Colombo Layover - What to do in 7 hours?

I am a huge fan of slow travel, of experiencing everything a local would. The recent Airbnb campaign of 'Don't go to Paris, Live in Paris' really touched a chord with me. However, on a recent trip home, I had a long layover in Colombo. One I couldn't possibly waste. I have flown Srilankan Airlines quite a few times, I have always seen aerial views of the city, but this time, I actually had a chance to explore the city - even if it was for only a few hours.

Streetside.

I had never stepped outside the airport in Sri Lanka and I was quite excited. My flight landed at 6:15 am and by 7 I was in a cab towards Colombo city.

Breakfast in Colombo

My first stop was, obviously, for breakfast. After some thought, I decided to go to Cafe Kumbuk. A quiet cafe popular with expats and tourists, this cafe serves delicious food only up to 4:30 pm. I loved the interiors of this place, with earten tiles and tones all over.

Those tiles.

Avacado on turmeric on toast. Love.

Dressed comfortably to walk and shop.

I want this decor in my house.

Postcards and greeting cards on sale here.

Buddhist temples

My next stop was the very famous and important Gangaramaya temple in the heart of Colombo, and it's set above a small lake. It was a very hot and humid day but after I walked into the temple, it was so peaceful and calm I forgot about about the heat.

Buddhism is the main religion in Sri Lanka.

Peace.

Friendly strangers helping with the photo.

Colombo meets blue water - Galle face

I wanted to visit the Galle face, about which almost every person I spoke to had recommended. This is a long stretch of open space, right next to the beautiful sea. Families, couples and kids come here to enjoy an evening out - a luxury if you ask me, in a crowded concrete jungle with waters so blue !

Royal blue.

Make time stand still.

Retail therapy - Dutch Hospital

I couldn't leave without doing some retail therapy. I went to the old Dutch hopital which is now converted to a shopping complex. Since I was a little early, many of the eateries and stores were not yet open. However, I still managed to visit Spa Ceylon and Barefoot. (Much recommended)

Dutch Hospital.

Symmetry.

Red, blue and green tuk tuks.

Perennial problems in countries around the world.

Shopped and dusted.

Details
  • To get a visa to enter Sri Lanka is very simple. You can go to their official website here and apply for one. It costs $20 for a double entry e-visa.
  • It takes about an hour from the airport to city. I comfortably did all of the above in around 6 hours; including 2 hours of travel time.
  • You can withdraw LKR (Sri Lankan Rupees) from any ATM
  • A great local UBER-like app is Pick Me. You can download it before hand. It's very easy to use.
  • There's great, free and fast wifi at the airport.
Tip = I used the free Wifi at the airport to book a cab on Pick Me. And then I called the local driver's number from a helpful stranger.
  • Cafe Kumbuk - website
  • You can ask any local for the Buddhist temple, the Dutch Hospital shopping complex and Galle face.
  • I wanted to visit Pettah Market too (I have a thing with local markets), but I was short of time, so maybe another time.
  • Srilankan Airlines is one of my favourites - lovely fleet, staff, service, food and movie collection and if you are lucky, you will get a long layover.

Hope you guys enjoyed the read. Have you been to Sri Lanka? What other places would you recommend as a must see? Let me know what you think in the comments below. xx

Loving Kama Ayurveda - A Daily Routine

What's the best way to while away time when you are already checked in but your flight is delayed? (Thankfully not over booked, just delayed!!) A couple of weeks ago, I was wandering around the Mumbai international airport searching for a phone cover. I went from gate to gate, for I really had all the time in the world. I did not find what I was looking for, but I came across a store I coudn't walk away from. And it wasn't the store decor or the lovely sales person, it was the product. The actual products.

Kama Ayurveda - A daily routine

I picked up the lip balm and the soap. They had cleverly displayed these for everyone to see, right outside. I actually wanted to buy only 1 LIP BALM. I started reading about each of the products. 'Kama Ayurveda' with orginial ayurveda recipes that has product names even more beautiful than the packaging. The products are mostly made in Kerala, Tamil Nadu etc. Their packaging is a class apart, with beautiful golden floral patterns on the boxes. While I struggled to hold the lip balm and the soap in one hand and a book in the other, the lovely sales person gave me a small basket. Actually, she walked around with me holding the basket. In went the body oil, the intensive hair oil, the face cream, the foot scrub and I surprised myself buying something called the miraculous beauty fluid.

I did not want to post a review immediately as I spent quite a bit and wanted to know if these products were worth the money and the praise I have heard of Kama Ayurveda. I wrote of my experience with the products I now use daily and have made way into my daily wellness care routine.

The 'Kumkumadi' or the Miraculous beauty fluid

This is a tiny bottle holding 12 ml of an age old prescribed recipe to even the skin tone and *brighten* it. No, I do not want to brighten my complexion by any magic, I love my skin. But this technically illuminates your face, giving it a nice even glow. I have been using this for a little more than 2 weeks, applying it religiously before I sleep, and the difference is significant. My skin feels less tired and more taut. In fact, as I write this post, I have the Kumkumadi on my face :) Did I mention this also works on dark eye circles? You can thank me later.
How to apply - Step 1 - Clean your face. Step 2 - Apply Kumkumadi. Step 3 - Massage gently and briefly. Step 4 - Sleep.
This is probably one of the best products I have run into EVER.

Good things come in small tiny packages.

The 'Eladi' or Ayurvedic face cream

This small 50 grams round box comes with a tiny wooden spoon that I quite liked. Just before rushing to office, I apply a dab of it on my face. It's not greasy and that is a huge relief as my skin is already quite oily and I do not want anything adding to that. This daily face day moisturizer keeps my skin hydrated which also makes me feel good. I like the delicate floral fragrance that stay awhile before disappearing.
How to apply - Step 1 - Clean your face. Step 2 - Apply all over the face. Step 3 - Rush to work.

The Kumkumadi and Eladi (or the night and day cream) have become daily essentials and I use other products a couple of times every week.

Packaging done right.

Everyday routine.

The 'Bringadi' or the Intensive hair care oil

Some time late last year, I coloured my hair, and it did not become as dry as I though it would, but nonetheless, my hair did get dry. I picked up the hair oil as I haven't done any exceptional hair care routine post coloring (and thus I justified the purchase to myself). Again a small bottle, bigger than the magical Kumkumadi though. I've used it a couple of times though I follow it up with a slightly intensive shampoo (I did not get a shampoo from Kama because I am not too experimental with my hair, though on second thoughts, I should have) My hair has grown softer in spite of it being coloured and treated which is such a wondrous relief as it has been getting drier. Also, I love the smell that reminds me of an old medicine from long ago.

Made in Kerala, by the way.

The 'Madhuvanti' or the Calming body oil

I love pampering my skin. And body oils are my weakness. If they've got essential oils like lavendar and ylang ylang, I don't have a choice, I just quietly pick them up. This is a 100 ml bottle with a profoundly smelling oil that I gently apply on my body after a bath. The skin is still damp and will absorb maximum absorption. The fragrance is exactly as described. Apply, breathe in, you brain does a small swirl of a dance. I am loving it. I am yet to see a significant impact to my skin to be honest, but again, I am not using this every day, only the days I am stressed.
How to apply - Best time : Just after your bath when you're still damp Step 1 - Apply the oil on your skin. Step 2 - Give your skin some time to absorb the oil.

Other products I loved were the lip balm and the foot scrub. I bought the almond and coconut lip balm, it leaves my lips so soft and is nude, so at times, I used it as a base and then apply lip colour on top. I also bought the Vanilla and oatmeal soap, which I am yet to use to be honest. I am quite immaculately stocked in the soap department for a few years I think.

The entire Kama Ayurveda shopping haul

I grew up in God's Own Country, Kerala, so I find it a strange to pay so much for these products, but having used them, and knowing I can't always go home to buy Ayurvedic products, I think they're worth the hype and the prices!

Have you guys bought products from Kama Ayurveda? Which has been your all time favourite? Which would you like to try from my haul? 

Note - You can buy the products online from their website kamaayurveda.com that is also an online store.

Indo-Boho lookbook with Sunitha Scharma

I have always found it tricky to add colours to an outfit. Be it an accessory or a pair of funky shoes. A few years ago, I wouldn't even dare to add a pop of colour to my outfit. But I think over time, our styles evolve, like mine did. I experiment a lot more, consciously pick up chunky chains and shoes that are not black or brown. When I am helped with an amazing fashion blogger to style my outfits, even better. Sunitha is a fashion blogger from Our Lookbook, and she and I share a love for exploring new places. We've been planning a collaboration together for ages, but something kept coming up. Travel plans, weddings, more travel plans and often late working hours. Finally, we got together last week and came up with 4 indo-boho outfits and fun ways to style them. Boho comes from the word 'Bohemian' which means socially unconventional. With blues and greys ruling most wardrobes, we thought it made sense to name our outfits boho, with the mela of colours happening in each outfit.

Our first collaboration !


Look 1.

Wearing layers is tricky; especially bright colourful layers. Sunitha paired it with a pair of denims (my all-time favourite) and a simple tee. She added an Indian element by clubbing it with a silver choker. We kept the ears a little light as we did not want too much happening on the top. Though, depending on how heavy your jacket is, you can experiment with some jhoomkas too. We finished the look with a pair of bright yellow peep toes! Why not have some fun?

Coffee anyone?

Sitting pretty in red.


Look 2.

Boho or not, we love black. Black is for every day. For this look, I clubbed a long black kaftan type of unstructured jacket with a pair of nude kitten heels. This look is extremely comfortable, the jacket has a very 'drape' kind of look that also gives a very modest touch to your outfit. A strappy sleeveless top on the inside goes perfectly. Breaking the black is a black and white smart handmade clutch in which you can just dump your tiny stuff. We decided to add a chunky silver chain to add a ethnic element.

That clutch though!

Have to love tassles.


Look 3.

Who doesn't like a little black dress? Now add to the dress some colourful embroidery. It's a perfect dress to wear for a girls day out or a brunch. But this post is all about adding colours to an outfit and increasing the boho, so Sunitha went a little extra mile and added a pair of strappy sandals with colourful pop poms that weren't over the top. Pop poms on sandals are so in, and there's no better way to wear them than with a boho dress. Also, a pair of ethnic colourful earrings are a yes!

Sandal love happening.

Adding bright hues to the ears.


Look 4.

What do you do if you wake up one day, and decide to go to office with a little colour? Okay. You have a lot of lovely chains that you bought because, well, they looked very pretty. And now you don't know how to use them. I decided to pair a funky and colourful chain to an otherwise simple peplum denim top and a pair of jeans which you can easily wear to work. I also wore a pair of matching heels with embroidery to add some details. (A word of advice - skip the 6 inch heel if you're going to work). You can even mix and match a simple top - preferably a plain one; with a funky chain and a pair of denims.

Shades of blue.

It's all in the details.

Colourful funky chains.

We have also created a video ( a stop motion video ) which was a lot of fun to shoot. We hope you guys have as much fun watching it. Click here to watch it now :)
Credit : The video was made by Dreambox.

We also hope we've been able to inspire you to add some colour to your outifts. And if you're like us, you're going to want to try a little experiment of your own. Let us know your thoughts, leave a comment below xx

PS - If you liked  this, read Styling the Palazzo

Food trailing in Bombay

Bombay. Ahhh. Just the thought of this city brings back smells and sights and sounds. I think of vada pav. I think of posh eateries. I think of how I crane my neck just a little every time I am on the Worli sea link (been there countless times before). I think of all the street shopping I do each time. But it is the food that holds a place in my heart. Some of the eateries we went to and had some delicious meals and had a great time too -

1. Grandmama's Cafe - Dadar

When I was little, we had gone to Dadar. I remember my father telling me not to get lost at the Dadar station - and for good reason. Dadar is one of the most crowded of stations which translates to one of the most densely populated pin codes of Bombay. So this little cafe is a welcome change. As you enter, there's a cycle hanging on top. The tiles change to a beautiful design and as you step in to the AC, you start to notice a very charming interior - feminine, victorian era types with a striking green door that is so photograph worthy. The food is nice - I would say the cafe became famous because of it's locality and ambience and only secondly because of its food. It's nice - not awesome !
Recommended dish - The veg sandwich with paneer


Our stay in Kumarakom - Aveda Resort

I am not a fan of writing reviews, it really does sound like I am endorsing the place - but the resort we stayed in recently was nothing short of spectacular. When I packed my bags from Kuwait to come home, that one trip every child looks forward to, I had in mind a small weekend getaway so we could spend some quality time as a family.
We chose Kumarakom for multiple reasons :
The place is only a couple of hours away from the city, yet is totally isolated from the noise and pollution.
&
The only traffic jam you may find is of 2 house / fishing boats coming close to each other.


Kumarakom is so lush, paddy fields and water ways intertwining magically with coconut trees, that you're tempted to say out aloud, "Kerala is so beautiful".

What to pack in your carry-on for a long flight

I know that a lot of people are already done with their holiday, it being February and all. But, I also know quite a few of you who are planning your trips for 2017 already!!!! While I am not going to be traveling for a bit, I am going to be doing some travel related posts, some outfit posts (yaaaay!!) and some design posts.

I took my first long haul flight from Addis Ababa - the capital city of Ethiopia to Bangkok. It's easier said than done to sleep throughout the flight. My feet get numb and swollen and I have to keep my feet up which is difficult because, well, flight. I have other issues - my attention span is negligible, my skin becomes dry and that makes me irritable for reasons beyond me.

I have put together a list of all those essential items you should pack - especially on a long flight.

Essentials for the long flight -


I've added the details of the items at the end of the post.
I like to carry warm socks to keep my feet warm. The moment I get comfortable and settled in on a long flight, I take my shoes off and put my socks on. I got my pair from La Senza - I know the brand is synonymous with amazing lingerie - but they have the most comfortable pair of socks !

East Georgia - Trailing the Wine Route

Georgia is one of those countries that offers an entire platter to tourists. Winter? No problem. Summer? Even better. Every month is special - from grape picking to cultural events. We went in December, and had the time of our life.

We stayed in Tbilsi the whole time, in a lovely airbnb owned by a Georgian architect and his wife. Every alternate day, we would explore the city. And every other day, we would take day trips to villages, towns, cities around Tbilsi. We took 2 tours - one to Telavi - via Sagarejo, Signaghi and Gurjaani and second to Kutaisi - via Ananuri and Gudauri. Both these trips were in different directions.

This is a post on our day trip to East Georgia, and our first stop, to be honest, was before we stopped at a vineyard. It was to get us some breakfast - we got some fresh bread with delicious raisins.

Sagarejo
When we were traveling to Georgia, a few friends who'd probably been there, asked us to definitely try the local wine. We drove by Sagarejo, a town in the Kakheti district. Kakheti is famous for its vineyards. Even in the winter, these lovely vineyards had a beautiful charm. We drove through miles and miles of the 'wine route' - and both sides of the road offered this view. 
Eat: There are small stores on the way that will make excellent Nescafe coffee for you and from where you can buy warm fresh bread. 

Nature stop. By the wineyard.

The instax mini 8 camera review

A couple of years ago, I had a Facebook friend who had posted a photo of his new polaroid camera. Ever since I wanted to own one. I love the idea of having an actual photo that you can hold. I mean, I take hundreds of photos on my phone every month and probably have an entire hard disk of photos - but to be honest, I have no clue what's where.

Recently, my husband gifted me a polaroid. It was impromtu. We were browsing for camera accessories and I found this polaroid camera sitting on a shelf just looking at me. And before I could figure out whether to buy it, or read reviews first, or perhaps ask around, it was getting billed.

The polaroid:

The polaroid camera is called instax mini 8 and is by Fujifilm - a trusted brand in all things photography. The camera is easy to hold, has a plastic body and seems sturdy enough. It isn't as lighweight as you'd hope, especially considering it is, after all, a toy camera, but it has a vintage feel to it, which made me overlook the slighly bulk nature of the instax mini 8.

We came home and quickly unboxed the instax polaroid. It comes in 7 colours - and I chose sky blue. I always thought the decision whether to buy one would be tough - but it was challenging to actually select the colour. All the shades are nice - yellow, light pink, black, white, grape, raspberry and sky blue.

The front.

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