Moving Messages by Carla McKay



When you're eight, there's only so much reality you can bear. Which is why, instead of crying for my father who is dying in hospital of cancer, I am lying in an unfamiliar bed in a neighbour's spare room praying (not that I believe, even then) that he doesn't die before 12 noon the following day. The reason, according to my friend Tina, is that people who die on April 1st before midday are April Fools. Her witch mother Eva has got wind of the fact that it is near the end (and hence Tina knows, too) because my mother has been summoned to the hospital and I'm staying with the Hakins, whose 12-year-old daughter Judith is my heroine even if she never plays with me.

My father is, in fact, the person I love best. It's he, not my mother, who plays silly games with me and reads me stories on his knee every evening when he gets home. Even now he is sending me instalments of a story he has made up for me and which he types in hospital on his portable Olivetti. It's unthinkable that he should die; even more unthinkable that he might be considered an April Fool by people like Tina and her snobby mother who has airs and graces because she lives in a detached house in a better road than us.

The next morning I watch through the front-room window as my mother walks up the Hakins's garden path, elegant as always in a wasp-waisted navy suit. "Daddy's dead," she tells me without preamble. I absorb the fact that he is now officially an April Fool but I manage to say breezily, "Oh well, that'll be one less place to lay for breakfast." Later that day, I am sent off to play with Tina in spite of my protests. We climb trees in her garden for a while and then get called in for a drink and a biscuit. Eve tells me off for accidentally touching more than one biscuit in the tin. I wander out of the kitchen only to overhear Tina whisper loudly to her mother, "She hasn't even cried yet!"

I didn't, in fact, cry properly about my father's death for another eight years. In 1960, there was no talk about letting people grieve and my father was simply never mentioned again in our house. The man who replaced him made sure to tell me that he had been "seeing" my mother for a year or so before my father died and whilst I didn't understand until later what he really meant by that, I knew it wasn't intended to comfort me.

It wasn't until I was 16 and home for the holidays from my boarding school, where it was common knowledge that my father was in prison, since I never spoke about him, that I stumbled across some of his things. In amongst various letters and old passports, I found a small white card headed "Streatham Crematorium" and his name, date of death, and then the stark words "Plot 265". That's when I did eight years' worth of crying and resolved to go and seek out Plot 265.

It was a complicated journey for an untravelled, unworldly teenager, but I got there and located the plot where presumably my father's ashes were deposited. The plots either side of his - and stretching on down the rows - all had plaques with names and dates on them. Some had urns and plastic flowers and even photographs. Plot 265 was empty - just an empty space. That's what his life was reduced to.

I confronted my mother when I got back. "What were you thinking of?" I raged. "Not him, that's for sure. And not me, either. Didn't it occur to you that his only child might want to visit his grave, to bring flowers, to mourn like other people do? His plot was the only empty one there - what kind of message does that send out?" "Maybe that I didn't love him enough," she said and turned on her heel.

It's now almost exactly 50 years later and I am in Bangalore where I have been attending the book festival and giving readings from my latest thriller. I'm a household name in the crime fiction world and my novels are popular because they are so vile - right at the far end of the grisly spectrum. I give the readers what they crave. Why merely stab or shoot someone, I intone at these events, when you can torture them in the most imaginative way and then crucify them in some horror dungeon? Of course, it's even more titillating that I'm a woman and my victims are more often than not middle-aged women like myself. Usually there's a debate about whether female crime writers' novels are more gratuitously violent than male ones and I'm the first to agree that they probably are.

On the breakneck journey back to the airport in the early hours, I catch sight of a building with an illuminated blue sign which reads "The National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects". Amusing though this is, I find my eyes filling with tears as I recall how my father was crazy about all kinds of creatures, especially insects, and all the happy times we spent crawling about in the garden on all fours, searching for beetles and ants. Looking at my watch to check the time, I see with a start that it is April 1st. The fact that this building drew itself to my attention and reminded me of my father on such a significant date is a 'message' I decide. I've always looked out for 'messages' from him and conclude that this is an important one.

As soon as I get back home and have had a short sleep, I telephone my mother who is now living in sheltered accommodation, which she feels is undignified. "I'm coming over," I say. "Where have you been?", she asks petulantly. "Can you bring me some more teabags and some of those biscuits I like? Oh, and I need a proper feather pillow - the ones here are like concrete slabs." Half an hour later I am at her door, clutching the pillow but not the teabags or the biscuits, which she won't be needing. I let myself in to her flat and walk slowly towards her armchair where she is dozing. "Here's your pillow," I say softly, pressing it firmly over her face. "April Fool!" Vote for this story at our online poll: www.thenational.ae

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

What is the FNC?

The Federal National Council is one of five federal authorities established by the UAE constitution. It held its first session on December 2, 1972, a year to the day after Federation.
It has 40 members, eight of whom are women. The members represent the UAE population through each of the emirates. Abu Dhabi and Dubai have eight members each, Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah six, and Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain have four.
They bring Emirati issues to the council for debate and put those concerns to ministers summoned for questioning. 
The FNC’s main functions include passing, amending or rejecting federal draft laws, discussing international treaties and agreements, and offering recommendations on general subjects raised during sessions.
Federal draft laws must first pass through the FNC for recommendations when members can amend the laws to suit the needs of citizens. The draft laws are then forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration and approval. 
Since 2006, half of the members have been elected by UAE citizens to serve four-year terms and the other half are appointed by the Ruler’s Courts of the seven emirates.
In the 2015 elections, 78 of the 252 candidates were women. Women also represented 48 per cent of all voters and 67 per cent of the voters were under the age of 40.
 

Top 10 most polluted cities
  1. Bhiwadi, India
  2. Ghaziabad, India
  3. Hotan, China
  4. Delhi, India
  5. Jaunpur, India
  6. Faisalabad, Pakistan
  7. Noida, India
  8. Bahawalpur, Pakistan
  9. Peshawar, Pakistan
  10. Bagpat, India
COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Growdash
Started: July 2022
Founders: Sean Trevaskis and Enver Sorkun
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Restaurant technology
Funding so far: $750,000
Investors: Flat6Labs, Plus VC, Judah VC, TPN Investments and angel investors, including former Talabat chief executive Abdulhamid Alomar, and entrepreneur Zeid Husban

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

In-demand jobs and monthly salaries
  • Technology expert in robotics and automation: Dh20,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Energy engineer: Dh25,000 to Dh30,000 
  • Production engineer: Dh30,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Data-driven supply chain management professional: Dh30,000 to Dh50,000 
  • HR leader: Dh40,000 to Dh60,000 
  • Engineering leader: Dh30,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Project manager: Dh55,000 to Dh65,000 
  • Senior reservoir engineer: Dh40,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Senior drilling engineer: Dh38,000 to Dh46,000 
  • Senior process engineer: Dh28,000 to Dh38,000 
  • Senior maintenance engineer: Dh22,000 to Dh34,000 
  • Field engineer: Dh6,500 to Dh7,500
  • Field supervisor: Dh9,000 to Dh12,000
  • Field operator: Dh5,000 to Dh7,000
THE NEW BATCH'S FOCUS SECTORS

AiFlux – renewables, oil and gas

DevisionX – manufacturing

Event Gates – security and manufacturing

Farmdar – agriculture

Farmin – smart cities

Greener Crop – agriculture

Ipera.ai – space digitisation

Lune Technologies – fibre-optics

Monak – delivery

NutzenTech – environment

Nybl – machine learning

Occicor – shelf management

Olymon Solutions – smart automation

Pivony – user-generated data

PowerDev – energy big data

Sav – finance

Searover – renewables

Swftbox – delivery

Trade Capital Partners – FinTech

Valorafutbol – sports and entertainment

Workfam – employee engagement

BIGGEST CYBER SECURITY INCIDENTS IN RECENT TIMES

SolarWinds supply chain attack: Came to light in December 2020 but had taken root for several months, compromising major tech companies, governments and its entities

Microsoft Exchange server exploitation: March 2021; attackers used a vulnerability to steal emails

Kaseya attack: July 2021; ransomware hit perpetrated REvil, resulting in severe downtime for more than 1,000 companies

Log4j breach: December 2021; attackers exploited the Java-written code to inflitrate businesses and governments

THE SPECS

Battery: 60kW lithium-ion phosphate
Power: Up to 201bhp
0 to 100kph: 7.3 seconds
Range: 418km
Price: From Dh149,900
Available: Now

Porsche Macan T: The Specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo 

Power: 265hp from 5,000-6,500rpm 

Torque: 400Nm from 1,800-4,500rpm 

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto 

Speed: 0-100kph in 6.2sec 

Top speed: 232kph 

Fuel consumption: 10.7L/100km 

On sale: May or June 

Price: From Dh259,900  

if you go

The flights

Direct flights from the UAE to the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, are available with Air Arabia, (www.airarabia.com) Fly Dubai (www.flydubai.com) or Etihad (www.etihad.com) from Dh1,200 return including taxes. The trek described here started from Jomson, but there are many other start and end point variations depending on how you tailor your trek. To get to Jomson from Kathmandu you must first fly to the lake-side resort town of Pokhara with either Buddha Air (www.buddhaair.com) or Yeti Airlines (www.yetiairlines.com). Both charge around US$240 (Dh880) return. From Pokhara there are early morning flights to Jomson with Yeti Airlines or Simrik Airlines (www.simrikairlines.com) for around US$220 (Dh800) return. 

The trek

Restricted area permits (US$500 per person) are required for trekking in the Upper Mustang area. The challenging Meso Kanto pass between Tilcho Lake and Jomson should not be attempted by those without a lot of mountain experience and a good support team. An excellent trekking company with good knowledge of Upper Mustang, the Annaurpuna Circuit and Tilcho Lake area and who can help organise a version of the trek described here is the Nepal-UK run Snow Cat Travel (www.snowcattravel.com). Prices vary widely depending on accommodation types and the level of assistance required. 

Key developments in maritime dispute

2000: Israel withdraws from Lebanon after nearly 30 years without an officially demarcated border. The UN establishes the Blue Line to act as the frontier. 

2007: Lebanon and Cyprus define their respective exclusive economic zones to facilitate oil and gas exploration. Israel uses this to define its EEZ with Cyprus

2011: Lebanon disputes Israeli-proposed line and submits documents to UN showing different EEZ. Cyprus offers to mediate without much progress.

2018: Lebanon signs first offshore oil and gas licencing deal with consortium of France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek.

2018-2019: US seeks to mediate between Israel and Lebanon to prevent clashes over oil and gas resources.

liverpool youngsters

Ki-Jana Hoever

The only one of this squad to have scored for Liverpool, the versatile Dutchman impressed on his debut at Wolves in January. He can play right-back, centre-back or in midfield.

 

Herbie Kane

Not the most prominent H Kane in English football but a 21-year-old Bristolian who had a fine season on loan at Doncaster last year. He is an all-action midfielder.

 

Luis Longstaff

Signed from Newcastle but no relation to United’s brothers Sean and Matty, Luis is a winger. An England Under-16 international, he helped Liverpool win the FA Youth Cup last season.

 

Yasser Larouci

An 18-year-old Algerian-born winger who can also play as a left-back, Larouci did well on Liverpool’s pre-season tour until an awful tackle by a Sevilla player injured him.

 

Adam Lewis

Steven Gerrard is a fan of his fellow Scouser, who has been on Liverpool’s books since he was in the Under-6s, Lewis was a midfielder, but has been converted into a left-back.

A cryptocurrency primer for beginners

Cryptocurrency Investing for Dummies+– by Kiana Danial 

There are several primers for investing in cryptocurrencies available online, including e-books written by people whose credentials fall apart on the second page of your preferred search engine. 

Ms Danial is a finance coach and former currency analyst who writes for Nasdaq. Her broad-strokes primer+(2019) breaks down investing in cryptocurrency into baby steps, while explaining the terms and technologies involved.

Although cryptocurrencies are a fast evolving world, this book offers a good insight into the game as well as providing some basic tips, strategies and warning signs.

Begin your cryptocurrency journey here. 

Available at Magrudy’s , Dh104 

RESULTS

9pm: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (Dirt) 2,000m
Winner: Mubhir Al Ain, Antonio Fresu (jockey), Ahmed Al Mehairbi (trainer)
9.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh70,000 (D) 2,000m
Winner: Exciting Days, Oscar Chavez, Doug Watson
10pm: Al Ain Cup – Prestige (PA) Dh100,000 (D) 2,000m
Winner: Suny Du Loup, Marcelino Rodrigues, Hamad Al Marar
10.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,800m
Winner: Jafar Des Arnets, Oscar Chavez, Ahmed Al Mehairbi
11pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,600m
Winner: Taj Al Izz, Richard Mullen, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami
11.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,400m
Winner: Majdy, Antonio Fresu, Jean de Roualle
12am: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,400m
Winner: Hamloola, Sam Hitchcott, Salem Al Ketbi

The Little Mermaid

Director: Rob Marshall
Stars: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem
Rating: 2/5

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Bib Gourmand restaurants

Al Khayma
Bait Maryam
Brasserie Boulud
Fi'lia
folly
Goldfish
Ibn AlBahr
Indya by Vineet
Kinoya
Ninive
Orfali Bros
Reif Japanese Kushiyaki
Shabestan
Teible


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