Every monsoon  Umbrellas go through a lot of change in fashion. It is really interesting to watch the new designs coming up on umbrellas. The children’s umbrellas have all kinds of cartoon and comic characters appearing. And also for  little grown up girls , there are style and fashion illustrations appearing on them.

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The first time I observed fashion on Umbrellas was when I travelled to Simla. I bought an umbrella with ruffles at the edges for my mom- in- law. She has a huge fetish for umbrellas which she displays proudly when she goes to the nearby temple every day. And during monsoon in kerala , you have to literally carry an umbrella all the time as you have no clue when the water will hit on you. So i guess for a land like Kerala , umbrella fashion is actually very interesting  to watch.


Another place where to I travelled and observed  umbrella fashion was Shanghai in China. I was really amused to see the varietal umbrellas that were spotted on the streets carried by everyone who could be going to office or just shopping. And the cutest part was, on a street if you spotted twenty umbrellas , all the twenty were different and had individual designs on them. And there were beautifully embroidered and printed ones on display with unusual designs.

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And when I visited Beijing, as I went visiting some museums , I spotted women selling beautiful cutworked  hand made umbrellas with wooden handles . The offwhite ones looked quite classy and could have been used as interesting lampshades which could be hung from the ceiling. They were made in cotton fabric and I wondered how much they would protect you from the sun leave alone rain. They looked more ornamental than utilitarian.

In the same context , I have to mention about the most amazing, colourful umbrellas done in fabric and entirely hand embroidered that I saw on the streets of Jaipur(India). Even those I felt were just ornamental but man! they could bring alive a drab room and could completely infuse excitement into a sober setting of a decor! I had brought  all these back to be put at my Lifestyle store in cochin.

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Even this monsoon I am so much in awe at the designs that have emerged in Umbrella fashion . They sure help in making a dull rainy day bright and cheerful and happy and….ooh la la!



All people from Kerala(India) know the allure of this drape called”Mundum Neriyathe” or MundumVeshti or “Settum Mundum”.Although  this beautiful drape which consists of two pieces of fabric ; one which is draped around the lower torso  called” Munde”and the other which goes as a drape around the lower and upper torso of a woman called the”Neriyathe”, typically belongs to the Hindu religion,now a days women from all religions wear it as it is looked upon as a traditional wear of Kerala.And during a main festival of Kerala ,”Onam”, all  malayali women wear it to some function over the span of these ten days .And so we can actually say that it does not anymore belong to any religion but to the beautiful women of “God’s own country”!

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This is such a beautiful dress and will actually appeal to anyone around the world who loves drapes as this is typically in a offwhite colour with Gold Zari border which looks extremely classy and has an aura of royalty. Any woman wearing this dress has a beauty of her own and looks complete with generally some gold jewellery and jasmine flowers on her hair and a red “bindi”(round spot) on her forehead.

The typical ” Mundum Neriyathe” comes in Off white and a flat gold Zari border called “Kasavu”, or the border will be in a flat colour or stripe called “Kara”and was always woven.But as in any other dress , this drape also has evolved over the ages and now a days come in all sorts of designs. The main change happens with the border mainly; it has gone from printed to embroidered to attached brocade borders. And the “Zari” also has changed from Gold to Silver or a mix of both. The body essentially remains off-white. But now a days, experiment is happening with the colour of the body too. And typically this drape is found in Cotton only ; but now  a days it is done in Silk as well ,due to demand for a more expensive look for weddings.

This drape is used by a lot of Hindus for a part of their weddings. Both the traditional and modern styles of the mundum neryathum are depicted in the paintings of the Indian painter Raja Ravi Verma. In olden times,the attire was worn with the “Neriyathu”wrapped around the bust and also a blouse was not worn . Women of Kerala also wear the drape for a traditional folk dance called “ Kaikottikalli” and “Thiruvathirakali”.

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 I have always been fascinated with this drape from a very young age. The best image that has been stuck in my mind is of my mother wearing this drape in the mornings after her bath and with “Sindooram on her forehead on her hair parting ! She would even wear a basal leaf on her long hair which sort of completed the look( both practices being done by Hindu women of this region). When I woke up in the mornings ,it was such a positive image to see…..for me she looked so beautiful like a goddess of love! And yes she was one, in her nature too.


I grew up having this fascination for the drape and till date it is more alluring to me than a “sari”! I feel it is more sensual in look and very feminine too. It is extremely simple to drape it unlike the “Sari”! And thus convenient to move about as well as airy and breathable  in the humid climate of Kerala.

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When I talk about Mundum Neriyathe , another drape which comes to my mind and which has struck me is “Meghela Chador of Assam”. I came across this drape accidentally through a friend who was assamese and I saw her wearing this for my brother’s wedding. I was really surprised to see something so similar to our own drape of Kerala. Then I really got to know about this drape.There are two main pieces of cloth that are draped around the body. The bottom portion, draped from the waist downwards is called the mekhela (Assamese: মেখেলা). It is in the form of a sarong—very wide cylinder of cloth—that is folded into pleats to fit around the waist and tucked in. The folds are to the right, as opposed to the pleats in the Nivi style of the saree, which are folded to the left.The top portion of the two-piece dress, called the chador, is a long length of cloth that has one end tucked into the upper portion of the Mekhela and the rest draped over and around the rest of the body.

Ornamental designs on the Mekhela chadors are traditionally woven, never printed. Sometimes a woven pattern, called the pari is stitched along the sides of a chador, or along the bottom of a mekhela. These drapes come in Cotton as well silk traditionally but now a day are also produced as blends of Cotton and Silk with Synthetic Fabrics.

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I saw a huge collection of these beautiful drapes in my friend’s collection. And there is even an antique one which her grandma had woven by herself and handed it down. And surprisingly for their weddings also just like in Kerala , they wear the traditional colour of off-white and Gold. I was flabbergasted; how can two regions so far away from each other have the same kind of drape and follow the same colour scheme? Such is life!…..I conclude.


For folks around the world who would like to see how a “Mundum Neriyathum ” is draped, here it is.

For folks who are interested to watch how a “Mekhala Chador” is worn, here it is.

Courtesy: Sameera Dipshikha Dowerah


There seems to be a sudden enthusiasm in the extended earrings now a days .These are very similar to the ear cuffs. I live in one of the most fashionable and trend following cities in India (Mumbai).This is one of the hubs where fashion gets released first and then trickles down to the other cities.
When I check out stores and bazaars , there is a rush of these earrings. And they are quite captivating and alternate. When you wear one of these, that kind of becomes the highlight and you don’t have to wear anything else in your ears.

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And also another tip for girls who would be using it is that it is best to put up your hair in some style than to let it loose for two reasons ; one being when you let your hair loose , it tends to get tangled with the earring. And secondly the earring tends to get covered and lost. The minimum that has to be done is pin-up one side of your hair or take a style where your ears are exposed totally.

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This style of earrings is such a value add for women with boy cuts, crew cuts and women with shaven heads. I wish I had these when I had shaved my head and dawned that look for some time.

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When I see these earrings,I am reminded of my earrings what I wore as a bride. It was a typical “Jumkka” or “Jimkki”(which is a very popular earring in all of India). And there was an extension piece like a Peacock design which extended up to my ear lobes and had to be clipped there. These earrings have been there from olden times. And it has been a Classic from time immemorial. So it’s just that the new earrings that we use now are a new “Avatar” of an old design.

Amusingly there is also a collection of earrings that come as a single piece; in the sense only on one ear and nothing on the other. These are also severely attractive but the only thing I disagree on is that, there could have been a tiny piece for the other ear which will complete the whole dramatic look. Now, the other ear is lying vacant as there is only one earring and that kind of gives a little lost look. So what I suggest to women opting for these singular pieces is that just browse around and shop a tiny earring in the same colour scheme as the main one and team it. And voilà!…you have a killer look!


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Do you get judged by the clothes that you wear?
All the time.
Who are you?
No one wants to know.
Your clothes speak… sweetheart!
You are only the clothes that you wear.
To a stranger.
To many.
To majority.
So beware! What you wear….where.
No matter how liberated you are,
Choose wisely my dear,
The destination,
The crowd.
For you are being judged every minute
By your second skin!

It’s not easy in my country, in many places, in societies, to wear what you just feel like. There is a culture, especially in my part of the world (Kerala, India). You are expected to confine to the limits of a diagram drawn by the society with the label “decent clothing”! If you dare step out, even a single step, you are tarnished, maybe for a lifetime even. You could lose everything; the minimum being your reputation which would have cost you a couple of years to build.
I blame none! The societal layout is such that it looks like we promote hypocrisy. The same folks who could wear clothes (daringly; that’s what they call you) which could show a little bit of skin , change their wardrobe entirely as they step into their native place(that includes me too; I admit). And it’s a known secret that we can and we may dress as we like, when we are on a holiday outside our state or living elsewhere.

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Do I see this as obnoxious? Well! I am confused to answer. I want to say yes when I think rationally. The answer becomes all the more a sound yes when I think radically! It is especially so, because as a society, we are not so closed to showing a decent amount of skin. The woman actually looks mighty sensual wearing a sari (a stretch of fabric draped around the body). When a sari is adorned, the woman’s body is portrayed in an aesthetically sensual manner. This drape shows off ample amount of skin or helps to accentuate the most beautiful parts of the woman’s anatomy. But no one even bats an eyelid; leave alone speak filth about it, where as when it comes to switching over to western clothes, we do have a highly volatile situation here.

Why are we like this?

The only answer could be that when we are used to something by birth, we do not have a problem; whereas, when we are exposed to change, then we rebel, we revolt, we ridicule!

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And we have a culture where in, we give respect (or so we claim) to elders. And one solid reason for dressing up moderately is also that we try not to offend our elders who are not exposed to or rather they are closed to anything different from what they have seen. And now if you ask me the same question, I would say “No”; I don’t think it is obnoxious for the simple reason that you don’t have to offend your culture and neither your elders. There is nothing wrong in being sensitive to the communities that we live in. There is nothing wrong in being respectful to the denizens around you. Why would you take the trouble to upset a chosen few when you know you can step out into the vast horizons of the world and wear the same clothes with no fear, no affront, and with élan, in a completely different , mature scenario which can endure it. It could be even that, the same clothes which are offensive in a space could get you appreciation in a different one. So, for me, it’s just a matter of letting go and dressing appropriately in the spaces where we are at a certain point of time.

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You are judged my dear…. good or bad, depends; but you are always judged by what you wear!

Guys….you must have noticed ;anyway ,for all those who didn’t , that’s the same girl in all the images, wearing both Indian traditional and western clothes! And thank you all for not judging her, on her clothes!


As far as Indians are concerned , “Cholis” or “Blouses”are an integral part  of  their  wardrobe.  It has  been  ; it is  and it will  be  , I deeply  hope!

Although  I basically  hail from  the  southern  part of India, I have, from  childhood  been inspired  by and been  much  in awe of the  colourful  , bling kind of clothes of the  northern  folks. Never to discount the simple ,elegant, pure  white clothes ,typical of the State( kerala) I hail from. I guess I would definitely have to come back to you guys to explain the aura of our typical clothing!

For the time being , let me just get on with the luxe life that I see around  as I now live in one of the most vibrant cities (Mumbai) of India! Everything in this city is about celebration. Everything you see around is a preparation for celebrating a festival or better ,celebrating life as it is. People do not have to wait for months , for a celebration ,unlike in my part of the world. Folks here are  always buying clothes and accessories ; rearranging their wardrobe ,putting together accessories to have a bash. People here take better care of their bodies, try to maintain it ;one reason for which could be , to flaunt to others  in addition to myriad other reasons.

I have  strayed away from the story I wanted to narrate. Well! It’s about the “Cholis”( colloquially called  “Blouses”) that women wear with a “Sari” and particularly about the strings attached at the back of  the “Choli” with the exotic looking hangings! The hangings or “Ladkand” as they are called colloquially, are an integral part of most of the women’s blouses here. And especially if it is a dressy Sari, then no doubt, there will be these hanging details.



So why are these hangings attached to the back of a “Choli”?


One , it is there in every Indian’s heart ever since Bollywood  movies(Indian film scene)  took birth. These hangings have been glorified and been given a status  which is  very sensual.It has become a part of a woman’s clothing which makes her look more sultry ….more woman! And perhaps this is the predominant  reason why a woman chooses to attach these hangings to her “Choli”.



But actually and technically, these also help in holding the “Choli” in place and in shape if the back is a very low-cut one. And  here ,I see that the women , no matter what strata they come from ,do flaunt their backs a lot.

The upper back  of a woman is indeed a beautiful sight too…..think about it!


And we are a country who flaunts “Backless Cholis”and “Cholis” held with just strings.  So it’s also just a  way of life for us in addition to being very sensual. The Gujarati and “Rajasthani” cholis  are known for their backless status.( Gujarat and Rajasthan are the two most colourful states of India as far as garments are concerned.)


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But does anyone look at these hangings closely? I doubt! Especially so, because these accessories are at the back ; but people like me who are inclined about nuances would definitely do so. And actually , these ornaments are quite a sight in itself. There is so  much of intricacies in each hanging. And even though we think, what does it matter,let me tell you that ,this one element could uplift a “Choli”to a different level and it could also become the  “Focal point”(centre of attraction) of the entire look.




So men, get going and notice these little details on your women’s choli and probably she is going to fall all over in love with you for the mistaken romance….ha ha ha!

And all of you women out there, get into detailing of your cholis and flaunt them and make a heart skip a beat or two!


Hey folks,am kicking off with a new category based purely on people; the ones I notice, take an interest in, to watch closely, the ones I find on the streets, in a mall, walking on the beach or leaning against a wall. It could be anyone; a soul with a difference in looks, attire, accessories, attitude or just about anything that catches my whim.
Am starting off with a very humble soul or so it seems to me.
I was walking down the road the other day, back from the club in my community in the morning. As I passed the “Jain Temple” being built nearby, I saw a bunch of women collectively standing and yapping happily. I looked at them and felt happy myself for the simple reason as to how people connect over a simple conversation; maybe they were discussing what they ate for breakfast. I walked past them and then I suddenly thought I noticed one woman particularly. I retraced my path. I approached and kind of looked at her closely; from a distance though. I found her pleasantly diverting!

She was dressed in a “sari” (Indian dress done by draping a cloth around the body which is extremely sensual and at the same time modest) and a “choli” (blouse for the upper part worn with a sari) which looked “luxe”! And man…her “Bindi”(the circle or any shape that is worn on the forehead between the eyebrows of a woman with ink or powder or sticker) was colossal! It was done with powder and was also of a completely different shape; like a lotus bud. I had no clue how she managed to make that shape with her fingers as I know how difficult it is to just make a circle with coloured powder ( “Kumkum” or “Sindoor”, it is called) as I put it on sometimes, while wearing saris. Although you get myriad “sticker bindis” in the market which is very convenient to use, it still makes me feel very natural and soulful to wear the “Powder Bindi”!



She also wore beautiful, intricate jewellery around her neck and on her ears. Last but not the least, I noticed her “Bandanna” on her head. It was a handkerchief tied around but looked quite funky with the overall look. Yes! This was quite an alternate look.


I love her for the effort that she takes to dress herself up, although she might not meet stimulating folks or go to a club. I love her for the effort that she takes to dress herself up even if she knows that her day would be nothing but a prosaic one filled with banal stuff that she does every day. I love her for the simple reason that she loves her “self”!

I love her for the simple reason that she loves her “self”! Point to note.

Well! I meet her now  mostly everyday; we exchange a few pleasantries. For those of you who are curious, she calls herself, “Devukaa Bai”!


It’s that time of year in this part of the world (India) when a grand festival called “Navarathri”or “Dussehra” is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. It’s different for different regions in India and they celebrate it in varied styles. This festival refers to “Lord Rama’s” victory over the ten headed demon king “Raavana”. The day also marks the victory of Goddess “Durga” over the demon “Mahishasura”. Radically, it celebrates the victory of good over evil.
People celebrate this festival by getting together, and preparing special foods and blessing of household and work related tools. Some regions put up a grand display of dolls and statuettes of gods in the houses or communities and call it “Kolu” or “Golu”. Many also believe that it is lucky to start a new venture or project on “Dussehra”.
This time of the year, all of India, especially North India swings to this dance form called “Daandiya “. And everyone takes so much care to dress up in their best of best clothes. The colours are very bright and the fabrics luxe .It’s quite a sight to see men, women and children all dressed in traditional wear and killer looks.
When I went out the other day to a typical “bazaar”(market) in Mumbai, I walked into a store to get some mundane stuff and the sight what I saw,kind of hit me like a hurricane. Hanging all over the place were myriad pieces of fabrics, sparkling like crystal sheets with the ornamentation done on them. I was literally swept off my feet with the scene of bling! It was an absolute grandiose display of umpteen kinds of fabrics. They looked all the more pompous as they were small in dimension, yet extremely rich in density with regard to ornamentation. I felt completely thrilled seeing this exhibition of colours and sequins as I am always a sucker for fabrics and such.

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I gathered from the shopkeeper guy that these bits of fabrics range from very small to large dimensions and are mainly used to adorn the idols of Gods. They were mostly called “ Chunari”, he said. I felt these ornate pieces could also be used for various other purposes like adding a little bit glamour for parties or for wrapping a gift or just hanging them from the walls for any kind of celebration. Even just fold it like a fan and place it inside a glass as how a napkin is placed in a restaurant for that bit of a festive mood. My imagination ran high!
Anyway, what I remember most is a dash of flashy colours and how happy they made me feel. And that’s all that matters. Life goes on!