Featured Slider

It's been a while in Dubai

It’s just any other Friday evening. As the colours of the sky change from a dull indigo to a pale crimson to a beautiful midnight blue, I can see the lights come on. From where I sit, I can see the skyline of the famous Dubai Marina. The shadowy silhouette is slowly changing to a beautifully lit silhouette. I am tempted to take a bus, the F29, my lifeline, to Dubai Marina; just to walk by the water – with the many yachts parked, swaying almost negligibly, on one side and the tall rise buildings on the other side. There are residential buildings, hotels and office buildings, all shining glamorously as the designers have ensured that the steel and glass live up to their reputation of being popular modern architecture elements.

I don’t know if Dubai has ever been called the land of dreams, but for more than a million Asian and Western expats, this city has become synonymous to being called a second home. From the outside, Dubai is a perfect city – I say perfect thinking of Nadia Comaneci and her famous 10 score at the Olympics. But Dubai allows, or rather unceremoniously ignores the chaos, the tiny streets where hustlers sell their artefacts, where taxis park erroneously; surely making the visionaries of this futuristic city scratch their heads in their sleep, where an older generation – the one that came to Dubai in the 90’s – lives in buildings so old, it could remind you of a section of Mumbai’s Dadar.

Art inspiration in Dubai

Last weekend, I visited Alserkal Avenue, which is alternatively called a hub of creativity and art. I wanted to check it out for myself, see what exactly the place was all about. Even though it's October it is still hot and humid here in Dubai (I would have loved to declare that Autumn is here, but alas, not yet).

There's a lot of walking around to be done, the Avenue is a maze of warehouses, dotted neatly alongside a criss-cross of tiny lanes. Unsure of where to begin, I walked over to the A4 Space, it seemed like a popular meeting spot. The day I went, there were dozens of NYU students who had come to check out the place, like I had.

The A4 Space is a minimally designed, artsy warehouse space, with benches and chairs, plants and eclectic lighting fixtures all over. A small stairway led me to the top - where there were more couches and hundreds of books to browse through. This was only my first stop at the Avenue, and I couldn't wait to walk around (in spite of the heat).

Some photos from my visit.

Swimming with dolphins in Dubai

At around 7 am on a lazy Friday summer morning, I look out of the window - hoping for a slightly less sunny day than usual. I was nervous, I hoped that day would go as expected. We took a cab by around 9 am after a quick breakfast - we'd rather be early than be late. Atlantis is a luxury resort located at the northern tip of the Palm Jumeirah (I always wondered how these artificial islands look like - would there be a lot of swaying palms ? Apparently not.).

We drove past the Atlantis hotel, and it was definitely majestic. On one side was the hotel on a sprawling piece of land, on the other side was the Arabian Gulf - the water looked a beautiful blue. As we walked into the Atlantis, along with 100s of other tourists, I was surprised. I did expect company, not throngs of people - the activity we had chosen was quite expensive (or so I thought). However, eventually I realized that most of the crowd would take a small turn towards the aqua park and the aquarium called 'Lost Chambers'. I was restored to my original state of mind. I really wanted to enjoy the morning.

We were given a map of the property, and I remember rolling my eyes (unconsciously of course) when I realized the Dolphin Bay was at another end of the property. 'Don't worry ma'am, there's a buggy that'll take you around' a nice lady quickly told me.

As we walked towards the buggy, we were instantly transported to a tropical island kind-of place - there was lush greenery wherever our eyes could see. After the buggy dropped us at the entrance to the Dolphin Bay, we were greeted by the staff. But hey, I wasn't listening. I had spotted the shiny dark grey figures swimming around casually in the bay. I stood fixed to the ground, seeing them swim around in one of the large pools was so beautiful. For someone who has never seen dolphins, this is a beautiful spectacle - for kids and adults alike.

Traveling solo, tips and some safe destinations : Aswathy Honeylal

I am always in awe and inspired by a few friends of mine, who are bitten by the wanderlust bug, those who have full time jobs and yet, manage to travel, quite a bit. We got talking to Aswathy, an ex-colleague and a friend, who, yes very much, hopes to see as many countries and experience as many moments all over the globe as she can. She has been traveling solo for a couple of years now, and has traveled to 24 countries, and while I write this, I am sure she's planning her next trip.

1. Why did you first decide to travel solo?
I first decided to travel solo mainly because it was difficult for my friends and I to manage our leaves at the same time. At one point the desire to take a break and travel was so overwhelming, that it made me take the leap of faith, and do a solo trip (the best decision of my life :)). The mantra running in my head was, if not now, then when?

#Stylefile Styling the Kalamkari skirt

I love Indian prints. Period. Whether it is Ikat or Kalamkari, these prints, if worn well, are statement pieces. Last time I went home, my mum gifted me this Kalamkari skirt. It was a full length one, which she'd got from Gujarat (she got it directly from the artisan). I loved the skirt, but was unsure how to style it. One immediate option was to pair it with a silk camisole, tucked in of course. I would have picked maroon or dark red - it would have been a good contrast to the earthen colours of the skirt. But I wanted to wear something, umm, more sturdy, so to speak. Also, I did not want to buy something new.

So I paired it with a cotton shirt. It was unconventional, but I think a plain cotton shirt with a full length printed skirt looks quite nice. It is not too formal but still quite sophisticated. I wanted it for an everyday wear, not a function.

While driving around Dubai, one location which I really have been meaning to check out was Al Serkal Avenue. The Avenue is filled with cafes, art exhibitions, creative spaces and it was perfect for spending time just getting things done, or reading (if it is me). Quiet dreamy spaces are so rare. We shot a few photos here and then hanged a bit (there were hammock chairs!!!!). This space is called Nadi Al Qouz, but I am pretty sure that every space inside Al Serkal is this pretty.

Would you travel solo? Some notes.

A younger version of myself would have dismissed solo travel, putting it under the 'too daring, unsafe and 'not me' bracket'.

But last year, I had traveled to Andaman Islands alone. I was quite nervous for so many reasons. I had never traveled solo before. Of course, I have taken long flights alone but traveling alone by choice, that was a first.

With every important experience comes lessons and confidence, and of course, observations aplenty. Here are some notes from my solo travel experience.

10 all time favorite feel good movies

Yesterday, I saw myself flipping through three hard dives searching for that perfect movie. This has happened to me before. All I wanted to do was watch a feel-good movie, otherwise, in my terms, defined as a chic flick. There are some movies, which even if you watch for the hundredth time, still leave you dreamy. And then there are some, which you've heard about so often, that you want to push yourself to watch them, but just can't go ahead.

We all need happily ever afters amidst our daily chores and a good laugh after long meetings. Here, I'm listing my happy movies, the ones I can rely on to cheer me up after a bad week or a blah day at work.

Exploring Kuwait - Mirror House and Souk Mubarakiya

Like a scene from a movie.
Did you ever think you would have to move to a country that every one warned you about? Sometimes it happens - school, college, work, marriage - being some of the reasons on the top of my mind. But isn't it almost unlikely that you will actually start to love the place?
Hard to explain, but I am going to miss Kuwait so much. Like so much. But this post isn't a rant about my love for this desert country. I'm going to write about a few of my places I love about here.

The Mirror House

Lidia Al-Qattan came to Kuwait in the 1960's from Northern Italy and ever since, has had a beautiful relationship with the country. She married the late Kuwaiti artist Khalifa Al-Qattan - who is a pioneer of art in Kuwait. Lidia has created much of the work herself. She herself gives tours of the house which is a testimony of the work both the artists have created. When we arrived, we could see mirror work on the outside of the compound wall. We saw butterflies, stars and flowers - all in mirror. Now, the truth is that this place looks a million times better in real that in photos. We could not stop being in awe.