Welcome to our website !
Pink gingham top from The Closet Lover | Shorts from Top Shop | Earrings from Lovisa |
Shoes from Charles and Keith | Purse from Coach | Sunglasses from Cole Haan
It hit me recently that this month of August marks three years since I moved from New York to Singapore. In these three short years, I've learned to appreciate kopi, crave gulu melaka pandan cake and ice chendol, makaan on rice and sayur lodeh at the hawker center, adopt Singlish terms into my lexicon (blur like sotong, anyone?), and understood what it's like to be a kiasu parent (scroll to the bottom of the post to see what these terms mean!). I've come to greatly value the ease of living here and being able to raise my kids in a safe environment. What's more, Singapore is such a green city (it was recently named as the greenest city in the world) and that is something to be proud of!

Other things that have made living in Singapore memorable so far...

Personally for me, proximity to family has been a big bonus. Earlier we used to save up our limited vacation days to make the painfully long journey from the U.S. to Asia to see our parents and extended family once a year. Now we can meet them much more often with flights to Thailand and India (where my family is based) being just a few short hours. I love how my children can grow up with seeing their grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles so frequently and being able to develop a close relationship with them. The closeness of family ties is undoubtedly among the highlights of moving here.

The ability to travel to different countries is probably something many will list out as a big advantage to living in the Little Red Dot. The connectivity and the relatively short flights to nearby countries like Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, etc...allow you to check many a place off your bucket list! My husband and I ourselves have traveled to many interesting places in the past three years - Luang Prabang, Bali, Siem Reap, Langkawi, Phuket, etc and we hope to see more!

Last but not least, having an excellent set of friends has been a big blessing! In fact, my greatest fear about moving to Singapore was whether we would be able to make a good friend circle. But as it turned out, we met and got connected to various different people and formed a great set of friends. That has certainly colored our experience here in a positive way. After all, friends make the place!

On a separate note - I'm loving this pink gingham top from a local store called The Closet Lover. Dramatic, ruffled sleeves are in this season and I love the sweet color and design of this top. Outfit details below!

Singlish terms:
  • Kopi: The local coffee in Singapore
  • Gula melaka: Coconut palm sugar; often an ingredient used in making sweets
  • Ice chendol: A local icy dessert
  • Makaan: A Malay word adopted into everyday Singlish referring to "eat" 
  • Sayur lodeh: A vegetable curry made with coconut milk 
  • Kiasu: Refers to the feeling of not wanting to miss out on opportunities or get left behind; Singaporeans are known to be very "kiasu" :)

What do you look for when you buy jewelry? In recent years, more and more I’m attracted to jewelry that is unique and meaningful. It first started when I learned about 31 Bits, a socially conscious jewelry company that uses recycled bead products produced by displaced women in Uganda. Since then, the interest in collecting pieces of jewelry that have a story to tell has remained with me. Furthermore, in our fast-paced lives where women have to balance work life with home life, I look for jewelry that strikes a balance of style and ease of wear. It has to be versatile and able to transition from day to night if needed.

This is why I find the jewelry collection from Eden + Elie so appealing. This Singapore-based jewelry brand was the brainchild of Stephanie Choo, a working mom who wanted to create jewelry that is meaningful. Stephanie initially started off by personally and painstakingly making each jewelry piece by herself. You only have to look at the jewelry pieces to appreciate how delicate and lovely they are.

Over time, Stephanie has worked to train local artisans to handcraft each piece of delicate and exquisite piece of jewelry designed by her. The materials for making the jewelry are ethically sourced and of premium quality. What's more is that the metals are plated with 24K gold which allow for durability in this hot weather! Importantly, Eden + Elie has also made efforts to hire and train individuals from disadvantaged communities to add social value. In a world where mass produced, fast fashion reigns supreme, I find this commendable.

I’m so excited to partner with Eden + Elie to host a giveaway for all my readers! The winner of the giveaway would receive the Everyday Necklace (as shown in my pictures) valued at $169. Entering is easy and is open to participants from all countries*!

1. Please follow me on Instagram (@urbanmantra1) and on Facebook (@urbanmantrablog)
2. Please follow Eden + Elie on Instagram (@edenandelie) and on Facebook (@edenandelie)
3. Tag two friends on my Instagram page.

Winner will be announced on Aug 15, 2017.
*Terms & Conditions may apply.

Top from Forever 21 | Skirt from SheInside | Shoes from Charles & Keith |
Purse from Coach | Sunglasses from Armani
There’s that joke about a husband coming home from work and asking his wife on maternity leave what she did all day. Or that other joke about an ill-informed friend saying to a stay-at-home-mom that it must be nice to be at home chilling all day. Sadly, these jokes are not really funny at all, at least not to the mama in question. Being on maternity leave or staying at home with kids full time is no joking matter. It’s a whole lot of work! While maternity leave can undoubtedly be a challenging time, I also like to see the opportunities in it. Here are the 3 reasons why I’m enjoying and making the most of my precious maternity leave!

#1: Quality time with the fam-jam

If you’re a working mom, you know how crazy it gets having to perpetually juggle different responsibilities. Your mind is constantly pulled in different directions: whether it’s sorting out playdates while scheduling working meetings at the same time, or planning your family’s next meal while organizing your next business trip out of town. You want to do justice to both your home life and professional life but never quite feel that you do. Sound familiar? Enter maternity leave. No one ever claimed that it’s a walk in the park, but at least you get the opportunity to focus entirely on your home life and take a breather from the office setting. Your mindspace isn’t having to constantly compete with work stuff and neither does your guilty conscience play a number on you. I’ve found my time during maternity leave to be a special time to connect with my new baby and reconnect with other members of the family – my older son who gets to spend a lot more quality time with me, my husband with whom I share 3 am conversations while up feeding the baby, and my mother who spent so much time helping me care for the baby. I know that when I eventually go back to work, I’ll feel a lot more rejuvenated emotionally and mentally.

#2: Weekday hangouts

You know that when you have a day job, any other engagements and appointments have to get squeezed into weekday evenings and weekends. Well, the bright side of being on maternity leave is that you don’t have to! Once I had recovered from delivery and became more mobile with the baby, I love how I can randomly meet a friend for lunch in the weekday, run errands without having to face the weekend crowds in stores, or get my nails done in the middle of the day without the wait (for some “me time”). It’s awesome! My stretch goal for this mat leave? Catching a matinee show on a weekday for a Bollywood movie!

#3: Time for creative pursuits and other side projects

I know better than to get overambitious while being on maternity leave. Some days, you're lucky if you can even get time for a shower or to send off an email! However, you will find pockets of time to work on things that were put on the backshelf for a while. Baby’s napping? Let me finally organize that kitchen pantry! Baby’s napping again? Great, let me work on that blogpost I was planning in my head! Someone can watch the baby for a while? I can step out for that errand that was pending for so long. Knowing that these activities can only be accomplished in byte-sized timeframes (because it’s very hard to get long, uninterrupted stretches of time to yourself with an infant), I’ve created a list of things I’d like to do during my maternity leave…from redecorating certain parts of the house, getting involved in community service with my older son, to my creative pursuits with the blog. It’s really a great way to keep myself engaged without feeling that every moment of the day is all-consuming with the baby. I find myself to be in a happier and more fulfilled state of mind this way.

And speaking of creative pursuits, this is my first style post since having the baby. Embracing my post-pregnancy body - the extra pounds, scars, and all! I know I'll get back in shape eventually so I'm not rushing it. It's all about enjoying this time and focusing on eating right for yourself and the baby. 

Photography credit to White Room Studio which captured this picture of us during a maternity shoot
It’s been a month since I delivered baby Arjun and I honestly don’t know where the time has flown. I’m revisiting all the joys and challenges of having a newborn but with less of the worries, freak out sessions, and self-doubt experienced the first time around. This is why I felt compelled to share some of my insights and experiences gained from my two pregnancies and post-partum life. For you new moms and moms-to-be out there, the following are not meant to scare you. They are merely meant to equip you with some of the knowledge and useful pieces of random info I wish I had the first time around to deal with the somewhat trying times ahead.

First, the serious stuff…
1. You still look 6 months pregnant after birth. I didn’t know that the first time around and it was made painfully clear to me when just after having a baby, one ignorant male friend of mine said in jest, “Hey! You planning to have another baby?” Needless to say, it was not funny. It took our bellies 9 months to stretch and expand to bake a little bun in the oven. So it’s only fair to give your body several weeks and even months to get back to what it was before. (And yes, it wouldn't hurt if others were a bit more sensitive to this). The uterus has to contract to its original size and the internal organs have to reposition themselves. Our bodies are incredibly resilient but just remember to give it time! So those maternity clothes? Hang on to them for a little while longer.

2. Breastfeeding does not necessarily happen naturally or intuitively. I don’t get why society makes it seem like it’s the easiest thing in the world to do but it’s not. It takes work. It’s like a tango – you and the baby are getting to know each other and your dance moves. It takes a few tries and some practice before both mother and child get the hang of it. But when you figure it out, it can be an incredibly positive experience.

3. You’ll find that your body behaves in the weirdest, most unexpected ways. Like how? Like the tingling, pins & needles-like sensation you get in your breasts every few hours. That's basically due to the milk flowing from your ducts to your nipples. Or the milk flow you get simply by hearing your baby cry (it’s a reflex reaction called “letdown”). Crazy! 

4. What you eat really does affect the baby. This not an old wives’ tale but in fact based on truth. There were times when I had cabbage or beans only to regret it later on when my firstborn would cry blood murder later in the night. Lesson learned! In the first few months after birth, babies are especially susceptible to what you eat. As their digestive system is still maturing, they may be prone to stomach aches and gas issues if you don’t watch your dietary intake. So avoiding gas-inducing foods, eating well, and continuing to take your prenatal vitamins will go a long way to ensuring that you and your baby are well nourished.

5. Baby acne is a thing so don’t freak out if you see your baby break out into small red spots on their face. It usually happens around week 3 and will go away on its own.

The not-so-serious-but-still-incredibly-true stuff…
6. As a mother, you will develop a unique superpower that enables you to hear your baby cry two doors down even if you’re in a crowded room.

7. Sleep (yours and the baby’s) will become a topic of conversation with your spouse over breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s going to be the case for a long time. Be forewarned.

8. Grandmothers will always think your baby is not warm enough even if wearing a beanie in 40 deg C weather.

9. You will do things with your limbs and other various parts of your body that you didn’t know you could, like turning a light switch on and off with your nose and developing amazing dexterity with your toe. 

10. It’s written as Murphy’s Law – the moment you lie down to take a rest, the baby will decide it’s the right time to wake up crying for a feed or a diaper change. EVERY. TIME.

Just learn to smile through it all!

Well guys, we’ve added one more to our brood. On June 24, 2017, we welcomed our second baby boy into our arms. We have named him Arjun, after the legendary warrior from the Indian epic story of the Mahabharata. Arjun is also the close friend and disciple of Lord Krishna. The name has special significance for us because our older kiddo Krishnav chose this name!

Three weeks into my new life as a mother of two, I’m reliving those early weeks with a newborn baby which are so special, sweet, tiring, and perplexing all in one go! But what makes this experience different the second time around is watching the interaction between the two siblings.

One of my initial concerns was how my older son Krishnav would react to having a younger brother. We’d heard plenty of cases of older siblings reacting badly to having a new member of the family. Insecurity or jealousy from the older sibling can rear its ugly head, and it's important to manage it early on. Thus, we had taken some measures to ensure a smooth transition for Krishnav from being an only child to an older brother while also preparing mentally to deal with the worst.

So how has it turned out so far? Surprisingly, Krishnav has dived excitedly into the “big brother” role. He is full of questions, observations, and curiosity ("Mama, why can't the baby talk? Mama, when will the baby learn to walk? Mama, I think the baby likes me"). He wants to hold the baby, change his diaper, and feed him (yes, he believes he can also breastfeed apparently). This all sounds great in theory but when you have a typical toddler who is literally a hurricane let loose in the house, I constantly find myself averting near disasters and accidents.

Sometimes he’s jumping on the bed precariously close to the baby laying down next to him and me panicking and yelling at him to get down. Other times, he’s playing rambunctiously with a bulky toy truck next to the baby's head. Again, I'm freaking out that he might accidentally give his little brother a concussion. I have to constantly remind Krishnav to be gentle around the newborn baby (while constantly feeling guilty that I'm stifling the "big brother excitement" in him).

But there are equally occasions when Krishnav shows his sweet and gentle side. One such moment was when he first said to me: "Mama, I want to hold my baby brother". Tentatively, I agreed to let him…and he tenderly held his baby brother and kissed him on the cheek. He surprised me with his gentleness and my heart just melted with this sweet interaction.

Recently I was lucky enough to have a comic made by Brenda Li from Summer and Muu. She’s an artist who has an incredible knack for capturing hilarious parenting moments. Always so relatable and spot-on! Well, she did a great job of making a cartoon out of my experiences. Be sure to visit her Facebook page here and follow her on Instagram (@summerandmuu).