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There are many ways to get to Montenegro Adriatic Coast, my taxi driver assured me, raising his voice over a chorus of horns that angrily saluted his laissez-faire attitude toward lane use during morning rush-hour traffic in Belgrade. ‘But it makes no sense to take the train.’ He weaved through less aggressive vehicles like a skier clearing slalom gates. A cold, grey autumn rain began to fall harder, drops beading down my window, as the main railway station came into view.

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There are many ways to get to Montenegro’s Adriatic Coast, my taxi driver assured me, raising his voice over a chorus of horns that angrily saluted his laissez-faire attitude toward lane use during morning rush-hour traffic in Belgrade. ‘But it makes no sense to take the train.’ He weaved through less aggressive vehicles like a skier clearing slalom gates. A cold, grey autumn rain began to fall harder, drops beading down my window, as the main railway station came into view.

‘Let me take you to the airport,’ he sounded genuinely concerned. ‘You will be in the sea and in the sun and with a beer in half an hour. This thing you are doing, it will take all day … and into the night.’ He finally relented as we pulled up to the curb: ‘At least buy water, sandwiches, and toilet paper.’

The cabbie left me in front of the crenellated railway station, a faded Habsburg-yellow throwback opened in 1884. He was already speeding off to advise another tourist before I could throw my bag over my shoulder. Inside, I found the ticket office. The woman behind the glass informed me that the trip from Belgrade, Serbia, to Bar, Montenegro – on the Adriatic edge of the Balkan Peninsula – takes 12 hours. It costs 21 euros (there would be an additional three-euro charge for a seat reservation). ‘Yes, there is a bakery nearby,’ she said and pointed. ‘It is behind you. The shop for water and tissues is next to it.’ She slid the window closed, stood, picked up her pack of cigarettes, and disappeared.

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That sense of old-world drama would serve me well, I would soon learn, along this route. On the outskirts of the Serbian capital – as I settled into my seat in a weathered, six-person cabin – we passed Topčider Station, where the hulking locomotives from Yugoslav leader Marshal Tito’s famous Blue Train are stored. The behemoths sat dishevelled, graffitied, but still regal and almost lifelike, wishing me a safe passage to the outer lands. Within an hour, the tangle of urban metal and concrete unravelled, and the countryside spread out in all directions with the urgency of a jailbreak. The sun came out as wet, emerald-green hummocks began to play leapfrog across the vista, rolling until they dove out of sight over the horizon.

Though the Belgrade–Bar line doesn’t have a sexy moniker (like the Royal Scotsman or Rocky Mountaineer), the Yugoslav Flyer would be appropriate. When construction began on the 476km railway in 1951, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was in its infancy: a tenuous post-WWII cadre of states on the Balkan Peninsula’s western half. By the time the route opened in 1976 – complete with 254 tunnels and 234 bridges winding down from the Pannonian Plain to the island-studded Adriatic Sea – the country had implanted itself as a geopolitical force and a synapse between the West and the Soviet Union.

Yugoslavia has since splintered into seven nations. The railway, thankfully, endures, connecting Serbia to Montenegro with a brief blip across Bosnia & Hercegovina’s eastern border. But the line’s existence represents more than just a continued, now international, transport option. These tracks are the Balkans – and a lifeline to a swath of land where cultures have intertwined since before history. Here, the train takes adventurers across vistas crisscrossed by Greeks and Illyrians, as well as the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Along the way, visitors have a literal window onto a living museum frozen in time.

Those natural exhibits were on full display as we rumbled through the foothills of the Dinaric Alps in the southwestern corner of Serbia. When we crossed the border into Montenegro, the museum’s lineup of canvases – pristine panoramas and landscapes – changed again. The Western Balkans’ rotating collection now included towering mountains and canyons that engulfed us whole.

‘I had no idea what to expect,’ said Colin Smith, a fellow passenger and UK native. Outside the window, an old couple leaned against pitchforks next to haystacks. Behind them, vegetable gardens and a small-but-dense orchard of plum trees surrounded a stone farmhouse. ‘But I am so surprised by the beauty: the mountains, steep ravines and endless drops.’

Before I went to sleep that night, I remembered my taxi driver: ‘But it makes no sense to take the train.’ Lying in bed, I could hear the sea washing onto the shore outside my rented apartment’s window. If I ever saw him again, I would make sure to tell the cabbie he was right: a flight would have been much faster and easier, and more sterile.

Book tickets (and separate necessary reservations) at the station a day in advance. There are 1st- and 2nd-class options. Night-train passengers can choose between couchettes or sleepers (with two or three beds). A one-way ticket (from Belgrade) costs 21 euros; a reservation is necessary and costs an additional three euros. Second-class couchettes on night trains cost an additional six euros. A bed in a three-bed sleeper is 15 euros; a bed in a two-bed sleeper is 20 euros.

The Belgrade–Bar railway line runs twice per day, in both directions. From Belgrade, the train departs at 9:10am and at 9:10pm; the trip takes 12 hour.

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Diamonds Unearthed

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Diamonds Unearthed

How are diamonds formed?

Diamonds are formed deep within the Earth about 100 miles or so below the surface in the upper mantle. Obviously in that part of the Earth it’s very hot. There’s a lot of pressure, the weight of the overlying rock bearing down, so that combination of high temperature and high pressure is what’s necessary to grow diamond crystals in the Earth. As far as we know, all diamonds that formed in the Earth formed under those kinds of conditions and, of course, that’s a part of the Earth we can’t directly sample. We don’t have any way of drilling to that depth or any other way of traveling down to the upper mantle of the Earth.

How do diamonds travel to the surface of the Earth?

The diamonds that we see at the surface are ones then that are brought to the surface by a very deep-seated volcanic eruption. It’s a very special kind of eruption, thought to be quite violent, that occurred a long time ago in the Earth’s history. We haven’t seen such eruptions in recent times. They were probably at a time when the earth was hotter, and that’s probably why those eruptions were more deeply rooted. These eruptions then carried the already-formed diamonds from the upper mantle to the surface of the Earth. When the eruption reached the surface it built up a mound of volcanic material that eventually cooled, and the diamonds are contained within that. These are the so-called Kimberlites that are typically the sources of many of the world’s mined diamonds.

One of the things we know, therefore, about any diamonds that were brought to the surface is that the process of the Kimberlite eruption bringing the diamonds from the upper mantle to the surface of the Earth had to happen very quickly, because if they were traveling too long and too slowly they would have literally turned into graphite along the way. And so by moving quickly they essentially got locked into place into the diamond structure. Once the diamonds have been brought from high temperature to low temperature very quickly—and by quickly, we mean in a matter of hours—these eruptions, these Kimberlite pipes moving to the surface, may have been traveling at rates of 20 to 30 miles per hour. Once the diamonds are brought to the surface and cooled relatively quickly, those carbon atoms are locked into place and there’s just not enough energy to now start rearranging them into graphite.

What is carbon’s role in forming diamonds?

Diamonds are made of carbon so they form as carbon atoms under a high temperature and pressure; they bond together to start growing crystals. Because of the temperature and pressure, under these conditions, carbon atoms will bond to each other in this very strong type of bonding where each carbon atom is bonded to four other carbon atoms. That’s why a diamond is such a hard material because you have each carbon atom participating in four of these very strong covalent bonds that form between carbon atoms. So as a result you get this hard material. Again where the carbon is coming from, how quickly they’re growing, those are all still open questions, but obviously the conditions are such that you’ve got some group of carbon atoms that are in close enough proximity that they start to bond. As other carbon atoms move into the vicinity they will attach on. That’s the way any crystal grows. It’s the process of atoms locking into place that produces this repeating network, this structure of carbon atoms, that eventually grows large enough that it produces crystals that we can see. Each of these crystals, each diamond, one carat diamond, represents literally billions and billions of carbon atoms that all had to lock into place to form this very orderly crystalline structure.

You mentioned that scientists don’t know where the carbon comes from. What are some possible sources?

In some cases, the carbon seems to have originated within the mantle of the Earth, so carbon that was already in the Earth. In other cases, there’s evidence very curiously to suggest that the carbon may have originated near the surface of the Earth. The thinking there is that this carbon could have literally been carbon that was part of carbonate sediments or animals, plants, shells, whatever, that was carried down into the upper mantle of the Earth by the plate tectonics mechanism called subduction.

How long does it take diamonds to form?

We really don’t know how long it takes. There have been attempts to try to date inclusions in different parts of diamonds, and those have largely been unsuccessful. It may be that diamonds form over periods as short a time as days, weeks, months to millions of years. Typically, as with many crystals that grow on the Earth, it’s not a continuous process. The diamonds may start to grow and then there may be an interruption for some reason – a change in conditions, temperature, pressure, source of carbon, whatever—and they could sit for millions, hundreds of million of years, and then start growing again. That’s part of the problem of trying to put some sort of a growth period on them; things don’t always occur continuously in the Earth.

We can grow diamonds in the lab and we can simulate conditions there. But there are things we have to do to grow diamonds in the laboratory that aren’t obvious as to how it happens in the Earth. In the laboratory, they’re typically grown, but there’s some catalyst. Some metals are often added to cause the diamonds to grow, but these same catalysts are not observed in the diamonds from the upper mantle of the Earth.

How old then are diamonds?

All diamonds, as far as we know, are quite old in the Earth. Most diamond formation probably took place in the Earth in the first couple billion years of the Earth’s history. There are diamond deposits that have been discovered that are younger—the rock itself, the Kimberlite, is maybe just tens of hundreds of millions of years old. The way they date diamonds is typically looking at inclusions of other minerals in the diamond that can be radioactively dated. The diamonds themselves can’t be dated. But if the mineral inclusions contain certain elements like potassium and things that can be used in a radioactive dating scheme, then by dating the inclusion in the diamond you get some sense of the age of the diamond itself. And those dates always suggest the diamonds are quite old. At least hundreds of millions of years old, but in most cases billions of years old, anywhere from one to three billion years old, a time when the earth was probably hotter than it is today and so conditions were perhaps more appropriate for diamond growth.

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The Best Men’s Fanny Packs Look Cool As Hell 

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The Best Men's Fanny Packs Look Cool As Hell 

Listen, we can dance around what to call the fanny pack—a.k.a., the sling bag, crossbody bag, bum bag, shoulder bag, etc. But let’s not kid ourselves about what it is. Even the best men’s fanny packs are, simply, fanny packs. And they’re useful as hell.

Once shorthand for a whole era of ill-advised style decisions, the fanny pack has re-emerged into our good graces, a product of menswear’s gorpy overhaul and the realization that there are many funkier, weirder, wilder ways to dress (or carry a bag) than a buckle-on pocket in 2023. 


The Best Fanny Packs Shopping Guide


Its selling point is fairly obvious: the fanny pack is functional and versatile. When a backpack is too sweaty and a shoulder bag of some sort cramps your [pharmaceutical ad voiceover] active lifestyle, the fanny pack steps in to store all your necessities: keys, Chapstick, sunglasses, hand sanitizer, AirPods, backup AirPods, and more. Wear one around your waist like a dad trying to puzzle out where the visitor’s center is on a large map, or sling it over your body in, like, 13 other ways. Any of them beat praying that the tote bag you haphazardly hung on the edge of your bike’s handlebars won’t jam itself into the spokes mid-cruise. (We may or may not be speaking from experience here.)

Point is, the fanny pack is back, though it never left and it does not need your forgiveness. It just wants to serve you, ably and effectively. Like the humble fanny pack, we also strive to be useful here at GQ Recommends, so we turned up 23 of the best men’s fanny packs on the market. You can still grab the durable nylon joints that define the genre, but these days there’s plenty of elegant alternatives stitched from full-grain leather or top-shelf canvas. Your waist deserves so much better—treat it accordingly. 


The Best Throwback Fanny Pack

Nike tech hip pack

$47

Amazon

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Nike’s all-killer, no-filler fanny pack is just trying to do its job, ma’am. Its main pocket is spacious but not a black hole, and we appreciate the subtle blacked-out Swoosh, particularly in a sea of fanny packs that like to scream loudly. Think of it as the equivalent of the team captain who leads by example: it gives off a real “first guy into the gym, last guy out” energy—even if your favorite sport is jostling your way through a crowded Whole Foods on a Sunday afternoon.

The Best Museum-Worthy Fanny Pack

Prada re-nylon belt bag

$1,490

Farfetch

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Prada’s history of elevating mundane materials—and nylon, in particular—to the realm of high fashion goes back a long time. In the late ’90s, the Italian brand launched Prada Sport, a then-groundbreaking line of casual-leaning sportswear that presaged the rise of athleisure [shudders quietly] by well over a decade. The brand’s sportier offerings, like this soft-sheen belt bag, remain a hallmark of modern design, particularly for diehard Prada stans who prefer the brand’s simpler stuff over its more look-at-me printed pieces. (Don’t worry, that legendary enamel triangle logo is there!)

The Best Budget Fanny Pack

Herschel Seventeen

$32

Amazon

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Unsurprisingly, the brand that does quality baggage at a “wait, that’s all?” price also makes a no-frills, deeply affordable fanny pack. Herschel’s might not come with all the flashy bells and whistles some of its counterparts do, but when it looks this good who really cares? A tumbled gray colorway and hints of black by the strap ensures not a single menswear-loving soul—at the airport, drugstore, or anywhere else you avail yourself of its pocket space—will have a waist as tastefully decorated as yours.

The Best Fanny Pack for the Man on the Move

Lululemon fast and free run belt bag

$38

lululemon

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Not too long ago, Lululemon gave the fanny pack the Lululemon treatment, stripping the bag down to its essential elements and leaving nothing but streamlined design in its wake. Made out of sweat-wicking Lycra that looks like it should cost a lot more than it does, this is the fanny pack you buy if you worship at the altar of near-logoless practicality—and that’s doubly true if you’re an especially cost-conscious believer.

The Best “Protect Your Stuff At All Costs” Fanny Pack

1733 side pack 7 sling

$180

Huckberry

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1733’s ridiculously durable, USA-made bag is the fanny pack for your wildest outdoor adventures–or abnormally wet morning commutes. Constructed from water-resistant nylon designed to take more beatings than Rocky, it boasts a hefty interior pocket big enough to comfortably house your nicknacks—along with plenty of extra storage space for easy access to the stuff you don’t want to get lost in your backpack. It’s not cheap, exactly, but when you think about how much time and effort it takes to resuscitate a waterlogged iPhone the sub-$200 ticket price doesn’t feel fair—it feels downright criminal

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Textile Recycling in India to Achieve Zero Waste

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Textile Recycling in India to Achieve Zero Waste

India is a spiritual country with a diversity of cultures, geography and religions. Indians have been practicing various recycling-based activities for a long time as one of the Jain philosophies emphasise aparigraha meaning “do not store, and buy as per the need”. Recycling textiles was a domestic craft in India and was done at both industrial and household levels. A lot of ancient art and crafts are based on recycling. According to Norris, 2010, clothing has a vital social and cultural significance in India. It is hardly discarded. Apparels and textiles can be recycled in a number of ways for both the domestic and global markets.

 

Textile Recycling Practices at Household Level

Many recycling activities can be seen in the daily lives of many Indians, lasting for a long time and generally considered a low standard and substitute to overcome financial crises. Some of the standard and long-standing practices are the use of old clothes for a new-born child. These fabrics are comparatively soft, free from surface finishes, readily available and low in cost. Soft cotton clothes and sarees are also excellent substitutes for sanitary napkins. These are often considered cheaper and more hygienic, if used correctly. Most households use old clothes for dusting and moping. The fabric scraps are also used as fillers for soft toys, pillows and mattresses. Converting old silk sarees to cushion covers and other household activities is common. Precious traditional textiles are often passed on to the next generations as a memento and heirlooms in India and several other parts of the world. There is a cult of designers and NGO who rejuvenate precious old sarees into new value-added products with a new look.

Textile Recycling Practices in Crafts Sector

Apart from various household activities, some recycling-based crafts probably emerged either to show creative expression or as a good and cheap substitute for raw materials. These recycling-based crafts are mainly female-dominated activities. Over the years, a number of these crafts have become sources of income and livelihood. The kantha work of Bengal is often considered one of the oldest recycling practices associated with textiles in the craft sector. In this craft, excellent use of old muslin sarees is done as the base material to engrave beautiful running stitch hand embroidery. The nomadic tribes of Bakkarwal and Gujjar from Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan, respectively, use various recycling-based textile craft, which is a part of their tradition and culture and to preserve the old textiles. Tribes belonging to Jammu and Kashmir convert the old woollen felt blankets into handmade rugs using handmade needlework embroidery using acrylic yarns.

 

Similarly, tribes belonging to Rajasthan do patchwork, embroidery and mirror work to enhance the beauty of their textile products. Several accessories like caps, bags, wall hangings, mojaris (footwear), cushions etc are also made from recycled fabrics. Durry weaving on pit looms is done in the rural areas of Haryana to create Chindi Durries. In this technique, old sarees, shawls, dupattas and other old textiles generate the raw material for the rough weaving.

 

The awareness of sustainability and the necessity to save the environment has led researchers and scientists to emphasise the need to implement recycling practices at an industrial level. Companies partner with engineers, researchers, and industry leaders to determine value-added products. They use old textiles and apparel, as the textile waste is nearly100 per cent recyclable, and nothing has to be discarded. Some examples are as follows:

 

1. Panipat, also known as the global textile recycling capital, is perhaps one of India’s most influential, successful and comparatively oldest industrial textile recycling hub. The industry here recycles approximately 1,44,000 tonnes of second-hand clothing (SHC) discarded by many developed nations yearly. A bulk amount of textile wastes, especially SHC, is used as raw material to create low-quality products like blankets, shawls, carpets etc.

 

2. Many carpet manufacturers, fibre and chemical suppliers, recycling companies, and academic institutions actively pursue various methods to recycle fibrous waste. The approaches include both chemical and mechanical processes (Wang. et al., 2003)

 

Even though Zero Waste Design is not yet well implemented in the fashion industry, a small but growing community of active designers and academics exists. Of course, they all have their design approach, but still, they keep in mind that fabric is a unique resource and should not be wasted for any style options.

 

Following designers have taken great initiatives as a part of their businesses or innovations to work on this concept of Zero Waste Fashion-

 

Patch over Patch is a sustainable fashion brand based out of Surat that uses post-production waste to create upcycled clothing for women through different patchwork techniques.

 

Raas-Leela is a Gujarat-based label that works with an all-women artisans’ team and uses kora cotton to create breathable, comfortable and timeless clothing. This label aims to create a capsule wardrobe explicitly targeted at Indian wear. Celebrating irregularities and imperfections, their 100 per cent handstitched products use the remnants from their atelier to the leftovers from stores and manufacturing units to leave no waste behind.

 

Pomegranade is a Bengaluru-based ethical fashion brand that focuses on creating garments for all body types. And it shows as well. Their website shows women and men wearing their clothes and accessories on the streets. Their line of upcycled kimonos is made by patching together surplus fabric from Ants Crafts – a public charitable trust. 

 

Although it has only recently started reappearing in fashion, zero-waste and its philosophy date back to when traditional garments began to be made in Asia, with Japanese kimonos and Indian sarees produced using one entire bolt of fabric. This practice generated no waste. Traditionally in the Indian culture, all textiles were perceived as valuable materials. This essentially meant that textiles should not be wasted. The scale was much lower in the production of raw materials, and many textile production processes were completed manually, contributing to textiles being used to their optimum. Then came the turning point: the industrial revolution. The focus shifted from high-quality raw materials and handicrafts to fast production and artificial fibres that are affordably available within short periods. Designers quite literally started cutting corners. The valuable resources are now sacrificed and not used to their full extent, resulting in an increasingly inefficient and unsustainable industry. By rediscovering the value of material resources and adopting zero-waste in making designs, one can make a big difference. It is a great way to decrease environmental footprint, challenges creative skills of designers, and adds to the innovativeness of brands. So, the awareness of concepts related to sustainable design thinking is important. From a fashion designer’s perspective, several practices can be adopted during the design phase to become a more sustainability conscious designer. Upcycling is a widely used method of sustainable design. But implementing zero waste pattern making while preparing textile-garments products may reduce the amount of waste.

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