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Thursday, 12 July 2018

Being a tourist in your own city

7/12/2018 0 Comments

It's pouring cats and dogs here in Sydney and right now I am literally standing at the bus stop with an umbrella waiting to go to Pitt Street for some last minute shopping. Oh well, by the time you read this I'll probably already be in India. Yeah, I am off to my motherland tomorrow morning. Thanks to the massive delay in visa processing, I have had to go back, but I am not complaining. I chose to go home instead of waiting here because 1) HOME FOOD and 2) MORE HOME FOOD!!! Anyway, without further ado let me dive right into today's post.

I have a question for you all. How often do you actually end up visiting museums and parks in your own city? Hardly once or probably never! I know Bangaloreans who have spent their whole lives in the city, but have never been to Lalbagh. My friends in Dubai first visited Burj Khalifa three years after they moved there only because I dragged them there. We usually tend to think that we are living here anyway, so we can visit all the touristy places some day. We also think of it as a waste of time and money. But when family shows up, you have this pressure of making them fall in love with your city and that's when them walking shoes come out and you become a tourist in your own city!

It has been three months down under and I had kept all of the touristy things pending since my brother and sister-in-law were planning a trip to Sydney. Apparently all they had heard about the city from my very own cynical mother is that all there is to see is a mountain and a beach. Had to prove her wrong and send these kids back with some amazing memories, right? So I put together an itinerary for their time here and blog post toh banta hai boss! :D

Opera House during Vivid 2018
Day 1
Walk across Darling Harbour and Circular Quay
They landed at around 8 ish in the evening and we didn't wanna waste any time. We took off to Darling Harbour, a very popular spot where everybody hangs out, to check out the lights at Vivid. Vivid is a light and art festival that takes place in Sydney every year where the whole city is lit up. Unfortunately by the time we got there, the lights were off. We walked around nevertheless, landed at Circular Quay and showed them the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and returned to the same area the following night to enjoy the lights.

Vivid 2018
Royal Botanic Garden during Vivid 2018
Harbour Bridge during Vivid 2018

Day 2
Some family fun around the Olympic Park
Since it was a Sunday, we took these two to meet my cousin and his family. We goofed around at home for a bit and then went to the Olympic Park. The Sydney Olympic Park is basically a stadium where Australia Football League (AFL) has its football matches being played there. We almost made it to an AFL game. We also walked around the Brickpit Ringwalk, a massive walkway that is beautifully constructed and got mesmerized by the view.

My beautiful Sydney fam

A glimpse of the Brickpit Ringwalk

Day 3
The long walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach and sunset at Watson's Bay
The weather was shockingly sunny and I had planned a whole beach day. We went to Coogee Beach and walked all the way to Bondi Beach. The walkway is quite scenic and the walk is one of the must-do things if you're in Sydney. We passed by a bunch of beaches like Bronte Beach and Tamaran Beach as well. It took us around 1.5 hours and we ended up at Icebergs Cafe by the end of it which is located in Bondi Beach. We later went to Watson's Bay and enjoyed the sky changing colors during sunset.

Walk from Coogee to Bondi 
Sunset at Watson's Bay
Dinner at Lal Qila
After walking around the whole day, it was time to treat ourselves. It was my friend's birthday and he bought us dinner at a Pakistani restaurant. I would do anything for some Biryani and Paneer and we got there on time to belt some delicious food.

Day 4
A visit to the Sydney Museum
Museums are a must if you want to know about the history and culture of the city. For about 12 AUD, we got a guided tour at the Sydney Museum and we learnt so much about how Macquarie built the city and why Sydney is what it is today.

Museum of Sydney

Chill scenes at Hyde Park
Hyde Park is a massive park in the middle of the city that one cannot miss. We wandered around Pitt Street and reached Hyde Park to rest for a while after all that walking.

Hyde Park
Shopping at Chatswood
Chatswood is my fave shopping destination. There is a Westfield mall that has outlets like Myer, H&M, Target, Cotton On and much more. There's also a Chatswood Chase Mall that has my all time fave Kmart! You can also find a lot of food joints and souvenir stores near the malls.

Drinks at Oaks
Oaks is a really popular bar and restaurant at Neutral Bay. The ambience is spectacular as the entire area has oak trees decorated with lights and the beer is yummy!

The Oaks at Neutral Bay
Day 5
4 Attractions of Sydney
So we booked a 4 Attractions pass online that was around 70 AUD and they included Sydney Wildlife, Sydney Sealife, Madame Tussauds and Sydney Tower Eye. From adorable koalas and kangaroos to cute lil penguins to chilling with wax statues of Brangelina to taking a peak at the city from the top, we had a fabulous time. It was totally worth our time and money!

L to R - Sydney Wildlife, Sydney Sealife, Madame Tussuads, Sydney Tower Eye
Dinner at Masala Bowl
We wanted to catch some Indian food. Channa Batura was on our minds and this place seemed decent enough, but not a great choice.

Day 6 - 8
A trip to Melbourne
I am sure you don't want a recap of my Melbourne trip, but here's a brief summary of what we did. We went for a walking tour exploring the city, ate at fabulous places and had a great time. On the second day, we did the MCG tour, did a 360 degree view of the city on the Melbourne Star and did some gambling at the Crown Casino. On our last day in Melbourne, we visited the St. Kilda Pier and Beach, had some great vegan food and returned to Sydney. For more, check out my blog post here!

Melbourne Diaries
Day 8
Dinner at Dakshin
My brother and sister-in-law were meant to leave in two days and my cousins hardly got any time with them. So we decided to catch up over dinner. We had a fun dinner sesh with the cousin and his wife at Dakshin. Daskhin, as the name suggests, is a South Indian restaurant and we were surprised to see a dish called 'Udupi Tarakarigalu' on the menu. I was really excited to eat some amazing Masala Dosa too.

Fam jammin' hard at Dakshin
Day 9
Blue Mountains Tour
I had heard so much about Blue Mountains and I couldn't not go there. Blue Mountains is basically like the Nilgiris of Australia where there are gorgeous mountains full of eucalyptus trees. We booked a tour bus called FJ tours who took us all the way for about 105 AUD. Blue Mountains is about 2-3 hours by road from Sydney.

Our first stop was the Featherdale Wildlife Park. You already know that I love animals. It was a great experience to get a picture taken with a koala and feed kangaroos. We spent a good 2 hours there and played with animals like never before.

A picture with a koala at Featherdale Wildlife Park
We then went to Echo Point where we got a clear view of the Three Sisters. When we got a complete 360 degree view of the mountains full of eucalyptus trees and high altitudes, it was absolute bliss.

Pointing at the Three Sisters
Our final stop was the Scenic World where we trekked for about an hour or so, enjoyed some fantastic views and returned home. You can also choose to pay an extra 20 AUD and use their different modes of transport inside the Scenic World. We were keen on walking and hence we decided to climb up and down the stairs.

The glorious Blue Mountains
Dinner with the family
We went back to our cousin's place to say goodbye since my brother and sister-in-law were leaving the following morning. Having family in your home away from home really helps!

Sydney fam be the best
I had an awesome nine days with my lovelies in Sydney. I hope you get inspired and plan a trip too. It's always a great learning experience to travel and you'll see things you've never seen before. It also broadens your mind and gives you a different perspective on things.

And if you want a third person's perspective about Australia, here's what my brother had to say, "We had a great time in Australia. Australia's population is just 28 million but it is  a huge country. I guess Karnataka has a higher population. I liked the attitude of Australians. They follow the 8-8-8 rule: 8 hours of work, 8 hours for recreation and 8 hours of sleep. The public transport system is fantastic. Roads are pedestrian friendly. Most transactions are cashless and digital. The country has progressed very well. A remarkable achievement considering that things started to happen there only in the mid 18th century. It's hard to believe that a bunch of convicts could build such a good  country."

What are you waiting for?

Hand On The Hip

Sunday, 24 June 2018

How to speak Blogger Lingo fluently

6/24/2018 0 Comments

Today's post is going to be yet another blogger trivia sort of a post just like the ones I did earlier (How to start a blog - The ugly truth! and The splattered life of a fashion blogger) which everyone seemed to enjoy and hence, here I am with another fun post talking about what one needs to know to become a fashion blogger or even talk to one. Now there are so many words from the English dictionary that I never imagined I'd use for the purpose I am today. Fret not, these are really common, easy-to-pronounce words that you'd have learnt in third grade but never really got the opportunity to use. So let's get started?

blog - I think everybody on the worldwide web knows what a blog is. If you don't, then you should rethink your life and everything. Just kidding! A blog is a just a website or a web page owned by a person or a group of individuals who express themselves in the form of words, pictures, videos and more. I am sure none of you know this, but the word "blog" has been derived from "web log" or "weblog" which basically means logging everything on the web.

blogger - A blogger is someone who owns a blog on a blogger platform like Blogger, Wordpress, Winkl etc. Having an instagram page only with a bazillion duckface selfies and calling yourself a "blogger" is technically incorrect.

influencer - A blogger, by default, is an influencer. But an influencer may or may not be a blogger. Influencers are usually folks with a decent number of followers on social media to whom they promote products in the form of pictures or videos.

fashion blog - As the name suggests, it's a website related to fashion. A fashionista documents every little detail of her outfit on her blog so that people all over the world can have access to her style. There are many other categories of blogs, like food, lifestyle, sports, fitness, travel etc.

collaboration - A collaboration is a process where two or more parties decide to work together in order to help each other grow their businesses. In the blogosphere, collaborations can be of different types and it can happen between different types of people like bloggers, brand owners, PR agencies, photographers, models etc. Some of the various types of collabs are -

  • paid - This is literally the best case scenario for bloggers. Brand owners/PR agencies contact bloggers to promote a product and they literally pay the bloggers for it.
  • barter - A barter collaboration is a scenario where a brand sends the blogger products to be reviewed in exchange for a review and social media promotion. The products are for the blogger to keep and use and not return to the brand.
  • free - Well, we all know how shameless some brands are. This is the lowest level of collab, but when most of us start as bloggers we end up promoting brands for free. 

instagram - Instagram is a brilliant app that was invented in 2010 to share videos and photos with friends and family and make them look funky by using editing tools. In no time this multimillion dollar company decided to let people actually use this platform for business. 

followers - This is probably the word that bloggers hate most. Almost every brand on the block looks at Instagram followers before they invest in a blogger. Well, I really hope they realize sooner or later that followers can be bought and are not even real.

engagement - Every time one of you interacts with me on the comments section here or on my Insta page or even like my post, it really helps me more than you know! Not only are the comments satisfying to read but also help increase engagement on my posts which eventually translates to visibility. So, please do comment, like, share and subscribe :D

tags - Well, I'm sure you guys know what tagging means. You basically type an "@" before you tag a person or a company page on your posts on social media. It's very important for you, as a blogger, to tag the brands you work with as well as the photographers as tagging helps them get visibility and in return you get more visitors.

hashtags - Hashtags are widely being used all over the internet by people who literally don't know what it's actually used for or how it should be used. Someone I follow on Instagram tends to always put a "#eeee" at the end of every post. It's just ridiculous how human beings tend to follow what everyone else is doing without knowing the fundamentals. Hashtags were invented to group similar posts together. For instance, if I like coffee then I will hashtag #coffeelover on my post and if you click on the hashtag, you will find all posts with that hashtag. Some of the so-called influential hashtags are #followforfollow and #likeforlike.

media kit - A lot of brands usually tend to ask for your media kit. A media kit basically contains all your stats like the number of people who visit your blog, everything that Google Analytics tells you, number of followers on social media, fancy SEO jargon like DA, PA, Alexa Rank etc. I still haven't ever tried to figure out mine because it's a lot of work :p

Some crazy social media influenced abbreviations -
OOTD - Outfit of the day
OOTN - Outfit of the night
WIWT - What I wore today
BTS - Behind the scenes
POTD - Post of the day

It's a strange, strange world. The next time anyone asks you about your life as a blogger, point them to this blog post :D That's all for today, guys. I can't think of any other important blogger words. Do comment below and tell me if I've missed out on any word or phrase that every blogger needs to know.

Styling notes: Here I'm sporting a fringe dress from FlyRobe, Oxfords from Street Style Store, this cute owl neckpiece a friend picked up from Goa and a bling purse from Koovs. This ensemble is perfect for a casual brunch affair. Switch the Oxfords for some flirty heels and you can wear the same outfit later at night for a party!


Hand On The Hip

How I designed my sangeet lehenga

6/24/2018 0 Comments

What's happenin', folks? It's nearly July already! That reminds me - it has been over six months since I got married and you know all about my love story, bits and pieces about my wedding look and post-marriage advances as well. And today's post is something that's very special to my heart. As a kid, I have always wanted to become a fashion designer, but somehow things didn't work in my favor because I chose to join the rat race and become a software engineer instead - more on that story in a later post, maybe? Anyway, a part of that unfulfilled dream came true when I designed my sangeet lehenga from scratch. You could say that this was my first major successful project. While it was a whole lot of fun, it was also quite a task. When all the wedding shopping started, I was looking for newbie designers I could buy a ready-made or a custom-made piece from, but none of the designs in my budget seemed appealing enough. Moreover, it seemed impractical to be spending truckloads of money on a shimmery lehenga that would just rot in my wardrobe for the rest of my life. That's when I decided to reverse engineer the whole process!

I can't even explain to you how exciting the whole project was considering this is my true passion. Just writing about it makes me so happy, you can only image the joy I experienced when it actually happened! Every tiny piece of this outfit has been handpicked and put together to create this look. Thankfully, it wasn't a disaster and I am actually surprised with the result! For those of you who loved and appreciated the whole look - thank you so much! And for those of you who want to design their own lehenga and save lakhs and thousands of rupees - I am obviously going to share every little detail of my little design project.

Find a store that sells unstitched material
A friend of mine recommended Mysore Saree Udyog, Bangalore to pick up some material. My parents and I spent nearly 2-3 hours, mixed and matched everything possible and finally ended up with material for the skirt, blouse and dupatta. I also picked up another blouse material from a store called Noor's in City Centre, Mangalore.

Decide the colors you want to go with
I was totally obsessed with mint green and baby pink. I started looking for pieces that were of the color of my choice. Although baby pink didn't seem all that impressive in that store, I picked up light orange mesh with sequins and a light orange with silver design brocade material for the skirt, a dull-ish mint green and gold design brocade material for the blouse and a bright mint green mesh dupatta with bright pink borders. Since it's your wedding, you should pick bright colors that make you stand out.

Pick out fabric that you like and suits you
Mesh has become quite popular of late. Brocade is another fabric that's elegant and stylish for a blouse. So if you can see, my blouse is brocade and my skirt and dupatta are mesh. If you are looking for a more royal look, then velvet is an option you should explore. 

Design a pattern on a piece of paper
You don't need a degree to become a fashion designer! I wanted elbow length sleeves with boat neck so that all elders are happy and they're so in trend right now along with a fully embroidered back, so I decided to sketch that out for my tailor. I am not a big fan of can-can, so I went with a flowy umbrella skirt and wanted to have an elastic band. 

Pick a good tailor
This is the most important aspect of designing your own clothes. You already know how the tailor I first went to mercilessly ruined my blouse. You can check it out here. They also used a string instead of an elastic band for my skirt without consulting me. My heart was shattered when I saw what had been done and I had to immediately purchase a backup blouse and find another tailor. However my last minute blouse turned out to be a big hit, so I'm not complaining. This time I decided to pick out a really bright pink for the blouse and kept it simple with some mirror work.

Comfort is more important than you know
Sangeet function requires the bride to constantly be on her toes. I had to make sure that I don't pop a button or slip and fall on stage. I chose patterns that are uber comfy and I could gallop in my lehenga if I wanted to! Also, ensure that you're in the most comfortable heels you could possibly find.

Have a budget in mind and work around it
I went a little over budget because of the tailor fiasco, but otherwise this is the most affordable option for those of you who don't wanna spend too much on wedding outfits and have some time to spare. 

Get all the embellishments ready
The dupatta and the string on the skirt needs those hangy ball thingies. It's better to pick them out yourselves instead of letting the tailor make that choice for you. You can also buy embroidered patches if you don't trust your tailor with the embroidery. The belt thingy around my waist is also something I picked up at a random store because Tailor No. 1 decided to go against my design and stitch a horrendous looking waist belt with strings. To hide the hideousness of the skirt, I got this sequined belt that goes well with the skirt's border at the bottom. 

Look at magazines or the internet for inspiration
I had no idea how my lehenga would end up looking. I looked around quite a bit before I chose the colors I did. Don't copy someone else's design, but try to come up with something spectacular by looking at what the professionals are doing.

Accessorize like a pro
Once you're entire lehenga is ready, get matching accessories or whatever is in trend. That makes a massive difference and always remember to keep it clean, elegant and simple. Less is more is a concept that one needs to never forget!

Makeup and hair is super important
Of course, your makeup game should be on top of everything. I have already written a complete post on how I did my own makeup. You can find it here. Pick colors that go with the lehenga and if you're lehenga is too grand, keep the makeup light and use pinkish hues.

Overall, it was exhausting because the tailor did a horrendous job in the beginning. I must have spent (rather my mom must have spent) around 20-25K for the whole look. Had the first blouse turned out okay, I'd have saved at least 8-10K. But the second blouse seemed to do a better job than the first, what do you think?

I've had so much fun doing this that I am completely open to designing lehengas for anyone who wants some help with the same. After all, you don't get to be Sabyasachi everyday now, do you?

Hand On The Hip