#LoneGirlTravels: Keep It Simple, Silly

As I sit here in possibly one of the nicest cafes that I’ve ever been to, on my last day in Amsterdam, I can’t help but think about the summer that’s gone by. Little things that made it special; and some other things that made me tougher.

At the beginning of this year, I announced to my friends that this was going to be my year. I could feel it. I was determined to make something of myself, spend more time with those I loved, let go of certain inhibitions I had held on to for so long, stop whining and just make the most of everything life throws at me. I didn’t realise then what life really was going to throw at me. I thought I was invincible. That no one and nothing could ever hurt me.

So when I fell flat on my face, because of some mistakes made by me and some by others close to me, I thought it was the end of the world. I thought I’d forgotten how to be happy. I knew I’d learn again, but I also knew it was going to take a long time. I walked around with a smile plastered on my face so as not to worry those who cared about me, and also because showing emotions (particularly sad emotions) does not come easily to me; but in truth, I could almost hear the million different broken pieces of my heart, mind and soul clinking inside me.

I know, it sounds dramatic, but I am a bit of a drama queen as you’ll also learn if you continue to read my posts. However, I digress, as always.

Again, I didn’t know what life was going to throw at me when I felt all of these sad things. Life is funny, no? I have to say, that in the last couple of months since my mini breakdown, I’ve only been grateful for everything that has come my way. The good, the bad and the ugly; and there’s been plenty of them all. I’m learning, though, to only concentrate on the good. There’s so much of it.

I’m going to share a little bit of what each city taught me in my next post. I actually intended to do that in this post, but as a result of letting my thoughts run too far, I’ve ended up writing a much larger “introduction” than I intended.

I am going to share with you what I’ve learnt in the city that I currently am in, though – Amsterdam.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve heard one too many people tell me how great this city is. It’s what people had told me about Barcelona. No offence to those who love Barcelona, but I found it rather overrated. I thought Amsterdam would be a similar experience. Too many tourists, just walking over each other to get to all the popular spots in the city. I was so, so wrong.

Too many tourists? Yes. Bad experience? Absolutely not. The complete opposite, in fact.

Within minutes of arriving in this city and lugging my 25 kgs of nothing across the airport floor to the taxi, and then from the taxi to my rather fancy hostel, I was in love. It’s not something that happens too often, right? Love at first sight? So I knew when I felt it that this experience was going to be special. And it was. Still currently is.

There’s something so exciting yet so calming about this city. It’s been a while since just sitting and watching people go by, or sitting on a pavement and singing made me feel so good. No, no, it wasn’t marijuana. I promise. It was a combination of things.

First and foremost it was perhaps the fact that it was the last stop on my adventure with my closest friend and soulmate. If there’s one thing that’s helped me get through a rough phase in my life, it’s been having some of the best people by my side. So honestly, I think that I realised more than anything else in the world, that you cannot do life without people that you love and in return love you.

Everyday to get across to where all the action is at in Amsterdam, we would have to take a ferry across the river. My friend, Vera, and I would run amongst all the other people to catch the ferry that was leaving for the other side. The funny part was that there was a ferry every 3 minutes and it was exactly a 2-minute ride to the other side. Yet, day after day, no matter how far we were and how tired, if we spotted a ferry leaving for the other side when we wanted to get back, we’d run to catch it. We didn’t have the patience to wait for the next one. It just showed me such a basic characteristic of most human beings – the need and want for everything to happen, now, now, now. I decided today to wait for the next ferry instead of running for the one that was almost leaving. Nothing great happened, but I did get to listen to my favourite song one more time before reaching my final destination. That made my day. So this exiguous experience didn’t teach me much, but it definitely reiterated something I already know – good things come to those who wait.

It’s my last day on a trip that’s been my longest away from home, so far. I’ve been nervous about it ending because I don’t know what lies ahead. I’m also excited because there’s so much I’m looking forward to. I’m just so glad I ended it in a city like Amsterdam, which I can say in all honesty is now my favourite city in the world.

I’ve been sitting at a cafe which I stated at the beginning of this post is one of the nicest I’ve ever been to. I look up from my computer screen only to realise now that that’s not true. I’ve been to cuter, quainter, prettier cafes all over the world. What’s special about this one has nothing to do with the place, it has everything to do with the frame of mind I’m in. I realised over this summer, but especially here in my last stop, that life is only what you make it. People are not always going to get you, they’re not going to get what you’re going through. They will not understand your actions and many of the things you decide to do. And that’s okay. When you decide to be happy, surround yourself with people that are good for you and realise your own worth, there is nothing that can hold you back. I’m happy because I can be. Because I can choose it over every other emotion I might feel.

So, in the very wise words of someone whose name I cannot find on the internet – Keep it simple, silly! Life is beautiful. 🙂

 

#LoneGirlTravels: Travel Is My Therapy

I associate summer with travelling. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that every summer as a child, my parents would take my brother and I for a nice long holiday – and always to a different place. While other kids my age wanted to do the stuff that any child would like to do – going to amusement parks, eating ice cream, buying cute things, and such – I only longed to explore the place I was in. I remember wanting to get out of the mall on my first visit to England, and going back to stare at the Big Ben. Mostly because I had read about it. Malls were a rarity in India in those days and I was fascinated – but somehow the rarer things the city entailed, what made the city the actual place that it was, fascinated me much more.

This fascination towards different cities of the world continued and only grew further as I grew up. So much so that as a child I was determined that I would be a travel journalist when I was older. I don’t think I even knew the meaning of it back then – but it had the word travel, so I was sure I’d love it. It is now what one could propitiously call wanderlust. It is a passion, a greed almost. I long to see different places; and in my head I’m constantly planning the next place I’d like to tick off the extensively long list of places I want to see.

“What’s this obsession with travelling?” my mom often asks me. I never have a definite answer to give her. What I can say, though, is that each place I visit allows me to discover a little bit more about myself. I don’t just discover cute cafes or shops and explore different streets, I also discover a part of myself I didn’t know existed. Every place I visit leaves a little bit of itself with me. Through the people that I meet, through the food that I eat, through every book I read sitting at the airport waiting for my next flight, through every movie I watch on the plane – I grow and I learn.

Travel is my therapy. I wouldn’t say it’s an escape, because not that I’m a psych major, but if there’s anything I’ve learnt in my not so long life yet, it’s that there is no escaping your emotions. You’ve just got to deal with whatever it is you’re dealing with. Travelling, however, helps me wash away my stresses and pains more than any meds ever can. This I know.

The reason I’m giving everyone an insight into how travel makes me feel is because I intend on sharing my travel experiences with everyone this summer. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do every year since I was 14 – so albeit 11 years too late, I’m finally going to do it.

I intend on posting my experiences in different cities over the next month, here and on Instagram (simarrana is my handle if you’re interested), under the hashtag #LoneGirlTravels (to make search easier – and because, why not).

So here we go. I hope you enjoy my journey just as much as I hopefully will! 🙂

An Ode To Nature In Flowing Pastels

Buying a ready made Indian outfit without spending a bomb can be hard. Mahima Mahajan’s Spring/Summer collection might just change your mind!

When it comes to picking Indian clothes, I tend to be fastidious. Somehow, with ready made garments, I’m never really able to find something that matches the picture in my head perfectly. Either the colour isn’t exactly what I want, or the silhouette doesn’t quite fit the bill; more often than not, the work or embroidery on the garment is either too much or just not enough. It’s hard to find the perfect ready made Indian outfit without spending a bomb if you’re really that picky. This is one of the reasons that I so often like to get my Indian garments tailored exactly to my wants and needs; and of course based on the occasion.

I think the reason it’s so hard for me to find the perfect garment in the perfect colour is because I prefer lighter or pastel shades to darker ones. I tend to go for pretty pinks and soft blues rather than dark reds or maroon. These pastel shades are much harder to find in the exact shade you’re looking for. When it comes to the work on the garment, of course, nothing ever seems suitable enough! Too much work is a major no-no for me, lest I be left looking like the bride while simply being a guest at a wedding. Too little or no work on the other hand can leave you looking bland or as though something is amiss.

I got lucky though, and one fine day discovered Mahima Mahajan’s Spring/Summer collection!

For me, it worked just right. The colours and the work both matched what I was looking to wear to weddings this summer. The intricate jaal work with delicately hand-made birds in gold, make the first three outfits stand out for me. It’s fresh, it’s fun and incorporates nature in the most beautiful way. I’ve seen many people go wrong when trying to include aspects of nature into embroidery – even something as simple as flowers – but Mahima Mahajan gets it just right in my eyes.

The fourth outfit, I have to admit, is my favourite. The blouse stands out for me with it’s delicate sequence work. It’s not hard to look over the top while wearing something with that much sequence, but this particular blouse manages to look nothing but majestic. The sheer nude net on the blouse has been structured to look as though it doesn’t exist, creating an illusion that the sequence has somehow managed to fall perfectly on your body. The skirt has been tailored with as much perfection, making net, which isn’t exactly my favourite fabric, seem like a good idea too!

Scroll down to have a look at all the outfits I got to try out!

To shop the looks contact Mahima Mahajan. You can also shop for her collection here.

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Thank you for reading! See you soon. 🙂

“You’re So Pretty” And 5 Other Things To Stop Taking SO Seriously

By the time you reach your 10th year on this planet, there is one thing you know for sure; the world is fascinated by things that look pretty. A couple more years and you begin to realise that the objectification of women as “pretty things” isn’t that rare. A few more years down the line and you’re accustomed to the vastly broad line dividing and deciding gender roles. Roles that tend to place women and men in two extreme ends of the same world. Now as a woman, some of these pre decided roles enrage me. I don’t just say this because women are still, in the 21st century, fighting for nothing more than equal rights. I also say this because the pressure these roles bring for men are pretty unfair. Whoever decided that the sole burden of running a house should fall upon a man? However, I digress.

The point I intend to come on and make by having this little debate with myself is that as women, there are certain things we just need to close our ears to and stop taking seriously. Gender division and inequality are not always blatant. Sometimes, they come wrapped in a beautifully shiny box. A box you need to break. 

So here are a few things I think us women need to stop taking so damn seriously!

1. “You’re so pretty”

I have to start with this one. Now I know that it’s a compliment; and us women are taught to take those graciously. You want to know the truth though? There’s more to you. I know women who take this as the ultimate compliment, and I’m not here to judge, but that makes me sad. When was the last time you heard “he’s so handsome” be the ultimate compliment for a man? You look for a man to be intelligent, to be successful, to be ambitious – but when it comes to yourself, why do you stop at the word pretty, good looking, hot? I’m sure it makes you happy; it made me feel good too. But then the realisation that that’s the only thing that mattered to anyone dawned on me. “She’s pretty” isn’t the only thing that should come to one’s mind when they think of you, should it?

So if you want to be something, be talented, be smart, be funny, be passionate, be kind, be ambitious. There are millions of things you can be other than pretty.

2. “There’s a right age to get married”

Some give the whole “biological clock is ticking” saga. Some say the older you get, the lesser the chance of you finding a suitable boy. Others just think older brides don’t make pretty brides. Then there are those who give no explanation at all, except that they think a girl just must be “settled” by a certain age; this certain age usually doesn’t go beyond your mid twenties. I’d like to issue a big fat apology to all of the above – because I vehemently disagree.

Sure, there’s a right time to get married; that time would be when you find the right person. It has nothing to do with age. I know people who fell in love and got married at 23 and I know people who got married at 40 because that’s when they found the right person. Getting married can’t just be a box you need to tick off in order to live the life everyone thinks you ought to live.

3. “Wow, you’ve lost so much weight”

If you’re someone who has genuinely had weight issues (and by that I mean if you’ve been unhealthily overweight) and you just lost it all in a healthy fashion, well done! If you’re on a crazy diet which makes you faint because you want to be “skinny”, think again. “You’ve lost weight” seems to be the only thing everyone is vying to hear. I see girls who are beautiful and in great shape trying all sorts of fad diets and driving themselves nuts only because they want to look like some model they saw on Instagram; or because their best friend just lost a tonne of weight. It’s great to want to be fit and healthy, but don’t make “body goals” your only goal.

4. “All guys are dicks”

Stop taking social media and every meme you read on the internet about “fuckboys” so seriously. If this isn’t gender stereotyping, I don’t know what is. It’s not a gender stereotype attacking women, but it is a generalisation based on gender nonetheless. Gender issues aren’t something you can do away with by attacking the opposite sex. Whatever happened to “Be the change you want to see”?

5. “You’re so much better than her”

Whether it’s your boyfriend’s ex, a co-worker, or even your frenemy (everyone has one of those) – the comparison just isn’t worth it. At the risk of sounding overtly preachy, everyone is where they need to be in life. Everyone has a different journey and a different path. You’re going to get your fair share if you work hard and concentrate on yourself. Comparison only causes insecurities. Perhaps it’s time we stopped worrying so much about who we can be better than and started focusing on what we can be better at.

6. “He/she is not good enough for you”

Because he’s not rich enough, or tall enough, or smart enough. Because he doesn’t live in a palatial house and could always drive a better car. Because your family backgrounds are so different. Because, hello, you’re better looking.

Screw that. This is when you shut your ears and walk away.

Stop listening to people who aren’t you when it comes to picking the person you might end up spending the rest of your life with. They will never know the person like you do. It’s easy to judge a person for what you see on the outside; but what’s on the outside is ever changing. It’s what’s on the inside that’s going to last forever. So fall for someone you can be yourself with. Someone who betters you and encourages you to chase your dreams. Someone with a good heart. That house, car and those ultimate good looks aren’t going to give you half the happiness.

5 Ways We Should Do Relationships Differently In 2017

For those of you who are die hard romantics, I must warn you before you proceed – this piece is probably not meant for you. Or it might be. I like to leave ends loose. But I’ve been told by some who had a glimpse at this just before I posted it that it makes me sound cynical. I’m not entirely sure I agree. I think it makes me sounds realistic. At least more realistic about relationships than I’ve ever been in my entire adult life so far; which has not been that long if I might add.

Anyway, coming back to the point. I like to think of myself as a bit of a maestro when it comes to giving relationship advice. “Giving” and “advice” being key words here. Because hey, it’s easier said than done, right? But if I could give myself some advice on how to do relationships differently in the time to come, here’s what I’d tell myself, and of course, everybody else who’s reading too.

1. Do more, expect less…

I know, we’ve all heard this before. But how many of us actually implement or even remember it when the time actually comes? I know it’s not easy to expect nothing out of someone you love; whether it’s time, whether it’s patience, whether it’s a listening ear, whether it’s just unconditional support; we do expect at least a little bit from our partners. And that is natural. In fact, if you ask me, to expect nothing is a bit abnormal. But if we all just begin to expect and want, who’s going to give? Who is ever going to be happy? Give, and in return, you shall get; but don’t give with the expectation of getting. It only sounds complicated, but it makes life much simpler when you begin to concentrate simply on what you can give, rather than what you can get.

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2. Do what comes to you naturally

Quit playing games. Be angry when you want to be, be gentle when you feel like. Forgive them even if they upset you if that’s what your heart wants. Stop trying to imitate their actions. Stop trying to be rude when they’re rude, nice when they’re nice, cold when they’re cold, loving when they’re loving. Do what YOU feel like doing. Follow your instinct. You’re not a clone. A relationship is not a bad Hindi soap opera with revenge as it’s plot line. Do what comes to you naturally and it will become very difficult for you to be unhappy.

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3. Don’t be afraid to commit…

Or over commit. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt (in my short adult life), it’s that the person you’re in a relationship with would rather hear you say, outright, that you want to be with them for the rest of your life, than a vague “who knows what lies ahead”. Unless of course, you absolutely don’t see a future with them. In which case, quit wasting their time and be honest. It’s not rocket science, but unfortunately most people just don’t get this and go the “I haven’t thought about it” or “let’s think about it when the time comes” way. If you haven’t thought about it, think about it. And if you can’t get yourself to think about it, you’re in the wrong relationship.

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4. Stop thinking they’ll change.

A very wise person once told me, “People don’t change, they only become more of who they are.” Touché. Whoever you’re with, whatever they’re like, they’re not going to change. What hurts you now will hurt you 10 years down the line. The qualities that upset you about them, will probably upset you more as time passes. A flirt will be a flirt. A person with anger issues never really quits being angry. I hope that my experiences as I grow older prove me wrong, but if there’s anything I’ve learnt so far, it’s this.

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5. Let go

I don’t like giving up, and I don’t particularly enjoy asking people to do the same. But, there are times when it is perhaps the best option. When something doesn’t give you happiness, takes away your sleep and peace, shatters your confidence and belief in yourself – let go. When you’re in a relationship you question more than you cherish, let go. When you don’t feel respected enough, let go. There are things and situations in life you can compromise on/in, these are not those things. They may not be wrong, you might not be right, but when something or someone is not right for you, recognise it and let go.

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Lace Is Here To Stay – And Here’s Why!

Lace is elegant and feminine, yet can be styled to look super edgy and bold. This is why lace is here is stay…

So I’ll be honest – growing up, I thought lace was tacky and definitely not something I would ever wear. I think it had something to do with a certain Hindi film I had seen as a child, in which the lead actress was wearing lace dresses through the film. Now I know that most of us aspired to look like those actresses, but no, not me. Even as a child, I didn’t want to be caught dead in the outfits our early 90’s heroines wore! And so began my aversion to lace.

Then one fine day, I grew up and realised that I could in fact wear lace and style it very, very, very differently from what I had seen. This shift I think came about when my obsession with Vogue (magazine) started. I was 15 years old and in boarding school, where the scope of being any sort of stylish was extremely limited. I remember my friends and I carrying numerous issues of Vogue and other fashion magazines back to school after the holidays. We would then cut out our favourite items from the magazines and make fashionable collages to stick inside our lockers! That was our fashion fix. We aspired to one day get out of school and own all of those pretty things stuck just above the mirror in our lockers.

My locker, surprisingly, or not, was full of women wearing beautiful lace garments, or women carrying bags lined with lace and even lacy lingerie! Suddenly, I loved everything made of lace.

So given my obsession with lace since the age of 15, I thought it was only appropriate that my first fashion post be about lace.

Lace has been around for ages, and I think it’s here to stay. That’s one of the reasons I never hesitate before buying anything made of lace, even if it is slightly expensive. I know that I can use it for a long time to come, so it’s well worth it. Lace is elegant, dainty and feminine, yet it can be styled to look edgy and bold. Here’s how I worked a lace skirt and top.

Watch out for more on lace and Velvet soon! xx

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Lace skirt, worn with a black front tie up top and a velvet jacket. 

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Lace top , worn with a baby doll skirt, ripped stockings and chunky lace-up shoes. 

 

 

Dear Women Of The World, Lift Each Other Up!

Dear women of the world, empower each other and help each other grow. You’ll only be making the world a better place for yourself.

“She’s my boyfriend’s ex. Such a bitch.” 

“She’s always sucking up to the boss. I bet she’d sleep with him for that promotion.”

“Have you seen the way she dresses up? All she wants is men giving her attention.”

“She’s not pretty. She’s fat.”

“She is such a demanding girlfriend. How does he deal with her?”

“She’s only with him for the money. Gold digger.”

“How can anyone be that sweet? She’s just so fake.”

Dear women,

Have you ever spoken to your boyfriend’s ex? Do you know her beyond the realm of social media stalking? If you do, and you have a genuine problem with her as a person, that’s your right. But if you hate her because she happened to meet and date your boyfriend before you did, don’t you think it’s a little unfair?

That girl who gets along with your boss… Maybe they genuinely click? Think about it. The boss is a person too, right? He/she can have friends. Don’t hate her because she happens to be that friend.

That girl who loves wearing her short dresses and hot pants, and showing her cleavage off a little – what’s wrong with her? She isn’t harming you, is she? She’s living her life the way she wants to and minding her own business. Shouldn’t you?

That girl you just called fat… Look at her face, say hello to her, have a conversation. You might discover that she’s not just pretty, but she’s actually beautiful – inside and out.

That girl you call a demanding girlfriend… Who gave you that information? Was it your time you wasted observing their relationship, or did her boyfriend tell you that? Ask him why he’s still with her then, will you?

That girl you call a gold digger… She might be madly in love. Maybe they’ve never even discussed their bank balances. Maybe she’s the one picking the cheque up after dinner. Maybe you’re wrong about her.

That girl you call fake… Maybe she was just brought up well. Maybe she was taught to treat people with love, respect and kindness. Are you really going to hate on her for that?

Women. Sweet, lovely, women of the world, lift each other up. Help each other out. 

Think about it – that ex of his you hate? The two of you might actually have a lot in common. Maybe in a different world, you could have been great friends. Maybe she’s a lot like you.

The girl who wants attention according to you – let her have it! Maybe she works hard to look the way she does. Give her her time in the limelight – and while you’re at it, appreciate her too!

 

How often do we hear women say any of these things about a man? If he’s not fit, he’s cute. If he’s dating a rich girl, he probably loves her. If he’s friends with the boss, it’s because they get along. 

Why do us women only find each other to attack? Are we really the weaker, easier targets? Even for each other?

We live in changing times. Times that are proving to the world just how incredible and strong we women are. But how about we prove it to each other and ourselves first?

Empower each other and help each other grow. You’ll only be making the world a better place for yourself to live in.