To look effortlessly cool, you need to know the most iconic footwear of our times.

Print Edition: Feb 6, 2011

Know Your Shoes
To look effortlessly cool, you need to know the most iconic footwear of our times.

Boat shoes
Sailor Paul Sperry created this shoe in 1935, to avoid slipping on a boat deck. That basic usefulness still inspires the design with the rubber sole grooves providing a sturdy grip. Today, they are the elegant symbol of yachts, martinis and the good life.
Best Look: Polo shirts and chinos work very well. Wear them with shorts for a casual look. Whatever you do, never wear them with socks.
Brands: Gucci, Lacoste, Zegna.

Wing-tip shoes
Originating in Scotland, the wing-tips began life as a useful variation on the classic oxfords. The holes pierced on toe caps and along the edges in a technique called broguing allow water to pass through them without much damage. They are popularly referred to as brogues.
Best Look:With a suit or with a jacket and jeans.
Brands: Emporio Armani; Burberry

Chelsea boots
A holdover from the Victorian Era, the iconic tight-fitting, ankle-high boot had its origin in riding. The elastic sides make them easy to slip in and out of. Chelsea boots (and its cousin the Cuban-heeled boots) have been a perennial style statement ever since The Beatles popularised them in the 60's.
Best Look: They look best with slim mod styles of cropped trousers and jackets.
Brands: Dr Martens, Tod's, Timberland.

Converse shoes
Created by Marquis Converse in 1908, these became immensely popular when the All Star athlete's version launched in 1917. However, the converse came into its own when it became Punk rock's footwear of choice. Today it's the ultimate shorthand for cool.
Best Look: Nothing looks as good with a pair of Converse as jeans and a t-shirt.
Brands: Converse All Stars, Levi's

Tipping point
Too much or too less? Shital Kakkar Mehra of Soft Skills International helps you deal with the most common dilemma of customers-tipping.

At the Airport: It is suitable to pay taxi drivers and porters Rs 10 to Rs 15 per bag, unless it's a fixed charge. If you rent a car for a day, tip the driver Rs 75 to Rs 100 per day, depending on the distance travelled and his helpfulness.

At a hotel: Depending on the size and weight of the bag, pay the bell-boy a minimum of Rs 20 per bag. In case there isn't any service charge, the room service staff can be tipped 8-10 per cent of the bill. Keep a margin of Rs 15 to Rs 50 for the valet parking, depending on the establishment and the car.

At a restaurant: In case there isn't any service charge, pay the wait staff about 10 per cent of the bill and 15 per cent in case of exceptional service or if you are a large group of eight or more people. If you order multiple bottles of wine, and if the sommelier is extremely helpful, a 5 per cent of the wine charge can be tipped. The bartender deserves 10 per cent to 15 per cent, depending on the order. In case the food is bad, talk to the manager but do reward the waiters. However, if the service is rude and spoils your mood, no matter how good the food, leave no tip!

At a salon: While it's advisable to leave a 10 per cent of your bill at a low budget salon, at an upscale one, you can leave a 15 per cent. Also, do tip a small amount to the staff that shampoos your hair and brings you coffee and magazines.

Ride a mountain bike
Biking up the hills doesn't look easy because its not. Mountain biking expert Vaibhav Nijhowne offers advice that can come in handy for your next adventure holiday. Choose the right bike: Your choice depends on the kind of terrain and riding you choose to do. An XC Hardtails is a basic mountain bike which suits most people, and is good for climbing.

Going downhill, a dual suspension bike's front and rear suspension lends a good grip in rough trails and is also ideal for jumps. For a mild mountain bike traverse, hybrid bikes make for a great, versatile choice.

Stock-up well: Carry a kit including rehydration salts, gloves, body warmers, energy bars, and a puncture kit. Exercise right: It is essential to warm up and cool down before and after the ride, to avoid cramps. This entails stretching exercises for your relevant muscles like quads, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, back, and neck.

Riding basics: You must maintain balance by distributing your weight at the contact points between your body and the cycle: the handlebar, saddle and most importantly, the pedals. Follow the track that avoids most of the tougher obstacles and allow your cycle to move in a smooth flow without breaking your momentum. Low (light) gears are used on climbs and rough terrain where you cannot power down on your pedals to get through. Alternatively, high (heavy) gears are used on flat ground, when you need speed.

Choose the right rucksack
Renowned mountaineer and gear manufacturer Sudeb Hazra knows a thing or two about rucksacks that you should know too. Always go for a sack that holds at least 50 litres as you ought to carry enough provisions to be self-sufficient.

Apart from the make, which should use a durable waterproof material and quality stitching, go for rucksacks with an adjustable backlength. This means getting a sack with a outer spine along which you can slide the shoulder harness for the perfect balance. One size never fits all, so get one custom-made to your body-type.

Workout for the thunder thighs
Bhavna M Harchandrai, group fitness instructor at the Taj Wellington Mews and Gold's Gym identifies some multi-dimensional moves that target the inner and outer thighs, quadriceps and hamstrings. Side lunge with a twist

• Stand with the right leg in a side lunge position, knees soft, hands to chest, palms facing down.
• Pull the right leg in towards the left shoulder, turning the arms in the opposite direction whilst twisting the torso. Do 10-15 times then switch legs. Roundhouse kicks
• Stand at an arms length behind the back of a chair, knees soft, shoulders back, fists under the chin.
• Raise the right leg and draw an arc with the right foot kicking over the backrest from left to right. Switch legs and repeat. Chair pose with a back lunge
• Stand with legs apart (this should be about shoulder-width) placing your hands on you waist.
• Keep your knees over ankles, and your head, neck and spine in one line and sit back into a squat.
• Come back to start. Now step back into a right leg lunge, keeping the front knee over the ankle.
• Return to starting position and repeat 15 times, switching legs as you lunge back.

The brighter side of rock bottom
A piece of sea salt hollowed out to make space for a light bulb: this is just the unique addition your home needed. Take a piece of sea salt; carve the stone in the shape of your choice, but leaving an uneven random shape will retain its natural beauty. Once you're done carving, wash the stones clean, as this will make it easier for the light to pass through. Drill half way through the inside of the salt and place the light bulb. In case the lighting is too dim for your liking, throw in a bunch of these in a wrought iron basket and plug them in. Once lit, the sea salts also help cleanse the air of impurities. A great blend of form and function.

Delicious Macaroons

Chef Christian Faure, pastry instructor and director of operations at Le Cordon Bleu tells you how to craft perfect macaroons.

85 g ground almonds
150 g powdered (icing) sugar
75 g egg whites
15 g sugar
Cream Filling:
150 g butter, softened
200 g raw almond paste

1. Whip egg whites to soft peaks. Then, add the powdered sugar and whip to stiff, glossy peaks. Gently fold the dry ingredients and the flavouring into the whisked egg whites, adding the dry ingredients a third at a time.

2. Carefully fill the mixture in a pastry bag and pipe 2 cm mounds on parchment paper. Bake in an oven preheated to 160 degree celcius until golden and well risen.

3. Remove from oven and drizzle a little water between the hot baking sheet and the parchment paper so that the steam helps release the macaroons. Cool completely before removing the macaroons from the paper.

4. For the filling, beat the softened butter into the raw almond paste and flavour with vanilla or raspberry. Sandwich the two macaroons together with this filling.

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