A Review – Kino Cafe @ Kinokuniya

If there’s anywhere out there that has to be on the list of “best cafes to write/read/work at”, this would be it. Kino Cafe is located in Dubai’s largest bookstore, Kinokuniya at Dubai Mall. This place is one of my favorite places to go to when I want to write. Everyone is so quite and consumed by the book, notebook or laptop in front of them. I rarely see more than one person on a table. And if there happens to be a group or a couple, they’re mostly there to study or have a business meeting. I love it. I always feel so inspired to work when I go there.

The food style is very Japanese/Asian which means, amazing kinds of tea, not just the green variety. I love to order their iced green tea. So refreshing. It’s like green tea galore at this cafe. Their food is just OK. But I normally don’t care much about eating when I am writing. My goal at kino cafe is always to write, which is unlike going to a place for breakfast and wanting to both start my day with a delicious meal and then be able to write comfortably and effectively.

The cafe is so bright but super small. They have a silent room at the end of the cafe if you need an extra quiet space. Each chair in that room, has a socket and a table for your laptops. No one dares talk in there. They have some sockets on the workstations too, but I hate sitting at the workstations. They’re not comfortable and small and the last thing I need is to rub elbows with some random dude while I am trying to focus.  I take up a booth, which is supposed to be for four people. I always feel like a douchebag when I do that, but it’s the only way I feel I can write and the place is rarely busy so I am not making trouble.

There’s a huge glass wall on one end of the cafe, normally, that would be appealing because of the brightness coming in from the sun. But this is Dubai and we have two seasons, summer and a barely cold spring. Sometimes it’s winter, but that’s kinda rare. Also, the summer lasts about 8 months. I exaggerate to prove a point. Basically most of the year, the place feels like a sauna. I am not saying the place needs to be cold, but the temperature needs to be slightly cooler at this cafe. When you have an open space with a lot of glass, you need to factor in the temperature coming in from the outside. This has happened almost every time I went there.

Another annoying feature is their wifi. It’s very good once you’re connected, but the password expires every hour. I expect this from other places, but this is literally a work cafe. People are expected to sit at the cafe to read and chill and browse the internet. It’s located in a bookstore for god’s sake. That is the main function of a cafe that is inside a bookstore. So it doesn’t make sense to me that they use this system. I feel like wifi shouldn’t even be an issue in this day and age. I really hated having to ask for a password every hour, one for my phone and another for my laptop. The last time I was at the cafe, I was there for 5 hours. I definitely didn’t appreciate the looks I got from the waiters every hour. Extremely annoying.

Parking is a non-issue. The best parking for you if you don’t want to walk all around the mall is the fashion parking of Dubai Mall. It’s the closest to Kinokuniya. If you happen to park on the other side, the cinema parking, then you can take a shortcut through the foodcourt.

All in all, despite the temperature and the crappy wifi system, I’d say this is my favorite place to write. The iced green tea always helps. And I tend to do my research at home to avoid wifi issues.

Here’s the rating for this place based on my criteria.

Coffee – 6/10

Comfort 7/10

Food  5/10

Wifi 3/10

Music 6/10

Atmosphere 10/10

Parking 10/10

Disclaimer: I am not part of Kino Cafe or Kinokuniya nor was I paid to write this review. This is purely a way for me to review and document the best restaurants and cafes in The U.A.E. for individuals who want to write and enjoy good coffee. If their food is good, that’s a plus.

Bateel Gourmet – A Review

I never thought about reviewing Bateel for my ‘work friendly cafe reviews’ series. It’s not really known for that and It’s been around for ages. It didn’t occur to me. I happen to be in Town Center Jumairah early this week, to visit PaperLane; the crafts store I like to get all my scrapbooking papers from. I was there early, and hungry, and there was Bateel. It was meant to be.

It’s a very nice restaurant, especially for breakfast. And they have the most robust and strong coffee. They like to pair it with a piece of date. I hear the combination is delicious. I am not a date person so I’ll leave you to judge that on your own. They also make arabic coffee, but I’ve never been a fan of that so I have no clue if it’s good. Honestly, when it comes to things that are normally homemade, I almost never go for it at a restaurant. Arabic coffee is a homemade staple at practically every home in the gulf region. But, who knows, maybe Bateel’s is actually good.  Continue reading →

Fear Reared It’s Ugly Head

I keep going back to this memory anytime I am about to do something new. I am siting in class, chatting with my friends, and everyone is talking about a dream they have. Someone says they want to run their own company one day, and another one talks about how incredible and rewarding it would be if they could simply travel the world and experience the nomadic life. I nodded, oohed and aahed along with the rest of the amazed looks. When it was time for me to chime in, I said something about wanting to have a comic strip published in the newspaper. And then I said that I wanted to write a cute fun comic book, and it’s going to be based on our daily lives. Everyone looked at me with eyes wide open, filled with excitement. Someone said, OH MY GOD, LET’S DO THAT!! It would be so much fun.  Continue reading →

Me Before You*Spoilers*

I just came home like 10 minutes ago. I went to watch Me Before You at the Cinema and for the entire drive back home I was feeling rather subdued. I didn’t cry when the movie ended. I did enough of that after I read the book late last year. I worried the tears will come on the drive back. Some did eventually, but I was thankfully filling up my car with petrol when that happened. I couldn’t stop thinking about Will Traynor and Lou. Would anyone in his position choose to live?

**Do stop reading now if you haven’t read the book or watched the movie. I don’t know how to write this without revealing the plot or the ending. You’ve been warned. SPOILERS AHEAD.** Continue reading →

The Flight of the Hummingbird

For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be something. When I was around 3 or 4, I remember having an oven with plastic plates, cups and food, and I would play pretend with my dad and he would pretend eat everything I made. I want to be a chef, I’ll cook for people because it makes them happy, yes, I want to be a chef, I thought. When I was 8 or 9, I remember writing a story that had come up when I was coming up with a lie to tell my parents about why I didn’t want to do something. I can’t remember the details, but I remember coming up with the story, I had the wildest imagination. I know, I can be a writer and a story teller. It’s fun, and it makes people feel something. Fast forward to a myriad of “I know what I want to be” moments throughout my adolescence and eventually throughout my adulthood.

Continue reading →

We know what we know

 

The words are nothing but a jumble

The heart feels solid

The soul wanders, either searching or escaping

It’s pretty hard to push forward

Continue reading →

A State of Comatose – Post Nanowrimo

Part of me knew that something like this would happen. That I would shut down after the words marathon my brain had – not willingly – participated in. I had never spent more than a few days writing in a row, let alone an entire month. It was a binge-like behavior. I was binge-writing and coming down from that high was a little depressing, I am not going to lie. It has felt like there weren’t any more words to write, as if my brain had run out of words.

I’ve mentioned this on my blog a few times before, but I’ve never actually written more than 10k words a year. This includes my diary, the myriad of blogs I’ve kept over the years, and any type of personal and recreational writing. For work, I would write nearly 40k words a year. Writing has always been a means to an end, despite the passion I have for it. Continue reading →

I win I win I win

What!??? I did?

HELLZ YEA I did. 50 thousand words. 50k.

My draft is not even done yet, I still need at least 20k words to wrap up the story, but that doesn’t matter. I made a promise to myself, and I kept it. I completed NaNoWriMo, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I am very proud of myself, and everyone who participated this year.

Yay Us. YAY US!!!!!!

I Write, Therefore I am

Looking back at the amount of journals I kept over the years – not necessarily keeping them filled and fed – and the number of blogs I started – again, not truly committing to them – and how many notes I have on my iPhone and even the old blackberry, notes about my feelings, emotions or experiences, all written down for posterity and a little bit of therapy, and finally, the folder I have on my computer that is called [My Writing], which is filled with word documents of things I wrote. I honestly don’t know how I can look at all of that, and still question my vocation as a writer, and natural attraction to write it all down – do I need someone to stamp it across my forehead in order for me to believe it? Continue reading →

An Effort in Descriptive Writing

In an effort to expand my horizons, get myself out of the house and force myself to get inspired and notice my surroundings, I took a trip to the beach.

I actively saw what I saw, I wiggled my ears so as to test it’s hearing abilities. That’s silly, don’t do it, you’ll look stupid. Or maybe do it, who cares if you look stupid. I tried to identify what I inhaled. I gripped the steering wheel tightly, focusing on the heat coming through and the smooth texture.

I thought about all the missed opportunities, all the things I saw, smelled, heard, touched and felt. Things that are now forgotten.

I arrived at my destination. I paid attention to how I parked the car. How people look when they are driving and finally spot the parking they want. I couldn’t help but imagine a jungle where the survival is for the fittest and fastest. I pushed the thought of the reckless drivers out of my mind, that’s not a pretty picture.

I took a seat at a cafe on the strip across from the beach. I wasn’t dressed for the beach and thought it best to sit back and watch.

As soon as I ordered an iced frappe, which is pretty for a very cold coffee, I noticed the man occupying the table next to mine. Alone. Why is it that men who dine alone seem more charming than a man dining with company? Does his solo status elude to his actual status? He just seemed so interesting to me. He picked up his phone and I imagined his secretary on the other end, confirming his schedule for the rest of the day. After his call, he looked into the same direction, the beach. Was he trying to notice his surroundings too? I really wanted to know what he was thinking. I couldn’t help but watch him watch people as they went about their days.

In my peripheral, I noticed the leaves fall and I celebrated internally, for noticing this happen, and for the welcome suggestion of an upcoming winter. Out here, it still felt like a cool summer. Autumn was merely a suggestion and winter was just around the corner. Winter here feels like a very cold spring; perfection.

Tall trees surrounded the cafe, I looked up to admire them. Practically yellowing where the sun light hit them, and vivid dark green were those in the protection of the shade. I need to find out what kind of trees they are. Their leaves were tiny, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them before. I probably just didn’t notice.

The (big umbrellas) – I don’t know what they are called, they covered the tables that were out of the shade – hung free, hoisted to the ground by weights. It wasn’t windy but they swayed from side to side as if dancing to Adele’s song “Hello”. I mouthed the words and caught myself swaying too.

I sipped from the sweaty glass and frowned when it wasn’t cold anymore. The ice had completely melted and I was barely half way through. Serves me right for noticing my surrounding instead of the drink infront of me.

I wondered about every one that was out on the beach at 11 AM on a Tuesday. I didn’t have anywhere to be, that justifies why I am here. Could it be? all those people are jobless too? That didn’t sit well with me. Surely some of them are tourists, some set their own schedules and some work shifts. Maybe that explains it. Regardless, it felt naughty, like ditching school or calling in sick.

Finally, I noticed that descriptive writing is hard, but it’s so much fun trying to paint a picture with words like a painter or an artist, I’ve never been happier about being a writer and an artist. I feel proud and lucky that I can do what I love, spending a morning sipping a cold frappe at a cafe overlooking the beach at 11AM on a Tuesday.