Saturday, June 30, 2012

Anokhi in Chennai - A Review

So after checking out Sarangi and Amethyst we stopped by Anokhi at Chamiers Road. Heard about this place from Anju, and it's a pretty shop filled with interesting ethnic stuff. I especially liked the bed sheets, quilts and curtains that had these really pretty Indian motifs all over. Everything looked quite nice and colourful... with a sunny feel to it. The pricing is decent too, not like some of those show off boutiques.
The entrance...
Some furniture... I think the nearby store is a furniture shop. 
Another view of the entrance...
The Anokhi symbol, rather cute... they even have these as dress hanger knobs in the trial room.
A huge mirror...
Kids clothes and cushions... see that Anokhi symbol knob I was talking about, a little girls dress is hanging from it.
The drapery, bed covers, and table cloth...
Pretty quilts all rolled up...
The photographer... a self portrait.

Anokhi is a neat place to pick up some cute ethnic stuff, you're bound to find something that appeals to you... you'll even end up buying things you don't really need, because the stuff they have looks happy and summery.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Amethyst in Chennai - A Review

After Sarangi, we stopped by Amethyst another boutique store at Whites Road (quite close to Express Avenue Mall), Royapettah. This is a cool posh place hidden from the bustling din of the main road, and the entry way itself seems to transport you to another time and place far away from the cacophony of a busy city life. Once you step into this land overflowing with (wild) shrubbery, you'll find a flower shop, a jewellery cum clothing store and a colonial styled coffee hangout place.
The entrance... with shrubs on either side.
A giant urn among the shrubbery.
 A little fountain in the garden...
The jewellery and clothing boutique is located upstairs and even though the whole arrangement looks nice and inviting, I couldn't really find anything worth buying here.
An art piece at the store...
The clothes seemed drab and messily complicated, like some new age fashion for the artsy / socialite types. It's not something your normal next door person would wear, so you end up leaving the place empty handed. The jewellery on the other hand is pretty interesting... I saw some rather interesting antique gold necklaces and studs, like the queens of ages past used to wear, of course I wasn't allowed to photograph them. After roaming around the place and deciding that we couldn't find anything worth spending money on, we headed downstairs into the coffee place.
This is a quaint little place with checkered floors and old colonial furniture strewn here and there. We ordered a slice of cheesecake, a smoked bacon sandwich and a cold coffee drink.
Desserts on display...
The cheesecake was just plain cheese and without that fruit preserve at the side you couldn't really eat it, twas too bland and even the texture wasn't smooth. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be... haven't really eaten that many cheesecakes in my life to know the difference. 
The sandwich which was good (it's bacon and cheese, what's not to like) was drenched in butter, it was literally flowing down my fingers. I had to press the sandwich between tissue papers to stop the flow, other than this stream of butter, the sandwich was quite scrumptious. The coffee/chocolate cold drink was okay, bananas were blended into it and I felt weird drinking this concoction... but my sister liked it. The pricing is a little high, after all its a posh boutique that distances itself from the crazy world outside.But its a nice cool place to hangout, there weren't many folks around... but most of the tables had a reserved sign.
I guess expatriates frequent this place, saw a few of them...and this family seemed to be having a marvelous time. All in all, the coffee place is really nice but the rest of the boutique just screams show-off. Even while photographing the outside seating area, I was told that photography is not allowed. That pissed me off, I was just photographing a bunch of chairs and tables that were arranged in a nice garden with lamps around... I understand not photographing jewellery, after all anybody could copy their style. But telling me not to photograph the garden reeked of snob-ism. Anyway, I did like the coffee place and I'll definitely visit it again when the chance arises.
The exterior coffee hangout place... 
Few urns and a terracotta horse on display...
There were so many pictures of Krishna like this in the coffee place, and Nameeta (my sister) while sipping her cold coffee wondered aloud whether the thick gold chain this guy was wearing would go well with her wedding saree... that really cracked us up.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sarangi in Chennai - A Review

So when my sister was in town we visited Sarangi, the Kanjivaram sari store located at Sterling Avenue, Nungambakkam. Kept seeing their pretty ads in the paper, each day their ad would display a beautiful sari with a flourish. 




See what I mean... about the ads, nicely done. So we decided to check them out... and we were pleasantly surprised. This isn't your ordinary shop, it's a tastefully decorated house that has sari's in various hues draped all over the place. And the collection they have is pretty good, of course it's mostly for grand occasions... and the prices go up as you move from room to room.  
Sari's displayed in a room... hanging over the door and the curtain rod.
One of the pretty rooms... 
A pretty mirror... and my sister reflected in it.
A row of mirrors... to check out yourself after trying out a sari.
The place has loads of natural lighting... I love that about any place. 
Indian art... poor clarity, cause of all the reflection.
A few lavish wedding sari's...
Another room... with beautiful sari's hanging here and there.
Flowers that welcome you in the foyer...
I like this lamp I saw there... I imagine it would look pretty good all lit up. You pour oil and place a wick in each of those spoon like depressions and watch the flames flicker away into the night... but cleaning it would be a lot of work.
As you climb up the stairs, a picture of the national animal greets you...
I love this, a wooden swing outside... 

So the next time you have to shop for any grand occasion, it will be worth your while to check this place out. They have some pretty antique and modern jewellery here too, but I wasn't allowed to photograph them. This is a quaint little place and I'll definitely drop by again when the next big occasion arises in the family... so Vinod, my brother get married soon.

Friday, June 15, 2012

South Indian Weddings...

Weddings are fun, at least on Pinterest they are... but the weddings in my place are mostly baffling and they seem more like a chore than a day of excitement. Most of the time, the bride and the bridegroom hardly know each other and they spend the majority of the day smiling, receiving gifts and posing for the camera, while quietly wondering how they were going to live the rest of their lives with a stranger (at least that's how I thought at my wedding). Above that you have to deal with the crazy photographer who wants you to pose with your arms round each other, or lean into the other person's shoulder or look into each other's eyes... it all seems so fake, not to mention uncomfortable. The photographer at my wedding tried to get us to do all these stunts, we politely declined and he complained to the parents that we weren't cooperating. On another note, these incidents gave an inkling to the person I just tied the knot with... I came to know that he too wasn't into fakeness and I thought he was kinda cool. (After five years, I can say that he is way cooler than me... I tend to dramatise everything, but Tonio is easy going and takes life as it comes). Anyway, getting back to these photographers, most of them have a really warped sense of taste. In the wedding album, you will find gold chariots dragging the couple and winged unicorns flying nearby or the couple will be standing in a waterfall and flowers will sprout all around them... they could give Peter Jackson a run for his money. I wish I had pictures to show you, if any of my relatives are reading this, be a sport and send me a few pictures. (I understand if you never want to talk to me after this, but do send the pictures first...)

Another thing that stupefies me at these weddings is the obsession with gold; I can't understand why they pile on the jewellery well past the 'looking good' stage. I mean don't they have mirrors, can't they see how they have gone beyond graceful and tasteful into the gypsy category. Times like this I always go into the 'whatever rocks your boat' phase, cause you can't go tainting someone's wedding day with your opinions. Another major thing that really gets to me at these weddings is the lunch part, I'm sorry to say this but people make a mess of the place when they eat... and I understand it is unavoidable with huge crowds. But it's your wedding day and you shouldn't have to dodge and skip around the tables. I still shudder when I think of my wedding lunch, I have blocked out that entire episode. All this is nothing compared to the practice of dowry that is still rampant in my place. I can't understand how people consider it a custom when in fact it's a disgrace to the people who demand it in the first place. How do you respect a man and his family who seem greedy for money they have not earned? Any real man ought to know that he is capable of taking care of his bride on his own...  otherwise he is a wuss and needs to grow a pair. When I come across such people, Frasier's sentence runs through my head- I see you are still waiting for that spine donor. 

Other than these troubling customs, weddings are a colourful sight here. Everybody looks quite nice in their silk sarees with flowers in the hair. The silk saree is a gorgeous six yard material that drapes the body beautifully and lends an old world charm and elegance to the wearer. I rather like getting decked up for a wedding and hanging out with the cousins. Here's a picture of me and the cousins at a recent wedding... I like how our saree colours stand out.
A few other ad pictures I found in the papers...

This is one tradition I like... and endorse maybe five or six times a year, even though it looks great and all, it's still a long heavy material that takes time to drape. A jeans and a kurta is what you'll usually find me in, its far more comfortable, reliable and easier to slip into. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wedding shopping...

My sister was here recently and we scoured the city for clothes and ornaments for her upcoming wedding. Here are a few pictures from her brief visit...  
This was our breakfast everyday, plain juicy mangoes... summer's saving grace.
Met the cousins at St. Thomas Cathedral...
Where a memorial mass was held...
to honour...
our beloved grand parents, Ubald and Pauline Kostka who exemplified a beautiful life in God. 
Celebrated Michelle's birthday...

Shopped for sarees...
The white wedding saree on display...
shopped for more sarees...
Tried on all sorts of gold ornaments...
Visited cotton street and got yelled at by this man... apparently my superior bargaining skills raised his hackles. 
Nice place to buy running material...

Took respite in a slice of cheesecake...

and a smoked bacon sandwich.

All in all it was a great couple of days...