Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tron: Legacy (2010)

Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
The original Tron pioneered rendered 3D vector graphics and the virtual world immersion on the big screen, so much ought to be expected of any successor's visuals and script. Thankfully, Tron: Legacy stays clear of rehashing, and takes the sequel route instead.

The story is actually surprisingly good. Sure, there's the "mystery meat" science that makes use of techie buzzwords and codespeak to effect plot devices and quantum-leap over minor technological hurdles (like taking a human being of flesh and bone and transforming him into a computer game character and back). But aside from that, Legacy's writers pulled a few twists that caught even a seasoned trope-prescient like me by surprise (including a reverse Empire Strikes Back moment).

Years after the events of Tron, Kevin Flynn is working on something revolutionary when he suddenly disappears, leaving behind a young son, Sam. In his late twenties, Sam receives the keys to his fathers arcade/office from the author of the original Tron program and gets digimatizified, or something like that, when he activates the feature accidentally. Now a part of the computer system, he has to fight his way back out against lethal games and malicious programs.

Visually, the film is stunning. The CG clones of Jeff Bridges are almost completely convincing, and he himself puts in some good acting for this one. Besides, the black body suits are much better than the white ones in the prequel film, and the costumes are overall a definite improvement. The vehicles, from massive recognizers to gleaming light cycles to grand carrier vessels, are vast technological and design improvements, whilst retaining enough similarities to the originals to serve as worthy homages for the nostalgic (new ones were thrown in by the designers too). Speaking of nostalgia, there is the occasional 80s music score, but the background music is a huge improvement over its over-dramatic counterpart in the first film. Daft Punk, yeah.

Try seeing Tron beforehand, if you haven't - it really won't spoil anything anyway. But do see this - it has a great combination of homages for the fans of its predecessor, and new cutting edge designs to appeal to those with more modern tastes.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

O Christmas ... Bamboo?!

Well, I already have a couple of bamboos around the living room, I don't have room for a large tree, and I don't want a miniature. So, here's to applying a little Christmas creativity.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bad Publicity for Good Business

How threatening customers with murder and rape makes twisted sense in the SEO game. Oh, and of course, he should be gutted like a kipper for what he's doing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rape witness fears for life

Seems like the parents of these barbaric hicks view their spawns' destruction of two young people's lives as minor post-game hooliganism worthy of leniency. After all, the village (dick)head seems to hold such an attitude ( http://topangle.instablogs.com/entry/noida-gang-rape%E2%80%94let-us-give-law-a-chance/ ).

(Hindustan Times)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wish List

My new historical TV series wish list ... any leads on where to get these (DVD, with English subtitles, preferably all together) would be appreciated.


Afternoon at Yas Marina Circuit

Dropping in for a quick random visit, we quite accidentally arrived while the race cars were doing their rounds. You could hear the screams of the engines well into the corridors of the Yas Hotel.

The lobby/cafe area was bustling with people, probably checking out now that the races were over.

Plenty of impressive architecture (reminiscent of the Esplanade, in some places). Even more impressive and novel interiors, with computer-generated patterns and a futuristic combination of metal and polymer.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Legalese Origin of "Cease and Desist"

"The origin of the doubling — and sometimes even tripling — often lies in the transition of legal language from Latin to French" (Wikipedia)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The illustrated guide to a PhD


Kopi and Kaya, in Dubai-ah

I emailed Ya Kun, requesting them to set up shop here. However, their very diplomatic response betrayed no hint of this happening any time soon. In the meantime, I will have to manage with my "emergency rations" of official Ya Kun Kaya Toast kopi mixture and kaya spread (Thanks, Amelia) with local toast, butter and soft-boiled egg.

My sentiments exactly, Sahil.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Little Lunch Party: Some of the Old, Some of the New

Starting out with a lentil soup.

Then a salad of cherry tomato and wild rocket with chopped walnuts and parmesan shavings.

Followed by kidney bean tahina.

Together with zaatar chicken.

Topped off with a pudding-ish thingy made with crumbled cake and date syrup, shot through with chopped dates, walnuts and almonds.

Friday, October 22, 2010

GeekFest Dubai 2010: The NOTGITEX Edition

The talks, on topics from gigapixel photography to entrepreneurship risk, were generally interesting, but I would have enjoyed the evening more had I not had to battle this ridiculously persistent cough.

The Little Mermaid OST- Les Poissons

Classic song from classic Disney. Such infectious culinary enthusiasm, it makes me want to go for some seafood right now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Food for the Flu Dude

Just your average zhouslow-cooked with extra ginger, and topped with shrimp paste, mincemeat and spring onions.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thoughts on Race and The Last Airbender

I saw this on a plane recently, and surprisingly find myself defending Shyamalan against RaceBending.com. Yes, the argument that the cultures depicted in the Avatar animation universe are clearly East Asian is sound, and the "heroic" Water Tribes and "villianous" Fire Nation are in fact populated by European and South/Southwest Asian people, respectively, in Shyamalan's film. However, I think there is something to be said for a major break with Hollywood cinematic tradition that this film represents.

Usually, it's the brown/yellow people who take the role of the quaint, valiant, spiritual "tribes" and the white folks who take the role of the imperialistic, advanced "nation". This is the first film I've seen that depicts white people as relatively backward, in-tune-with-nature types, while depicting the dominant military/technological superpower about town as a bunch of brown dudes.

So while I would have preferred that the Earth Kingdom was Chinese, the Fire Nation was Japanese, the Water Tribes were Siberian and the Air Nomads were Tibetan, as would be consistent with the original TV series, I think we need to take a more big-picture perspective on the "white heroes, brown villains" accusations lobbed at The Last Airbender.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I just DON'T like it ...


Robyn Urback: Facebook’s “I like it” campaign pointlessly sexualizing tragedy

I think quoting a comment by a reader of this article would best describe my feelings on this matter:

All I'm seeing is: "Curiosity raises questions, which leads to conversations and that's where action starts!". Good, that's fine, but does no one realise that this is an IDIOTIC way to raise curiosity? Where is the link between sexually suggestive ways to tell where you leave your purse and breast cancer? THERE IS NONE. I could do the same thing; observe:

Me: Just got a rim job!
Friend: Wow, disturbing.
Me: I'm talking about getting new rims on my car haha! But also, it's colon cancer awareness month!
Friend: Oh, uh, neat. Didn't know.

Except in this example, the sexually suggestive rim job actually has closer relevance to colon cancer than a freaking purse to breast cancer.

(source: National Post)

PS: And according to The Huffington Post, this whole meme originated with a male social network user, as probably did last year's breast cancer FB meme. At least the latter was, while equally suggestive, remotely relevant.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Evening Masala Chai

In a typical aluminium kettle, black tea brewed sweet  with ginger, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon, and served with evaporated milk.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Marmite Chicken

Chicken breasts marinated overnight in marmite and honey, rubbed in with pepper, grilled and served with grilled mushrooms. Goes great with garlic paste.

Rajmmus: Red Kidney Beans with Tahina

Hummus, hold the hummus. Substitute with red kidney beans (rajma), soaked overnight, slow-boiled until very soft. Blend to a thick paste (or manually mash till your arms scream for mercy). Add tahina, lemon juice, crushed garlic, olive oil and a little salt and voila!

The good thing about hummus is that much of it can be prepared to taste, so there's little that can go horribly wrong unless one is completely incompetent and/or careless. I just bought a new masher, so I took the mashing route. The results are a bit lumpy, but still good.


My latest plush collection entry. Not quite the original meme, but it meets the technical definition, and is comparably cute, if not more. From Velocity mall in Singapore.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Singapore 2010

View from 26 floors up in Ang Moh Kio

The lush natural beauty of the tropical evergreens combined with the glowing constructed monuments of global cities. My now-annual Mid-Autumn pilgrimage to the Lion City had me see some of the old, and some of the new - people, food and places. It just keeps getting better.

And I got to see the cutest baby on earth.

Sri Lanka 2010

Near Pinnawala elephant orphanage

Lush natural beauty, tons to see, great food, tourist-friendly, easy on the wallet.

The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince

Yoon Eun-Hye returns in another K-drama of a working-class lass stumbling into hypergamy (ref: Princess Hours). Coffee Prince's Cinderella is Go Eun-Chan (Yoon Eun-Hye), a Seoul tomboy who, through a series of awkward encounters, finds herself a sidekick and employee of of Choi Han-Kyul (Gong Yoo), the self-centred heir to an F&B empire. As breadwinner for her family, she poses as a boy so that she can get jobs unavailable to girls, of which is that of a trainee barista at the titular coffee house, which Choi needs to make succeed in order to prove his competence to his family.

Despite her apparent gender, though, Choi finds himself falling for Go, and begins to question his sexuality. While hardworking and dutiful Go initially plays the role of a boy in order to earn money, she finds herself unwilling to risk losing Choi's companionship by revealing the truth. Choi's cousin is also attracted to Go, and with his childhood sweetheart entering the fray, a love quadrilateral begins to emerge (ref: Princess Hours, again).

The romantic comedy drama plays out very well for the most part, and the tension/awkwardness-based comedy is delightful. Choi and Go share great chemistry, and while Gong Soo delivers commendable work as an actor, the show is stolen by Yoon Eun-Hye. Tears, giggles, kisses and fights abound in this sugary-sweet rom-com series. Two thumbs up.

xkcd: Beautiful Dream


Friday, September 3, 2010

Charlemagne and Roland

Genre: Literature & Fiction
Author:Allan Massie
It is a novel as thick with adventure and action as it is with emotion and drama. Based on the historically recorded life of the Carolingian king and Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, and on the exploits of his more legendary subject Roland a.k.a. Orlando, this epic piece of historical-legendary fiction is set in the late first millennium CE, when Frankish political and military muscle dominated Western Europe.

The story follows the rise of Charles from king to emperor, from his holy wars against uppity Saracens and Saxons to his personal battles to keep ahead of the political machinations among his courtiers and vassals. In parallel, it lays out some of the colorful legends surrounding the parentage, exile, return and death of Roland, based in part on bits of the epic Song of Roland and fleshed in with characters and adventures of fiction.

Narrated with flourish as a liberal medieval scholar's lecture to his pupil, it is an trove of both historical detail and legend about the period. Personally, I was more interested in the former, unfortunately served in smaller portions, but the rich (albeit fictional) tales of the star-crossed lover, the noble paladin and the knight errant kept my interest throughout. Another good point is the way the book goes into the minds of the characters, exposing their schemes and motives in good order. Highly recommended, especially to fans of historical fiction.

S Club 7 - Never Had A Dream Come True

SC7's best, oozing late-90s-flavored sap all over.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

City of Life

Genre: Independent
Watching a film made in the Emirates and actually set in the Emirates, let alone about actual life in the Emirates, is a new experience for many of us. Sure, there have been Bollywood flicks showing glittering skyscrapers as backdrops for mob bosses and dance routines, and the occasional Hollywood production that might pass through the country or portray it as another.

City of Life is about Dubai. Instant appeal on that point alone. Several weeks into release and people still flocked to the theatres that did screen the first mainstream Emirati feature film. It was a rare chance to see Karama's City Corner supermarket, the massive DIFC and other landmarks, iconic on levels global and local, on the silver screen in a slick film with world-class cinematography.

And if the production values weren't enough, the casting seems to have pulled in some major star power. The Tudors' Natalie Dormer played the role of an Eastern European flight attendant, and Jason Flemyng, who starred in the likes The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Clash of the Titans, played a high-living British advertising exec. The talents of Indian film industry big-timers Javed Jaffrey and Sonu Sood powered the South Asian cohort, playing an entertainment kingpin and a taxi driver respectively. While I am not really acquainted with the Arab film world, I thought Ahmed Ahmed and The Narcicyst did well as Emiratis in different social strata, trying to reconcile austere tradition with glamorous modernity.

When I first heard, long ago, that the film revolved around a car crash as a denouement, I feared it might be a remake of the multi-Oscar Crash. Fortunately, it was not. Three plot streams, one European, one South Asian, and one Emirati, did converge at said crash. With dialog delivered partly in native tongues and subtitled when so, each story depicted the experiences of living in Dubai for each group. Posh villas and yachts. Hovels and taxis. The small cafeteria with creatively-named juice mixes. The dusty lanes in the rough-hewn bungalow communities. The soaring towers sparkling with light reflected off other soaring towers. The glitzy parties. The seedy bars.

We also get to see glimpses of realistic but (in Dubai) taboo themes, like premarital sex (officially illegal here), amateur road stunt displays, ethnic stereotyping, worker exploitation and young Muslims' occasional haram indulgences. One would expect the villains to get their just desserts in the end, of course. That said, I could not help but get a pontification-heavy vibe off the film at some points, especially towards the finale.

I still recommend the film as a whole, the work of director and writer Ali F. Mostafa. The film definitely hits all the right spots for a Dubaiker. We get a glimpse into the experiences of different social classes, different cultures and different story-lines, all reflected to some extent in the real society, demographics and happenings in Dubai. Especially the interweaving of plot devices within and among the plot-lines, the film paces and develops well. The production quality is, once again, world-class, and the use of camera techniques is excellent. Mostafa hopes to see Emirati films as regular theatre features, and I wish him and other Dubai-based film-makers all the best for that.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Metal sticks to body of London woman (real life Magneto)

Dubbed the human magnet, Allison of Holloway, North London says she is often embarrassed by the effect, which she has been told is down to a heightened electromagnetic current running through her body.

The accounts manager says coins, safety pins, magnets, spanners and even a metal lid from a Vaseline pot can stay on her body for up to 45 minutes without falling off.

When the pulse is at its strongest, she says she can even dance in her living room without them coming off.

For as long as she can remember, she explains, her body has set off car alarms, interrupted the TV signal and blown out light bulbs.


10K+ Chinese Break Human-Domino Record

It looks like there's a world record for everything.

In the city of Ordos, located in Inner Mongolia in northern China, 10,267 people dressed in color-coordinated outfits and toppled, all in the name of the Guinness book.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The One With The Four Husbands

A controversial episode from a satirical Saudi television show was finally aired on Saturday, despite coming under fire from scholars and viewers.

The "Multiple Husbands" episode, the fourth to be shown on the 17th series of Tash Ma Tash, revolves around a woman with four husbands who wants to divorce one so she can marry for the fifth time.

It is based on Saudi columnist Nadine Al-Bidair's article "My Four Husbands and I," published last December in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masri Al-Youm. The column created a major Islamic debate and received massive criticism.


I didn't even know KSA allowed satire shows, or even a sense of humor.

Hard Rock Cafe to dish up a second serving in Dubai



Hard Rock International will announce today that its Hard Rock Café Dubai will re-open as a new 26,500 square-foot restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel end of the DFC with a large indoor music stage and enough room to comfortably host 300 patrons.

When the lights are turned on, the cafe will be recognised as the largest Hard Rock Café outside of North America featuring the largest Hard Rock Shop in the world touting rock memorabilia.

And, to draw attention to its new creekside location, Hard Rock Café will build the tallest ornamental guitar in the world reaching a height of 118 feet, near the boulevard fronting Festival City.


Monday, August 16, 2010

'I hate my father for my forced marriage, I hate my tribe, and I don't love my wife'

(The National Newspaper)
“I was promised to him on the day I was born,” she said. “They told me it was our custom, the tribal way, that it was Islamic. I know Islam. There is nothing that says you must marry your cousin. In fact it warns that if you do that your children will be unhealthy.”

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Project MEGA

Having had my interest in Project MEGA sufficiently raised by the exhibition in DIFC this May, I managed to catch the last MEGA customization workshop held by DUCTAC in MoE today.

As I recall, I was busy designing my own hanfu shortly after this time last year, so I decided to paint my MEGA with hair buns (frustum-shaped, actually, due to the shape of the MEGA's ears), and use glue and the fabric DUCTAC staff kindly found for me to construct a dark blue hanfu for "MEGA gong zhu".

Took a bit of trial and error, some corrections, and some unfortunately hurried painting in the end, but I am proud of her.

Note: Many of the MEGA in the exhibit were customized by actual artists, using their own materials, and in more than just three hours. I just worked by myself with what I was given in that much time.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kittehz Deemannedin Teh Nom

Creemeh kitteh, smowkeh kitteh, orinj kitteh and tabbeh kitteh has voted you-nanny-mousely ... dey wants teh gushifuds and dey wants it nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao! nao!


Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiHXASgRTcA


xkcd: University Website


Sunday, August 1, 2010

UAE Criminals Working Overtime to Finish Nefarious Schemes by Oct 11 Deadline

2010 August 01

Terrorists, assassins, smugglers and extortionists in the United Arab Emirates are at wit's end now that the state telecom authority has announced that it will be blocking untraceable Blackberry services nationwide starting October the 11th.

"I have to work weekends now. When the f*** am I going to watch Twilight: Eclipse?", grumbled Al Qaeda operative Mustafa al-Masri. As he wrestles with the wiring on his third IED of the day, his wizened mentor (who prefers not to be named) paces about their quarters-cum-workshop anxiously. "This is so very bad for business," he sighs, as he checks his BB emails for the eighteenth time in half as many minutes.

Russian mafia hitman Nikolai "Nimrod" Leonov shares the sentiment. "We had a three-day window to get that last big fish," he gripes, referring to a prominent businessman. "Now it's three hours. Besides," he momentarily smirks, "there's that cute lady I met at Marina Mall a few days back, and have been constantly exchanging BB messages with ever since."

D-Company's Santosh Shetty laughs at the irony of his situation. "That courier from the Rajan gang kept taunting me, saying he can 'pwn our n00b operations' now that he got himself some fancy new phone. After months of resistance, I finally caved in and bought one at a Dubai Summer Surprises sale last week," he mopes, twirling his complimentary Modhesh keychain. "Seriously, this sucks! Hmmm," he muses out loud, "you think I can send all my scheduled extortion threats in advance for the rest of the financial year?"

By overseas correspondent Sohan Dsouza for Incredible News Network

Picture credit: http://www.blackberrycool.com/2009/02/12/nuclear-weapons-lab-blackberry-goes-missing-in-axis-of-evil/



UAE Regulator To Suspend BlackBerry Services From Oct 11

Emirates Telecommunications Corp., or Etisalat, the country's biggest telco, said in an emailed statement that it fully understands the legal and social considerations behind the U.A.E. regulator decision.

"In line with its commitment towards its customers, Etisalat will soon be announcing a range of alternative mobility products and services for its existing blackberry customers," it added.

Dubai-based Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Corp., or Du, said in a statement on WAM that it would fully comply with the TRA's instruction.

The reaction from members of the local business community Sunday was far from understanding.


"In my business time is money, the more time I have to spend in the office to email rather than send an email from any location means I will lose money," he added.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Shorba Aadas

After a couple of attempts that did not go so well, I finally perfected my home preparation of one of my favorite soups - cream of lentil. Gently cooked, violently blended ... a dash of lemon juice, a shot of coarse black pepper, and it's ready to eat.

July Rockathon 2010

Thanks to SanDisk for supporting, and Shelter Dubai for hosting the July Rockathon 2010. We had a collection of diverse acts by local talent, ranging from pop rock to Punjabi fusion rap to soft acoustic accompanied by beatboxing. I wish I could have stayed longer - some of the performances were so professional you could have closed your eyes and thought you were listening to a Top 40.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Opening during the recession was clearly not a great thing for Stargate, a kids-oriented entertainment center in Zabeel Park, Dubai. There are many vacant shop spaces, and many others ready to open but unstocked and unstaffed. Still, if not in terms of retail, Stargate has much to offer. There are plenty of games, a 5D cinema, a 3D cinema, an airgun shooting range, and a semi-indoor roller coaster. And those are just the attractions I could visit for my age. It's kind of hard to miss, as the five domes around the central pyramid can be seen from quite a ways away, and it is the central attraction of Zabeel Park. Three domes are made to look like planets, one like the moon, and one like a stereotypical UFO. Clearly someone put a lot of effort into the whole scifi getup, complete with walkway tubes, starfleet-like staff uniforms and neon lights.

Camel Burger

Spent the afternoon in Al Bastakiya and lunched on a burger of camel meat at Local House. It is actually pretty good ... quite dark and dense. Just ask them to go easy on the sauces if you plan to get one yourself. They also have camel biryani and camel ribs, by the way.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tea Party at Al Shaiba

Last night, I went to see Hairspray with relatives and friends (yes, it was awesome). To assemble attendees prior to the event, I decided to host a tea party. It has been my dream to do so ever since I read about the dark arts of tea sandwich preparation.

To begin with, that quintessential tea sandwich of thin cucumber slices between slices of buttered bread. I added a touch of finely chopped mint.

Next, sandwiches of salmon pâté sprinkled with fresh dill.

Finally, my own concoction to add a regional flavour: finely diced tomato, strained, with za'atar tossed in, placed between slices of bread spread with labneh.

And, of course, tea!

Indian rupee gets a symbol, joins elite currency club

(Times of India)
NEW DELHI: The Indian rupee will soon have a unique symbol — a blend of the Devanagri 'Ra' and Roman 'R' — joining elite currencies like the US dollar, euro, British pound and Japanese yen in having a distinct identity.

The new symbol, designed by Bombay IIT post-graduate D Udaya Kumar, was approved by the cabinet today — reflecting that the Indian currency, backed by an over-trillion dollar economy, was finally making its presence felt on the international scene.


Auroville 2010

Chennai Central

Auroville, a small township on the coast of Tamil Nadu next to Pondicherry, has ambitions of itself as becoming "universal city". Founded in the late 60s by "The Mother," a French woman who served as Sri Aurobindo's spiritual executive in his later years, Auroville's mission was to combine ecological sustainability with international harmony.

Hundreds of people came in from around the world to settle what was then a mostly barren plateau, planting and nurturing trees day after day. Decades later, the tree problem has clearly been spectacularly solved.

While not perfect in regards to both ecological sustainability and international harmony, Auroville still has many worthy accomplishments to the credit of its citizens, which will hopefully not be stymied by politics.

Anyway, during my week there, I got to stay in a very comfortable (but sufficiently rustic) guesthouse, eat yummy food, use a bicycle as my primary transportation (haven't ridden one for over a dozen years), wear a lungi, perform yoga, work on an organic farm, enter a UFO-like temple to concentrate in absolute silence, and generally experience a lush, fresh environment. And perhaps best of all, meet interesting people I would not typically run into.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New generation of Saudi novelists breaks taboos


"There is a new generation of novelists that uses a new language, simple and direct, in dealing with subjects that were not evoked in the past, like the right of a woman to be in love or to work," said female Saudi writer Badriya al-Bishr.

"The novel has become a way out. It expresses what one dares not say, and breaks taboos," said the writer whose latest novel, "The Swing," narrates the stories of three Saudi women experiencing freedom in Europe.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Judicial reform will make the country stronger

Authorities in the UAE proved their sophistication and diligence in uncovering the plot behind the murder of the Hamas leader Mahmoud Al Mabhouh earlier this year and in swiftly confronting many of those who have committed financial crimes. In the past several years, however, there have been other areas in which the judicial system has been found wanting.

For instance, a tourist was sentenced to four years in prison for a speck of cannabis on his shoe. A handful of former CEOs sit in prison without having been charged with a crime.

An Emirati man who was convicted for murder was released, only to commit another heinous act. And most recently, an 18-year-old girl reported that she was raped by several men, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage by the authorities before she retracted her statement.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Project: MEGA




A different take on the usual institutionally-focused paint-a-cow/horse/camel/etc., this open-air exhibition Project: MEGA, held in the DIFC Gate Village, featured some very eye-catching customizations of 100 blank Robotboy-looking figurines by a bunch of individual artists.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Feast Fit for a King ... of SPJCM

A "little" dinner I prepared for a few friends from SPJCM in honor of our pal Hiral.

First, and in line with the Mediterranean theme, an Italian salad with fava beans, drizzled with oil and vinegar.

Next, my spaghetti specialty, made with my signature recipe pink sauce, tomato chunks and bits of black olive.

Finally, my coup de grace, grilled strips of tender chicken, marinated overnight in an experimental za'atar-based mixture, showered with shavings of parmesan cheese, and served with halves of tomato and mushroom grilled in the caramelized aftermath. Said experiment turned out to be a suprise hit, and will be repeated at future parties to confirm the results scientifically.