Friday, 28 December 2012


Mavalli Tiffin Room is a Bangalorian institution; It’s an awesome retauraunt near Lalbagh Gardens that serves up the best Dosa’s in the city!  It first opened in 1924 and I don’t think the interior has really changed much since then.  Alex and I had been meaning to visit for months and finally got round to it a couple of weeks ago.  Although it’s most famous for it’s Dosa’s we arrived too late for these so signed up for the Thali lunch instead.  We paid for our meal coupon and had an hour’s wait, so we crossed the road and wondered round Lallbagh Gardnens until our table was ready.  We were so hungry by then, that when we finally sat down and the food started to fill our trays I couldn’t wait for it all to be served before taking photo…this is the best I could do.

The dining hall

One of the kitchens

Crazy mirror

It was so tasty, and there was so much food, it just kept coming! We have to go back one morning soon to try their famous Dosa!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

In India For Christmas

We’re spending Christmas in India this year, my sister and her boyfriend are joining us (their flight lands in four hours and I CANNOT WAIT!!!!!!) one of our best friends from Uni is also coming over for New Year, but I’m pretty sad to not be spending it with the rest of our family so am determined to make this a Christmas to remember.  The next two weeks are crammed full with travelling and celebrating so things will be pretty quiet over here on Hip Shapes.  I’m not going to leave you completely, I’ve lined up a couple of posts to upload over the next couple of weeks, but for now…

Niki x

Friday, 14 December 2012

First ever DIY post - Snowflakes!

Every Friday, myself and three others volunteer at a school in a slum doing arts and crafts. It’s so much fun and even though I’m absolutely shattered at the end of it, I love it! We have two classes, one group is aged 5-6 and the others are 15-16, each week we have to come up with a different project and I think this week, our project for the older kids was my favourite yet. If you follow me on Twitter then you may have seen my picture of a paper snowflake that we made with the kids.
After I posted it, I had a couple of people ask me how to make them…so here it is, my first ever DIY post! It’s pretty picture heavy, but if you stick with me, you’ll be knocking these out in no time!

I can't take credit for these, one of the guys who volunteers with me showed us how to make them, I think it was his wife who discovered them. They're pretty simple aren't they!  I can't stop making them now, bet you can't either!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Gone In A Matter Of Minutes

Living in India means I’m constantly faced with unbelievable poverty and immense wealth sitting side by side. (I know this is going to sound terrible) but after while I find myself getting used to it. Not that it stops bothering me - I still see things that upset me –  more that I’ve just become more familiar with my surroundings so I get surprised much less and accept this is the way India is.

Last week however, that was turned on its head.  Just around the corner from our apartment is a street lined with little shops selling all the daily essentials - fruit, veg, water, etc, in some cases they are also home to the vendors. But today when I went down the street, I didn’t see the familiar faces, the children running about and the bustling street; instead it was a mess of broken homes, lost people and bull dozers.  It took my breath away.

I understand that things over here are complicated. These shops and homes were built out of scraps of metal, wood and plastic sheeting, illegally and the government was taking back its land. I also understand that they create other problems like prostitution and child abuse and can be so un-sanitary that they’re a real health hazard. But witnessing this destruction left me speechless and upset.  To witness their lives being ripped down in a matter of minutes...well it's hard to put into words.
These people who live and work here have done so for years and the community that's built up around them is vast. This isn't just a group of useless people squatting and being a nuisance, this is a group of people who have built a life for themselves in ridiculously difficult situations. They have set up businesses and are trying to earn a living to support themselves and their families.  Where these people will go and what they will do, I have no idea. They'll probably head to another part of town and try to re build their lives somehow, they may attempt to rebuild their lives here in a few months, but whatever happens, the 'problem' isn't solved it's just swept away and moved on – a ‘quick fix’ – only it’s not fixed.

Of course there are two sides to every story and I’m fully aware that I don’t know all the information.  I know it can be complicated; is it the classic big city immigration from the surrounding rural villages, arriving with no jobs, nowhere to live, not paying any taxes, using the water, hacking into the main electricity line while other, hard working Bangalorians are following the rules and paying taxes? Whatever the situation, as a visitor it’s hard to see, and hard to understand.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Bazaars Galore!

Before I went back to the UK, I visited Dastkar Nature Bazaar with some friends.  All the stall holders were from North India, so the crafts were a little different to what we usually see here in Bangalore.  As usual, it was a feast for the eyes and very hard to resist making the odd purchase…although mainly for friends and family I might add!


I’ve posted a few times about these flea markets in Bangalore, we’re lucky they’re a regular feature here – in fact, if you want to go along and see some of the local talent for yourself then you’re in luck, there’s not one but two in December.   Kitsch Mandi on 16th December and Sunday Soul Santé on 23rd December…I’ll see you there!!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Are you still there??

Yes, I know it’s been almost two months since my last post…and yes, I know that’s rubbish - REALLY rubbish.  I’ve just got back to Bangalore from our first trip back to the UK in 6 months.  We travelled the length and breadth of the country visiting friends and family and witnessed two of our close friends Matt and Na (of Naomi Draws and Pinhole and Paper ) tie the knot at a beautiful ceremony at Folly Farm. The first two weeks were over in a blink of an eye and before we knew it Alex had to leave and fly back to Bangalore for work.

I stayed on for another three weeks working nonstop seeing clients. It felt so good to be back in Bristol and working again.  Seeing old and new client’s everyday reminded me how much I love styling people…witnessing their confidence soar in just a few hours is so rewarding, I love it! Anyway, all this busyness meant that I had very little time to blog…and I’ll be honest, I just didn’t feel like I wanted to either.  I slipped back into life in the UK so quickly that when the time came to fly back, I was a little apprehensive.  Knowing that Alex was already in India, made leaving home a little easier but it was so good to catch up with my friends and family that leaving again wasn’t easy.

My visit back to the UK and return to Bangalore was made all the more confusing with a long weekend in Dubai with Alex, 4 days in Bangalore, a week in Thailand and now finally a chance to get back into it in Bangalore. An amazing few weeks but far from routine!

I’ve been back here for just over a week now and it’s taking me a little time to adjust. When I was back at home my business was running at full capacity, meaning I had clients everyday and some evenings too.  I barely had time to think!  My life over here is a stark contrast to that, it’s a very different pace and despite my best efforts I’m struggling to get back into the swing of things.  I actually have a looooooooooooong list of things to do, most of them things I couldn’t wait to come back to and start, but for some reason I can’t. 

I’ve been sitting here for most of the day trying to get just one thing done – this post - but I‘ve just found it so hard.  I had plans for a festive fashion post and another three ways to wear, but instead the apartment is sparkly clean and there’s no dirty washing in the laundry basket anymore.   As for doing the productive, exciting things I’ve been planning? Nothing yet...  So this is my attempt at getting back into it.  And while it’s possibly a little dull for you, it’s actually been great for me. Admitting that I’m finding it hard to settle back in here isn’t easy to do, but I think acknowledging it has given me the kick up the bum that I need to get on with things.

So if you’re still following, please stick with me; I plan to make up for my blogging hiatus. Here’s a sneaky peek of what’s to come…

See you again soon!! x


Sunday, 9 September 2012

An Indian Inspired, Three Ways To Wear

Living in India was always going to influence my style choices; I mean how could it not?!   Every day is an assault on the senses.  Colourful concoctions of beautiful beaded saris and bold indo-western fashions hit me on a daily basis, I love it and it’s bound to impact on my own style in some way.

I know I’m not alone, I see many expats over here fully embracing Indian styles, but most of the time, they don't tweak it to make it work for them and their style, they just copy it. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it doesn’t work for me.  I’ve tried Indian outfits on but I don’t feel like me in them.  I struggle to make the Indian styles mine and find my own style gets lost a little…that is up until a few weeks ago, when it all clicked into place.

Al and I spent the weekend in Wayanad (a beautifully tropical place, in north east Kerala). While we were there we met Rocío and Nando, a couple from Seville who were travelling south India for a few weeks.  One evening, Rocío turned up to the bar wearing a beautiful pair of silk patterned trousers, teamed with a plain vest, denim shirt and leather sandals. It was the perfect mix of Indian and western style…and the inspiration I had been looking for.

Here’s Rocio in another of her beautiful purchases:

I’m still on the lookout for a pair of trousers to rival Rocío’s, but for now I’m making do with this pair I spotted in Zara (yes, the love affair with Zara still goes on).  It’s a very different look for me, but I really like it and they are SOOOOOOO comfortable to wear.  I’m also really impressed with how versatile they are…I’m loving them with neon and studs. Every now and then, I know the time has come for me to develop my style and try something new…so that's exactly what I did.

Friday, 31 August 2012

I Can't Believe It Took Me So Long!

Well, I’ve finally finished my first attempt at making jewellery.  It’s taken a few months to get to this point…and a few kicks up the backside, but I’m so pleased to have started.  Moving to a new country is a BIG thing and it’s so hard being away from my family and friends, so I’ve found myself focusing on meeting people and making friends for the past five months.  Now, I feel it’s time to start doing some of the other things I had planned to do over here, one of which is delve into this bead box and start creating.

So here it is - my first creation.  I wanted to design a statement piece that encompassed all the elements I love (except for studs, but they’ll feature soon, no doubt) leather, lace and beads. Most of the beads featured are from an old necklace my granny gave me, and it’s great to actually be using them finally.  The lace was sourced in Mysore, here in India, and the rest is a mixture of old and new. 

I had so much fun pulling this together and once I’d started, the ideas just kept flowing…so watch this space!


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Bike riding…in a lake

A couple of weeks ago, Al and I went mountain biking.  For me, it was the first time in over a year (I know, that’s a LONG time!).  I used to mountain bike quite a bit a few years back, but then for a number of reasons –  the main one being that we spent every free hour, and penny, renovating our flat in Bristol – it became a rare thing. 

I was always a fair-weather rider so when we’d finished the flat and had more free time to go riding again, the British weather gave me plenty of excuses to put it off.  You see, I’m not naturally a sporty person.  I hated it at school and would try anything to get out of school sports day.  So when I stopped riding, I forgot how much I enjoyed it and was convinced that I’d be terrible at it…and super unfit. Me being me, I preferred to stay away from my bike, instead of going out and proving myself wrong.

Moving to India has felt a bit like a new start for me.  I have plenty of opportunity to do what I want to do and to try new things, so it seemed like the right time for me to get out on my bike again and remind myself what I was missing…and with the weather being great over here, I've run out of excuses.  

It took us a while to work out where to go riding.  The roads in Bangalore are the worst place to ride a bike so it needed to be somewhere rural.  Eventually we discovered Hesaraghatta Lake; it looked like there was a trail going all the way round, making it a great place for a first ride. It turned out that the lake had dried up a few years ago, like many of the lakes in and around Bangalore.  As for the trail, well it was a ‘make it up as you go along’ type route. It was a strange sight, but an awesome place to ride…the trails were dry, the sun was shining and with there being no water, we had plenty of open space to play with. 

Storing our bikes has proved a little tricky, as we don't have a garage or garden, but we think we've found the perfect place:

I’m sure there will be more bike related posts like this in the future, with there being so few places to cycle in Bangalore, it makes sense to document the good rides we’ve found.