Friday, 29 January 2016

Istanbul: A Museum of Innocence

If you are from Istanbul what do they call you? *Istanbulli? But really found nobody close to being a bully in this friendly ancient city! This *word was stuck in my head since I read about an Istanbulli protagonist in a novel on love, loss and recreation of a lover's paradise built around objects that are mere memories of an innocent time. Istanbul is simply a museum in itself - an innocent witness to its past, present and future as I type this blog. Its mysterious streets may dot many museums but simply being there is no less than witnessing history and geography from a totally different perspective.

Just a few days ago, I was living next door to a unique venue called the Museum of Innocence in Çemberlitaş situated in the heart of Istanbul. If you love to find that special sweet spot between novels and travel to help bring real life places alive through the books you read, this is one museum you should not miss. More than the tragedies in the novel, by the same name, on which the actual museum is based on, my personal tragedy was missing this venue. Blame it on tired legs after 16000+ innocent steps each day in the city. I simply did not visit the museum despite crossing its door at least a few days times every day... keeping it for later sometime. Just like how we miss to take a closer look at something that is near us because our eyes are fixed far away! I missed it. Today's news reports the London premier of the film based on this museum/book. The film is named Innocence of Memories.

In The Museum of Innocence, his first novel since winning the Nobel prize, Orhan Pamuk strolls into this minefield with serene confidence, his own enterprise courting the same unease as that of his protagonist, Kemal Basmaci. Pamuk’s this novel is one of Turkey’s most famous ones. It is set in Istanbul – mainly in the 1970s – and tells the story of one man’s obsessive love for his distant relation Füsun. Over time this businessman, Kemal, who is also a wealthy Istanbulli playboy, spends a decade besieging his beautiful young cousin and then, after certain tragic events, devotes the rest of his life to creating a museum in her memory, stocking it with objects connected to his relationship with Füsun – such as her hair clips, cigarette butts and dirty coffee cups. These objects become a ‘museum’ to his obsession. Not just a love story, the novel is seen as a glimpse into the lives of Istanbul’s wealthy classes and the dilemma they faced in balancing their traditional values with the increasingly attractive Western culture of the time. It addresses issues of sexuality, gender, modernisation and religion, while whipping us along  the streets of Istanbul in vintage American cars and taking us on ferry journeys up the Bosphorus. But Pamuk has gone a giant step further than most novelists. Several years after writing the novel, he has built a real life Museum of Innocence in the part of Istanbul where Füsun’s parents have their home, and where Kemal spends a lot of time hoping to catch a few moments with his love (and stealing the odd tea cup for his collection).

The museum allows free entry to those who bring a copy of the book. A ticket placed in the 83rd chapter of the book will be stamped before ushering the reader in.
More than a love story cum travelogue, Pamuk’s novel is partly an exercise in cultural fetishism, as, after rejection, the lovelorn Kemal meticulously collects every scrap connected with Fusun, however trivial they may seem to fit a museum! For instance objects like panties, nutcrackers, and other trifles recovered from their moments together. I know this sounds creepy to many of us who may have also experienced real-life stalking but the novelist's perspective is different. Hence worth a mention.

British film maker Grant Gee's film is based on the actual museum that Pamuk opened as a real-world counterpart to the fictional one that Kemal creates; a double-meta construction that is only accentuated by the film casually referring to Fusun and Kemal as corporeal figures and Pamuk’s positioning of himself as a fictional character in a key scene in his novel. Pamuk’s habits as a flaneur of the Istanbul streets, and his inclination to see the city as a repository of collective memory, both individual and cultural, will surely give Gee’s film a kick into the most rarefied of intellectual spheres.

Grant Gee's film gained much acclaimed following its Venice premier in September. I hope to catch the movie when it reaches cinemas in the UAE!

More from the art scene in Istanbul

If you are in Istanbul right now try and catch Banksy's art here at Karakoy. It is showing until February 14, 2016.

If your visit is scheduled in February or March this year don't miss the !f. No ifs and buts about this one! The line up for the 15th !f İstanbul International Independent festival was announced at a press event at the Istiklal Caddessi. A total of 112 titles from 40 countries will hit cinema screens in three Turkish cities at this year's  Film Festival, from late February to early March in İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir. The Turkish big screen debuts of some of the year's most hotly anticipated indies will take place at the festival, whose theme for 2016 is “!f İstanbul unites!”, organizers announced at the press conference on Thursday.

This venue on the right hosts !F annually

Snow settles between the cobblestone pavements from Taksim square to Istiklal Cadessi... there at the far end you can see the poster of a much talked about and recent Turkish film Ertuğrul 1890 
International creative collaboration: Here is a closer look at the poster. The first film to be co-produced by Turkish and Japanese directors, ‘Ertuğrul 1890' reveals the roots of a friendship between two nations, and premiered in Istanbul on Thursday.
Also please visit the Blue Mosque, Aya Sophia, taste the Turkish Coffee as well as tea (varieties of it), shop for artefacts at the Arasta Bazaar and spices at Eminönü quarter of the Fatih district (the most famous covered shopping complex after the Grand Bazaar)... pictures below are what I caught in my camera while strolling there this week:

Turkish coffee tastes even better when sipped while watching the Marmara sea from one of the street cafes/restaurants that offer a panoramic view of the whole place!

Stroll along the tram ways and find treasure troves -  magnificence of the ottoman/hellenistic eras on the right and related trivia in form of souvenirs on the left that can be taken home in exchange of liras
Blood red carnations at Sultan Ahmet's Hippodrome signify the deadly event that happened here a few days ago due to a mindless terror-probed activity that killed 10 tourists as a suicide bomber blew himself up in the name of God! or Syria or just something else we may never know fully!

Amazing souq nestled between the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya, offers Ikat silks from central asia, Kilims and other expensive artefacts you may like to browse/buy

A shop's window at Arasta Bazaar

Arasta bazaar has fewer shoppers/tourists during winter mornings
Hagia Sophia pronounced as Aya Sofya - once a cathedral, later a mosque, now a museum... houses brilliant ancient art, relics of two religions, indecipherable scribbles in viking script by guards on duty at the upper gallery, and plenty of friendly cats
Inside Aya Sofya you feel tinier than you are... no matter how tiny you may already be! Soak in all that is still there to marvel in the form of art and culture from a bygone era
Topkapi palace treasury has golf-ball sized emeralds decorating the Topkapi dagger among invaluable other material wealth that the emperor who lived here collected from around the world. The palace also houses some important Islamic religious material that includes some organic remains of holy relevance.
Topkapi display: If you look at the ancient Islamic art patterns closely you will witness that the artists at work were hugely inspired by the shapes of local birds, flowers, fruits... and must have spent long-hours decoratively arranging the forms in aesthetically pleasing geometrical/symmetrical patterns.
Aya Sofya: The mosaic from Constantinople's time started revealing when the Ottoman plastering started withering off with time. Some historians say that the Ottomans could never really fully demolish/cover the Roman cathedral decorative art. Whatever the story is/was... it is worth a look. Simply magnificent, if you ask me. And reminds one of the art in Vatican, Florence and else were in ancient Italy.
Aya Sofya: Imagine if minutes of a meeting where inscribed in stone like this! This is precisely that.
Aya Sofya: A huge marble container from the 5th century used to store/serve grape juice during special occasions.
To taste the true flavours of Istanbul one has to savour its equally unique food too. That will be featured in another blog soon!

Teşekkür ederim! (Thank you!)

This story was published in Gulf News on March 2, 2016
To read it online click here:
PS: Did you know that Istanbul had very unique vending machines... one where you can pop a few liras and buy a new novel? Another one where you can recycle used bottles in exchange for dog food!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Art in the Capital

It was a busy weekend. Two venues came alive in the capital - Art Abu Dhabi opened at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Wednesday and Warehouse 421, the new art district by the waters at Mina Zayed, previewed on Thursday night.

After closely looking at all artists living, born and/or gone from the UAE... I realise I am a fan of two true gems of visual art who currently nourish the local scene by their pure ceative opulence. I feel fortunate to have met both of them during my life here! The two amazing artists am speaking of are both born and raised in the UAE - hugely popular Abdul Qader Al Rais and soon-to-be-very-popular-mind-you Saif Mhaisen. Al Rais popular for his monumental art works in palaces and distinguished public spaces [but I love his very vibrant recent abstract works more... scroll down to see!] and Saif for his super-real portraits [down below].

Saif's is one of the chosen few artists for the Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship - a part of the Warehouse 421 project. Saif will soon be on a scholarship MFA programme in the States and is spoilt for choice - making up his mind whether Rhodes will be his new home. Lucky!! And well deserved!

The fellowship gives much importance to the art process. The process was walked through by another artist who is also a part of this programme - talented and warm-hearted Hamdan Buti Al Shamsi - who carefully collects nostalgia from his childhood in Al Ain. "Everything is in our childhood. The way we grew up plays all the part into all our expressions. And of course art," says Shamsi. His collected/found objects on display shows how art around him changed with time. "The individuality of the local convenience shop names/sign boards have disappeared with the advent of black and green 'Baqala' neon signage, as per municipality's uniformity/standardising norms," laments the artist.

The best parts of this venue are that it is by the beautiful waters of Mina and is open until 11pm... and you can take your children too! It is true that it reminds one of D3 in Dubai also Al Serkal Avenue a bit! Is it fashionable to reuse containers to showcase art? It doesn't quiet fancy me. May be because am claustrophobic. Art meant to be 'out of the box' must not ideally be locked in, if you ask me. Btw I spoke to one of the participants who was dragging an air cooler into one container-converted-gallery here just before closing, and he said "yeah! we have to keep the fan on all night - it is wood and delicate art - cannot leave it to nature". Of course!
Naqsh Collective showcases unique inlay art forms that can make your interiors sophisticated and artsy at the same time! They are showing at the new art space Warehouse 421 in Abu Dhabi.
Naqsh explores language of embroidery, unifying this important element of Jordanian culture with minimal yet functional structures. Naqsh design house also supports the women’s community within the Palestinian refugee camps in Amman, Jordan.

 Jordanian artists Nisreen Abu Dail & Nermeen Abu Dail of Naqsh

Lot of people think that steel mountain behind me is Louvre! Hell no! It is the UAE Pavilion under construction... just opposite Manarat Al Saadiyat
You CAN make art from an empty can... just put a wig on it and tada! This was found in this edition of Art Abu Dhabi
This recycled piece of art stole my heart! The Japanese art of kintsugi, which means “golden joinery,” is all about turning ugly breaks into beautiful fixes. This artist has welded ceramic pieces from the trash using 24ct gold... to perhaps silently say that broken is better than new! And there far behind, can you see Subodh Gupta's 'Grapes from Heaven'?

Loving the works of Saif Mhaisen... Here the artist poses next to his alter ego/oil self at Warehouse 421 on its opening night on Thursday.
Boy looks at 'Contemporary Terracotta warriors' by Beijing-based Yue Minjun at Manarat Al Saadiyat. By his signature - facial expression frozen in a wide-toothed laughter - Yue Minjun uses humour to express a turbulent period in modern China. In his words - ‘I paint people laughing, whether it is a big laugh, a restrained laugh, a crazy-laugh, a near-death laugh or simply laughter about our society: laughter can be about anything. Laughter is a moment when our mind refuses to reason. When we are puzzled by certain things, our mind simply doesn’t want to struggle, or perhaps we don’t know how to think, therefore we just want to forget it. in Chinese tradition you can’t say things directly. You have to show something else for the  real meaning. I wanted to show a happy smile and show that behind it is something sad,  and even dangerous.'

This in the name of fine art may look simple or silly but don't underestimate Ai Weiwei please! His childlike vandalism of ancient pots contains a potent political message. In 1994, the renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei decorated a Han Dynasty urn with the red Coca-Cola logo; the following year he had himself photographed dropping and smashing another.  Coloured Vases (2009-10), which feature in the show, continue in the same spirit of protestation.

"The particles are in perpetual movement. . . They remind me of the Lebanese people who are constantly on the move," says Hanibal Srouji, who's work Healing Bands was displayed at Art Abu Dhabi 2015

Indian-British sculptor Anish Kapoor's signature bold and far from being detailed and minimalistic piece of work from this edition of Art Abu Dhabi

Abdul Qader Al Rais' work on display at Art Abu Dhabi 2015
Shukran by Iranian artist Farhard Moshiri... is a a large artwork with knives stabbed into plaster to read 'shukran', that means 'thank you' in Arabic. The artist exposes the hypocrisy of world politics where people say thank you with a smile and actually go behind your back and stab! Ouch!

Closeup - Ouch! again.

Like every story, art has three sides. The side you see, the side you don't see and the bluvian side [of course!] :)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Eastern Wind... an Unusual Intersection of Art and Politics

This art event is on my mind since last Thursday when I saw the works but it took me a while to get the right words to start talking about it. And believe me the subject takes one beyond art that meets the eye. It was a unique inward journey to just connect with this artist's process of producing these works full of vibrant influences cast in the backdrop of an endless migration... of man, matter and meaning.

For many artists, their migrations and those of their ancestors are important in shaping both their personal identities and the art they produce. The name of the painting here is Semurg_oil on canvas_90x118_2010 by Ramazan Useinov. Semurg is a miracle bird from an old Uzbek folklore. 25 selected works by this artist is currently showing at the N2N Gallery in Nation Towers Abu Dhabi
Why do we humans endlessly divide each other despite knowing that the consequence is only suffering? Is it lack of insight that breeds intolerance. Why do wars become decisive for a certain clan/community who is forced to leave their motherland? This is not news. It is history. We have seen this forever... across the globe. Forced deportation, immigration and resultant human crisis may have many reasons but most importantly it exposes lack of empathy or in other words a maimed leadership. Artists tell the same story differently. They are honest in their telling because it is their story. They live on to tell this over and again... as it is their artistic process superimposed with their life's journey. Artist Ramazan Useinov visually extracts thoughts and influences that dates before his birth to the present... and offers everything he can't comprehend in words alone in 25 brilliant artworks, now showing in Abu Dhabi.

'Eastern Wind' may be the title of Ramazan Useinov's solo art show currently running in the capital until November 19, 2016... but it is that which blows between Crimea and Uzbekistan and back for for the artist - a Crimean who was born in Uzbekistan on July 2, 1949. He saw the consequences of the dramatic episode of ethnic cleansing of Crimean Tartars, the politics that pushed them out of their own mother land, deported them to as far as Siberia and beyond the Ural Mountains, suffocating a culturally vibrant group of people with the hidden melancholy of turmoil gripped with unrest for the rest of their lives.

Ramazan does not like to speak about himself or his creative process. If you ask him a question it is replied with a smile.

"Everything has been said by the paintings."
- Ramazan Useinov

And that is the truth.

The world seems divided between various labels and tags including religion and ethnicity even today in the 20th century. It is an utter shame but a reigning fact. This art show comes at a time when the news of Syrian refugee crisis continue to shock our integrity and humanness as the migration continues to expose episodes from the history - each time as a consequence when politics outweighed humanity. Ramazan's canvas may have a distinct Crimean hue but not without this crisis that shrieks out of each frame.

Ramazan dips his brush into those days of constant travel that his parents would have endured. And travel was not easy then because you did that with young and old, humans and livestock, sick and wounded... as well as delicate newborns... perched on mules and donkeys... crossing rivers and mountains... in search of hope and acceptance... trying to forget wounds of rejection from ones own birthplace.

A Lady with a Buggy_Oil on canvas_60x80cm_2014_Ramazan Useinov
Foundation and Technique

In most of Ramazan’s paintings we find travellers, buskers, wanderers with poor carts, covered with bright rags. They carry submissively not only all their belongings, but their entire world. It is a loss that is terribly inexplicable even when the artist's imagination deconstructs migration to a cosmic composition of 'search for truth'.

“Oriental dresses are very colourful and bright. Even after so many years of living in Crimea, Samarkand’s colours don’t leave me. They follow me in most of my paintings," says the artist.

All the pain and discomfort is cast in vibrant colours - and hence brilliantly magnificent. Why does Ramazan choose only a bright palette? This is arguable. The artist and some academicians say it is the influence of brilliant colours and motif's originally of his ethnic people. I wonder if it is his sub-conscious effort to enhance each frame with his own journey of life through his certain belief in art as a mode of deeper exploration and expression?

The laconic palette explodes occasionally with bright shiny happy colours, a feature of his Samarkand memories and his life back in Uzbekistan.

Golden Bird_Oil on canvas_60x80cm_2009_Ramazan Useinov

The exhibition Eastern Wind is a journey determined by Ramazan’s endless love towards his motherland, and will remind you of the masters of the 20th century who struggled to bring back the perfect harmony between man and nature. Respecting his roots, Ramazan’s paintings cherish the rich Islamic culture. For this reason, his works always display vibrant oriental details and Islamic motives.

Ramazan's story

Ramazan Useinov is an artist whose journey began long before his birth.

The event is on until November 19. Let yourself be carried away by the same 'Eastern Wind' that blows between Crimea and Uzbekistan and back, shaping a magic universe, where honesty, purity and hope were never lost.
Coming from a family who faced war and deportation, forced to abandon their homeland, Crimea, the artist was born in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, far away from his beloved Crimea.

In Uzbekistan he grew up between vineyards, as his father was a winegrower and winemaker who dreamt for his son to take over the family’s small business. Instead, Ramazan dreamt of becoming an artist. In 1967, after a long and big confrontation with his family, he finally became a student at the Republican College of Arts P.P. Benkov in Tashkent. After graduation, in 1972, Ramazan returned to Samarkand where he started to work at the Art Foundation.

Years of great inspiration followed, as in the 80’s art was flourishing in Uzbekistan. Ramazan Useinov would not miss a single solo or group exhibition, working day and night and dreaming of his art to be special, to be recognised.

Then one day, in the early 90’s, carried away by the Eastern Wind, Ramazan Useinov felt he had to go back, he had to return to the land of his parents. He returned to Crimea and his artworks acquired a more somber, melancholy mood than his earlier paintings.

Ramazan Useinov

His wish is to allow his viewers to look at his works and to find something there by themselves, something very private and unique.

As Svetlana Khromchenko (The State Museum of Oriental Art, Moscow) says, "Ramazan Useinov’s Eastern Wind will certainly make you wonder: “is it from the past or from the future, or maybe from eternal?”

Ethnic Cleansing of Crimean Tartars 

The forcible deportation of the Crimean Tatars from Crimea was ordered by Joseph Stalin as a form of collective punishment for alleged collaboration with the Nazi occupation regime in Taurida Subdistrict during 1942-1943. The state-organised removal is known as the Sürgünlik in Crimean Tatar. A total of more than 230,000 people were deported, mostly to the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. This included the entire ethnic Crimean Tatar population, at the time about a fifth of the total population of the Crimean Peninsula, besides smaller number of ethnic Greeks and Bulgarians.

A large number of deportees (more than 100,000 according to a 1960s survey by Crimean Tatar activists) died from starvation or disease as a direct result of deportation. It is considered to be a case of ethnic cleansing. Tatars and Soviet dissidents consider it to be genocide.

During destalinisation the deportation was denounced by the Soviet government, nevertheless the Crimean Tatars were denied the right of return up until late perestroika times - a political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s, widely associated with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his glasnost (meaning "openness") policy reform. The literal meaning of perestroika is "restructuring", referring to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Wings of Fire... Burn in Desire

RIP APJ Abdul Kalam, my all time favourite Indian.

When I first jumped onto social media platforms years ago I never imagined the power of converging worlds that would open up for me. Wonderful new friends and bonding with like minded spirits around this beautiful planet unfolded a new story. It transformed me. I left a full time job as a journalist to try all of this with no business plan, no structure, just an intention to find a way to live a creative life that contributed to the greater good and sustains inspiration everyday to everyone. 

This is because I have personal experience - art has all answers! I want to share this magic with all. Along the way there have also been some hurdles/challenges. By nature I am a compulsive optimist, sensitive, empathetic and my instincts always tell me when I am out of balance. 

Over the past two years, as I have opened myself more and more, my nondescript bluvian urges to stay creative no matter what has taken over my life completely - changed, shaped and created a totally new world around me all by itself.

Standing in this new plane of just bliss and nothing else I wish to offer this special experience to everyone. This morning I googled for the right words to fully express this subject that rules my world and how it can inspire everyone by simply staying in the moment of 'awe' like we did as children unaware of its true benefits. And as always kept this post for another day when I have complete clarity. But Kalam's demise news charged me up right in the middle of my art workshop. It shook me up that death is in nobody's hands and all we have are the days that are numbered! I don't wish to leave unfinished work. I enjoy being bluvian most importantly because it is helping me help a lot more people. 

I was honestly actually looking for something else when I focused on full time art. But all I got were messages in my inboxes. I often feel like I am on autopilot mode and must find a way to stop this infiltration of various energies and anxieties. Some want help/ guidance to selling art whereas some request to share with them a personal tutorial on a recently posted painting. Others are workshop enquiries... friends family saying hello. Sometimes people I have never met open up and feel comfortable sharing intimate/heartbreaking information with me. Other times people complain about somebody else's inappropriate musings on my page/wall etc. This love - it's overwhelming. That precisely was the message I wanted to learn.

I am not complaining. Please! Ever grateful for the space I exist.  All I want to do is help people get there and despite compulsive obsessive rulings one can enjoy a brilliant life but just tuning in to their creative core or art.

Just when I was making plans to retreat from social media for a bit... I am heart broken. Kalam was very active and like every true leader he was using all his muscles to reach out the good messages the youth.

I want to read 'Wings of Fire' second time... and burn in the desire to stay inspired putting behind small interfaces of disturbances!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015


Just when I was about get really bugged about this creepy culture of duck-faced young and old... I stumble upon an art call.

"Submit your selfie and the best entries to be published in an art magazine."

That was it!

I did not spoil the bluvian emotions that followed... and this followed.

This artwork was Published by AMOR - A Magazine of the Random art journal by FN Design Studio, an art gallery in Dubai, UAE in its 21st Issue released on May 25, 2015. The artwork was selected following an open call for 'selfies'.

Let me also share the Art text by Henosis... just in case you like to read more:

The artist does not like taking selfies and looks down upon the whole culture of duck-faced selfie addicts. She would rather complete the title of this work saying 'selfie... my foot!' The image is also the artist's conscious effort to draw attention to new-age narcissistic habits of her contemporaries. B'lu takes this opportunity to zoom out of the trends and tune in to one's core - 'down to earth selves'. This artist and writer says, "True information can only be dispersed consciously and every information we give out has more potential than what may seem at first... so we have to be responsible when we say what we say or show what we show especially in the current scene of many distractions."

This open call by FN Design Studio in Dubai helped the artist point out her concerns. The image represented here are her own pair of feet firmly planted on the soil complete with details of dense laterite red soil - that is typical to wet tropical lands and traces the artist's roots back in South of India. The painting symbolically depicts her travelling spirit - ready to make the journey outside one's comfort zones and inwards or towards one's soul. Instead of holding a mirror to self, she pauses to look down and paint her own feet in gouache. Bright hues are her signature style. A complete non-conformist and creatively courageous B'lu chose this painting as her entry to an art open call on 'selfies'.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

ART in Selfie-land

Dubai Design District (d3) is the new up and coming neighbourhood where local designers will hobnob with global brands. This UAE government initiative is a gateway for regional ideas to access the world. In the near future, it is touted to be a conduit for international companies to discover new Middle Eastern talent.

Thats me the B'lu one... in agreement with Einstein at the entrance of the d3 yesterday

It's launch called ‘Meet D3′, the public community event presented a program of fashion, music, art, design and dining experiences during the weekend from the 2 to 4 April, 2015. I was glad to make time to could go and see as this was talked about by every radio channel. In less than a day of its first day social media had lot of hate notes... To me the experience was different and will be remembered for the right reasons too.

Things that impressed me here... in that order:

1. Food... to be specific the Ghaf Kitchen also believed to be UAE's first food truck. "Ghaf means home food back in England. And Ghaf (the tree) has its home in the UAE," says David O' Brian, its director who was excited to speak to his hungry visitors. I had a taste of their grilled halloumi served with romesco sauce and courgette shavings. Most dishes sound English to me... but has at least one familiar ingredient to Middle Easterners... like pan seared 'Sultan Ibrahim' [it is a fish!] with red onion salad.

The halloumi meal was small... just about a mouth full for Dh35... but it tatsted fresh and good... at the Ghaf Kitchen especially because Brian served it with a soulful smile. This dish used Indian-kitchen-staple fennel seeds as a garnish... adding an twist to the bites that had a seed or two... must try this on salads made in the blukitchen too.

I also tried the vegan chocolate brownie at 'Spill the beans' van/cafe. It was good and mushy. Everywhere else the queue-ups were too long to waste time. It was also bright and windy.

2. Stefan Seigel... The presentation and talk by CEO and founder of Not Just a Label (NJAL), an online designer platform for showcasing designers and emerging talent in the contemporary fashion industry with more than 18,000 designers from 100 different countries. Founded in 2008, NJAL encourages designers into the Slow Fashion movement that support sustainable/eco-friendly... while supporting local communities and craftsmanship. "We promote real art as opposed to mass buying. Imagine the pleasure of opening a handwritten note by the designer and wearing a dress that nobody else has in the whole world. This is the future," says Seigel.

Stefan Seigal of NJAL addressing the Dubai fashion aficionados

Seigel pointed out that the new generation can stand in lines and buy expensive gadgets... like iphone which is there in everybody's hands these days. So new designers shouldn't underestimate the power of new buyers. "They are everywhere. And they will find you," he says.

At Meet d3, NJAL showcased Emirati designer Bint Thani; who collaborates with ‘Inter | Act’ to unveil the first ever 3D printed dress made in Dubai. The collaborative, experimental project is called Urban Corp; merging expertise in design, fashion, and 3D printing technology, inspired by the city of Dubai.

3. Live music.

4. Organised parking facility. Smart officials who seemed to have jumped out of some hollywood action movie lined up in their cool blue crisp uniforms waving and following you while jiving like a rapper to his own music [hopefully that was not just in my head... and actually there was music and actually they were walking with a spring in their step!]

Letdowns at d3:

1. The selfie crowd. Dubaiites get confused if you mention art and community next to each other. They try to dress in their 'that dress I cant wear anywhere else' to this venue. Meet d3 had beach goers and mall hoppers who just took a detour because they badly wanted selfies in a new place... with their kids... and chomp all the while... in the queues... inside restrooms... [all this while their faces are buried in their phones. They just do not make eye contact. It scares them to look anywhere other than cameras :(]. Perhaps it is knowing this reason the organisers had installed fancy selfie machines at emergency points across the venue. There were more selfie booths than public toilets here. [Of course the nature's call can wait but not that cute picture.]

2. Long lines... at glass blowing workshop [the only event i was really really keen to attend in person since my Murano trip in 2009]... Lines where there every where else too. [Wonder why? Is it now in fashion to line up! Really hope not.]

3. There was nothing much for artists. Of course there was some art... here and there. But expensive menu cards and designer cocktails scream business business and more business! [Hello! Damien Hirst you are welcome in Dubai. And everyone else please look good, wear good brands, smell awesome... and create a good background please for his selfie... in future!]

[sorry I don't have many pics from the 'Meet d3'... but here are the few I clicked]

Love the moving shadows on the ground. Brooklyn native and Berlin resident Ebon Heath is literally known for playing with words. This sculpture uses words from Kahlil Gibran's poem 'On Beauty' and is representative of the global dialogue... He has used Arabic and English typography here. [I searched for Gibran's On Beauty... wasted attempt... nothing shows up!]

Lighting brand Lasvit from Czech Republic... gave glass-blowing workshops to visitors - a truly sensorial introduction to the process of transforming raw glass into design lighting. Very friendly artist, who spoke mostly in their language.

Zipper architecture... zip up and you have a mirror cave inside!
Egg-citing evening: the day followed into the dusk... when friends met for dinner and coloured some eggs... to welcome the spring equinox or Jesus Christ... or both!

Egg-cited us!

Happy Easter!