Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tell your Tale

I sometimes wonder how hard it must be for designers and advertisers to find the right image. First you conceptualize an advertisement and then what? Well, there are several ways to scale this mountain, you can spend a LOT of money and go shoot whats in your head (hey I don't mean literally shoot yourself in desperation), I mean engage a studio, a photographer, an art director and a whole bunch of people beyond that, just to produce that one image that will tell your brand's story. The second option is cheaper, faster, dynamic and very very easily available - Stock Photos.

We at in particular take pride in the fact that our images have told some big stories. We have been associated with domestic and international brands and our images have been lauded for having that touch of class not easily found with other Indian stockists. We personally believe our stronger point is making 'stock' buying and using easy for buyers. We research for you, we customize for you and most of all we think for you. With over 25,000 images now in circulation, we are sure we will have that one idea you want to see as an image.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Incredible Spa feeling

Spa’s seem to be the longest standing fad since boot cut jeans. Maybe there is more to spa treatments than meets the skin! I have always had a very practical approach to holistic treatments, apply only what can’t be consumed, for instance, why waste a whole papaya on your face, when you can eat half of it and create a benefit for your eyes and digestion. In fact fruit facials seemed almost absurd to me unless the fruit is too rancid to be eaten or generally tastes lousy.

The latest trend is veering towards even weirder products being applied all over the body, no matter how tempting chocolate is, it belongs in the mouth and nowhere else, unless you are considering it for intimate purposes, then that’s entirely a personal choice. But chocolate as a body pack just doesn’t seem right. The cocoa bean has numerous qualities, it has vitamins (A, B1, C, D & E), calcium and potassium, it even has endorphins, the chemicals that make a person happy. The main reason chocolate has won as a spa treatment is the anti oxidant properties it contains. Anti oxidants fight free radicals and free radicals are bad boys, they harm blood vessels, skin elasticity, the heart and worst of all, they are attributed to causing clusters of cancer cells. I guess that’s good enough reason for people to go find the closest Chocolate Spa treatment in their area. Chocolate is the only food substance I would suggest as an application, after all applying it would save you the calories but then again, is it worth the sacrifice? If chocolates have anti oxidants and all the other good stuff, then I would rather pop a piece in my mouth and rejoice.

The spa treatments that I completely agree with are of an entirely different nature. They have a science attached to them that is a little more gratifying and convincing than just “it’s good for you”. Massages for example, just regular massages can be the ultimate spa experience if done correctly. Use natural oils like coconut, olive or mustard (smoke it on a fire so the overpowering fragrance is reduced) or even a mild product like baby oil is great. Make sure the masseuse is either qualified, experienced or comes with great references, because he or she can hurt you.

Dim the lights, burn incense, lay out some flowers petals if you like flowers and just close your eyes. Let the stress slip out the soles of your feet and let strength seep into your neck and shoulders. There is a process for de-stressing during a massage, concentrate on every single part of your body, start with your toes. Relax your toes, let them be flaccid, move on to your ankles, the shin, the knees and so on. By the time you reach your forehead, you would have turned your body into a limp mass of person that requires an hour of kneading. Be the dough! Good massages can assist in digestion, weight loss, muscle strengthening, de-stressing and a general sense of well being. Massages can be had at home, at a spa or even your garden. In India, massages are a norm from the time a person is born. Infants as young as a few weeks old are gently massaged to help develop their dexterity, coordination and muscle strength. Almost all Indian children have been brought up on massages. Beyond the physical benefits, it is also a good way to bond with your baby.

Several holistic treatments that are age old remedies in Indian medicine (Ayurveda) are being adopted by Spa’s. Some of which are easy to replicate at home. The idea is to devote 2 hours a week to your body, that is sufficient time to take care of your hair, skin, teeth, nails and mind. Get a massage once a week, that’s 45 minutes and the rest of the time can be used for simple home treatments that are way more organic than anything in a bottle. If someone bottles consumables as body treatments there has to be a preservative involved, so when you use that product, you actually use the preservative too. There are a few simple recipes below that can give you a budget spa feeling within hours in your own home.

1 egg white (never use the yolk, that’s where the foul smell comes from)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive or coconut oil
1 tbsp yoghurt

Mix all the ingredients and apply to the scalp and hair for 15 minutes or till the egg white dries and makes your hair crispy. Wash with tepid water and don’t apply shampoo till the end of the day.

2 tbsp chickpea flour
1/s tsp lemon juice (natural bleach but very potent so be stingy)
1 tbsp fresh cream (it’s better to take it off the top of boiled milk but in a lot of countries milk is tetra packed so the next not so best thing is packaged dairy cream)
1/s tsp sugar

Mix all the ingredients, to make a paste you can use a teaspoon of milk if the liquids in the recipe are not sufficient to make a paste the consistency of putty. Apply on the face for 15 minutes, when it is drying, gently rub it off. The dry face pack will take off fine hairs on the face and the sugar will help exfoliate.


2 tbsp glycerin
1 tsp lemon juice

Dip your fingers in this mix for 10 minutes a week and watch your nails sparkle white and stay healthy and chip free.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

'Rakhi' means Love, Affection, Sweets & presents!

According to - “Raksha Bandhan’ or the ‘Rakhi’ festival is a sacred thread embellished with sister's love and affection for her brother. On the day of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ sisters tie a ‘Rakhi’ on their brother's wrist and express their love for him. By accepting a ‘Rakhi’ from a sister a brother gladly takes on the responsibility of protecting her sister. In Indian tradition the frail thread of Rakhi is considered stronger than iron chains as it binds brothers and sisters in an inseparable bond of love and trust. Rakhi holds immense significance in Indian cultural ethos. The custom of celebrating Rakhi started in Vedic times and even today brothers and sisters consider it must to celebrate the occasion in traditional manner. When brothers are away sisters send Rakhi to them and express their love. Accepting the Rakhi with grace brothers send Return gifts to their sister. This loving gesture goes a long way in strengthening brother sister relationship and building stronger family ties. The importance of Raksha Bandhan is same as Diwali festival in India.”

Those are the facts about ‘Rakhi’ but if you speak to regular people, each one will have a special anecdote, a special feeling and a special brother to talk about. India is a largely family oriented country and brothers are valued as much for their participation in family as they are for the sex they belong to. An Indian family is not considered complete without a son who is a brother for the daughter and an heir for the family name. Sadly this results in many socially and ethically untoward practices but this is not a forum to discuss those issues. This is a forum to talk about a lovely festival called ‘Rakhi’. For me it is especially exciting because I have a wonderful brother and 16 male first cousins. Rakhi as a day has been the same all my life, each and every ritual is carefully planned and executed, even now, when my aunts are way into their 70’s.

The festival celebrations are held in one of the home of the four sons my paternal grandfather had. We all gather there at noon and some of us meet only on these occasions. We would love to meet more often but life’s constraints don’t always make it easy. My father’s sisters abstain from eating till they have tied a ‘Rakhi’ on their brother’s wrists. The kids (us) on the other hand aren’t all that conscious, there are way too many sweets and snacks going around to keep this kind of familial discipline. Our 86 year old family cook (fondly called ‘Maharaj’) is still engaged to cook for this day. The fare is vegetarian but the variety is exceptional. Maharaj claims a cup of ‘ghee’ (clarified butter) gives him the strength to cook for over 40 people. In fact we have a dessert served every year called ‘Moong Dal Halva’. It's made of soaked and ground ‘Mung’ lentils, roasted in clarified butter and finally finished with sugar syrup. This needs to be constantly stirred for almost an hour and Maharaj can sit on his haunches and do this with 2-3 kilos of ground lentils. Thats one reason I spend a lot of time in the kitchen during such occasions; it’s the best place to learn nuances not available in cook books.

The ceremony lasts a while because we are so many of us. Beautiful, colorful threads are tied on our brother’s arms, the younger ones look adorable with their wrists full of garish sequin and paisley designs. The ‘Rakhi’ is tied, a vermillion ‘tika’ is applied to the forward with a touch of rice grains for auspicious reasons and a wide array of sweets are offered, all in return for a promise of TLC from our brothers and of course, a gift. When we were kids the gifts would range from books to shoes and gorgeous Indian salwar kameez’s picked by my aunts. Now that we are older, it’s even better, it’s cash! Fortunately for me, my brothers are successful, generous souls and the novelty in gift money is always there. Over the years I have stopped planning for this loot; it’s for me to waste. So this year I am off to malls right after lunch, I need to splurge and I believe Guess and Body Shop are on sale. Yippee!!