Friday Fun Suspended Coffees and Look Mum No Hands!

One of my favourite parts of London is the South Bank. Whether I’m visiting the same place over and over again, I can always take away something new. The last time was no different because: Look mum no hands!

Look mum no hands!

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The 2nd Year of The Ramadan Tent Project

I was blessed enough to experience the magical community spirit of The Ramadan Tent last year.

The Asian Destination:  The Ramadan Tent

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When Spain Came to London

Everyone loves a good old Bank Holiday Weekend, right? Especially when it means you get to travel…without jumping on an aeroplane!

When Spain Came To London Continue reading

Paul’s Macaroons – Not for the faint (dairy/gluten free)-hearted!

About 5 years ago, I had no idea what macaroons were. True story.

Paul's Macaroons

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Oily hair = healthy hair?!

 

If you’re Asian like me, you will at some point in your life been encouraged by your mother or other female relatives, to oil your hair to ensure your hair maintained long luscious locks comparable to the commercials on television.

Seeing hair glistening in the sun, freshly oiled and neatly combed can be a common sight amongst schoolgirls (and boys) in Asian countries. However, growing up in a more Western society where ‘greasy hair’ equates to poor hygiene, can make this beauty regime a bit of a nuisance.

There has also been some debate as to whether oiling the hair does more harm than good. Some say that it can unnecessarily aggravate the naturally produced sebum which promotes healthy skin and hair.

So what’s the verdict?

From personal experience, my hair definitely feels softer and silkier if I shampoo after an overnight oil mask. After doing a little research I have found that it is important to distinguish between the different type of oils; petroleum-based or mineral oils may actually add to hair dryness by reducing natural moisture. Natural oils such as coconut, jojoba and olive oils are thought to be the most nutritious and encourage re-growth, particularly in damaged hair.

 —

Many of the natural oils can be found in any local supermarket and are relatively cheap to buy.

Your Turn…!

  1. For maximum benefit, pour some oil into a small bowl and heat for around 20 seconds in the microwave until warm.
  2. Massage oil into hair and scalp.
  3. Wrap your hair in a towel to lock in moisture.
  4. Leave oil on as long as desired (You can either choose to shampoo your hair after an hour, or for best results, leave it on overnight and shampoo your hair in the morning).
  5. Studies have shown regular hair oil treatment ensures healthier hair so make sure you treat your hair to some weekly TLC!

 

Not convinced?

Other cosmetic brands have started bringing out their own hair oil products.

VO5 Hot Oil Treatment

superdrug hot oil vo5

Tresemmé Keratin Oil

Tresemme Keratin Oil

Vatika Hair Oil in Almond

Vatika Hair Oil Almond

All products can be found at affordable prices at your local drugstore such as Superdrug (in the UK), so what are you waiting for?!

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The Art of Fashion

The Asian Destination has joined forces with Feed You Fashion to calm your Fashion Week withdrawal symptoms. This fashion webzine aims to “inspire, update and parley”. Stylish and sophisticated, Feed You Fashion is definitely a site worth following.

In this guest post Lucy, founder of Feed You Fashion, reveals the Indian cultural influence behind two beautiful S/S’14 collections.

THE ART OF FASHION

Let’s assume for a second that all designers lived under one roof – a big brother house situation, if you will! Sure, based on new conversation their designs would begin as deductions from curious encounters but with time, and a lack of interaction with the outside world, such enthusiasm and spirit would falter. This is purely because fashion breathes through creativity. Innovation is accumulated through experiences and the ways in which these experiences are interpreted are based on our culture.

Fashion Week is a prime example of such diversity, an assortment of backgrounds and cultures, which is what allows designers to create such contrasting fashions.If you look close enough, these origins seep through the seams.

It’s September. It’s time to welcome a flood of fashion, as we take on this month dedicated to our sartorial needs.

HAUTE SEAT

New York Fashion Week has previously introduced us to two Indian designers – Naeema Khan and Bibhu Mohapatra. Khan launched his label in 2003 and Mohapatra, having resigned as Design Director of J. Mendel in 2008, went on to launch his own brand under his name. The latter’s designs showing fewer connections to his Indian roots, which may be due to his years spent at the French fashion house.

The S/S ’14 woman of Naeem Khan is all about elegant femininity.

image

Hemlines happily follow few rules, ranging from floor skimming to thigh skimming and setting a liberating example for shape. The common denominator being a cinched waistline to gracefully celebrate the female form. The Khan woman is a romantic, yet proves she does not fear the borders of her comfort zone as reserved silhouettes are made daring by descending necklines, thigh high slits, chiffon and open backs.

Perhaps most notable of the collection is the patterning; if garments are not lavished from seam to seam in elaborate prints, then such designs creep across dresses from various angles. The print heavily reminiscent of traditional Indian henna – the intricate patterning typically used during Hindu weddings and festivals.

The story is in the print.

Naeem Khan S/S ’14

Image Source: Vogue

For Bibhu Mohapatra, the S/S ’14 woman is much more angular with an air of modernist chic surrounding her.

Bibhu Mohapatra S/S'14

3D flowers act as the cherry on this sartorial cake, either creating shoulder armour, fanning across waistlines or concealing cardigans. Where buds and sequins did not appear, mini peplums and micro pleats were on hand to make up for the missing texture. Not to mention, the thick dress straps, which left little shoulder or décolletage visible in order to cement their presence. The Mohapatra woman is sophisticated and concise, teaming her pencil thin skirts to her leather jackets.

The delicate hues and feminine patterning of the collection hint at romanticism, however every angle reeks of opposition.

Bibhu Mohapatra S/S ’14

Image Source: Vogue

Want to know read more from Lucy?

Click here or why not follow Feed You Fashion on

Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr

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It’s Wednesday! You know you’re Asian when…

8

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This week’s: You Know You’re Asian When…

image (23)

 

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Destination: China

Destiantion China

“FONG-SUM!”

Come visit China as Gimi takes us on her travels and we learn what Ana & Emily miss about living in China!

“UMH GOI SAI!”

“CHI-SIN!”

Whynn Resort and Casino, Macau - Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Whynn Resort and Casino, Macau – Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Areas of the country I visited:

G: Hong Kong, Hainan, Sichuan province (in particular Chongqing), Guizhou province, Yangtze river for 2 weeks.

E: Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Hai Nan, Macau, Xi An, Harbin, Tibet, Xin Jiang.

A: Lived in Macau.

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Favourite monument/place that I went:

G: Three Gorges area of Yangtze river.

E: Kashgar (in xin jiang).

A: My favourite palces are: Porto Interior, Largo dos três candeeiros – A more traditional part of Macau, untouched by casinos and the modern world. You can find quirky shops with handmade artifacts and unique items of clothing and decorations.

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Café Esplanada at the Wynn Resort and Casino is one of my favourite places to unwind and enjoy afternoon tea. Caravela is a Portuguese restaurant/cafe in the center of Macau, staff and owners are really friendly and you get to experience a bit of Portuguese cuisine in China!

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Describe the country in 3 words:

G: Contrasting, cultural, colourful.

E: Exciting, international, diverse.

A: Dynamic, multicultural, and exciting.

Café Esplanada - Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Café Esplanada – Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

I wasn’t expecting to find:

G: Boiled chicken.

E: So many western shops.

A: The Batmobile!

The Batmobile - Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

The Batmobile – Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

My favourite part of the culture was:

G: The beautiful paintings and scriptures.

E: The language.

A: Learning about the different superstitions they had. For instance, for the first 15 days after the Chinese New year, people don’t cut their hair because ‘hair’ is a homophone for ‘prosperity’ so they believe they might be ‘cutting’ their wealth away!

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

I would describe the people as:

G:  Curious and friendly.

E: Talkative/friendly.

A: Very friendly, warm and hard-working.

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

I was surprised by:

G: I was surprised that people would want to take pictures with me because I seemed to be the only white person they had ever seen!

E: How few old areas of beijing are left.

DSC01283

Something I miss about the country now:

E: The food.

A: I miss everything about it, the food, the people, the places!

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Any (new) words/phrases of the native language I picked up:

G: I learnt some symbols like entrance and exit, but I can’t replicate them on this keyboard!

E: Chu zu che. (Mandarin)

A: Relax, don’t worry-‘Fong sum’, Thank you – ‘umh goi sai’, You’re crazy! –‘Chi-sin’ (Cantonese)

N.B. Standard Chinese, also known as Putonghua, the official language of the People’s Republic of China (mainland China) and the Republic of China (Taiwan) where it is known as. Mandarin Chinese is the branch of Chinese dialects which includes the dialect of Beijing. The official languages for Macau are Portuguese & Cantonese.

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Strange or memorable experience:

E: being asked to take pictures with Chinese strangers!

Would you go back?

G: Yes, but to different places, not Chongqing! It was too big and claustrophobic.

E: Yes!

A: I will most definitely be going back.

 Picture 19

A misconception people may have of the country:

G: It is so diverse, people think China is all the same, but it really depends on where you go within China.

E: It’s not as chaotic as people may think.

A: Macau isn’t just about gambling; it has a long and rich history. The Portuguese occupied Macau from the mid 1600 until 1999 so there is a heavy European influence and feel to the city. If history interests you, make sure you visit the many museums and exhibitions on going. It is also a very multicultural city, you get all nationalities and religions living together in harmony so you get to experience the best of many cultures!

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

One thing the guide books don’t tell you:

E: Taxis are cheaper in Beijing, but don’t seem to like to stop for potential customers.

A: Traveling by bus in Macau is next to impossible because the busses are always so full of people. You are better off walking, Macau is a small city anyway.

Picture 163

Do not be afraid to stand your ground in queues, people will try to cut in front of you!

Make sure you don’t just visit the hotels/ casinos or the tourist parts. As tempting as it is, at the end of the day you will miss out on all the culture and history the city has to offer.

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Other advice I would give to those planning a visit:

G: Take lots of hand sanitizer!

E: Fly out with an empty suitcase!

A: If your stay is short don’t worry, you can experience Macau easily as it is a small city. If you plan it right, you might even be able to visit Hong Kong (which is a 1 hour boat ride away) and Zuhai (mainland China). Make sure you get a visa ahead of time if you want to visit Zuhai though as it takes a couple of days to issue. Overall have fun and make sure you visit the Macau tower for the world’s highest bungee jump!

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

If you liked this post, you may also like to read:

Destination: India, Destination: Vietnam, Destination: Bangladesh and Destination: Japan.

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Destination: Japan

Destination Japan

Map-eating deer, Japanese Green Tea-flavoured everything and being served by giant frogs…

Come visit Japan with us as Josh (J), Kelsey (K) and Rachel (R) share their Japanese adventures with The Asian Destination!

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Places Visited & Duration of Stay:

Keio University (Photo Source: en.wikipedia.org)

J: My stay was a 1 year exchange at Keio University. I lived in Yokohama and kept my visits to Tokyo/Yokohama for monetary reasons. I went to places like Kamakura as well.

K: Japan for 1 year. Tokyo, Miyagi prefecture, Niigata, Nagano.

R: 2 weeks:Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima

Miyagi  (Photo Source: cities.starwoodhotels.com)

Miyagi
(Photo Source: cities.starwoodhotels.com)

Yokohama  (Photo Source: bigskyline.com)

Yokohama
(Photo Source: bigskyline.com)

Favourite Destination:

J: Zusshi which is a seaside town. The beach is more of an inlet and in the past I cycled along that coastal road from there to Enoshima – great views and great atmosphere!

K: Nagano.

R: Kyoto.

Enoshima (Photo Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

Enoshima (Photo Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

Nagano  (Photo Source: japan-guide.com)

Nagano
(Photo Source: japan-guide.com)

Describe the country in 3 words:
J: Respectful, helpful & beautiful.

K: Wacky, futuristic & tranquil.

R: Best country globally!

Kyoto Gardens (Photo Source: worlfortravel.com)

Kyoto Gardens (Photo Source: worlfortravel.com)

I wasn’t expecting to find…

J: A lot of people attempting to speak English. It shocked me a bit as I was expecting to hear less.

K: I wasn’t expecting to find… how down one road there would be neon lights advertising oxygen bars, and then on the other side of the road there would be a temple. Such a mix of old meets new!

R: Ginger haired groups of fashonistas hanging round at the corner of shops. Dyed ginger hair is a massive phenomenon out there, complete with 3 inch platforms and amazing make-up that looks straight off the catwalk. Also, women walking down the street in traditional Japanese dress – I thought it was more for special occasions!

'Tokyo Fashion Tribe' Photo Source: Guardian.co.uk

‘Tokyo Fashion Tribe’ Photo Source: Guardian.co.uk

My favourite part of the culture was:

J: The inherent politeness that people would have; they’d be willing to walk in the complete opposite direction of their own destination to make sure that I could find the place I was looking for. In some cases I didn’t even need to ask for directions or help – when I looked lost someone would come over! I even got given a cake by an old woman who I gave up my seat for on the train and talked to for her journey!

K: People’s eagerness to help. People would go out of their way to assist you if you were in trouble. For example you ask someone how to get somewhere, they don’t just direct you they’ll take you there personally.

R: How polite they were. The train conductor bows as he enters and exits the carriage. The shop assistants all loudly say arigato gozaimaaas as you leave the shop (even if you don’t buy anything).

The food – mochi (sort of like a donut but the dough is glutinous rice dough and the filling is traditionally red beans/sesame seeds. They do branch out into many many different flavours e.g. coffee, toffee, chocolate & peanut butter!  There was also Matcha flavoured everything (green tea) –  cosmetics, cakes, frappucino, mochi, bread. The restaurants also had plastic representations of the dishes so you would know what you were  getting before you ordered.

Mochi  (Photo Source: cincostyle.wordpress.com)

Mochi
(Photo Source: cincostyle.wordpress.com)

I would describe the people as…

J: Friendly, polite and energetic.

K: helpful and polite with a bit of wackiness thrown in too.

R: Lovely, polite, helpful, charming, generally shorter than me!

Photo Source: tw.visit hokkaido.jp

Photo Source: tw.visit hokkaido.jp

I was surprised by…
J: The absolute efficiency of the Country. I was told that trains ran on time but I never expected it to be to this degree. This efficiency doesn’t just apply to public transport but with everything else. When I was making a bank account, they did it in less than an hour for me and made sure it was done before closing time and worked harder to get it done.

K: I was surprised by… how often people drink. Businessmen often go drinking every day after work with colleagues. To get involved in societies and groups a heavy deal of drinking is also required.

R: How much we loved the food and the amount of food that we had not heard of. Since my trip, Japanese food (other than Sushi) has become much more common over here – in London it is very easy to get a mochi fix . I’m still waiting for Starbucks to produce a matcha frappucino! EAT do a matcha milkshake but it’s not quite the same.

I was also surprised that it was only about 20 degrees at the beginning of September – it’s renowned for being 30+, humid and sweaty.

Photo Source: schwelastboerse.de

Photo Source: schwelastboerse.de

Something I miss about the country now:
J: The food. Without a doubt some of the tastiest stuff I’ve ever eaten in my life. It was no wonder I put on weight (over-eating). Will know to hold back next time! If you’re wondering it was food such as Ramen, Ton-katsu & Gyu-don.

K: The food. If someone could make me traditional ramen soup I would be very happy right now.

R:  I really wish I could wander out to buy some peanut butter mochi and a matcha frappucino with the shop assistants bidding me adieu (well, arigato gozaimas), boarding a train where standard class is better than a British 1st class and the conductor bowing to the carriage. Oh and how well behaved the children were – and so quiet!

Ton-Katsu  (Photo Source: norecipes.com)

Ton-Katsu
(Photo Source: norecipes.com)

Any memorable/funny phrases of the language I picked up:
J:  A simple phrase I already knew before going to Japan, the word ‘Joshikai 女子会’. Means ‘Girls-only gathering‘. A thing where girls get together and drink/eat/do other things. Due to the ‘Joshi’ aspect and its similarity to my name, my American friend and I had a lot of laughs and attempted our own ‘Joshikai’. People did come surprisingly…

K: Wabisabi which means beauty in something traditionally Japanese.

R: arigatoooooo gozaiiiiimaaaaaaaasss; Moshi moshi (Hi)

Photo Source: yourdreamshare.net

Photo Source: yourdreamshare.net

Strange or memorable experience:
J: I went to a bar called ‘Kagaya’ in Tokyo. It’s described as the wackiest bar by most of the foreign bloggers who talk about Japan. This bar only serves one group at a time (for a period of a couple of hours) and the bartender goes all out to entertain by singing or dressing up in giant frog costumes. It was hilarious from start to end.

Kagaya (Photo Source: Squidoo.com)

Kagaya (Photo Source: Squidoo.com)

K: Being asked by people on the street if they can take a photo with you. Often shy in social occasions I was quite surprised that Japanese people would be so confident to take a photo with a complete stranger just because I looked a bit different to them.

R:

Hiroshima – being the only white people visiting the peace park and getting looks from the Japanese and feeling an inner restlessness.

Miyajima – renowned for the amount of deer that just walk about on the streets. We sat down to enjoy our bubble tea and work out where we were on the map. Some deer came and surrounded us and took a bite out of our map…and then another one…and another…. We leapt up and away from the map-consuming deer with the locals laughing at us!

Photo Source: jefferson.blog.br

Photo Source: jefferson.blog.br

A misconception people may have of the country:

J: The biggest is Sushi I’d say. If anything it’s eaten once a month. And it’s the only food people ask me about when I come back home. There appears to be a bit of a lack of knowledge about food in Japan.

K: That everyone eats sushi. There are people in Japan who don’t like raw fish too and there are many different types of food to suit different tastes.

R: Upon mentioning my adoration of Japan, people have commented about Japanese being ‘harsh’ but I experienced completely the opposite.

One thing the guide books don’t tell you:
J: I never read the guide books so I’m not sure on this one but one big thing is to mind your manners on public transport  – e.g. keep your phone on silent.

K: Trains can be awfully confusing so make sure you download a underground map before you go and make sure you avoid peak hours so you can dodge being pushed onto a train with the early commuters.

R: The guide books don’t adequately explain just how to use the underground, neither do they prepare you for the culture shock of everything being in symbols, and a foreign language, although it was amazing to experience.

Guide books also don’t tell you that Japanese books are vertical lines of symbols (in contrast to horizontal lines of words). They read these symbols from right to left, but will read the left page before the right, similarly books are shelved left to right. But, if it is written horizontally, it will be read left to right – a useless fact which I find intriguing.

Photo Source: thefourhourworkweek.com

Tokyo Subway (Photo Source: thefourhourworkweek.com)

Other advice I would give to those planning a trip to:

J: Make sure you have enough time and money. Research well and look into all your options. That way you can get the most out of your trip. Definitely budget well and look for things that you can get beforehand (there is a train travel pass for those who travel to Japan- you just have to apply online).

K: Make sure you explore the modern and the traditional parts of Japan as they both have their perks.

R: You only need to spend a couple of days in Tokyo. Although there are lots of districts to explore, we actually found it was all quite similar and built up with illuminated buildings – tall modern buildings combined with Piccadilly Circus to the power 4.Instead, explore smaller cities and quieter areas for a ‘true Japan.’ I much preferred Kyoto to Tokyo. (Random fact: Kyo -to is To-kyo in reverse). Get a Japan rail pass (you can do this at the airport when you arrive in Japan).

Would you go back?
J: In a heartbeat.

K: Definitely.

R: Yes! I’ve also been told that the north of Japan is very beautiful and a bit different to southern Japan, so I would like to visit there.

Photo Source: visitjapan.co.uk

Photo Source: visitjapan.co.uk

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If you liked this post, you may also like to read:

Destination: IndiaDestination: Vietnam and Destination: Bangladesh.

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Destination: Inspiration (105) 15th April 2013

Happy Bengali New Year!

 

“Notun Asha, Notun Rang, 

Notun Sure, Notun Gaan, 

Notun Usha, Notun Alo,

Notun ‘bochor’, Katuk Bhalo!

Shubo Noboborsho!”

Today is ‘Poila Boishak’ or the start of the Bengali New Year. 

So today:
Have new hope (notun asha) & see new light (notun alo).
Always know you can change your path at any point, change your tune for a new one (notun sure) and alter your song (notun gaan).
Every day can be seen as a new chance, ‘a new year’ (notun bocchor).
May it be enjoyed well (katuk bhalo)!
 
If you liked this post, you may also like:

Chai & Chats with: Roshni ChuganiChai & Chats with: Pavan Ahluwalia and Chai & Chats with: Malika Garrett. 

Destination: India and Destination: Bangladesh from Destination: Travel

Happy Durga Puja and Happy Kali Puja & Diwali from Destination: Celebration

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Chai & Chats with: Malika Garrett

Malika Garrett's Contribution for The Akshaya Patra Foundation Fundraiser, signed by Malika & Deepak Chopra.

Malika Garrett’s Contribution for The Akshaya Patra Foundation Fundraiser, signed by Malika & Deepak Chopra.

Successful Non-resident Indian Bengali artist, Malika Garrett, emigrated to the USA to study art in college. Since then she has combined her business experience with her creative passion and helped raise thousands of dollars for charity. OWN Ambassador, Malika, talks to The Asian Destination about collaborating with Deepak Chopra and the Akshaya Patra Foundation. We also discover how Deepak, Mastin Kipp & Oprah Winfrey have helped change her life.

Available at malikagarrett.com

Available at malikagarrett.com

TAD: You grew up in Kolkata, West Bengal in India and went to study in America before becoming the successful artist that you are today. Tell us, when did your love for art start and did you always want to pursue it as a career?

M: My love for art started as far back as I can remember. We are a family of artists, I was always around art and was taught to appreciate it from a very early age. I always loved drawing. I was forever sketching on any paper I could find. My most treasured gifts were pencils, erasers, crayons and markers! I won the class Art prize every year in my school in Kolkata. My grandparents were my first patrons and fans. They encouraged me and even bought my art! I learned service and volunteering through my art; I sold it to my grandparents at age 4 and raised money for Mother Teresa! Since then I have always volunteered and given back.

Raika Mother & Child available at www.malikagarrett.com

Raika Mother & Child available at http://www.malikagarrett.com

TAD: Did you ever think you would be an artist?

M: No, I did not ever think I would be an artist. I was leaning towards being a business woman in the corporate world, travelling or saying, ‘Order! Order!’ and being a judge! It’s funny how I ended up being a business woman and an artist. I pursued Art in college but fell into Sales while I was working in advertising at the New York Times.

TAD: What do you miss about India/Kolkata and how important is it to you to maintain a level of Indian culture/tradition in your life?

M:I miss Kolkata and India immensely- I am always going to be Indian and Bengali first. I will never forget where I came from. I owe much of my success and the making of who I am to my childhood in Kolkata. Kolkata has shaped me and made me who I am today. It is very important for me to maintain a high level of ‘Indian-ness’ as I am married to an American and have 2 children whom I want to be a part of their mother’s culture. I am always afraid they will never know their mother’s home or know what it means to be Indian. My husband and I have since birth tried to teach my children about both cultures and encourage them to explore and ask a lot of questions.

malikagarrett.com

Available at malikagarrett.com

TAD: Being a non-resident Indian, sometimes integrating a mixture of traditions and cultures can be a challenge, how do you deal with it?

M: I never really found it to be a challenge, in fact quite the opposite for me, since I was exposed to the world of travel from a very early age. My multiracial children however, epitomize the synthesis of two parent philosophies in a flowing, yin-yang self. They have always known Mum to be Indian and Dad to be American. Their combination of heritage makes them world citizens. In my mind, it makes them wiser too and a lot more tolerant, curious and appreciative of diversity.

TAD: Are there any typically Bengali things you miss now that you are settled in America?

M: Yes the FOOD! Daal (lentils) Bhat, (rice) LUCHI (oily, fried flat bread) and Aludom (an Indian take on mashed potato)! I also miss the Bengali traditions: Durga Puja & Bhai Phota.

Artwork: malikagarrett.com

Artwork: malikagarrett.com

TAD: Would we be right in assuming the inspiration behind most of your art is your time spent living and visiting India?

M:YES! Very much so! My work is mostly about the people of India – their stories , their images of strength, simplicity and courage. My work is about many from India who struggle, yet despite their challenges, are happy people. That is what I try to portray through my work: that despite their challenges their lives maintain a sense of simplicity and beauty in the midst of harsh circumstances. They don’t let their situation get in the way- they make the most of it and go on with life. They have inspired me to survive, despite the many odds I have faced as well.

'Beautiful Bishnoi Women in their colourful saris and jewellery from head to toe. On the forehead they wear a "Borla" or "Rakhri", the nose ring is almost mandatory, and of which the Bishnois sport the most beautiful' - Available at malikagarrett.com

‘Beautiful Bishnoi Women in their colourful saris and jewellery from head to toe. On the forehead they wear a “Borla” or “Rakhri”, the nose ring is almost mandatory, and of which the Bishnois sport the most beautiful’ – Available at malikagarrett.com

TAD: Art can be quite subjective, how do you handle criticism and negative comments?

M: I smile and take in everything they say. Each of us is entitled to our own opinion. In many cases they have shown me things in my art work I haven’t seen myself. Every opportunity is a learning opportunity for me – good or bad.

There are no failures. Just experiences and your reactions to them.” ~Tom Krause

Artwork available at malikagarrett.com

Artwork available at malikagarrett.com

TAD: You are one of several OWN ambassadors. For those that are unaware, please could share what it means to be an OWN ambassador?

M: The role of an OWN Ambassador is to support OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), and have a vision “To Live Your Best life. As an OWN Ambassador you can participate either via Facebook, or Twitter. We participate via Twitter Parties, Tweet Ups, Book Club/Tweet Club. You get to interact with like-minded fellow ambassadors. It’s a positive support system that lifts you up. We are a community of like- minded people having informative conversations everyday and spreading joy and love.

Source: Facebook.com/TheOwnAmbassadors

Source: Facebook.com/TheOwnAmbassadors

TAD: How did you become involved with Oprah and the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)?

M: I met the group on Twitter because of our mutual love of OWN and my conversations with their producers about my personal story. If you would like to become an OWN Ambassador, follow @ownambassadors on Twitter, “Like” us on Facebook, insert #OWNAmbassador in your profile under the Bio section, and on Twitter, use #OWNAmbassadors as the hashtag. It’s that easy! As Oprah mentioned to us and the world, we are the ‘Carriers Of Light’.

Image Source: Malika Garrett

Image Source: Malika Garrett

TAD: You have worked and come into contact with a variety of prominent people including Oprah, Deepak Chopra and Mastin Kipp. These individuals, amongst many others, are known to all be committed to ‘living their best life’. What have you learnt from working with them that you could share with us?

M: Each one has taught me so many lessons that resonate with me but one that screams out is what Oprah has said over and over again- ‘Life happens not to me, but for me’!– She has really changed my life.

Also Dr. Chopra’s teaching that ‘Holding on to resentment is like holding your breath’– has made me look at forgiveness in a whole new light.

I try to remember every day:

‘We all can receive atonement through service’

‘We are all spiritual beings having a human experience’

‘Vulnerability is the Birthplace of Creativity and Change’– Brene Brown

Mastin Kipp & Malika Image Source: Malika Garrett

Mastin Kipp & Malika (Image Source: Malika Garrett)

I have also learnt not to hold myself hostage for my past and that it’s ok to be vulnerable.

As Maya Angelou said to Oprah

“ When you know better you do better!’

I am SO grateful for all of these wonderful folks you mention and others who have helped me enhance my spirit and not drain my power. Each day they have given me a new breath of life!

Deepak & Malika at The Akshaya Patra Foundation Fundraiser. Image Source: Malika Garrett

Deepak & Malika at The Akshaya Patra Foundation Fundraiser (Image Source: Malika Garrett)

TAD: You have recently been involved in a Akshaya Patra (AP) fundraiser – congratulations on its success! Could you tell us a bit about the charity and the event?

M:They are an amazing organization and I am proud and honoured to be a part of them.

Please check out their website and get involved- everyone can make a difference- it only takes $15 to feed one child for one year a hot meal served in school everyday! Founded in 2000, the Akshaya Patra Foundation’s mission is that “no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger” and its next goal is to feed five million children daily by 2020. Currently they are feeding 1 million children every day. The foundation is a strategic intervention in education aimed at breaking the vicious and perpetual cycle of poverty.

Image Source: foodforeducation.org

Akshaya Patra Foundation (Image Source: foodforeducation.org)

TAD: How did you come to be involved in it?

M: My journey with AP started a few months back, in December, while I was in conversation with Dr. Chopra. He happened to mention that he was coming to Atlanta. He invited me to get involved with Akshaya Patra and I was thrilled. I had nothing to give but my creativity. I offered to do a collaborative painting with him for their fundraiser in Atlanta. The event was last week and was a massive success. The event raised over $400 K and my painting brought in $50K. Because of our collective efforts 26,000 children will be fed a hot meal in India. How cool is that?

Mandanganj Women and Child at www.malikagarrett.com

Mandanganj Women and Child at http://www.malikagarrett.com

TAD: This is not the first fundraiser your art has featured in, you also joined forces with Robin Raina in ‘India on Canvas’ where artwork was also auctioned for charity in order to help under-privileged children in India.

As mentioned, the volunteer and service bug bit me at a very early age in Kolkata. I was always wanting to help to give whatever I had to whoever I saw needed something. In addition to raising money for Mother Teresa’s missionaries for charity, I taught classes to the children of the household help. Robin Raina and I partnered together for ‘India on Canvas’ and then with Shashi Tharoor in 2008 for the same charity.

TAD: So, what’s next for you? Will we be seeing more of your art being exhibited soon or featuring in another worthwhile fundraising event soon?

M: No immediate plans- but that can change tomorrow! I am always excited about new collaborations and ventures.There are some smaller ones in the works but none I can name yet.

TAD: How does one get their hands on a Malika Garrett piece? Are they available for shipping?

M: My art work is on my website at www.malikagarrett.com you can also ‘like’ me on facebook.com/MalikaGhoshGarrett and follow me on twitter @MalikaGhosh

Malika’s blog: www.malikaghoshgarrett.wordpress.com/

and check out: www.malikaghoshgarrett.wix.com/malikagphotography

If you liked this post, you may also like:

Chai & Chats with: Roshni Chugani and Chai & Chats with: Pavan Ahluwalia

Destination: India and Destination: Bangladesh from Destination: Travel

Happy Durga Puja and Happy Kali Puja & Diwali from Destination: Celebration

The Asian Destination Links

Follow The Asian Destination on Twitter: @theasiand

‘Like’ us on Facebook: facebook.com/theasiandestination

Follow us on Instagram: @theasiandestination

Chai & Chats with: Pavan Ahluwalia

Photo Source: pavanonline.com

Photo Source: pavanonline.com

Self-taught henna artist, Pavan Ahluwalia holds the world record for painting 511 unique armband designs in just one hour. The Asian Destination (TAD) talks to Pavan (P) about how she has integrated her passion into a successful career and also gives us tips on achieving the perfect mehndi!

TAD: Congratulations on being the Guinness World Record Holder for fastest henna and on becoming one of the UK’s leading henna artists! 

Many of us like to experiment around with henna; during the excitement and togetherness of Asian weddings, applying henna can be a social event as well as a tradition. When did you see henna art as more than just a fun past time or ritual? Have you always been interested or involved in art?

P: It was at family functions as you said, where everyone would get involved in the henna fun and I wanted to be a part of it! I would do designs on family and friends and I started doing it at every function I was invited to.  When I learned that it could be turned into a career I jumped at the chance as it was something I thoroughly enjoyed doing and couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time.  I did Art GCSE but my main foundation through college and university was business, which helped me turn my passion into a career.

Pavan Ahluwalia at pavanonline.com

Pavan Ahluwalia at pavanonline.com

TAD: What would be your advice for achieving the perfect henna? How do you ensure your colour remains even? It can be one of the most frustrating things to spend time on detailed, intricate designs only to realise the henna colour fades quickly. What suggestions do you have for enhancing the colour?

P: The perfect henna relies very much on the consistency, a thin paste ensure the flow of your designs.  It’s essential to bring out the colour and after care is also important.  Our body temperature also plays an important part in the colour deepening, so keeping the hand over the gas (at a safe distance) works great on making the colour deepen and maintains it for longer.

Pavan Ahluwalia at pavanonline.com

Pavan Ahluwalia at pavanonline.com

TAD: Many of us will be quite familiar with the ‘lemon and sugar’ (squeezing lemon juice and applying sprinkles of sugar to the henna) method to allow a better colour, do you have any other ways? 

P: This method and the heat works great, however all ingredients are in the henna cone that I  make myself so a lot of that is not needed. You can literally have the henna done and let that do the work for you.

Pavan Ahluwalia at pavanonline.com

Pavan Ahluwalia at pavanonline.com

TAD: You have already worked with big names such as Alesha Dixon, The Sugababes and Selfridges. Tell us how you came to do the famous Harrods window displays?

P: The Harrods window display was an honour for me, they had an A-Z of style in their windows and appointed me with the letter E for Embellishment.  I embellished a mannequin with my designs and the display was up for 6 weeks!

TAD: You have become an established entrepreneur and sought after henna artist, are there more exciting projects we can expect to see you involved in?

There are! I will be announcing a few in the coming months so keep an eye out!

Pavan Ahluwalia at pavanonline.com

Pavan Ahluwalia at pavanonline.com

Keep an eye out for new updates from Pavan at pavanonline.com, on Facebook or Twitter: @PAVAN_HENNA.

If you liked this post, you may also like:

Chai & Chats with: Roshni Chugani

Destination: India and Destination: Bangladesh from Destination: Travel

Happy Durga Puja and Happy Kali Puja & Diwali from Destination: Celebration

The Asian Destination Links

Follow The Asian Destination on Twitter: @theasiand

‘Like’ us on Facebook: facebook.com/theasiandestination

Follow us on Instagram: @theasiandestination

Destination: Vietnam

Destination: Vietnam  Read all about Luke (L), Oliver (O) and Alex’s (A) Vietnamese adventures, as they share their stories with The Asian Destination. From seeing Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body in Hanoi, tasting snake and scorpion, to helping a taxi driver in Hanoi cure his hiccups – they have done it all in Vietnam.

 Areas of the country I visited:

O: -South Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon); Nha Trang (beach resort)
-Central Vietnam: Hoi An; Hue and surrounding areas in Thua Thien-Hue Province; Quang Binh Province (including Dong Hoi and Phong Nha Caves); Quang Tri Province (Dong Ha)
-North Vietnam: Hanoi; Ha Long Bay

L: Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Ha Noi, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Hai Van Pass

A: Most parts of Vietnam, from South to North

Photo: Luke Keller

Hue – Photo: Luke Keller

I stayed/travelled around for:

O: 6 weeks (and then for a week almost a year later).

L: 2 months (ish).

A: 6 weeks (twice).

Ho Chi Minh City - Photo: Luke Keller

Ho Chi Minh City – Photo: Luke Keller

Favourite monument/place that I went:

O: Ha Long Bay, but Hue Province had some incredible scenery too. War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh were also very stark and harrowing.

L: Bike trip from Hue over Hai Van Pass to Hoi An.

A: The ancient temples of Angkor Wat.

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

Describe Vietnam in 3 words:

O: Traffic, mountains, busy.

L: Bustling, different, vibrant.

A: Bustling, diverse, and serene.

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I wasn’t expecting to find…

O: Such a variety of food (e.g. dog, cat, snake, scorpion, monkey brain).

L: Oreos.

A: So many friendly people.

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

My favourite part of the culture was:

O: The people in central Vietnam (very friendly and helpful); also the rich history of fending off foreign invaders (Chinese, French, Americans, Cambodians).

L: The chaos of the roads!

A: The belief aspect of the culture was very intriguing to me. There is a subtle tone of Buddhism that is noticeable in the daily lifestyle such as ceremonies to honour their ancestors, shrines by every house, and bimonthly moon celebrations on the streets.

Hoi An - Photo: Luke Keller

Hoi An – Photo: Luke Keller

I would describe the people as:

O: Both wily and kind.

L: Proud.

A: Sincere, affable, and welcoming.

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

I was surprised by: 

O:
-How disgusting scorpion tasted/how nice snake was.
-The spectacular landscapes (some of the most impressive out of anywhere I went in South East Asia).
-Also how much litter and rubbish there was just dumped in some beautiful parts of countryside – a complete lack of environmental concern!
-How sprawled the cities are, just kind of merging with other towns through vast extensions of shacks and basic accommodation along the roadside; it isn’t clear where one city/town ends and another begins.
-How much poorer people who live on the outskirts are.
-How manic the driving is and how difficult it is to cross the road.

L: The amount of pro-American apparel.

A: How diverse the country can be. The people, the geography, climate, culture and even the language was diverse from the North to the South – even from city to city!

Ha Long Bay - Photo: Luke Keller

Ha Long Bay – Photo: Luke Keller

Something I miss about Vietnam now:

O: The weather, cycling around, the food!

L: The coffee.

A: The amazing iced coffee and coffee bars.

Pho Bo - Photo: Luke Keller

Pho Bo – Photo: Luke Keller

Any words of the native language I picked up:

O: O choi oi (Oh my heavens); o dat qua (too expensive); chi oi! (sister (girl older than you), come here); dep qua (very pretty); com cay qua (not too spicy); ‘mot, hay, ba, yo!’ (one, two, three drink); nam qua (too hot).

L: Too many to name and couldn’t spell them if I tried!!

A: Oi choi oi! (Oh my heavens).

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Luke Keller

Strange or memorable experience: 
O:
-Man on motorbike who followed me home when I was cycling asking if he could…’service me’
-Eating dog, scorpion, snake, monkey wine, eel.
-Seeing Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed dead body in Hanoi.
-Incredibly beautiful view on beach at Nha Trang (like tropical paradise stereotype)
-Very long and arduous night buses
-Trying to help a taxi driver in Hanoi cure his hiccups (“breathe in your carbon dioxide” I said; he didn’t take my advice)

L: One of the most memorable experiences for me was going with the children to the beach.

A: Drinking snake vodka shots, and monkey wine!

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Luke Keller

One thing the guide books don’t tell you:

O: Dogs and cats are horrible so try and avoid them; they’re not usually treated like pets in Vietnam.

L: Avoid Ha Noi.

A: Always give money and receive money with both hands.

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Luke Keller

Other advice I would give to those planning a trip to Vietnam…
L: If you go to Ha Long Bay, don’t go on a weekend.

A:

-Take things slow and expect travels to take longer than expected.

-If you plan to go for 2 weeks, double it to 4 weeks, if you plan on going to 4 countries consider exploring 2 thoroughly instead. It’s better to spend more time in one place than to rush through and not get a feel for the country/ culture.

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

Would you go back?

O: Yes, definitely.

L: One way flight booked February 12th !

A: Already have! But maybe again someday.

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Luke Keller

Luke, Oliver and Alex not only travelled around Vietnam, they were also involved in volunteering for the charity, Hue Help, in the summers of 2011 and 2012. Hue Help focuses on improving the health, resources and future prospects of disadvantaged children in central Vietnam.

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Luke Keller

For more Information on Hue Help: www.huehelp.org

Follow The Asian Destination on Twitter: @theasiand &‘Like’ us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/theasiandestination

If you liked this post, you may also like to read: Destination: India and Destination: Bangladesh.

Chai & Chats with: Roshni Chugani

The Asian Destination talks to recent Fashion and Retail Management graduate, Roshni Chugani, on how she has managed to incorporate her passion for painting into a new and exciting business venture. The Bedazzled by Chugani collection comprises of hand-painted religious artwork, delicately embellished to create the perfect decorative piece for any space.

Bedazzled By Chugani

The Asian Destination (TAD): Congratulations on your Bedazzled collection! So tell us, how did Bedazzled start out?

Roshni (RC): As I grew up I was inspired by abstract colours, cultures, stones, embellishments and creativity, which drove me towards wanting to paint in my free time. During my holidays, I would make paintings of Hindu gods and give them to family members, which slowly, unknowingly spread the hidden talent I had inside me.

Photo by Roshni Chugani

Photo by Roshni Chugani

TAD: What was the driving force that took your Bedazzled collection from being a recreational activity to a business venture?

RC: A slight push from my family and friends and a lot of spare time over the lengthy university holidays!

TAD: What made you decide to represent the line yourself instead of opting to showcase your line through another company or organisation?

RC: My paintings are more personal hence, apart from exhibitions, I take made-to-order pieces. Each painting is important in its own way; I like creating my pieces as I go, with no pressure from above. This way I have the freedom to individualise every piece of art.

Photo by Roshni Chugani

Photo by Roshni Chugani

TAD: Your degree in Fashion & Retail Management has clearly had a great influence in helping balance channelling your creative energy with a clear business mindset. What do you think of the increasing number of graduates starting up their own businesses, rather than opt for the traditional schemes? Do you have any advice to those wanting to tap into their own unique creative talent but are hesitant about doing it alone or seek out an established company?

RC: In such a competitive world today it is a big risk to start up your own business, but I believe that if you follow your dreams and make your passion your business you will succeed, no matter what.

My mother once taught me a quote that I carry with me every day:

Strong Willpower

‘My willpower is strong and based on this, I can overcome any obstacle’

Photo by Roshni Chugani

Photo by Roshni Chugani

TAD: What are your influences and what do you need to take into account when tailor-making a personalised piece?

RC: The biggest factor in personalised pieces is time. Being able to commit to a painting means that it must be the best piece of work I can produce. I also have to understand more about the recipient of the painting; what they want, what it will mean to them, again adding to the individual nature of the paintings.

TAD: How do you feel with the responses from Bedazzled so far? What’s next for you and Bedazzled?

RC: Bedazzled has received good recognition through word of mouth – the most powerful marketing tool. Given that the challenge is relatively new, I am still looking at better ways to market and attract more customers – without growing too big to ensure the personalisation element is not lost. Simply creating more Bedazzled paintings should market the product in itself.

Photo by Roshni Chugani

Photo by Roshni Chugani

TAD: Are your pieces available for overseas shipping?

RC: Yes! Any of my pieces are available for overseas shipping.

Photo by Roshni Chugani

Photo by Roshni Chugani

So how do you get your hands on a one-off piece from the Bedazzled by Chugani collection?

Email: roshnichugani@gmail.com

Find ‘Bedazzled by Chugani’ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/bedazzledbychugani

or

Find ‘bedazzledbychugani’ on INSTAGRAM!
Photo by Roshni Chugani

Photo by Roshni Chugani

If you liked this post, you may also like:

Destination: India and Destination: Bangladesh from Destination: Travel

Happy Durga Puja and Happy Kali Puja & Diwali from Destination: Celebration

Links

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