RUBINA’S RADAR | CHIVAS 18 ALCHEMY 2019 IN NEW DELHI

A touchdown in New Delhi fires up all five senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste in a human, instanter, sensus communis (common sense) be damned. And the night of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16 was no different. Chivas 18 Alchemy’s majestic third edition traversed the sixth sense at The Pavilion, DLF Emporio, belying Aristotle’s postulations of the non-existence of it with inimitable ardour. The five virtuosos playing host to a splendorous evening of the undefined and the very refined, were actor Malaika Arora, fashion designer Manish Malhotra, artist Sudarshan Shetty, fashion designer Rahul Mishra and jewellery designer Siddharth Kasliwal. They interpreted the senses of Fantasy, Intuition, Love, Memory and Déjà vu, with their muse being the award-winning Chivas 18 whisky blend.

NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Fashion designers Ashish N Soni, Rahul Mishra and Manish Malhotra and Malaika Arora, jewelry designer Siddharth Kasliwal, artist Sudarshan Shetty and Chivas India’s Pulkith Modi attend the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)

Malaika Arora sets off flames of fantasy wherever she goes, so turning into an illusionist of fantasy, alongside fashion designer and curator of the night, Ashish N Soni, came naturally to her. She created an immersive and polychromatic world of the real and imagined, using the Chivas whisky drop, brimful of 85 notes. Arora (soon to be Kapoor) looked stunning in a white ensemble by Soni, accessorised with an emerald and diamond necklace from Siddharth Kasliwal’s Gem Palace, as she took guests on a tour of her fantasia wonderland.

NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Malaika Arora at the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Malaika Arora and her installation are seen at the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Malaika Arora attends the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Fashion designer Ashish N Soni at the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)

Manish Malhotra created an amber-toned Chivas 18 bar, in what is now recognised as the Chivas Alchemy blue, to instantiate his sense of intuition. It was a glimmering mirage of mirrors, with glamorous people all around it, drinking to the night, and into the night.

NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: A general view of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Fashion designer Manish Malhotra attends the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: A view of the bar at Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)

Sudarshan Shetty interpreted the sense of love, by juxtaposing a shattered chandelier on a dining table against a celluloid version of the same table and chandelier, set to Indian ragas. The eight-minute odd film spoke of love in different languages, expressed by diverse people. It was as evocatively beautiful as it was unnerving.

NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Artist Sudarshan Shetty attends the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Artist Sudarshan Shetty’s interpretation of love with an immersive celluloid experience at the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)

Siddharth Kasliwal designed an arresting Chivas 18 bottle in gold with precious stones, over period of three months. Just looking at it in all its golden glory was enough to tempt a heist among the women, ala Oceans 8. The bejewelled masterpiece was an ode to the lost art of Indian craftsmanship through generations – a revival of lost legacies so to speak. Needless to add, but it was the most photographed installation of the night.

NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: A bejewelled Chivas 18 bottle designed by jeweller Siddharth Kasliwal for three months to evoke the sense of deja vu, at an estimated value of $50,000 at the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Parag Gupta with jewelry designer Siddharth Kasliwal and his mother Kalpana Kasliwal and brother Samarth Kasliwal attend the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: A view of the bejeweled Chivas 18 bottle designed by jewelry designer Siddharth Kasliwal at the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)

Rahul Mishra’s installation for the sense of memory saw tambour frame hoops, creating a chandelier of memories in a play of light and shadows, blending layers of time with the ingredients found in Chivas 18. The unfinished embroideries on the ivory organza fabric was intentional to elicit one to add an element of one’s own memory to the pattern. To elucidate something as intimate and fleeting as memory, not to mention intangible, with something as simple as embroidery hoops was astounding.

NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Fashion designer Rahul Mishra’s embroidery patterns on organza are seen at the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Fashion designer Rahul Mishra’s embroidery patterns on organza are seen at the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Fashion designer Rahul Mishra poses with his work at the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA – MARCH 16: Fashion designer Rahul Mishra’s embroidery patterns on organza are seen at the third edition of Chivas 18 Alchemy 2019 on March 16, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images)

Pulkith Modi – Chivas India with wife Teena, Samarth Kasliwal, Kalpana Kasliwal, Parag Gupta, Guillaume Girard-Redyet – CEO Pernod-Ricard India MD South Asia and his wife Cecille, Schulen Fernandes, Sonam and Paras Modi, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Nida Mahmood, Rajiv Makhni and Ruchi Malhotra and Vikram Baidyanath were just some of the fashionable guests in attendance at Chivas Alchemy 2019.  “This is undoubtedly the most sophisticated and refined luxury event in India with the most genteel guests,” said Schulen Fernandes, Creative Director of the fashion label Wendell Rodricks. Touché!

Disclaimer: Any part of the content on the rubinaakhan.com website cannot be reproduced without prior permission and crediting the website and the author.

©Rubina A Khan 2019

RUBINA’S RADAR | OMI & HOMI = BOMBAY BONHOMIE

RUBINA’S RADAR

A vociferous political scythe-lash has taken over Bollywood’s song and dance routine in recent times, taking the fun out of confined, air-conditioned entertainment. But international artists can’t seem to get enough of their one-night gigs in Mumbai, especially Hollywood stars and musicians and Mumbai is not known to keep it down, and definitely not when it comes to its music.

Jamaican singer, OMI, of the reggae-pop worldwide hit, Cheerleader, that’s remixed by German DJ Felix Jaehn, is headed to the city for the very first time, all the way from his home base Clarendon in Jamaica.

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Singer OMI | Getty Images

The singer, born Omar Samuel Pasley, is slated to perform on Saturday, February 23, at Kitty Su, a nightclub at The Lalit, Mumbai. He knows what it takes to hit the Billboard Hot 100 with a melody he woke up randomly humming when he was 21 years old, but it remains to be seen, and heard, if his live gig shakes Mumbai up. While he’s quite cool and popular with the ladies, all the Indian boys just wanna know if the very haute girls in his breakthrough video are accompanying him on his maiden India trip!

On film terrain, filmmaker Homi Adajania’s been playing out his own Parsi, not to mention very PG version, of Two And A Half Men at home with his sons, Zane and Zreh. The entertaining instagram videos Adajania posts of his boys, replete with their super acting skills and put-on accents, are more hilarious and entertaining than anything one’s seen on celluloid lately. But that’s not all Adajania’s busy with in his role as a modernist, stay-at-home-dad.

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Homi Adajania | Instagram

He’s working on his next project, a web series called Saas, Bahu Aur Cocaine for Amazon. A rather blasphemous name that’s already a conversation opener, and perhaps even an eye-opener, for a saas-bahu obsessed nation. But then what else can one expect from someone who kicked off his cinematic leanings with Being Cyrus (2006) a dark, psychological drama produced by Ambika Hinduja-Macker, starring Naseeruddin Shah, Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia and Boman Irani and went on to make Cocktail (2012), exhibiting the sexiest and coolest version of Deepika Padukone to Finding Fanny (2014). Interestingly, Being Cyrus was shot in the filmmaker’s erstwhile home in Panchgani, which he later sold off to actor Aamir Khan. Saas Bahu Aur Cocaine sounds like a wildly mad ride, just like its creator Adajania and if he swings in Dimple Kapadia to play a part, it could very well be a smashing series. 

Disclaimer: Any part of the content on the rubinaakhan.com website cannot be reproduced without prior permission and crediting the website and the author.

©Rubina A Khan 2018

A Date With Estella By The Sea

Rubina A Khan reviews Estella, Mumbai: “a dreamy alchemy of sunsets, sea waves and sinful culinary indulgences”

Estella is Mumbai’s latest gastronomic dalliance since December 2016. The name Estella evokes a vivid recollection of the eccentricities of Charles Dickens’ legendary character by the same name in his book, Great Expectations, but a night out at Estella is anything but. Though there are great expectations from Estella, given it’s the first fine dine restaurant from Hitesh Keswani’s Silver Beach Entertainment & Hospitality, with its numerous bars and restaurants enjoying a credible culinary run in the city.

It’s the best time in the year to dine alfresco in Mumbai, under a moonlit, star-spangled sky, with a table overlooking the sea and a flirtatious breeze adding a romantic allure to the night. The color play of a February evening sunset, descending into the sea waves caressing the Juhu shoreline, is better than any app filter and the natural environs lend themselves beautifully to the restaurant and its island bar.

The predominantly Australian and Asian menu here is expansive, with the wines and cocktails curated in accordance to the cuisine being served here. The Smashed Avocado and Smoked Jalapeño Falafel was a great dish to start the rather indulgent evening, followed by Pistachio Crusted Lebanese Lamb Koftas and a Grilled Polenta Steak. The Spanish Seafood Ajilio was tweaked to my preference with only prawns but it wasn’t the greatest dish or something I’d possibly eat again. The Cauliflower and Blue Cheese Cannelloni drowned in a cheese overload, losing all flavour, but that of the dominant cheese, in the bargain, the Baked Mud Crab and Ricotta was good as was the Lamb Wellington Deconstructed – an innovative creation, but it could have really done without the heavy sauce and extra elements on the plate, as the wonderfully prepared lamb and its intrinsic flavors came through without the added trappings. But it’s the Estella Tenderloin Steak and the Estella Strawberry Martini (a must!) that I enjoyed the most here. The Blueberry and Lavender Short Bread is a sweet desire that one must cave in to whilst dining here.

A night out on the Estella deck in the cooler months is like a dreamy alchemy of sunsets, sea waves and sinful culinary indulgences, with an attentive, prompt and friendly service. Estella offers you a sense of space and privacy, despite the deck tables being set quite close to one another. This is primarily due to the candlelight on the tables, breaking through the darkness, with just enough mood light to see your companion’s face (especially if you’re on a first date!) and your food and drinks but of course. And most importantly, people dining on the deck are largely focussed on their food and conversations here without obsessing over selfies and food shots! That in itself is quite an achievement from the chefs of Estella!

Estella is only open for dinner everyday, 7PM onwards.

Nichani Kutir Building, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu, Mumbai 400049
+91 7999998232 estellamumbai.com

©Rubina A Khan 2017

The Best Nightclubs In Dubai! #TGIT #DubaiWeekends

Rubina A Khan reviews Dubai’s best nightclubs, “bedazzling nights on Sheikh Zayed Road or as I like to call it, the Party Mile in Dubai.”

#TGIT is the Middle East’s #TGIF when the weekend rolls into the week with a bedazzling glamour that is quintessentially Dubai on a Thursday evening. When you’ve been TGIF-ing all your life with #FridayFeels #Friyay and #Fridaze Instagram hashtags, it feels like you stole Friday a whole day ahead on a Thursday in Dubai, and it’s thrilling. Maybe there should be a legit #ThrillingThursday hashtag for this part of the world as the #ThrowbackThursday hashtag seems redundant as you have to throw it all the way back, which is a little meh for now. The only shift here is that Sundays can NEVER feel like Mondays to me, but Thursdays are beginning to feel a lot like Fridays already. Convenient, right? I know!

It’s another Thursday night and as the pop culturist in me acclimatizes (real easy, this!) to the new weekend style in Dubai – a country most contemporary, with its incomparable vision of the modern world. I have a huge favorite on its explosive night scene. There are nightclubs and then there’s the Cavalli Club Dubai, ruling your nights and owning your days! The other favourites of mine  are mostly on Sheikh Zayed Road, or as I like to call it, the Party Mile in Dubai:

CAVALLI CLUB DUBAI | THE FAIRMONT DUBAI

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Cavalli Club Dubai | Photo: Rubina A Khan

This is undeniably the BEST nightclub in Dubai with its hedonistically dazzling interiors, replete with wild cats emblazoned on the doors of the lifts, designer Roberto Cavalli’s inimitable animal design flair resonating through the space, the glimmering ‘You are Gorgeous’ powder rooms notwithstanding, and of course, the eponymous Roberto Cavalli Vodka cocktails. The Cavalli restaurant serves Italian and international culinary fare, and is set on three levels, where you can dine on Roberto Cavalli crockery and cutlery (but of course!) under the scintillating crystal chandeliers.

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Cavalli Club Dubai | Photo: Rubina A Khan

Cavalli is where elegance and sophistication turn into a sexy beast of glamour called the Cavalli Club run by the Pragma Group. The only way to describe a night at Cavalli is to call it legend ‘cos it just is! Just last week, Drake hit up Cavalli on an extremely private visit to Dubai and it was unreal to dance to his tracks, especially One Dance, with him around! It just doesn’t get better than this, does it? Not in Dubai! You’ll only know when you dance to the last track of the night at 3AM and not want the music to stop, ever! Cavalli owns it with the best DJs and the greatest music lineup and is packed every night with the world’s most glamourous people. Well, not all, but I believe everyone is beautiful from the inside. I love the music here and Cavalli just gets my vibe.

THE ACT DUBAI | SHANGRI-LA HOTEL 

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The Act | Photo: Rubina A Khan

The Act Dubai is an experience and I love it! The Act, created by New Yorker Simon Hammerstein, is located on the 42nd floor of the Shangri-La hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, making it the highest theatre venue in the world. The Act Dubai is akin to an artistic ménage à trios of fine dining, theatre and nightlife, in a space that sees risqué aerial theatrics right above your dinner table and looks just as effortlessly cool with a life size cutout of Kanye West on a hip hop night, amidst its Victorian decor. The Act Dubai serves serves Peruvian | Japanese fare for the dinner shows along with Pisco cocktails. There’s a great Californian Rosé I discovered here. The spectacular performances at dinner are mesmerizing and will leave you looking up at the performers for most part of the night but it will be a crick in the neck that’s definitely worth it!

VESNA RESTAURANT & LOUNGE | CONRAD DUBAI

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Vesna | Photo: Rubina A Khan

Vesna is a contemporary Slavic restaurant and lounge at the Conrad Dubai Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road. Deep purple and fuchsia pink hues dominate the space, with extremely warm, not to mention beautiful Ukranian hostesses, adding glamour to the royal vibe it’s shooting for, making the experience so intrinsically Ukranian you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d flown into the country for the night! Owned and operated by the Aston Restaurant Management Group, Vesna Dubai’s Karaoke Nights are just so much fun, especially when you’re singing your heart out on an Adele track, but not sounding even remotely like her! The singing and dancing (in all languages literally) start around 11PM, making it such a happy place, and go on till 3AM.

BILLIONAIRE MANSION | TAJ DUBAI

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Billionaire Mansion | Photo: Rubina A Khan

Italian businessman and Formula 1 bossman Flavio Briatore’s Billionaire Mansion, with its  panoramic views of the Burj Khalifa, has Dubai entranced since it opened in April 2016 at the Taj Dubai hotel in the Business Bay area. The Mansion is spread out into  five different venues – Sumosan – a Japanese restaurant, Billionaire Grill – an Italian restaurant, Karaoke Prive – a karaoke lounge, the nightclub and Diamond Kalian – a shisha terrace. The club pulsates with a thumping crowd and a busy bar every night and is a ‘go-to’ in Dubai with its varied dining and bar options, but I’m not so hot on the music at Billionaire, which I really think should be amped up, and fast.

I am sure I’ll find many more favorites to add to my Dubai nightlife list, but Cavalli will always own it!

©Rubina A Khan 2016

Living Life Sultan-size At The Opulent Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul!

There’s a certain je ne sais quoi about Istanbul, or erstwhile Byzantium and Constantinople, in the Republic of Turkey, that’s as enchanting as it is enigmatic, given its artistic and regal antiquity. Right by the shore of the Bosphorous Strait on the European side, overlooking Asia across the blue ribbon, stands the majestic Çırağan Palace Kempinski hotel, the last residence of the Turkish Sultans from the glorious Ottoman era.

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Ciragan Palace Kempinski Bosphorous view | Photo: Rubina A Khan

The architectural magnificence and royal grandeur of the Çırağan (meaning “spreading light”) Palace is captivating – glittering chandeliers, Ottoman and Baroque style interiors, high ceilings, plush Turkish carpets, luxuriant gardens lined with palm trees along the waterfront – all befitting of a sovereign, serenading his harem of alluring women amorously on these very grounds, so much so, that you start walking around with an arched stance, like a Sultan yourself, surveying your transient kingdom!

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Heritage Palace Wing of the Caravan Palace Kempinski that houses the Imperial Sultan Suite | Photo: Rubina A Khan

And if anything exemplifies opulence, it is the Sultan Suite in the heritage palace wing of the hotel. It is one of the most expensive suites in the world (€ 30,000 a night) and the largest in Europe, with a handmade marble Hamam (Turkish Bath) attached to its master bedroom, replete with gold plated and crystal faucets, a private steam room and rain shower and your own Hamam attendants! Italian operatic tenor, Luciano Pavarotti was the first guest of this luxurious suite once the palace was restored and opened to the public as a Kempinski hotel in 1992, followed by U2’s Bono, Madonna and Oprah Winfrey, amongst many other global luminaries as its guests in residence.

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Sultan Suite | Photo: Rubina A Khan

The Turkish Hamam is a culturally significant bathing ritual that harks back hundreds of years to the Ottoman empire when the custom began in Anatolia and it was not just for the privileged or the imperial classes. The Turks built communal bathhouses where men and women, belonging to any rank or strata of society, could enjoy a Hamam, albeit at separate times, given the Islamic way of life. The Hamam was an extremely important inclusion in people’s lives, from the beginning of life to the very end. The word Hamam simply means a Turkish bath, but nothing about it is simple; it’s a self-indulgent and leisurely bathing ceremony. Back then; Hamams were used not just for cleansing and relaxing the body, but also for celebratory events with song and dance, food and drink, akin to a party, but in a bathhouse! The Sultans, along with their wives and harems of beautiful girls, indulged in Hamams in their palaces that went on for hours. Interestingly, the emperor as well as his wife or wives, were both addressed as Sultan.

 

The hotel’s Sanitas Spa recreates the magical ambience, reminiscent of the Ottoman Hamam times in the palace, with the 40-minute Pasha / Sultan treatment (€130) being the most popular. In the serene environs of the spa, a glass of refreshing apple water is brought to you, as your Hamam attendant gently washes your feet. She then helps you disrobe and wraps a hand-woven, thin, but highly absorbent, cotton wash cloth (Peştemal) around your waist and takes you into the exotically aromatic and heated Hamam. It’s almost minimalistic in its white marble design, with a massive marble slab in the middle of the bathhouse, but for the ornate wall carvings and designs like the original palace Hamam.

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Sanitas Spa Hamam

As you lie down on the warm marble slab, called “göbek taşı” in Turkish, the heat begins to envelop your body and soul, and as you relax and give in to the soothing sounds of the Turkish music, the outside world ceases to exist. The attendant then scrubs your body with a specially textured mitten that exfoliates and cleanses the skin, improving blood circulation, making your skin exceptionally soft to the touch, like silk. She then covers your person in a fragrant soap foam, making you float away on a dreamy white cloud, as she massages your head and body with aromatic oils, revitalizing your muscles, with special attention to your hands and feet. Then she shampoos the oil off your hair with an exceptional amalgamation of a head massage and rinse. Big metal cauldrons of water, first hot and then cold, are then poured over you to rinse off the soap and just like that, the most sensual bath experience of your life comes to an end with a cup of tea or the very sweet Turkish sherbet.

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Pestemal

At no point during the ritual do you want to open your eyes and especially when the Hamam is over. You’d think getting bathed by another human being in a manner so intimate would be odd and somewhat embarrassing, but it surprisingly isn’t; it feels absolutely natural to renew your body and soul, in a bath session as indulgent and spiritual as this. The oriental Haman ritual eclipses any kind of spa experience you’ve ever had and spoils you for life. The Sehrazat (55 minutes / € 165) and VIP Hamams (80 minutes / € 500) on the menu are amped up, more indulgent versions of the Pasha / Sultan Hamam to spoil your body and nourish your soul. The Çırağan spa has male Hamam attendants for men and female ones for women, like in the Ottoman era, but in today’s times, if a man requests for a female attendant or vice versa, the spa complies. Who knew water, soap suds and magical hands could come together in such exotic harmony?

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Turkish cuisine at Tugra from the kitchens of the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire | Photo: Rubina A Khan

From eating authentic Ottoman cuisine at Tuğra, their signature restaurant, with recipes straight from the kitchens of the Sultans like the incredibly delicious Testi (Turkish for clay pot) Lamb Casserole to bathing like the Sultans in the Hamam, to savoring a cup of Turkish coffee in the gazebo, watching the ships go by, living life Sultan-size in the Çırağan Palace is undeniably a hedonistic affair, with the Hamam ritual being the most momentuous, and unforgettable aspect of it all.

©Rubina A Khan 2015

Taking In London From The Highest Bar In Town, Gong, At The Shangri-La!

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London has never looked as spectacular as it did from the 52nd floor of Gong, the bar with THE view at the Shangri-La hotel at The Shard that opened in May earlier this year. Well, unless you flew over in a chopper earlier, but now all it takes is an elevator ride up to the bar and a cocktail of your choice to take in the London views, right from the St Paul’s Cathedral to the Big Ben to the London Bridge. The drinks at Gong are just as stellar as the views and the staff is very friendly and ever ready to snap your pictures for you as selfies are just tedious here as they cut out the background completely. And even if you do manage a good shot, by the time you get the light and angle right, you’d look a bit looney to the rest of the cool crew. And it might be a tad disrespectful to your waiting drink on the table too. Everyone was flying on those tangy and sour cocktails, but the question that remains unanswered though is, how high will YOU get at London’s highest bar?

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Photo: Rubina A Khan

©Rubina A Khan 2014