Its been a while since I last blogged. Exams and entrance tests had me preoccupied. A lot has happened since then. I graduated (suddenly, college was over and it was time to say goodbye to college-slacker-days) and turned twenty one. I spent most of my summer in Europe, (Paris and London) a generous graduation/21st birthday present from my mum and aunt. Thank you guys! The next couple of post are going to be about my trip. I always feel like a changed person after a gorgeous holiday. Traveling gives me a new perspective on life, not to mention great experiences and lots of shopping! I vowed to keep a ‘travel journal’ but you know that solemn vows like those are rarely kept! To top it all, my bag got stolen at a bar in London and with it went my camera which had some fun photos from Paris and the Henley Royal Regatta. Oh well! I’m going to try and share my trip with you as best as I can through my words!
Paris and London. Two of the greatest, most beautiful and alive cities in the world. Three weeks does not do justice. Those three weeks are a delicious hazy mix in my brain right now so I’m going to start in reverse order and hopefully I'll be able to unravel my holiday for you in some vaguely coherent fashion!
I was in Paris with my cousin sister Anjali (half Indian, half American and totally gorgeous…I’m related to her from the Indian side..obviously). Anj was doing a stint with Warner Bros., Paris, and I joined her in Paris for her last week. We bid adieu to Paris with a heavy heart (to make it worse, it was a gorgeous, sunny Sunday afternoon) and made our way to Gare du Nord to catch the EuroStar to London. It was as if Paris felt a little bad for us and threw in a little farewell treat for us in the form of Tsonga! The adorable tennis star was coming back from Wimbledon after defeating Federer (and eventually losing to Djokovic..but the point is he beat Feds!). There we were, Anj and me, with our ridiculous load of luggage ('We're too girls,in a cool city and we need our shoes!'), taking in the Paris air one last time when we saw him! We totally spazzed out and began jumping around, shrieking incoherently and excitedly (‘Ohmygod! Ohmygod! Holyshit its Tsonga!!! Aaaa!’). Now I’m not a massive sports geek but seeing a ‘celebrity’ is always fun! So those were our last moments in Paris and we got onto our train headed to London. Before I left I had my last cigarette on the platform and made it a point to say ‘Merci! Au revoir!’ to the ticket lady. I had to!
A few hours and a ham-n-cheese sandwich later, we were in London. My aunt lives in London and so end up going to London quite often (though not as often as I would like to!) and while it no longer has novelty of a new city, I still love it! I mean, who doesn’t love London in the summer?! The London Summer is all about concerts, too much drinking, staying out late because the-night-is-young-and-we're-fabulous and strolls down Portobello Market. We did walk around Portobello, for meals and general chilling, since my aunt lives right round the corner in Notting Hil. But I only managed to get quality time with Portobello towards the fag end of my trip. Here is a little piece on Portobello that I did for a magazine I’m applying to for work,post college. Work! How dull! But I’m 21 now and that’s real life.
London weather is notoriously fickle. But if you happened to luck out on some glorious sunshine, then there is no other place that you would rather be than Portobello Market. For a delicious dose of ‘Cool Brittania’, Portobello Market on a Saturday morning is your go-to place. It is where hipsters and ex-hippies, along with a generous representation of the American Tourist (yes, they are a phenomenon during the European summer) show up on a Saturday morning.
Start your morning off at the trendy little breakfast place, which was once a community centre or at Charlie’s Café, which is right on Portobello Road. A cappuccino along with a generous helping of Eggs Benedict is necessary sustenance for all the walking and browsing that comes with a Portobello Morning. Armed with a good breakfast, your RayBans from the 90s and a great camera, you are set to take on and take in Portobello.
Seasoned Londoners often talk about the ‘trendification’ of Notting Hill and Portobello Market. It is true that quaint cafes and quirky, one-of-a-kind boutiques, have been replaced by the biggies-American Apparel, Kurt Geiger and Café Nero to name a few. Ledbury Road, just a bend-in-the-road away, is lined with everything from Ralph Lauren to the usual suspect Parisian brands like Joseph and Zadig&Voltaire. Portobello Market, popularised by the film ‘Notting Hill’ has become a major tourist hub. This, however, does not make it a less worthwhile visit. On a Saturday morning, Portobello Road goes back to its Sex Pistols roots. The grunge-cool of the punk-rocker era and vintage-chic of the ‘Teds’ is what its all about. From the way the seasoned cruisers of Portobello dress to the innovative window displays of shops selling nick-knacks and brick-bracks, there is a decisive and rather infectious air of nonchalant ‘cool’. For a street-style photographer, this place is like a candy store because here, the streets indeed have style. Patti Smith look-alikes lean against graffiti walls, carelessly dangling a cigarette between ring-bedecked fingers. Portobello is also famous for its antique shops and the wonderful cockney accents of the antique sellers. You can be sure to be greeted with a “ ‘alo luv!” as you walk into one of the many charming, antique treasure troves that dot Portobello.
If antiques do not quite catch your fancy (or the more likely scenario of exceeding the budget), there are plenty of stalls selling Vivienne Westwood sunglasses (from the 80s, of course) and records of The Who. Incredible vintage stores like ‘One Of A Kind’ are worth stepping into. If the innovative, incredibly fun window displays have not yet lured you into the shop, the uber-cool shop assistant welcoming you with ‘Come on in! Come play dress up!’, definitely will! Though these stores may be pricier compared to the deals one could score at the make-shift stalls, you are more or less assured of quality and authenticity.
For lovers of architecture, there is the bleak yet fascinating Trellic Towers. Designed in the Brutalist style by the architect Erno Goldfinger, this building was originally public housing, with a rather notorious reputation in the 70s, and has now become something of a landmark in this part of town. Though most of the building is still designated for social housing, the ‘trendification’of this entire neighbourhood has made this building desirable, privately-owned property, largely due to its cult status.
A word of caution before one sets out to explore. While Portobello may look like the place where the cool but impoverished artist hangs out, it is by no means inexpensive. Having said this, great deals (like a vintage Nicole Farhi skirt for 30 pounds) are not tough to come by. Nonetheless, watch your purse for pickpockets and deceptive bargains! Also, Portobello on a Saturday (particularly if the weather hold holds up) can get manically busy. So for all those serious antique shoppers, head out early. Portobello is as much about the vibe it is about the shopping, so keep your eyes wide open and let the uniquely-Portobello vibe take over!
So that’s Portobello for you. That piece of writing sounds kind of tourist-guide-ish, but it was for a magazine, so you must forgive me. I didn’t manage to take any photographs (not taking my own advice of taking a camera, classic) but I did do a ‘shoot’ featuring a jacket I bought (at a little store in Notting Hill acutally, not Portobello, but its cute nonetheless!). I was up late one night going though the copy of i-D magazine that I picked up at the airport and the temptation to do a ‘cool’ shoot caught me. So here some photos ,which I thought capture the ‘Cool Britania’ vibe that I can’t get enough of and of course, shows off my new jacket. Oh! And these TopShop jeans that I’m obsessed with!
|The Essentials: Boots, Skinny jeans and a cigarette.|
|The Swag B)|
The Inspiration: androgyny; borrowed-from-the-boys-look; my fav Britons.