I had a couple of stories in today’s paper. One is about a recent auction held by Bonhams, a British house, of Arabic, Persian and Indian art. I even bid on a particular painting. Here’s an essay I wrote about the experience.

“The night of the auction, I almost chickened out. The only auctions I had attended were for prize cattle at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. While I’ve been lucky to visit some of the world’s best art galleries, I can’t say I’m a connoisseur. Overhearing attendees at the Bonhams event casually discuss how one would not bid for a painting so the other could make a successful attempt for it, I thought to myself, what are you doing? This is so not your crowd.”

The second story is about Donna Benton, who eight years ago, started The Entertainer, a company that publishes voucher books for restaurants, spas, water parks and other businesses. She started it in Dubai but the franchise has now expanded all over the Gulf and she’s looking at a possible European berth. It’s a great deal, buy one entree, get the second free, with no strings attached. A really nice way to try out new restaurants.

“ ‘We physically go out to every restaurant, not to eat so much because we’d all be the size of a house’, but to see which section the venue belongs, Ms Benton explains. ‘Some say they’d like to be in the fine dining spread but we’re, like, no, you’re not fine dining.’

Dubai’s culinary scene today ranges from ethnic Mom-and-Pop eateries to restaurants that sell meals for hundreds of dirhams apiece. The latter usually don’t make the book, she says. ‘Obviously, something like the Burj (al Arab Hotel) you don’t expect because it’s just too high-end for people.’ “

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After the Bonham's auction with my paddle.

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