Smoking Isn’t Injurious!

Smoking isn’t injurious especially when it’s Smokingroove. So this is a story all about how…wait, rewind, different story. Let’s start with a little show and tell first.

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I first met Safe Smokingroove at a random party. After that we kept bumping into each other all across Dubai and that’s how we became friends. There’s something about Safe that just inspires you to walk your own path so one day I asked him about his story.

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It started with this expression and an explanation that went something like this. “I was living a regular life but it slowly felt like just black and white so I decided to add a little colour to my life. I did the whole 8-6 corporate life in the day, went home in rush hour, ate and went to the clubs, meetings or studio after that. I made a decent bit of money but like those actors working as waiters we always see in shows like Entourage, it was purely so I could function and actually eat. When you start out, there’s not much money involved and rent & food needs to be paid for. That was a decade ago. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I got a lot of business experience from those days and insight into how big business actually works.”

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Curiosity got the better of me and I blurted out, “But weren’t you scared of making any mistakes?”

He smiled and replied, “You’re always going to make mistakes. I’ve made so many that I’ve lost count and some were quite large ones. When you start, you have all the hunger in the world but time and failures have a habit of eating away at that hunger-stash. I’m a natural stubborn asshole so I stuck at it for a long time (over 20yrs) but I have built a global following of friends and fans by being honest with myself and my goals. Play hard but work harder.”

hug dealer.jpg“So when you are not being a ‘hug dealer’ (check out the picture above) how do you actually manage to juggle your finances and your passion for music?” I quipped.

“My biggest mistake has been not hanging onto as much cash as I should have. That Rock’n’Roll lifestyle will catch up with you so get your finances in order. Save as much as possible as this thing does not last forever. Get clued up on investments, savings and tax breaks. It all counts!”, he replied.

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“What has gotten you this far with your dreams? What’s given you the courage to never quit halfway?” I asked feeling quite inspired.

“Honesty with yourself is the important thing but as for others, this IS the music business so I’ve learned to take what some people say with a grain of salt,” he answered without losing a beat.

If you want to learn more about building a smoking hot music empire and about what Safe and his brother  Marko have achieved over the last 20 years, you can check out Smokingroove HQ.

Pig&Dan Debut in Dubai

Pig&Dan, aka Dan Duncan and Igor Tchkotoua, have been producing and performing together for more than a decade. You might have heard of Snakes on a Plane but this story starts with DJs on a Plane. The pair first met on a flight to Mallorca way back in 1999, but it wasn’t until three years later that they partnered with each other as Pig&Dan.

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Pig&Dan’s style is distinctive and makes a lasting impact. What’s their music style? In their own words: “Dynamic, Euphoric, Uplifting and Nonlinear. Pumping yet melodic. Smiley face music that girls like too, even though it has a dark edge.”

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They have been in the industry for over a decade now but have never lost their passion for music! The spirit and energy is still alive in their music and a short DJ set is just not their thing! They usually take about an hour to really get into the groove of things. Why? They believe in longer sets because they love telling stories with their music!

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Their brand of storytelling certainly worked wonders in Dubai when they recently played at a massive event organised by Plus Minus. The crowd followed their story very closely. Rising with the tempo and then losing themselves in oblivion at Level 41!

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This might have been Pig&Dan’s first time behind the decks at Level 41 but it certainly won’t be their last! They’ve played at Ultra, Tomorrowland and Awakenings and graced the decks at legendary clubs like Amnesia Ibiza, Crobar Buenos Aires, and Womb Tokyo. Its clear that their euphoric-pumping sound has lifted the roof on a global level! To continue your techno journey in Dubai click here12650819_712264432244178_7559519278022395044_n.jpg

New Year’s Travel Resolutions

Travelling gets the adrenaline pumping through your veins like nothing else can. Sometimes it’s exactly what you need to break the monotony. Sometimes it’s just what you need to feel alive.

tblisi.pngSo this year, instead of making resolutions about losing weight or making piles of money, why don’t you make some travel resolutions? Step out of your comfort zone, save up for that trip you have had your heart set on for years. Stop making excuses about why you can’t go and instead just pack your bags and go where your heart leads you.
nyIt might be a short trip in the same country that you live in or it might be a life changing decision like quitting your job to go globe trotting like This Guy On His Own Trip.

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Take the plunge before you get a chance to second guess yourself. I promise you that you won’t regret it! I have done it myself. I have travelled to Georgia without having a penny in my pocket thanks to a friend who gifted me an adventure when all I had was a dream.

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I have also travelled to Thailand on my first solo trip, without any hotel reservations and without doing loads of research and enjoyed myself thoroughly just going by the recommendations of the locals. I made it…not once or twice but every single time and so can you.

thailand.jpgIf your travel dreams are backed by enough fire you will find your oasis even in the middle of any desert! Happy New Year fellow travellers!
Road Trip UAE | lifeisanopenroad

Dune Bashing at Fossil Rock

Life in Dubai is all about living in the fast lane but if you want to try something different you can always leave the city behind and go dune bashing!

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If you live in Dubai, one of the closest spots is Fossil Rock (also known as Jebel Maleihah), which has something for everyone. The beauty of this point, is that you can see fossils of shells and small creatures that once lived in the ocean here.

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For beginners, you can try an easy trail and follow the main power lines so you don’t get lost. Don’t forget to let out some of the air in your tyres before heading onto the sand (14-16 PSI is recommended). And don’t try this alone, especially if you are doing it for the first time, otherwise you might end up spending more time than you expected in the desert.

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Once you are comfortable with the basics, you can be more adventurous and try some gravity defying moves. This is where the fun actually begins! It’s best to try this in a mixed group of beginners and professionals as you can learn a lot of tricks from people who know the dunes like the back of their hand!

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After your adrenaline craving has been satisfied you can always stop for a picnic and enjoy the breathtaking view! Or even pitch a tent and stay the night.

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The greatest part about setting off on a dune bashing trip is that it is the best way to bond with your friends and make some new ones as well.

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The friends you find in the desert are not always of the human variety but they are equally friendly!

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Once you have tried Fossil Rock and the nearby Camel Rock, you can drive to Big Red, where you can rent a quad bike to ride the dunes (for around AED 250 an hour), before making your way back to Dubai. If you are planning a dune bashing trip and need a guide, email me in advance and I can help you plan your trip. Don’t forget…what is life but one big adventure!

Em Sherif Dubai: Epitome of Excellence

Before you even step into Em Sherif the soothing sound of the Dubai Fountains will put you in just the right mood for what is to come. As you walk down towards the entryway you can’t help but let out a little gasp as the fountains surge to meet the top of the Burj Khalifa.

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From the moment you step into Em Sherif Dubai, you are transported into another world. The authentic Lebanese food is perfectly complemented by the traditional decor.

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As you are welcomed in, the sound of Lebanese folk music takes over.

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Once you are seated and your waiter for the evening has briefed you on the traditions of Em Sherif the starters begin to arrive. Each dish here has a secret twist. The Fattouch is my personal favourite. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what the twist to this dish is. The Kebbeh Sajiyeh and the Briwat Jebneh are also must trys!

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I must warn you to nibble on the starters even though you feel like polishing off every morsel in sight as there is a lot more coming to your table. This adventure is certainly not for the faint hearted.

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Make sure you skip a meal before you arrive as there so many mouth-watering dishes to try. By the time the main course arrives it becomes a battle between your mind and your stomach. Eventually you will get carried away by the delicious aroma of the grilled meat but you won’t regret a single bite.

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Of course no meal is complete without dessert but at Em Sherif, dessert is like a meal in itself! Every single dessert has a different flavour and texture to it. A spoonful of Meghle, a bite of the Booza (delightful upside down ice-cream cones), a nibble of Tamriyye and there was absolutely no place left in my stomach.

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Wash it all down with some rich, dark Lebanese coffee and you will realise that time has just flown. Two hours have just whizzed past since you stepped in.

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As you wrap up the meaningful conversation you were finally able to have since you weren’t in a rush, you will surely smile to yourself and think about who you would like to recommend this secret foodie haven to. You can take a look at the detailed menu and make a reservation by clicking here: http://www.emsherif.com/

Soy: Certainly So Chinese!

I was wandering around aimlessly through Dubai Mall when suddenly a flash of colour caught my attention!

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I walked a few steps closer and the first thing that caught my attention were the colourful traditional Chinese lanterns and the fashionable yet intimate pink booths for diners.

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Being a foodie at heart, the next thing I did was to walk upto the counter where the host was standing and pore over the menu. Before I could even order…my mind started imagining all the tasty things I could order.

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I spotted several seafood courses on the menu and I was already won over even before walking in.

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Soy: So Chinese at Dubai Mall under promises and over delivers at every level. I tried a couple of different things and all of them were fabulous.

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I started off with prawn dumplings and Tom Yum soup which were absolutely delightful! By the time my main course arrived I was already in heaven.

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The elegant decor is the perfect reflection of the food you can expect to eat at this restaurant.

 

 

 

Follow Your Dreams. You Never Know Where They Will Take You!

Everybody has family friends…certain families that adopt you as their own when you are growing up. Mothers and fathers that love you as much as your own parents and kids that are like your own brothers and sisters. That was the Al-Azzeh family for me. Aunty Pinky and my mother have been best friends since college and her kids, my sister and I were brought up together, jointly by two mothers who loved spending all their time together. We went through everything together. From watching Philips Top Ten (a bollywood music show) every Friday night to having our own fashion shows, from marrying off aunty Pinky’s youngest child to my baby sister to cooking in earthenware pots, from fighting over boys to learning how to dance for the first time, we did it all. This story is about Aunty Pinky’s youngest son who I have watched grow from a toddler into a very famous B-boy (dancer).

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Meet Naser Al Azzeh. He was a shy, quiet kid growing up and thought his sisters and all their friends were crazy (especially me, I am sure). While his sisters and I were always up to something or the other, he was the good kid who never gave his mother any trouble. While his sisters spent hours dancing, he would turn up his nose as if to say, ‘Oh my God! Can’t you find something better to do?’ Ironically he was the first person to hit the dance floor (literally) at his sister’s wedding!

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I shifted out of Bangalore five years ago but I always kept in touch with the Al-Azzeh family. Initially I started seeing videos on facebook of this lithe figure who had some wicked moves! And then the first time I went back to Bangalore for a holiday, I met the Black Ice Crew – Naser’s own team of dancers! They blew my mind away with their lightning fast moves! These guys really know how to dance!

Nas collageHe is just 25 but Naser has found his calling. From somebody who used to spend hours watching music videos to learn new moves, he now offers specialised dance classes all over Bangalore. He has taken part in international B-boy competitions and has his own crew of dancers! B-boying with its dizzying head spins and stylish hand-stands has become quite the rage in India now and at the helm of this new movement is Naser Al Azzeh.

Wine Tasting In Georgia

I was born a traveller. When I was a child, my parents made sure that I fell in love with the outdoors. From Cubbon Park to Bannerghatta National Park to Nagerhole National Park, they took me everywhere. They made me fall in love with trees, rivers, animals and open spaces. My favourite toys came directly from nature as well. I learnt how to make witches claws from Jacranda buds, to make hard balls to play cricket by crushing certain local fruits, to dance in the rain, to let hail stones melt on my tongue, finger paint with vegetables and so many other things that fed my fascination for the wild.

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It’s no wonder then that I grew up to be somebody who wanted to travel the world and live in new places just to see nature’s different faces, in different countries. The first exciting international trip I went on was to Tblisi, the capital of Georgia. It was love at first sight when I landed there. Here are a few of my favourite memories from that trip. First up, wine tasting in Georgia, the birthplace of wine!

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Georgia is famous for its vineyards and has a wide variety of wine to suit everybody’s taste-buds! I was able to enjoy my first wine tasting experience in this gorgeous country. Wine production began here over 8000 years ago! Some of the regions that produce exceptional wine are Kakheti, Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi, Kvemo Svaneti and Abkhazia.

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The experience of wine tasting is not just a treat for your taste-buds but a visual feast as well! Since Georgians began making wine 80 centuries ago, wine vessels of every shape, size and design are a crucial part of Georgian pottery. Take a look at some of the exquisite wine bottles, bowls and pouches I saw there.

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The most common vessel you will see is the Kvevri which is a large earthenware vessel with a coating of beeswax on the inside that is used to ferment grape juice and to store wine. Even if you don’t drink wine, these beautiful, hand-crafted pieces make excellent gifts! If you are a little more adventurous though, you might want to taste wine for the first time in Georgia since nearly 400 different types of grapes grow here! In another post, I’ll let you in on a secret – the most beautiful place to eat at in Georgia. A restaurant that has a waterfall, a river passing by it and grape vines that form a cozy canopy overhead!

Wine Tasting In Georgia | life is an open roadPhoto Credit: Carel Bosman

The Creative Spark

All of us are made to shine in different areas. The problem is we spend our youth chasing illusions and put off true happiness for later. That is the biggest trap we all fall into! Always surround yourself with people who inspire you to follow your dreams, who light that spark of creativity within you!

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Meet Sanjay Rajoura. He spent ten years of his life tied down to a boring corporate job that he detested! Don’t get me wrong, he has worked for some of the best employers in his industry, made a lot of friends (that’s just the kind of guy he is) and was rolling in dough but he still wasn’t happy. What? Many of you might jump to be in that place but wait! Think about what you really want to do with your life. That is what he did!

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He left his high paying job in the States and came back to India when he just couldn’t take it anymore. A lot of people around him did not understand his decision but he stuck by it. He put his fist into the bag of creativity to see what life had in store for him and to his surprise the answer was not just one thing but a ton of different things! Was it easy? No way! He is a very talkative, friendly, funny guy by nature and is always up for a new adventure. So he decided to do something that was not very popular at that point of time in Delhi, stand-up comedy. He traded in his corporate wardrobe for a comfy pair of jeans and a T-shirt and started making people laugh for a living. ‘You are kidding me right?’ Nope! That’s exactly what he did!

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That was just the first step in his journey towards creative freedom. Once he had made his mark as a comedian, he started acting in short films and commercials produced by friends. As he began to establish himself, something bigger came his way. He was offered a TV show that would air on Fox Traveller – ‘What’s With Indian Women’. He did a damn good job with that show and won the hearts of people all over the country! But he wasn’t going to stop there.

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Because Sanjay had the guts to walk away from everything he had built up and start again from scratch, people now know him as a comedian, an actor, a tv show host, a writer and even a movie script writer.  So instead of just letting your dreams fade away, remember it’s never too late to follow them! You never know what lies in store for you, until you start moving in that direction right?

Redfoo LIVE at Cirque le Soir Dubai

I have been for a lot of concerts and parties but nothing prepared me for the night that Redfoo took over Cirque le Soir Dubai with his own brand of craziness. The night started off like any other but the moment Redfoo took the stage everybody lost it! Party rock is in the house tonight! Everybody certainly had a good time!

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Redfoo and the LA Freak Crew set the place on fire! Dubai knows how to party but Redfoo pulled some completely unique tricks out of his magical bag for party animals. As the seconds ticked by, the crazy-meter went kaput because it couldn’t handle the level of crazy that Redfoo brought to the house!

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Women poured onto the tiny wooden stage and would not leave his side. When he started singing ‘I’m Sexy and I know it’ all hell broke loose! The party animals in the house morphed into wild animals and the noise was deafening!

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The La Freak Crew and in particular Miss Charlie Pearl (the dance diva with the pink hair) also gained a large fan following that night as their dance moves scorched the dance floor!

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Everyone who was there definitely took home some great memories as well as bouncing zebras, light tubes, inflated animals, the smell of champagne on their clothes and the party rock anthem which they didn’t stop singing for weeks after that epic party at Cirque le Soir Dubai!