September 25, 2016

#ShaadiSeries : The Honeymoon Ritual

The Honeymoon Ritual is the last and probably the most unnecessary ritual of the wedding extravaganza!

I have seen a LOT of couples actually delaying their wedding dates so that coincide with a more favourable time to travel. Dates have been pushed back and forth trying to accommodate a 'so-called' honeymoon budget. The idea of a honeymoon or to simply put 'a post-wedding holiday' was to give the married couple some space and time to understand and get accustomed to each other in their respective living spaces before actually starting a life together. With time, the notion has evolved and spouses are usually more relaxed with each other by the time they are married.

The Honeymoon Ritual, however, refuses to evolve! Now the idea of a honeymoon is so done to death, that it revolves around the frantic search for an exotic location that very little people in your Facebook friend's list have been to. And it has to be some place exotic because when you tag yourself there with your new spouse, you have to garner at least a 100 reactions on social media. Otherwise, you are not doing honeymoon right. To each, their own. I agree. But when people (read married people) judge you and your marriage based on your honeymoon destination, that gets to me.

You may have worked this out by now but yes, I never did a honeymoon. My husband and I chose to stay put and rejoin work as soon as the wedding festivities were over. Let me straighten one thing out though. I am all for the holiday! I mean, who does not like a vacation. But the idea of a fully loaded honeymoon was just too much for us to handle and we did away with it. Instead, we jumped head on into life, making fortnightly weekend getaways a more frequent habit. 

If only, people (read married people) left us alone! 

Months into the marriage, they still rant on about how I missed an opportunity to have fun for once in my life, especially with the baby on its way. So wait, you are questioning my ability to cope with a honeymoon-less life and are also telling me very slyly that my life 'with the baby and a husband' will be bonkers? My God! Opportunity lost? Not. And here is why! 

First, personally spending thousands, lakhs even, on a glorified holiday is just not acceptable to me. Call me stingy, but when every honeymoon-related package comes to you at 250% more than it's original cost, I would rather be home watching random Kung-fu movies with a husband who loves the television as much as I do.

Second, there is no dearth of chemistry and magic in our marriage. I have burnt more meals in the kitchen than anyone has and we have been getting more takeaways from restaurants and eating them in solitary confinement watching Modern Family re-runs, just the two of us. That, right there, is our honeymoon.

and Third, it is totally a personal choice!

I am not taking a dig at honeymooners in general, party all you want, I could not be happier for you. But it is the sympathisers that need to back off a little. Next time before you go all googly-sympathetic faced for someone who haven't had their honeymoon, restrain yourself. They have their reasons. Heck, they may even be smarter than you think.

And NO, a missed honeymoon is not a lost opportunity. It is just another wedding ritual some of us decided to skip.

September 22, 2016

Bring back in trend, the lost art of spelling correctly!

I missed publishing this post on Tuesday because it was my birthday and I was in an overly indulgent mood. So I quit working, planning or any activity in general and parked myself on the sofa with my phone and the television. Like I promised last week, I am continuing this week with talking about (and in this case, criticising) the hottest trend on the block. New Generation Grammar-less language.

First there was SMS. With it came a frightening trend. SMS lingo! Right became r8, hate became h8, happy brithday god bless you became 'hbd gbu'. At the time, this certain transition may have seemed the most logical thing to do as the keypads were alphanumeric and typing was, honestly, a pain in the ass. But what excuse does this generation have for typing words and making grammatical errors when there is spellcheck and a Qwerty keypad. What is worse that these very people talk in the same language they text in which is a disgrace. I have had younger people, meaning kids younger than me, come to me and blurt out incoherent sentences like 'I got swag bruh!'..... I mean, who talks like that. You text using this language and vocabulary because 1) in a textual exchange no one gets to hear you being an ass and 2) for some reason, it is cool to type like this.

I beg to differ.

Both in person and virtually, if someone uses SWAG in a sound conversation, I will legit punch them in the face. I cringe when someone types HBD to wish me on my birthday. Seriously, what good comes off those two seconds that you saved by not typing the two word HAPPY BIRTHDAY phrase. Then there are those who still have not left behind the alphanumeric keypad. Thanks to their immense and wide mental prowess, they replace the word TO with 2, the letter O with a zero and GREAT with gr8. The worst kind of people are the ones who actually say LOL instead of the conventional ha-ha. Oh wait, how do I forget the largest congregation of vocabulary defaulters! Those who have forgotten how to spell basic words like 'like' and 'this'.

Riddle me this, in this era of super intelligent computers and smart phones, how does one even fall prey to such unabashed foolishness. Why? To sound cool? Or to be a peer favourite. News flash!!! Talking or texting like this does not make anyone sound cooler. In fact, you are being judged heavily. People like me who like their sentences framed correctly with the least grammatical errors possible: we will not take you seriously. And with the internet being a wide open stage, two years down the line when you are applying for your dream job at a top firm, your poorly word-constructed tweets from the past will come biting you in the backside. So there is that.

Let me give you a simple example.

When we, grammar lovers, read a sentence that goes:

''I am lyk dis nly, luv me 0r h8 me, dis is mah lyf''

In our minds, it gets translated to:

''F*** ***!"

Don't complain later that no one tried to warn you about this.

P.S. I understand that there is a possibility that there may be grammatical errors in this post. Feel free to let me know in the comments section. I will not hate you. I swear. It will only make me like you more.

September 13, 2016

How to style traditional jewellery in off-beat ways

Starting this week, every Tuesday, I will introduce to you, a trend. Be it lifestyle or fashion related or a newer style in jewellery or just a random habit gaining a lot of mobility with the people at the time. You see the upside of playing loosely with the term Trend!!!

Kicking off the series is my favourite! Traditional Indian Jewellery!

Being a plus size woman, experimenting with clothes comes rather difficultly to me because of the limited options in stores. Naturally, my need to over accessorise with jewellery and over the top makeup (read red lips and winged liners). Hence, my obsessive love for all things jewellery. I even considered a serious career in jewellery designer but turns out to be a designer of any sort, you need to be good with the pencil and my drawing skills are as amateur as a 5 year old. As can be easily deduced from my personality by now, I am a jewellery hoarder. Anything particularly stylish or classic, I must have it. This goes for both Indian traditional and Contemporary statement jewellery. Of late, I have taken it upon myself to experiment with styles and not limit wearing Indian jewels only with ethnic-wear.

Now to why I am writing this!

How to style traditional jewellery in off-beat ways.

Limiting yourself to wearing your handpicked ethnic jewellery pieces only with Indian clothes is a thing of the past. Since a lot of traditional and contemporary styles of jewellery overlap is style and form, using them to complete outfits of a different style family is the new fashion fad. Here are some ways you can use your heavy traditional jewellery in off-beat ways to style your outfit.

1. Choker style necklaces

Most traditional necklaces come in choker variations today and because of that they can be worn with western dresses and tops that have a slight dip in the neckline.

Source : Pinterest

2. Heavy Golden Jhumkas

Whip out that solid coloured dress and accessorise them with the jhumkas or replicate the Sonam Kapoor look when she sported heavy gold jhumkas with her powder blue evening gown in Cannes. It cannot go wrong!

Source : Polka Cafe

3. Anything Polki

How many times have you wanted to wear that royal polki necklace but could not because the dress would not allow it. Not anymore! Take cue from style divas of our time and rock a super heavy polki necklace with a fitted bodycon dress.

Source : Quora

4. Gemstones Jewellery

Precious stone jewellery is a risky thing! Not only they need to be worn with a particular colour palette but they also have to be balanced out to the T. Solve all those problems by donning your coloured precious stones necklace with the classic LBD.

Source : Pinterest

5. Silver Jewellery and Bangles
Spruce up your boring office outfit with a pop of silver. Picture a white shirt with a pair of Kutchi earrings or a contemporary kurta accessorised with a beaten silver necklace. You can also layer your look with different bangles thrown on together but avoid the noisy ones in a workplace. 

Source : Myntra

There you go! 5 unusual ways to incorporate traditional Indian jewellery in your looks. Think you can add anything more to this? Do tell. I would love to keep adding to the list above because there can never be an excess of good things. 

Want to own some striking traditional jewels yourself? Head over to this page and take a look at their exclusive bi-weekly preview of Indian Traditional Jewels. 

September 11, 2016

What they don't tell you about being pregnant!


One of those things in life that have been extensively talked and written about. Every single person you meet in the course of your pregnancy will have at least one piece of advice for you because the world cares immensely for that unborn baby inside of you and they want you to be careful and loving and nurturing. There are, however, things that no one will teach you singularly. This kind of knowledge, these epiphanies, come to you with experience and living through these experiences personally. Now in the third trimester, I have read 'What to expect when you are expecting' cover to cover twice. Although the book is highly extensive and detailed, there are so many things it did not warn me about in advance.

This far along the pregnancy, I have come to realise these things!

1. Maternity Clothes are essentially pointless

Yes!All these big brand-houses making you want to buy maternity clothes as soon as you hit the second trimester have been fooling you all along. You and your 'baby bump self' will need new clothes but only if you intend to do a full-blown 7 schedule photo shoot of yourself with different clothes on. Bodies do not change overnight for most women. The change is more gradual and for most part of the pregnancy, your regular sweatpants and t-shirts will fit the bill just fine. If you still feel the need to own clothing options that were specially made for pregnant women, buy yourself a couple of pretty wrap dresses, kaftans and some bright flip-flops. That should cover you just fine and will also come in handy later.

2. Love-hate relationship with the maid

Most expecting moms will agree with me on this. There are days when your house-help just decides to skip work without prior notice and you are left blindsided. Now all you are doing is worrying yourself sick about the laundry that needs to be cleaned and the entertainment centre that needs to be dusted. You will call her and scream your lungs hoarse asking her to never show up on your door again but again your fatigue takes over the adrenaline rush you just had in that fit of rage and more often than not you find yourself calling the maid back the next minute politely asking her when she will show up next. After your husband, the maid will probably be the most important person who will provide you solace - especially in the first and the third trimester.

3. Worrying over the size of the baby-bump

Before you argue that most books and pregnancy related websites will tell you that all baby bump sizes differ, hear me out. No matter how prepared you are, your calm mental demeanour takes a real hit when your seventh month bump pretty much looks like a fifth month bump. And when you compose yourself, there will be a whole army of people you know who will unabashedly point it out to you that your bump does not look quite 'there yet'. You will do the unthinkable to prove them wrong. You will arch your spine leaning backwards so your bump protrudes to the front and you will constantly place your hands on the top of the belly to make the bump look more pronounced. Believe me, the pressure of looking the quintessential pregnant woman is so much more than anyone makes it to be.

4. Fat women actually have it easy

Contrary to popular belief, women on the heavier side (read fat) have swift pregnancies when compared to their skinnier contemporaries. I speak of this through personal experience. Since we have spent a large part of our teenage and youth manoeuvring our 'big' frames, the time when the pregnancy bump starts to grow it does not change our centre of gravity as drastically as it does for other women. Moving around with an additional 15-20 pounds seem like a no-brainer and major distress in the back and the legs are things of fiction.

5. The husband tiptoes around you, the world does not!

The world around you in general becomes a lot more vocal and judge-y when it comes to you. While your husband (and in a lot of cases, your families) tiptoe around you and speak to you with caution, others have a major flapback tendency of not doing so. Filters are forgotten and so are boundaries. So there will be tummy-touching, no matter how uncomfortable you tell them you are with it. You get the old 'stop being silly' jibe from them before they proceed to do exactly what you had forbade them to do a second ago. Advice will be hurled at you from all quarters so teach yourself some head-bopping and polite nodding to be used in such situations. Do not even try to avoid this phase cos the world is the self-appointed guardian of your unborn baby and at the end of the day, they do mean well.

No matter what is said and done, at the end of the day, the love of your husband and your families is what keeps you going. Through the sleepless nights and bouts of weird dreams that you have and through the many mood-swings and weepy mornings that you cannot get over, they live it all with you. So as long as you are pregnant, make them your world and prioritise your energy on keeping yourself and the baby healthy. Everything else will fall into place. And anything trivial will automatically fall behind. 

September 5, 2016

The Anti-Teacher

I am the anti-teacher.

I am not anti teachers. I am the anti-teacher.

Having been a teacher myself for about 18 months, I understand the dilemma teachers are faced in the early stages of their teaching career. To be strict or not. To be the loved teacher or the frowny disciplined one. Before you chance upon the thought in your head that a teacher can be both strict and fun at the same time, let me stop you right there! A fun-strict teacher is a myth. What you may be thinking about is a teacher with a bipolar disorder with occasional ticks towards the two extremes whilst being a teacher. I was the fun one. Well, I wanted to think I was the fun one. I was the fresh graduate who, within a year, began teaching under-graduate students. Technically my super-super juniors. With not so much of an age difference between the students and myself, I started off on a chilled-out note with my class. A month went by quite breezy.

"This is so easy!", I thought happily.

Then one day, I snapped. When the class was particularly boisterous one morning, I ended up losing my head and shouting my frustration out. I did not call the class a 'fish market', I went for something a tad more creative and unique. (As a dear student, now friend, reminds me every year on Teachers' Day, I called them buffaloes)

I am not proud in the least of what I did because the pressure of being the cool teacher broke me. And this was just a couple of months into being a teacher. From that day on, I tried to oscillate between roles. The fun one some days, the strict one the other. But as far as I can look back at my stint and analyse, I just scraped by as an average teacher. The bipolarity of being a teacher coincided with the flaws in my personality and it spelled disaster. Nevertheless, I did have small successes, something which gives me solace. I did end up making sure academia was the focus and when I was through being a teacher, I came out of the college with more friends than leaving behind students.

This is the reason why I call myself the anti-teacher. Because in spite of how easy being a teacher looks, it is the most difficult job in the world. For someone like me who has tried a lot of different career paths in the last 9 years, this is the job I was most challenged with.

Like I said before, I did have glorious stints as a teacher. A year into the profession and I was getting a better understanding of the position I held. And yet, I knew that when I would quit, I would never want to be a teacher again. Teaching is the hardest profession there is because as a teacher, you are responsible for imparting knowledge and wisdom. And despite being aware of their responsibility, they have to be one of the most humble people you will ever meet in your life. For this realisation alone, I have the most respect for the teachers in my life. From home to kindergarten to college and photography school after, I have had the pleasure of being guided by brilliant teachers who have moulded my personality into what it is today.

Thank you Teachers.

September 4, 2016

Spunk and Colour - Meenakshi Pamnani

It started out in the early months of 2016 when I conceptualised and decided to document and chart the journey of fashion prominent women bloggers in Hyderabad. I knew some of these bloggers personally and I reached out to a couple more and received the warmest reception from them. The plan did hit a bump (pun intended) when I found out I was pregnant but I did meet the bloggers over coffee and they were ever so sweet about sharing their stories with me. This blog is the second in the series.

Meet Meenakshi Pamnani!

My connection to this fashion blogger is more personal than professional. She started her blogging journey back in December 2014 and that is also the time when I started shooting for her blogs. My association with 'The Shimmer Girl' has been the longest with our mutual obsession over glitter, sequin and chocolates. The Shimmer Girl aka Meenakshi Pamnani is all of 21 years old but she is on her way to making a mark in the Hyderabad fashion blogging scene. 

What started out as a hobby turned into a passion for this blogger. Meenakshi was already a celebrity of sorts when she set out to become a fashion blogger. A national level athlete with a prominent social media presence, she was already a celebrity of sorts when she discovered her love for all things fashion and beauty. Her style is all about colour and shimmer, something she feels very passionate about. 

From being a part time blogger to turning a full time fashion writer and adviser, she now directs style and fashion related content for a number of lifestyle websites. 

Now happily married to cricketer Ravi Teja, Meenakshi has a lot of new posts and collaborations in the pipeline for her viewers along with a stream of exciting videos on her channel.

Here are some of my favourite shots of Meenakshi from our past collaborations:

You can follow her blog here and her YouTube channel here

Throwback to the first post in the photo series where I photograph and chat with some significant women personalities and bloggers in the city - Quiet and Fierce: Chandana Munipalle

September 2, 2016

#ShaadiSeries : 11 Things I would have done differently in my wedding

Right now, I am 9 months into my wedding but most days I feel like it only happened yesterday. But then there are times it feels like it was years ago, what with all that is happening in life at such a fast pace. Looking back at my wedding, I do have regrets about how I planned things and how things finally went down around me.

I remembered vividly, a week into the wedding, that I completely forgot to make personal phone-calls to people I intended to invite. And then there were times during the week-long wedding celebrations when things were completely unplanned and a lot of the pre-wedding functions just happened to pass by with nothing more than a whisper. No hullabaloo, no pomp. So now, after months of making mental notes about it, I finally decided to share my take on a few things that I would have done differently in my wedding. If you are a bride-to-be or are helping out a bride in planning her wedding, in one or more ways, most of these things will apply to your scenario as well. So read on!

1. Wedding Lehenga woes

Like most potential brides, I wanted a wedding lehenga that was nothing less than a show-stopper. As soon as my wedding date was fixed, I jumped on to Pinterest and started pinning (like crazy) images of wedding outfits that were breathtaking! When you start discovering lehenga designs online, take into account the type of lehenga you want and the budget you want it in. You might want a raw silk designer lehenga or a lightweight georgette flowy lehenga from a local boutique, they all differ in prices and designs. I went lehenga shopping with a blank canvas in the mind and absolutely no idea about what I wanted. And therefore I ended up loving and buying a beautiful but heavily embroidered designer lehenga that was too huge for my overweight frame which stood stiff when worn. Considering my body type, I should have chosen a lightweight flowy lehenga but by the time I realised that, I had already made a pretty big investment in the earlier lehenga.

2. Better Photography options

Alas! This is one thing I will regret forever!!! Being a candid photographer myself, I know the importance of choosing the right photographer for the job otherwise key moments from your event get missed out and are never caught on frame. I made the biggest mistake of hiring an event organiser to handle the photography and cinematography departments. Not only did I never get to meet the photographer in person to discuss the photographs I wanted taken at the wedding, but also I did not get the key getting ready shots which I was absolutely looking forward to. Agreed that the photographers today charge a lot more than traditional photographers did back in the day, but do spare some time to find the right photographer that fit your budget. And always meet with them in person to understand their vision and work before you commit to them.

3. Planning and Delegation

This is the biggest problem people like me have. I take up all the work on my own and hate delegating work in the fear that others might end up ruining it. Turns out, I ruined a lot of things on my own because everything was too much for me to handle. Reach out to friends who live locally and ask them for help with wedding preparations. I was mostly on my own for most part of the 6 months wedding planning time and hence ended up taking all the responsibility till the last minute. Keep yourself totally work-free especially in the two weeks before the D-Day. I was running errands till a day before the wedding celebrations began and that messed up my already raging nerves.

4. Mehendi function

Believe it or not, I do not have one photograph of my Mehendi function where I look anywhere close to a bride-to-be. My hair is tied in a sock-bun, I am wearing my workout clothes and my face is lacklustre and gaunt. To top it all, I was an emotional wreck trying to allocate mehendi-waalis to the wedding guests and running hither tither before I finally sat myself down to get on with the mehendi myself. Though my camera made rounds, not one person managed to take a good photograph during the function and so those adorable pictures I had pinned of beautiful after-mehendi shots months ago never actually happened. I only blame myself.

5. Personal Invitations

I mentioned this earlier as well. I emailed and texted people inviting for the wedding, I communicated with them that I would email them the coordinates to the venue and surprise surprise, I never emailed most of them those coordinates. I also totally forgot to personally call a bunch of people in all the pre-wedding madness. Yes, I had a list prepared and everything but it totally slipped my mind to call back those numbers that were unavailable the first time. A total bummer on my part. The best thing for handing out those personal invites would have been to step on them 4 weeks before the D-day so that all fronts were covered!


I had lists. This is one thing I am very proud of actually. I made all the darned lists. But in effect those lists did not really get worked on completely as they were all just restricted to me, my mum and my aunt. I cannot emphasise enough on the importance of having help in organising the wedding. Share lists, prioritise work and let your ego disappear when you have to ask for help during your wedding preparation. Trust me, work distributed is sorted much faster. WhatsApp groups and email blasts are your best friends in this time.

7. Bridal Shower

Do not wait on your friends to organise a bridal shower or throw a surprise bachelorette party. Most times, if you do not let your friends and family know that you are expecting a celebration, chances are you will not get one. I made this misjudgement about an impending shower and having realised I wasn't going to get one, I put together a last minute dinner date with a few friends and that was it. If like me, you have the biggest expectations and love being pampered, make sure to let a couple of your closest friends know exactly that.

8. Family time

Do not be so caught up in the arrangements and preparation that you are unable to give your mum and dad some love and attention right before you scoot off into your new life. I regret not having a family fun night with my mum and my family before the wedding. I do make up for it every time I spend weekends with them after the wedding, but I did lose out on the key pre-wedding bonding time with the family.

9. Stick to the budget

If you are making a budget, you are making it for a reason. Stick to it and when you feel like going past that, pinch yourself hard and take a step back. I did not go crazy bonkers above the budget I set for myself but I did spend more than I needed to and unnecessary expenses will always come back to bite you.

10. Allocate realistic makeup time

By realistic, I do not mean hours together but an hour should be more than enough for you to get ready especially if you are in between functions. For me, it was the brief time between the Pooja and the Reception that I was given. I had 20 minutes to change into the lehenga, change jewellery and makeup. And so, in all the rushed madness, I forgot to adorn the two things I specially bought to complement my wedding outfit - a customised second dupatta and a nose ring which I bought after a painstaking search that spanned three months. Sucks, right!

11. Be the Queen and give your King all the attention

Not only did I lose out on the chance of playing queen for a month, but also I practically lived like a commoner trying to manage expectations during that time. I got so caught up trying to make everything perfect that I totally ignored my husband during a lot of them pre-wedding and wedding proceedings. Kudos to him for marrying me in spite of me being an insufferable control freak.

Listen up Brides! Let yourself go and be the queen for the entire time you are the designated bride-to-be because this time in your life will never come back! 

Until next time,