Princes islands, Turkey

How can it be possible that we go so close to the Marmara Sea and not take a dip in it? After traversing The Marmara Sea for about two hours, we reached the Princes Islands of Turkey. These islands are special for various reasons.

These are about nine islands spread over the Marmara Sea. These are Prince Islands as the prince of Turkey used to be on exile in theses islands. These islands don't have any mode of vehicular transport. The only way to traverse is either by walking or horse drawn carriage. Now these islands are open to the public. Out of the nine, the two most popular ones are Buyukada (Big Island) and Heybeliada.

As you have read here, we traversed along the Marmara Sea and reached the island of Buyukada. The island was bustling with merry makers as it was the last Sunday of the 'Bairam' holiday. International and Turkish tourists were equally there. There were no vehicles but it was very crowded (especially the coast). The island smell was infectious. Seafood and beachwear kiosks were everywhere.

A trip to any island would of course be incomplete without taking a dip in that sea. So we were looking forward to a swim. We asked how far the beach was and kept on walking. It took a while for us to realise that there was no 'sandy beach'. The coast was rocky and everyone jumped from the island. I was not too game for the plunge for gathered up the courage anyways.

The water was very cold and the sea was rough. I had rocks beneath my feet and each time a big wave came, I was scared of being knocked down. I could not let myself get tiny daughter was waiting for me back home.
I held a rock throughout my stint during the 'so called swim' and then ushered my husband to join the waters. Meanwhile I took care of our belongings.

My partner enjoyed the rough sea like never before. He braved the waves and was not willing to come out.

There was no place to change; people were changing on the grass. Being an Islamic country, I did not expect any bikini show but surprisingly girls were lying all over the grass. When I was taking pictures, a few Turkish teenagers joined us for snaps. One thing about Turkish people, they are very friendly :D

We walked around as far as we could and then had lunch at a cute restaurant. Braving the waves of Marmara Sea had our stomachs gnawing. I ordered a plate of chicken schnitzel which came with bread, fries, salad and mayonnaise. Bread was unlimited. We ate to our heart's content.

I was in no mood to leave the island but we needed to explore Istanbul. So we took the 5 30 ferry and bade goodbye. This island tour was one of my favourites in Turkey.

Dress: From Rajasthan
Purse: Shoppper's Stop
Sunnies: Aldo

Holiday Essentials :

That time of the year is here. Yes...Summers! I know..for us Indians its a bit strange that I love summers. For the people in the West, its understood. For them its the time for weddings and endless soirees. In spite of the scorching sun I have always loved summers. Pool time, flirty sunny dresses, etc etc. I abhor the gloomy, bitter winters of Delhi in which I have to pile up on warm clothing.. Also I have been attracted to summers for a very special reason since childhood. Summers mean vacation! Our schools used to be shut for summer break for one and a half months. My parents used to take me for long trip and I eagerly used to wait for that. Now that school and college is over, this is the time for a grown up getaway.

We have been planning for this trip since we had come back from Greece and Turkey. Its the longest trip of our lives yet and I am super excited! It has one of my dream cities like our last vacation had Santorini (my another dream place).

Since we have booked the tickets, I have been incessantly shopping and planning my outfits. I was endlessly browsing online when I came across an online shopping store, where I found, unique, feminine pieces which are so much my style.

StyleWe---- Designers at Your Fingertips.

StyleWe brings to you unique fashion from independent designers around the world. Any style you may like sexy,elegant,cute etc, you name it, they have it! They are committed to providing original, high quality and exclusive fashion products that you don't want to miss in 2016! 

Here's a few of my favourites which are an absolute must for a vacation.

A shift dress : My holiday is incomplete without a good shift dress. A nice colour and a nice print. You can hide your holiday tummy beneath it. You don't need to worry about your tyres at all! A vacation should be relaxing right!

A romper: The best part of a romper is that it can be dressed up or down. A clutch and heels makes it suitable for a cocktail dinner while pairing it with a tote, hat and flipflops makes it the perfect for a hike! You need both that versions on a vacay, don't you?

A jacket: No matter where you are headed too, an outerwear is a must. A jacket protects you from the chill of the night and also adds oomph to our look.

A swimsuit: Summer means pooltime right? What's packing for a vacation without a swimsuit? The brighter, the flirtier, the better! 

A handbag: Okay you maybe a backpacker. But a handbag is a must! You need to throw your makeup, wallet, I Pad and oh so many girly things which are needed at a moment's notice! Check out the cool handbags by designer Tex Saverio.

So what are you packing in your vacation bag?

6 Degrees: Game of Blogs

I have been a voracious reader since childhood. Books used to be my best friends...a true bibliophile to be precise. But after I passed out from my medical college, work and family commitments became the No 1 enemy of my best friend. As a result my obsession with reading turned into an occasional pastime. So when I got '6 degrees: Game of Blogs to review', my joy knew no bounds!

To start with its a very different book. Its a book with the same set of 5 characters yet 3 very different stories. Different is an understatement, the stories are unimaginably distinct from each other. For the first time 30 bloggers came together to create something so unique. 3 teams , 10 bloggers each were given 5 characters with descriptions and they had to come up with an interesting story.To read each story was an enthralling experience in itself.

The characters:

Shekhar Dutta: The male protagonist, a freelance writer who is yet to publish his best work. He is a stay at home Dad who takes care of his daughter and the household.

Tara Dutta: The breadwinner of the Dutta household. A beautiful and ambitious media professional who is scaling new heights in her career everyday.

Roohi Dutta: 9 year old daughter of the Dutta family. Very pretty, just like her mother and full of energy and enthusiasm. Her instant attraction and proximity to Cyrus (the character I am coming to next) is not something I like. As a mother of a two year old I find it rather strange. Little girls are scared of men leave the fact that they can be attracted!

Cyrus: A tall, fair and handsome law student. His character has been given a new twist in every story!

Jennifer: A dusky curly haired photographer who is always with her DSLR hanging from her neck.

The sixth subtle common character:
Aryan Ahuja: The neighbour of the Dutta family, His character adds a new dimension to each of the story. Sometimes you will think of him as the villain while in one story he is almost the hero!!

Now the stories. 

1.The Awakening:

Unexpectedly, the awakening is a science fiction that is basically a war between the good and the evil. The humans are portrayed as selfish, the Gray aliens are trying to destroy the earth while the Peacekeeper aliens are trying to protect mother earth. The greatest twist in the story comes when Tara, the pretty mortal turns out to be Clariota, a peacekeeper alien! Since Roohi is her daughter, she too inherits her powers and they fight together to save the earth. It is the story of the awakening of Tara, the mortal into her true form, the most powerful peacekeeper alien Clariota. The story is an unexpected read. However I don't like the fact that in the end Tara and Roohi leave Shekhar to pursue their lives as aliens with Cyrus.

 2.Entangled Lives:

Its a murder mystery that starts out to be very next door yet intriguing. Its a spine tingling story and I love such plots which involves hunting down the culprit. Tara Dutta is potrayed in quite a negative way. Okay fine she is cut throat ambitious but she could have been shown in a softer version too. One thing is for sure. The writing is so real that you can actually see the events happening before your eyes. Every moment you will think that you know the murderer but the very next evidence would prove you otherwise. Every character in the story has a motive for the murder.The character of the inspector Mr Java is something. You would hate him but you will love his investigative skills. The ending is one exciting revelation.

3.Missing: The journey within

This is my most favourite story of the three. Little Roohi goes missing and so does Cyrus. There are so many characters who are waiting to be found and reunited. Its a thriller too and the reader gets puzzled as to how the characters are interrelated. It deals with two very sensitive topics. A gay relationship and a man rape. Something which changes Cyrus's life. I love the fact that not only Roohi is found, but all the other characters get reunited at the end. In fact its a journey where everyone rediscovers himself/herself.

A science fiction, a murder mystery and a soul stirring journey. This is how I sum up the book.

The book is a 400 plus pages paperback read priced at 349 INR. I can assure you that the book is more than every single penny and every page unfolds a new story.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

    6 Degrees is India's first book published through collaborative blogging, written completely by bloggers for the Game of Blogs activity at BlogAdda. Know more about Game of Blogs here. You can buy 6 Degrees: Game of Blogs if you liked the review. :)

The Bosphorus Cruise, Istanbul

The serene Bosphorus cruise...

The waterbodies of Istanbul are pretty confusing. I mean I am good in geography but if some landform bothers me, its bound to confuse others too! My husband on the other hand is exceptionally good with maps and hence his concepts are crystal clear. He had explained to me the three main water bodies of Istanbul in detail (Marmara Sea, Bosphorus Strait, Golden Horn) but I am still pretty much in a jinx! I still can't differentiate the Bosphorous strait from the Golden Horn!

Instanbul lies on the banks of the Marmara Sea, while the Bhosphorous Strait separates the European part from the Asian part of Istanbul. The cruise along the Bhosphorous sea is pretty significant, no trip to Istanbul is complete without it. If you have seen the movie Dil Dhadakne Do, you know what I mean.

If you book tickets beforehand, they are pretty expensive. There are a lot of varieties...with Dinners, Belly dancing, etc etc. We ditched all the tempting offers that came our way. The sunset ones are the most expensive. We walked to the banks of Bhosphorous after visiting the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace. Istanbul is so pedestrian friendly! I mean it was quite a distance from our apartments to the mosque are to the sea but it was incredibly pleasant!

The European part of Istanbul...
After bargaining we bought the tickets only to realize that they could be bought at a lower price too! Leave it. We sat on the roof of the ship and within a matter of few minutes, it was full! It was a very festive atmosphere. Our guide was screaming on top of his voice on the mic but who cared? There was so much noise all around that I could not decipher even a single word.
The setting sun shining on my head...our only joint photo of the cruise...

Crossing the Galata Bridge...

The Bosphorus Bridge...

The cruise was very pleasant. Cold breeze blew on my face. Who thought that in the month of July one can feel cold? I took out my Venus sweatshirt and sought warmth. The view was magnificient. We could see the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, the never ending walls of the Topkapi Palace, the Galata tower, the Dolmabahce Palace and all the significant landmarks of Istanbul. I later realised that every mosque looked like the Hagia Sofia. We crossed the Bhosphorous bridge when the sun went down. We took a turn and entered the Asian part of Istanbul. Those parts looked frightening with thick dense vegetation in the twilight. While on our way back, the same landmarks looked even more beautiful with lights all around.

The Maiden Tower at night...

The Hagia Sophia all lit up...
It was quite late when we deboarded. WE had not slept for around 48 hours. The last sleep was in Santorini two days back. We were exhausted. But as true travellers we kept on going. We walked back all the way to our Sophia Apartments and then chatted with our new found foreigner friends all night long! It was the perfect end to our first day in Turkey!

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

At the foot of the Seven Hills Hotel
After a mesmerising view of the entire city from the rooftop of Seven Hills hotel, we proceeded towards the TopKapi Palace. The Palace is spread over a vast area bordering the Marmara Sea. I guess the sea acts as a most reliable moat. The way from the Blue Mosque to the palace was rather fascinating. The entire area was cobbled. And the cobbled streets led straight to the blue Marmara Sea. It was around seven in the evening and was heavily crowded.
Beautiful Cobbled streets...
Heavily crowded streets..

We started encircling the palace. It was huge. Since it was quite late in the evening, it was closed for tourists. We did not grumble as we were short of time. We had already booked the tickets of the Bosphorous Cruise for the dusk hour. We kept on walking along the high walls of the palace towards the Marmara Sea.
The high walls of the Topkapi Palace...
The Topkapi Palace was the residence of the Sultans of the Ottoman empire for around 400 years. It is also known as The Selagrio and has now been converted into a museum. It houses important relics of the Muslim world, holy remains like the cloak of the Muhammad. The Topkapi Palace started losing its importance towards the end of the Ottoman empire when the Sultans shifted to the Dolmabahce Palace. It is now a UNESCO World heritage sight.
As we proceeded further towards the sea, I spotted wooden buildings on the opposite side of the road. Some of them were boutique hotels while some cafes, etc. I am not at all used to seeing wooden buildings and they really fascinated me. Especially since they had flowering plants hanging from the windows and balconies.

I started posing in front of those beautiful buildings. A bunch of Turkish women joined me. They were not conversant in English and we exchanged hellos with smiles. Some of them posed with me while the more shy ones waited. They said that I was pretty. I smiled and thanked them. I found Turkish women to be very sweet and friendly. Every place where we went, the local women there interacted with us and took photos. For a city like Istanbul which is bustling with tourists all year long, its lovely to find that the local people take interest in tourists. Such sweet encounters leave memories etched for life.

Road leading towards the Marmara Sea...

World Interiors day with Asian Paints


For a decor lover like me it was my pleasure to know that Saturday was World Interiors Day. I have been interested in home decor right from childhood. I have collections of clippings from interior magazines from about twenty years back. That is the extent to which I am enthusiastic about interiors.

I have been decorating my room since I was very small. And when I got married and got my own home, the craziness to decorate my own space reached a new level! Anytime I can be found flipping through interior magazines or scrolling through dreamy home decor feed on Instagram. I love seeking inspiration from everywhere and incorporating them in my own little ways! So when I got invited by Asian Paints to attend a session by Film Production designer Shruti Gupte, the person behind the Bollywood sets of Aisha, Taare Zameen Par, etc, on the ocassion of World Interiors Day, I was thrilled! This exclusive workshop was hosted on how to draw inspiration from homes and office spaces designed in popular films.

The event was at the beautiful Colour Store by Asian paints in Connaught Place. There are only three such stores throughout Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. Its a beautiful place with vignettes in every corner. I hurried upstairs for the event as I was late already. The theme was 'Intelligent and Inspirational Interiors, from silver screens to your homes'. This colour store brings the oppurtunities to the consumers to bring the look and feel they aspire from films to their homes and offices.

The red accent wall and a very simple, middle class home..
The session started with the super talented Shruti Gupte. After a brief introduction into decor and stuff, she started with the analysis of the film Taare Zameen Par. That was the era of accent walls. I mean we still have homes that have a brightly painted wall but that time was the beginning. The family was a simple middle class working family. So the house depicted that...feng shui bamboo, simple furniture, etc. As Shruti analysed the sets bit by bit, we all realised that so much time, effort and wit is put into creating a set. Darshan's room had blue things so it was typically a guy's room. Then she showed us the painting competition scene and told us that it was really tough to shoot that. While watching a film rarely we realize that so much effort is put into all the the things which appeal our eyes.
The bluish wallpaper makes it apparent that its a boy's room.
Then she took up Aisha. Aisha as we know depicted the wealthy South Delhi society. She kept the interiors neutral so that the rest of the decor could stand out. She tried different wall colours to distinguish one room from another.The exteriors of the bungalow which are shown in the movie was actually an abandoned house in Palam. So they matched the sets (which depicted a posh Delhi bungalow) in Mumbai with an actual house in Delhi! Whoa! So much effort!

Shruti here revealed so many points that taught me enormously. There is so much difference between an actual house and a movie set. A set has a lot of empty space so that the cameras can roll. Here Shruti professed her love for the ottoman which was not so prevalent in India at that time. She feels that an ottoman is far more functional yet beautiful than a coffee table.

Aisha's room was designed keeping in mind that every girl would dream of having it. It was painted lavender (a colour used to define Sonam Kapoor's character). Since Aisha designs her masi's wedding, its theme too was white and lavender. The walk in closet was a major part of the decor and so was the bed. They never show the bathroom in the film but the door is there to give more depth to the room.
Her walk in closet was another focal point in the interiors..
Aisha's room was made to create envy and drool in all the girls...
Then she moved on to Khoobsurat, a Disney movie with again Sonam Kapoor in it but of a very different character. Everything was made to depict that she was a royal misfit, Her mom (played by Kirron Kher) was disturbingly loud and colourful. So it was no surprise when she feminized her room with dupattas. On the contrary, the prince, Fawad Khan was very fastidious and that reflected from the razor sharp symmetry in his room. The film had been shot in a real palace in Rajasthan and was not maintained. So the film crew had to work extra hard to make it look royal and beautiful. There was a seen in a museum room where they could not use lights or move anything. So they ended up using 85 mirrors for the light they wanted!

The entire restaurant is red...and the beige furniture tries to break the 'redness'
Fawad Khan's room...everything is prim and proper...just like his mechanical character

 Then the fun session began. We picked up a picture of our choice and were made to choose samples and swatches of paints and fabrics to create a mood board. I as usual chose a picture which had lots of green in it!
With Shruti Gupte and my colour mood board...

After the session I realised I learnt so much. Interiors depict the personality of the residents. So much can be done to elevate a look...changing the wall colour, infusing a little wall art, throwing some pillows or even introducing mirrors...the list is endless. I also got encouraged by the fact that Shruti said about using warm lights...white lights are never used in photography! My husband never seems to understand that and he switches off all the lamps that I lit and puts on a tubelight :( As a parting gift we got a pack of DIY wall art: colours, stencils, sponge and a sample picture. I definitely plan to elevate my sweetheart's room with this kit!

We need to make ourselves heros and heroines of our own film scripts. Colours and features should be embraced as part of our personalities. The Asian Paints colour store allows us to realize our dreams before we decide to make it permanent.

Do visit the Asian Paints Colour Store at Connaught Place if you need any inspiration for your space..whether its home or office. You will love the store even if you are not redecorating. It is really very beautiful.

Watch: Casio G Shock