Can I pass off my Instagram feed as a journal?

“I’ve started journalling”, said my friend, proudly. It was more of a text on a WhatsApp group, but considering us millennials are notorious for being petrified of ringing phones, and instead, prefer the safety (and unaccountability) of a screen, it amounts to the same thing.

Another friend piped in. She has always journaled, she said, and had recently, added an app to the mix. Apparently there are journalling apps these days (and they are not free, mind you), that allow the lazier ones to simply click buttons or icons to denote their mood, activity and the like.

I was impressed. A few years ago, I had tried keeping a bullet journal. Just after the craze picked up. It worked really well for the first couple of weeks (January, 2017, was it?), until I forgot all about a “new year” starting, and got into the grind, and pretty much forgot about it.

Two years later, a good friend gifted me a bullet journal that she had designed herself. It had a beautiful brown paper cover, one of those “sustainable design” types, was pocket sized, and had neatly defined spaces for goals, dates and such, on the pages.

I never used it.

Today, as I sit with my second mug of herbal tea in hand, under an umbrella, basking in the warmth of a November sun, I think about how much my life has evolved, even within lockdown. And how, my Instagram feed is proof of it. Like a visual journal.

When Lockdown started, I was living in a two bedroom apartment in Bombay’s Khar. Where after the initial excitement of working from a beanbag in my sun speckled room, which we had then thought was only for a matter of three weeks, turned into a laboriously long four months, when time lost all meaning.

I began to document my experiences through illustrations.

It was exciting, I admit, in the beginning. It was a real challenge. I thought to myself, “If I could get through this on my own, I could get through anything.” 

Before, I go into my experiences, let me give you a bit of context. I can’t cook. And no, it’s not like I haven’t tried. Or that I have always been averse. Or that I don’t want to be perceived as someone who cooks.

I am grossed out by kitchens. There, I said it. The smell of onion and garlic on my hands, tempering spices and bubbling curries, raw meat and stockpiled potatoes, turn me off. I’ve never related to people when they smell the waft of a bubbling pot of chicken curry from a neighbouring flat and find it tempting or talk of it as a “good smell”. 

Maybe, if I lived alone, and my kitchen was in a bright sun splashed open space, with stainless steel everything, and gleaming surfaces, I’d be more enthusiastic. But the thought of even entering my tiny, cramped Mumbai kitchen, flooded with the stench of damp, rotting onion peels in the wastepaper basket, a clogged drainpipe, and musty, sun-starved shelves was enough to make me lie on my bed, foetal position, stomach growling, and unable to move to cook a meal.

I know I sound spoilt, silly and lazy.

I didn’t realise the severity of my “issues” until fellow anti-cooking enthusiasts starting posting pictures of flans and banana breads, multi-course Indian meals and envy-worthy cheesecakes, artfully designed focacias and stuffed chicken breasts, on their social media handles.

Clearly, I was in the minority. 

At one point, the constant barrage of home cooked food on my Instagram feed turned into “toxic” content, enough to spiral me into sadness. I once even deactivated my account because I couldn’t take one more appetising-looking, lockdown-learned sourdough bread staring at me coyly from the screen.

Why couldn’t I feel the same enthusiasm as my peers? Why did my kitchen scare me away? It’s not like I don’t love food or anything. I adore a creamy hummus, dream about a lemongrass-scented Thai curry, crave a well-marinated lime and curd drenched chicken breast and enjoy a wholesome, multi-ingredient salad. Then why wasn’t I able to muster up excitement to cook? Or when I did end up cooking, why did everything taste terrible? It’s not like I could never cook. As a boarding-school bred, perpetually hungry teenager, I’d rummage around my mother’s bookshelves looking for recipe books, to put together elaborate meals at home. I used to live to eat then. Today, it’s the opposite. Maybe, it’s got something to do with that?

If you scroll through my Instagram feed and look for my posts during those initial few months of Lockdown, you’ll find me on a particularly rough day when I cleaned shattered glass and threw away curdled milk, a surprisingly happy day when I ended the workday with a much needed cuppa, relished while watching a particularly gripping episode of Netflix’s Fauda, and on a comparatively low day, that spelled out my feelings of being unreal and intangible.

Things took a turn for the worse when the monsoons started in Mumbai. My home fell apart. Dampness was a permanent fixture. And the smell of fresh, sun-sanitised interiors, a luxury. I began to sink deeper and deeper. At one point, I’d be woken up in the middle of the night with the sound of a large garden rat trying to claw its way into my house. The cement-dust just under the area it was digging was a dead giveaway that I wasn’t imagining things.

I began to feel like I was made up of air, that I wasn’t solid anymore. I was fluctuating. I felt unreal. Maybe staying locked up in a space can do that to you.

People say there is no higher power. No God. No one watching over you. But, my experience this year proved otherwise. Just at the precise moment I lost all positivity, my mother called me with some important news: she had managed a way to bring me home. The medical officer on duty, after much conversation, had finally approved my return. All I had to do to be worthy of this favour was to quarantine strictly in a secluded area within our compound. Doable.

In a matter of 24 hours, I packed whatever I could find into a bag, locked up my favourites into a cupboard, and flew back home, before anyone, including the government, changed their mind. Luckily for me, I landed just a day before the West Bengal government decided to ban all flights from Mumbai. I had made it. I was fortunate.

The next few days were spent recovering, sipping on endless cups of ginger-tulsi tea with home made oat brownies, along with lots of love from my mother. It had been a tough few months: I was only too glad to be home.

It took me a while to get over my time in Bombay. Funnily enough, I seemed to be suffering from a mild bout of PTSD. The thought of that rat clawing its way into my Bombay bedroom would involuntarily send shudders down my spine. The memory of my growling tummy when I couldn’t muster up energy to cook or even order; the dripping of rainwater into my room; the smell of fungus on my favourite sarees; the dampness on the walls, my towels undried for days; the sight of a cockroach in the bathroom that scared my flatmate and myself from using the loo that night; the frown of the building watchman every time we went down to collect an order or to complain about the odd water or electricity problem; the despair at discovering that yet another carton of milk had gone bad; the arrival of a meal from a takeaway joint in dubious packaging: all of these memories, would serve as a reminder to be eternally grateful for the life I was now leading in my parents place.

Home for me turned out to be the complete opposite of what my experience in Bombay had been. I could wake up without fear of what new perils the day might bring. Without the need to sleepily scramble out of bed and roll into the kitchen, dirty rag in hand, all set to mop the counters and floors, before making my morning cuppa. I could simply expect tea in bed, along with a side of chirpy conversation from my mum. I could expect wholesome, hot meals laid out on the dining table. I could walk freely outdoors, without a mask, because there were no crowds or people. I could cycle in between fields of tea bushes, the sun on my face, the skies an azure blue. I could go for long walks, letting my mind roam free, reevaluating my life choices, and introspecting. I could expect an environment of unconditional love, jolly holidays, elaborate birthday celebrations, and lots of giggles. But, what I really cherished most was an opportunity to live with my parents for the first time since 1998, when as an 8-year old, I went to boarding school.

Sure, I missed Bombay. But Bombay for me was centred around work. I missed everything about work though: waking up for it, dressing up for it, even pushing crowds to get a seat in the train for it. I missed mutual appreciation comments in the Vogue bathroom. I missed rushing into office, and heading straight to the pantry for my mandatory black coffee. I missed being frantically called for a meeting in the conference room, when I had spent an extra five minutes downstairs near the fruit seller. I missed gossiping with my colleagues. I missed random middle-of-the-week drinking plans. I missed the hustle and bustle of the local trains and the arguments between fellow train travellers on the much disputed “fourth seat”. I missed a lot.

If you scroll through my Instagram feed, and read through the captions, you might not get the little details of my daily life over the past year. But you will definitely gauge my fluctuating moods, emotions and the dramatic change in lifestyle over the course of 2020.

Is my Instagram feed a journal? In the conventional sense of the word, no. But, if a journal means a record of your life over time, then I’d say yes, my feed accurately captures 2020.

My love affair with locals – one year and counting

Pretty long for an affair, don’t you think?

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

My relationship with the Mumbai local trains started last September when I took up a job on the other side of town. At first, I assumed it would be a temporary arrangement, moving closer to work being the general idea. But laziness and fear-of-seeing-ugly-houses kept me committed to my tiring routine.

Home -> Auto -> Train -> Cab -> Work = 1 hour 40 minutes

Work -> Walk -> Train -> Auto -> Home = 1 hour 55 minutes

Day in and day out for more than a year.

A couple of my colleagues have looked at me pointedly and said – “Wow, you must really love this job.”

But like most relationships, my affair with the local train and therefore my job, is not based on “love” alone.

Like any affair, my tryst with the locals came with its own set of stages.

First came the adrenalin – I can do this. Travel 4 hours a day and survive, I mean.

Then came the tiffs – little hiccups in the journey (like missing my train), that made me reconsider my decision to live so far from work.

Then came hatred – with the Mumbai rains – that made me want to quit. The job, the city, the world, everything.

Then I got used to it. It became routine. A habit. I began to love the little quirks, stories and happenings in the ladies compartment – so much so, that I realised, I may miss it if I quit.

It’s funny when you think about it. How can you hate something one moment, and absolutely love it the next? How can you bitch about it for hours, and then defend it vehemently when another suggests you cab it instead?

A love-hate relationship, that in addition to making me feel really proud of myself – when I realised I had completed a year of this gruelling schedule and survived, it also opened my mind to the world in a whole, new, different way. There were days I teared up with joy on seeing acts of kindness between fellow passengers – the world can be a happy place sometimes. And there were days when I came home bursting with stories of large insects creeping up under salwars and burkhas, driving entire compartments into mayhem.

The local trains can brighten up your day in more ways than one. If you let it.

Also, I lost a shit ton of weight. 😉 One does NOT simply give up on something that helps you stay fit without actively trying. On second thoughts, maybe it’s fear of getting out of shape that’s keeping me addicted to the locals, but that’s a thought for another day. 😛

Over the past year, I have written about these little instances and observations on my Facebook page. And plenty of my friends who’ve read it have asked me to write a book, create a vlog, or simply come up with a comic series on the same. However, I think, for now, let’s keep it on this blog.

Have a look, and hope it keeps you entertained.


Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Mumbai Local train stories | Chai High is a blog by Shivani Krishan

Even if you’ve never been on the local, these updates will vicariously let you live the local life. 🙂










Why we stay and lose in touch with friends from the past.

Note: While I was writing my first story about laughter and forgetting in my previous blog post, I felt this strange sense of liberation. Like this is what I was meant to write all this while. Like this was the topic I was sifting for, through the folds of my brain during languid train journeys and zoned-out moments at work. And that’s when I realised, I would convert all these snippets into blog posts – move them from memory to blog, where they would serve as reminders of a time long past, a time when happiness was real.

I don’t know what book it was (Milan Kundera’s Identity?), but the book basically says our friends are our tangible connections to our past –  If we lose our friends from the past, we lose our link to the past. And we risk losing a part of ourselves.

So we stay in touch with old friends for the mirror this friend holds out to us. And our friends stay in touch with us for the mirror we hold out to them. The mirror to our shared pasts that shelters shared memories –  a proof of having existed in a certain way in a certain period of time. A window to ourselves. A tangible proof of our existence. A key to our identity.

Which simply means, we need our friends to stay connected to the world and to ourselves.

And so even when we grow up into different people, we still look for those who transport us to our foundation. Who give credibility to our existence.

One of the most painful things is meeting a cherished person from the past and realising you have nothing in common with their present self.

At that point, you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself with the other person. You feel confused, lost and start scrambling around – looking for your misplaced identity – the part of you that went missing with the other person. And in that confusion, you struggle to rediscover your new self. You are subconsciously thinking, “Okay, so s/he is this. So where does that leave me?” And little by little, the more “changed” old friends you meet, the more discomfort you feel. And after this long and tedious phase (that evolves not ends), you become closer and closer to finding out who you really are.

After the initial enthusiasm in the first few years after graduation – life, career and love swoop right in, tearing us all apart bit by bit. At that time, it gets really tough. For instance, in my case, I would lie awake, missing, hoping with all my heart to go back in time. Back to school when there was so much to look forward to. A time, when there was love in our hearts and fire in our souls. A time, when we were invincible.

And so to connect with the invincible part of ourselves, we call our friends from back in time and make plans. We fix a time and place and arrive there, looking sharp. However, take the setting of the past away, and we’re left incomplete. Two incomplete people staring at each other across the table, wondering what’s missing. Like two halves of different apples wondering how to fit together.

Has the mirror shattered? Are shattered pieces of yourself all you can see?

Sometimes, meeting people from the past is a reminder of all that’s missing. 

Meeting an old friend only to realise they’re nothing like what you remember of them, makes you want to do one of two things:

  1. Shut the door to the past with a firm thud
  2. Wish to time-travel back to the past

However, sooner or later, we all realise that we can’t live with one foot down the back door. We can’t keep hoping for some spell to transport us back in time. And we move on. 

Sometimes, when I meet a friend from the past, it seems as though I am meeting a stranger. A new person with new habits and new tastes, a striking resemblance to somebody I knew a decade ago.

We sit across, exchanging pleasantries, awkward silences dissipating only after a few drinks, when conversation drifts to talks of the past. The past is all we have in common. Our memories the only reason we meet. That’s when the pain gets unbearable. So intense that sometimes I choose to distance myself from this stranger I can’t connect to.

I don’t want my enthusiasm in rekindling the past to end up destroying the past.

I don’t want my memories to be tainted by any awkwardness and disagreements we might face in the present. I want my memories from back in the day to stay sheltered like pink and blue bubbles glowing in the sun. Bubbles I can gaze at as they drift away into nothingness. I don’t want to bring the bubble closer. I don’t want to risk bursting the happiest memories I’ve ever had.

Sometimes, losing touch is all I can do to protect the sanctity of the past.

And so I often find myself losing touch with old friends.

But at the cost of protecting the sanctity of my past, am I losing my identity?

Memories sometimes make life worth living. And stories worth telling.

Maybe, once when I have told all these stories and have shared every pleasant memory from my past,  I can safely attempt to rekindle those ties. To mend the tangible strings tying me to the warm, fuzzy feeling of the past. To repair the bridges now lying damaged by the passage of youth and self-discovery. To gaze at the mirror and hold a mirror out, without fear of it being shattered.

Till then, I am going to write. Write till my fingers hurt, and brain drains itself of every shred of hurt and loss. Write till I am empty of past dues. And filled with knowledge of myself.

Will it be too late then? Well, at least I’ll still have my blog posts.

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The blogpost of laughter and forgetting

I don’t know how many of you have read this Milan Kundera classic, but you don’t have to worry about it, as this post (as suspected) has nothing to do with this intriguing-insightful (yet slightly disturbing) novel.

Today, when I heard a colleague laugh it took me back in time to a memory I was on the verge of forgetting. This colleague has a very distinct laugh – one that consists of essentially two syllables or a repetition of one. Imagine a male voice with a slightly nasal twang, go – “Hain, Hain”. Well, that’s his laugh.

Speaking of disturbing laughs, I remember in school, my entire dormitory in 9th standard went on one of those laughter-therapy like sessions without knowing it was a thing. Basically, there was a girl in our class – a skinny little girl with braces and long frizzy hair who had this screechy laugh that would make anybody who heard her laugh, laugh. Her laugh was so funny, and so catchy that once we recognised it, we just wouldn’t stop asking her to voluntarily laugh. Often a couple of us would accompany her on her first “Ha Ha” to ease her into this game, so she didn’t feel awkward starting. And once we heard her, the rest of us would naturally burst into splits, our funny unique laughs causing this gorgeous girl to laugh even louder (and funnier), which caused us to laugh, and then her to laugh, and then us – resulting in a laughing marathon occupying a good party of our 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. rest hours, and disturbing our neighbouring dormitories too.

We’d just laugh and laugh for no reason. Just because it was so much fun. It felt so good, and we didn’t have anybody shoving “laughter therapy” down our throats either. It was something invented in the corner 9th std dorm by us 14-year-olds – one of the many creative games devised to amuse ourselves.

Her laugh started with a loud screech like  – “Haaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin” and would then break into little splutters of “hehehehheheeh” and then again she would take a deep breath and there would be a few continuous screeches like – “Haaaarghhhhhhh- Haaaarghhhhhhh – Haaaarghhhhhhh” – followed by a few more “hehehehheh” splutters –  and at this moment, I would be laughing so hard, holding my tummy with one hand, wiping the tears with the other – that pain itself was forgotten for a moment.

I had forgotten this long lost memory or rather it was buried between the folds of “adulting”stress and brokedom only to emerge at the behest of a colleague guffawing his “Hain Hein”.

Well, let me just say this – the corporate world sure has its moments.

P:S: I know I am digressing from the “Fashion” theme again, but please understand – I am absolutely obsessed with my schooltime shenanigans.

P.P.S: Stay tuned for more “forgotten” stories of laughter and other happy moments from boarding school.

10 incredibly weird things about me that (debatably) make me an unlikeable person.

  1. Me to myself – “Thank God It’s a No-Plan Friday. What? There’s a plan? Oh no, why is life so tough?”
  2. I wish she cancels I wish she cancels I wish she cancels – Oh THANK GOD she cancelled! Now, I can happily be boring at home.
  3. I am ignoring your call not because I dislike you, disrespect you or mean to be rude. It’s just that I am going through something at the moment and I need all the time I can get to heal myself. At other times (that is the times that I haven’t “ignored” your call), I am genuinely busy and may have missed your call, made a mental note to call back, and then forgotten. Again, (debatably) unforgivable.
  4. How can people not like sleeping early? *genuine wonder* I sleep at 10:30 p.m.
  5. As long as I get the luxury of sleeping on time and waking on time and getting a mug of tea first thing in the morning, I will be sane.
  6. The only alcohol I drink is beer, and not because it’s alcohol, but because it’s beer. And I genuinely like the taste. I wouldn’t even mind  if beer didn’t make me high. In fact, it would be better as I could drink a lot more.
  7.  The reason I choose one plan over the other is not because I like one person over the other, but because I choose the plan where I know nobody including me is going to “overstay their welcome” or drag the party till the point where it’s-so-boring-that-we-can’t-stand-it-so-we-end-it. Instead, end it while it’s still fun; like you know how they say, “Quit while you’ve still got a reputation?” Well… something like that.
  8. A lot of my free time goes in devising ways I can: a) fire my maid b) ask for a raise c) think about what business I could start d) design a few perfect outfits e)Not actually doing any of the above (maybe just ‘d’)
  9. I wake up really early so that I can freshen up and have my first mug of tea while watching a random episode on Netflix – I don’t have to complete the episode – I just have to complete my tea. While watching something.
  10. I crib and I crib and I crib not because my life sucks, but because I am cleansing every shred of negativity within me (and dumping it on you) so that I can be happy. Again (debatably) selfish. You care for me after all? Don’t you? 😉


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P.P.S: This is supposed to be a style blog, but I like to digress once in a while. It’s a blog NOT a brand, for God’s sake.

P.P.S: I also spend a lot of time staying disillusioned with capitalism, advertising and selling people things they don’t want (despite or especially due to the fact that I have spent all of my career doing exactly that).



How I found myself through fashion.

Fashion saves me. Everyday.

Some see it as an annoying intruder, a pointless culture, and a distraction from what’s important. Others see it as an occasional indulgence meant to be partaken in, only during special occasions. And a few, like me, see it as an integral party of the everyday, a constant saviour in the journey of life.

When I was little, my mother dressed me up in smocking frocks with peter-pan collars and puff sleeves, matching ribbons for my hair – little bows, white socks, and smart Mary-Janes. I was the “well-dressed” child in every circle, never without a missing ribbon or shoe, never with snot running down my face, and never in flimsy spaghetti straps and careless hot-pants. I was quiet, well-behaved, and disciplined enough to sit with my shoes and socks, white without a speck of dirt, at parties.

I wasn’t a cute child. I wasn’t adorable or talkative. And I had no special talent apart from being able to draw – not something you can show off to your relatives about. I couldn’t dance or sing or act or mimic. I couldn’t play an instrument or say adorable things that grownups could listen to and go, “awww…”. Nope. I was quiet, I sat in the corner, played with my dolls and read. I spoke when spoken to and answered with a “yes” or “no”.

Then I went to boarding school. And the awkward pre-puberty age set in. I no longer liked frocks and I wanted to look more boyish than ever. I looked at my friends with their jeans and shorts and rubber floaters and that’s all I wanted to wear. I lost my love for pink, I lost my love for frocks and a part of me lost myself for a little while. I tried to fit into boarding school, by borrowing aesthetics from the people around me. Baggy shorts and baggier denims. The more boyish, the better. With my skinny legs, bony knees, gawky face and giant braces, nothing looked good on me. And my school uniform? That looked particularly horrid. No matter how much I tried, the grey pleated skirt refused to sit flat on my tummy, puffing up in an odd sort of way.

My rebellious hair was chopped up – “Maggie cuts her hair” style with no real definition. And I would comb through my hair – a hundred strokes every night, hoping for some semblance of straightness. I would oil, shampoo and condition it twice a week. I would buy the serums “specially formulated for dry, frizzy hair”, as the Livons of the world smiled inwardly , conscious of the giant prank they had played upon frizzy-haired believers everywhere. And none of it worked. Of course.

As I grew older, little by little I realised the reason everything looked odd on me. It wasn’t my genes or the lack of effort on my part – trust me. I tried everything.

It was because I was running after an aesthetic that wasn’t mine.

And subconsciously I began to define myself. I lathered on kohl, got a set of double piercings on my ears, and I got my skirts shortened. I began to tie my hair up in a high ponytail, and wear my skirts an inch shorter than the knees (everybody else was going for the low wasted, extra baggy-long skirt look at that time). And I gave up trying to straighten my hair. I washed my hair less, stopped combing it like an idiot.

I finally started embracing my curls.

And that’s how I made my little mark in the sea of identical uniforms. But, when it came to “coloured” clothes or clothes that weren’t uniform, I was lost. I tried long skirts, short skirts, capris and flared denims. But, nothing… nothing made me feel like me. I felt odd, my body felt sloppy and I just didn’t feel like “me”. The me who wore her smocked frocks with matching ribbons and pretty shoes. The “smartly dressed” me.

I read up the Vogues and the Cosmos, and I tried to draw inspiration… For the longest time, I blamed my weight for making clothes look odd on me. But, then again, I wasn’t really fat.

I knew I had toned legs, and so I should wear shorter silhouettes. But I had a tummy, and at that time, shops were only selling really fitted tees and body-con dresses. So, I struggled and struggled to find clothes that would flatter me. And would make me feel more “me”.

I think, it was only recently, say around 3 years back, that I discovered my aesthetic. I think it was repeated trial and error and a conscious understanding of my body-type. It was finding the middle point between comfort and style. And understanding my mind a little better. That lead me to it. And slowly I knew I was all about cottons, checks, anti-fits and comfort. Of button-down dresses, fit and flare silhouettes and skater dresses. Of bright florals, knee skimming lengths and floaty-breathables – The exact opposite of tight jeans and synthetic tops – my uniform throughout college and early years of working.

And once I found my aesthetic, I suddenly knew, no amount of taunts and jabs and magazine advice could hurt this strong extension of my being – my everyday armour. And even though plenty in India would call my style “jhalla” for it’s incredible looseness, and even though I admire those who can pull off the tight dress and stiletto look, when I look at myself in the mirror, with my  ultra faded-plaid dress and black-floppy-chappals, I know i couldn’t wear anything else – for the sole reason that it won’t fit in with me. It just won’t be me.

The deep-pockets for storing the odd lip-balm. The loose fit to cover the slight overeating at lunch. The knee-skimming length for leg-freedom. The cotton fabric to beat the humidity. And the absence of fluff to drive attention to my face rather than the dress. The dullness of colour to serve as a canvas to my personality. And the detailing of the dress, finally, to ground me sartorially and to pay homage to the talented designer.

This may seem too intense for something as seemingly light as fashion. But if you were to watch the documentary on Bill Cunningham and hear what people around have to say, you may understand things a little better.

Fashion is not just feathers and fluff and an ostentatious display of cloth for thrill. All that is advertising. Fashion is more. It’s advertising (of course), but it’s also style and craft and art and a tool that ordinary people like you and me can use to build ourselves a little brighter.

And as I found my aesthetic – an aesthetic surprisingly similar to the 5-year-old me with her plaid frocks and smart shoes – I found myself.


One hostel room please.

When you’ve been in hostel a lot, without realising it, you begin to get inspired by it. So much so, that even your aesthetics assume a boarding school vibe.

Actually, what am I saying ‘you’ for? It’s me whose sensibility has been taken over by a hostelesque vibe. 1 single bed, 1 cupboard and 1 study table, please. Yes, leave those shelves bare. Yes, I know they’re ‘shelves’ but please do not stuff them with your belongings. Leave the counterpane on. And yeah, do pick up your shoes. (Joote-chappal-uthao-joote-chappal-uthao).

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I recently moved into a new house. A new room in a new house, to be precise. I wanted my space. I am almost 27. And I have been living with girls for far too long ( 18 years) to be excited by late-night-gossip and girlish banter. So, April this year, I decided to move to a place where I’d get my own room, my own privacy, so that after years of sharing room-space, finding wet towels on my bed and dealing with aesthetics that didn’t match my own (read piles of laundry fighting for space on the bed and cigarette ash competing for attention on the floor), I would finally be able to keep my room the way I always wanted to.

Turns out, my aesthetics (contrary to what I believed) are nowhere near that of interior decorators and people with supposedly “good taste” in high society. It’s more of a clinically clean, orderly aesthetic, with books stashed so neatly in their shelves that I hesitate before reaching out to read one. In the fear that I might upset the entire beauty of it.

My own room | Orange curtains from and Fabindia bedcover from Snapdeal | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

In anticipation of this shift, I got 4 paintings of mine framed. One of which you can see in the picture. As for the other? Well… well, turns out my landlady is so particular about her interiors that we aren’t allowed to hammer nails! *sniff* And to think that hanging my priced paintings up was one of the reasons to shift home…

Anyway, not to be deterred (since I had already moved in and there was no other option), I looked for ways to hang stuff without hammering nails and after reading one of those listicle-thingys (1o ways to…), I decided to ignore everything I read and just placed my drawings on a cardboard box masked as a table by putting a cloth over it (yes, as boarding school people, we do have a trick or two up our sleeves. “Jugaad” as they call it here), and lo and behold, I was satisfied.

My framed sketches placed against a wall on a makeshift table of cardboard boxes and cloth | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan

Yes. Even I don’t like the floors. It gives the room a hospital-hostel-bathroom feel and inspite of my acquired hostel aesthetic,  I am still a diehard fan of wooden floors, but yes, like I mentioned in a previous post, my salary wasn’t getting any higher, so I just told myself “beggars can’t be choosers”, packed my bags and moved in.

My very orange room with a messy bed and scattered books | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan


The first thing I did, was buy those orange curtains. I wanted my room to feel really bright, and welcoming and I read somewhere (I think it was one of those colour therapy articles) that orange stands for vitality and energy and people suffering from depression must wear orange underwear or something like that; and even though I neither own orange underwear (the only one I did got flicked in boarding school when I was in 10th std and irritated I was one entire semester as I really loved that one), and neither am I suffering from depression (even though there are days when I am convinced that I am), I still chose to go ahead and envelope my room in vivid splashes of oranges, yellows and reds.

But before I changed my sheets to orange, I had a blue and white check cover on it.

Weird, as it is, I only recently realised that my hostel room at MICA (the first image) is strikingly similar to my new room (the second image). So much so, that even the bedcover used is the same, not to mention the large window on the opposite wall and the bed on the left and the white tiled floors.

That’s why I changed my covers. Get it? Get it?


It’s almost subconscious I’d say, that I gravitate towards smaller rooms with single beds and large windows. Maybe it’s a desperate means to grasp my younger, freer days. Or maybe it’s a subconscious preference for clean, clinical spaces, thanks to 10 years of boarding school life. I really don’t have an answer.

However, it only came to light when I showed my friends the picture of my new room, and all they said was that it reminded them of their hostel rooms.

So then I went and dug around for old college pictures. And, man was I surprised at the uncanny resemblance?

Which comes to prove that hostel life has indeed left a deeper mark on my subconscious than I have realised. From choosing a room that takes me back in time, to probably eating food that reminds me of school (Maggi), I am drenched in nostalgia so deep that I can barely even notice it.

And the fact that my new room’s scrubbed clean, single-bed, no-air-conditioning, clinical vibe is in fact inspired from my years living in different parts of the country, in no way should be taken lightly. It’s definitely worth a study, I’d say?

It’s weird, and I hope to discover other aspects of my personality that have been shaped by hostel life. And yes, I will definitely blog about them too (provided, it’s nothing embarrassing). 😉

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Anyway, it’s getting late. In case you don’t follow me on Instagram, do click here. You’ll find me putting up pictures of well-dressed people interspersed with some random out-of-blog shit like today’s post.

“Shit” you’ll like. (hopefully, at least).

Chalo, I’m going to read my book. Bye.

(Yes, guess I got the abruptness from boarding school too. We would just pop into another dorm and pop out saying,”Chalo, I’m going to read my book. Bye”.)




On the importance of being thick-skinned and well-dressed

I first heard the term “thick-skinned” when I was in school. As a gawky 12 year old, hearing a lanky senior (one with braces I think) look at us and yell, “How thick are you”, elicited more smirks than fear. And, then of course, I’d be up standing, punished, with two or three other girls for the “audacity to smirk” while we were being spoken to.

I wish smirks came more easily to me now.

The thing is, when you start working, when you pack your bags and leave the comfort of bed-tea and “Baby khana laga liya hai” (Dinner is ready) for “Dude, it was your turn to get the milk” and “muesli for breakfast- lunch-dinner”,  you change too.

I don’t know. Maybe the food you eat determines your skin thickness. Maybe having domestic help and a “bawarchi” who can bake cookies and cakes and make fantastic grilled chicken, thickens your skin to immense proportions. Maybe, it’s boarding school and 30 other girls who smirk and giggle with you at annoying seniors and turn their noses with you over “dumb bimbos” (yeah, no one told you, even you’d go through the “bimbo” phase) makes you invincible in your mind.

Hell, yeah. What could be worse than being boycotted in school. Right?


I don’t know whether life is indeed much tougher now, or my skin’s just lost its thickness (I think it’s the latter), but a lot of it stems from the mind.

Somehow in our heads, we all have this perfect impression of how life after school is supposed to be. You know. Like you walk into college. And you meet the best friends. You go on an open jeep to Goa and sing songs. You date a few losers but it’s cool. And then you graduate. Everybody is happy. You are nervous about finding a job. You think if you find something good, your “life is set”. So once you find your dream job, you think nothing can go wrong. People at work will just accept you to submit work like you did your assignments. And soon, they shall realise what a shining star you are with your dedication and your hard-work and your brilliant ass from which you shit stars and rainbows…


Before you walk into the corporate world, you’d better make sure you’re skin’s as thick as an elephant’s hide. Yes, you heard me.

Because, girl, people are going to talk. And talk they will of your clothes, your skin, your social-ness and your anti-socialness. Of your secret affairs, your not-so-secret-affairs and of course, the worst, your work. The work you pride yourself on, the work, that teachers in school praised you for.  The work that won you contests and awards. And the work, that the corporate world will reduce to a snigger, a jibe, an-offhand remark over the lunch table that’ll cause everyone listening to snigger and roll their eyes, a certain pride in them not being on the other end.

Yes. that’ll happen.

And no, work won’t always be like school. It won’t always be go to school, come back, read, chill enjoy. You will stress about promotions. You will stress about a bitchy boss, a competitive colleague and most of all, about how you think you are perceived by others. Which is why, GET THICKER SKIN GIRLS.

And, you will see your school friends on TV, you will see them buying a house, shopping at Louis Vuitton, travelling around the world, having the dream wedding, being featured in newspapers, eating out at the fanciest restaurants in the city, their skin like porcelain and bodies like figurines… their daddies like ATMs and husbands like Mr. Greys.

And your parents shall look at you expecting more.

Their one look saying the dreaded, “What did we make you study so much for, if you’re still going to ask us for money?”

So you don’t ask them for money. You don’t get your increment in time. And your maid wants you to pay her more because well, maid problems.

And nobody told you, you’ll have to deal with this.

Yes. Nobody said you’ll go to work and come back so tired that even though the travel websites and the BuzzFeeds of the world yell at you to “quit your job” and “do what you always wanted to do” and other surrealist-inspired nonsense (that you partially followed), you will end up slouched on your bed, passing out in between an episode of House of Cards hugging a bowl of oats lying half-eaten by your pillow.

And bills. Yes. Everybody always seems to forget the bills when they are dishing out “aspirational” advice through movies and websites. Go, join a “water-yoga”class, go “travel someplace to get lost”. Yeah. Right. Who’s going to pay for this? My Daddy?

Or me on my creative person’s meagre salary, a profession, that you advocated because guess what, “Follow your dream and forget the money and do what makes you happy.”

All of life, one big oxymoron.

The example of a handful who’ve “made it” setting unrealistic goals and expectations on those of us who haven’t. And selective revelation of just the candy-flossiness of other people’s lives lead us to find gaping holes in our own.

So, what if, we just did away with all this nonsense? What if we trained ourselves to get thicker skin, and woke up in the morning as though preparing for battle?  What if we armed ourselves up with the hottest clothes, the toughest jewellery and an unshakeable mind?

Cause this isn’t life, girls. This is war.


And, you don’t need to walk around town with a silly grin plastered on your face, as the “Be positive” rants online tell you to do. “Smile, come what may”, “expect good and good shall happen”… No, you need to be realistic, cause “shit is going to go down.” Might as well prepare for war, and if you get roses in return, you’ll truly appreciate it as you weren’t expecting it from the start. Know what I mean?

So, tomorrow when you wake up, walk to your wardrobe and pick your fanciest armour for the day. High heels or boots, little dresses or distressed denims, spaghetti straps or silk stockings. Pick your armour, wear it like a boss, and step out of your house, skin thickened, body dressed and mind ready for battle.

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I am sure a lot of people may have contrasting points of view to this opinion feature. Feel free to start a discussion. I look forwards to hearing what you all have got to say.