Reading Gay parade

Snapshots from Reading Gay parade. Pics credit: Suruchi Sharma Diwan


Beer deserves respect

To beer or not to beer!
I admit, I don’t know much about drinks. In fact, it is only recently that I’ve educated myself on the different kinds of wines and beers and other spirits that are available. A lager, a cider or an ale – for me, they were all the same, except for the colour. Blasphemous, you say!!
But, now that I know, I appreciate and enjoy the taste, smell and the quality that each has, and this interview is for those, who are passionate about their beer. In conversation with George F Reisch, a 5th generation brewmaster, who wants to bring back the respect that beer deserves world over. Read on...  
Brewmaster George F Reisch
You are a 5th generation brewmaster. How was it growing up in that culture and carrying forward such a legacy?

It was very interesting. I grew up in a German brewing factory, which was owned by my dad. So, from the moment I was born, I was basically around beer. Our house was on the brewery property. As a young boy, I played in the brewery. And all those smells and aromas that are a part of a brewery go very deep into your brain stems and they become a part of your personality. And you get a love of beer that is more than just intellectual. It is sensory, and intellectual, and everything else. And that stayed with me my entire life. So, for me, it was just such a natural choice of a vocation to want to spend my career in brewing.

You are known to combine beer with food and creating interesting culinary experiences. How did you get into this 'food for beer' experience?

Combining food with beer is a very old tradition. It is as old as humanity. Beer has always been around. Our ancestors discovered that drinking water when contaminated was dangerous, causing death. But when fermented, the danger no longer existed. So, they started to have beer with every meal, in fact they started cooking in beer. The oldest meal ever discovered had beer in it - it was a beer recipe - written in the form of a song; and that is how it was passed from one generation to another. People say this culture of combining food with beer is new, but I say no, it's always been there. It's just that it is being rediscovered now.

How do you see this culture of beer growing in India?

If I can predict correctly, I think beer will grow so much more if the aspect of beer complementing food is brought in India. Food and beer is like two wonderful people marrying each other and I find that very interesting. Especially in India, where you use a lot of spices. Beer works very well with spices.

And what makes beer pairings different than wine pairings?

If you pair a food with a beer, and it overshadows the food, it's a bad pairing. The food is the bride, and the beer is the bridesmaid. Now, a wine person will never say that about wine. They want to taste the wine, foremost. I'd explain it like this - we all have friends who are kind and never ask for anything. That's beer. Then you have other friends who walk in the room and someone will be crying and they'll say, do you guys like the way my hair looks?

... That's wine?

Yes. Wine is kind of like that. Wine is snobbish, beer is humble
Happy beer days!
You were in India recently on a celebrity Brewmaster Tour. What were you looking for in a zythologist?

People call me a beer connoisseur, a zythologist, but for me, those who love beer and are passionate about it, are true zythologists. Knowing the aroma, the colour and knowing which food works best with it, are all factors that make a good zythologist. Also, I want to bring back the respect that beer deserves. It is a very complicated and sophisticated drink, and it deserves all the respect. If I could speak on behalf of the beer, it will say, 'pour me in a glass and see what I look like. Taste me. Experience all my flavour notes. I hope you're enjoying your food. I'm just a humble beer, but I want you to like me'.


Make it a stylish holiday

Any holiday is incomplete without the right wardrobe! If you are wondering how to dress for yours this season, take a look at these handy points.

1) When in doubt, you can never go wrong with a sundress! It's the perfect clothing item for a tropical getaway. You can wear it with a hat and flip-flops for a sun outing or dress it up with a statement neckpiece for an evening beach-shack dance party.

Taylor Swift in cute summer dresses
2) For a tour around town, wear your go-to pair of jeans with a classic knit tee and sneakers. Throw on a printed scarf to add some detail and style to this uber-casual look!

3) Get yourself a sheer wrap dress or sarong for those long strolls on the beach. It's a lightweight cover-up that won't weigh down on your style quotient!

Trendy beachwear to glam up your holiday
4) Want to save yourself from the sun and still look like a million bucks? The sun-hat is an accessory that promises both. Choose a material and colour based on where you'll be travelling and how sturdy that hat needs to be!

5) A good pair of shorts is a warm-weather travel staple that will survive pretty much anything. Choose from cotton or denim options and pair it with a tank top or a fun shirt. Wear loafers, sandals or platforms and voila! You're ready to discover the world.

6) Whether you're out for some hardcore hiking or a casual stroll, never forget to carry your trustee backpack to store essentials.

7) Remember, happy colours make for great travel photos! So make sure you pack all your jolly brights to be picture-perfect every second of your escapade!

8) A bandana is a cheat code to putting on an air of relaxation. Its effortlessly hippie feel is sure to make you lose all your worries, and put you in the mood for that holiday cocktail!

Bandana to the rescue
9) Wear a cropped top with a high-waisted skirt for an instantly glamorous silhouette, be it day or night!

10) Packing for a holiday is an exciting act in itself, but one mustn't forget to pack in style! Invest in a funky suitcase to ensure you're feeling the excitement of your getaway all the way there!

In love with the hourglass silhouette

Corsets by Deborah Brand
“Always believe in yourself and stay humble – that’s my mantra for success and that is what I would advise women who want to get into business or want to become an independent entrepreneur,” says the highly acclaimed London-based fashion designer, Deborah Brand.

The desire to reduce the waist and enhance body’s natural curves is every woman’s dream and making this dream come true for thousands of women is what Deborah excels at. Twenty-five years into the business, Deborah says, she started her journey by designing under the cult 90’s label Sub Couture. Her first corset dress was commissioned exclusively by the famous department store Harrods, and was sold out within weeks of hitting the shop floor. Encouraged by the positive response, Deborah went solo, moved to New York and launched Deborah Brand Couture.
Corsets by Deborah Brand for that perfect hourglass silhouette
Sharing her incredible journey, Deborah says, “I’ve been a designer all my life. I started by designing the classic collection and three years later, I designed the classic corset. I kept designing and re-designing corsets until I produced my first ‘perfect corset’ with 41 exclusively designed bones with 8-12 panels.”
Soon, her corsets were in demand everywhere – she sold to most major accounts in the UK including Selfridges, Liberties, Joseph, House of Frazer, Cruise Flannel, Psyche, Geese and Sarah Coggles. Her international exposure was equally as impressive as she sold to over 100 accounts worldwide including Ludwig Beck (Germany), Stig P (Denmark), Joyce (Hong Kong), Barneys (New York) and Nordstrom (USA).

Why corsetry, we asked. “I have always been inspired by the shape of a woman’s body, basically the hourglass silhouette – so when it came to designing the perfect collection, it became apparent to me that it had to be a corset,” Deborah explains, adding, “It epitomises everything I work for, and everything that I consider to be beautiful about making a dress. For me it starts with structuring a corset. They are the most beautiful thing and have come a long way from being just an undercloth to a fashion must have.”

The best thing about Deborah’s corsets are the simple and unusual lines that make them a perfect fit for all body types. Available in four different styles – Mila, Rosie, Georgia and Freja – her corsets are precision made, with every possible attention to detail, and are lined with butter silk duchess satin and soft precise padding.

Enhance your curves
Her designs have adorned the most glamorous celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Demi Moore, Kylie Minogue and more. Ask her if she has any favourites among her clients and she says, “All these women are beautiful and I loved dressing each one of them.” Does she have any favourites in terms of best dressed celebrities? “Salma Hayek. I think she has beautiful curves. I also like Beyonce and Adriana Lima. They both are very sensual in the way they dress.”
As a fashion statement and even as a tool to reduce weight and waist, the demand for corsets is at an all-time high. EBay recently reported a 185% rise in the number of corsets being sold over the last three months. However with these reports, there have also been debates on how wearing corsets can harm your body and weaken your spine. Addressing this issue, Deborah says, “As a nation, we are becoming larger and age certainly is unkind to the stomach. Earlier women used to let go, now they are more conscious about their appearance. Corsets makes them look and feel beautiful and by wearing them they can achieve the desired vintage silhouette. That explains the increasing demand for corsets. As far as health issues are concerned, supressing your waist by 4-5 inches is fine. Beyond that and we advise our customers against it. Back in the Victorian era, women used to go to the extreme by clinching their waist up to 16 inches. That is extremely unhealthy.”

Corsets by Deborah Brand
With the love and fascination of corsets continuing to rise, Deborah now works exclusively with her clients to offer them a highly personalized and luxurious experience. What about her future plans? “Apart from corsets I do wedding dresses, and in the future I will get into dress designing with corsets in them, but for now, I’m just really enjoying the art of corsetry. Being able to make people look fantastic is incredibly satisfying,” beams Deborah.

Pics credit: Deborah Brand


Fiesta Fruit Triffle

Fiesta Fruit Triffle

Being a major sweets junkie, I crave for new desserts all the time. But, one has to keep a check on what ingredients are going in and how many calories you intake. Now you can't always keep a check on these things if you are eating outside or ordering a takeaway. So, I always scour the internet for dessert recipes that are easy to make and are healthy at the same time. So, here it is, another dessert recipe that is so easy to make and tastes heavenly - Fiesta Fruit Triffle. Again, this recipe was picked from This particular recipe serves one and has a preparation time of just 15-20 minutes.

Any good Fruit Cocktail (I personally prefer Del Monte), Chilled & Drained - 100 grams
Digestive Biscuits - 1 no
Whipped Cream - 20 - 25 grams
Cinnamon powder - To taste
- Chill & whisk the cream until soft peaks.
- Arrange pieces of a digestive biscuit on the bottom of a dessert cup / dessert bowl & sprinkle a tbsp of syrup from fruit cocktail can on it.
- Spread the Whipped cream on top of biscuits. Arrange the Fiesta Fruit Cocktail.
- Garnish with a swirl of whipped cream & a piece of cherry, chill and serve.

Travel your blues away

Scenic and beautiful: Yorkshire

Just back from a mini vacation in Yorkshire, I felt that I absolutely had to write this piece on why travelling/ or taking a vacation is so important. It’s been a year now for me in the UK and I can safely say this, with a hand on my heart that for me, traveling is the new elixir of life.
Ok, so let me put it this way. How often is it that you talk about the trials and tribulations of life? How you feel that your job is getting strenuous and your mind is getting stressful? How you need a break and how you crave for a vacation to relax and unwind. My guess is as good as yours – almost all of us feel the same. And all these are symptoms of a stressed mind and body.

Stress - that’s killing us slowly, that is sucking the daylights out of us human beings and turning us into nervous wrecks. Okay excluding the ‘boss types’, their lives might be a bit easier than us mortal humans but then, they too have their share of decision-making stress. Well, the point is all of us have our own home-grown version of job-related stress. It is time that we do something about it, and what best way to fight it out than by going on a vacation.

Vacations have the potential to break into the stress cycle. Not only would you emerge from a holiday feeling ready to take on the world again, you are also likely to gain new perspectives to fix your problems. Apart from that vacations are the best way of relaxing with your families or with your friends.

While there is no denying that traveling opens up your mind and takes your mind off that undue stress, but an unplanned or unorganised planning trip might add to your stress than take any away. So, it is best to keep certain things in mind before you plan your stress busting holiday. Here’s the checklist:

Plan in advance
This is no 1990s people. You don’t need to go to the library or depend wholly and solely on your travel agent to help you plan and book a trip. This is the internet age and you can finalise the location, the hotel room, the view from your balcony and everything that you can think of all at the click of a button. Go online and browse through the destinations that you would like to go to, then finalise a place as well as your itinerary before packing your bags for the big trip.

Leave the guilt home
Relax and unwind: You deserve every bit of that break
You DESERVE it. Yes. Every human being worth its while has the right to enjoy a few days of peace and calm without a single worry over his head. So, if you are taking time out to go on a vacation, khud par ek ehsaan karna, leave that guilt of – What will happen in office in my absence? Am I doing the right thing? What will my boss think? – home. You don’t need this extra baggage.

Make it an adventure
Now, everyone has a different idea of adventure. For some, adventure is rafting in white waters of Rishikesh and for some it is exploring an unknown destination like villages of Assam. Whatever your idea of adventure is, make sure you do a few things out of your comfort zone. Relaxing at the beach with a book in hand is good, but how about going surfing on those beach waters? Doing something different will make it an adventure.

Be ready for adversities
Though vacations are happy times, god forbid if anything goes wrong, you should be in a position to help yourself and your family. So take this practical advice and keep a medical box handy for medical emergencies. If travelling abroad keep xerox copies of your passport and visa. Travel light, not just in terms of clothes, but also in terms of cash, so that you don’t have to worry about it.

Take home memories
Yes.. I was there :)
Vacations are the best way of making memories and then cherishing them later. Camera rolls ke zamane gaye. Now you don’t have to worry about carrying 10 rolls of film for a 10-day trip. Digital cameras have made life much easier so that you can click hundreds of pictures and make hundreds of memories.

Another way of taking that memory of your vacation back home with you is by buying souvenirs. Those kitchen magnets or those small trinkets make for perfect nostalgic pieces that would remind you of those good old days.
Keep these small pointers in mind and set out to sail. Give that stress a break and go out to reclaim your life… after all you only live once, and it isn’t worth dying behind the desk. Is it?
All pictures copyright: Suruchi Sharma Diwan