Saturday, July 26, 2014

Preparing for Eid in Kolkata: Walking around Nakhoda Masjid, Kolkata

Attar Wala Near Nakhoda Masjid
I'll start with this man. He stood there, selling his ware with a simple ditty- "Buy one get two free - ittar ke saath topi aur surma bhi" (With the ittar, get the cap and surma too!). Standing there in front of Nakhoda Masjid, he made his sales a brisk affair, posing for S's camera in between, smiling at us. We spent some time waiting for the crowd to disperse. S has her huge DSLR camera out, with a stunning focus, and she keeps on zooming it into the faces in the crowd, capturing memories and expressions, cursing her faulty memory card sometimes.

Dry Fruits

We are both standing outside Aminia Hotel, famous for its meat dishes in this region. I particularly am a fan of the Special Awadhi Biryani, which I decide to pack home, anticipating more to come. There is a man beside us selling dry fruits and nuts. He makes space for two women taking photos, and even remove some of the curious onlookers easily. Two men stand behind us, talking loudly about how they would like to be shot. We ignore them, till one dude actually stands right in front of S's camera the moment she is taking a shot. She clicks calmly, and as soon as the guy moves away, deletes the photo. Occupational hazard, we surmise easily, and move along.

Man Drinking Rooh Afza

Shooting is a difficult and often frustrating thing to do. S is working hard to get the right shot. We stop by a guy selling cold Rooh Afza. Those who do not know what Rooh Afza is, its a fabulous syrup which smells faintly of roses and many other things, and is often mixed with water or milk.

Rooh Afza

As I start picking up one of the glasses to drink, the man who is selling them tells me to not pick it up, but rather pick the one behind it. "Don't drink that... its not cold... pick the one behind it, that's chilled." Thankfully, I accept and drain the glass and pay him 5 rupees for the drink.

Photographer on Masjid

We aren't the only ones taking photos. There are plenty of other cameras that we spot. One especially, because he was pretty high up, if you know what I mean. We didn't spot another female though. We were the only ones, and we were getting questioned a lot. Did we come from a newspaper? Did we sell these photos to companies? Why are we shooting here? Why are you taking photographs? What is there, anyway?

Date Seller Who Stared At Us

In between disdainful looks, curious stares, and questions, we cover ground. We move over to the section which is mostly about food. I run for the breads - they all have names, and are leavened mostly.

Small Round Breads. Yum.
  I also spot loads of Sheermal. I think I am slightly obsessed with Sheermal. These are priced at 15/-, 20/- and 25/- rupees.

From tiny rounds to large, flat loaves glazed with sugar and topped with glace cherries and sesame seeds, we see bread of all sizes and shapes. Some are sweet, and some are savory. They smell of ghee and sugar, and I decide to pick up a Sheermal or two for dinner.

The Vermicelli Guy

Raw Vermicelli or Sevaiyaan
Dried vermicelli is stacked around men who are making brisk sales. I spot one shop where you can get a certain amount of vermicelli and immediately transfer it into Falooda, and enjoy it with some chilled Koolfi.

Sheer Khurma or Korma

And if you don't really like Falooda, then there's always the Sheer Khurma or Korma. It is basically vermicelli cooked in milk and flavored. It is topped with dry fruits... in this case, it is a bit of coconut.


He was clearly scandalized!
Of course, I cannot help but mention the Chicken Changezi and Moradabadi Laziz Murgi Shops. These shops have whole chicken and whole fish and chopped pieces all marinated and ready to be fried or grilled. You tell them what you need, and they shall cook it for you. Generally, the meat is sold by the kilo, but you can ask for half or a quarter of a kilo. The demand is heavy, and the meat literally flies off the plate it stands on.

Chicken and fish marinated. Look at the whole marinated fish Hanging!
Huge Fish Hanging Outside Shop
And Look How Other People Are Staring At The Fish Too!

At this point, people are sitting and eating, some on wooden benches, some on the streets. Bowls of haleem come out from nearby Islamiya restaurant, and consumed quite quickly. Some people cook meat curry and rice, and people starts eating around me. Fruits are peeled and chopped, pieces of fried goods are placed on communal bowls. We sit there and eat with them.

People Breaking Their Fast
Plates of dessert are waiting for the hungry crowd, to be picked up at the end of a meal. T tries some of the Firni and declares it to be nice, but less sweet than what she is used to. Of course, the bowl is scraped clean.

Firni, Shahi Tukda, Bowls of Vermicelli Waiting to be Added to Hot Kheer.

We drink tea, sit and talk to the men who serve us, and answer the questions thrown at us. S gets requests of photograph, and she shoots some of them, happily.

Chicken Changezi
We score about 300 gm. of the meat for 120/- and they fry it over medium-low heat and serve it up to us while we sit on the small space on top of the eatery. S runs off to get some cold soda, while we sit there inside the tiny place with folding tables and chairs.

Chicken Changezi
The dish come to us piping hot - the chicken pieces are small, battered lightly, and fried till they are well-cooked. They are spicy little bits, and we squeeze freshly cut lime over them, and dip the pieces in an addictive little dip smelling of cilantro and chillies. Perfect for munching, I daresay!

We loiter around. Suddenly the place become super-active, with virtually every shop doing brisk business. From clothes to jewelry to food, no one is left idle. Women fight with shopkeepers, bargaining down prices. Beautiful aluminum plates, embroidered, are sold off by the dozen. Assorted desserts are plated and served.

And amid this ocean of moving people, I saw one girl, sitting there with one hand propped against the side of her face, still and slightly melancholy, watching the world go by.

Catch IOFW Live

I have loved IOFW so far and I am talking about it quite a lot recently. You guys can check them out by visiting  and catching the live streaming of cool videos. IOFW is currently on in association with

25th July

Vignettes/ videos from the Model and Photographer auditions held on 1st July 2014 in New Delhi.

The videos capture the excitement before the start of the auditions, the jury (for Model Auditions - Rashmi Virmani, Carol Gracias, Samant Chauhan and for Photographer auditions – Akash Das, Hemant J. Khendilwal and Sushmendra Dubey), backstage fun and drama, final winners who have been selected. 

In addition, there is a video on the overall concept of India Online Fashion Week and its ‘shoppable’ features.

26th July

Vignettes/ videos from the Makeup artist, Hairstylist and Designer auditions held on 2nd July 2014 in New Delhi.

The videos capture the stylists' thoughts on color for the season, makeup tips for a glamorous look, the jury (Hair Stylist and Makeup artist auditions with Samantha Kochhar and Rod Anker. Designer auditions with Dr. Darlie Koshy and Poonam Bhagat), backstage fun and drama, and final winners who have been selected. 

27th July

Vignettes/ videos from the Grooming, Look test and Fittings session of the India Online Fashion Week covering all the selected winners, that is, the 20 models, 15 designers, 5 makeup artists, 5 hair stylists and 5 fashion photographers.

The videos cover the backstage drama, fitting sessions and showcases what goes on behind the scene during a fashion show, the parameters which are kept in mind as a part of look tests to match designer collections and model looks.

28th July

Launch of 5 exclusive designer collections from the following designers:

1. Aastha Bahl
2. ANS by Astha & Siddharth
3. Dressology by Amit Arora
4. Threesome
5. Sidharth K Kakkar 

29th July

Launch of 5 exclusive designer collections namely:

1. ILK by Vinita & Shikha
2. Piquancy
3. Swagger by Saj
4. Armaan & Aiman
5. Timsy & Siddhartha

30th July

Launch of 5 exclusive designer collections namely:

1. Azalea by Aditi Gupta
2. Bhootsavaar by Nitin Bal Chauhan
3. DIR 69 by Tanu Bagai
4. Shreya Mistry
5. Rajdeep Ranawat

30th July

Live streaming of the Grand Finale on directly from the venue of the final event in the presence of Show stoppers, namely, Yami Gautam and Aditya Roy Kapur.

Sneek Preview of Designers at India Online Fashion Week

 I am presenting to you exclusive pictures from two of the most promising designers of the India Online Fashion Week that has started from 25th July, 2014 and will continue till the 30th. Check out the beautiful designs live at where you can purchase what you see immediately. Also, get live streaming from the website. The grand finale will have Aditya Roy Kapoor and Yami Gautam walking the ramps.

  Rajdeep Ranawat:

Collection: “Beyond the Cold

The Fall Winter 2014 collection by Rajdeep Ranawat inspires from cold forests where myths are born and legends are created. Where civilizations have thrived and then withered away into oblivion. It captures the possibility of the blurred lines between imagination and reality.

By generating diverse digital and embroidered pieces, the collection tells innovative stories and delivers powerful ideas of fortress once beautified by the wild imagination of human talent and creativity and their eventual downfall to the wilderness. Creating garments in classic free flowing silhouettes, Rajdeep Ranawat tries to graphically capture a sense of degenerating mosaics and lost handcrafted artifact; crumbling architectural structures over run by the forest, of treasures lost and parchments dissipated.
Using pure fabrics like silk crepe, silk georgettes, organza and chandheri, the collection reflects its inspiration through its fabric treatment.

The colour story of the garments strives to create the winter mood for the collection. Seeking a dialogue with harmony between the embroidered and the digital, between the professionalism in his design and the familiarity in the treatment given, between the variety of styles and uniqueness of identities; Beyond the Cold is based in the variety and versatility of Rajdeep Ranawat's resources and skills, the spontaneity of ideas and the heterogeneity of our Indian craftsmen, knowing that every garment is unique and singular.”

  ILK by Vinita & Shikha

Collection: “Beehive Yourself

Beehives- the collection gives a nod to naturally occurring geometric designs like hexagonal shapes synonymous with honeycomb patterns. Taking cue from nature, this seasons pieces reflect the beauty found in these six edged clusters.

Bees work relentlessly for the divine queen and show a sense of philanthropy for humans in every drop of honey they churn. This season's ILK woman is honored with the title of ‘busy bee’. With a powerful mind and a sharp head on her shoulders, the silhouettes reflect a utilitarian aesthetic with depth beyond face value in terms of inspiration.  The pieces come together with intricate detailing and push the norm with a mélange of different textures and techniques. 

Ilk subscribes to the notion that we are immersed in these honey producing combs and can intangibly feel the textures, embroideries and shapes. The buzz of the energy within us fascinates us to dip ourselves into this beehive of thought and let our imagination 'bee' free.”

Check out more designer profiles here -

Disclaimer: This post is a part of the India Online Fashion Week in association with

Thursday, July 24, 2014

AVON Ultra Color Matte Lipstick in Matte Lily and Matte Garnet

Avon Ultra Color Matte Lipstick Matte Lily and Matte Garnet

Avon recently sent me two of their lipsticks from the Ultra Color Matte Range. Now I really like some of the regular shades from the Ultra Color range, and had expectations from these lipsticks too! And the best thing was - they delivered!

What Avon Claims: The Ultra Color Matte lipsticks moisturizes lips while depositing vivid, dramatic color. Velvety matte texture envelops lips in full rich color without drying. Gives full coverage with SPF 15.

Price: 375/- for 3.8 gm. (But, you get it for less when they are on offer!)

AVON UC Matte Lipstick

My Take: The packaging is similar to the normal Ultra Color lipstick. Open the top and twist to get the lipstick out. Matte Lily is a cool toned pink bordering towards fuchsia, while Matte Garnet is a lovely shade of dark red. Both the lipsticks glided easily on my lips and went opaque with one application. They are actually not very matte to look at, especially Matte Garnet, which is a creamy shade on my lips (and looks fantastic against my dusky skin tone). However, I hate lipsticks that make my lips dry and these didn't at all! In fact, just the opposite. They kept my lips hydrated through the four hours I wore them. The lipsticks transfer, so do not expect them to last after a meal. However for their price, the quality is superb, and you should check out the rest of the range from AVON. They have ten shades to pick from.

Disclaimer: PR Sample.

AVON Skin Goodness CC Color Corrector Cream

Avon Skin Goodness CC Color Corrector Cream
AVON always comes up with something budget and pocket friendly but of good quality, and they have introduced the Skin Goodness CC Color Corrector Cream. With SPF 50 and sun protection factor, the cream is supposed to "correct" your skin.

What It Is Supposed To Do:  Instantly correct uneven skin tone and notice more radiant skin over time. Light breathable formula combines a high-performance skin care serum with color correcting pigments. Formulated with licorice and vitamin C, this begins to fade dark spots and hyper pigmentation after just two weeks of use. Protects with SPF 50. Provides medium coverage.

Price: 399/- for 18 gm.

My Take: The packaging is done simply - reminded me of some BB Creams I already have of other brands. I got the color Nude which is light for my skin tone, so I have to use it carefully. The texture is runny, but not very easy to blend, but, I generally moisturize my face before application, which makes spreading this cream easier.

The color nude will suit someone with fair skin tone, but it does give light coverage and covers minor skin flaws. It also reduces redness, and is supposed to have SPF 50 which is a good thing. I have been using this for a month and half and I do not see much fading of dark spots or hyper pigmentation as it claims. But its a nice BB cream... oops sorry CC Cream which works on light skin tone.

Although the cream really isn't my cup of tea, it will probably suit someone with a fairer skin tone and would blend better on lighter skin tone, correcting redness and dark circles easily. Once set with compact, it lasts for a good period of time (About 6 hours) and that is always a good thing. The finish is mostly dewy, unless you add a lot of compact to mattify it, but that is what this season is all about - fresh, glowing skin.You can purchase one from your friendly neighborhood AVON representative today. There are offers going on all the time, and you can get this at a reduced price through that.

Avon CC Cream India Price 399/- for 18 gm.  
Disclaimer: PR Sample.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Body Shop Presents Sorbet Refreshment from Top to Toe

The Body Shop keeps you cool from top to toe in the summer heat. NEW Body Sorbets deliver a frosty burst of moisture freshness to skin, keeping you hydrated without the sticky feeling. Available in four fruity flavours – Strawberry, Mango, Peach and Satsuma and one floral fragrance - Moringa, the Body Sorbets offer the ultimate summer sensorial experience.

Body Sorbets contain 100% organic Community Fair Trade Aloe Vera from Guatemala, to comfort, cool and soothe skin frazzled by the summer heat.
Store in fridge to get the ultimate refreshment for the face and body

The Body Sorbets are priced at INR 795/- and are available in flavors like Strawberry, Moringa and Satsuma. You can check out my friend D's review of the Moringa sorbet here.


At The Body Shop, we believe true beauty comes from the heart. For us, beauty is much more than a pretty face. It’s about feeling good and doing good, too.  
We make our products with love and care. We source some of the finest raw ingredients from the four corners of the globe. We harness the skills of artisan farmers and add our expertise to create effective products that are wonderful to use.  
We trade fairly so communities benefit as well as you. We never test on animals, and all our products are 100% vegetarian. We campaign with passion on issues close to our heart, because activism is in our blood.  
We always keep people, animals and the planet in mind. So when you shop with us, you are choosing ‘BEAUTY WITH HEART’.‎