being different

{being different} via chevrons & éclairs

touching upon diversity

in collaboration with ROHET GARH and KALKI FASHION

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I’ve been taking advantage of my time being jet lagged. Waking up incredibly early before the streets are full of people and the children’s laughter fill the air as they walk to school. I sit in bed, instead of migrating to my desk, and peruse the parts of the internet that I’ve missed since being away to India. One thing that I came across was Kristabel’s video on racial diversity in fashion blogging and luckily for me her creative energy has kept her awake at random times of the night including that morning I watched the video and read through some of the comments.

I’ve spoken to Kristabel a bit about my frustrations about the blogosphere and how everyone can fit themselves in a niche and that niche was a very typical, broad “niche”. For myself, however, I’ve found it a bit difficult to fit in and continue to find this issue in blogging and the greater society too. As you know, I’ve refrained from sharing too much about my culture because I’m trying to find more relatable content to share with all of you. The more I open up about my culture, I believe that only focuses on a certain number of people and in turn will exclude more readers.

As my blog matured, I’ve come to know that bloggers with a small number of followers tend to have a stronger community than others. So I stuck with that and didn’t budge too much to get that fame and prestige most bloggers seek. I’m proud of the community I’ve created around c&é and even prouder of the friends I’ve made. And in critical times, my blog has even saved me (read: made friends through it when I first moved to London). With that said, blogging still hasn’t felt as inclusive as I would have liked since I started just a little over 5 years ago.
 

{being different} via chevrons & éclairs
{being different} via chevrons & éclairs {being different} via chevrons & éclairs

I grew up…

I’ve always been incredibly different from every setting I’ve been. From going to private school growing up in a completely American society to undergraduate and graduate school set in conservative towns. Being Indian was very different, so I assimilated to my surroundings and suppressed my true identity. Contrastingly, I assimilated so much so that my Americanized Western identity even scared off most of the Indian community. So I sit here at a crossroad, not completely fitting in anywhere… almost.

At home, I grew up with a family that predominately spoke in Gujarati and thus I learnt to read, write and speak it too (better than most Indian children you will ever meet). I grew up participating in cultural activities like training in Indian classical dance, Bharatha Natyam for 8 years. I grew up eating proper Indian meals at home with my hands. I grew up regularly visiting India. But kept all this behind closed doors so I could feel like I’m part of a greater community, feel a sense of belonging.

And since starting the blog, I’ve felt that I needed to keep those doors closed. It wasn’t until when I moved to London, adapted and made friends of all sorts of backgrounds did I realize the opportunity my background provided me. Meeting bloggers like Kristabel, Sade and Shini demonstrated the importance of showcasing who you are-does that make sense? Provided I was born and brought up in the Western world, one can still instill elements of their past and background into work today. It’s how one creates a niche, a uniqueness, not shared with anyone.

I’m going to conclude on that note as I can go on for day and days about this topic and take a pledge that I hope to routinely share this side of my world with you…
 

{being different} via chevrons & éclairs
{being different} via chevrons & éclairs
{being different} via chevrons & éclairs

jodhpur with Rohet Garh

{jodhpur with rohet garh} via chevrons & éclairs

the blue city

supported by ROHET GARH and RAJASTHAN TOURISM
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The golden sun drenched the humble sized airport and in the distant I saw a structure, so grandeur and parallel in its line, much like a palace. If there was one thing I’ve been told countless times, it’s that Rajasthani hospitality is unparalleled. Its warmth cannot be mimicked anywhere else in the world.

And so we made our way into the city passing walls adorned with painted works that depicted the masses proud nature of their city. Through the city limits and onto a long, long stretch of road there were just a few cars, many cows and a single herd of sheep. As the streets felt more alone, we were nearing our destination. We turned right and made way through dirt roads that the tires had to cautiously yield and slow down for. The sand picked up as we drove, but through the dusty cloud we saw people living their everyday life and children running behind the car to greet us with their hellos. Women were in colorful saris and men with their twisted turbans and white kurtis. Each moment was raw and pure, completely untouched.
 

{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs {jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs {jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs

{day one}

We were greeted by the door like royalty. People waiting to meet us, place a tikka on our forehead and a flower in hand. Escorted to a lounge, pistachio in color, inviting by look, and served a fizzy lemon water and a single mint leaf. As we took in the spectacle that was the serenity of the hotel, we were then greeted by the manager. His impressive mustache, strong demeanour added to the ambiance. He showcased the highlights: the pool, lounge to view a sunset, breakfast nook, extensive gardens and finally to the room.

The room had its charm. Completely reserved and original in structure with its full modern facilities {read: hairdryer and toilet roll}. In a global world, you want to bring the story and history out. With the advent of the internet, modern reign and you can easily lose culture and authenticity. Rohet Garh has ever so beautifully blueprinted a heritage hotel that takes you on a historical journey of luxury and class of the Rathore past, the royal lineage that rules Jodhpur.

We decided to enjoy the grounds, a spa treatment and then a few drinks. And as the crescent moon made its appearance, live Rajasthani folk music perfumed the air and we sat in the garden in candlelight enjoying local delights.
 

{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs {jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs

{day two}

We decided to make a trip to the city of Jodhpur, informally known as the “sun” state for its glorious sunny weather. A rich imperial history full of conquests, wars and even a love story. First, we made it to Mandore Garden, a collection of temples and temples and monuments, it was an ancient town ruled by Pratiharas of Manavyapura who ruled in the 6th century CE-being the earliest rulers of Marwar, the people of Jodhpur.

We drove just a bit further down and into winding streets near the army base camps that Jodhpur boasts and found our way on the grounds of the Bal Samand Palace, which sits on the very grounds of a park that houses many animals, including peacocks, and a large lake. Today it stands as a heritage hotel.

Then not too far away we made it to Mehrangarh Fort, the largest most incredible fort of India. It was the home of the Rathore clan, originally credited to Rao Jodha that ruled Jodhpur. Within the wall gates are seven palaces with intricate stone work, imprints from cannonballs, and remains of the royal family. And just down the street from the fort is the Jaswanth Thada, the Taj Mahal of Jodhpur. It was built as a cenotaph built by King Sardar Singh for his late father in 1899.

We then drove down and stopped at the entrance of the old city where the houses were painted blue to keep homes cool from the desert sun. From there we entered a bustling courtyard that still operates as the Sardar Market today-selling vegetables and fruits to carpets and clothes!

Finally, ended the day at Umaid Bhawan Palace, which is a museum and Taj hotel, but also the home of the royal family today. The museum gives you a good digest about the royal family and their activities. We made our way to the hotel restaurant to enjoy a drink and a few bites before heading back to Rohet Garh for the night.
 

{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs {jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs {jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs

 
 
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
 
 

{day three}

After a leisurely wake up, reading a book under the sun, good cuddles with the hotel dogs, and a proper breakfast hosted overlooking the pool-we were invited on a village safari with Rohet Garh where we met people of the Bishnoi Tribe and the Brahman community. We escaped the hustle of the city and into the lands where oil lamps provided light. What an exhilarating experience it was.

chevrons & éclairs was a guest of Rohet Garh, but all opinions are my own.
 

{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs {jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs {jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs
{jodhpur with Rohet Garh} via chevrons & éclairs

rediscovering gujarat

{rediscovering surat} via chevrons & éclairs

enriching everyday life

wearing LABEL RITU KUMAR location DUTCH CEMETRY, SURAT, INDIA
photo assistance MY TRIPOD

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Every few years or so my parents and I visit India. Sometimes it’s just me, other times just my parents, only one time it has been my brother and I and this time my daddy and I. Depending on who I’m traveling with, the schedule is quite different and considering I’m visiting with my father this time around everything is centered around food {and I don’t hate it}. But on every visit, I usually take that time off and just spend every moment I can with my grandparents, maximizing every second and minute I have.

When I visited home in May, my parents and I decided my father and I would visit my grandmother. I grew up with my grandmother and spoke about my time as a child with her in my aubergine chips recipe. Since I’m in the midst of expanding my business to new markets, I wanted to take advantage of this time to discover the potential my consultancy had out here as well. The more I dug the more I rediscovered India and everything seemed to connect back to the very villages my ancestors come from. Little did I know that my family was nestled in the very epicenter of the textile industry that is the beating heart of most of India’s material supply today. And it was that discovery that not only made me proud, but also intrigued. I viewed and scrutinized every place I visited since I was a child and saw the beauty that most of you may see, but I took for granted.
 

{rediscovering surat} via chevrons & éclairs
{rediscovering surat} via chevrons & éclairs
{rediscovering gujarat} via chevrons & éclairs
{rediscovering surat} via chevrons & éclairs {rediscovering gujarat} via chevrons & éclairs

my world though an unfamiliar eye

I decided to go to India this time to document: document the places I visit, document the people I know, document winter sunsets {which are beautiful, by the way}, and document the moments shared with my grandparents. When I look at my world through an unfamiliar eye I see a culture, heritage and tradition that is rich, vibrant and unparalleled to any other experience I have had in the past. What an honor it is to have all of you here interested to see and experience the India that I know and love.

Driving from one village to the next, I see details of everyday life that has never been appreciated before. Just last week I visited the village I am from, my father’s village of Palsana, and noticed that the row houses my family has lived in for generations was built under the British Raj. The detail on the roof, the floors and walls mimics Victorian architectural influence with a touch of Indian heritage. Many of the village’s inhabitants haven’t even visited the closest city just 30 kilometers away. Their world and understanding is that village alone.

Over the weekend I visited my mother’s village and was greeted by Vadlikaki, Auntie Vadli, who is the maid that completely runs my mother’s family’s grounds. I spent summers in Degam with Vadlikaki, who carried my brother on her back when he was a naughty toddler and braided my long hair after I took a rose petal-saffron-milk-warm water bath. To me, she was just another member of the family. To you, she is the one who really raised me, helped me create childhood memories in India and instilled so many of my culture’s values I hold today.

My love for fashion and design is boundless and since coming to India my daddy made it a priority to take me to textile markets, introduce me to people in the industry and visit showrooms of thriving Indian designers. Designers such as Sabyasaachi, Manish Malhotra, Anita Dongre, Rohit Bal and Ritu Kumar are more than names that dominate India’s catwalks. These are designers that are designing pieces that instill those very values I cherish and want to globalize their products to modernize and re-conceptualize people’s understanding of what Indian fashion is. Each of their pieces are meticulous and require hours of work from the hands of a single artisan. Thread work and zardozi designs are the essence of Indian design and unique to the country’s fashion houses. A stand out quality that cannot be compared to any other fashion house or market in the world.

So I bring you, Ritu Kumar’s Label-a Western-influenced brand that upholds heritage in material and design. I styled the gorgeous dress quintessentially British with a white collared shirt and simple jewels. This outfit, compared to any other shared on c&é, truly exudes everything I emulate.
 

{rediscovering gujarat} via chevrons & éclairs
{rediscovering gujarat} via chevrons & éclairs

 
 
{rediscovering gujarat} via chevrons & éclairs
 
 

what I wore

dress LABEL RITU KUMAR shirt MASSIMO DUTTI bracelet c/o MEJURI sunglasses c/o BODEN
flats LOEFFLER RANDALL earrings c/o J.LAUREN

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Be sure to watch the video below highlighting the India I know.
 

Rediscovering Gujarat

namaste from india

{namaste from India} via chevrons & éclairs

the simplest things

The day before my flight to Mumbai I started accumulating a bit of anxiety. It started with a bit of heartburn then the unsettling notion that not everything was done and my errands list seemed to have reappeared with more on it and then panic settling in. I’m like my late grandfather, my father’s father, one that needs and loves a routine. I love being scheduled. You can throw an assortment of tasks at me from morning shoots, afternoon meetings and then some deadlines and an evening with the clients, but sever from my schedule just the slightest and then I start to panic.

Well, my parents asking me to go to India was a big feat. I’m someone who needs to have my life and business sorted before I go anywhere and I am knee deep in work and deadlines, this month being an important one for the consultancy. And leaving the comfort of my flat and office for a country where wifi-connection is never prioritized gave me a bit of a worry. (Sidenote: it took me 5 hours today to find any sort of wifi connection.) Despite it all, we decided to make this trip a proper coverage and introduction to my culture and a way to share with you a bit more about my upbringing.
 

{namaste from India} via chevrons & éclairs
{namaste from India} via chevrons & éclairs

what I wore

dress RIVER ISLAND flats ASOS sunglasses c/o BODEN necklace c/o J.LAUREN
follow the trip in real-time INSTAGRAM

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Warm thanks to Peepul PR, Sabyasachi, TripAdvisor, Rohet Garh, Emirates Airlines and my parents for supporting this trip.
 

{namaste from India} via chevrons & éclairs {namaste from India} via chevrons & éclairs

but, I digress

We started our trip first in Mumbai with some initial preparation. I met with a series of PR companies to help me choose and style Indian outfits for two of the outfit posts that will be shared on c&é.

On Tuesday morning we made our way to Gujarati, just north of Mumbai. Gujarat is the state my family is from in the eastern peninsula. Before making our way to Surat, the country’s textile hub, we stopped in Bilimora where my mother’s parents reside. It has been 3 years since I held my grandmother’s hand and hugged my grandfather ever so warmly and then made my way to the swing that hangs on a balcony overlooking some hills in the distance.

Today and for the rest of the week and part of next week, I’m in Surat. The textile industry thrives in this region of the country. Coming off the highway passing a series of shanty villages and bright colored sari-adorned women carrying raw materials, you are greeted with a number of buildings that support the textile processing association. And soon a few pick up trucks that housed bright colored chiffon made their way through the busy streets. In Surat, I hope to capture and share the energy of this industrial city. One that provides jobs to many and is considered the engine behind the bourgeoning fashion industry of India. Clothes labeled ‘made in India’ have a horrible stigma, and what the West doesn’t realize is that there are many labor and union laws placed to support garmentry. Unfortunately, ‘designer’ seems to be a numb word that doesn’t really have the same denotation as in the Western world. Therefore, I hope in the next several weeks I am able to bring light to this world and share how India is challenging the way we view Indian clothes by modernizing traditional jewelry, moving into couture, focusing on artisanship and incorporating a sophistication to how textiles are used that is unique to Indian fashion houses.

Then we are off to Rajastan, the state that was once dominated by the royals and thus freckled with palaces in every corner. Gorgeous bath houses, views from forts, it’s quintessentially Indian. This is where we, my tripod and I, plan on shooting and documenting the clothes I plan on sharing with you. Each item of clothing, each photograph’s backdrop is meticulously chosen to bring you the most authentic India, the India that I know.

Finally, I will be ending my trip back in Mumbai with a collaboration with TripAdvisor to bring you a series of city guides, so you too can enjoy the India that I know and love. If that sounds good to you, grab your passports and put on an extra layer of sunscreen, because your trip starts now!
 

{namaste from India} via chevrons & éclairs
{namaste from India} via chevrons & éclairs
{namaste from India} via chevrons & éclairs

eventually, everything connects

{eventually, everything connects} via chevrons & éclairs

so many thoughts…

in collaboration with J.LAUREN assistance SUN-YOUNG PARK
locations WESTMINSTER & CAFE MONICO, LONDON

A few weeks back, I shared a very passive aggressive caption on one of my Instagrams. I was a bit peeved, but was mostly exhausted. It seems like everything has been moving so quickly. The temperature, air, light—It’s like London forgot to properly transition and we’re into what feels and looks like winter. I was just not ready to say goodbye to summer, the season where minutes seems to slow down and seconds seem a lot longer.

I had all these ambitious goals set the beginning of summer, through the summer I was trudging along and setting the path to meet those goals and just like that, a snap, autumn was here. So the last few weeks, you may have witnessed, has been a bit quiet on the social scene on my end. I executed all the plans I devised a few months ago, and through that process I experienced so much angst and came across challenges that were partially unnecessary and mostly overwhelming.

Through the times where you’re moving forward, people tend to fall behind and you lose sight of them. The worst is when they’re not willing to catch up with you, let alone try and in return are extra weight. It’s heartbreaking, but I’ve learnt to drop such people and continue to do what I’m doing. What feels like a life that is sporadic, too adventurous, lacking routine—is actually a quality of life that very few are able to experience and what most are seeking. From one restless person to another… eventually, everything connects.
 

{eventually, everything connects} via chevrons & éclairs
{eventually, everything connects} via chevrons & éclairs

what I wore

silk camisole VICTORIA’S SECRET lace blouse H&M trousers ELIE TAHARI
all jewelry courtesy of J.LAUREN

I’ve also been alluding to “big projects” quite a bit on the social channels for quite a while now. And now to be completely open with you, I’m excited to tell you that we start these projects tomorrow! Tomorrow I’m on a flight to the Middle East then India to capture a series of video and photo editorials to perfectly capture moments, history and the beauty that is my heritage and culture.

Since moving to London, to get back to everything working out, I felt so distant from my heritage. Being an expat that identifies first as an American, I found it difficult to connect with the people of the same heritage as me. And with a strong cultural upbringing, I questioned my identity. So the next few weeks will be dedicated to bringing you the most colorful, authentic and raw material from the depths of where my ancestors come from. I will be updating the blog and social media from India, sharing all content in real time, so you won’t have to wait any longer.

With that said, time to finish packing and get all the details sorted. Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for being patient and supporting this space. xo
 

{eventually, everything connects} via chevrons & éclairs
{eventually, everything connects} via chevrons & éclairs
{eventually, everything connects} via chevrons & éclairs