Artism

If you’re reading this blog, you’ll know my now 15-year-old brother has autism. He is a smart, funny and cute boy, who just happens to not be able to do things other “normal” 15-year-old’s can do. He is currently non-verbal in that he cannot talk to communicate his needs. There are many things he will not be able to do that everyone else takes for granted throughout their lives.

However, we are now launching something for him and by him. What is it?

Karan’s school has this program to get its students to become self-sufficient in something they could potentially make their livelihood. While some students are capable of doing admin work, like filing, photocopying and entering data into forms and things like that which could get them jobs in offices/hotels/banks, Karan isn’t up to that level. His work will mostly be of the artisan kind, and right now he’s doing very well in two things: painting and jewellery-making.

Right now, we’ve started off with making jewellery. I’ve had the very experienced Debbie (@GeordieArmani) have a look at initial pieces and she’s been very helpful with suggestions on how to improve and moving forward.

I’ll be putting up some pics of stuff he’s done, and will create a Facebook page soon to get more people interested in the know, and will hopefully be present at future ARTE (Artisans of the Emirates) events.

Today, I present to you: Artism.

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Update: here’s a link to the Facebook page!

Going for Karan’s first exhibition

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July 28, 2011, a Thursday evening saw myself, Mom and Karan heading down to Farjam Collection gallery at DIFC. Karan was at the START art camp, and the gallery was hosting an exhibition of all the work the kids had done. Alongside the works of the START kids, were the paintings of children who had attended the Art camp as well.

Here’s a look at Karan’s work that was on exhibit; he also did the painting splotches in the lower right hand corner in the fifth pic in this gallery.

My sweetheart brother next to his painting.

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Some of the other things at the gallery that caught my eye:

Karan, Mom and Nicola, who organizes the art events for the START kids.

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Karan says…see you again!

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Karan’s work on exhibit

Just a quick update to tell our readers that we’ve been told Karan’s paintings will be on display at an exhibition at the Farjam Collection Gallery at DIFC, tomorrow evening from 6pm onwards.

Trying to get confirmation on whether it’s just for a day, or will go on for a few more. The work on exhibit will be the ones he worked on while attending the Tuesday START workshops. Paintings from other participants at the START workshops will also be exhibited, so it will be quite an inspiring and fun exhibit I should think.

If anyone wants to come along with us tomorrow night, do let me know…would love to have you there!

It’s my second Twirthday! And @HishamWyne is my godfather.

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I got a tweet at midnight from @TwBirthday saying:”@DevinaDivecha Happy 2nd TwBirthday! You’ve been around since 24 July 2009! http://twbirthday.com/DevinaDivecha/“.

I clicked on the link and couldn’t stop laughing because it said Hisham (@HishamWyne) is my godfather. I chuckled as I remembered him being the first person I followed on Twitter.

Memories flooded as I remembered what prompted me, two years ago, to register for an account with Twitter. Oddly and possibly embarrassingly enough, it started with American Idol. And also with Time Out Dubai. How do the two merge?

I was a fan of the show when Simon Cowell was sniping at the contestants, when Paula Abdul was always nice, and Randy Jackson could out-dawg anyone in the world. And I loved knowing backstage information, so when I found out host Ryan Seacrest was using something called Twitter to spread information about the show and other celeb news, I started checking his Twitter profile.

When I was lucky enough to land an internship with Time Out Dubai in the summer of 2009 for almost three months, I was ecstatic. Among other things, I was working on the Time In page, and also giving them news about things happening around Dubai and tweets as well.

Twitter was a godsend during those months, I tell ya. After a few weeks of looking at Ryan Seacrest’s profile and noticing someone called Alexander McNabb, I decided to sign up.

And gave away my godfather spot to Hisham Wyne.

After that it was a whirlwind ride. I got into the spirit of tweeting, and finding out about Dubai events and interesting people I would have never met otherwise.

I found out about the first GeekFest Dubai through Twitter, attended it and did a short write-up about it for Time Out Dubai. First person I met there was Mita Srinivasan (@mita56). I almost attended a tweetup at Bert’s Cafe, Greens, organized by Akanksha Goel, only to not go because it was far too close to my departure date to the UK and I had too much to do. I groaned and moaned when I missed all the GeekFests after that. I found out about the wonderful TwitBookClub, hosted by Nathan Fillion-nut Anastasia (@TDAllonsy) and attended their meetings in spirit. When I was lonely in Sheffield on cold nights, I’d tune in to the student radio @CampusRadioME founded by Muhammed Ali Jamadar (@MaliZomg) and Ritesh Jeswani (@whitecrayon) and dedicated songs to people I loved and people I didn’t. I attended tweetups in my vacations, organized by @chiragnd, had epiphanies in front of @NikhilSoneja and inspite of meeting Rami (@cubex) far too many times, have always had him ask me who I am. I’ve had random arguments with Rupert Bumfrey (@rupertbu) about how I love Sheffield and he thinks it’s a bit meh, as kids these days say. I met complete stangers in UK off Twitter – it included taking a train to Manchester to meet Khadijah Rawat (@RawatCentral), and standing buffered up in the cold outside the journalism department in Sheffield to greet @eddydubai emerging from a black cab, only then to take a train a few weeks later to where he lived to get into his car, hoping against hope he wasn’t a deranged lunatic fattening me up (quite literally; we ate a lot that day) for the kill. And when I came back to Dubai, I threw myself into the Twitterati world like I never could before. I was given a chance to speak at the Dubai Twestival by PK Gulati (@pkgulati), attended @DaddyBird‘s and @kangayayaroo‘s Dubai farewell, and only yesterday, met new-to-Twitter tweeps Tanya (@tanyatourani) and Karan (@kdoggydogg) who have asked me (ME!) for advice on getting more active on the Dubai Twitter scene.

The people, or rather, tweeps, I’ve mentioned above are just a small snippet of the life, the freedom and the mingling of cultures that Twitter has given me. And for that, I shall remain eternally grateful.

Note: If you’re not mentioned here, I can only apologize…every one I follow has given me something to treasure. I love you all.

An evening with @gulfscrabble

The UAE Scrabble Club has been around for 21 years now, having been founded in 1990 (incidentally the year I moved to the UAE I think). Surprising then, that I hadn’t heard of it until I joined Twitter and realized a man in front of whom I regularly had epiphanies, belonged to such a fine group of people.

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I’d always had the misfortune of missing out on board games events/tweetups that Nikhil Soneja (the epiphany man, who can be found here), but I got lucky this time. There was going to be a Scrabble meet at Wild Peeta, and naturally, I had to go!

The games were in full swing by the time I showed up. If you’re a casual Scrabbler, you will be thrown into a whole new world altogether. The game is serious, people are in it to win. It’s a game of strategy, a game of cool wits and quick thinking. Each player has 25 minutes each and they hit the timers with a sense of urgency.

Scrabble? Poof. We play in the minor league. This is the big deal, right here. 

Some games in full swing

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Since I didn’t get a good shot of the organizer, you’ll have to content yourself with a shot of Nikhil being a tile strategist

I played with Shruti, who also took photographs for a timelapse (as you might have noticed in the photo gallery), and she won, 308-285 (she won with a final play of ZOO, getting her 24 points!). We learned a lot. For example, ‘za’, ‘ug’ and ‘wo’ are accepted words in the Scrabble lexicon. 25 minutes time is given to each player. Tile tracking is important for planning a strategy. Zarf is an awesome iPhone/iPod/iPad app for Scrabble enthusiasts. This website (www.isc.ro) is where serious Scrabblers and enthusiasts should register to play.

But here’s the thing: they’re all very friendly. I sat around different tables, asking questions that probably make anyone roll their eyes internally and wonder why noobs like me were wandering around… but they were friendly, answered all my questions and didn’t make me feel like a Scrabble virgin (even though I’ve been playing for about 15 years). So it’s definitely a place for people who play Scrabble casually too. I had this boy wonder (I should’ve got his name but didn’t) who kept peppering our play with random comments: “Plastids? That’s a good word.” or, “Who played that word? It’s good”.

I’m going back for another round.

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To join the UAE Scrabble Club, visit their Facebook page, Twitter account, and Google Groups page.

Review – Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (Part 2) | The Graduate Times

Review – Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (Part 2)

Devina Divecha reviews the highly anticipated final installment in the Harry Potter series – CAUTION – SOME SPOILERS

Review – Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (Part 2)

★★★★☆

It’s the last bow for The Boy Who Lived. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), along with his friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), work towards finding the remaining Horcruxes (the objects that have pieces of Voldemort’s soul in them) and destroying them.

Being the last film in an epic series spanning 10 years, there are a lot of expectations from this movie. Have David Yates, the director, and Steve Kloves, the screenwriter, made it worth the wait?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 takes off where the first one left us: Dobby’s death and Voldemort finding The Elder Wand in Dumbledore’s grave. The film gives us about ten minutes of peace, and from then on viewers are taken on a rollercoaster ride.

Harry, Ron and Hermione embark on robbing Gringotts Wizarding Bank, having an encounter with a dragon, and then facing the Death Eaters in not one, but two battles at Hogwarts. Voldemort and his Death Eaters are there every step of the way to foil the trio’s plans. And we get to see almost every member of the Harry Potter series since it started, making blink-and-you-miss-them and cameo appearances.

The lead actors have grown so much from when we first saw them in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Radcliffe, Grint and Watson have grown into fine young actors. I’ve always had a problem with Watson’s acting, but I couldn’t fault her this time. A special mention goes out to Helena Bonham Carter, who got Watson’s portrayal of Hermione down to a tee, in the scenes where Hermione is disguised as Bellatrix Lestrange.

Dame Maggie Smith shone as Professor McGonagall, her quips making me laugh: “I’ve always wanted to use that spell!” or, “…had a particular proclivity for pyrotechnics”. The famous “Not my daughter, you bitch!” scene between Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) and Lestrange (Bonham Carter) was anti-climactic, as it felt rushed, chopped and not given its due attention.

Alan Rickman’s Severus Snape makes many cry in this one, where the truth of his character’s innocence is revealed, along with his undying love for Lily Potter. Ralph Fiennes is inspired as Voldemort; he is chilling, as well as awe-inspiring. He truly makes you think of the line: “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things. Terrible things, but great.”

The battle sequences are nothing short of fantastic – we see Hogwarts and its surrounding areas in a larger scale than ever before. Kudos to the set designers. In addition, seeing the movie in 3D has its benefits: Nagini the snake, the dragon, and the Dementors look even better and menacing than we could have ever hoped.

There are a few details that have been changed, but it can be brushed away by the benefits it brings to the movie adaptation. However, there is one major scene in the movie where viewers are left feeling underwhelmed, and many may have cried out: “Wait? THAT’S IT?”  I know I did.

One major gripe aside, the final instalment in the series is a worthy one. It is full of action, emotion, and excellent performances. Goodbye Harry Potter.

 

A Day in Dragon Mart

Mos Eisley is a spaceport on the hot planet of Tatooine in the Star Wars series. For some reason, Dragon Mart’s hustle and bustle reminded me of that hive.

Oddly enough, my first visit to Dragon Mart was just days ago. When I entered, I noticed how hot it was. Then I noticed the throngs of people. It was like a packed bazaar, filled with (and I’m genuinely not being racist) Chinese shops.

I’m not going to comment on my shopping experience, but these are some of my observations while I was there:

The general dressing sense of the crowd there is…weird. For example, there was a man walking with a t-shirt, with a blaze starting from the bottom of the tee, so from afar it looked like his nether regions were, quite literally, burning up.

Then there was the loud Indian family. I’m Indian and I know these types. Screaming their plans at the top of their lungs, and honestly not noticing or caring the hostile looks people throw their way. Kudos to the 7-year-old who could NOT stop talking about the state of his nether regions and how far away the bathroom was from where he was at the time.

The spoilt brats made their appearance. I was sitting with my brother Karan on one of the seats in the public areas, and had the misfortune of sitting next to a family with four children, who really got on my nerves. One child ran to a shop and picked up a toy and ran back, the owner coming after her, hoping the father or mother would pay him money for it. He got lucky. The father asked how much it was and said he’d take it. Although why anyone would pay Dhs 30 for that, I do not know. Other children got annoyed that the little girl scored, ran to the shop themselves and picked up three more stupid toys and… daddy pulled his wallet out and paid. They were so spoiled, they would stand in front of passers-by and not get out of their way, tried to intimidate other children and generally made a right nuisance of themselves.

The maid with this family…I felt sorry for her. The mother was no where to be seen, just one, very old and frail-looking, woman looking after those kids. She must have been past 50, or it could have been the stress of shepherding the children that made her look that way. She was dressed in the worst clothes imaginable; I would not wish that on my enemies. The cloth (she passed close to me once) looked itchy and scratchy, it was frayed at the edges, it looked as though it had been through the wash more times than it could withstand (did she not have more clothes, I wondered?), and she just…looked uncomfortable. More so, when one of the kids began hitting her with the toy, and the family she was with (only two men, no mother-figures) laughed indulgently.

Charming.

Then there were the customary stares I’d forgotten existed. Okay, I didn’t forget…I’d just pushed it out from my mind. Karan got slightly upset with the heat, and the noise so even though we sat down somewhere to help him relax (uh yeah, next to the spoilt brats? Fat chance), he was uncomfortable enough to sometimes cover his ears or his face. That brought the stares aplenty. I just glared back until they looked away. In addition, I used to not pay attention when children, or young adults stared because I thought, well…they’re kids. No more. I’ve realized it only means they come from a family that hasn’t taught them better, and neither do they have a decent friend circle who can correct them. I’m glarin’ away, sparing neither adults nor the younglings.

Come Han Solo … fly me outta this place.

Running in circles with Google+

Right off the bat, let me tell you I’m not a techie person, but someone interested in technology. These are my opinions based on using Google+.

I like Google. I loved Gmail when it came out. I’m probably one of the few people who absolutely adored Wave, and mourned a little when it was declared dead. I found it useful, as a collaboration tool. I’d used it to co-ordinate my Masters group dissertation, when all the members were in different cities. It was far easier updating a Wave than sending a gazillion emails across. I still swear by its usefulness and if I had to collaborate on another project, I’d suggest it again.

Then came along, Google+. Tech websites kept talking about the Facebook-killer for months, if not years (I’ve been guilty of that too, I’m afraid), but nothing could stop the behemoth. Or so it seemed.

I wasn’t planning on asking anyone for a Google+ invite. I was asked by @binmujahid if I wanted an invite, and I said yes. I’ve been using the service for little over 24 hours now and here are my thoughts:

– It’s very clean.

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– The concept of circles is extremely interesting, and takes privacy settings to a whole new level. You can pick and choose who will see what content, with the bare minimum effort. You can slip one person into as many circles as you want. I’ve still not made as many circles as I’d like, but have started out with the bare minimum. Hovering over a circle can show you thumbnails of who is in it, as is shown in the pic. Some of the people in the Twitter circle are also granted a place in the Friends circle. And yes, I’ve blocked some people. OH, THE POWER!

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– I love, love, love the photograph section of Google+. The design attracts me very, very much.

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– Go back to the second picture on this page. Note my Family section says 0. Know why? No one from my family is on this thing, and probably will never join. Facebook is too well-engraved into their heads for them to consider something new. I think, at least, at first, Google+ will be in the hands of the techies, the geeks, the nerds and the social media lovers. In my head:

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– This won’t be the end of Facebook. Not by a long shot. Google+ is clean, it’s got pretty sections. But to me, it feels like an extended version of Twitter. Perhaps that might change when more people join? As I said, too many people on Facebook are there for the Farmville and Mafia Wars and whatever else. I’m there because many of my friends use it and I keep in touch with them, it’s where the food bloggers have their private group to share links, stories and plan events. That’s why I use Facebook. But Google+ is not for those who enjoy the clutter Facebook can give them. And that’s many.

– Me? I’m not going to stop using Facebook. I’ve far too many people on that website I’d like to keep in touch with, whom I know will balk at the thought of another social network.

Google+ is definitely better than the atrociousness that was Buzz. But I’m not sure whether it will be successful at moving the Facebook-addicts over to a cow-free world.