Photowalk @ Dubai Design District’s #meetd3 Event

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Dubai design district recently hosted their open-to-public meetd3 event a couple of weeks back, and I had the privilege of (ab)using my camera to my heart’s content. With interactive installations by extraordinary artists and plenty of activities for adults and kids alike, it was a must-attend event; I blew my first ever glass globe thingy and it was amazing.

Here’s a glimpse of meetd3 and the Dubai Design District through my lens. Enjoy!

Islamic Architecture: A Photo Montage

A Priceless T-Shirt

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I recently volunteered for the Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai where all volunteers were supposed to wear standard-issue T-shirts. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any to fit my bulky frame. I decided to keep the one I got as a souvenir and turn it into something priceless; click on one of the images below for a closer look!

This bad boy has autographs from authors, poets and illustrators, including John Julius Norwich, Rachel Hamilton, A.F. Harrold, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Dobbs, Garth Nix, Anthony Horowitz, Ian Rankin, Brandon Sanderson, David Crystal, Ben Crystal, Hillary Crystal, David Melling, Jenny Colgan, Alexander McNabb, Marcia Williams, John McHugo, John Man, Sean Fay Wolfe, Gill Lewis, Jo Simpson, Maitha Al Khayat, Lauren St. John, Chris Carter, Shukri Al Mabkhout, Korky Paul, Darren Shan, Anchee Min, Lisa Faulkner, Sebastian Fitzek, Rachel Billington, Susan Abulhawa, Antony Beevor, Jonathan Meres, Justin Marozzi, Chris Haughton, Diana Darke, Susan Casey, Peter Horacek, Christopher Edge, David Allen, Tim Specter, Chris Cleave, Imtiaz Dharkar, Curtis Jobling, Chris Cleave, Gavin Mortimer, Marco Misiroli and Harry Baker. This is one precious heirloom that I’m sure to pass on to my children.

NOTE: In case you were wondering, I did have a tough time mapping forty-nine names to their signatures two months after the festival. Fortunately, Microsoft Paint came to the rescue – hope I haven’t missed any names! 🙂

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A Literary Feast For A Literary Beast

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Reading is something I started doing quite late in life, but my transformation into the literary beast, which I still proudly am, was fairly quick. It was ‘mystery’ that hooked me in, starting me off with some innocent Enid Blyton (of the Hardy Boys fame); it wasn’t long before I was injecting regular doses of Agatha Christie (remember Hercule Poirot?). My metamorphosis was complete; there was no going back. I started tasting other genres including horror, sci-fi and fantasy, and to this day, nothing gets my heart beating faster than speculative fiction.

I moved to Dubai in 2014 and it was then that I heard of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature (EAFOL). The EAFOL is the highlight of Dubai’s event calendar and is organized every March by the hard-working people at the Emirates Literature Foundation. I was lucky enough to be part of the EAFOL volunteering team in 2015 and decided to (happily) render my services in 2016 as well; this time as a photographer. The event served to be a thousand KVA jolt of much-needed motivation/inspiration and I finally started my journey as an aspiring novelist.

This year, EAFOL had a stellar lineup of authors, poets, illustrators, chefs, scientists, astronauts and journalists from across the globe. I was fortunate enough to interact with quite a few of them; they were more than eager to share priceless insights into the mysterious world of writing and publishing. Every single one of these individuals (whose photos I’m about to share with you) is an amazing human being with the power of transforming lives through the pen. Hats off to you all – keep calm and write on!

Adel Khozam

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A.F. Harrold

Afshin Molavi

Annabel Kantaria

In Session: Afshin Molavi and Annabel Kantaria

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Alexander McNabb

Garth Nix

Jenny Colgan

In Session: Alexander McNabb, Garth Nix and Jenny Colgan

Anchee Min

In Session: Anchee Min, Victoria Hislop and Helen Macdonald

Antony Beevor

Anthony Horowitz

Brandon Sanderson

Brian Johnson

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Chris Carter

Ian Rankin

In Session: Ian Rankin and Chris Carter

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Chris Cleave

Chris Hadfield

Chris Haughton

Christopher Edge

Curtis Jobling

In Session: Christopher Edge and Curtis Jobling

Cristina Mejia

In Session: David, Hilary and Ben Crystal

Darren Shan

David Allen

David Melling

David Neild

Diana Darke

Gavin Mortimer

Gill Lewis

Harry Baker

In Session: The Wonderful World of Harry Potter

Imtiaz Dharkar

Jacqueline Wilson

Jo Simpson

Joe Wicks

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John Julius Norwich

John Man

John McHugo

John Torode

Jonathan Meres

Julia Johnson

Justin Marozzi

Kikka Hotta

Kiran Chhabria

Korky Paul and his Quirky Assistant

Lauren Child

Lauren St. John

Liliane van der Hoeven

Lisa Faulkner

Liz Fenwick

Maitha Al Khayat

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Marcia Williams

Marco Misiroli

Mark Evans

Michael Dobbs

Muhsin Suleman

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Peter Horacek

Rachel Billington

Rachel Hamilton

Riz Khan

Robert Lindsay

In Session: Scintillating Science with Christopher Edge, Nick Arnold and Rachel Hamilton

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Sean Fay Wolfe

Sebastian Fitzek

Shukri Al Mabkhout

Suad Amiry

Susan Abulhawa

Susan Casey

Tim Spencer

In Session: The UAE Mars Mission with Sarah Amiri and Saeed Al Gergawi

 

Readeth On: An Homage To Book-lovers

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Falling in love with someone can be hit or miss; fortunately, you can never go wrong with books. They’re there when you need them most, even if they’re a means to escape the banality of everyday life. Give me an un-put-down-able fantasy hardcover any day of the week and you won’t see me come out of my room till I finish the whole thing.

We book-lovers are a curious, word-hungry breed. If I happen to spot someone reading on the subway, I find myself unabashedly staring at the book he/she is engrossed in, not giving up till I at least have a title (if not the author name) to Google for later. We crave our daily recommended dose of reading (sometimes a bit more) and just don’t settle for anything less.

I recently had the pleasure to volunteer at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (EAFOL) and it was exciting to see such a massive turnout of book-lovers from the UAE and beyond. Since I volunteered with EAFOL as a photographer, I had the pleasure of catching some avid readers in the act – guilty as charged!

This photo-montage is a tribute to all fellow book-worms across the globe; so keep calm and readeth on!

Pizza Pasta: Two Italian To Resist

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Italy may be famous for its fashion and architecture, but more so for its cuisine. There are two Italian experiences that food aficionados cannot seem to get enough of; Pizza and Pasta. The endless ways these two can be created with is what truly sets these two dishes apart. You may choose to create a Tandoori Pizza or a Mexican Pasta, adjusting the ingredients to suit you own palate, and no one would bat an eye. That’s one of the reasons why these are two of the most readily available food items across the globe. You may not find a single French restaurant to satiate your Ratatouille needs within your city, but you’ll certainly find many serving a variety of authentic (or adopted) Pizzas and Pastas.

Back when I was a kid, I used to hate vegetables; what’s more, I used to detest cheese (can you believe this?). Pizza changed my life. I started enjoying these then-outlandish ingredients including Mushrooms, Olives and Jalapeños; mine was an instant love affair with Oregano. One of the first memories I have of my kitchen adventures is making Pizza at home; luckily, it turned out to be a smash hit with friends and family. There was no turning back after that, and it wasn’t long before I started relishing the rich, cheesy goodness of Pasta too.

My kitchen is my sanctuary and I love trying out new recipes. I often step into the kitchen with a specific craving, but there are these rare moments of insanity when I attempt to create something new. I still remember that balmy July afternoon some two years back; I came home from work and headed straight to the kitchen, only to be greeted by empty pots and pans. As my wife hadn’t cooked anything, I told her I’d try something experimental, something that would satisfy my Pizza/Pasta (a.k.a. P&P) craving. That memorable culinary escapade resulted in the masterpiece you are about to drool all over starting… NOW!

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Servings: 3 persons

Ingredients

  • 4 cups boiled pasta (I used Penne but you can use whatever you prefer)
  • 150 grams chicken breasts (cut into ¼ inch thick strips)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • ½ medium-sized onion (diced)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 pinch of oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Ajino Moto (Mono Sodium Glutamate – optional)
  • 3-4 tablespoon chili sauce
  • 4 tablespoon pizza sauce
  • 4 mushrooms (sliced)
  • 6-8 slices of pickled jalapenos
  • 3-4 olives (pitted and sliced)
  • ½ cup sweet corn kernels
  • ½ capsicum (medium) – diced
  • 2 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 6-8 tomato dices for garnish
  • 6-8 slices of garlic bread to serve on the side

Method

  1. Put pan on a stove and turn it on to medium
  2. Add olive oil to the pan
  3. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and onions to the oil and cook for a minute
  4. Add chicken and mushrooms to the pan and cook till the chicken is tender
  5. Add salt, pepper, red chili flakes, oregano, Ajino moto, chili sauce, and pasta sauce to the chicken and cook for a minute
  6. Add, jalapenos, corn, capsicum, olives, mayonnaise, cheddar and mozzarella to the sauce and mix well
  7. Turn the stove off as soon as the cheese is melted and stringy, as you don’t want to overcook the vegetables
  8. Gently fold in the penne pasta so that it is coated evenly with the mixture; patience is essential as you don’t want to turn it into a pulp
  9. Serve with a garnish of cheese, a dash of oregano, tomatoes, and a few slices of garlic bread on the side; I prefer using a cooking torch to give a nice char to the cheese

If you’re on the lookout for a rustic, delectable and hearty meal, this recipe fits the bill perfectly and satisfies your P&P cravings. Needless to say, you can add as little or as much of anything listed above to suit your taste; moreover, you can add a host of pizza toppings into the pasta, like pepperoni, sausages, minced beef, pineapples, etc. I assure you that this creamy, cheesy, aromatic dish is a “party in your mouth” just waiting to happen, so why not get started right away?

Buon Appetito!

Published in The Express Tribune (International Herald Tribune) on 14 April, 2016.

Glorified in Death

Colorful Tomb