Earth-friendly fashion, food and travel

Last week was Earth Day. I usually don’t pay much attention to such “days” because most of them are mere eyewash, but Earth Day got me thinking. Can I really make a difference in building a better future for a greener planet?

I assessed my passions (fashion, food and travel) and I figured- sure, I can make an impact, and quickly sat down to make a rough list. At the end of an hour, I re-read the list and scratched out a few unfeasible ideas. But a handful of practical and pragmatic earth-friendly ideas survived. An inner voice said, “Hey, this can work!” So I decided to take the list public and share it with you all.

Here goes:


Biba kurtas

Shop within a limit. And I don’t mean your credit card limit. Plan your shopping and decide what you need to buy before you head to the mall. Even with just a dozen tops and half a dozen pants, you can be trendy and stylish. Sure, end of season sales are tempting and a wonderful excuse to buy the orange top or pink dress on your wishlist, but do you really need Blouse No. 52 in your wardrobe? Instead, do a thorough wardrobe cleanse over a long weekend, then only add new clothes and accessories to replace an older one that’s worn out.

Recycle and reuse. I’ve been hearing this mantra for years now, but never followed it. Late 2014, I reused my mom’s wedding dupatta with a new ensemble and made a modern-looking blouse to match her traditional sari, I realized that this formula works. You can transform a large silk scarf into a top or stitch neutral-coloured sari blouses to wear with well-preserved saris. Besides, you get bragging rights to declare, “I’m wearing vintage!”

pink dupatta

Buy locally-made clothes. Here’s how the supply chain of most fast fashion brands (like Zara) usually work: Clothes are manufactured in Country A, then sent to home country and dispatched around the world. Or the garments are shipped directly to warehouses or stores in Countries B, C, D and so on. Working on tight deadlines and short turnaround times, manufacturers often dispatch the merchandise via air. With hundreds of manufacturers and dozens of countries, you can imagine the amount of emissions a single brand’s business could generate. A simple thumb rule (broad generalization): the shorter the distance a garment travels, the more planet-friendly it is likely to be in terms of emissions. Buying clothes made in another part of the world may often be the easier (read: cheaper) option, but do try to opt for a local brand when possible. India has dozens of clothing and accessories brands that source and manufacture locally. “Made in India” seems appealing, doesn’t it?

Buy good quality clothes and accessories. You bought a cute pair of chappals from Linking Road and a stylish cotton kurta from Lajpat market for a steal. Both get worn out in a few months. And so you want to buy new chappals and another cotton kurta. Instead, how about you pay a bit more and buy chappals and a kurta that last longer? This way you generate less waste and save money in the long run. Think of each purchase as an investment of sorts, and calculate the returns in terms of how long it will make you happy. True, better quality may often mean more strain on your wallet, but when you’re buying fewer clothes and shopping less often, the extra bucks you spend are actually working to save you money in the future.


Fresh local produce Chaing Mai Thailand

Eat local produce as much as you can. Of course, that’s not always possible. You don’t get great India-made feta or miso paste, but local fruits and vegetables are always the freshest and have travelled much shorter distances to reach you. Besides, seasonal fruits and vegetables are often delicious. So, if you have a choice, buy local.

Carry your own shopping bag. A cloth or jute bag or locally made basket is super handy in the market. My granny had gifted my mom couple of hand-woven baskets several years ago which she still uses. Myanmar has some lovely woven baskets as well, and I’ve bought not one, but two of them!

Use cloth instead of plastic and paper. Replace kitchen tissue with cloth towels to dry pots, pans and plates in the kitchen, or wipe your hands. There are some “highly absorbent” options which you can use for several days before throwing them for a wash. (Yes, I use just such a towel!). And oh, I prefer to use a handkerchief instead of paper tissue.

Reuse (yes, again!). I saw bamboo straws in Cambodia, and regret not buying them. They were reusable and very cute! Conscious foodies often carry reusable cutlery such as forks and chopsticks instead of using the disposable ones found in takeaway joints or fast food restaurants.


Boat ride Copenhagen

Use public transport. This one’s a no-brainer. And besides, if you’re using a local bus or public ferry you’ll get a better feel of local life. Better still, cycle around town.

Carry a reusable water bottle. Invest in a sturdy good-sized water bottle. In several countries, you can fill up your bottle with tap water (especially across Europe) or from a water dispenser in airports or malls. I carry my reusable water bottle all the time- when I’m going shopping or to a movie, so I’m not tempted to buy water or cold drinks, usually sold in paper cups, tin cans or plastic bottles. Besides reducing possible wastage, I avoid the extra calories in cold drinks. 🙂

Avoid takeaway. Takeaway meals are usually packed in plastic bags and cutlery, thermocol boxes and disposable plastic boxes for sauces etc. Instead, try to relax and enjoy your meal at the restaurant. You’ll savour the food experience a lot more.

Indian thali food

Book online. And don’t print your ticket, if it isn’t required. Save it on your phone or tablet instead. There are several museums, airlines, theatres, trains and other touristy places that don’t need a paper ticket. We once travelled in an overnight train from Rome to Palermo with the ticket on our iPad without a problem. And when I booked a ticket on the IRCTC website from Vapi to Mumbai, all the TT asked for was my ID proof. Most hotels are fine with electronic booking vouchers as well.

Carry e-copies. When my mother and I first travelled abroad in the late 1990s, we were advised to carry multiple copies of our passports, visas and tickets in case something went wrong. Now we save the scanned copies of our documents on email and in our phone’s photo gallery, so it’s accessible even without an internet connection. Do the same. Save paper and ink!

Stay earth-friendly and chic!

My favourite shopping streets in Europe

Also read: Awesome shopping streets in Asia.

Strøget, Copenhagen (Denmark)

A gorgeous street in Copenhagen, but alas, the shops close by 7 pm and the prices are outrageous for tourists on non-European salaries. Strøget is one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe, and is lined with popular high street stores like Topshop, Zara, H&M and some local brands. There’s also a giant Lego store (yay!). The summer of 2014, Strøget was buzzing with tourists and locals enjoying the atmosphere, sipping coffee at outdoor cafes, and just strolling about. I especially enjoyed the walk on cobblestoned streets and checking out the heritage buildings, still in excellent condition.

Shopping Stroget in Copenhagen

Stroget shopping Copenhagen

Taksim Square, Istanbul (Turkey)

Back in 2010 when I visited Turkey, the famous Taksim Square was THE PLACE to be on a Saturday night. Crowded even in the day, the place came alive on weekend evenings, with thousands of people partying, shopping and grabbing a bite well past midnight. The streets off the square became a no-car zone, dozens of food and souvenir vendors set up shop and the “party” began. The atmosphere was pulsating with high energy, and I felt like I’d just had two Red Bulls. After a quick pizza, I made my way through the packed streets to go shopping, spending at least an hour at the multi-storeyed Mango store. The best part—shops were open till midnight!

PS- Due to the changing political situation in Turkey, I’m not sure if the late-night shopping continues.

Kurfürstendamm, Berlin (Germany)

Who would’ve thought that the staid German capital would have such wonderful shopping! Kurfürstendamm (quite a mouthful no?) is the center of most tourist activities in Berlin and a great place to shop. The street has all the high street brands you could name- Zara, Diesel, Uniqlo, H&M, Pull & Bear… you get the idea. I shopped till I dropped at Pull & Bear, and got a great leopard print backpack from Zara for just €10. I also bought kitchen appliances at the German department store KaDeWe, which was stocked with unbelievable appliances in the German aesthetic: clean design and high-tech precision. Also the souvenir shops are worth checking out for cool tees, shot glasses and Berlin messenger bags that look great and are easy on the pocket.

Berlin Kufustendamm shopping

La Rambla, Barcelona (Spain)

Being in Spain, you expect to see local fashion brands at every corner. And well, they are! In and around the 1.2 kilometre-long La Rambla, you have the choice of the world’s best-known fashion and beauty brands, and you will never want to stop. I shopped at Zara, Mango, H&M, Bershka, The Body Shop, Shana… This was in 2011, and the Euro was not as frightfully expensive as it is today. At the Plaza Catalunya end of the street (north end), there’s the Spanish department store El Corte Inglés, where I bought Bobbi Brown makeup and tons of accessories. El Corte Inglés is a quintessential part of the Spanish life and each store is different from the others. It’s a must-visit anywhere in the country.

Barcelona shopping La Rambla

Barcelona shopping La Rambla artists

Sunday Street Stories: Chiang Mai’s arty district

Chiang Mai, located in Northern Thailand, may not be a beach destination like Phuket or Krabi, but it’s developing into quite a cultural hotspot. Nimmanhemin Road is the city’s chic quarter, with art galleries, decor stores, indie boutiques and, of course, a vibrant night life. This building had an attractive facade.


And another building round the corner that housed a cafe (Mango Tango) had a very creative form of advertising their location.


If you’re in Chiang Mai, don’t forget to visit Nimmanhemin Road and explore the sois (lanes) that lead to spas, cafes and restaurants. There’s so much to see!

Pictures taken on: December 11, 2015
Location: Nimmanhemin Road, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Device: Google Nexus 5

Awesome shopping streets in South East Asia

Shopping (and window shopping) is one of my favourite things to do when I travel to a new city or country. It gives me a feel of the local fashion, an opportunity to discover ideas for new looks and a sense of how the people there like to dress.

I particularly enjoy walking through shopping streets because they’re so much more fun than malls. You get to the see the neighbourhood, the city’s architecture and of course, street life. In this two-part series, I’m listing my favourite shopping streets. The first part covers my favourite shopping streets in Asia.

Hang Gai, Hanoi (Vietnam)

Hanoi’s Hang Gai has everything a fashionista would want: cute boutiques, chic souvenir stores, French-style cafes, local art stores and even a tshirt-only store. I shopped all of these on Hang Gai and in the neighbourhood, stepping into side streets to discover embroidery stores, handcrafted goods and lots of silk! My top buys: A tongue-in-cheek Hanoi tshirt from Ginkgo (local fashion brand) and hand-embroidered pouches. Browsing at local boutiques in Hang Gai and Hang Trong for clothes and accessories is highly recommended! You may just stumble across some unique finds.

Hanoi Vietnam street shopping

Hanoi Vietnam street shopping

Hanoi Vietnam street shopping

Orchard Road, Singapore

Orchard Street is anyone’s dream destination to shop in Singapore, and the craziness begins when you step off the MRT. I bought two pairs of shoes right at the station even before I hit the shopping street above. 😛 The good news is that Orchard Street has a range of malls to suit different shopping budgets. The bad news is, you want to go everywhere. After a lot of disappointments at Orchard Street stores (international brands were cheaper in India and H&M was a disaster), I finally discovered a store at 313 Somerset called Valleygirl that had trendy dresses and tops at moderate prices.

Singapore Orchard Road shopping

Singapore Orchard Road shopping

Singapore Orchard Road shopping

Singapore Orchard Road shopping

Bugis Street, Singapore

Yep, two places in Singapore! Bugis Street is a delight if you want to hog while you shop! I shopped there late evening, and bagged cool bargains on tops, lingerie, nightwear and souvenirs. Then we had a very Singaporean snack right on the street- the icecream sandwich. The restaurants on Bugis Street serve good local fare as well. I didn’t venture deep inside the market, which is where the best deals are to be found, but the street-facing and ground floor shops have some great deals!

Bugis street Singapore shopping

Bugis street Singapore shopping

Bugis street Singapore shopping

Bugis street Singapore shopping


Sunday Street Stories: Hanoi’s night market

I landed in Hanoi late Friday night and got a glimpse of the busy city yesterday. In the evening, while looking for Hoan Kiem lake, we discovered this bustling night market.


Starting from Hang  Dao street going up to Dong Xuan market, this weekend night market was packed with locals and tourists. It was hot, humid and crowded, so not exactly a very cushy experience but worth a visit. Besides clothes, watches and footwear, I discovered some wonderful handicrafts, like ceramic bowls and trays, delicate embroidered wall hangings, cool memorabilia and wood carvings.

Picture taken on: September 26, 2015
Location: Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam
Device: Google Nexus 5

My shoe story and new season wishlist

I have only two pairs of shoes right now, not counting my sports shoes. I’ve been living with just these two pairs since four months now (no kidding). Besides, autumn/ winter collections have hit the stores, so it’s time to invest in a new pair. Or two. Or several.

But I’m a fussy shoe buyer and there’s good reason for that. I have tiny feet with a difficult size, and so when I buy shoes, I have to buy a pair that looks great, fits wonderfully, and lasts me a long long time.

Sigh… here in Yangon, like almost everywhere else, size is THE main problem, but that doesn’t stop me from checking out shoes like my life depended on them. As they say, if you can’t wear them, admire them. Okay, I just made that up.

Anyways here are some droolworthy shoes I’d like to own. You are welcome to drool too.

I can see these slip-ons from Accessorize jazzing up all my casual outfits.

Accessorize slip-ons

Sexy pumps from Aftershock. Now all I need is a party invite…

Aftershock London pumps

… And a lunch invite to tote these gold loafers from Tresmode.

Tresmode  gold loafers

Every girl needs sensible ballerinas, and I like this pair from Lavie.

Lavie blue BALLERINA

Now this is what I call comfy, edgy chic from the Vanilla Moon stable.

Vanilla Moon  TANIA

Just one word: prints! Clarks X Orla Kiely is killin’ it.

Clarks Orla Bella Blue Floral shoes

A red-hot pair from Metro that will knock him over.

Metro red heels

Oh-so-versatile classy block heels in black from Marie Claire (available at Bata).

Bata block heels

TREND ALERT FOR MEN: Style tips to go short or long

Since it’s halfway through the year (what? June already?!), it’s time for a guy to update his wardrobe. There will always be tshirts and shirts to help change a man’s look, but how about updating your style with fashionable shorts and pants instead? From easy going shorts to comfortable jeans, here are some top choices and handy tips for the boys.


Prints, checks, or good ol’ solids. Great for chilling at home, stepping out in the sun or for a beach vacation.

Trend Alert: Quirky prints on shorts (and shirts) are really hot right now. Play safe with polka dots and textures or go crazy with florals, camo prints.

Military print shorts from Ed Hardy

Ed Hardy mens military shorts

Linen shorts from Selected Homme (available on

SHDott dark blue linen shorts H RS 3995

Denim shorts from Superdry

Denim shorts Superdry


They’re comfy, easy and available in a range of colours. Chinos are quickly replacing jeans and formal trousers as the “smart casual” alternative to everything!

Trend Alert: After building up your chino collection with basics like khaki and black, stock up on bright blue, wine and olive green.

Complete look from Arrow

Arrow SS15 - Arrow chinos

Trousers from French Connection

FCUK blue chinos

Red chinos from Breakbounce

Breakbounce red chinos


A man needs his jeans, no matter the season, the shade, the style.

Trend Alert: Skinny’s still in style, but wider leg and relaxed fits are slowly making a comeback. Look fashion forward already!

Complete look from Killer Jeans at Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2015

Killer Jeans Lakme Fashion Week SR 2015

Jeans from John Players

Mens Jeans John Players

Jeans from Lee

Lee mens jeans

SUMMER CHIC: 20 pretty pieces you will love

Pastels, pops, prints and pinks,

All these chic choices make me blink,

In wonder I look at these summer faves,

Twenty reasons to make me rave!

Enjoy these drool-worthy picks for summer. 🙂

Pretty Prints

Dress from French Connection, Peplum top from Trendy Divva, Sling bag from Toniq.

French Connection printed floral dress

Trendy Divva Black Printed peplum top

Printed sling bag from Toniq

Pretty Pinks

Tunic dress from Label by Ritu Kumar, Shorts from Elle, bra from Amante.

Tunic dress Ritu Kumar, LABEL

Elle pink shorts summer

amante Serenity Bra, Pink Sherbbet,Rs.1395

Pretty Palettes

T-shirt from Being Human, Dress from Superdry, Bag from Holii.

Being Human tshirt


Holii Hyacinth white orange bag

Pretty Pops

T-shirt from Ed Hardy, Studs from Fida.

Ed Hardy printed tshirt

Studs from Fida accessories

Pretty Pastels

Polo from US Polo Association, Pencil skirt from Miss Selfridge, Shoulder bag from Viari.

Yellow USPA tshirt

Miss Selfridge yellow pencil skirt

Viari Santorini summer shoulder bag

Pretty Pairs

Heels from Clarks, Ballet shoe from Melissa, Sneakers from Superdry.

Clarks Coral heels

Melissa metallic ballet flat

Superdry sneakers

Pretty Purses

Tote from Hidesign, Tote from Accessorize, Cutwork bag from Lavie.

Hidesign orange tote bag

Accessorize mirror tote

Lavie cobalt blue cutwork bag

Which pretty piece are you buying on your next visit to the mall?

Picks of the week: Avengers Age of Ultron tees

Yay! The awesome supervillain-thrashing team (aka Marvel superheroes) is returning this weekend in The Avengers: Age of Ultron! Now if you’re a true fanboy or girl, of course you need a tshirt declaring your love when you go watch the film. VoxPop has more than 50 super cool Avengers Age of Ultron t-shirts:

Avengers Tee-shirt

Avengers Tee-shirt

Avengers Tee -Shrit

Inspired by the superheroes and moments from the film, there are enough choices to spoil the fans: colours, graphics and themes. I’ve been browsing for a while now and it’s difficult to pinpoint a favourite (liking too many of them!).

Iron man Tee-shirt

Hulk Tee-Shirt

Iron man Tee-shirt

Special note for fangirls:

Ladies, this t-shirt collection may be for the boys, but don’t let that stop you. Buy a size that will look like an oversized tee. Then throw it over a spaghetti or racer back top, and let it show. Or you could shorten the length to make it a crop top. Wear skinny pants or shorts with coloured sneakers, and voila! Here comes the fangirl. 🙂

Shop The Avengers: Age of Ultron tshirts at (Price: Rs 799)

5 men’s summer fashion tips for newbies

This blog post is dedicated to all men who hesitate to experiment with their look (you all know who you are!). These mini-lessons will show you the way to an updated look for the season without stepping too far away from your comfort zone.

Ladies, if you know such hesitant, reluctant and boring men (and I’m sure you do!), use this guide as an inspirational piece to experiment on the men in your life, or push them to try out something new. 🙂

PS: Don’t miss the newbie tips, specially written for very reluctant men.

Think beyond checks: Printed shirt

So, printed shirts have been around for a couple of seasons already. But of course you’ve been sticking to solids and checks, right? You know something? Prints are not bad. Chosen carefully, the right prints for your personality and body type will make a strong statement about you.

Newbie tip: Florals freaking you out? Opt for “safer” prints like little dots and squares, or tiny abstract patterns. Just make sure the prints aren’t too big, too colourful or too eye-catching.

Shirt from

16 stitches printed shirt

Get summer-ready: Linens

Linen blazers are a no-brainer for summer. They can look formal, and can be dressed up for an outdoors wedding or dressed down for a summer soiree.

Newbie tip: Choose a light, neutral shade that will go with almost all your shirts- such as off-white or light beige.

Look from Arrow

Arrow beige linen blazer

50 shades and more: Coloured shoes

Too many men have only black and tan shoes in their wardrobe. It’s time to add some colour—greens, beiges, blues… they’re all there!

Newbie tip: Start with a colour that’s already in your wardrobe, such as blue. Select a pair of shoes that’s similar or goes well with the chosen colour…. And you’re set.

Shoes from Mochi

Mochi green loafer shoes

Be playful: Round sunglasses

Aviators are a classic statement, but everyone’s wearing them all the time. If you’ve got the pizzazz, you can carry these off. And no, it won’t make you look girly. But it might just make you look like the cute teen you were once. 🙂

Newbie tip: Play safe with a round-ish frame with neutral colour rims.

Sunglasses from Fastrack

Fastrack red round sunglasses

Go retro: Bow tie

Maybe it’s to do with the Downton Abbey craze (of course men love the show too). Bow ties are making a comeback. And not just with tuxedoes or black tie events. The 21st century bow ties are quirky, cheeky and easy to wear. It’s perfectly alright to wear the “readymade” ones.

Newbie tip: To start with, choose a no-frills bow tie without patterns or prints. Wear your bow tie with a light-coloured solid shirt (such as white or baby blue), and stick to a similar colour scheme.

Bow tie from The Bro Code

The Bro Code Blue Bow Tie