Glimpse of Rajasthan’s rich culture at Chowki Dhaani, JAIPUR

While searching for some old photographs in my hard-drive, I landed at Jaipur folder of our trip, we undertook a few years ago, which will always be etched in our memory for various reasons. It was a long-awaited family trip and we were visiting Jaipur together for the first time as I was to present my magazine to Chief Minister Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia…( Edition dedicated to Vibrant Rajasthan).

One evening, we planned to visit Chowki Dhaani, which was some kilometres away from our place of stay…we were little reluctant to go there as it was very cold wintry night. But as always Tanya insisted and we set out for Chowki Dhaani.  From outside I could not make out anything where we had landed, but inside…

…the Royal treatment awaited us and as we moved on…the FUN added on!

At Chowki Dhaani entrance

If you have not visited yet, you will surely visit the place after reading my blog post.

Right from welcome to exit, we were engulfed in lively and lovely Rajasthani culture where we enjoyed Rajasthani Thaali, Camel Rides, Mehendi, Kalbelia Dance, Nut Tamasha…what not! See it to believe it.

So, for the uninitiated, Chokhi Dhani in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India is a concept capturing the vibrant spirit of Rajasthan and ensuring a perfect Rajasthani experience.  Inbound and native tourists have a desire to experience the unique Rajasthani culture. The real Rajasthan, the villages, the paintings, Bani Thani art, the wall decorations, Dipak wall, the fresh air, the evening performances, the enthusiasm, the ‘manuhar’ (a delicate request to eat till your heart’s desire), the traditions, the costumes and at last but not least the Feelings.

It is aimed at preserving and encouraging the village art and culture, to get today’s generation closer to the roots and the globe trekkers to see Indian village life. The place is just away from the hustle of the city centre where nature is alive, natural scenic views are ready to serve you and where you can feel the fresh air of Indian rustic villages. A place which is not too far to reach, situated on a national highway booming with peace and quiet. You will instantly notice the friendliness and smiles; Chokhi Dhani reception, they have the best cooks from royal palaces and artisans from all over Rajasthan.

Enjoying authentic Rajasthani Jeeman

We had Jeeman at Chaupad – Dining Hall, especially known for its shape – Chaupad Jeeman Ghar. In India, Chaupad is an ancient game of Royal families like today’s Ludo, which has four straight paths joint in the center. This is what “Chaupad Jeeman Ghar” has in its shape. It has four straight rows meeting at the center. Each row has 20 persons’ sitting capacity where you find best of Rajasthani dishes like Batis sunk into pure ghee with Choorma, a traditional dish of Rajasthan and more.

After Jeeman, it was entertainment time, believe me you have that in plenty!

There are many folk dances in Rajasthan and all are performed here. Like Ghoomer, Potter Dance, Kalbeliya – the Snake Dance, Bhopa-Bhopi Dance and Terah Taali Manjira dance. We danced to our heart’s content.

Folk Dance And Music Show – Chaupal Nach Gan Re

Kalbeliya tribes of Rajasthan were once nomads of the desert are world famous for their Kalbeliya dance form. Its high beat music, fascinating serpent-like dance and fast body movements captivate all visitors.

In Bhopa-Bhopi dance artiste tells some old folk stories of Indian Folk God or king in sort of song and they dance on it.

The Chari dance a.k.a. the Bhavai folk artiste dances with 7 to 11 pots on her head or in some shows they dance with taking the lighted pot on their heads

Acrobatics On A Bamboo – Nat Ro Kartab

The brave artiste balances himself on a bamboo without the protection of a safety net beneath.

Traditional Fire Act

Watched the traditional fire play and it seems as the person is eating fire! The fire act is simply mesmerizing.

Thee Bioscope station at Chokhi Dhani Ethnic Village gives you a glimpse of Rajasthan and complete family can sit side by side around 6 people together watching the bioscope film.  The whole thing is a great simple experience of watching old reel film depicting Rajasthan scenes and people.

We were there right from 6 PM till the time it shut its doors!

Information courtesy: http://www.chokhidhani.com

 

 

Swirl to the Dandiya beats this Navratri…

The festival of nine auspicious days is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her various forms. Many parts of the country are decorated with Puja Pandals, Mata Temples and Ram Leela’s happening all over.

People celebrate the festival by visiting temples and offering pujas at Mother’s feet. People also observe fast during the day and eat at the sunset. In some places images of Mother Durga are also placed in beautifully decorates pandals. Special arrangements for pujas and vrats are arranged on temples dedicated to Shakti to mark these nine days as true symbol of adoration towards the divine mother and symbol of Power- Mata Durga.

Navratri (Sanskrit: नवरात्रि, literally “nine nights”), also spelled Navaratri or Navaratri, is a multi-day Hindu festival celebrated in the autumn every year. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian sub-continent. Theoretically, there are four seasonal Navratri. However, in practice, it is the post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharad Navratri that is the most observed in the honour of the divine feminine Devi (Durga). The festival is celebrated in the bright half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.

Navratri is one of the most awaited festival in Gujarat. Here, Navratri is celebrated on the first nine days of Ashwin month. Devotees fast for nine days and worship the idols of the goddess. According to the tradition, the women who are observing the fast bring an earthen pot home, with holes, and light it every evening and perform the aarti of maa durga. The pot is called ‘Garbi’ and the light symbolises Shakti, ‘power’.  Garba raas and dandiya raas are the two beautiful forms of Gujarati dance which is usually performed by Gujarati men and women, who are traditionally dressed in chaniya choli and kurta. Who can forget spirited Deepika Padukone & Ranveer Singh dancing to the beats of Dandiya in Raas leela.

Gujaratis in Mumbai create “Mini Gujarat” almost all over Mumbai and celebrate Navratri with Garba and dandiya nights with Celebrity singers/ performers like Falguni Pathak and what to say of Navratri in Ahmedabad’s University Grounds where youngers dance the night out on electrifying Garba beats with amalgamation of traditional & modern music. DJs belt out one number after another, however older generation feels this is not Navratri all about but new generation has their own ways of celebrating Navratri.  It is my dream to be there for Navratri someday.

When it’s Navratri, nothing but ethnic wear suits the occasion and Lehenga Choli fits perfectly for the Dandiya nights and visiting Pandals with friends and family. Triveni has come up with some mesmerising collection of Lehengas.

Their Banarasi Celebration as the name suggests celebrates ethnicity with royalty. The collection is inspired from the woven work of Banarasi Silk and contains Santoon lining. The embroideries are to add up to the embellished look. The collection comes in different shades of pretty pinks, alluring orange, ravishing green and bewitching bright yellows. The zari work to give a splendid golden touch to Lehenga and add up to the majestic look of the woman who carries it.

Ethnic Era reminds you of the fact that era of ethnicity never ends and it should not as it celebrates culture. The collection brings in the pairing up of most contrasting colors, from dark magenta colored Lehenga to light peach Dupatta. The Art Silk collection contains intricate designs and patterns throughout the Lehenga-Choli and a plain dupatta with borders on side. It contains of patch work, laces, stone work and embroideries.

Cinderella, if you want a woven touch and silk resplendence and yet an easy to carry Lehenga Choli so that you can set your feet free (like Cinderella) while dancing to the tunes of Navratri songs, go for this. From colours of all range, orange, green, pink, beige and brown, art silk Lehenga Choli are teamed up with chiffon dupattas.

Take your pick and dance your heart out this Navratri!

 

In my battle to be FIT, Saffola my shining armour!

Coming from the FAT lineage (All proud fatties – खाते पीते घर के हैं), I was always conscious about the becoming fat (read: ugly & unhealthy) . Starting from being a skinny child to chubby teenager, I was a happy-go-lucky girl but as I left my teenage years, my fat (Read: Looks) started to bother me. I knew fat girls had low marketability in marriage market (Yes, girls were treated like a commodity in those days). Price will rise with discounted looks, sad though, but true, unfortunately! I was really concerned!   

So, in marriage market, I lost the game totally, being fat could be one main reason as on other accounts I was quite alright! This is when I started my battle with bulge in a dedicated manner…say 25 years ago. In the meantime, all my cousins, friends, acquaintances got married, only I being an exception. Yes, today I laugh at those days when marriage was such a big deal…but yes it hurt me beyond words.

Then some tragedies followed where I lost some near and dear one’s due to heart attack stemming from their diabetes, high BP and over-weight. This scared me no end. I said to myself, “forget marriage” let me be FIT for myself! There is so much I can do myself, on my own, of course with the support of my mother and brother (Most supportive people on the planet).

Being a Class I Govt. official, time was always an issue, hence an excuse too. I decided to manage my time well…I requested my friend who ran a health club in Lucknow to open it at 6 AM so that girls like me can join. Vigorous manual & mechanical exercise helped me shed some weight, but I was still far from being there, where my matrimonial ad could read: Slim, beautiful (??). My trainer put me through a dietician / nutritionist who gave a diet plan which was like plucking the moon. The whole day you keep cooking and eating, hour after hour! Was this possible for a working professional like me? Not at all!

I discussed this with my regular doctor who gave me million-dollar advice “Switch to Saffola” for all your food articles. Since then Saffola has been a permanent staple in my kitchen, but because of that I am wary of eating out and other’s places too. Doubting: It may not be cooked in Saffola. All this together worked for me, I started losing weight, systematically with my brisk 30 minutes’ walk, yoga, breathing exercises and occasional dancing (which I love), now Navratri is around the corner…

Now I was quite FIT and ENERGETIC, I fitted the bill from being FAT to FIT to the hilt. Subsequently, marriage happened, Husband being a Gujarati, was a foodie to the core with very different eating habits ( I being North Indian). But he followed me in joining Saffola brigade! Both of us very happy with our decision.

 

Even after 24 years of marriage, we are quite FIT couple and FITTER daughter, we recently undertook trekking trip to Mt. Abu recently!

I must admit, Saffola takes the CAKE and morning walk is ICING on the Cake!

So how does “Switch to Saffola” can happen with you?  Saffola comes in four variants and you can choose according to your requirement and metabolism and become #ApneTareekeSeHealthy

Saffola Active absorbs up to 28% lesser fat as compared to other single seed oils, hence making it the healthy choice of Weight Watchers.

Are you pushing for a healthy lifestyle even amongst the hustles of the modern-day lifestyle? You can Saffola Gold which partners your journey for a healthy lifestyle so that you have a healthy heart.

You can complement your fitness efforts with healthy choices! Saffola Tasty absorbs up to 20% lesser fat as compared to other single seed oils2, hence making it the right choice of the Fitness Conscious.

You can choose Saffola Total, the expert solution that helps you maintain a healthy heart.

I will advise all youngsters and young at heart, being Healthy should be your most important MOTTO of your life, otherwise as you know the Unhealthy body is home to Unhealthy mind and this is a most dangerous situation to be in.  Today our food habits, stress & activity level affect both our health & heart. But health can also be a part of your life – when you find your own way of being healthy.

Thankfully, in my times, there was no such concept as fast food, only slow-food cooked by our loving mother!

Like her, you can include more fibre in your diet. Fibre helps you to stay fuller for longer and it also moves fat through your digestive system quicker so less of it is absorbed. Filling yourself up with fibre also gives you more energy to exercise. Stay away from aerated drinks or fruit juices that are loaded with artificial sweeteners and calories that are not good for health.

Avoid irregular eating schedules. Try to understand whether you are eating out of habit or hunger2. Timely eating ensures that your metabolism is in control thus preventing unnecessary fat deposition leading to an ideal body weight!

Differentiate between good and bad fats. While saturated and trans fat may not be so good -Good fats can be found in foods with Omega 3 & Omega 6 like flaxseed, soy nuts, almonds, cashews, etc.

Like Saffola, I also believe that health is not difficult when you adopt your own ways of being healthy.  So “Switch to Saffola”!

With Saffola, now choose an oil for your way of being healthy!

I am joining Saffola #ApneTareekeSeHealthy initiative and sharing my ways of being healthy in association with BlogAdda.

Dont miss reading my winning entry about Saffola for Blogadda: https://travelknots.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/for-whom-my-heart-beats/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swacch Ghar Abhiyan with Royale Atmos by Asian Paints!

I have always believed in the dictum: Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

As a true Blue Mumbaikar, I always wondered why Mumbai is so polluted, so dirty, ugly sights, garbage dumps, dirty platforms, railway tracks, iconic Gateway of India, lovely Juhu beach full of trash…what not which are immensely contributing to the pollution in our lives. Ironically, we lived with them since, but kept our own houses clean (Really?). Truly inspired by PM Narendra Modi’s campaign, Swacch Bharat, Shrestha Bharat, I started contributing towards cleanliness of the aamchi Mumbai, by taking on social media with élan and tagging MCGM and Govt. of Maharashtra, who promptly acted on my tweets and made those places garbage free.

Going by that, I have always kept my house and surroundings spic and span, which as a writer have immensely contributed to my blogging and other creative sojourns, till…hold on…

I always believed that my house is almost pollution free as it is cleaned and dusted every day properly and I was quite happy about it, till I saw…

…Beautiful Deepika Padukone in a mask in Asian Paints Royale Atmos commercial tip-toeing us in her celebrity life, but making a shocking revelation – – Indoors are 5X more polluted than outdoors!

How come I never thought about it? But could not restrain for long…

I list here Pollution Causing Culprits inside the home:

  1. Smoker husband, though he keeps exhaust fan on, yes, it is causing pollution
  2. House being on roadside, vehicles emissions quietly enter, without me knowing about it
  3. Chimney in the kitchen, which takes out some and brings in some emissions from outside
  4. Dirty Footwear which we park inside the home
  5. Sanitary Napkins disposal methodology
  6. Painting the walls after a gap of two years which unknowingly accumulates host of dust
  7. Carpets in all the rooms which are vacuum cleaned once a month
  8. Curtains in the rooms which are washed occasionally
  9. Dirt in the corners, which house help avoids
  10. Outside Grills & nets, which accumulate outside dirt

I am very happy that now we have an effective ammunition to fight all this and more…

…Royale Atmos by Asian Paints is a first of its kind paint that not only looks beautiful but also cleans the air making it purer than before. It’s Activated Carbon technology reduces harmful pollutants from the air. Additionally, Royale Atmos also absorbs and reduces select foul smells to make the air fresher. Royale Atmos is the first Asian Paints product to have a fragrance, instead of the normal chemical smell of paints. Thus, it also acts like an air freshener by releasing a mild fragrance week after painting.

Prominent features:

Reduces indoor air pollutant: It reduces a harmful air pollutant, formaldehyde, and makes the indoor air healthier to breathe.

Releases fragrance: It emits a soothing fresh fragrance.

Green assure: The promise of Green Assure from Asian Paints, implies that this product conforms to strict international environmental and safety standards.

Teflon™ surface protector: Fortifies your walls against tough stains, increases durability and reinforces the strength of the paint film. Comparable to the best interior emulsions across the world, it protects your walls against the toughest household and water based stains.

Smooth matt finish: It comes in a rich Matt finish which makes your walls look perfect.

Few tips to ensure clean air inside your homes #CleanAirBeautifulHomes

  1. Festive season is on us, get your walls painted with Asian Paints Royal Atmos as a booster shot for Pollution free home: https://www.indiblogger.in/drive/royale-atmos-paint-purifies-air
  2. https://www.asianpaints.com/product/royale.royale-atmos.html
  3. Wash your bedsheets and upholstery regularly
  4. Vacuum Clean the carpets regularly
  5. Get Sanitary Napkins disposal bins in your washrooms
  6. Wash outside grills, nets etc with piped water once a week
  7. Remove grease oil dirt from fans, ACs, Chimney and exhaust fans
  8. Clean footwear outside homes before parking them inside
  9. Not to smoke, chew tobacco etc. inside the house
  10. Get your gadgets serviced from time to time
  11. Have indoor plants which not only provide fragrance but also add to positively inside your home sweet home

What are you thinking, pick – up the shade card of Asian Paints Royale Atmos and get ready to paint your home which will not only keep you Pollution Free but will add to your HAPPINESS QUOTIENT as well.

Loving the product, loving the commercial – hail this initiative of Asian Paints and thank them for contributing towards our healthy and long life, what else do we want?

Travel-Knots welcomes Mr Kannanthanam J Alphons, New Tourism Minister & IT

Indeed, Minister with a DIFFERENCE!!

Read on to know why this holds true for him, truly inspirational figure, proud to have him as Tourism Minister.

Mr Alphons is a 1979 batch IAS officer of the Kerala cadre. Alphons became famous as Delhi’s “Demolition Man” when he headed the Delhi Development Authority, having cleared DDA areas of encroachment removing around 15,000 illegal buildings. This got him listed in Time Magazine’s list of 100 Young Global Leaders in 1994. Born in Manimala village in Kerala’s Kottayam district, he pioneered the literacy movement in India and as District Collector of Kottayam, he made it the first 100 percent literate town in India in 1989.

Kannanthanam had set up the NGO Janshakti in 1994 for social works. On retiring from IAS, he contested the Kerala assembly polls in 2006 to become an independent MLA from Kanjirappally. He was also a member of the committee to prepare the final draft of the National Education Policy 2017. He also authored the book “Making a Difference”.

Alphons’s life is nothing short of a miracle. Having passed his high school from a non-electrified village Malayalam medium school, he became one of the toppers of the 1979 batch of the IAS. He vowed that he would never be a door mat for the politician, but would be a voice of the hapless citizen. For 27 years he was their voice, running pitched battles against the corrupt system. He was rated to be one of the most competent officers in the history of the civil service. He was on TIME magazine’s list of 100 young global leaders in 1994. He is an inspirational orator and has spoken to over three million people, mostly students, in the past 35 years. In 2006, he quit IAS, contested as an independent from Kanjirappally constituency and got elected as an MLA on 32nd day with a huge majority, spending less than Rs10 lakhs. He decided that he wanted to be a different kind of an MLA. He drove his own car and lived in a tiny room in the rest house and got allocated Rs 350 crores for the constituency and won the best MLA award.

Power to bring Happiness

“Alphons believes that ultimately there is only one purpose in life: HAPPINESS. It is his strong belief that we should leave the world happier than we arrived. Lots of people believe in happiness, but mostly for themselves. Alphons believes that we got only one life and our destinies are deeply interwoven. There can be no islands of happiness. He refused to be MLA from Kanjirappally a second time, even though he would have been a Minister this time. His argument was simple: “When half of India is starving and when half the children in India do not go to school, I have no business to be an MLA from the richest constituency”. He said he wants to work on three things: food on every table, every child to school and a job for everybody. He says he got into IAS because it was the most powerful service in the world. For him, power means the ability to create happiness for the persons who come in contact with him, not the ability to bully anyone into indignity. He got into politics because it gives him the power to bring a smile on human face. ”

Major Accomplishments:

  • One of the toppers of the IAS, 1979 batch.
  • Featured in TIME MAGAZINES’S list of 100 young global leaders in 1994 (cover story-5th Dec 1994).
  • Pioneered the literacy movement in India, by making Kottayam Town the first 100% literate town in India in 1989, as District Collector.
  • Kottayam District achieved a quality health index better than the United States of America when he was the District Collector.
  • Built a cancer centre at Kottayam Medical College, with contribution from 8.2 million people.
  • Demolished 14,310 illegal buildings in Delhi, and reclaimed land worth Rs. 10,000 crores, as Commissioner, Delhi Development Authority.
  • Times Of India survey showed that 89.6% Delhiites supported his action, the highest rating for any public official any time.
  • Is an inspirational orator; was the best inter university debater in India for three years, while in the University.
  • Was instrumental in sanctioning self-financing professional colleges in Kerala, in 2001, when he was the Secretary, Higher Education, leading to an investment of Rs. 4,000 crores in this sector. The initiative has created over 1,00,000 seats in professional colleges. Declared the results of the entrance examinations to professional colleges in seven days, when he was the Commissioner for entrance examinations, Kerala.
  • Authored the bestselling book titled “Making a Difference”, published by Penguin India, in 1996. The Malayalam translation, “India Mattathinte Muzhakam”, published by DC Books, is its 12th edition.
  • Resigned from the IAS and got elected as independent MLA from Kanjirappally on 32nd day with a huge majority.Has won the best MLA award in Kerala in 2009.
  • Set up JANSHAKTHI, an NGO, in 1994, to get the citizens to believe in their ability to make government accountable to people. It has over 265 branches in Kerala. Worked for a year in Janshakthi’s slum project in Delhi after finishing tenure as Commissioner, DDA.
  • Won T.RAMARAO award from Kottayam Public Library in 2008, for making the most outstanding contribution to the development of Kottayam.

Travel-knots extends a hearty welcome to New Tourism Minister.

 

 

 

InfertilityDost: Torchbearer for the cause of Infertility!

Today I am touching upon a very offbeat subject, rather taboo subject of Infertility amongst couples and the trauma they have to undergo from all possible all quarters. Though personally, I don’t relate much to the subject, I have seen couples around me whose life has been devastated because of this, but could not do anything for them besides helplessly watching them through their suffering.

The pain can be best summed up as:

Life is not fair always and when it is not, it is one hell of a life!

Now the time has come to do something for such couples through this blogpost:

Today I am introducing you to my Blogger friend who can be safely termed as Crusader of the sorts for the cause of Infertility and she is none other than – Ms Gitanjali Banerjee of travel by karma fame.  The woman of substance behind the InfertilityDost is very charming and dedicated towards the cause, Gitanjali who got into an arranged marriage at the age of 23 years. After one year of the customary honeymoon, it was time to hit the next milestone – motherhood. And, with this began the 10 long and gruelling years of fighting infertility. Post 5 miscarriages, 3 molar pregnancies, 1 failed IVF, a brush with ovarian cancer and finally successful pregnancy on second IVF attempt- she stands here in front of us to openly talk about her Infertility journey.

Today, she has cute little son to shower her love and enjoy the journey of motherhood but can she forget the pain and suffering, the loneliness, the depression and the desperation, the feeling of being cut-off from society and the turmoil suffered within, during this journey. It has made me who she is today.

It was not easy to open up her extremely personal story and discuss this taboo subject. She had fears – fears of being tagged and judged by the society. Her tryst with infertility over a period of 10 years convinced her that there are a lot of women out there who suffer in silence and one must reach out to them. There is an urgent need to reach up to them and tell them, “You are not alone”. And, eventually, with a lot of strength and support, she managed to overcome all fears and hesitation and, started InfertilityDost last year. The website was officially launched in August 2016 though the idea and preparation had started way before.

Infertility Dost is an integral part of her life, it’s her dream, passion and true calling. Through this platform, she wishes to reach out to as many people as possible. And she has become successful in her mission through InfertilityDost.

InfertilityDost is India’s first website that facilitates couples to brave infertility with support and knowledge. They hold hand, facilitate right guidance so that couples can take good decisions and stay away from misleading advertisements and fraud clinics, answer their queries by connecting them to experts, keep them motivated throughout this tough phase of life, reinforcing their strength and hope, helping them #StandUp and fight society’s stereotypes and prejudices, and simply reassuring them that everything is going to be all right.

The guiding spirit behind this initiative:

#BringChange

There is a need to #BreakTaboos and #BreakSilence around infertility. More than 150 million couples in India suffer infertility in pain and silence. There is a need to give them an understanding social environment so that can deal with the situation better. We must educate the society by #Spreading Awareness and #Talking Openly about infertility

#EmpowerWomen

Often it is seen that it is the woman who bears the brunt of infertility. The social and family pressures play havoc with their life which actually comes to a standstill. They forgo their career, become reticent, and add to it the physical trauma of treatments. Amidst all this, the woman questions their self-worth. They get influenced and take wrong decisions. We want to empower woman by providing support and information to take the right decision and to follow the choice that makes them (and only them) happy.

#Inspire

With real life stories, we inspire and educate. We openly talk about various aspects of this journey so that they don’t feel alone. Couples undergoing infertility treatment just need a sensitive environment to heal their emotional bruises and fight back with grit.

Their impressive line-up of following offerings:

  • A one stop solution for all infertility and IVF information.
  • Accurate information on various aspects of infertility through blogs– emotional, social, psychological, financial, physical and medical.
  • Expert panel to cut through myths and guide couples. We have naturopathy, acupuncture, nutrition, psychologists onboard.
  • Collates and shares real life journey of women to provide hope and inspiration.
  • Find and review doctors to ensure that couples reach the right doctor and avoid being cheated.
  • Discussion forum to find support, create bonds and discuss almost everything related to the subject of infertility
  • The comfort of anonymity – On our website, a person can log in and choose a pen name to stay anonymous because the subject of infertility is so personal that a lot of people might not be comfortable being seen especially when everything is linked to social media.
  • Conducts talks and workshops at various cities to spread awareness and break social taboo and humiliation around the subject of infertility.
  • Organize online campaigns to spread awareness. Our blog contest was well received. See it here – http://writetribe.com/talk-about-infertility/
  • Helping women acknowledge that help is available and they are not alone.

Social Media presence:Website: http://infertilitydost.com/

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/InfertilityDost/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/infertilitydostindia/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/infertilitydost

If you want to help any of such couples who are suffering in silence, please guide them to http://infertilitydost.com/

 

Make in India: Triveni roots to make SAREE a GLOBAL ICON

SURAT, the textile & diamond hub of India was our destination on August 19, 2017, as a part of Mega FAM trip organized by Triveni Sarees for bloggers and media persons. We reached Surat on cloudy Saturday, only to be welcomed by very warm and charming Vitika Mehta, when we alighted from Shatabdi Express.

We headed straight to the office of Triveni Sarees located in Anupam Textile Market, which is an amalgamation of tradition and modernity, but not without noticing the huge flyovers, wide roads and host of textile hubs on both sides of the road. Mr Shailesh Saraf and Mr Arvind Saraf (Directors) welcomed us and apprised us about the making of Brand Triveni. All of us would admit that it was a very enlightening introduction of not only Triveni sarees but also of saree business as a whole.

Triveni, started by Mr Giridhar Saraf (father) in 1982, joined by the sons Shailesh Saraf, who understands Surat’s textile industry like no other and has been driving home much of the product innovation, design elements, branding strength, core sales and marketing revitalization; IITian & MITian Arvind Saraf, who brings in high level of efficiency, digitization, monitoring & innovation in the organization besides steering the E-Commerce arm.

Advantage SURAT   

Shailesh Saraf: Indeed we are in one of the biggest textile hubs of India, second to only Shaoxing in China, covering India’s synthetic production to the tune of 70 to 80 percent. Surat was well-known for its mass market offerings till recently, but now it is catering to designer wear market as well, which we know as a niche market.   Today Surat is known for cutting edge products through its insurmountable investment in latest technologies be it in the field of designing, weaving, printing, embroidery or fabric. It is delivering exceptionally well on both counts – inspirational values and the volumes.  Surat is one such place which covers most of the India especially in sarees and we are proud to note that over 90% population is wearing in ‘Surat ki Saree’.

Strengths TRIVENI

Shailesh Saraf: We at Triveni offer very cutting edge designs at highly competitive price points which are our USPs and have given us higher authority in the markets all over. Over a period of time, we have developed a deep instinct about what would work where. I can safely say experience matters more in this field. My day begins with thinking about designs and creating those designs which augurs well to most “Hard to Please” segment – The Indian Woman.

We need to be very focused as Saree or ethnic wear is a very personalized business, and the subject needs in-depth knowledge and widespread reach to make an impact. We are basically distributor led model but our sarees have been going to many countries like Australia, Malaysia, Mauritius Singapore, Spain, Dubai and London etc. though in small portions, but yes we are there.

We do follow fashion forecasts trends dictated by various seasons, internationally like Fall-Winter or Spring-Summer, but predominantly Triveni caters to the tastes of Indian Market which is festivities and weddings driven. With the onset of marriage season, our colour pallets comprise mostly reds, maroons, magentas or oranges which are in sync with the taste of Indian brides. For festivals like Navratri, we do huge varieties of Chaniya Choli collections and for Diwali, we do sarees with traditional weaves and heavy designer inputs.

Make In India: Saree to be Global Icon!

We have some idea that how to promote Indian saree in the world market under the aegis of “Make in India”. I believe Saree is one thing which can take this initiative to just another level. We need Government’s support to work in this direction and empower saree players like us. In case saree reaches on the shelves of big international retail brands like Wal-Mart, then its reach would be phenomenal. Now we have noticed that even foreign diplomats are wearing sarees on India’s Independent day and many other similar occasions. I really want to work for “Make in India” but for that Indian Government needs to make initiation for us. We are ready to initiate the dialogue on this. If saree is declared ethnic wear for the world and is sold duty-free on International airports then its reach it will work magic for BRAND SAREE.

“If a foreigner wants to buy a saree, she should be offered some special pricing, this way niche market will automatically expand. From Surat it is very difficult for us to promote saree on that scale, hence for that initiative is needed from New Delhi.  My aim is to make the saree the preferred Indian wear for the world.”

The Game Changer E-COMMERCE  

We have strengthened our E-Commerce platform in the recent past which enables us in catching the pulse of live customers, whose feedback is immensely valuable. We have customers from far – flung countries of the world besides the US, UK, Mauritius, Singapore etc. where we ship our sarees to the end consumers. Our E-Commerce business is 10% of our total turnover. It is a very robust platform which every woman needs to experience. We are selling through E-Commerce websites like Jabong and Myntra and our experience has been good overall, moreover we feel a presence on these sites is important as these provide visibility and we get to cater to wide spectrum of customers.   The digital team is always on their toes and ensures constant presence on social media platforms and tracking various activities on our E-Commerce platform.

Sarees, Sarees & More Sarees & Lehengas too!

In the last leg of our tour, we reached the warehouse of Triveni which is huge in absolute terms and stocks and delivers a huge number of sarees on a pan India level. Mr Vineet Agarwal who manages this humongous warehouse told us that for the first time tax has come on sarees with 5% GST for which we had to do put in place huge logistics but we have not passed it to the end consumer.

We were shown the raw material, laces, sequins, decorations in hordes which are used by the design team. For the first time, we came to know that what a humongous effort it is to make one saree! From here we moved to the place which looked like a sea of sarees but, it was most organized warehouse I had ever been to. Mr  Agarwal who manages it all delightfully shared his management techniques which include several quality checks to deliver that perfect saree.

The Triveni team comprises of Designers from NIFT who churn out designs and designs to suit every palette.  Shalini Raj who is a chief designer, also a drape expert was quite a delight, she showed us her drawing book which had many interesting designs and explained to us how design team works. The most interesting part was all ladies enjoying themselves in saree draping workshop with Vitika, Priya, Yashi and Shalini (Triveni Team).

The brain behind the strong social and digital media presence  Vitika Mehta made a comprehensive presentation on Digital activities of Triveni.

No wonder, I termed Triveni as “Organically grown Corporate”.

Triveni needs just that push and initiative on the part of Government to be a shining star of “Make In India” campaign.

Hope PM Narendra Modi is listening…oops reading!! 

Top Pics: Beauty & Grace personified Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur

Royal Enfield embarks on its first ride to the Land of the Gods – Tour of Uttarakhand

First edition of Tour of Uttarakhand begins September 15th, 2017

Royal Enfield, the world’s fastest growing motorcycle brand has opened registrations for the first ever edition of the Tour of Uttarakhand for its customers and aficionados. Leisure motorcycling enthusiasts can register for the most recent addition to Royal Enfield’s coveted line-up of rides at https://royalenfield.com/tou/register/. Commencing on the 15th of September from Dehradun, the Royal Enfield cavalcade will traverse across one of India’s most picturesque regions, the home of the Himalayas before culminating at Dehradun itself on the 24th of September.

The ride to the land of the Gods will be a journey like never before for the participants, taking them through the lesser explored regions of the Himalayas, forest reserves, wildlife and to Mana, the last village on the Tibetan border. The riding terrain will give them a scenic view of landscapes, barren snow-capped mountains and frozen water bodies while allowing for an intriguing pure motorcycling experience. Whether appealing to the explorer in oneself or alluring the ones looking to break out of the monotony of everyday life, The Tour of Uttrakhand will be an experience worth cherishing for one and all.

Flagging off from the capital city of Uttarakhand, the convoy will make its way to Harsil, Nelang Valley, Niti Pass, Auli, Kausani, Jim Corbett and back, covering a distance of close to 1,500 km for over 10 days. Royal Enfield has been pioneering leisure motorcycling in India and with the Tour of Uttarakhand, it aims to provide a novel riding experience by chartering into an unexplored yet fascinating territory.

Royal Enfield aims to provide “pure motorcycling” experience, wherein the man, machine and terrain come together as one. In its constant endeavour to support and encourage the riders to explore the unexplored terrains, Tour of Uttarakhand is one such initiative that will bring them closer to fulfilling their need for exploration in the home of the Himalayas.

The oldest motorcycle brand in continuous production, Royal Enfield made its first motorcycle in 1901. A division of Eicher Motors Limited, Royal Enfield has created the mid-sized motorcycle segment in India with its unique and distinctive modern classic bikes. With its new manufacturing base in Chennai, India, Royal Enfield is able to grow its production rapidly against a surge in demand for its motorcycles. With more than 50% growth every year for the last 5 years, Royal Enfield is fast becoming a very important player in the global mid-size motorcycle market and is working towards re-inventing this space with motorcycles that are evocative and engaging and great fun to ride.

Royal Enfield also organizes and supports many motorcycling events and rides globally, more prominently the Rider Mania – an annual gathering of Royal Enfield riders from all over the world to the lovely beaches of Goa, and the Himalayan Odyssey, the most arduous motorcycle ride over some of the toughest roads and highest mountain passes in the Himalayas. Royal Enfield also conducts the popular ‘One Ride’ where people around the world ride out on their motorcycles on the first Sunday of April.

To know more about #TOU2017 visit: https://royalenfield.com/tou/

Sumptuous Gujarati Thali by SURAT’s SAASUMAA!

Trip to SURAT isn’t complete without dining at SAASUMAA

Gujarati Thali, the name evinces great emotion for food lovers all over the world. Why?  Gujaratis are spread all over the world, who are not only famous for their entrepreneurial histrionics but also for their culinary tastes and expertise. No wonder Gujarati food has patrons all over the world. Remeber how Ex-POTUS Bill Clinton savoured Aam Kadhi in Gujarat and he requested the dish while official dinner at Taj.

I also got the opportunity to savour famous Gujarati Thali on a Mega Fam Trip to Surat recently which turned out to be a very enjoyable affair. In the company of fellow bloggers and Triveni Ethnics team – Vitika Mehta, Yashi and Shalini Raj, the gracious hosts , we thoroughly enjoyed the thali comprising of some mouthwatering dishes and sweet delicacies. The daal dhokla in the thali needs special mention which was interspersed with heavy dollops of fruits. When I checked with very friendly manager – why fruit dhokla? To this, he replied so that patrons get complete food with dal, roti and fruits. Gujarati dal was yummy too, though I did not know, which was sweeter, the dal or the rabri.

Selfie time with fellow bloggers

But won’t you like to know where we dined? It was at SASUMAA restaurant which is located on the key location at Ring Road of Surat City, which served us most authentic Gujarati Thali comprising of several Gujarati dishes.

My Gujarati Thali…

SASUMAA Gujarati Thali offers various dishes with low spices in authenticate full Gujarati thali and serve with all the love and affection just like the mother in law. The manager was especially very courteous for us, who explained each and every dish to us and shared that there is a different menu for every meal.

They have been quite successful in their attempt to retain the distinct and authenticate Gujarati flavours. The menu at SASUMAA changes daily and varies seasonally too, so you can have your new favourites on each visit.

Gujarati cuisine refers to the cuisine of Gujarat, India, a state in western India. Despite having an extensive coastline for seafood, it is primarily a vegetarian cuisine due to the influence of Jain vegetarianism and traditional Hinduism. Many a celebrities have dined there and enjoyed the Gujarati Dal, Dal Dhokli, Dhokla, Rabri, Sabziz, Khichri like we did.

The typical Gujarati Thali consists of Rotli, Dal or Kadhi, Rice, and Shaak/Sabzi (a dish made up of different combinations of vegetables and spices, which may be spicy or sweet). Gujarati cuisine varies widely in flavour and heat, depending on a given family’s tastes as well as the region of Gujarat they are from. North Gujarat, Kathiawad, Kachchh, and Surti Gujarat are the four major regions of Gujarat that all bring their own style to Gujarati food. Many Gujarati dishes are distinctively sweet, salty, and spicy at the same time.

Selfie showing facade of SAASUMAA with lovely blogger Farhat & Bhagyashree

All of us dined to our heart’s content at SAASUMAA but not without mentioning our own Saasu maas, of course those who had.

After finishing the meals, we headed down for “Banarasi Paan” which refreshed us for the session ahead and also completed our trip to SAASUMAA.

 

 

 

Nobody welcomes Lord Ganesha like we Mumbaikars!

Come August and Mumbai is all set and appropriately decked up to welcome Ganpati Bappa with full fervour…VARMA House hold is no exception to this and is all set to Welcome Bappa today like always!

Special mandap is being set-up for Bappa where traditional welcome would be given to Lord Ganesha, special aartis would be performed and my favourite part…Laddoo ka Bhog! Many friends and relatives visit Bappa and spend time for Puja Archana. It’s a special day in Varma Household where every body is welcomed with prasad and delicacies.

Mumbaikars celebrates this festival with great zeal and enthusiasm, every Mumbaikar keenly await for the festival, cleans their houses, buy new clothes, makes many delicacies, invites friends and relatives and celebrate. Mumbai becomes Bappamay during this period. Countless stalls are set – up and people make a point to visit these stalls until the time Bappa stays there. Mumbai is the most famous for its massive processions. Even the households in Mumbai celebrate the festival by installing an idol of Lord Ganesha and worshipping it for over ten days. The houses are cleaned and the idol is brought in with the family members chanting ‘Shloka’ or religious verses. The seven to ten days long festival ends with the ‘Ganesh Visarjan’ where the idols are immersed in the water; it is done as a procession with millions of people accompanying the idol along with a lot of music and dance.

It was Lokmanya Tilak who popularised the festival during the freedom movement and made it a community celebration. Colourfully decorated Idols of lord Ganesha are installed both at homes and in Sarvajanik Ganesh Pandals. The occasion becomes very lively and enthusiastic with the devotional songs, dances and drum beats being a part of the rituals observed by the devotees of Lord Ganesha, as part of the festivities. Pandals across Mumbai are known to thematically represent the current social issues that the city faces through tableaux, paintings and decorations.

The entire city of Mumbai celebrates Ganpati festival irrespective of caste creed and religion. This celebration brings out the splendour of street life, the spirit of sharing and giving and the strength of the city’s artistic traditions.

I am in complete celebration mode with beautiful Ganeshostav Collection from Triveni Sarees which are in vibrant colours and exclusive designs.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) have been appealing Mumbaikars to use eco-friendly Ganesh idols and artificial ponds for immersion to curb pollution. The pollution control board has also directed the mandals to remove flowers, clothes and decorating material before immersion. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has also increased the number of artificial ponds to increase the convenience of Bappa Bhakts.

We as Mumbaikars should make sure that the festivities are not marred by the scars it leaves in the form of pollution, thus GO GREEN this year and always.

Ganpati Bappa Morya in Mumbai!

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