Pakistani Dress Elegance
Marina in Magenta and Burgundy
For Pakistani dress elegance, Marina models and describes some traditional and modern styles:
Magenta Shalwar Kameez
My mum had the Magenta Dress made a little over 25 years ago. My grandparents basically had a dozen or so fancy outfits made for my mum so that she would have some nice items to wear for special events and what not. This dress in particular is called a shalwar kameez The kameez was the long shirt that I was wearing with slits on either side. A shalwar is basically a pair of pants that goes with the kameez, I don’t know where the shalwar went for this outfit. The entire dress was hand embroidered with bead work on crinkled georgette. I wore leggings with the kameez because nowadays its okay to mix and match. Some girls in Pakistan wear leggings with fancy dresses. Leggings are similar to another type of traditional shalwar called churidar.
White Kameez with Burgundy Dupatta:
I bought the white kameez from a very popular Pakistani online boutique called Khaadi. This kameez is more traditional, less trendy, and often worn on a daily basis (less fancy- without the embroidery). The Dupatta (long scarf) is, in my opinion, the touch that makes the outfit. My mum had it made from the same designers/tailors that made the magenta shalwar kameez 25 years ago. She had a few others made in the same style to wear with plain shalwar kameez. It is completely hand embroidered! This type of embroidery is called Tilla. Tilla embroidery has a heavy Mughal influence and is done by using a fine needle and gold or silver thread. This dupatta was made using the Karchobi technique. Embroidery was considered a very high art form in the past. The Mughals were all about opulence and art; it still is, but sadly, machines have taken over much of the work of artisans. Here is a really good article on this topic:
The pants that I wore with this outfit are more of a western play on the traditional shalwar. They are more fitted and cropped like capris. The shoes are called khussa, brought last year from Pakistan. The pair that I have are not as fancy, I do have ones that are beaded. Khussa are traditional handmade leather slippers-also heavily influenced by the Mughal empire. More information/history can be found here:
For more on traditional costumes from around the world, see also:
Portugal Street Photography From Porto
Porto, at any time, is pure Portugal street photography pleasure. If you like an old European feel of real live characters this city will reward with more than a glancing blow. A stream of Portugal street life will flow for you around every corner. Just follow the stoned pavement. The setts, often confused with cobbles, will take you to the usual suspect in public markets, cafes and street activities. Bolhao is rumoured to be one of Europe’s finest food markets with the opportunity to observe fish mongers and the daily pick fruit, just off the vine vegetables under an opaque crinolined roof. Light streams in as you barter for specialities of dried pig’s heads or goose neck barnacles. How about Portugal’s mainstays, honey or fresh figs? It is all here and the man and his daughter are at the entrance to welcome you with his music machine that filters the market as you make your fresh daily choices.
After Portuguese marketplace mania move out into the cobblestone streets. Clattering around on those ancient rocks is all the charm while you are looking for what they will spill out around the next corner! Take in more Portuguese living with a slow coffee at the shop nearby. You can see Portuguese going about their daily routines, shopping and talking and gawking and interacting with the ubiquitous pigeons.
Late afternoon sun brings out the other ever present Porto scene, people gathered in squares and cafes to discuss the topic of the day. Politics and economy always skirt around local gossip and beautiful people.
For more on northern Portugal and pigeons in the streets of the world, see also:
Living The Streets Bolhao Market Entrance Entertainment, Porto, Portugal ©heathersimondsphotography.com
Arshan Siberia People and a Few Cows
Mountain Town Sublime
Arshan, Siberia is a mountain town nestled at the foot of snow capped Sayan Range. There are a few things that you should know before you venture up the less beaten track from Lake Baikal to experience it.
Water – Arshan is famed for it and visitors come from all over Russia for the water experience. The name Arshan comes from the Buryat word for “spring”. People come to gulp it, there are bottle filling stations everywhere. If they are not imbibing, they are partaking in it, in a spa sort of way. If neither or both are for you, you can also take in a hike along a mountain stream if you do not want to drink or immerse in it.
Yawn – if it is nightlife you want, you had better take the next bus back down to Lake Baikal. Better still, head on back east to Ulan Ude or west to Irkutsk, where you might be able to find a semblance of nightlife. Otherwise, you will be stuck listening to the boom box output of visiting Russians. Besides vodka, it is part of the remote vacation experience in Russia.
Kids – They make it easy. Discover community life through the eyes of the children. Whether visitors or locals, around the world, curious and innocent, naive and open, kids are kids.
Outdoors – it is a nature kind of place with hikes in some of the purest air available on the continent. Take a breath.
Vodka – is more available than groceries. Walls of it. The convenience store walls are reserved for vodka and the small display case in the center has edibles. Vodka prevails over food, get used to it.
Cows are almost as available as vodka. You can meet them on the main street, in the back alleys and just about everywhere else. If the owners do not pay attention to them they come calling.
For more on travel in Siberia and Russia see also:
Arshan Siberia People of the Saran Mountains
The easiest way to meet local Siberian people of Arshan is to take a room with someone local when you disembark from the bus upon arrival. If you were delayed locating the minibus or mashtuka parked at the railway in Ulan Ude or Irkutsk, then you may make your first encounter in darkness or you may not be able to partake in a unique accommodation scheme for a quaint cottage in a Siberian mountain village. SO do not dally leaving for the four to eight hour trip, depending on your disembarkation point, into the Saran Mountains.
What? Book a room with a total stranger? Someone who you meet at the bus station? Someone who loads you into a rambling Soviet era vehicle and totters you off to destination unknown? Perhaps you will be more relaxed about the proposition when you find out that security maxim “everyone does it” is in play. Also, if you are the type that forms an impression at first sight, kerchief covered babushkas, or their male counterpart, can lessen your sleeping with a stranger fears. They typically look and are pretty harmless on the people nabbing scale.
How will you find the potential renters? They will be near their vehicles holding cardboard signs with the equivalent of “rooms available” scratched in local dialect. They wait for local buses plying through town with visitors in need of a bed and shelter. It does not matter that you cannot read the sign, as the cardboard offer is your ticket. If dusk is approaching and a downpour is settling in, this may be your only opportunity to keep your head warm and dry in the Saran Mountains.
As for my experience, assuming they knew as much English as we knew Uralo-Siberian we briefly exchanged over our few choices and selected two typical ladies unlikely to do us any harm if the mission failed. We gave them the favourable nod, tossed bags in the back of their seasoned station wagon and rumbled through wide, dirt streets and back alleys to our home away from home. They nattered to each other as we mused on how our paths in life are oddly determined sometimes. Arshan is enchanting, even at nightfall and with inclement weather. Wooden timber homes, brightly painted, shuttered windows and immaculate gardens with mist covered mountains. Did I mention the place would steal your heart? After a brief inspection of our cottager quarters, followed by an even briefer price negotiation, we give the international nod of approval. What choice did we have? She spent an extra minute showing us how the functional spa operated and we never saw her again. We did not even know where the center of town was and it could rain for our entire stay. Rummy anyone?
Clean and quiet, are these not the basic requirements of a traveler abode? Spartan may not always be top of the list but we got that along with a sauna for good measure. And, did I mention the price was under $10 a night.
This local accommodation scheme is unique and accomplishes the job of matching needs. Low on state of the art technology, high on low tech transportation and architecture. No internet connection required, just an open mind.
For more on travel in Siberia and Russia, see also: