages to discover new lands. As they are left behind, they don’t know whether they will see each other again and so, these expressive, satirical songs capture all the emotion. They leave you in what can be called ‘Saudade,’ which means ‘in a state of longing or nostalgia.’

sonia shirsat

Three other fadiastas sing at every Note de Fado here, notably, the Cotta Family, a family that has been preserving the art for generations. Minguel Cotta, his daughter Chantalle and yet another fadista, Nadia Rebello. The Cotta son, Franz Schubert Cotta accompanies them on the Portuguese guitar while Reniel Costa plays along on the guitar. Before the start of each Fado, the fadista gave listeners a two line brief of what the song was about. It’s hard to say who sang the best – we marvelled at the power of everyone’s voices (all of them sung without a microphone and each drew us in, even though the words were foreign.)

minguel cotta fado

The lights come back on between each of the 4 sets and every time, one course of food is brought out. During this time, the fadistas walk around individually, visiting guests at their table.

nadia rebello fado goa

First off, Mum and I tried the salads – Trilogia de Mariscos, a trilogy of deep blue sea crab xec xec, butter poached prawns and calamari wheel, as well as Salada de Alcachofra, Ervilihas e Mesclun com Tapenade de Azeitona (spicy artichoke, olive tapenade, green peas, mesclun parmesan shavings with cafreal dressing).  These weren’t conventional salads, but were small, beautifully plated dishes that looked better than they tasted.

fado night cidade de goa

salad fado night cidade de goa

We picked both options of soups, too. The Sopa de Frango (chorizo scented chicken and roasted pepper) one was quite delicious and the smell of smoky chorizo was apparent. The Sopa de Tomate e Manjericao was a milder, lighter veg option made up of tomatoes and basil consumme with a parmesan red croute.

soups at alfama cidade de goa

There were a handful of mains to choose from. The frango recheado com Congumelos (mushroom filled xacuti chicken, cumin mash, carrot confit and xacuti jus) was intriguing! Sesame coated breadsticks jutted out from between two pieces of juicy chicken laid on a bed of mash. And those carrots were deceptive! They looked just like cheeseballs!

chicken noite de fado

My Mum had the Peixe Assado which was a large, beautiful slab of boneless fish on bean ragout with wilted greens and balchao butter sauce. This was a truly harmonious dish and was way better than my chicken.

fado goa

Not one, but 3 desserts arrived on a platter to end the show. A petit sized piece of moist almond cake, some rice pudding and tender coconut ice cream! All 3 were great but the cake was the clear winner. Delicate flavour combos and seriously nom nom!

fado night desserts

I’ll say one thing for the food – it was unexpected in every sense. All the dishes were innovatively presented, and the pairings were unconventional. Taste-wise, some were better than others and there is scope for improvement. I’m not sure the fare would appeal to everyone, but if you’re up for trying something new, you may enjoy it!

Would I recommend Noite de Fado to everyone I know? Most definitely! If you’re a culture vulture visiting Goa, make sure to reserve your table on the first Tuesday of every month at Alfama. I guarantee it will be a memorable night!

Catch you later!

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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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!