{ F.A.S.H.I.O.N } Dot Twenty

Hello Folks!

As I write my first post of the fabulous year 2020 , I am surprised at how 2020 is so much like 2010 except that we buy literally everything over the internet,  mobile internet is accessible to everyone with rock bottom prices, countless international brands have made their foray into the indian market  and more people are running marathons to keep fit ! Ok, thats a huge shift but then as a kid ,2020 sounded very Space-age to me and i believed some of us would be living on the Moon or perhaps Mars and that i would be visiting them or at least making some advance booking for spaceships  . But in Bombay, we brought the "Moon and Mars" condition upon us ! Yes, the endless craters on our roads and diversions which make people restless and they drive like the game ROAD RASH!

That aside,  there is an increasing awareness of pollution and single-use plastic . We have definitely come a long way ! In 2010, straws and cups and poly bags would be scattered everywhere and now people are taking action ! All is not lost , we are just slow. Changes don't come easy, but when they do , there is action. That is a welcome change ! And with that hope i begin 2020 with a retro trend " Polka dots" because fashion is cyclical. Since 2018 we have been obsessed with all things in the past . So much so that we use apps like HUJI cam to convert our modern looks into retro with the filters!
Headbands, hair clips, baggy pants - we just seem to be yearning to belong to the 70s , 80s and the 90s ! So here we are - another year of cyclical trends and a lot of "BLUE" ( Pantone color of the year) . That actually sums up my wardrobe for 2020 because i love blue ( Check my instagram feed if you want to know what i mean ) .

Location: Kolkata
Photography : Arpit Rungta

Wrap dress, shell hoops : ZARA | Golden belt : Bata | Shoes : Charles & Keith | Watch : Esprit| Black slip : Local market 

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{T.R.A.V.E.L} TOP 5 instagrammable locations in Udaipur

View from Monsoon palace [ November , 2019] 

Let me tell you a secret, I visit Instagram geolocations before i visit a city every single time . In 2019 ( almost 2020) , thats a safe way to asses if your itinerary is Insta-worthy! Isn't it? Tell me, you haven't done so?

While i believe insta-worthy is more for vanity , its important that a place has a "SOUL", a vibe that makes you want to stay and come back again  . Some places may just look good on the gram but actually deliver nothing ! My definition of INSTA-worthy is a location that packs in indescribable beauty as well as a soul. A story, a history, a passion. I have done lists on "TOP 5 Things to do " for some of my favourite cities across the globe on the blog . This series is an extension of the same . Just replace "THINGS TO DO" with "INSTA-WORTHY" as these are not just beautiful places but a lot more than that! Next time you are in Udaipur ( Please make it between November - February ) , this is your foolproof itinerary , just DON'T FORGET TO TAG ME on instagram here and bookmark this post ! Share it on the gram if you love the tips .

1. Jagmandir Island palace

Jagmandir palace is a charm. Made in marble and dating back to the 1700s, this island palace is more than a piece of striking architecture. There is a certain calm about this palace which makes you instantly at peace and you don't want to leave. Sigh! The last jetty leave starting 6pm from the palace so you can only spend a little time after sunset. The best time to be here is by the 4pm jetty so that there is little sun .

How to get there? 

Access is via City palace. There are hourly jetty that ply to the palace . Last jetty is at 5pm and return at 6pm. The walk from city palace entrance to the jetty is a good 7-10 minutes and you can buy tickets near the jetty point as well as city palace entrance . If you buy them inside the city palace, you will need to buy a city complex entrance ticket of Rs.30per person.  Jetty tickets were Rs.800 including taxes for each person in November 2019 . If you wish to splurge ,you can take a private jetty as well . However, the small distance is not worth the splurge.

Jagmandir Palace | Outfit : Wrap blouse - Inderooh,Benarasi silk pants - Juanita , Jutti- Popular store in Colaba

2. Monsoon palace ( Sajjangarh)

Palaces are all about grandeur and size. But this little palace is small wonder. Perched high up on a hilltop this became a hunting lodge/monsoon hangout of the Maharanas . Can you believe it was primarily conceptualised as an observatory but it couldn't end up like one. Nonetheless, the fascinating scenery from this palace is nothing short of a visual treat - dense vegetation ,  undulating hills, glistening lakes, clear blue skies and fresh air - no wonder it makes you feel you are somewhere romantic except for the monkeys who often come claiming their vantage viewpoints ! I have visited here thrice in the last 3 years and every time i go, i come back with an urge to spend more time again ! 

How to get there?

Rickshaw : Rickshaw drops you at the bottom of the hill entrance . From there you can pay and go in shared cabs of the palace authorities. The vehicles in 2017 were rickety jeep which have now been changed to closed SUVs. Last SUV gets back at 6pm as the palace closes.

Uber : Uber drops you at the bottom however if you would like to take it up the hill you will have to pay vehicle entry charges of Rs. 200.

Private Cab : If you use your private vehicle or UBER HIRE, you can take it uphill and need to pay Rs. 200 for its entry. This option is convenient if you wish to stay longer till 7pm as the cafeteria upstairs can be used till 7pm .

3. City palace

No Udaipur trip is complete without the city place that portrays the royal saga of this land. The massive compound has multiple points that can be used for great photos with no restriction. All you need to do is get the complex ticket worth Rs. 30 pp and you can wander inside the complex. This doesn't include entry to the palace museum which is basically where the Maharanas actually lived. The museum is another stunning place for great photos especially the blue wall which is a signature of this palace. The museum ticket is a steep Rs. 300 so make the most of it by starting your trip at least by 1pm and end by 5pm when it closes. 

How to get there?

All roads lead to the city palace in Udaipur , just kidding but really . I prefer staying around Gangour ghat so that the palace is at a walking distance. But if you stay in other parts of the city, you may need to take a rickshaw as cabs are mostly not allowed in the narrow alleyways of this old town ( a major hindrance )  . Also, haggling for the right price with rickshawallas is therefore a huge problem as they know cabs are not allowed ! If you choose to take a cab , it will drop you around Chandpole and sometimes jagdish temple and you can walk upto a km to get to the palace.

City palace | Outfit : Top : Inderooh , Palazzo : A store at Lake palace road,  udaipur , metal purse , neckpiece : a road side store at Lake palace road, udaipur 

4. Badi Lake { Bahubali hill }

It took me 3 visits to Udaipur to discover this hidden gem. Rightly so because its not in the city. Thanks to an article which helped me discover this ! Its in a village named Badi which is not commercialised in any way except that when you reach the lake, they have constructed a promenade with a Rs.20 fee which makes you believe humans visit.  But until then , the roads make you feel you're headed to a deserted place ! Not a vehicle in sight except for few farmers carrying produce . But once you reach Bahubali hilltop after a 15 minute hike, it turns out to be another place you don't wanna leave.  Surrounded by hills, unique 360 degree views of the lake cutting through the hills,  Tall and artistic cacti and the not so exotic ants  . I would spend another morning here , if it wasn't for the dreadful kachcha roads. There is a little shack selling chips and other snacks along with water but i recommend you take your own water bottles as you will need them . Spend a sunrise here or maybe early hours because once it gets sunny its beyond bearable ! 

How to get there?

Rickshaw : There won't be any rickshaw at badi and so you need to strike a deal with an Udaipur rickshawalla. We made a Rs. 700 return with one hour stop at the hill top. Remember, if you say badi lake , its the promenade and you won't see views like this picture. For this hill , you need to ask for Bahubali Hill when you are making the deal as its a little ahead of the promenade. There is a parking below the hill and then you can hike up using the foot trail . Don't expect signs on the way. Hence its recommended to visit only in daylight ! The roads leading to the place are so raw that you will take 20-30 mins in the rickshaw from Udaipur's old town ( Jagdish temple ) . Those with a back problem, be prepared.

Uber : Uber doesnt ply here so you might want to book a private cab which drops you and brings you back .

Bahubali Hill | Outfit : H&M , sunglasses - Rayban , watch - GUESS

5. Gangour ghat

Besides the litter that is created by pigeons & worshipers at Gangour, everything about this little Ghat is soothing. Views of the lakeside havelis and a beautiful sunrise, with rays filtering through the Bagore ki haveli this place is a delight in the early mornings and sunsets. There is not enough place to sit here but a visit will definitely make you feel at calm. 

How to get there?

Rickshaw: If you are not staying in the old town you can take a rickshaw till Jagdish temple and walk it from there. People help easily with directions.

Uber : If you are not staying in the old town you can take an UBER till Chandpole and walk it from there. People help easily with directions.

Other places that guarantee insta worthy frames in Udaipur are listed below. However, remember i warned you about how they may not be very pleasant . Its good to visit only for the pictures and thats about it !

1. Saheliyon ki Baadi (See full blogpost )
2. Chand pole bridge
3. Ahar cenotaphs

Gangour Ghat | Outfit : Top : Inderooh , Palazzo : A store at Lake palace road,  udaipur 

Chandpole bridge

Ahar Cenotaphs| Outfit : H&M, shoes : Adidas originals , watch : Guess

Till next time , CIAO

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{ E.D.I.T.O.R.I.A.L} Time warped in Kolkata

As an engineer , I yearn for all things innovation & technology but somewhere in my heart I secretly wish to turn back time only to see how people lived through the centuries ! Kolkata is one such place where a part of it is stopped in the 19th century . 

I visited the Salt lake area back in 2006 when i was working with Cognizant. Due to a hairline fracture in my ankle i could only explore between office & our stay. 
I longed to see the Kolkata people documented in their stories especially the ones i read by Rabindranath Tagore. 13 years later ( and that sounds like an eternity) I seized the opportunity to visit Kolkata - perks of being your own boss! I lined up some shoots and made a mini itinerary to see Old kolkata in 3 days & most importantly enjoy all culinary delights raved by bongs . 

For reference i was on Pinterest and stumbled upon this striking shot with narrow bent lanes and rustic colourful houses upto a floor. I was shooting with Arpit and he told me it could be Shyam Bazaar. Without prior recce, we took our chances and landed randomly on the streets dressed this way at 7.30 am. Though we couldn't find the exact lane, I was happy with what i saw. 

As i walked deeper into the lanes, it felt like entering a time warp probably the 19th century. 
IAnd then i spotted what was ruling my moodboard - The hand pulled rickshaw . 

This hand-pulled rickshaw here is an example of how between Uber and autos , a human powered vehicle still finds its place . A feeling of joy ( because this is one of the last cities in the world to still use one ) and a feeling of sadness ( because seeing a human carry another human breaking his back is just unnecessary pain ) - this hand pulled rickshaw tells me all that is old is only PARTIALLY gold . No matter how much I romanticise the idea of wanting to live the old times , such sights would only sadden me . 
And if you’ve reached till here : let me tell you what actually happened while we shot this 

The man standing with a polybag to the extreme left was sitting somewhere while I admired the rickshaw . Suddenly an old lady in a green saree came out of her house asking to be carried away in the rickshaw and the man started to approach the rickshaw . I couldnt believe this was for real as i saw barely anyone riding the rickshaws. 
I quickly snapped out of my disbelief & requested him if I could take pictures before he drove away . Both the lady and he readily obliged . Many a vehicles crossed our way as we tried to get the shots right. Time passed. I drifted into a different world as the rickshaw guy and the lady both disappeared from my mind and our frame - no words spoken - least bothered about the passing time - that’s Kolkata for you .

Shorts suit- Marks & spencer | Bralet - Colaba causeway ( 6 yrs ago) | Pumps- Charles & Keith | Ring- colaba causeway 

Photography - Arpit Rungta
Edits- Yours truly

Till next time, CIAO!

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