MY SINGAPORE DIARY

Singapore’s name comes from ‘Singa Pura’ which means Lion City in Sanskrit. According to the Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals), a Sumatran prince called Sang Nila Utama landed on Temasek (Singapore’s old name) and saw a Lion which is called ‘Singa’ in Malay(language of Singapore). Thus he gave the island a new name, ‘Singapura’.

My summer holiday couldn’t have gone better with me and my family deciding to take a break from the scorching heat of Maharashtra and we decided for a quick five day getaway to Singapore.Since my dad has been to the city countless times and has been nothing less than praises for the development of the city and its people, he really wanted me to experience Singapore before I left for my MBA.

So we sat on the Air India Dreamliner, where the hospitality was beyond amazing and our five day trip was resplendent with a lot of city tour, wildlife and history. I would also try a lot of their street food because I think thats the best part about going to a new country and also befriending people, because Singaporeans are such amazing beautiful people, their discipline and perseverance amazed me and I think when we visit such places we have so much more to learn and take back home.

Also, on one trip, while asking the driver about the seasons, he jokingly mentioned how its hot, hotter and hottest. Which was quite true! It rains randomly and almost every day and the weather can get quite humid and sticky. Be prepared for an amazing tan and keep hydrating while you travel if you are visiting during the Indian summers.

Here is a quick brief lay down of the places I visited and what all we did –

1- Singapore Flyer

Singapore Flyer is one of the world’s largest observation wheels – after two and a half years of construction, it was opened in April 2008, its height reaching 165 meters. With a capacity to hold 784 people, Singapore Flyer is considered to be one of the main tourist attractions in Singapore.The view from Singapore Flyer opens up a magnificent panorama of the city and the Singapore Bay from a bird’s eye-view. One can also order a bottle of champagne, lunch, or a romantic dinner to be served on the wheel. No, we didn’t do that as we were straight up on the flyer after eight hours of flight and travel and no sleep. I refused to be photographed much to my mother’s chagrin because I looked like a mess.

Image credits – Embassy Alliance Travel

2- Singapore Botanic Garden

With more than 150 years of history, the 82-hectare Gardens holds a unique and significant place in the history of Singapore and the region. The Gardens has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) on 4 July 2015 and is the first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. It is the first in Asia and the third botanic gardens inscribed in the world.

3- Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The park consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. The other attractions include the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, OCBC Skyway, Supertree Grove, Dragonfly and Kingfisher Lakes, Heritage Gardens, World of Plants and Art Sculpture.They have replicated gardens indoors from around the world, in the flower dome and the cloud forest is a rainforest replica complete with a skywalk. That was definitely my favourite part.

4- Sentosa Island

The 500-hectare island resort is home to an exciting array of themed attractions, award-winning spa retreats, lush rainforests, golden sandy beaches, resort accommodations, world-renowned golf courses, a deep-water yachting marina and luxurious residences – making Sentosa a vibrant island resort for business and leisure. Making Sentosa its home, too, is Singapore’s first integrated resort, Resorts World Sentosa, which operates South East Asia’s first Universal Studios theme park. Situated on the eastern end of Sentosa Island is Sentosa Cove, an exclusive oceanfront and residential enclave bustling with some 2,000 homes, romantic quayside restaurants, retail and specialty shops. Our entire day went by visiting the Madame Tussauds, Butterfly museum, Underwater World, Marine Life Park and seeing the most popular show on the island, the very famous laser show, Wings of time. Yes, I have tons of photos from these places but I am way too picky to put them here so only a few will have to suffice. Also we were so busy hopping from place to place, and walking for miles and totally exhausted by the time we sat for the show.

5- Orchard Street

Orchard Road, a 2.2 kilometre-long boulevard, is the retail and entertainment hub of Singapore. Often known colloquially as Orchard, the area is a major tourist attraction. With almost every luxury brand on the street, and malls like Takashimaya catering to major brands and luxury, one finds everything from Prada to MiuMiu, Chanel to Dior and Gucci and Louis Vuitton to Desigual and Tory Burch and Tiffany. Yes, this was my most favourite part of the trip. My dad had to push me inside a cab.

6- Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and Night Safari

The Singapore Zoo, formerly known as the Singapore Zoological Gardens and commonly known locally as the Mandai Zoo was on of my best experiences. From having breakfast with the descendants of Ah-Meng, the Sumatran Orangutan who became the poster child of Singapore zoo and led quite a celebrity life to actually feeding the elephants and watching numerous animal shows, I felt so connected and so much in sync with the wildlife around. Even the Jurong Bird Park and the Night Safari were absolute amazing parts of the trip. If you are at the bird park make sure to visit the parrot paradise because the birds actually mimic and talk whatever you say. And the night safari, you cant miss their tribal dance and animal show. All in all, its one wildlife experience you don’t want to miss.

Ah-Meng when she was 47 years old, before her death

7- Merlion park and River Cruise

The Merlion is the national personification of Singapore. The name is a combination of “mer”, meaning the sea, and “lion”. The fish body represents Singapore’s origin as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, which means “sea town” in Javanese. Once you are at the park you see the glorious Merlion and throw in a cent while making a wish, and take the river cruise that takes you through all the bays of the city and narrates the history of each port. It is definitely worth the ride, where you see Clarke Quay and the Fullerton Hotel.

In conclusion, Singapore is worth a visit repetitively because of the people, the city that is so beautiful, clean and well maintained and the street food that I just loved! Also, the hotel, V-Lavender had a great buffet spread that gave me lots of holiday weight to fight off once I was back! 🙂

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

SARI DON’T BE SORRY

I have always been a very traditionally rooted person. Being brought up in a very traditional and cultural Bengali family, saris have always been my first love. Even if I pride myself at the flexibility with which I can endorse a short dress to a nine yard sari, these lay down of handpicked handloom and silk saris come not only with me showing you how to be casual and comfortable in a saree, but also how there can be so many quirky ways of wearing one if you are a non-conformist. Saris are more than a garment, they come with so much of history and generations of hard work that has made them a national cultural identity for a reason. I hope you enjoy these styles and looks and if you want to get your hands on some of these, the details are mentioned at the footer.

1- Gadwal Sari

Gadwal sari is a handcrafted woven sari style in Gadwal of Jogulamba Gadwal district in the Indian state of Telangana. They are most notable for the Zari on the saris for its beautiful exotic designs.Gadwal sarees were a big hit, right from the beginning. Hence, some weavers from Gadwal were sent to Benaras by the king to learn the art of weaving this particular style. The outcome was hand woven variety of Gadwal saris that became immensely popular. The sari consists of cotton body with silk pallu and the golden zari work along the lengths of the borders gives it an exquisite touch.  Gadwal Handloom Centre, established in 1946 by the late Ratan Babu Rao, was mainly responsible for the widespread knowledge and detail regarding the Gadwal Sari.

2- The Kantha Sari

Kantha is one of the oldest forms of embroidery that originated in India. Its origins can be traced back to the ancient pre Vedic ages, however, Kantha embroidery as we know it today was found in Krishnadas Kaviraj’s 500 year old book, Chaitanya Charitamrita. Motifs found in early Kantha embroidery include many symbols that were derived from ancient art. Rural housewives in West Bengal played a significant part in the evolution of Kantha embroidery. It was customary for these women to make use of Kantha’s widely used running stitch and embroidery techniques. For centuries, the techniques of the hereditary craft were, and still are, passed down from mother to daughter. Though it continued to be practised amongst rural women, recognition of the craft faded over time, until it was revived on a global scale in the 1940s by the renowned Kala Bhavana Institute of Fine Arts, which part of the Viswa-Bharati University in Shantiniketan, West Bengal. It was revived yet again by Shamlu Dudeja in the 1980s when she founded Self Help Enterprise (SHE) that helped empower women and their livelihood through Kantha embroidery.

3- The Chiffon and Silk Sari

Chiffon, from the French word for a cloth or rag, is a lightweight, balanced plain-woven sheer fabric woven of alternate S- and Z-twist crepe yarns. The twist in the crepe yarns puckers the fabric slightly in both directions after weaving, giving it some stretch and a slightly rough feel.Early chiffon was made purely from silk. In 1938, however, a nylon version of chiffon was invented, and in 1958 polyester chiffon was invented and became immensely popular due to its resilience and low cost. Under a magnifying glass chiffon resembles a fine net or mesh which gives it some transparency. As a precaution, craftsmen work slowly and steadily with this fabric. If the fabric is stretched during the sewing process, it may bunch together and ruin the whole stitch. The stitching must be very clean and fine to improve the finished appearance.

4- The Dhakai Jamdani Sari

Jamdani, a word that came from Persian language, is a combination of the words ‘Jam’ and ‘Dani’ meaning “flower” and “Jar” respectively, that means- Jar of Flowers. The name is suggestive of the beautiful floral motifs that adorn these gorgeous sarees. Jamdani weaving is the Cutting Edge symbol of Bangladesh’s rich cultural heritage.The Bengali version of the name, Dhakai, comes from the place of its origin  — Dhaka in Bangladesh. Interestingly, the earliest mention of Jamdani sarees can be found in Chanakya’s Arthashastra, dating back to the 3rd century BC. The book refers to it as some fine cloth from “Bangla” and “Pundra” region.  Significant mentions of Jamdani can also be found in the book of Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, besides the accounts of Arab, Chinese and Italian travellers and traders. In the first half of the 19th century, James Taylor described the flowered Jamdani. Though Jamdani has enjoyed immense popularity right from the beginning, the art form bloomed during the Mughal period. However, colonisation by the British saw a decline in the production of this fabric. Post the partition, many weavers migrated to present day West Bengal, and that marked the beginning of the art form in India.

5- The Dhakai Muslin and Silk

Similar to its Dhakai sari roots and origin, the Dhakai Muslin in Blue and the magenta silk sari were two of my most favourite as well. Because of the quintessential Indian traditional vibe i wanted to lend to the rest of the styles I decided to be a bit more dramatic and give the saris a skirt twist and drape it with a shirt and blouse, for all the bold and gorgeous women out there who would like to style a sari more than just in the dhoti way or the traditional way. Pair it up with your favourite separates by adding volume as a skirt or by pairing it up with a shirt-blouse for a morning wedding where cocktails at the resort are on the menu!

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Saris – Supriya Dasgupta Boutique – 98230 11050/ 93253 14402

Sari draping – Anindita Guha

Assistant Styling –  Vaishali Pandey

Photography – Manjari Singh , Mehuljeet Singh

Location – Ekta California

CAFE RENDEZVOUS

I have always been a very outdoorsy person when it comes to unwinding with friends over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee with some good ambience and people at some of my favourite places in the city. I know there are plenty of amazing places combined with food and drinks that the city has to offer but if I had to give a lay down or take someone out, these are the cafes I would vote! From Where Else to Sassy Spoon to Beetroot, my selective choices of cafe where you can have a simple, romantic or a fun hangout at any point in the day. Also, these cafes come with the kindest of people who are more than delighted to take care of you at your arrival and are ever so accommodating!

1- Where Else Cafe 

I have a certain nostalgia with this cafe at Viman Nagar because during my student days in Symbiosis, I was a regular here. Every single evening was spent in the company of Boobie and Ballsie ( the adorable persian cats ), my laptop and coffee. Me and my friends would also hang out here at every opportunity we got. We also even had a project discussion here once so this cafe has been more than home and more than just a regular place. I would always be biased about this place because anyone who knows me well knows that my spirit is attached to cats. Apart from the obvious ambiance and the animals, I love the fact that humans are tolerated and the staff are such amazingly friendly people. I am not much of a food critic but i love the way they present their dishes, and the English Breakfast, Cajun grilled fish and Bacon wrapped Chicken with a glass of Strawberry Daiquiri are my absolute favourites. Also, the hot chocolate once a month is a much simpler way to take a trip to heaven.

2-The Sassy Spoon 

During my internship days in Mumbai I had made a few trips to the Sassy Spoon at Bandra and always wondered why Pune didn’t have its own dose of Sassy! After all the city is pretty sassy with the maximum population being student dominated. And on my return home I was thrilled to see that Pune had opened its doors to Sassy Spoon at Koregaon Park, Lane 7 next to Sanskriti Lifestyle. Perfect area that definitely needed a Sassy Spoon.

Sassy Spoon’s philosophy has always been delicious food peppered with sass. The restaurant is resplendent with quirky bar bites, innovative mains, takeaways, scrumptious breakfasts and a menu spread across European, Mediterranean, South East Asian and Indian cuisines, for both vegetarian and non-vegetarians, along with an exciting selection of cocktails and mock tails. The ambience, with both outdoor and indoor seating makes it the perfect dining and drinking destination. What I love most about this place is the Sangria, their ladies nights on Wednesdays with some live music and the absolutely amazing people who serve you here. The outdoor seating area at the rear gives me a very French vibe and the cakes and truffles at the Sassy Teaspoon counter is my little cheat sheet. Try their whisky chocolate tart  on bad days when you need both alcohol and chocolate and you cant decide so you have both anyway!

3- Raasta Cafe 

I was thrilled the day I got to know that Raasta Cafe had opened its doors at NIBM. From having a great rooftop view at the Dorabjee Royal Heritage Mall to the amazing interior, romantic ambience and a perfect bar with live Tandoori grill and pizza ovens, this cafe offered more than candles, coy looks across the table or the sunset. If you ask me, this would be my personal recommendation if you were planning to take your man on a date. The cocktails are crisp and smooth, the cheese fondue is thick and tasty and the red velvet in a jar really mesmerises me. Apart from this, candles in a jar and live music never gets old.

4- Beetroot Bistro

I love the mediterranean vibe this place gives off. It has this very rhythmic aura and vibe and I love the space it has and the way the set up changes from a laid back brunch place in the afternoon to a cozy sundowner place, but the reason this place is one of my favourites is because of the Sangria they serve (evidently I am a Sangria person of late) and the Piri Piri Chicken. I love the dramatic touch the fairy lights adds to this place giving it a very romantic youth atmosphere. It has a certain tone of nostalgia at the same time and my glass of Sangria and me agree on that a lot.

Written by Adhisa Ghosh

Photography – Anmol Singh 

Floral Maxi Dress and Slit Wrap Skirt – Parampara

Top – Zara 

Striped Maxi Dress- Chemistry 

White Shirt Dress- AND