I Wear: Mall Rat

Saturday afternoons are for finishing up chores that you don’t have time for on the weekend and that you don’t want ruining your Sunday. Mornings are too early to wake up on a weekend. Evenings spent on chores make me grumpy, since everyone else seems to be doing more interesting things. Afternoons are the best as the hordes in the city are either working the last few hours of a 6-day week or shoring up their reserves for the night.

High Street Phoenix was where I was headed, for a quick lunch, for window-shopping at the fun stores and actually shopping at the boring ones (Big Bazaar). Most of the big stores don’t let me carry in that handy Cotton World cloth bag that I’ve been toting around on just such quick shopping excursions. Big Bazaar goes one further in the ‘punish the customer for coming to us’ by making you deal with grumpy baggage personnel or forcing you to put said handbags into ugly transparent, plastic attaches. I wanted to go light.

It was a sunny day and travelling anywhere in this city without protection for face & hair is stupid. And it looked like I’d be doing a lot of walking. The brocade slingpouch (see earlier in Streetsmart Colour) and my steel-grey moccasins came in useful. The tee-shirt was a gift from Meetu and unlike other brand-bearing tee-shirts, this one fits well and doesn’t make me feel like a walking advertisement. And finally, I tossed a thin silk scarf across my shoulders to keep my neck warm, to tie my hair with & to cover my face while travelling.

You know how the fashion industry says things like ‘Great style should be effortless’? This is my take on the idea. When I looked into the mirror, I felt rather proud with the way it turned out since it didn’t cost much (time or money), looked stylish, was suitable for the occasion and stayed comfortable all through. So I grabbed my camera for a picture, when I got back. Note that this is how I looked after the commute, crowd-jostling & grocery shopping, minus any touch-ups.

I Wear:

  • Faded blue jeans: Levis Diva
  • Black tee-shirt: Courtesy Meetu of WOGMA
  • Violet postman’s hat: Baggit, Shoppers Stop
  • Silk scarf: Cottage Emporium, New Delhi
  • Steel-grey moccasins:
  • Brocade slingpouch: Street stall, Connaught Place, New Delhi

I Wear: Red And Gold

Dressing for the day often begins with one thing – an item of apparel, a colour, a fabric or even an accessory. The rest of the look is built around that point.

The newest addition to my closet is a handbag, a gift from the boy’s mum. As he gave it to me, he cast a wary gaze at my red tote and asked,

“You aren’t…terribly attached to that bag, are you?”

I laughed and told him a new bag was always delightful. He looked mystified. Ah well, the things a man will never understand about a woman! Sure enough, when I called his mum to thank her and tell her she needn’t have gone to the trouble, she just said,

“Shopping is always a pleasure!”

:-) Cue rerun of mystified look.

So here’s what my bag collection looks like at the moment: A big lime-green Rhysetta handbag, the aforementioned red tote from Baggit (my favorite), a brown leather satchel and an identical black one (both used in my corporate days), a purple square bag from Esbeda, cloth bags from EcoFrendz (featured on I Style!), a kantha-embroidered jhola and sundry clutches of the neon-coloured plastic variety. (No, the boy still wouldn’t understand)

If there’s one thing the wardrobe has been lacking, it’s a dignified-not-boring, coloured-not-whacky bag. The colourful stuff has been fun to carry around and matches most of my looks. The staid brown and black are the ‘safe’ options for work and such occasions. But this new bag fits neatly in between.

It’s a sort of dusty rose coloured leather. My mum would probably call it cherry tan though I’ve never seen either a fruit or a skin colored that way. It’s a comfortable foot by foot-and-half size which makes it perfect for a day out (wallet, keys, handkerchief, make-up, water bottle, scarf, book, iPod). The flap has white criss-cross stitching over it which would have stood out starkly on a darker colour or yellowed in a dirty way on a white/cream bag. On this however, it blends in just right creating a subtle contrast with the rest of the bag without being in your face about it. The fittings are matted gold and include zippers down each pocket, a magnetic fastener and handle rings. In addition, a lock embellishment hangs down the front flap. To my surprise, I found a similarly themed key attached to the inner zip which fits this lock perfectly!

Now the colour proved to be a challenge for me. Red being my favorite colour, dusty rose would normally be a snap for me. But my look is usually silver (oxidized or polished), wood or plastic. Gold isn’t my usual theme but I liked the muted look of this one and how it added to the colour of the bag, so I set my brain to work.

It wasn’t long before I realised I already had several articles of the red-and-gold persuasion which had faced similar dilemmas earlier and hence hadn’t seen much use. I just put all of them together.

I started with a red wraparound skirt with bright prints and adorned by gold sequins (which catch the light when I move but make it a difficult garment to match with anything else).

This I paired with a muted gold mock turtleneck I once received as a gift and never had much call to wear (for the same reason). This top with its zipper that goes all the way up the front to the neck feels rather awkward, like it’s caught in an identity crisis between sportswear and glamour. Also, I’m not sure the gold fabric goes well with a silver zipper or with my complexion.

To break that up, I kept the zipper lower, opening out the flaps to look like a collar. To this, I added a bead-and-metal neckpiece bought from Delhi’s Tibetan market, years ago. A word on this necklace – I’d drooled over those exotic items of jewelery for years before I finally bought one. Once home, I realised that everything else I wore look drab in comparison. Yet another gold-coloured item relegated to the ‘someday I’ll figure out how to wear it’ pile!

My first choice of footwear was brown suede boots. But considering the drama of the neckpiece and the bright skirt, I thought that would be too much. I settled instead for my trusty red snakeskin sandals. Here’s how it turned out.

I wear:

  • Red wraparound skirt, embroidered & embellished: Lokhandwala market
  • Gold zippered top: unbranded, somewhere in the US
  • Dusty rose leather handbag: Suede, Kolkata
  • Red and gold neckpiece: Tibetan market, New Delhi
  • Red snakeskin sandals: JMC (nice designs, high prices, zero durableness, horrible service)

Cross-posted at Divadom.

A Tale Of Two Cities

When people ask me, “Born and brought up here?”, I have to pause to think how to answer them best. I’ve settled for the bombastic and somewhat pretentious sounding “Born in the Capital and grew up in Island City.”

Its an odd feeling to belong to two different places simultaneously like this. Just like our relationships with people, there are invisible bonds that link us to places too…places that contain strong memories, places we’ve experienced life most in..

Each visit to the capital brings up parallel voices inside of me, conflicting, contradicting and highlighting the differences in the two places. If a city could be the motherland, I’m the proverbial Krishna, originating from one and flowering in another.

Mumbai has left an undeniable ‘chappa’ on me, shaped my thinking and attitudes. Visiting Delhi however invokes odd feelings that I’ve never quite been able to explain. I suppose it is a symbolic return to the womb, a reminder of how life could have been, still could be. Having a birth certificate from a city links you to that place for life. Mumbai is in my every waking moment and movement, in my brisk ‘lets-get-down-to-it’ attitude, my indifference to crowds and noise and precision-honed efficiency. Delhi however, whispers its hidden influences in my intellectualising, my love of the good life and long conversations.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Its cold. But not coooooooooooooold. That’s the first thought that hits me as I alight at Nizamuddin. What’s the fuss I think, remembering the dire warnings I’ve received over the past week about the winter in Delhi. Sure, everyone looks plumper (and that’s saying something….the average figure pays testimony to well-fed stomachs) and brighter draped in woolens and feathers (And I always thought these were the grey things that pigeons shed!).

As the day progresses, I can’t help reflecting that in Mumbai food takes longer to cool than to heat up. And oh…what an odd feeling to keep feeling hungry every hour! Mom is delighted and hints that my weight-gain plan might succeed if I shift here.

Shopping is always a great experience in Delhi, even for shop-a-phobics like me. I love the colour, the sheer feel of the ‘arty’ look, kurtas, jholas, mojris and trinkets. Idly I muse that I’ve never seen Delhi-ites wear all of this, though its considered the ‘Delhi look’. And oddly enough I’ve only seen all of this stuff on Mumbaikers who proudly say “Picked it up on my last visit to Delhi”…ah, umm.

The people look different, even their skin ailments look different. Can’t see any of the familiar pimples and acne that adorn Mumbai faces. There are instead, red splotches and little bumps which I assume must be a combination of colder weather and skins endowed with far less melanin.

Every single person I arrange to meet offers to pick me up or drop me back or both. Hmm…I think…I can’t imagine my Mumbaiker friends doing that any more than I can imagine my permitting them to. As always I hate not being able to travel around freely but I take note of the gentle solicitousness it seems to invoke in people here.

Books, books, BOOOOOKS!!!!! I’ll never be able to hate Delhi so long as it has its books. Mumbai’s workaholism drowns out any possibility of culture appreciation.
What is this life, if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?

If Mumbai is the place to make money, Delhi’s the place to spend it.
I also saw a band playing in one of the corners of Connaught Place. Intrigued I stood and listened to the music belting out of the makeshift speakers. How wonderful….the drummer’s a girl! Can’t imagine amateur musicians making music at street corners like this. Come to think of it, where would they play….Churchgate station?

I gape, all open-mouthed wonder at the neat manicured lawns, shining signboards and broad roads all through our jaunts. I make snide comments about how Mumbai pays at least 1/3rd of the country’s taxes and gets so few benefits in return while the Delhi lives off the rest of the country’s earnings in splendour. I remind my co-passengers of the meaning of the word ‘parasite’ and get muttered threats for reply.

No trip to Delhi is complete without the mandatory visit to the chaat-wala. Yum, yum I drool as I watch potatoes and unidentified stuff being mauled in as unhygenic conditions as possible. Oh, to hell with hygeiene I tell that nagging voice and tuck into the ‘halka masala mixed fruit chaat’. My mouth was on fire for an hour afterward. Grr…Delhi-ites must have cast-iron cauldrons for stomachs.

Somewhere in the back of my consciousness floats pictures of homeless people…victims of the tsunami. I wonder, if a natural disaster had struck up north, would Delhi have been so complacent and matter-of-fact? Out of sight, out of mind is a phrase that springs to mind.

Not that there aren’t conversations. Politics, politics….does every single Delhiite from age 7 upward own a degree in Political Science??? I feel woefully ignorant in all this chatter. That’s until someone mentions a movie and the talk turns to Bollywood. Then I inform them that I’ve stayed within a kilometer from the Big B’s residence and that Vivek Oberoi was my senior in college. HAH! I love the grudging admiration that shines in their eyes as I throw out these facts with an air of disdainful nonchalance.

Saturday and its time to leave. As the capital gears up for a weekend (what’s a weekend to a city that seems to be either lazing or partying during the week?), I pack my bags. On my train I’m glad that the other family in the cubicle is from Mumbai and I won’t have to endure tales of “Dilli sabse number one city”. I take an almost devilish delight in graphic details of Mumbai trains to a group of youngsters on their first trip to Mumbai. I see one gulp and I smirk. As the train whizzes into Borivili…I sigh..home sweet home. Its odd but nothing reminds me more about how much I belong here than a visit to Delhi.

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