A Gastronomic Voyage at Roda Al Bustan

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Superstars of Middle East ComicCon 2016

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This year’s Middle East Film and Comic Convention (MEFCC, in short) had a star-studded line-up of celebrities and experts from the comic industry. People actually queued up and paid to get autographs or selfies with their favourites. On the other hand, media representatives, including yours truly, had an exclusive interactive session with all these people. Here are a few shots from the event!

The list featured heavyweights including:

  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (I didn’t know who he was till I met him; I don’t watch the show – Game of Thrones / Jamie Lannister ring any bells?)
  • Christopher Lloyd (Back to the future)
  • Randy Orton (WWE)
  • Summer Glau (Firefly, Terminator: Sarah Connor)
  • Nick Frost (Shaun of the dead)
  • Veronica Taylor (voice artist extraordinaire – April from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
  • Max Landis (Victor Frankenstein)
  • Darryl McDaniels (a.k.a. Run DMC)
  • Stan Lee (last, but certainly not the least, who made an appearance over a live video stream – creator of  Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men)

Here are a few shots from the event. Enjoy!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant

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This week’s theme, i.e. Jubilant, made me think of my meeting with the author of House Of Cards, Mr. Michael Dobbs. He was ecstatic when I handed him his Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature t-shirt as a souvenir.

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Gundam Fever: Toys For Big Boys

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I came across a booth at the Middle East Film and Comic Convention selling these Transformer-esque toys. Little did I know that I’d be falling head-over-heels in love with these Gundam robots, or Gunpla (Gundam Plastic Models), as they’re officially called. The generous folks at www.otakume.com were giving away free Gunpla kits to people willing to register and attempt to assemble these robots. I naturally registered and, after a while, was building my first ever Gundam.

These kits come with complete instruction sets; you have to cut, join and assemble the entire Gundam from scratch. These components come as molded plastic sheets that you have to cut parts of using a cutter. If you happen to love puzzles, you’ll absolutely adore these robots. The precision with which each piece fits into the other is mesmerizing, to say the least. It’s a good hobby for kids and adults alike and serves to be a good distraction from technology. What’s more, it helps hone your hand-eye coordination, a skill necessary for several professions.

With two kids hovering over me, it took me around one-and-a-half hour to assemble this bad boy. These kits start from around $25 and go all the way up to a few thousand. I’m still trying to navigate the intricacies of grades and classes; having said that, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one!

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