Karan goes back to art!

Guest post by Adita Divecha, Karan’s mother

The second session was at the Raffles Hotel near Wafi.

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When Karan and I got there, everyone was in the lobby.

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Nicola came and took us to the third floor, to this huge banquet hall which was almost empty except for two large round tables.

Then representatives from the Raffles Hotel came and met all the kids and then said they would like us to look around the Botanical Gardens. There was a door which opened out onto a huge terrace and the Botanical Gardens were there. It’s actually the roof of the mall which they converted in a garden, with canals running through it with fish in them, surrounded by trees and flowers.

We then took a tour of the gardens. Karan was really excited especially when he saw the water.  I actually thought he was going to try jumping into it. There was also a fountain there and because there was a lot of wind, the water was spraying on his face which he really got excited about. He was in a happy mood.

Then we went back in and all the children sat on the tables on which were paintbrushes, paper and paint…even crayons and pencils. Karan only does his art with a brush and thick paint.

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So he got to work, took the brush, dipped it into the bowl… “Dip and dab, dip and dab,” is what I have to keep telling him.

Everybody’s art was later kept on the side to dry. Karan did three paintings.

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They even gave the children cookies and something to drink. Karan just had the chocolate cookie. He was very happy. One of the other girls kept saying, “don’t get so excited!”

Then they gave certificates to each child for attending the session. So all in all, it was a good day!

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#GeekFestDubai round-up

The last GeekFest Dubai to be held at The Shelter in Al Quoz (the next one should hopefully be at their new HQ!)… Have a look at my round-up tweets first, then check out the pics from the event!

[View the story “#GeekfestDubai” on Storify]

The first person I see when I get there is Abdullah (@Aabo0) doing…this.

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General surrounding shots through the night:

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Nick (@theregos) and I tried very hard to get fab shots together. It’s these evil boys (@Aabo0 and @mohdfikree) who foiled our plans!

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“Don’t touch me!”

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Inside the GeekTalks:

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The geeky Hisham Wyne (@HishamWyne) arrived

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That indeed is Alexander McNabb (@alexandermcnabb) … he was trying to find someone who drove a certain car.

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And that’s PK Gulati’s (@pkgulati) Apple/Android get-up and Nagham (@nagham) wonders whether Google is wrong or not:

Goodbye…see you next time!

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iPad2: will it help or won’t it?

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The iPad2 arrived yesterday and I think we’re keeping our fingers crossed. Karan’s only played with the Talking Tom app right now and so far he’s loving it. He’s been blabbering to Tom for a while, much to our delight. We’ve also started populating the Grace App with pictures he is familiar with and have started getting him picking a picture for whatever he wants before he gets it.

We’re definitely not expecting miracles…he’s not going to suddenly start communicating in a day and we know that. I think we’re just hoping he takes to it, gets comfortable with using it and is able to convey what he wants and what he thinks to us.

Review – Arthur | The Graduate Times

Review – Arthur

Russell Brand and Helen Mirren sharing scenes in a movie? You just have to wonder how this one is going to turn out, observes Devina Divecha

Review – Arthur

★★★☆☆

Arthur is a story of growing up, of shouldering responsibility and of relationships. The lead character, Arthur, is played by the irrepressible Russell Brand who brings a sense of childlike wonder to his performance as the spoilt, rich brat whose mother Vivienne (Geraldine James) is absent, busy running a massive financial empire. He is raised by Hobson, his nanny, played wonderfully by Helen Mirren, who deals with him in a stern yet loving fashion. One day, he is given an ultimatum by his mother. Tired of his scandalous ways, she tells him he has to marry Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner) or he will lose his inheritance worth 950 million dollars. Enough spare change to get a man to agree to anything. But he’s already met Naomi (Greta Gerwig) and can’t help but fall in love.

Arthur tries to break free of the shackles of money but finds that the real world, full of responsibility and independence is not as easy without the monetary safety net and the stupor that drinking afforded him. But is his love for Naomi enough for him to change his stint as a drunken playboy and somehow run away from Susan who just wants Arthur’s last name attached to hers?

While a romance-comedy, the film contains quite a bit of adult humour, along with dramatic elements that only adults can appreciate. Russell Brand plays his part well; viewers do fall in love with his character. Surprisingly, his rendition of Arthur isn’t over-the-top, and you begin to appreciate him as an actor. Helen Mirren is as good an actor as always. Jennifer Garner looked too plasticky – I found her acting affected and overdone. Although to be fair, I think her character was supposed to give off that air so perhaps she merely succeeded. Greta Gerwig is like a breath of fresh air. I’ve never seen her before and she lends a pleasant and comfortable sense to the proceedings. Nick Nolte makes a cameo appearance as Susan’s father who terrorizes Arthur. Overall, the acting is average. It’s not spectacular, but it isn’t boring either.

The film is set against the backdrop of New York and there are some lovely scenes inside the Grand Central terminal. But you don’t get to see much else of the city, which is rather unfortunate.

After seeing Arthur I found out that this is a remake of a 1981 film of the same name. I also chanced upon many people praising the original and hating the new one because it couldn’t compare. I haven’t seen the original and because I went into the theatre without expecting anything or looking to compare, I enjoyed the film. It did what it was meant to: make me laugh and have a relaxing two hours. What else could I ask for?

 

Event update: #CosplayMania

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I think it was towards the end of last year when I found out the first Middle East Film and Comic Con (MEFCC) would be taking place in April 2011. At that time, my heart plummeted because then I believed I would still be living in the UK and would miss a juicy slice of my adopted home’s history. The event also gave me hope, for it has been long since I, along with many others, would lament about the lack of events for people who were into comics, geek and sci-fi culture.

Then I moved back to Dubai and one of the things I got really excited about was that I’d be in UAE when @MEFCC would take place. Even when the event was moved towards the end of the year (I’ve heard it’s September that we’ve got to look forward to), the excitement wasn’t dampened.

For the MEFCC fans, there was the first Cosplay Mania organized by the very nerdy Fahed (of NerdyFace fame) and had a whole host of supporters (including my favs CampusRadioME and EMR8.com).

Cosplay Mania went underway on April 22 2011 at the Living Room Café, Dubai Festival City from 1pm onwards. I sadly didn’t have a costume, although I reckon I’ll be trying to get one for the MEFCC event.

So, the Cosplay Mania event…let’s see what happened! Some tweets to see what you can look forward to in the following event update:

I got there with @benfurfie at around 3pm and I quickly found Darth Vader, whose outfit was heroically worn by Muhammed Ali (@MaliZomg) for a good 4 hours. As you can see, I was quite excited to take a picture with Darth Mali with my lit-up mini-lightsaber!

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He was MC’ing the event and was responsible for carting people off to the Art corner or to the Mortal Kombat gaming area or bringing everyone together for the main Cosplay parade and also asking trivia questions to the crowd.

I wandered about for a while, taking pictures. All the people who were going to participate gathered together for a quick photoshoot of sorts, and Darth Vader and Boba Fett were doing a quick session together as well!

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I quickly got in for a photo with the two evil forces:

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The Art Corner featured artwork people had submitted for a competition, and the last photo shows the winners!

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The gaming area was Mortal Kombat-dedicated (when I saw that area, I promptly started humming in my mind, “Sonya. Jax. Kitana. Sub Zero. Scorpion. Cyrax. Smoke. Sheba. Motaro. HAHAHAHAHA. Choose your destiny. Flawless victory. FIGHT!”):

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Did I mention Mali was a wonderful MC (in these pics, check out the pic of a Cosplayer in the blue wig…AWESOME!)?

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He did get tired though. The leather Vaderness didn’t lend itself to sitting down very easily. Or going to the loo.

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Everyone wanted a piece of him though.

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Someone else whom people couldn’t resist was the cutest Harry Potter EVER:

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Oh and Ben won a t-shirt! He answered a trivia question correctly. I don’t remember the question but the answer was ‘sundering’. I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean!

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Some random shots from the day:

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The Cosplay parade/costume competition was amazing! The amount of care and precision that had gone into many of the costumes was really impressive. This photo gallery works from the start of the competition till the end…you’ll notice halfway through Mali has undergone a costume change. You might also spot someone who looks like Lady Gaga but isn’t. You will also notice the back of Fahed’s neck. I wasn’t stalking him, honest.

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We even had paparazzi there!!! (Love the t-shirt @Weeshas_World!)

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A brilliant, brilliant, brilliant bit of the event was a Q&A session with the organizers of MEFCC, Arafaat Ali Khan and Ben Caddy, who answered people’s questions about the event, who might be coming and my ticket question. I’m going to stick Ben’s live-tweeting in here as well:

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All in all, a very happening event.

Who says sci-fi/geek/gaming/anime culture doesn’t exist in the UAE?

 

A cuppa Joe

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Picture also posted on my food blog on the RAW Coffee post

While regular readers of my blogs might wonder why I’m talking about coffee here (shouldn’t I be discussing it on FooDee?), it’s quite simple. I’m talking about young journalism students making tea and coffee in a newsroom while on work experience.

When I was doing my Masters, it was drilled into my mind that when I go for work experience opportunities, I should make sure that I’m not just making tea and coffee for the journalists there. All well and good by the way; I will stand by that advice and tell any new journalists looking for their break that making coffee or tea is not the only thing you should be doing.

The problem with me and a few other friends was that because of this caveat, I was petrified of ever making any tea or coffee for anyone, thinking that once I did, I’d be relegated to the kitchen forever. I also had this thought that perhaps making tea or coffee was beneath me.

I take it all back.

While I was at my work experience, no one asked me to make coffee. No one asked me to make tea. In fact, they asked ME if I wanted coffee or tea and could they bring some for me. It didn’t matter whether they were editors, or reporters, or senior journalists or editorial assistants. If one person went to the kitchen to get tea/coffee, they’d ask everyone if they wanted some. And they’d go and get it.

Now that I’ve started my job, I regularly go and make tea/coffee for people. It’s a great way to talk to people, it’s a great way to know more about people (who takes black, how much sugar they like!) and you become part of the group. It’s not menial, it’s not a chore. Think of it as a bonding ritual in a way.

My advice to journalists starting out is: offer to make the tea or coffee. Don’t shy away from it. And take all the tasks they give you. Sometimes people may want to test you to see what you can handle before giving you real work. I was extremely lucky in my work experience stints that I was given a lot of writing work as well as behind-the-scenes work, so I never had to face any “make-tea-only” jobs. If you end up in that situation, it’s not good, so definitely speak to someone senior about it because you’re there to learn about all aspects of journalism.

But don’t worry about making tea or coffee…just do it.

Karan’s first Tuesday Workshop @thejamjar

Guest post by Adita Divecha, Karan’s mother

ote: Sorry I didn’t take any pictures; Devina already told me I should have!

Devina had arranged for Karan to join the Tuesday Workshops organized by START at the Jam Jar in Al Quoz. They have 1/1.5 hour sessions every Tuesday where children with special needs get to do some artwork.

Karan has been doing a lot of painting in school and we thought this might be something he would enjoy and hopefully get involved in.

I was a bit nervous initially; I’ve never taken him outside for painting or art before. But I drove to the Jam Jar yesterday and found it easily enough. It’s a big open space inside and there were a few people already there, sitting at the long table with thick sheets of paper in front of them.

We met with Nicola who was from START and I signed in. There were also people from Dubai One filming, although I’m not exactly sure for what. They were asking volunteers questions about their work at START I think.

The volunteers were getting the kids to dip their fingers in thick paint and copy the artwork in front of them. Karan isn’t very good at imitating yet, and he hates his fingers brushing against in any new substance, but we tried. He dipped one finger into a bowl of blue paint and had the most pained expression on his face as he did so. He then wiped his finger all over his t-shirt. Then we hurriedly put an apron on.

So I asked for a brush for him and then he was okay. He did four paintings; didn’t copy the design very well but had wonderful splotches of bright paints all over his sheets.

After an hour and a little more, he got a bit whiny so we decided to leave while he was still in a reasonably good mood.

I think he liked it … let’s see what he does next week.

How your junk can help the community

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When I moved back to Dubai from the UK, I was presented with a practical problem. I was bringing back everything from my flat in London to Dubai and I needed to make space for it all. So began the weekend-long cleanup of my room. I found so many things I hadn’t used in years or didn’t need anymore and most were in almost-brand-new condition.

I certainly didn’t want to throw them away; surely they could be of use to SOMEONE?

That’s when I saw the flyer for Take My Junk UAE. What they do is of incredible service to the community. If you have items such as appliances, furniture, clothing that you don’t need anymore, they offer a better alternative than throwing it all away. They give away all these items to people with low income who may not be able to afford certain things that they need.

I called them yesterday and this morning they arrived with a truck to take everything away. We had about 4-5 black bags full of clothes, 1 bag full of shoes, a TV, DVD player, VCR, TV stand, educational CDs, toys…even a foot-massage-spa thing!

It’s always a great idea to use services like this that help other people out instead of throwing your stuff away, especially if it’s all in good condition.

So if you have stuff at home which you don’t need but could be needed elsewhere, give them a call. It’s a win-win all around.

Movie Review: Red Riding Hood

The opening scene unfolds and moviegoers can be forgiven for thinking they’re watching Twilight. Catherine Hardwicke, the director of Twilight and now Red Riding Hood, seems to favour the sweeping aerial view of pine trees in godforsaken areas.

And if you thought the Twilight movies are campy, you’re about to be introduced to the new winner of absurdity and boredom.

Red Riding Hood is supposed to be an adult version of the fairytale but it’s more like a Twilight-gone-horribly-wrong movie. The story is loosely based on the children’s fairytale: Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) must figure out which one of the villagers turns into a werewolf every full moon and gobbles up their compatriots. There’s also a spineless love triangle thrown in for good measure. Valerie is in love with the woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) even though her parents have arranged for her to marry rich Henry (Max Irons). Solomon (Gary Oldman) arrives at the village to help them find and kill the werewolf with a dark history of his own. Will he be able to rid the village of the big, bad wolf? Does the werewolf chomp the three lead characters and satisfy our hopes? Will the red cloak Valerie wears manage to ever stay the same length each time we see it? Can we ever recover from seeing some of the most awkward and painful-to-watch love scenes?

The actors are wasted in this movie. Amanda Seyfried feels bland. The two male actors Fernandez and Irons take turns to brood and vie for her attention but couldn’t have been more boring than if they tried. Gary Oldman and Julie Christie (who played Valerie’s grandmother) were the saving grace; they did the best under the circumstances. Normally you’d think Billy Burke (Valerie’s father) would shine but he seemed absolutely zoned out. The other characters are suitably corny and add to the cheesy value of the movie.

The ending was just jaw-dropping, but in a way that made me turn to my friend and ask, “What on earth just happened? That doesn’t even make sense!” After seeing many movies adapted from books, I’ve learned not to expect the movie to stay true to the original storyline. And Red Riding Hood was marketed from the beginning as an adult version of the Brothers Grimm original. But the last few scenes were so weird that many would probably question what the writers were thinking.

Catherine Hardwicke is no doubt very visual when she directs with sweeping scenes, beautiful landscapes and zoomed out gushing views. But looks aren’t everything. Watching the movie makes you want to laugh through various scenes. For example, there’s an unintentionally hilarious and cringe-worthy fuzzy dream sequence between Seyfried and Christie featuring the well-known lines of “what big teeth you have” and more.

All the better to make us cringe, my dears.

Eight things to remember about a mother of Autistic children – Cleveland Stay-at-Home Moms

I am the mother of three developmentally disabled boys; each falls at a different place on the Autism Spectrum. This is what I wish others knew.

1. I love my children, very much so. If you watch us together and it appears that I have not connected with my child; please don’t judge me. I have done everything within my power to connect; we have managed to the best of our ability.

2. My child is not spoilt. I do believe in discipline. He also has a serious disability, which makes him appear unruly by choice. This could not be further from the truth most of the time.

3. Yes, my children will talk and even babble while we sit and try to enjoy a nice dinner out of the house. They are not screaming, fighting, or even throwing food. You have no idea how unusual this is. However, I apologize; they do not mean to “ruin” your evening. We are simply trying to enjoy something that every other family in America takes for granted.

4. I am a stay-at-home mom. I often forget that we do not live in a house in a bubble and the rest of the world is able to hear us. I am aware that you are able to hear my boys screaming and throwing massive fits. I am not abusing them; they are simply very upset. You don’t have to believe me on the abuse. If you so choose, you could decide to speak with any of the government agencies we are currently working with; quite a few of whom are in our home on a regular basis.

5. I am also a woman with feelings. I know that the odds of me being able to attend your party or Girls’ Night Out of dinner at AppleBee’s and a movie at Tinseltown are slim. However, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to be invited. It’s just a little gesture that shows you haven’t forgotten I exist.

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6. Please try to remember that I’ve lost many friends and even some family along the way on this journey that is Autism. When I call you to vent I am not trying to burden you with my life. I simply need a sympathetic or perhaps an empathetic ear to listen, nothing more.

7. In addition, each of my boys also has Sensory Integration Disorder. They either seek out or seek to avoid sensory related things. If these sought after actions results in a trip to the Emergency Room, please do not treat me as if I have Munchausen by Proxy. I also am likely not over-reacting; however, I have to be overly cautious. My boys can’t communicate effectively so it’s best for me to take them in to be sure. Think of how you might feel if you were me and you didn’t check and something was broken or seriously wrong.

8. Above all else, please just try to be supportive. I love my children more than life itself. You don’t have to live my life or agree with my methods but everything I do is for them. A little support and perhaps some love from my friends and family would be nice.

I read this and many points resemble my life… all except 7 because Karan doesn’t have SID although I can completely identify with the author of this post.