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A 30 something blogging about her love affair with Fashion.....among other things!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jaipur day 1 and 2)

Day 1
The kids were sick the previous night so we decided to stay in. We had breakfast and lunch in the nice dining room of the hotel and rest till 4pm. 


Hotel dining room 



Colorful carving in the restaurant

Then we headed to the Pink City. It is a cluster of shops and tourist attractions all built in the same architectural style and with light mud color. It was crowded, chaotic but beautiful. We did some shopping, buying block printed bedsheets, camel leather sandals and more. By the time we were finished it was around 8pm. We headed back to the hotel where we ate simple sandwiches and went to bed. 


Pink city


Day 2, the kids and I were feeling better so we headed early into the city to visit City Palace,  where the Marahajah lives. We did not get to see him but we enjoyed browsing the collections of old weaponry ( these people don't play when it comes to war: from canon,  to sabres and even tiger claws,  they had it all), gorgeous garments, and beautiful architecture. Jaipur royalty knew how to live in style and enjoyed the finer things.  


Guns display


City palace


Hall


Peacock inspired decoration


Brass door

After the City Palace, we checked Albert Hall which is a museum with more beautiful
and historical things about Jaipur and more. I liked it more than the last place because I got to click various interesting things such as clothes and jewelry,  which was forbidden at City Palace. Moreover it was covered with huge fans blasting cool air so we felt less hot. Jaipur weather was really punishing us with temperatures around 42 degrees. 


Albert hall terrace


Nice painting of a dancing girl at Albert Hall


Rajhastani women in full attire


Clothing during that time

For lunch we grabbed takeaway sandwiches from Cafe C'est Bon which seemed a cool place to hang.  You could make your own sandwiches and they came with French fries. They were quite tasty. We took a nap followed by pool time for the kids. 
By the late afternoon we headed again to the Pink city market for more shopping. I finally got to purchase wooden blocks for printing ata good price.  But I think I bought one too many since I am not really sure when I will be able to use them. I wanted to do more shopping but time was ganging up on us ( and money was running low) so we left to have diner at Cafe F- 32. Same ambiance,  good service,  good food ( try the salad with the mint dressing).  We left stomach heavy and soul happy.


Sitting at Cafe F-32


Where they have funny coaters 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Agra ( part 2)

Day 2
The following day my youngest woke up with an upset stomach. Plus the breakfast at the hotel was no better than the one in Krishna ( hotel in Delhi). We settled for toast and headed to Fatehpur Sikri. It is an old abandoned city on the way to Jaipur. It was also hauntingly beautiful with red mud color and Muslim style carvings.  We walked around but the sun was unforgiving. We met several people who wanted to take our pictures, for what reasons, I am not sure. But most of them were nice so we accepted. The only bad point of our visit were the several sellers and guides who would come to us every five minute offering this or that for a small fee. Thankfully they are outside the gates. Yet they still tarnish the experience because even if you refuse their services, they would still hassle you. I understand they have to make a living but when someone says no have the decency to leave him/her alone.





Upper part of a column 


Carvings


Inspiring windows


Grounds


Corridor ( both Hubby and I thought it would be perfect runway for a fashion show)

Our drive to Jaipur was longer than the Delhi-Agra route due to lack of good highway. But we did not mind. We still arrived in Jaipur before sunset.  The city is nice and well built but the cherry on the cake was our hotel. Umaid Bhawan is a small heritage hotel located in a residential area in Jaipur. The hotel has painted walls all over, old pictures of Maharajahs, sculptures and so much more.  Our room is large with two big beds and gorgeous furniture all around. It is hard to describe but after the fiasco of our previous hotels,  we were really happy to be in Umaid Bhawan. It is not the best hotel I stayed in but it is by far the most beautiful.


Garden in the hotel




Our room

For diner, we headed to Cafe F-32 which is a posh cafe in the city. The kids and I were still sick so we wanted to stay away from Indian food. Thankfully they serve Italian, Lebanese food with salads and deserts. We had pasta and pizza which were both nice. The restaurant is big and well decorated with mistmatched seats and Indian lanterns. It is for young couples but families are also welcomed. And the service is good. After diner we went back to our abode impatient to see what Jaipur had to offer the following days.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Agra ( part 1)

Back to the Golden triangle adventures:

Day 1
We left Delhi after a simple breakfast at Cafe Coffee Day in C.P. for Agra. My stomach was still upset so simple croissants were in order.


Sipping on hot chocolate at Cafe Coffee Day in C. P. 


The trip was around three hours by express highway, which was traffic free and nice.  Upon arrival in Agra we visited Baby Taj, a miniature version of Taj Mahal.  It was tiny for a palace but had beautiful marble carving.  It was early afternoon so the heat was at its peak.


Baby Taj



Entrance of Baby Taj

That is why we did not stay long. After clicking some pictures, we headed to our hotel. Residence hotel was a step up from Krishna but still not great. We were to spend only one night so we didn't mind. We headed for lunch at Pinch of Spice. It is a beautifully decorated restaurant with great Indian food. I was still feeling queasy so
I ordered a simple vegetable curry with steamed rice while the kids had Malai Kofta and the hubby Biryani. First of all, the portions were big, and secondly it was all delicious. We ended our meal with some green shots to freshen the mouth.  The restaurant is a bit pricey but our experience was worth it.


My plate of steamed rice and vegetable curry
   

The green mouth freshners ( gotta learn the name)

After our late lunch, we finally visited the Taj. Oh, what a beauty it was from afar and near! We took our time admiring it, taking pictures,  meeting up with new people.  Indian people are curious and while some would stare and laugh at us, others would come and talk to us. Usually it is the less educated and less rich who would give us the time of the day. The " higher class" are judgemental and would make remarks about us and laugh. How do I know?  I understand a few Hindi words and you can always tell when someone is talking about you, right?



"Pinching the Taj"



The baby of the Muslim family we met 

Anyway we met this lovely Muslim family that had a tiny baby crying because he was thirsty. The child was 6 months old but he was so light and small I thought he was 3 months. And cute too. We talked to them mixing gestures, Hindi and English.  Then we went and took a closer look at the Taj. You could tell that the Mausoleum was well taken care of. And for a Mausoleum,  it was beautiful.  Mumtaz Mahal must have been a really loved wife. Shah Jahan and her shared a deep connection and affection according to history but to see it come to life even after so many years is a testimony of true love.


My boys in awe


Can u see the Arabic words carved?

We were enjoying our tour when suddenly a strong wind started to blow. In an instant the weather turned from scorching sunny to windy cool. Then it pored. We took refuge at the gates and watched the rain drop. But it was short lived. Yet the weather stayed cool. I wished we stayed longer but the place was closing. The entire day I was feeling crabby due to the heat and my stomach but the visit to Taj uplifted me. It was truly a beautiful experience.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Delhi, mera Dill (part 2)

Day 3
We overslept, too tired from our adventures of the previous day to have an early start.  After lunch yet at the same place we headed for Haus Khas complex.  We visited the nearby park that had deers and peacocks then rested for ice cream for it was a really hot day. Then we entered the complex filled with restaurants, and boutiques. There was also a young and trendy crowd roaming.  We visited the old palace there that now serves as a hip place to meet up. It was almost in ruins but you could tell that it must have been gorgeous back in the days. Now the young crowd there just add to the ruin by littering, eating, carving on the old marble and singing loudly.  I mean I get that it is a beautiful place but it is also a heritage and we have to show some respect and restraint.  We did not want to stay longer even though the view was breathtaking. 


Beautiful grounds at Haus Khas 


After Haus Khas,  we headed to Dilli Haat, which is a shopping complex but for handicrafts and such.  It was a huge open space with lots of interesting shops offering marble sculptures, pashminas, jewelry, leather bags,  basic Indian handicrafts. The prices were not that steep but they were still higher than a normal or local market. We did manage to buy small things and chatted here and there with shop owners. It was a very hot day and I was not feeling well.  I do not want to blame it on the food at Al Sameer but after eating there three times, something was off. 


Camel leather lamps



This seller had an interesting moustache



Beautifully embroidered vest at Dilli Hat

We left Dilli Haat and headed for Connaught place.  I loved Connaught place which is a circle of trendy shops, restaurants and hawkers. It was a Sunday so the place was packed.  We walked a long time looking for a place to eat and finally settled for a snack and sweet shop called Haldiram's.  It was packed but it offered all kinds of food.  We ordered pasta for the kids,  paav bhaji, chole for the adults.  I never had paav bhaji where the bun was a big as a burger bun.  The food was nice. We left busy C.P. and headed back to the hotel for sleep. We were to leave for Agra the next day.
I really enjoyed Delhi for it looks so much nicer than Pune and Mumbai. I enjoyed the Colonial buildings, the huge roads but also the greeneries. Time to see what Agra has in store for us. 

Ramadan Oblige

Hello there! I thought I would give you a respite from our Golden triangle adventures with a little outfit post.
It is Ramadan, a very precious time for Muslims worldwide. I enjoy this time but it is hard being away from family and friends. If I were home I would enjoy Iftar with my family eating delicacies or if I was back in Japan, my friends and I would take turns hosting Iftar parties. I do miss that. But Ramadan in India is not that bad. For one thing at least I live in a country where there are some Muslims. I can hear the call for prayer from my house ( and no, it is not my computer but the Mosque). I can enjoy Halal food from restaurants all around and they deliver so if I am too tired to cook or run out of ideas for a menu, I can always order. To top it all, it is not hot at all. It has not really rained yet but temperatures are below 30 so fasting is not that hard. If only I can find a way to keep my energy level high I would be happy.
Today I had to run errands and I wanted to wear something I could just slip on and be gone. I usually dig for maxis but for some reasons I was not feeling it. I tried several things on and was running late when I thought about digging this Abbaya up. My Dad gave me this red Abbaya and a white one as a souvenir from Mecca. The dresses came with silky linings that were too tight. I never wore them and for three years they were hidden in my suitcase. Until last month, when I remembered about them after being on an refashion/ alteration spree. I just removed the linings and was left with a sheer tunic that would be perfect paired with pants.

Personally I enjoyed the tunic. It is light enough for hot days and sturdy enough to cover me from blasting A.C. Sometimes I just wished I had more clothes like that, something that I can just slip on. I have to confess that I now understand the appeal of the black Abbaya Middle Easter and some Indian women wear. Imagine you are at home chilling with short shorts and tank and the door bell ring. Usually it means that I have to fumble to find something suitable to change into before the person at the door leaves. But with an Abbaya on hand, no fuss.
Yet I still need color in my life. I cannot imagine wearing only black cloacks round the clock.

What do you think? Would it be easier to dress if you had to wear black Abbaya all the time, or do you like to wear different things on a daily basis?

Abbaya - gift from my Dad
Tee - Brandmart
Pants - Max
Shoes - Clover Center
Bag - Leather shop in Hawa Mahal market, Jaipur


Someone tried to photobomb me

The details : embroidery and sequins

Leopard and leather crossbody bag  and more details of the Abbaya

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Delhi bound ( part 1)

Disclaimer : we started our trip on Friday June 20 th and ended it on Sunday June 29th. I just came around to post about it now!

Day 1
As I told you in my previous post, we are visiting India's Golden Triangle. Our first stop is Delhi we reached in the afternoon through plane from Pune. Firt impression: it is hot. It was 42 degrees when we landed. It is hot but not humid at all.  So after the first shock,  we got used to it.  We were met by our driver who took us to our hotel. The drive was long but we had ample time to enjoy the beauty of Delhi.  I fell in love with the city.  The route from the airport to New Delhi railway station was almost scenic with lots of greeneries, wide streets and beautiful monuments. The traffic was congested but less aggressive than Pune or Mumbai. For a moment, I was sure this was not India.
However the area around our hotel located near New Delhi railway station was crowded with lots of hawkers, rickshaws and people. This was more like the India I was used to. Our hotel called Krishna New Delhi is not bad but not great either.  The room is tiny but has two big beds ( we asked for a family room). The shower is weak and nothing seperate the bathing area to the toilet ( except shower curtains) so after one shower the entire bathroom floor is wet. However the free wifi is great and the hubby could watch the World cup on TV so we cannot really complain.  Upon arrival,  we settled a bit then walk around the neighborhood in search of diner. There are some cafes and hotel restaurants in the alley but we settled for a small Muslim eatery where we ordered Chicken Afgani,  Egg curry,  Chicken fried rice,  Chicken rolls and Romali roti.  The place is not sparkling clean and chaotic as there are many va-et-vient between the kitchen at the back and the front of the restaurant. The manager shouts orders and the servers and cooks do not have clean habits ( they take the pickles from the fridge with their bear hands, the same hands that clean the tables). Yet the food is good and affordable. I ordered the roll and it was less oily than the one I am used to eating in Pune.  It is just some kebab with cucumber rolled in a Romali roti which was soft and a bit chewy.  We all enjoyed the food and head back to the hotel.

Day 2
We woke up before 9 am and headed for breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Two words: purely crappy.  The spread was thin and what was available was either bland or missing.  The kids had cornflakes, bananas and toast while I had boiled eggs on toast.  They had something like a spinach crepes which would have been tasty if they were fresh.
After food, we took the car we rented for a tour of the city. We stopped at India Gate (not to be mistaken with Gate of India,  which is in Mumbai), took some pics then drove on Raj path to see the Presidential palace. The entire area is vast and beautiful.  I enjoyed the architecture which is a mix of Mughal and British colonial.


Rajpath leading to presidential palace 



Interesting facade of a restaurant


Just when the hubby was saying that Delhi did not have many animals wandering the streets, we saw this!


India Gate

We kept on driving till Qutab Minar which is one of the tallest Minaret in India.  We checked it from outside not wanting to waist too much time or money on it.  It was also very hot to walk around. We ate lunch at Karim in Nizzamudin. The hubby heard great things about the place and wanted to check it out.  There is another one closer to our hotel but our driver recommended this location since we were near by. There is a small market in the area and the population is mostly Muslim. We arrived as they were opening for lunch at 1pm. The restaurant was not too big but had an old charm to it with wood carvings and persian carpets hanging on the walls. We ordered Nargisi Kofta, Firdausi Korma, mutton biryani and naan stuffed with minced meat.  The food was finger licking with a tad of heat. It is not spicy but the heat stays with you way after you finished eating. We all loved the stuffed naan that reminded me a bit of Lacmajun ( turkish pizza). That thing was served pipping hot and stayed hot after five minutes.



Lunch at Karim 


Biriyani, Nargisi Kofta and stuffed Naan 

After that heavy meal,  we headed to the hotel for siesta time.  We rest till 6 pm and headed out again.  But due to a glitch with our driver ( apparently  when the company we hired says that they provide for a car and driver for 8 hours a day,  it means continuously from the moment he leaves the garage to pick us up up to 8 hours.  Even if we rest,  those hours still count) we could use the car for only an hour.  So we went for Kulfi faludas at a Bengali sweet shop.  Truth be told I had better faludas but it was a nice respite from the heat. For diner I ordered take outs from Al Sameer, the same place we had dinner the night before. And off to bed.
For the entire day I had on my denim tunic and leopard pants.  I was very comfortabe even under the heat because the fabric is light.  The only problem I have with it is the lack of pockets. But overall I am very happy with my purchase.  I think that my other denim button down may have met its match.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Traveling!

It is that time of the year where the kids are out of school and we plan to travel.  This time we chose to stay put in India.  We are going to visit the Golden triangle (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur) for ten days. I am very excited because it is one side of this country I long to see. 
So for 10 days,  here is what I packed:


Sequin tunic, denim tunic,  coral shirt, Abbaya, colorful scarf, leopard pants, sequin black scarf,  animal printed maxi dress, black pants, printed maxi skirt,  white floral tee, cream scarf and brown scarf 

I also packed some accessories : three pair of shoes,  some jewelry and my latest tan bag.  I decided to stick to the same palette of brown, tan, gold, black and white with a splash of color.  I also packed some jelly shoes in case it rains.  I heard that Delhi is scorching hot so I am not sure if I will use the jellies.  But we never know. 

For the airplane trip to Delhi I kept it casual:


Denim tunic - Brandwise
Leopard pants - H&M
Shoes - Max ( I changed them at the last minute for my sequined one for a tad of sparkle)
Bag - Carrefour Dubai


Stay tune as I will post about our adventures in the Golden triangle in the coming days.  Inch Allah!

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