“I Fly Solo, I Fly Free”

“Standing Tall, Standing High,

I looked up at the Sky…

Come Rain or Come Shine

I’d smile and say “I am Fine”..

Standing Tall, Standing High,

I still look at the Sky..

Through Rain & Shine

I still wonder what’s next in Line..”

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When I looked at this table centrepiece, I couldn’t resist clicking a photo. That beautiful white flower loving the solitude looked so much at peace with itself and the environment it was in. It was quiet but I could see it smile, I could hear it talk to the sky, I could feel the love.

It resonated with me and my way of living – not saying I love to be alone all the time but I do enjoy the feeling of being withdrawn from the crowd at times and to sit with myself and simply enjoy the serenity of solitude just like this elegant white beauty.

A quiet reflection on life, hearing my own voice in my head, standing tall and standing high, dreaming big and aiming high…..

Love,

Rads

 

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3 Counties in 3 Days

I love traveling, exploring new places, trying out new foods and spending some quality time with family away from home and especially away from our daily routine. I have a long list of places I would love to see and hopefully I will be able to cover them in this life of mine.

My husband, who loves relaxing and spending time at home, needs a little convincing every time I want to plan a holiday. Having said that, he is an adventurous traveller- he loves edgy destinations, scenic great drives (scary at times!), trying out new cuisines. I must confess he is a more adventurous travel eater than me. He has driven me around most of England- you name it and we have seen it (I did say… ‘Most of it’… haha!). And so far our favourite English counties are Cornwall and Devon.

Even on our last family holiday, which was originally planned for three days in Somerset, we ended up doing a stretch of almost 800 miles, covering Devon and Cornwall.

This was not our first time to Cornwall and Devon, we have been there at least 5 times and if we plan another holiday in UK, you will see us head back to Cornwall or Devon again. They form the best holiday destination encompassing picturesque villages and small cozy towns, light blue waters, magnificent beaches, coves and cliffs.

For those who love driving and road trips, read more to see how we spent our 3 days.

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Colour me ‘In’: Red is Trending!

It being the holiday season, most of you (just like me) would have been out and about looking for the ‘right’ outfit for your holidays or otherwise.

With an ‘Asian’ complexion, I am a little particular about the colors I wear. I prefer colors that accentuate my natural ‘tan’ such as white, coral, lavender (mauve as we all call it) and of course reds and pinks.

Red, the colour of love and passion is one of my favourites. A vibrant hue associated with Indian weddings, makes the Indian bride look both beautiful and attractive. It is one colour which can give you ‘the’ look that you desire- be it traditional, modern or sexy.

I think ‘Red’ or ‘Flame Red- Orange’, is an excellent colour choice especially for women like me who have a warm skin tone. It brightens it up and makes it glow.  It’s an evergreen colour which looks amazing irrespective of weather, occasion and time of the day.

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I am good but I am also aware!

Does being ‘genuine’ mean inviting trouble or an open invitation for others to exploit this strength of yours? I intentionally called this a ‘strength’ and not a ‘weakness’ as it reminds me of one of the most popular recruitment questions that we have either asked while recruiting or answered as an interviewee, “Tell me a Weakness which is also your Strength”.

You know when you are genuinely nice and people try to take advantage of this very nature of yours. Being nice doesn’t mean that the person is naive and he / she doesn’t understand what is going on in their own surroundings. They do! You may seem to think, they don’t get it and you know what? They certainly do! I know, I do!

There are some characteristics that are genetic and it seems that this ‘being nice chromosome’ was passed on to me by my Dad. So, it probably is in my DNA. Fortunately, he is also an intelligent man with a sharp mind and good attitude. One of the values that he gave while rearing us up was to “Do Good and if you can’t do good, don’t do no harm”. He understood each and everything that happened around him, he could sense the intention of the people but it didn’t stop him from being genuine and nice. It didn’t stop him from helping people nor did it stop him from giving us the same values as his.

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Say Hello to Yellow!

Three years ago, when I was shopping for my sister’s wedding ceremonies, Anarkali’s were in vogue and the fashion houses were flooded with Anarkalis. I am very conservative when it comes to colours that I like to clad myself in. Looking through the fine-looking collection, my husband lay his hands on a ‘Yellow’ Anarkali.

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What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the colour ‘yellow?’ My brain seems to have got stuck on one of the Indian Primary School Insults. Didn’t get it yet? Whenever anyone showed up in a yellow outfit, we could hear someone go, “Yellow, Yellow; Dirty Fellow”. So, my first reaction was, ‘No way! I am not having it’ and he politely asked me to try it on. I know how much I tried to dodge it but finally I gave in amd wore it and came out of the trial room. As soon as I came out, I could see it in their eyes (his and my mom’s) that I can no longer run away from it and this was one of the dresses I was going to wear for my sister’s wedding celebrations. Funny enough, they had even decided on the event I was going to wear it for.

‘Yellow’ is a warm hue which is associated with energy, cheerfulness and happiness. In the Hindu culture, yellow, the colour of Turmeric, signifies knowledge, harmony, peace and meditation. I have grown up seeing idols and pictures of Krishnaji and Ganeshji in yellow. Even Lord Vishnu used to wear a yellow gear, which was a symbol of his intellect and knowledge.

Getting back to where I left, there I was.. Wearing, this yellow (and green) flowing Anarkali on my sister’s ‘Mehandi’ Night. ‘Green’ being the colour of ‘Henna’; yellow and green was indeed a lovely and apt colour combination for the night.

Recently, I wore the same Anarkali again on Diwali and I was as unsure about it, as I was when I bought it 3 years ago. I needed reassurance (from my husband of course!) that it was okay for the occasion and that it was not too flamboyant and flashy. With his exceptional communication skills, he (again) convinced me. But do I regret it?

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Thank you! For The Best Compliment so far..

Praises and admiration are flattering. We all love hearing nice compliments about ourselves- don’t we?

Just like any one of you, I have received many compliments as well as taunts (insults). Some of these have been life changing and have left a profound mark on me. Nevertheless, I feel that both praise and criticism are essential learning tools that equip us for life.

Most of us often downplay it when we receive a praise and habitually end up saying ‘Naah’, ‘Seriously?’, ‘Really?’ It is quite strange how we often react to compliments and how we sometimes deny, ignore and question them, even though, deep down in our hearts, we are extremely pleased to have received them.

This blog is dedicated to someone I recently met at a Diwali event. I was attending a ‘Dinner and Dance’ event in Wembley and had a great time with family and close friends. As both, me and my friend, love dancing to the tunes of Bollywood music, we were just being ourselves- crazy and high-spirited.

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Not even for a second, I felt as if somebody’s watching me. I was wrong as some one out there was trying to recognise me!! Continue reading

The Power of ‘Red’

Well, I am sure you must be thinking what this post is about and what I mean by ‘Power of Red’. This blog is dedicated to one of my friends who introduced me to the whole new world of tints and shades of ‘Reds’.

I am or shall I say I was a bit conservative when it came to choosing a lip colour for myself. ‘Browns’ and ‘softer pinks’ have always been and still are my favourite shades, the only variance I would go for is the effect i.e. sparkly, creamy or matt. I admit, going ‘WOW!’, when I saw other girls using brighter shades of reds and pinks, but I always assumed they aren’t for me.

On a recent ‘girls only’ trip, I was acquainted with a new colour tone- the bold & beautiful ‘Red’. I loved it on my friends’ lips, but was very hesitant when it came to me using it personally. I was not sure how it would look on me, whether it would go with my skin tone and with ‘me’ as a person. As we say in Human Resources (HR), ‘change’ is never easy but you know what- it can certainly get easier if the person leading the change has the skill to get the ‘dialogue of change’ right. I must admit, this friend of mine did hit the nail (right) on the head and she did it beautifully.

What happened next! Well, of course I had to give it a try and I must confess this ‘Red’ lipstick updated my look almost instantly. I realised that ‘Red’ is one shade that will make you look good without anything else- you don’t need much makeup if you are using a bright shade as it gives the right boost to your look.

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But was I convinced enough to invest in one?
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Mummy ka ‘Baingan ka Bharta’

Don’t we all love homemade food especially that cooked by our mums. Nothing can beat the flavour of mum’s cooked meals which were always full of so much affection and warmth.

When we move out, this is certainly something we all miss the most. I can still sense the same aroma whenever I think of my most loved dishes especially her Suji ka Halwa and Capsicum Paneer.

Many of her dishes were really popular among our friends and family. From what I know and what she shared with me, she didn’t know the ABC of cooking when she got married and my dad just ate whatever she cooked, without complaining. It was only when my Daadi (Grandmother) tasted her food that she realized it. My daadi also helped her with simple basic techniques of cooking and hence, many of my mum’s recipes, do have my daadi’s touch too. With time, her cooking has evolved so much and she loves experimenting with food and some of her recipes are awesome.

Although I am not a big fan of cooking, I do cook for my family and friends. Some of my recipes are an exact copy of my mum’s recipes and ‘Baingan ka Bharta’ (mashed aubergine or eggplant) is one of them. I still remember that her ‘Bharta’ was a favourite of many of our family friends and whenever I have made it using her recipe, even I have been able to get some praise.

‘Baingan ka Bharta’ is primarily made up of roasted aubergines (eggplant), tomatoes and onions. It is comparable to ‘baba ghanoush’, which is a very popular Lebanese appetizer. Before making the Bharta, the eggplant is grilled over fire which infuses a smoky flavour to the dish and gives it a distinct taste. Once they are smoked, the skin is removed and it is cooked in oil along with onions, tomatoes, coriander, and salt and red chilli powder. With just 7 simple ingredients, it is a very simple yet flavourful dish to serve to your family as a part of your standard meal or even as a side dish for your guests.

Even though it is a popular dish and is cooked in many homes, its taste varies from household to household. Some of the essential tips or tricks that I have learnt from my mum are:

  • The eggplant needs to be grilled to the right level (under cooking or overlooking influences its taste and flavour to a great extent)
  • The quantity of tomatoes and onions is key in this recipe (Less tomatoes mean a pale colour and if you add the right quantity of tomatoes and onions you will have the perfect colour and sweetness)
  • Do not roast the egg plant in oven or microwave. Roast/Grill on an open flame to give a distinct aromatic flavour to the dish.
  • Another tip I learnt from my mum was to choose lighter Baingan as heavier ones may have ripe seeds which will affect the taste of your Bharta.

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Mum-in-law’s trendy gift (My Take on ‘Floor length Anarkalis’)

Now that the Indian festive season is here, I am loving the colours hidden in my ‘Indian’ wardrobe. As I don’t get to wear my traditional Indian dresses too often, I eagerly wait for this time of the year.  October in India is a month of festivities full of dance, sweets and lights and we try and reproduce the same fun here with our friends.

I love the festive season which starts with the 9 day festival of Navratri and ends in Bhaidooj which is celebrated on the 5 day after Diwali. The joy of lights, sweetness of the Mithai (Indian Sweets) and the glitter of sounds of laughter of friends and family along with the beautiful colour combinations that I get to wear during this time makes it even more magnificent.

We recently celebrated the festival of Karwachauth in which married Hindu women fast from sunrise to moon rise for the longevity of their husband’s life. Just like any other woman, I love dressing up on this day and do make an effort to look my best. I usually wear a Sari on this occasion, but this year I wore a floor length anarkali which is the latest vogue in India. I must say, I have seen my friends wear it and I love the way they look. The splendour and beauty of these cannot be matched.

I do try to keep up with the fashion trends and I think (in my own eyes), I have a reasonable eye for it. After being bored of the Anarkalis which came into fashion a few years ago, I went for some straight cut suits. But on my recent visit to India, my mum-in-law took me out for suit shopping to Lajpat Nagar. She knows how much I love dressing up and my craze for shopping. I can’t admire enough her patience with me as I went from store to store looking for something which we both would look at and go ‘That’s it!’.

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Me: ‘Then’ and ‘Now’

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Jalauddin Rumi
It’s fascinating to sometimes look back in time. To see how we change over time, How our perceptions change, and how we perceive others as well as ourselves changes.

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If I look back, may be the last 10 years of my life.. Why 10 years? Because this is how long I have been here in the United Kingdom. I was not even 25 when I moved into this country (Oops! Did I just give away my age?), so it will help me see things in perspective, especially in terms of my surroundings and the wider setting. As a young girl, I moved with these dreams, hope and aspirations – aspirations not just for myself, but also for my partner and for us as a family.

These long ten years, I have accumulated an incredible amount of treasure in terms of relationships and friendships I have built over time, the beautiful memories that are captured in my heart forever.

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