Up, Up and Away

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If I could ever learn to fly
I’d fly so high, I’d touch the sky
With rolling hills and meadows lush
Things tall and small just passing by

As tears of joy stream through my eye
And clouds of gloom amass, oh my!
I’d force myself to face the wind
Above the storm, I would soar high

The turbulence I’d take in stride
Won’t let the lightning strike my pride
I’d flap my wings so hard it hurts
Keep moving on, nothing to hide

No one would stop me, rain or shine
I’d own the sky and make it mine
And leave all my troubles behind
While guided by the light divine

The pull of gravity I’d fight
Break free from its oppressive might
Mind over matter, will so strong
Won’t let it stop my maiden flight

– Yousuf Bawany, March 2017

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

 

My Name Is ‘Trust’

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Trust is my name, let me be loud
Thee who seeks me, just hear me out

I’m faithful to the one who knows
With time my value only grows

Worth more than all the diamond mines
And all the gold on earth combined

I, my friend, what I have learned
Can not be bought but rather earned

Though mostly lost, I’m rarely found
More tightly than love I am bound

Cannot be seen through naked eyes
For me many will gladly die

I’m present in your children’s cry
I’m in your mother’s lullaby

More fragile than a bowl of glass
Once broken, no repair could pass

But only when someone breaks me
I shatter lives into debris

Power’s a blessing and a curse
Those who abuse me oft get hurt

I’m your best friend/worst enemy
Mysteries aplenty held in me

Trust foes to hurt you when you fail
And friends to bail you out of jail

Trust is my name and you should know
To no one shall I ever bow

– Yousuf Bawany, July 2015

NOTE: My wife and I strongly believe that trust is one of the qualities that define a person and it is something that must be cultivated in children from an early age. As a rule, I never make false promises to my children so that they can understand and appreciate the value of trust. 

Never Let Go

A Literary Treat: The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Pictures

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2015 is supposed to be a year of change for me; I had stayed holed up in my comfort zone for far too long and it was high-time I ventured outdoors to follow my passions. Volunteering at the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature 2015 seemed like a perfect opportunity to awaken the literary beast within me from a long hibernation. Plus, it gave me the ideal opportunity to inaugurate my new Nikon D7100. Words would be wasted on the awesome experience that was the EAFOL, so without further ado, here’s a look at the essence of the festival through my lens.

Phoenix: Reborn

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No place to hide, I’m ball-and-chain bound
Dropped in mid-air, crashed into the ground

Locked in constant battle, an emotional duel
No need for arson, your words be the fuel

You burn every bridge, every road set ablaze
Embers smoldering, everywhere that I gaze

Crawling through the ruins, no roof on my head
Crumbling walls, broken floors, as good as dead

Life has no meaning, love lost all its thrill
Vultures circling over me, moving in for the kill

You pushed me and shoved me, and put me under
But I got out unscathed, still makes me wonder

Thought I had lost all, but I held onto hope
Coughing and wheezing, got out of the smoke

Like a phoenix reborn, growing from the ashes
Few scars as reminders, a few bleeding gashes

Wings flapping again, to the skies I shall soar
Opportunities aplenty, worlds left to explore

– Yousuf Bawany