Beachroad Magazine catch up with Jumeirah based Photographer Amit Kar and check out his awesome travel and documentary photography. We also find out what floats his boat in our community.
Amit was born in Dallas, Texas to Indian parents and very shortly after started his global journey. His first two years were quite frenetic with stints in Egypt, India, and England before finally ending up in Saudi Arabia where eventually his sister joined him. Aged eleven he was upset to hear he would be moving again but Oman turned out to be a magical place to which his family had a direct connection for the next 27 years. Later in life he met and married his wife (a Cornish lass) in Muscat. After dragging her, and now his two boys, around Nigeria, the UK, Singapore, and Indonesia, Amit is now very happy to call Dubai my home. Why? "Because this place is a mini-me world; a melting pot like no other where a global nomad like me is surrounded by like-minded people."
"My passion is travel photography, which I first started doing twenty years ago when it was still all about film. I started out shooting exclusively in monochrome, using a camera my father bought when I was one, which was entirely manual and didn't have a functioning light meter. Learning the hard way gave me a focus and love for the pure basics of photography so that now, having tried out complicated DSLRs and more technical photography, I've come right back to using a purist's street shooter where everything is manual. I feel it connects me better to my subjects, in the same way that I hope my photographs might connect the viewer with the billions of little stories that make us.."
Where do you like to Eat, Shop and Explore in our community?I love, love, love eating out and always have my eyes open for new places to try out. Dubai is full of great evening and dinner spots so I'm going to focus on breakfast. You should probably know that I feel my whole weekend is a complete waste if I don't get to go out for breakfast at least once! So…
For a predictable but generally good 'North American' style breakfast Mo's in City Walk is a great option. This place usually works for us as my boys love the kids' pancakes. These come with cinnamon butter which I usually try to keep for myself.
When I'm on my own, and want to pretend I'm on some kind of Route 66 fantasy, I like to go to "Bikes n Bites" in Box Park. The food is simple and good but I go for that mechanical, biker, road-trip vibe. And I usually go on my own so no one can interrupt my day dreaming. For other meals…"Buffalo Wild Wings" in Umm Suqueim gets all the attention but the best wings in town are actually from "Wings Stop" in Jumeirah Centre, on the other end of the Beach Rd.
There is a gem in Umm Suqueim though, and that's "Biryani Pot". Even when doing home delivery their excellent biryani arrives in traditional clay pots! And when you're done eating you can do all kinds of cool things with those!
I'm a fan of Sliders, which seem to be this year's hot-cross buns. There's a lot of creative stuff going on with sliders but I'm a fan of "Slider Corner" next to the Surf Shack. Small selection. Excellent sliders. Great spot for people and traffic watching.
And when you're after something simpler and more local, the shawarma's and fruit cocktails from the imaginatively named "Eat and Drink" on 57th Street in Satwa is a great choice.
As for shopping I love shops that have that eclectic, curated feel so "Comptoir 102" is always worth a mooch. "Typo" in Box Park manages a similar vibe despite being a chain store.But my real inside tip is this; if there's ever something you need but you can't think of a specific shop go to Satwa and just wander. You'll probably find what you're looking for but if you don't you'll probably find something else much better.
Amit answers the Beachroad Magazine Q&A //
NAME? // Amit Narayan Kar.
YOUR FIRST JOB? // Does baby-sitter count? If not, I suppose my first full-time job was as a self-employed, freelance web designer. I had just finished university in the US, and wasn't really sure what to do with myself. I have a head for technical things but am artistically inclined, so I taught myself web design and development skills (it was far easier in those days) and managed to get some small business clients.
YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION? // I am the 'Senior Information Management Lead' for Shell in this region. In simple terms, when we build and then operate a huge oil & gas facility, such as an LNG plant, my team helps ensure that someone doesn't forget the manuals.
YOUR GREATEST LOVE? // I love a lot of things: art, music, food, travel, my family, wonder, love itself. If we're to put family aside I'd say my greatest love is the combination of travel and photography.
YOUR GREATEST FEAR? // Not making the most of myself.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? // My first date at 'Mrs Lee's Busy Bees', a day time nursery in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia where I lived between the ages of 2 and 11. Specifically on my first day I encountered the different way Brits and Americans pronounce the letter 'Z'. Personally I've swung back and forth on this one ever since… well I suppose I'm firmly in the 'zed' camp now (apart from when talking about cars, like in 'Nissan 350Z'!).
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY? // I don't think I have any role models in that I don't try to model myself after anyone else. But there are a few individuals that I seriously admire and respect. In no particular order these would be: Winston Churchill, Roger Federer, and my father.
WHAT WAS THE LAST GIFT YOU GAVE SOMEONE? // Apart from family gifts for my brother-in-law's children, I honestly don't remember. Does that make me mean?
IF YOU WERE 80 YEARS OLD, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR CHILDREN? // Take the time to discover yourself before committing to anything that could be for life or long term, such as a career, a place to live, or a relationship. Give yourself the space to understand what your passions are, what is really important to you, and then go after circumstances that contribute to those things in some way.
YOUR WORST TRAIT? // I can be quite lazy, especially when it comes to paper work or admin. I hate paperwork.
THE WORST TRAIT IN OTHERS THAT GETS YOU MAD? // Pettiness. Especially when it is coupled with hypocrisy. Even more especially when it is married to unreasonableness or irrationality. So I guess the answer is 'unreasonably hypocritical, pettiness', or 'petty unreasonable hypocrisy', or 'hypocritical petty irrationality'. I think that's clear eh?
WHO WOULD PLAY YOUR ROLE IN A MOVIE? // Ben Kingsley. Look at my picture; you'll understand.
FAVOURITE MUSIC? // Oh gosh this is tough. I genuinely believe you cannot possibly ever have enough music. What I listen to really depends on how I feel or what I've recently experienced. For example right now i'm listening to modern takes on Rajasthani music (see answer to next question). But if I had to live on a desert island with only one band or artist's music to keep me company it would be Pink Floyd.
LAST RECORD YOU BOUGHT? // The soundtrack to 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel', fairly soon to be followed up by the soundtrack to the sequel. I watched the sequel recently on a flight back from London but what really made me buy the soundtrack is the fact that I've very recently returned from a trip to Rajasthan.
FAVOURITE BOOK? // Fiction: 'Noble House' by James Clavell. Just unbelievable story telling and it kindled my fascination with Hong Kong (which I visited last year for the first time). It's 1500+ pages and I've read it three times. Non-Fiction: 'Freakonomics' and the sequel 'Superfreakonomics' both of which give wonderful insights into why people really do the things they do.
LAST BOOK YOU BOUGHT? // 'Breakfast with the Borgias' by D. B. C. Pierre. It was the last of four books I picked up during a recent trip to England so I haven't actually got around to reading it yet!
WHAT INSPIRES YOU? // Creativity and quality.
THE CLOSEST YOU HAVE COME TO DEATH? // I was once on a speed boat off the coast of Muscat which caught fire, and eventually burnt to a crisp after I abandoned it and swam away. The lucky escape was that shortly before the first flames started I had opened a hatch which vented any fuel vapours; had I not done that I guess there was the possibility of an explosion. I was also once in the middle of a traffic accident in Lagos, Nigeria where, although I had done absolutely nothing, it looked to some people like I had done something horrible. In such circumstances people in Nigeria sometimes meet a grisly end, and it is no exaggeration to say that for several minutes I was really worried about that happening to me.
FAVOURITE DESTINATION? // I think somehow it is London. Still London.
LEAST FAVOURITE DESTINATION? // Lagos (with apologies to my many Nigerian friends and colleagues). Living there for more than three years has, I'm sorry to say, made me never want to return.
HOW DO YOU RELAX? // I think true relaxation is when you are engaged in a leisure activity you love so much that nothing else enters your mind. For me those two things are street photography, and playing tennis. In terms passive ways of relaxing I read or watch stupid comedies.
WHY DUBAI? // It is the most truly international city on earth. There are more 'global' cities like London, New York, and Tokyo. But nowhere else has such a truly international mix of residents. Some outsiders like to call it 'fake'. I prefer to think of Dubai as the vanguard of the emerging global culture. It isn't perfect but I absolutely love it here.
ARE YOU SPORTY? // Yes. I'm short, but I'm fast. 🙂 I've played a lot of sports but am especially into tennis which I play at a very decent level.
BEACH OR DESERT? // Desert that rolls into the beach, such as where the Wahiba Sands in Oman meet the Arabian Sea. See what I did there?
URBAN OR RURAL? // Urban but with easy access to rural, like Bath or San Francisco.
CATS OR DOGS? // Dogs. Though so far in my life I've had two cats and never had a dog. This must change.
COFFEE OR TEA? // Tea first. Then coffee a little later. Then another coffee. Then one more coffee. Then tea. In that order.
WHAT YOU MAKES YOU LAUGH? // Absurd humour. Fawlty Towers, Black Adder, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Eddie Izzard's sketch about the squirrel who pauses while eating to ask himself whether or not he'd left the iron on which ends with "No! I'm a *beeping* squirrel!" And many other things.
WHAT MAKES YOU CRY? // Again, many things. Far too many to list here. And I don't want to come across as a wimp.
YOUR MESSAGE? // Until the day comes when humanity either masters space travel or finds another planet, we all share this Earth. There isn't anywhere else for us to go, and so the only borders that matter are those of the earth itself. Everything else, all the lines on the map, are arbitrary; accidents of history and geography in which you and I played no part. We need to conduct ourselves, at every level from individuals to governments, with this reality in mind. We'll just make far better decisions if we do.
VISIT AMIT //