When I started this blog, I set out to share everything I am learning and share how I am growing as a South Asian Woman.  I set out with so many ideas, so many things I wanted to share with you (literally, I wrote out my focus for a years worth of weekly blog entries – over 52 ideas).  But, it has been difficult.  I didn’t even get to write even a quarter of what I wanted to share.  

It has been a difficult year, filled with lots of growing pains, that sometimes dragged me down.  But I am out of the trenches now, starting to feel like my old self again, but a much stronger person with a lot more focus to make her dreams happen.  

And that is what I am setting out to do.  I am saying goodbye to this blog to focus on bettering my life, enriching my soul, pursuing my dreams, taking risks, and becoming the woman that is hidden inside of me raging to come out.   Thank you to everyone that has supported me along the way.  It has meant so much to me.  I have been so blessed in my entire life to have the people by my side that I do, and have been given the joys I have been given – truly Blessed and Lucky and extremely Thankful.  

Setting off in the world to receive and be grateful for all my blessings.  

My final tip: If you lost your way – Let go, focus on your happiness, and pursue what makes you happy.  It will be hard work, it will be sacrifices, but it will all be worth it!




Fall Fashion: Capes 

Back with another installment on fall fashion. This time, with a trend that can be a classic depending on what you buy – CAPES (or ruana or poncho)! For a really really really long time, I have admired a camel cape with leather strap buckles similar to this one at Zara (they have one every Autumn/Winter Season). 

My only hesitation with investing in this cape was how practical it would actually be (meaning will it keep this girl who is ALWAYS cold, warm enough). I tend to be more into practical fashion in the winter – goal is to keep me warm!

Back to the point, capes are making a comeback and have been super trendy the past few fall/autumn seasons. This camel cape from Zara or something similar would be a great item to invest in if you want a closet staple piece. However, if you are unsure if capes will keep you warm (like I was!), you can start off by buying something trendier and friendlier on the budget. (Sometimes, a good classic staple piece can end up costing more than a trendy piece).

Last year, this Burberry color block cape/blanket poncho was all the rage in Hollywood and in Bollywood. Just look how good it looks on Deepika! Unfortunately, the $1,400+ price tag on this cape was WAY out of my budget.







But luckily, many stores carry pieces that are similar to this. On our little Italian getaway this year, I managed to find a similar piece for a SUPER fraction of the cost. It looks just as great and it actually keeps me warm (it is wool after all!). 


The easiest way to style it (and keep warm) is to rock it with a basic pair of jeans, warm sweater and boots – versatile fall look with pieces that you may already have in your closet. All you need to add/buy is the cape!

Outfit details

Cape: Local market in Italy

Sweater: Banana Republic Factory Store

Jeans: Rock & Republic, Kohls

Boots: Vince Camuto, Macy’s

Purse: Mulberry  

Sunnies: Vintage Valentino

Missing: A big floppy felt hat!

Now where to find these capes/ruanas/ponchos: You can find them basically in every department store and boutique. If shop around (even online if you don’t like hitting the stores – has a great variety!), you are likely to find something that you will love within your budget. And lastly, have fun with your cape! You never know, it may make you feel like a superhero 😜




Tip #1: Belt it up!  Cinch in that cape and show off those curves.  

Tip #2: For something even trendier, get a cape/ruana with fringe!

Tip #3: For my Indian ladies, capes are in trend in Indian fashion too.  Here are two pieces you can buy right now and incorporate right away!  Try it out with a contrasting color sari or choli skirt!  

a little vintage/Victorian flare to a Sari or Choli or Anarkali! ❤️❤️


this with navy sari! yes please!

P.S. If you haven’t figured it out yet, click on any of the pictures and they will take you to the site on where to buy! Happy shopping! 



Fall Fashion: Tartan

I am quite embarrassed by how long it has been since my last post! But sometimes life catches up to you, pulls you into the ditches and changes the course of your path. But with positivity and prayer, you come out stronger and more determined than before! For me, there is no better week to start off than this week where we celebrate Maha Navratri and celebrate Durga Maa/Devi Maa and the Shakti (Strength/Power) in us. 

So let’s kick it off with something a little light – FALL FASHION! We have many new trends, repeat trends and of course standby classics this season. If I had a hefty shopping budget and unlimited amount of space, it would be so very easy for me to spend on every trend, but that is definitely not the case.  The way I approach this dilemma – spend on good quality classics and buy one or two trend pieces (UNLESS you find an AWESOME deal that you just cannot give up! True #confessionsofashopaholic). 

This first post of my fall series will focus a classic:

Tartan aka Plaid Shirts

This season plaid is super popular with blanket scarves, capes and jackets. However, if you want to get a piece that will last, get a plaid shirt with neutral colors. This plaid shirt has gone a long way for me. I have owned it for about 5 years now (Having bought it on Halloween just for a Halloween costume and at that time thinking I overpaid for the shirt – $30 for a plaid shirt at full price😧). But it has been well worth the investment. I love that it has a white base with basic red, green and navy.  My favorite part of the shirt though, is the corduroy elbow patches! (I have a HUGE thing for elbow patches). 



I paired the shirt with dark wash H&M skinny leg jeans, vintage looking Vince Camuto boots and a Zara forest green moto jacket. To accessorize, I added this grayish silver Old Navy shawl/scarf, a mustard colored Mulberry purse and vintage Valentino sunglasses.

Time to plaid it up!  Check these out for your collection. 



Tip #1: Try a bit of print and material mixing with the plaid shirt. Pair it with a floral scarf or a leather skirt. Definitely dreaming up an outfit here with a black leather pencil skirt and plaid shirt! MUST try!

Tip #2: Try wearing plaid with suspenders!  I love my suspenders that I picked up from Amazon for less than $7.00 for my plaid shirt. 


Tip #3: Accessorize with fall color palettes. The fall color this season is Burgundy. However, I still love the mustard, navy, camel, rust, and hunter greens for my fall color palette. I am however VERY guilty of not following season colors.  So DO YOU =)



DASH! Transit…Because Waiting Sucks

Typical work week mornings for us are ALWAYS a rush.  Snoozing is default on our phones. Waking up ten minutes earlier is just NOT an option! And because of this, we are always running for our train. There have been PLENTY of times when I dash into the station just in time to see the train pulling away or have the doors close in my face.  Argh – the frustration! And on top of that, you have already paid your fare, have no cell phone service and now must wait in the hot station for the next train which for me is usually a 10 minute wait.  You can imagine what an annoying situation this can be.  I think at one point or another, most commuters have experienced this feeling.  How can I stop this from happening???

Raj Agarwal

Raj Agarwal, creator of DASH!

And this is where Raj Agarwal comes in. As a commuter, Raj regularly experienced these same frustrations.  But instead of continuing to deal with it and stay frustrated, he worked on creating his own solution – the DASH! TRANSIT app.  I had the fortunate opportunity to meet Raj a few weeks ago to sit down for an interview and learn more about the app.

Interviewing Raj

Interviewing Raj

A Brief History

Raj first created this app 3 years ago for his own use as a solution to his commuter dilemma.  The first version of the app was first called My Transit Alert.  Without even any advertising or promoting (he had not even told his mom about the app at this point!), he noticed that 1,000 people downloaded the app within two months. He saw there was a niche to be filled and this is when he decided he wanted to pursue this and develop an app that he could share with other users. So he went back to the drawing board and hired a team to develop and build what is now DASH! Transit.

The DASH! Interface

The DASH! Interface

The Namesake:

I am always interested in how an app, program or website decides on a name.  So naturally, I had to ask Raj, why DASH! Transit?  Raj had already decided with the re-development of My Transit Alert, he wanted a new name, but what should that name be? And then he met a stranger on a long train ride from DC to NY. They shared their stories of what they do and the stranger (a scientist working on stem cell research) was interested in helping Raj find a name for the app.  For three hours, they brainstormed ideas for a name for the app even resorting to using different languages.  In the end they came up with DASH!.  Either you wait for the next train or you DASH to catch it.  What a great appropriate name – simple, easy, and catchy.  And just recently, the DASH team came up with a tagline for the app – “DASH…because waiting sucks.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself!

How does DASH! Work?

DASH! is meant for commuters.  It is basically a “set it and forget it” type app. You chose your travel agency (i.e. MTA, PATH, etc) and you set your daily commute route on the app (make sure to allow location tracking and alerts).  The app will alert you of the next two train/bus arrival when you are 2 to 6 city blocks from your train (this is also based on your personal setting).  (See below picture on my normal commute alert).  Based on this alert, you will know whether or not you will make catch the first timing or if you have a few minutes before catching the second timing.  You never have to open the app again (unless you want to change or add an alert).  It’s meant to be a seamless interface.

It is important to note this app is more of a commuter app.  It is not meant to calculate transit directions and routes for you like Google Maps or Hopstop.

I have personally been using this app for a few months now, and it has been working on great for me. Since I have set the alerts, I have not even opened the app again.  It tells me everything I need for my daily commute to and from work.

Check out their quick video on the app: DASH! 

DASH! Interface

DASH! Interface

Setting Up Your Commuter Alert on DASH!

Setting Up Your Commuter Alert on DASH!

The DASH! Alert letting me know when my next two trains will be departing.

The DASH! Alert letting me know when my next two trains will be departing.

Where is DASH! is available?

Currently, the DASH! team has the Top 11 most used transit lines on their app.  The list includes:

  1. NYC MTA
  2. NY LIRR
  3. NJ Transit Rail
  4. NJ Transit Bus
  5. NJ PATH
  6. Washington  WMATA
  7. Lost Angeles – LACMTA
  8. South Eastern Pennsylvania – SEPTA
  9. Chicago CTA
  10. San Francisco – BART
  11. Boston – MBTA

How can I get DASH!?

First and foremost, DASH! absolutely FREE to download and use!

DASH is currently only available for iPhone users.   The app can be downloaded through the App Store by searching for “DASH! Transit.” or by using clicking here: DASH!

Android users – do not fret! The app will soon be available on Android.  Follow DASH! Transit on Twitter or Facebook and stay tuned for this release.

Exciting new updates and features:

Raj and his team are constantly working on improving the app and the user experience.  So what’s in store for this app? Let’s see:

  1. Notifications on iWatch  – if you own an iWatch this will be great! You will get the alert right on your watch.
  2. Uber option – you missed your train and the next one is not for another 20 minutes.  You are in a rush and need to get somewhere.  WhyThe app will give you the option to directly call Uber.
  3. Your next train is 10 minutes away – what do you do with those 10 minutes besides catch up on Facebook or Instagram or The Indus Tijori blog 😉 ? How about checking out what’s going on locally – maybe a local food, art or music fair that you may have missed otherwise.


For me this app has been REVOLUTIONARY for my commuter life.  If you are using any of the listed mass transit systems for your daily commute, you NEED to download DASH! TRANSIT and put your morning commute on CRUISE CONTROL.  So DASH!..because waiting sucks!




Tips: Make sure you search for the app by the full name “DASH! TRANSIT”  otherwise it will be extremely difficult to find on the app store!  And follow DASH! Transit on Twitter and Facebook to stay tuned to their latest updates!

The Namesake

The Indus Tijori – what does this mean?!?! When I first started the blog, I went back and forth with whether my first post should explain my namesake – The Indus Tijori – or go straight into what I wanted to share.  In the end, as you have seen, I kept the About section short and simple and did not give any reference to the name.  So here goes this LONG overdue post – What does The Indus Tijori mean?

First let’s start with the word – Indus.  This word references my roots – to where and how India formulated – the very beginning (well, as far as we know) – the Indus Valley Civilization. The word brings me back to World History class in freshmen year of high school, learning about the Old World civilizations, being completely captivated by it all and wanting to go back to India even though I just came back from a two month trip from there. The word Indus has resonated and stayed with me since then. 

Now onto the more difficult word – Tijori. Essentially, a Tijori is a locked armoire. It is found in most Indian households in India (at least in the region I am from). Tijori has more of a sentimental connection to me and a personal history.

Although I was raised in the US, I was fortunate enough to spend numerous long 8 week summer vacations in India. Much of that time was always spent in my Papa’s home in a small village in Gujarat. In our India home, my parents had a Tijori (one of the wedding presents from my Nana Nani to my parents – which they still have and use today). I have many fond memories associated with this Tijori from childhood to adulthood. As a child, I remember Mummy Papa opening it every morning to get ready. It’s where Mummy kept all her daily and special occasion saris and Papa kept his tailored pant shirts, his oversized watch, Ray Ban sunglasses and his favorite colognes. To this day, I can vividly picture Papa asking Mummy for the Tijori keys (which were always with her safely tucked into her sari) and to take out my little toy keyboard piano, paint sets, or – when we became older – Nintendo GameBoys for bhailu (my little brother) and I, and my numerous collection of neon and pastel colored nail polishes to create nail art on my friends there. As a little child, it was a treasure chest – what will Mummy Papa take out of there next. 

My last trip to India, I took special interest to see what really was in this Tijori. In going through the Tijori with my parents, I found so many sentimental, irreplaceable valuables and mostly their precious memories. It contained mummy’s wedding sari, her baby shower sari, pictures of their wedding, pictures and the videotape from my bhailu’s mundan (head shaving) ceremony, a silver rattle I played with when I was a baby, my baby blanket, and even after all these years, my toy keyboard piano and our GameBoys. It really was a treasure chest – our family treasure chest. 

And that’s really how the name of the blog and the byline “Unlocking the Secrets of the South Asian Lifestyle” came about. This blog was created to share all the things that I learn and observe in my evolving world and more importantly to capture a little bit of my family history through stories, recipes and lifestyle and to encourage you to unlock your own family’s treasured memories.

A very late WELCOME to my world!


The Dress Drape

For many (not all) girls in our generation, silk saris seem old fashioned and traditional compared to the popular chiffon and net saris.   We have a preconceived notion that silks are meant for our mummy’s and grandmummy’s generation.  And to some extent – I get the logic. The prints are from another era, it is an unforgiving fabric (depending on the type and quality), they are not, and they need to be ironed!  However ladies, throw all these notions out the door.  Silks are being given a new life with modern prints, bright colors and new draping techniques.  Today, I am going to focus on a “new” draping technique that will give your silk a more modern feel.

Normally, the three most popular draping methods for saris including silks are style, Seedha Pallu, Nivi Style with Pallu Out and Nivi Style.  For me, there are pros and cons to each method. (All saris pictured are by Gaurang Shah)

Gaurang Shah Guju Drape

Seedha Pallu (Gujarati) Style:
Pros – best way to show off the intricate pallu design.
Cons – definitely makes me feel mummy/aunty like.

vidya balan gaurang

Nivi Style with Pallu Out:

Pros – The pallu design is visible and it’s very Bollywood!
Cons – the pallu is a hinderence when trying to dance.

Gaurang Ikat Kanjeevarem

Nivi Style:
Pros – mix between modern and traditional.
Cons – pallu design is covered in the pleats.

One day, in trying to learn how to do each of these drapes on myself, I came across a draping video by Little Black Sari (LBS).  LBS is a relatively new website/blogger that buys and sells your old saris (great idea!).  LBS is extremely creative when it comes to sari drapes and it is from her YouTube channel that I discovered the DRESS DRAPE. This draping is similar to a casual Bengali drape but with a belt!

Gaurang Shah Casual Bengali Drape

This technique solved all my woes in draping silk saris (except the ironing! ::sigh:: )

1) It showcases the exquisite design of the pallu.
2) It is a great twist on draping a traditional sari with modern elements (i.e. your new funky print crop top!)
3) It is one of the more comfortable ways to wear a sari.

After seeing this video, I naturally had to experiment with the dress drape. I just had to wait for the right event.  And then came my bhabhi’s baby shower (it seems all my experiments happen at baby showers lately..hmmm).  With mummy’s help, one of her old silk saris, my most versatile crop top and a gold belt, I set out to do the dress drape.  I was extremely pleased with the results as was mummy! (who usually thinks I am nuts when I do these “weird” things – she likes to keep the tradition alive with her preference of the Seedha Pallu drape and I love her for it!).  Anyway, check out the results for yourself:

Dress Drape 1Dress Drape 2Dress Drape 3

Sari: Baroda
Belt: Zara but I recommend this belt from Asos.
Crop Top: Macy’s 
Necklace Set: Sona Jewelers, Edison, NJ
Bracelet: Damodardas Jewelers, Baroda, India

I think I am going to wear all silk saris this way from now on.  So ladies, raid your mummy’s closet because it’s time to rock those silk saris! You can easily re-create this look by following this step-by-step video by Little Black Sari.  Thank you Little Black Sari for this video! I can’t wait for the skirt drape now!

Stay tuned for future blog posts on experiments with more draping techniques (did you know there are 50+ ways to drape a sari!) and how to make a sari into a cocktail dress – no sewing required!


P.S Update on Bhabhi – she just had a beautiful baby girl this week – Fashionista in the making! =o)

The Indian Kitchen Part 2: Legumes and Grains

Doing grocery shopping at an Indian grocery store can be quiet a daunting task.  Not only will you be faced with fruits, vegetables, spices, snacks, flours, legumes that you may have never heard of or seen, but you will also be faced with the infamous AUNTIES.  Trying to get in between them picking through to find the best fruits and vegetables is like being a gladiator about to enter the Coliseum to fight till death.  Unfortunately, this is a matter that I cannot help with as I am still trying to master the art of dealing with the infamous AUNTIES.  However, what I can help you with is deciphering what you need from the aisles and aisles of different spices, flours, legumes, and grains.

So let’s begin Part 2 of the setting up the basic Indian Kitchen, getting all the right legumes and grains.  Legumes are a major part of the Indian diet – especially the Indian vegetarian diet since they are one of the main sources of protein. There are so many different varieties and every region of India uses one more than the other. To help me decipher what I needed most in my kitchen, I took mummy grocery shopping with me (actually to be quite frank, she always sets up my whole kitchen for me whenever I move! Thank goodness for her!) Below, is our list of essentials and then some more.

Basic Legumes and Grains Needed:


Split Moong Daal (without skin) – used most frequently to make daal tadka, daal palak, daal wada, and khichidi.  This lentil is one of the fastest cooking.

whole moong daal

Whole Moong Daal – used to make whole moong daal soup and sprouts which can be used in subzi, chaats, and even healthier versions of idli/dosa =o)

Toor Daal

Toor Daal (Arhar Daal) – most commonly used for making gujarati daal, sambhar, and varan. Can also be used for khichidi.  This lentil does take much longer to cook than split moong daal.

Desi Chana

Desi Chana (Kala Chana) – another type of chickpea. most commonly used for chaats or kala chana curry.  Can also be used for hara bara kebabs. Can also be cooked, smashed and fried to make chana chor snack.


Chana (Chickpeas) – used for one of the most popular Indian dishes – Chana Masala/Chole Bhature.  Can also be used for chaats, falafel, hummus and salads.


Rajma (Kidney Beans) – used for another popular Indian dish – Rajma Masala.  Can also be used to make refried beans or in Mexican food.


Chawal (Basmati Rice) – versatile for any cuisine.  Commonly used for making jeera rice, biryani, pulao, and khichidi.

Chana Flour

Chana Flour (Besan) – used for making kadhi and pakoras.  Can also be used for making khaman, khandvi, puda/chilla, zunka, and ghatte ki subzi.  Can also be used as a thickening agent. (Beauty secret: can also use this for a scrub — future blog post!)

Multigrain flour

Whole Wheat or Whole Grain Flour – most commonly used for Roti and Paratha’s.  Also used for muthiya and theplas.

Now if have the space and want to really set up the whole kitchen, here some additional legumes and grains you may want to keep on hand:

The Extras: 

Urad Daal

Split Urad Daal (without skin) – can be used to make urad daal tadka, panchmel daal, and I use it frequently for idli/dosa

Masoor Daal

Masoor Daal – can be used to make Masoor daal, sambhar, and panchmel daal. (Beauty secret: can be used as a face pack – future blog post!)

Chana Daal

Chana Daal – used to make chana dal fry, pairs wonderfully in subzi with doodhi (bottlegourd), and also used in panchmel daal.  Can also be used to make khaman dhokla. Can also be fried and spiced to have snack of fried chana dal.

moth dal

Moth Daal – can be used to make sprouts for chaats and subzi.  Also used for matki.  Can also be fried to make dal moth snack.


Rice Flour – my favorite use is for papdi lot (khichu!).  Can also be used to make puda/chilla and instant dosas.

bajri flour

Bajri flour (Millet flour) – used to make Bajri na Rotla (bajri roti). Can also be used in theplas and for khichu.

idli rava

Idli Rava – used for making idli/dosa.


Sooji (Rava) – used for making halwa, upma, uttapum and rava idli/dosa. Can also be used for muthiya.

Sattu flour

Sattu flour (Roasted chana flour) – this I keep specifically for the Hubster to make him sattu parathas.  Can also be used to make litti chokha.

I do have a few more items stocked in my pantry (i.e. quinoa, cornmeal, black eyed peas, brown rice, dahlia etc.) but the above items are my most used.  I can’t wait to share recipes using all these ingredients (even post on making your own flour mixes using some of these legumes!)  Stay tuned for Part 3 of The Indian Kitchen – Spices!



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