September 25, 2017

Durga Puja Lookbook - How To Dress Up During The Most-Awaited Bong Festival

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Durga Puja - these two li'l words are enough to send any Bengali into a tizzy of excitement! These words give rise to images of magnificent idols of the Mother Goddess, loads of good food all around, people enjoying in revelry, and of course, everyone decked up in new clothes (every Bengali woman's favorite part of this festival). Unlike most festivals, that last for a day or two, Durga Puja is celebrated for four whole days! Which means, four days of unadulterated fun, hogging on street food, turning heads in cool clothes and having the most exciting time of the year!

For us, Bengalis, this festival is wrapped in nostalgia & emotions - for these few days, we eat, breathe & live the festival & its rituals with a dedication seldom seen at other times. 
For us, Durga Puja means the first tentative steps we took out of our homes, with friends, without the commanding protection of our parents.
It means the first all-nighter we pulled with cousins - pandal-hopping and biriyani-hogging.
It means the first shy smile we boldly threw at our crush from three houses down the street. And the heart-warming feeling of his eyes on our saree-clad avatar during Ashtami morning pushpanjali.
It means gobbling down unlimited number of phuchkas at any street stall, without anybody stopping you after the 10th one.
It means having egg-rolls, chowmein, ice-cream, cold drinks - all in the duration of a couple of hours, while out pandal-hopping.
It means making back-to-back plans with friends and family, till no time of any of those four days is left free on your calendar.
It means meeting up with friends whom you don't get to see during the rest of the year - the NRIs, the married ones, the not-so-close ones and even the workaholic ones.
And it means flaunting your style at its trendiest best, sashaying down the road in much-planned & thoughtfully-put-together outfits, as if its your fashion runway!


So, this Durga Puja, me and Sayantani from Live Laugh Dressup have come together to share some ideas about how you can dress to impress during this big, fat Indian festival! 
This lookbook features my fashion brand Howrah Bridge (for any of you who are not aware, I am a fashion designer by profession and I own a clothing & accessories brand) and a few chic looks from its new Festive '17 collection. The clothes are trendy & fashionable, while having their roots in Indian tradition, crafts & fabrics - a charming mix of contemporary and traditional, that gives your style the ideal edge in order to stand out in the crowd!
So, check out the looks and get inspired!




Saptami

The morning that brings with it the rhythmic beats of the dhaak and the spiritual vibrato of the conch shells. The morning that says 'pujo is here'. The morning that urges us to jump out of bed, dress up and go out!
Saptami is all about hanging out with friends, hogging on all kinds of street food and warming up to the festivities that start to set in.
This day is for dressing lightly, but fashionably - nothing too gorgeous, yet something that'll turn heads. An easy-breezy dress, worn with some nice jewellery does the trick. Chic prints and bright colors make sure you command the right amount of attention wherever you go. Add a twist to the tale with some cool glasses or fun footwear, and you are all set to rule the streets!








[Black floral dress/green midi dress: c/o Howrah Bridge | Wooden-framed cat-eye shades: c/o WoodGeek]


Ashtami

THE most-awaited day of the festival - the one we reserve the best clothes and the most exciting plans for! A morning starting with anjali - preferably on an empty stomach, if you want to be in the Goddess' good books - going on to a lunch of yummy bhog, an evening of decked-up revelry and a night of fun. The day every girl - from 9 to 90 - wants to drape a saree. The day the local puja committees bring in the best singers to entertain you or put up the most dramatic cultural programs. 
Ashtami means flaunting the elegant nine yards, saying pious prayers as you throw the anjali flowers at Maa Durga's feet, meeting up with the closest friends or cousins, and preparing for Sandhi Pujo (the ritual which marks the transition of the festival from Ashtami to Nabami).
Of course, we couldn't think beyond sarees for this auspicious day - but we ditched the traditional way, and put our own style spins on it. This year, on Mahashtami, we urge you to go all out and experiment with your saree looks - drape it in an interesting way, pair it with off-shoulder tops or kurtas, accessorize it with belts or boots, and just have fun with it! Give it your own unique touch to stand out in the saree-clad crowd on this special day.











[Checked linen sarees/black ikat panel kurta/kalamkari & ikat blouse: c/o Howrah Bridge]



Nabami

The second special day, after Mahashtami, Mahanabami dawns on us with a festive cheer bright enough to get rid of the Ashtami hangover. The day when lunch means feasting on sumptuous Pulao and mutton dishes. The day for visiting the last few pandals that you might have missed out on. The day that calls for grand dinner plans with family. The day your crush might come, say hi to you - after the mute exchange of meaningful looks on Ashtami.
Nabami means trying to live the joyful moments flashing by, as the festival gallops towards the end. Nabami means dressing up in your most gorgeous clothes that year, so that you dazzle & shine throughout the day.
Sayantani goes the ethnic way for this day, flaunting an asymmetric tunic with an embellished yoke with trendy straight pants, while I keep it cool & casual in a fun mix-n-match dress for those of you who like simpler styles. Just add statement jewellery to make your looks stand out and get going! Comfy, yet chic, is the mantra for the day, so don't forget that!






[Printed midi dress/asymmetric kurta/straight pants/tassel earrings: c/o Howrah Bridge]



Dashami

A morning that brings with it bittersweet notes, as the festival draws towards a much-dreaded end. A day of trying to fit in as much fun as possible in the last few hours. A day of preparing to bid the Mother goodbye. A day of farewell rituals - shindoor-khela, bodhon and bishorjon. A day when married women color the Mother Goddess (and each other) red with vermilion and children bring their books to be blessed by the Gods before they depart to their heavenly abode. A day when the whole locality travels with the Gods on their journey towards the rivers/ponds/lakes, to bid them goodbye as the idols are immersed in water.
Dashami is for celebrations that reek of both happiness & sadness. Dashami is for taking blessings from our elders once the Gods are gone. Dashami is for gorging on sweets and indulging in a sense of bonding with your neighbors, friends & family; as if reassuring each other that it's all gonna take place again, albeit after a wait of twelve months.
This day calls for trendy looks that are comfy, stylish and eye-grabbing. Channel a fun, carefree look in cotton dresses - checks are so in right now - paired with sliders or brogues and quirky accessories like bow-ties! You can even unleash your inner boho queen and go for an easy-breezy maxi dress with trendy details like cold-shoulder sleeves. Add a touch of whimsy with a head-scarf or a cute ring. Be fun, fearless and fashionable - after all, it's your last chance to dress up for Durga Puja!






[Cold-shoulder maxi dress/checked midi dress/green scarf/pink mirror ring: c/o Howrah Bridge | Wooden bow-tie: c/o WoodGeek]


Photography by: Shubhadeep Saha



It's time to gear up for Durga Puja!
I know you might be in a mad rush of last-minute shopping, trying to complete pending work before you slip into the festive mode, making plans for the puja days or even travelling towards your hometown - but if you are still in a dilemma about what to wear on the special four days, hope we have been able to be of some help!

Do let us know if you tried any similar looks for the festival, or if our outfits inspired you to try out any new styles this Durga Puja!
We would love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Also, if you liked any of the clothes from this lookbook, please contact me on howrahbridgebyadg@gmail.com
You can also follow Howrah Bridge on Instagram and Facebook for more collections and products!

Do check out Sayantani's post for a better look at her outfits for this lookbook.

And of course, don't forget to follow me on Instagram & Facebook for more real-time Durga Puja style updates!!!


Wishing you all a splendid festive season ahead! Eat, drink and be merry!!!



Love & best wishes,
Anupriya
September 03, 2017

What To Eat, When In Goa!

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Those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook, know that I had gone on a weekend trip to Goa with my girlfriends, a couple of months back! 
(You can read all about it on my BFF Sushmita's blog here!)

I have been trying to write a travelogue on Goa since then...but unfortunately, too much happening in my life right now - what with work for my brand Howrah Bridge, travelling between Kolkata & Bangalore every month, freelance content writing projects, and loads of other stuff - so, I haven't been able to get down to writing those posts on what all we did in Goa!

Today, I got a bit of time on hand, so thought of penning down at least one of my much-planned posts on Goa. 
There's hardly anyone out there who doesn't get excited by the name of this place...and who haven't spent hours planning at least ONE trip to Goa with his or her best friends! This is one of the most touristy places in the country and a lot of you have been there more than once too!
But, on this trip, we found out (and ate at) some really amazing eateries in Goa...which, I feel, are must-visits when you are on a trip to this popular seaside town. Each of these places are notable in their own ways and warrant at least one visit by any tourist in Goa. So, here are some places to eat in Goa that you must include in your bucket list whenever you plan a trip to Goa!





This place was, hands down, one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at! Zomato recommended this eatery highly, and so, we went there for lunch one lazy afternoon. 
Surprisingly, everything - from the food to the cocktails to the artisanal coffee to dessert - was impeccably yummy! There was an interesting array of hand-crafted cocktails, and my paan-flavored drink was unique & refreshing. We had a tough time choosing from their wide range of entrée, but the waiter recommended the fish cakes and the mango-sticky rice rolls, both of which were amazingly tasty. I can easily say that those were the yummiest fish cakes I've ever had, and I can go back to Goa just to have this dish at this place! 



For main course, I had a grilled chicken steak which was served with bread. It was quite flavorful and filling.



For dessert we had some yummilicious churros served with hot chocolate sauce! (Am drooling just thinking about them), and my friends had artisanal coffee which they said were perfect in flavor & richness.


All in all, I would definitely recommend anyone travelling to Goa to have at least one lunch or dinner at the BSB. It's slightly expensive (not extravagant, but might seem high-priced if compared to other local casual eateries), but, trust me, the food is totally worth it!


2. Soi

If you want to have a taste of authentic Goan cuisine, in a relaxed, cozy ambience, then Soi is the place for you! With 2 outlets - one in Panjim and one in Candolim (which is the one we visited) - this casual dining eatery must be on your list when in Goa. 
We had chanced upon it on a Saturday night when a big crowd and heavy rains spoiled our chances of getting entry in a nearby nightclub, and we thought we might as well have a nice dinner. The place looked quaint and cozy, with dimly-lit interiors (hence, the grainy mobile pics #facepalm), quirky painted walls & props, and comfy seating arrangements.
We started off with some cool cocktails which were quite decent and refreshing. 


The starters of Chicken Cafreal and Veg Balchao Chops were quite spicy, yummy and full of typical Goan flavors. For main course, we ordered a veg gravy, a chicken side dish (Chicken Xacutti, I think), local Goan rice and a bread basket which had three types of freshly baked breads - Poi, Katrey & Pao.
The food was sumptuous, filling and satisfyingly authentic in taste & flavor. But, if you are someone who can't have spicy food, then I suggest you take the waiter's recommendation, as most dishes of the Goan cuisine contain local spicy masalas. 



This is a place which I won't mind going back to, if I want to have Goan food. But, I would have loved it if they had better lighting, so that I could take nicer pictures for my social media feed! :P



We came across this place when we were searching for an eatery to have lunch at, while sightseeing around Old Goa. After seeing good ratings for the Ritz Classic on Google & Zomato, we instructed our driver to take us there. And we were pleasantly surprised when he, too, enthusiastically informed us that this place is indeed very good!
It was a Sunday, and the place was quite crowded, confirming the fact that it was indeed a popular joint. We ordered a few North-Indian dishes which were quite nice and tasty.
But what proved to be the best part was the authentic Fish Thali that we sampled at the Ritz Classic. If you want to have fish thali in Goa, I would definitely recommend this place! The whole spread - including crab, prawns and a fried fish - was delectable and a must-have indeed!





Well, the best part about our lovely Air BnB in Goa was that the Marriott property was bang opposite to the complex that housed our rented flat! 
Needless to say, we went there for quite a few meals (read, whenever we felt too lazy to go further)....but the one meal that I would definitely recommend you all to try is their breakfast buffet!
The huge breakfast spread at the Goa Marriott Resort & Spa was as sumptuous and as delicious as it looks in my pictures, and we couldn't have asked for a better last day breakfast in Goa! We were spoilt for choice and it was super-hard to choose from a wide range of pastas, breads, eggs, South Indian fare, waffles and of course, a never-ending variety of confections! The baked goods were my fav picks, and everything - from the croissants & danishes to the donuts and cakes - was full of freshly-baked goodness!!! All this, coupled with a lovely view of the seafront, makes for the perfect breakfast buffet you'll ever have!








This goes out specially to those, like me, who have a big sweet-tooth! You have to try out the breakfast spread at the Goa Marriott for the ultimate sweet indulgence!


So, whoever is planning that exciting trip to Goa next, do check out these places, if you want to hog on some yummy food!!! Trust me, you won't be disappointed!


Let me know in the comments below, if you want to know anything else about my holiday in Goa!

Till next time!

Love,
Anupriya

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