Issue 44 â€˘ Jan-Mar 2013
Colonial charms of Simla
Fashionista A MaXposure Media Group Publication
Spring Summer 2013 Trends
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Axis House, 3rd Floor, C-2, Wadia International Centre, P. B. Marg, Worli, Mumbai - 400 025, India Tel: +91 22 24256324 | www.axisbank.com firstname.lastname@example.org Chief Editors AK Gupta Ipsita Tripathy
New journeys are always challenging as well as interesting. When the thought of re-launching Priority Pages germinated, the fundamental idea was building a bridge for interaction and sharing our ideas with you. With the new Priority Pages, we have transformed an idea that had once emerged in a boardroom meeting into reality. And to strengthen our association with you further, we present our latest issue packed with eclectic articles. It goes without saying that the zeal that comes across in the pages is a mere extension and reflection of our spirit as a brand. Inside this issue, you will discover a whole new side of Simla, take cues from our fashion experts on how to stay in vogue always, farm fresh veggies takeover the world of gourmet along with a lot more. We hope you’ll enjoy this issue as much as we have enjoyed putting together for you. And remember, we would love to hear from you, so please send us your feedback at email@example.com.
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Issue 44 • Jan-Mar 2013
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In a tete-a-tete with Farah Khan
Experience Simla in a whole new way
Pros and cons of investing in mutual funds
Food connoisseurs love their farm fresh veggies
Latest trends to keep you in vogue
Niche eshops take over the world of shopping
This season try herbs that are packed with health benefits
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‘I never learnt dance’ What does she like being called – a choreographer, a director, an actor, a producer or a reality show judge? Farah Khan reveals this and more during a tete-a-tete words Upasana Kaura
alent and creativity is inborn, training can only hone the skills you have. Farah Khan is a prefect example of this. An ace choreographer, a film director, an actor and a judge on a number of reality dance shows on small screen, the expertise with which she speaks about dance belies the fact that she herself is not a trained dancer. “I have grown up watching Michael Jackson and learnt my dance seeing him,” she says, adding humbly with no hint of pride or pity in her voice, “but I never learnt dance from anyone.” Farah was studying sociology in St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, when Michael Jackson’s Thriller was telecast for the first time. She got so inspired from it that although she hadn’t danced before that, it soon became her vocation. When the top choreographer of the time, Saroj Khan walked out of the film Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Farah got her first break. This was followed by many songs which became national hits. This was when she met Shah Rukh Khan on the set of Kabhi Haan Kabhi
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Naa and the two have since become good friends and worked together. Farah is a self-confessed foodie. “You talk about food and I can go on and on. I simply love different varieties of cuisine: Indian, Chinese, Thai, Continental… you name it and I relish it all,” she says. What has added on to this habit is the fact that Farah has travelled the world over. “But I have come to realise that India is the best place for a person who loves food. Here, we have, a different cuisine every 200-300 km. The style of cooking or the masalas vary or perhaps the amount of oil used is more or less. This is not the case when you travel abroad. A country specialises in a typical kind of cuisine and that’s what they sell or boast of. We Indians have never done this and will never ever do it, promote food like the Westerners,” she adds. When she opts for a vegetarian spread, Farah loves to binge on Gujarati delicacies while Goanese seafood tops her list in the non-veg category. “But you know,” she says, as though telling you a secret, “fish is something that is a must in my plate. I just love loads of fish.”
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The director-choreographer-producer says as she couldn’t travel much as a child due to family limitations, she has now turned into a compulsive traveller, turning smallest of opportunities into great trips. “I love exploring new places and enjoy the tranquil nature as well as the cacophony of the modern towns. Myconose Island in Greece is a place I would love to go over and over again. We shot for the movie Chalte Chalte there and the place is simply awesome. The view of white houses set amid the deep blue seas is breathtaking,” she says. “I love taking my kids out on vacations and make it a point to go for leisure travel at least three times in a year. I feel kids get to learn a lot while they are out of the secure environs of their home,” she says, adding that these days she and her husband, Shirish Kunder, plan their travel destination keeping the kids in mind. “It is they who must enjoy the place we choose to visit. Dubai is a great child-friendly place. We were recently in Disneyland, Hong Kong and my kids went crazy. They were so thrilled to be in Disneyland,” she puts in enthusiastically. Her triplets, two daughters and one son are named Diva, Anya and Czar respectively. “Diva is an Italian word for
Farah loves to binge on Gujarati delicacies while Goanese seafood tops her list in the non-veg category
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prima Donna, the main singer in the opera. Anya means inexhaustible in Sanskrit and graceful in Russian. Czar means emperor. Diva and Czar are similar looking but not identical. Its is said that one in two million triples are identical My daughters are maa ki laadlis and are chipkoos whereas my son is dad's laadla. He is elder by two minutes,” shares Farah. Farah began as a choreographer and then graduated to direction and acting. Though she enjoys all the three, it is directing a film that she loves the most. “In April, we will begin shooting Happy New Year and I can’t wait to begin my work,” she says. Any TV shows that she will be judging next. “Well, I would want Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega. This show gives newer….. every day. Amid all the work, how does she find time for her home and kids. Doesn’t she every feel guilty of neglecting her children? “Time management is the key, and I think all working women are adept at this. I spend a lot of time with my kids, they even come to my sets. Still there are times when I feel terribly guilty about leaving them at home when I go for work,” she says. Farah’s childhood was austere as her family was under a huge debt. Not many know that Farah’s father Kamran
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was a successful stunt filmmaker while her mother Menaka was of Zoroastrian origin and the sister of screenwriter Honey Irani and former child actor Daisy Irani. The recently-turned actress doesn’t want to talk about it. “Sajid and me come from a broken home and used to shuttle between different homes during the early part of our lives,” she says. To add to her misery, most of her father’s films did not do well in the industry. Another fact hidden from many is that her mother had acted as the heroine opposite Salman Khan’s father Salim Khan four decades ago. “In fact I, Sajid Khan and Salman Khan had almost grown up together during our childhood and our families have known each other for donkey’s years,” reveals Farah. However, Farah managed to rise above all this to achieve international recognition with her work in Monsoon Wedding, Bombay Dreams and Vanity Fair. And was nominated for a 2004 Tony Award as best choreographer along with collaborator Anthony van Laast for Bombay Dreams. She has won the Filmfare Best Choreography Award five times and went on to direct her first film Main Hoon Na which was produced by Red Chillies Entertainment. The film was a huge success and Khan became the second female director to be nominated for Filmfare Best Director Award. As director, her second movie Om Shanti Om became the highest grossing Hindi film of all time at its time of release. Tees Maar Khan, her next directorial release, received negative reviews but was a semi-hit at the box office. In 2012 she made her film acting debut in a leading role in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi, directed by Bela Bhansali Sehgal. She is now working on Happy New Year which is likely to release this year. And she hopes it will be a big hit. .
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Steeped in history, Shimla offers travellers a peek into its former glory words Kunal Bhatia
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commemorative plank in the heart of Shimla says it all: “... as the summer capital of British India for well over a century, it was the seat of one of the most powerful governments in the world. From its cedar-shaded heights, one-fifth of the human race was ruled and the decisions made those decades ago affect our lives to the present day.” Keeping aside all the drawbacks of colonialism, a visit to Shimla allows one to re-live an era long gone by.
Arrive in style What better way to begin one’s sojourn in the hills than to take the century-old heritage railway line from Kalka to Shimla. Since 1903, this narrow-gauge line has chugged over 4,000 feet up and down the hills, treating travellers to spectacular views of the countryside. Book yourself into the luxurious Shivalik Deluxe Express or the Himalayan Queen and sit back to enjoy the breathtaking journey over 800 bridges and 100 tunnels cutting across the pinewood forests. This UNESCO World Heritage line terminates at the pitched-roof and old-worldly Shimla Railway Station and brings one right into the midst of town.
Cool environs While Shimla began as a military outpost, the English soon found themselves drawn to its cool environs, especially during the harsh Indian summer. The charm of the hills was strong enough for Shimla to be crowned summer capital of India in 1864. And with this came the viceroy, the secretariat, foreign envoys, Indian princes and all the fanfare, pompousness and grandeur associated with the Raj. The Ridge and The Mall roads are located on the highest points in Shimla’s town centre. While walking down these pedestrianonly avenues, with glorious vistas on one side and colonial buildings on the other, it’s rather easy to be transported to a European town. Begin exploring from the Christ Church on the eastern end of The Mall. Built in 1857, its
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yellow tower is visible from miles away and remains the most prominent landmark of the town till this day. Inside, the military origins of Shimla are evident with the many memorial tablets and grave stones commemorating various officers of the Imperial army. Down the Ridge is the elegant Gaiety Theatre which was inaugurated during Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Year. Still used for performing arts, the theatre’s fine acoustics ensure that even a whisper on stage is heard by all audiences, without the aid of an amplifier. One can join in a guided tour of the complex, and also explore its art galleries and exhibition halls. The theatre, along with the Town Hall, allows for many photo-ops, especially in the twilight hours when the buildings are illuminated. Walk further westwards and one comes across more administrative buildings built in various architectural styles. Keep an eye out for the timber-framed post office, the cast iron and steel structure of the Railway Board and finally the Gorton Castle, a neo-Gothic building that proudly flaunts Rajasthani jaali work in spite of its Himalayan setting!
Down the Ridge is the elegant Gaiety Theatre which was inaugurated during Queen Victoria's Jubilee Year celebrations
GETTING THERE By road Shimla is well connected to neighboring cities like New Delhi and Chandigarh through national highways. The journey from Delhi to Shimla by road takes approximately eight hours. The highways are well maintained and are a pleasure to drive on. There are many tourist buses that ply from neighboring places to take tourists to this beautiful hill station. By rail The nearest railway station connecting Shimla to neighbouring states is at Kalka at a distance of 96 km. From Kalka, it takes around six hours to reach Shimla. The frequency of trains from Kalka to Shimla is good, with at least four trains plying to and fro Shimla. The journey from Delhi to Kalka is an overnight journey and reaches Kalka early morning. There are many tunnels en route with the longest being 1.2 km long. By Air Shimla can be easily reached by air. The place has its own airport at a place called Jubbarhatti, located at a distance of 23 km from the main city centre.
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1960s, the building has been occupied by the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. Free tours of the building make its history accessible to all visitors.
Shopping Walk down the Mall in the afternoons, and spot many an elderly-couple looking rather distinguished in their suits and saris, window shopping while catching up on the latest gossip around town. A variety of shops are situated in the quaint timber-framed, pitchedroof structures that line the Mall, from carpets and shawls to Himachali souvenirs. Stop by Maria Bros, an interesting antique store that has many treasures hidden within its jumbled shelves. Browse the collection of old books, maps, fading photographs and engravings and one is bound to find something priceless. For handicrafts, local knitwear and footwear, fruit juices and jams, head to the lower bazaar; and for wooden toys and walking sticks to the Lakkar Bazaar.
Staying and dining
The Viceregal Lodge No visit to Shimla can be complete without heading to Observatory Hill to marvel at the queen of all things colonial in Shimla, the summer residence of the viceroys of India. Completed in 1888, this grand residence includes a ballroom, state drawing room, billiards room, a gracefully spiralling central staircase and even an indoor tennis court. The richly-decorated interiors and sprawling estate grounds played host to many lavish parties hosted by the viceroy. The lodge was also the place where many historic decisions that shaped the sub-continent were taken including the one to Partition India. Since
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Stay at the Oberoi Cecil, for all the trappings of a luxurious five-star heritage hotel, from an indoor-heated swimming pool to a billiards room and a fully serviced spa. Other heritage hotels include the Woodville Palace and the Clarkes Hotel. For an authentic royal experience, check into the Chapslee, a former home of the kings of Kapurthala that has been converted into a heritage hotel. Enjoy the treasures that cram every nook and cranny of the hotel while being pampered with bed tea or indulging in a game of croquet. HPTDC-run Ashiana is the best restaurant in town for people-watching and gets top marks for its location â€“ bang on The Mall. Soak in the afternoon sun with a chilled beer on its terrace, or head underground into the Goofa bar for something stronger.
A place for mutual funds in your portfolio We bring you the advantages and disadvantages of investing in mutual funds
ate i c o Asssh ca
Mut fundual s
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utual funds as an investment vehicle have slowly been gaining significance in India. But in the not so distant past, retail investors had not reposed faith in this product and held the belief that going the ‘direct way’ by investing in stocks was a surefire avenue of making an easy buck through equities. It took a consistent surge in the markets between 2003 and 2007 along with efforts on the part of AMCs, the regulators and the distributor community to change that perception and there has been no looking back since.
Mutual funds offer a host of benefits to investors which are often overlooked or not apparently understood. Clearly, there is a case for the investor to take a serious look at this simple and effective investment vehicle. Some of the primary advantages of investing in mutual funds are expounded below:
Diversification One of the biggest advantages of investing in the markets through the MF route is that you get a diversified portfolio for as low as `500 to `5,000. Imagine buying a pool of stocks from across market capitalisations and sectors (and geographies in some cases) for that amount! It is not impossible to build an equity portfolio of say 25-30 stocks for an individual investor with this small amount. Since a mutual fund is a collective investment vehicle, the asset management companies collect monies from across a pool of investors and allot 16 | axisbank.com
units in their schemes to these investors, thus helping them to participate in the markets.
Professional Management A mutual fund scheme is managed by professional fund managers who have extensive experience in tracking the equity/ debt markets. Hence, they are in a better position to pick and choose stocks/papers as also track them on a regular basis. Tracking the markets in most cases proves to be an uphill task for retail investors; they also may not have the requisite skill sets to track the markets and make investment decisions on their own. Hence, they would find that it is best left to the professional fund management teams for managing their funds.
Transparency Mutual fund schemes offer NAVs which are net asset values of the portfolio adjusted for costs, on a daily basis, which helps investors track their investments. In addition, AMCs also send across monthly/quarterly portfolio disclosures and newsletters which give the portfolio construction and also how the scheme is being managed, performance of the schemes against their benchmarks, market commentaries, etc. That apart, mutual funds are also well regulated and SEBI, the industry watchdog, monitors their actions closely. In a way, this helps reduce the risks associated with an investment product linked to the markets.
Liquidity and convenient administration Mutual funds provide easy liquidity to investors; they receive their redemption
Mutual funds provide easy liquidity to investors; they receive their redemption monies within three-five working days
monies within three-five working days. Redemption proceeds can also be directly credited to the investor’s bank account by way of NEFT/ RTGS. Additionally, other benefits like investing in the market via SIPs, investing in sector or thematic funds, planning for retirement etc can all be carried out through mutual fund investments. Furthermore, mutual funds also service investors through their investor service networks as well as distributors like banks amongst others. Individuals would find these conveniences difficult to ignore.
Tax Benefits Equity mutual fund gains are not taxed if held for more than a year. Similarly, debt funds also offer indexation benefits on long term capital gains if held for more than a year.
Additionally, equity linked savings schemes (ELSS as they are more popularly known as) offer tax benefits under Section 80C. However for all the benefits listed above, there are a few shortcomings that the investors should be aware of. These include: 1. Non-availability of a personalised portfolio: Since an MF scheme is managed by a fund manager who works for an AMC and manages a pool of money collected from across a large number of investors, ‘personalisation’ of portfolios may not be possible for investors. This could specially be a constraint for very large investors like corporates or high net worth individuals. However, this can be taken care of, by
way of offering the investor an array of schemes to choose from. For example, she can look at sector and thematic funds, mid and small cap funds and so on to construct a portfolio of her choosing. 2. ‘Dilution’ of possible high returns due to diversification: While diversification is a benefit, it could also act as a hindrance for investors who like to take risks for commensurately higher returns and who would want to hold a concentrated portfolio to benefit from the same. However, they are two sides of the same coin and schemes which match the tastes of these (‘informed’) investors are also available and one can take a look at investments in these funds (though the risks need to be clearly identified and defined to the investor). 3. Managing a portfolio of funds: Believe it or not but investors can actually be spoilt for choice with the sheer number of schemes available in the market today. This is where the expertise of an advisor comes in and she should seek help/ advise on how to select a fund, which schemes are suitable for her to achieve her objectives and so on. Nonetheless, the benefits of investing in mutual funds far outweigh the shortcomings. Investors would do well not to ignore this effective investment vehicle and benefit from it to build wealth over the long term. This article is from the Investment Advisory Team at Axis Bank Jan-Mar 2013 | 17
Fresh and flavourful The biggest trend in dining capitals of the world is seasonal, local food. This winter, emulate that at home words Anoothi Vishal
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ne of the biggest trends to have defined fine dining in capitals across the globe is local, seasonal food. From heirloom tomatoes to pea and nasturtium flowers, from zucchini to okra, artichokes to cauliflower, spinach and rocket leaves, chefs not only have been lovingly sourcing these straight from farmers’ markets and putting them out on your plates, but indeed have even been growing them. The trendiest chefs, in fact, these days in cities like London, Melbourne and Los Angeles all boast of their own private gardens from where the freshest of seasonal produce is plucked by hand and offered to diners at a premium. If this is a new fad in the West, it is because for years before this, supermarkets with their cold chains and 24x7 availability of veggies, fruits and herbs defined life and lifestyle in those cities. But despite the convenience of such dining, it is a proven fact that the best health benefits – those powerful antioxidants promoting youth and vitality, those vitamins and nutrients boosting everything from immunity to cancer-fighting ability are all to be found in fresh ingredients. Keep these in storage for long enough and
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Chicken with peppers Thai flavours are always a hit with everyone and you can easily combine meats and fresh winter veggies here. Ingredients: 220 g chicken thighs 5 g lemon grass 3 g galangal 3 g kaffir lemon leaf Â˝ tbsp oyster sauce 10 ml dark soya 2 shredded lemon leaves Red and green bell peppers, sliced thinly Method: Clean the chicken and trim all the excess fat and keep it aside. Roughly grind the lemon grass, galangal and lemon leaves into a paste. Now mix all the above ingredients with the chicken and marinate it for, at least, an hour. Pour few drops of cooking oil on a hot iron plate or a non stick pan. Cut the chicken into thin slices. Cook on the hot pan with the sauce. When almost done, add lime leaves and bell peppers so that they retain their colour. Serve hot with rice. By Chef Amit Gurung Chopsticks Restaurant, New Delhi 20 | axisbank.comâ€‚â€‚
Menus of the most celebrated restaurants across the world have now included farm fresh veggies
not just the freshness but nutrient value of these ingredients goes. As does the taste and flavour. That’s a fact that not just top chefs but diners across board are increasingly recognising. In Italy recently, during the truffle season (that lasts from December to February), all my meals came spiked with healthy amounts of the mushroom-worthits-weight-in gold: from pizzas and pastas to soups and even desserts, everything was truffle infused. Equally, menus from the most touristy of restaurants to the best of gourmet places all had zucchini flowers on their menus, and artichokes and, well, cauliflower. That’s supposed to be the trendiest ingredient in modern European cooking these days. The only reason why all these made it to those menus is because they are seasonal ingredients and this is the correct time in the year to enjoy them. In India, quite the reverse seems to be happening. While traditionally, our kitchens have always put out seasonal diets, new affluence of middle-class consumers coupled with year-round availability of fruits and veggies means that we now take pride in serving up elusive things that are either imported or not in season. Blueberries at `1,000 a kilo have takers as have apples in summer and cauliflower, however sans taste, is a staple on our tables during summer, monsoon and winter. But like we said, this kind of cooking is neither cool and trendy nor healthy. Instead, a much wiser course of action is to buy the freshest of ingredients being grown that season. Winter, luckily, in the subcontinent is a time of plenty. Luscious tomatoes, beans
and cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, plus a number of greens including amaranth (bathua), spinach, fenugreek (methi) and mustard are available. All these can go into many exciting creations. The greens, for instance, are not just suited for out saags but can even be stuffed into pies and ravioli with minimum fuss. Try doing bathua-stuffed ravioli for instance, as Olive’s chef Manu Chandra once suggested. Spinach and ricotta is a classic combo in Italian cuisine; but you can substitute the spinach with bathua and get some power ingredients into your system. Other veggies can be lightly grilled, drizzled with good quality of extra virgin olive oil and had as a light meal by themselves or accompaniment to fish and chicken. Cauliflower can go into a thick soup. Plus, all these colourful veggies are just right for stir-frying, Chinese style, in a wok. Keep them crunchy and crisp and season with a sauce of your choice to have a satisfying, low-cal meal ready. This is also a good season for fruits like apples, grapes and oranges. Apart from eating these fresh, you can incorporate them into pies, cakes and custards. Plus you can also make relishes out of any of these. Just cook with a little sugar, a pinch of salt and spice and perhaps a touch of vinegar at the end for a sweet and sour flavour. Use these as accompaniments with grilled meats and fish to add a touch of exotica to your meals. In any case, we asked some chefs to chart out some recipes for us, using fresh winter ingredients. You can try these at home. Or just go to the mandi, look around, pick up a basket of colourful, fragrant, flavourful food and then let your imagination run. Cooking is an art, not for nothing!
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vogue Abstract digital prints, vintage designs and bright shades will rule Spring/Summer 2013, predict fashion designers
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ottons, chiffons and georgettes as well as free-flowing fabrics, loose silhouettes, bright colours and out-of-the box prints will rule Spring Summer 2013. Fashion designers are pushing the envelope a little further this season to come up with non-fussy garments that highlight Indian craftsmanship as well as promote simpler designs. As in the past, shades of blacks and whites have ruled both the wardrobes and the runways, irrespective of the season and will forever do so. However, designers suggest you choose brighter shades this year with reds and tangerines emerging as the colours for spring. The year will also witness abstract digital prints staging a comeback and the resurgence of vintage fashion, especially from the 50s, with the reintroduction of pencil skirts. Jan-Mar 2013 | 23â€‚â€‚
Colour blocking is going be in trend because we love colours and carry it with loads of confidence
“Past trends will make a comeback this year but one of the major ones will be abstract digital prints. It promises to enhance the look in a simpler and understated manner as well as add fun and colour elements to kaftans, maxi dresses, shift dresses and pencil skirts,” shares designer Anita Dongre. The trend dominated the runways of Paris, Milan and London Fashion Week recently. Re-introduced in 2012, pencil skirts are likely to stay in trend in 2013 too, says Dongre. Paired with georgette blouse, broad waist belt and a great pair of wedge heels or pump, pencil skirts are another hottest trend to look forward to. “It’ll be the most wearable trend in 2013. Unlike the usual geometric prints, the skirts will adorn cool tropical, chaotic or abstract prints this season,” she adds. Meanwhile, designer Nida Mahmood predicts inky blues and yellows ruling the 24 | axisbank.com
fashion industry in 2013. “A combination of these two colours will rock this season. One can choose to wear a bright yellow shirt and pair it with a pair of blue front pleated bottoms for daywear. You can carry the same look with élan if you are heading for a party. All you need to do is add a broach and change the shoes. The idea is to remain as simple as possible. Bright shades only add up to your hotness,” she suggests. Designers also predict a comeback of the original Indian short kurtis “Popular as tunics, the kurti will return as will shirt dresses with a little longer back. Short summer dresses, that are neither too fitted nor completely falling off the shoulders, will be the best for a summer daywear,” says Nida, adding peplum has come in a big way. “Peplum is a ruffle attached to the waistline. Peplum skirts and dresses were part of the decade of 80s and 90s. Peplum
has made its way to the red carpet events with celebs like Scarlett Johansson, Lady Gaga and Beyonce Knowles flaunting little frills, gathered around the waist. However, peplum has been in and out of global fashion trends but keeping in mind its popularity on international runways and its introduction in a renewed avatar by Indian designers, expectations of peplum making it big in 2013 are immense. However, one should be careful when choosing a peplum dress or a top as the length of the flare is important,” says designer Reynu Tandon. Meanwhile, designer Pria Kataria Puri predicts colour blocking stealing the fashion limelight in 2013 as it did the last year. “Colour blocking is going be in trend because we love colours and carry it with loads of confidence. Colours have always been the forte in Indian dressing and I feel shades of pink, fuchsia purple, blue and
green will hold centre-stage this year,” she says. For Spring Summer 2013, designer Preeti S Kapoor has chosen prints inspired from the jungles of South Africa. “The reason I picked up the designs from South Africa is due to bright and different imagery it brings to our mind. I think the best part of the summer line is that you can play along with prints,” she says about her collection. One needs to also keep an eye to how to choose the right accessory. “Accessories depend on what dress one wears. If it has a lot of bling, one should opt for simpler accessories and vice versa. For example, if you are opting for a peplum, keep in mind that you have a lot going on around your hips. Therefore, the best necklace for this particular look is one that is short and closer to the face and seems to be part of the neckline,” shares designer Swapnil Shinde. Jan-Mar 2013 | 25
Click & shop
Shopaholics now have the luxury to splurge online as niche e-shops are selling everything from designer clothes to shoes and even expensive jewellery words Meghna Sharma
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mpulsive buys are a shopaholic's best treasures… at least that’s what I learnt when I joined the ever growing army of online shoppers recently. I loved the smell of a store, the thrill I got out of touching the glittering pair of shoes I’d been longing for so long or the vintage blouse that I looked for everywhere and finally found it. Never did I think that I’ll get hooked to the virtual mall which I so strongly detested. Yes, I’m guilty, guilty of buying things that I really didn’t need. But when they are delivered at your doorstep with just a click would you not be tempted to do so?
India’s online shoppers are growing by the minute and why not, when you have your favourite designer brands available at delectable discounts, a wide range of products and, most importantly, a quick way to get home what you want. We decided to track this e-revolution and spoke to some of the shopping portals to find out what makes them click. For Indians, who have a passion for bargaining matched by few others in the world, lucrative deals have been one of the major factors behind the spurt in online shopping. Portals like Fashion and You, Fashion At Click, SnapDeal, Flipkart,
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Buyers speak Neha Jain 26, says, “I’m hooked to these portals. Not only does one get great deals online but it also saves time. A trip to a mall takes up the entire day and these websites are completely hassle-free.” Dhruv Sethi 24, says, “Though I was pretty apprehensive at first but online portals are extremely safe and the cash on delivery option really works for me. I am quite happy as now even guys have so many options as well.” Payal Batra 25, says, “Online shopping portals are a blessing in disguise for people with erratic work schedules. I hardly get time to step out and shop, but now I can shop all my favourite brands with just a click.”
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Caratlane and Prêt Amoda among others, sometimes offer close to 50-95 per cent discount on products. Harish Bahl, founder and CEO of Smile Group that runs fashionandyou.com, says, “We began with the idea that brands need alternate vehicles to reach out to consumers. Initially, we started out with a strong sales team in place. Now we clear a huge volume of inventory for brands so they reach out to us as they see us as an additional platform for sales.” Talking about the challenges, he adds, “Our challenge in the beginning was of course the fact that e-commerce in India wasn’t growing very strongly except in the travel sector. And when we introduced fashion apparel in the online retail industry, we were apprehensive about whether consumers would buy products online or not. But through referral and virality, our consumer base has grown and today we have about 3 million members. So, that’s testimony to the fact that people want to see this club grow.” It’s a great growth story, everyone agrees and one that’s reaching even the smaller towns. Manvi Singh of fashionatclick. com, says, “With my experience in fashion and passion about making it available to everyone, I intended to introduce an online fashion retailer catering to women who starve for fashion brands in small cities,
where there are limited options. With the increasing awareness of global fashion, there is an undying demand of new trends, and fashionatclick.com aims at meeting this demand.” But is online shopping just a fad in small towns or really a trend? Manvi adds, “Our target consumer is middle-class/ higher-middle class. We are targeting women between the age group 18-40, who have recently joined universities or have started working. They are fashion forward and are willing to stand out in the crowd. These days, even women in small towns are very fash forward as they are exposed to international fashion through movies, magazines, soap operas and get influenced by them. And more than anything else, they are internet savvy!” Ritika Walia of pret-amoda.com fulfills the fashion needs of every aspiring fashionista – an exclusive retail channel, an interface that is simple to use and easily accessible for shoppers to buy Indian Inspired fashion from around the world. “Having interacted closely with several luxury fashion houses over the years and their success in the online space, we wanted to apply the very same retail concept to established Indian designer brands. We also wanted to provide an accessible space for the growing pool of extremely talented and commercially viable emerging labels; to give them an opportunity to showcase their products on an international platform,” says Ritika. Though misuse of credit card details was one of the biggest fears haunting online shoppers, introduction of payment options like debit card, cash card and payment on delivery have boosted confidence and got back new customers in hordes. According to market research, there are roughly 50 million e-shoppers in India. The findings of a recent survey by a market research firm reveal that online search for products has increased by 32 per cent from last year, making 'shopping' the second most popular online activity after emailing. And four out of five internet users in India shop online. Not just that, the virtual mall also has a place for people who want to buy plants, pet lovers, young mothers, et al. Sites like dogspot.in, greenplants.in aquariumindia.
Shopping online, of course, is cheaper but what makes it more attractive is the novelty factor
com, babyoye.com among others cater to a niche audience and are doing surprisingly well. Arunima Singh Deo of babyoye.com claims that the year-old site for baby and pregnancy products gets 20, 000 visitors every day. Shopping online, of course, is cheaper but what makes it more attractive is the novelty factor. And now that one can even buy jewellery online, it has hooked men and women alike. CaratLane, one such jewellery portal, is the result of Srinivasa Gopalan and Mithun Sacheti’s dream to change the way diamonds are bought and sold in India. Gopalan, a season entrepreneur in the IT industry and Sacheti, the scion of Jaipur Gems, launched CaratLane in 2008 and it’s India’s first and largest online diamond and diamond jewellery portal. They initially set up to sell loose diamonds, solitaire based jewellery and readymade diamond jewellery but recently expanded their portfolio by adding gold and engraved jewellery. Along with that, heavy discounts on jewels is also one of the major attractions. Jewelsnext is another e-shop that sells jewellery. Says Gaurav Issar, co-founder and CEO of the portal, “Jewelsnext is an ecommerce, branding and advertising market place for jewellery and luxury lifestyle products in India. We have spent three years in understanding the problems behind building an ecosystem for this sector which is highly unstructured.” Talking about the heavy discounts on authentic jewellery, Gaurav says, “Jewellery is a religion in India. It is on core component for investment, gifting, luxury. We believe in building on business through word of mouth and most of these signups are coming through this channel. So we work
on delivering value than giving discounts to the consumers. We already have a clientele of 1400 jewellery retail clients across India from our existing chain of Diamond & Jewellery Certification laboratory business under the name of IDT( Institute of Diamond Trade).” This e-revolution is certainly getting shopaholics hooked with their lucrative offers.
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Be herb-friendly If you are bored with the usual spices in your meal, go for a variation in the form of herbs this winter. Packed with health benefits, they'll make for an excellent alternative words Khursheed Dinshaw
he medicinal and culinary values of various herbs have been recognised and appreciated by people from all across the world. They not only lend a tangy taste to any dish they're added to but because of their healing attributes some herbs have come to be known as medicinal herbs. We get you a lowdown on some of the hers that should be in your kitchen.
Dill Dill has green leaves that are wispy in appearance and somewhat bitter in taste. It is normally used to prepare dals as a green leafy vegetable dish, in soups and pickles. Its monoterpene components are instrumental in activating the enzyme that protects the cells against the harmful effects of free radicals. “These are molecules corrosive in nature which are produced during the normal metabolic process. A chemoprotective food the herb is known to neutralise particular types of carcinogens like those found in cigarette smoke,” adds nutritionist Sneha Sachdev. Since it has bacteria-regulating effects, it prevents the overgrowth of bacteria and is known as an anti-bacterial herb. A powerhouse of calcium and dietary fibre, it is a good source of minerals: manganese, iron
and magnesium. It was traditionally used to soothe insomnia and stomach disorders.
Thyme This herb has a sharp fragrance with small curled leaves. It has been known to cure chest and respiratory problems like coughs, bronchitis and chest congestion. The main volatile oil element in thyme is thymol that helps in the protection of cellular membranes. The herb also contains a range of flavonoids making it antioxidant. An extremely good source of manganese, iron, calcium and dietary fibre, the herb is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal due to volatile oil elements it contains. “Thyme should particularly be used when one is making a raw dish like a salad. This is because it helps to prevent and preserve food from getting contaminated by microbes. This culinary delight should ideally be added towards the end of cooking to maintain its aromatic flavour,” adds Karla Dutia, executive chef, Oakwood Residence, Pune.
Sage The International Herb Association awarded the title of 'Herb of the Year' to none other than sage in 2001. Sage has a woody stem, greyish leaves and blue to purplish flowers. It has a long distinctive flavour and aroma and thus, is great for combining with rest of the herbs for
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Chives are a readily available herb found fresh at most markets round the year marinating roast meats and to spice it up. It is generally used in marinades for meat, fish, pork sausage, lamb and even vegetables like peas, eggplants, lima beans and carrots. Sage was used in ancient times for medicinal purposes and food preservation only and not as a food flavouring until the 17th century.
Chives Chives are a readily available herb found fresh at most markets round the year. An interesting fact about this household herb is its insect-repelling properties which can be used in gardens to control pests. The leaves are shredded for use as seasoning for fish, potatoes and soups. They are also used for sandwiches. In India, they are predominantly used in dips, sauces, salads, pastas, stir fried and potato dishes. “Chives are a good source of allicin. It helps the heart by lowering cholesterol and blood clots and blood pressure. Chives also help in digestion as they remove intestinal bacteria like Salmonella allowing proper functioning of the digestive system,” explains naturopath PM Patra.
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Fennel Fennel in appearance resembles a bulb base with stalks like celery and feathery leaves. Most, if not all of the fennel plant can be eaten. The leaves and stalks can be eaten as a vegetable or else the leaves can be chopped and added to a dish at the last moment to provide flavour. The stalk can be used for salads. The herb can be used in salads, dressings, dips and sauces and added to other herbs to add vitality to the taste. The bulb can be eaten raw or lightly cooked in salads and stews. Its seeds are most frequently used to spice up sausages, pickles, red meat as well as fish dishes. There is a belief that its seeds are known to be appetite suppressers. The Puritans referred to Fennel as the meeting seed as it was a favourite practice to chew the seeds during meetings. “From a health point of view, fennel helps to treat anaemia, flatulence, constipation as it is a laxative in its powdered form, diarrhoea as it has anti-bacterial properties and menstrual disorders. It contains iron and an amino acid called histidine which helps in the
production of haemoglobin thus helping to cure anaemia,” adds Sachdev. It is a common after meal practice in India to chew a few fennel seeds. This helps in digestion as the essential oils in it stimulate the secretion of gastric juices and help in the proper absorption of food nutrients. It also acts as a mouth freshener. Its carminative properties help to cure flatulence and acidity in the stomach. The juice of the leaves is externally applied to eyes to reduce irritation and tiredness. The essential oils in the leaves also help to reduce eye inflammation.
Parsley This looks like coriander leaves – green and leafy, since they both come from the Apiaceae family. However, the two are very different in their nutrient properties and benefits to the body. “Parsley is known to nullify the effect of a few carcinogens on our body such as cigarette smoke. It is a very rich source of vitamin K and vitamin C along with vitamin A and iron,” mentions Pooja Jadhav, diet expert, Just For Hearts. It has a large number of anti oxidants, contains folic acid which is good for preventing heart diseases and strokes and it also controls diabetes. Given that it has a peppery taste, it can be used to garnish hot dishes such as rice, soups and stews. “It is very fragile and hence should be washed just before using it, with cold water. It can be mixed with other herbs and spices to marinate chicken as well,” she adds.
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