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I got an ‘OOTY’ call!

Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!

– William Butler Yeats

People have always been obsessed with travelling and there is quite a good reason for it. Visiting a new place, seeing different faces, experiencing divergent culture & language is not only exciting, but also a great learning experience. It is truly said that only with travelling you realise that you are a small part of this whole wide world and there is so much we don’t know. It’s a great way to stay humble. Sadly, in this time and age, travelling isn’t about ‘experiencing’ the experience anymore! It has all come down to constantly being pressured to take the best pictures to show off the so called ‘experience’. Don’t you all agree? I am guilty too! But I have realised that living in the moment, or better yet, getting lost in the moment gives me true happiness and satisfaction and that’s exactly what my vacation to the mountains this time was all about!

Now we always get asked, “Mountains or beaches”? Honestly, I can never answer that, cos I love them both equally! But this time I got a ‘Ooty’ call, and I packed my bags and ran away for a two night stand! (how could I not include the obvious puns!?)

Yes we always like to explore new places, but there are a few destinations that hold a special place in your heart. I am not saying this just because I am writing a blog about it, but Ooty truly is my favourite hill station. I remember my dad taking me to Ooty the first time as a kid and I have been in love with it ever since.

This trip to Ooty was quite special. Why? I had a solo travel kind of experience on this trip. This trip was organized by Sterling Resorts. Fern Hill was our abode for 2 nights and 3 days.

Sterling has re-branded themselves and has come up with an interesting concept of ‘experiential holiday’. Now what’s that? Well, I have been to Ooty a couple of times before, but my visit was always restricted to staying at the hotel/resort, taking beautiful hikes, visiting the lake and the rose garden. The typical touristy thing! Sterling Holidays has taken the task of changing this and their new motto is to ‘Holiday Differently’.

view from Fern Hill resort

view from Fern Hill resort

What do they offer?

I shall talk about the room, food and the hospitality in the next section and shall quickly tell you the experiences Sterling has to offer.

No matter whom you have come with, Sterling Resort has catered experiences for all of you! If you’re travelling with family and kids, their play area, activity room , party games will keep the entire family occupied. Travelling with your partner and friends and feeling little adventurous? Their outdoor activities like hammock walk, swing bridge, tarzan leap etc will keep your adrenaline levels high! And want to keep your endorphin levels high? Just head to their beautiful & therapeutic spa and relax yourself.

screenshot from the Sterling resort website

screenshot from the Sterling resort website

Now, once you experience all the awesomeness that the resort itself has to offer, they have curated some amazing activities outside the resort specially for their guests. And no they don’t just make you do the touristy things I mentioned before. Ooty has so much more to offer and they make sure to give you the full Ooty experience.

The activities that Sterling had curated for us was something I had genuinely never experienced before. Listing down our activity itenary, day wise.

DAY 1 –

We reached in the morning during breakfast. We were told that we will be heading to ‘Toda village’. Now I did not who Todas were until then. Todas are the local tribes and said to be the first occupants of the Nilgiri mountains. The are very few in number and embrace their culture. They wear beautiful hand-crafted shawls which has a unique embroidery. It was surprising to see that the women have hairstyle that looks like they used curling iron to curl their hair, but in actuality they use no heating tools or products but just hands to make the hairstyle and it takes hours to get the look! We were educated about their history, custom and culture. Their houses called ‘mund’ are made of bamboo canes. The entrance is just around 3 ft. tall and one needs to crawl into the house. It is designed so to protect themselves from the wild animals. The todas were extremely sweet and courteous. They offered us their traditional sweet (like rice pudding) made with buffalo milk. Buffalo milk is extremely sacred among Todas and they make delicacies using buffalo milk. You can read more about the Todas here. It was a an humbling and surreal experience. I highly recommend this to you guys. Travelling is all about knowing a different culture & one must definitely educate themselves about this.

Later in the evening, Sterling had a fantastic arrangement for us. They organised a bonfire for us and invited the Todas & Badagas (Another tribe from the Nilgiris) to share their folk music and dance with us. We had so much fun learning their dance moves and enjoying it with them. You can request Sterling to organize the same for you and they would happily provide you with this experience.

After the visit to Toda village and before the bonfire experience, we were also taken to the tea and chocolate factory where we saw how tea is made, the process, the benefit of each tea and also got to taste them! And of course, I bought tea and chocolates and it was the yummiest thing ever! It is a cliche I know, but how could I have come back without those?

Toda house

Toda house

The traditional Toda embroidery

The traditional Toda embroidery

gorgeous sunset

gorgeous sunset

DAY 2:

Yes, everyone has heard of the toy train and whoever goes to Ooty takes the train inevitably. But my family and I are extremely indisciplined and always miss it! Not this time! I finally sat on the much-coveted toy train. It takes you through the caves and tracks cut out between the mountains. Yes the train is slow giving you the chance to enjoy the beautiful landscape. We went to Connoor & were told we will be visiting a tea estate and have a picnic sort of a lunch! Now, this was my best experience and the highlight of the trip! The drive to the tea estate was not the usual ones. We had to reach the top point of the peak and the road was not smooth. But the more we progressed, the beautiful it got. We drove with the clouds. We spotted wild bison and the landscape, the view, it was just breathtaking. I cannot put it down in words to be honest. It was one of the things you need to experience. I just stood there alone, gazing at the mountains, the tea leaves, the clouds. One word – FERNWEH!

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The Sterling team was damn cute and they set up a sitting space for us with fruits, snacks and food! This goes down in the history as one of the best lunches of my life. It was truly the lunch with a view!

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We head back to our hotel, had tea, relaxed a bit and had their scrumptious dinner and that was the end of day 2 and we slept like babies to leave the next day!

extensive tea collection offered by Sterling

extensive tea collection offered by Sterling

The above mentioned experiences are available for every guests staying at Sterling. You can contact them and ask them to curate packages for you and trust me they will happily get you whatever you wish for.

Amenities, hospitality & food:

  • The rooms are huge and spacious. The interiors are just gorgeous and every room comes with a view! (See pic below) The bathrooms have huge mirrors with a shower cabin and rain shower. They have all the necessary amenities for you and you don’t have to carry anything with you! The room is well-equipped. They have a fully functional mini bar. The best part is they also have heaters for people like me who feel extremely cold.
the cozy and comfortable room

the cozy and comfortable room

  • Now let’s get to the best part. FOOD. We ate like pigs. I am not kidding! We just ate ate and ate! The food was hands down one of the best things about the resort. The buffet was not like those resort buffets where they over-charge you and give you mediocore food. They make sure everything is perfect and even listen to feedback with open ears. Their live roti counter was the cherry on the cake. What adds to their yummy food is the fresh organic produce from their garden. Everything tasted just too good and fresh, leaving us wanting for more. I think I gained 3 kgs after the trip! Their collection of teas and snacks satisfied my tea-loving soul to heights I cannot express. Full points to Sterling for their extensive menu and impeccable food.
Beyonce sized breakfast!

Beyonce sized breakfast!

tea. tea. and some more tea.

tea. tea. and some more tea.

  • The staff was extremely cordial and helpful. They were sweet, attentive and very hospitable. They treated us well and were quite courteous. We actually did not have any issues or problems and they provided us with everything that we wanted. Hospitality for me is a very important part of my vacation. If everything is good and the staff is rude, it is a big no-no for me and the staff at Sterling left no stone unturned in giving us the best of services.

Although we stayed at Fern Hill, Sterling Resorts have an another property called ELK HILL . We had a look at that property as well and it is gorgeous. Their rooms are bigger and they offer suites with breathtaking views. They had arranged a garden themed high-tea for us and it was the cutest thing ever! Themed parties are their star offerings and you must definitely check it out!

Garden themed high-tea at Elk Hill

Garden themed high-tea at Elk Hill

View from Elk Hill resort

View from Elk Hill resort

You can book your rooms at websites like makemytrip or booking.com or directly book with the resort if you are a member with them. They are very decently priced considering the things that they offer. Both the resorts are easily accessible from the city.

How to get to Ooty:

You could take a flight or train till Coimbatore and then take a bus or taxi, whatever you are comfortable with to Ooty. It will be a 2-3 hour drive.

You can also take a bus directly to if you’re from Tamilnadu or Bangalore. It is an overnight journey and from what I have heard, it is quite comfortable too.

RATING:

Amenities – 4/5

Food – 4.5/5

Service & hospitality – 4/5

Pricing – 4.5/5

Will I revist? – Yes.

You can have a look at their website to get more information on their properties and offerings HERE

In a nutshell, my stay at Sterling Fer Hill was a great experience. I have no complaints about anything. I look forward to visiting more properties and I highly recommend staying at Fern Hill if you are visiting Ooty. I assure you won’t be disappointed.

Love,

Sindhu

This Chennai based sister-duo is bringing global style to the city

Food, culture, movies, Rajni, beaches and the likes pop in head when you hear Chennai. Fashion? Not so much! Well, not anymore! We may be far from being super fashionable and trendy, but we are doing a great job at catching up with the latest trends, fashion and style. We even got to witness the first lingerie fashion show in the city.  Thanks to all the brands, bloggers and the designers who are opening new avenues of fashion for us.

While Bollywood is all about the glam and fashion, South Indian film industry is never seen experimenting with the looks. Everything is simple and subtle and styling off the record or off-screen was never the case. But with globalisation and more access to impeccable clothing, the actors have jumped on the style wagon and are giving us some major style goals.

One actress that caught my eye was Regina Cassandra. Her style lately has gone notches higher. Best of designer clothes, makeup & hair and all that you might fall in love with! All thanks to her amazing stylists, Divya & Navya. This sister-duo have a designer label called Bluprint. While I have always loved their edgy clothes which is rich in fabric and pattern, I am loving their styling projects. From pant suits to sarees, they have curated an array of different looks for Regina. At a recent awards show, Regina was seen in a beautiful nude coloured Alpana-Neeraj gown. Hair & makeup and accessorizing kept to minimal, just letting the gown do all the talking!

There are so many looks that I have been loving by them. Posting a few of them here. Hoping to see more fashionable looks from the duo. All my love and support to the lovely ladies. You go girls!

P.S You must follow them on Instagram to see more of their drool-worthy work.

Follow the link – DIVYA & NAVYA
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Please note all the images have been sourced from Divya’s instagram account – Divyaniranjan_ . They do not belong to me.

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Is it ever a good time?

Honestly, is it ever a good time to do or not do something? I don’t know! I am the queen of procrastination. I avoid things. I do not act upon situations. I overreact and say the wrong things at the wrong time. I am a mess! And every one of us in a way is, right? There are a few people who get everything right. They follow the rules, timetables, and pretty much are perfect. But for people like us, perfection is a far candy! I avoid doing a lot of things waiting for the right time do it. The perfect moment. The perfect place. Well, reality check; there is no such thing as the perfect time! It is always now or never. Well except when you have to take your tablets at the prescribed time!

Have you ever bought something that looked absolutely perfect on the clothing aisle but is actually a size smaller and then you have that stupid thought bubble in your head saying, “Buy it! You are anyway going to join the gym and then you can wear it!”? You have, haven’t you? Let’s have a reality check again. That’s never going to happen! So can we just stop fooling ourselves? Just buy what fits you at this moment and then buy new clothes when you actually lose weight! But that doesn’t mean you should deprive yourselves from looking good and feeling confident. I really hate dislike people when they say they will buy nice clothes and dress up after they lose weight. My question is, “why?”! Why can’t you buy good clothes and look good now?!

I like you all struggle with body image issues. It doesn’t matter you are fat or thin, short or tall. Each one of us is insecure about our bodies. I have low self-esteem, I feel insecure, lose confidence a lot of times. I get intimidated easily. But have I learnt to cope-up with it? Yes! I do breakdowns every now and then. But, I can very confidently say that I have learnt to rise above all my insecurities and be confident. There is one thing that helped me boost my confidence. DRESSING UP!

Yes! Not many people realise the power of dressing up. You don’t know the amount of confidence dressing up well gives you. The moment you realise you are wearing something good and you are looking good, there is a change in your posture, your attitude, your behaviour. You look and sound more confident. Lately, I realised that the day I am comfortable in my clothes, I am the most confident. I remember the time when I used to wear something just because it was trendy. It might have looked good on someone else, but it looked like trash on me, because I wasn’t comfortable in it.

Dress up for your body and wear what suits you. Don’t be lazy and give yourself stupid excuses not to dress up. By dressing up I don’t mean you have be prim and proper all the time. I simply mean that you should feel happy about what you are wearing. You are wearing a simple t-shirt and jeans? Wear a nice lipstick or add a simple accessory to take the outfit up a notch. It’s that simple! You are good enough now to wear whatever you like. Don’t wait for the perfect weight, height or a time to look good. I am in no way preaching or saying that you shouldn’t tare about your body or should stop working towards it. All I am saying is that be comfortable in your skin. Look good NOW and work towards your goal to look better!

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A FEW TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND:

  • Kimono is a very versatile coverup and can be paired with multiple outfits. Wear it with shorts to give a casual look.
  • If you have a curvy body like mine i.e, if your waist is the best part of your body, make belts your best friends! I cinch my waist in almost every outfit I wear.
  • Wear solid colours inside. It is the best way to camouflage those extra kilos!
  • Swap the heels with comfortable thing sandals and swap the neckpiece with a simple long chain to look minimalist.
  • And as I always say, rock the outfit with oodles of confidence and a big smile!

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Strut in confidence with your heads held high and don’t forget to flip your hair!

 

If you found this post helpful and relate to it, please do let me know and share your views with me. If you want any help with regards to your body, how to wear what and about anything at all, please do write to me. I will definitely help you. You can email me at itsnotjustfashion@gmail.com

 

Love,

Sindhu

Sale Sale, baby! – Half off at Forum Vijaya Mall

4 letters. 1 magical word. Infinite emotions. Yes, I am talking about SALE! Let’s not deny the fact that our heart beat pumps up the moment we hear the word Sale. Our shopping needs might never be satisfied. But with the sale season on, we just have the perfect excuse to shop more.

I was stoked to know that Forum Vijaya Mall, Chennai is hosting this super thing called ‘Half off sale’! How could I have stopped myself from going to the mall and shop my heart out. Double the things, half the price! I am sold! I rushed to my favourite childhood store, Lifestyle. Since I was a kid, I have been shopping from Lifestyle. It is a complete store which fulfils all my needs. Right from clothing to footwear, beauty to accessories, Lifestyle is the one stop shop for all your style needs.

The moment I entered the store, I was confused as to what to pick and what not to pick. I liked everything! And with such attractive prices, resisting myself was definitely difficult.

Since my style varies from my love for classic pieces  to Indian boho, I was happy to see the collection. The western section had loads of slogan tees, capes, summer dresses with prints ranging from geometric to floral. It was great to see denims at discounts. Since they are wardrobe staples, hoarding on them during sale is joyous. My favourite brand with absolutely great collection was CODE. Classic pieces, subtle colours and basic garments with style to sum up their collection. AND was another brand which I loved. My office wardrobe is sorted! Simple and elegant dresses and tunics were an essential part of the collection. To add that, their summer maxi dresses were also something that I loved.

Not like that wasn’t enough, I rushed to my favourite section of the store, the ethnic section! I have recently caught on this trend of wearing kurti as dresses. And my my, I felt like a kid in the candy store the moment I stepped into the section. A colourful spread with clothes fit for every occasion! Office wear, daily wear, party wear or casual wear, Lifestyle did not fail to surprise me.  My favourite brands when it comes to ethnic clothing are Melange, Global Desi and Biba.

Melange’s latest collection which is sort of boho and colourful yet subtle at the same time is right up my alley! Biba had some fantastic colourful pieces. This particular one I am wearing was a kurti which I’m wearing like a dress. Add some white sneakers and you have the perfect girl-next-door look! This kurta when worn with leggings can be a perfect wear for work or even a visit to the temple. Remember it’s all about recycling your wardrobe.

Is shopping even complete without shoes? Not at all! Wedges, platforms, slingbacks, sandals, flats and sneakers and what not, all at 50% off! A shoe lover like me couldn’t stop from picking those tan flatforms. They were super comfortable as well as stylish. The tan colour makes it a wardrobe staple. I even picked up a few accessories. Since gold is the colour that pretty much goes with every outfit, I picked up this beautiful and elegant choker set. I also liked the boho jewellery collection.

One bold decision changed my life ~ #BeBoldForChange

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How many times in your life have you stopped yourself from doing something that you love? I’m guessing you would say most of the time. I have too! I have curbed my wishes, passion, dreams and desires due to reasons that go beyond explanation. Did that make me happy? No! I did not realise the fact that stopping myself from doing things I longed for did not serve any purpose. I honestly never thought about the fact that I could be harming myself. I did not have a very great childhood. I was a curvy girl who was supposed to have a fair skin tone(cos north Indian!) but ended up with dusky complexion. Can you imagine how difficult your childhood years can be when you are overweight? You are not only stereotyped about things you should or should not do, but in actuality there were things that you couldn’t do. I stopped myself from enjoying on the swing set thinking it might break because of my weight. It started there. At that tender age. My insecurities took birth then and grew everyday with me. My teenage years were not only filled with comments on my weight and colour, I had acne too to accompany me. Now I was not only given weight loss tips, but skin care tips followed them too. This continued and still continues.
 A person like me, who in the eyes of society is the opposite of pretty decided to be a part of an industry that patronizes people like me! The fashion industry. I cannot tell you the amount of courage I had to gather to start my blog. I had to be bold and courageous and take that leap of faith. I had this urge to follow my passion and be a part of something I really wanted to. Was it easy? Not at all! Is it easy now? No way! Do people really appreciate a curvy fashion blogger? Who are we kidding, absolutely not! But I am bold enough to accept the fact that I am different from others. I am not in denial about myself. I made myself aware about me being different from others and accepted myself. It was a bold step for me to dress up, put my make up on and stand in the middle of the street and get my pictures clicked! Yes, I did it! It might be very easy for others, but for me, doing that small thing in itself was an achievement. I won the day I decided to change my attitude towards myself.
I do certain small things that I generally stop myself from doing. I always wanted to do something different with my hair. I wanted front bangs for myself. This seems stupid and small, but to convince myself to do that was very difficult. What will my parents say,  will it make me look fat, will I look like a child. The thoughts were endless! One day, I just took off for the salon in the middle of the  day and got myself the hair I wanted! And boy did I feel good and liberated! I just did what I wanted to do. The compliments were endless. This is just a small example. I do such small things everyday to feel motivated.
People come up to me and say, for your body you are very confident. Yes, that is a compliment. But it is no less than telling a differently-abled person that you are doing good for the situation you are in. But I let go of such thoughts and keep myself positive and look at the brighter side of things.
People will come and tell you things, advice you. But they don’t know your journey. They don’t know anything about your life, your insecurities. You are the best judge of your life. Decide what you want in life and work your a** off to achieve it. There is no substitute for hard work. You cannot blame the hurdles of society or your insecurities. Nobody cares about your struggles. Be bold enough to  face anything that comes your way. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you and accept you the way you are. You are one decision away from being happy. I took one bold decision at a time. Are you bold enough to take that decision?
Share your story with me. I would love to read them. Happy Women’s Day!
Love,
Sindhu