The Story Of Us

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Mesmerized
Traumatized
Ostracized
And chastised

Breathing air
Filled with lies
Vengeful words
In disguise

Fairytales
Broken hearts
Juxtaposed
Miles apart

All your smiles
Laced with spite
Covert looks
Pure-bred blight

Ticking clocks
Out of sync
Broken pens
Lacking ink

Symphonies
Jarring sounds
Hunting me
Packs of hounds

When will you
Break these walls
Answer me
Not their calls

Time to stop
Take a look
Is this one
For the books

Read between
Wordless lines
Shed the dark
Let it shine

Fools we are
Chasing ghosts
Leaving what
Matters most

Realize
Recognize
Empathize
Synchronize

– Yousuf Bawany, February 2017

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude

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When you have two kids under the age of six, solitude is a precious commodity. You spend the entire day being a friend, an enemy, a teacher, a doctor and more often than not, a referee; raising kids is no easy job, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When the day is finally over and I have tucked my children in for the night, I find nothing more comforting than the pages of a book. Here’s a picture I took tonight to personify my love for the written word. Enjoy!

Culinary Escapades: A Photo-blog

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Venue: Liwan and Shayan Resturants at Al-Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana. Enjoy! 🙂

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

 

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.

Confessions: Why I Blog?

How did I get started Blogging?

Having been told I’m a pathetic writer all my life (as if there’s anything more degrading than getting a ‘C’ in your O’Levels English Language exam), I thought I should give writing a try, what with English being my second language and all. It did take me a long time to really find my stride but eventually, I did overcome a lot of my fears. To be honest, it was love, real love, that got me into writing. After I got married in 2008, I started writing love poems and was surprised when people appreciated my efforts, especially my beautiful wife. Realizing I had some above-mediocre writing skills, no thanks to my teachers, I finally found my voice, an outlet for my introverted feelings and emotions, my insanity; ergo the blog!

What has been my biggest blogging hurdle?

When I first started, I would think about sharing something about me that I might have never shared before, something vulnerable, something that people might relate to; being an introvert, it didn’t come naturally to me. Fighting my inner turmoil about letting my guard down, showing who I really am rather than pretending to be someone I’m not has perhaps been the biggest hurdle I have had to overcome on my (blogging) journey of self-discovery.

As with all writers (except ones who churn book after book like there’s no tomorrow), sometimes I find myself at a loss of ideas, call it blogger’s block. That’s when I turn to people around me for inspiration. I try not to restrict myself to writing as I believe I have a lot more to offer than words, prose or otherwise.

What has been my biggest blogging triumph?

Overcoming my fears, and knowing that I am better than what people had labelled me for, is perhaps the most satisfying feeling I get while blogging. People loving and appreciating (and criticizing) your work doesn’t hurt either.

Briefly describe my ideal audience.

Insanity is what truly defines us. Everyone has their quirks, their idiosyncrasies (apologies for the big word), their OCDs, and these are what truly make us unique. Ideally, I would love reaching out to people who acknowledge and celebrate their insanity, embrace life, and wish to have a positive impact on people, even if it’s just a handful.

How do I come up with ideas for what to write about?

As stated earlier, my biggest influence and inspiration was, is and will always be my wife; my darling one-and-a-half-year-old daughter comes in a close second. Sometimes, I witness something that leaves a profound impact on my perceptions on life, something so insignificant that others might disregard as mundane, even lackluster. I, on the other hand, try finding a deeper insight into these encounters, pouring my feelings into words and images that clearly portray my emotions (or at least I try to).

I write on topics ranging from art to photography, from parenting to religion, from things I feel to the way things should be. People are restricted only in their minds and should you choose, you can do whatever you set your sights to.

What does it take for me to consider a post successful?

This one’s perhaps the most difficult question to answer, or should I say, put into words. Then again, I’m (supposedly) a writer so I should at least attempt to satisfy your curiosity. Everything I do, every word I write, every photo I post, comes straight from the heart. People generally count the success of a post in the number of likes or comments they get on it, but some of my favorite posts have had few or no likes at all. These posts, however, remind me of who I truly am and who I aspire to be, and I keep going back to them to relive the experiences, the memories associated with them, painful or otherwise.

I wish, hope, that when my daughter is old enough, she’ll be able to understand her old man better, learn from my mistakes and maybe even seek inspiration from my work.

Thank you,
Yousuf

p.s. I have submitted this to The Daily Post and thought my readers would like to read it too.

I Know Someone Who Owns A Jaguar