I’m sure you’ve read this Maya Angelou quote before:

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

Maya Angelou was an acclaimed American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer. In 2000, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton. In 2010, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., by President Barack Obama. She was also awarded more than 50 honorary degrees before her death.

The US postal service found this quote to be so thought-provoking, it put it on a stamp bearing the poet’s face in 2015.

Another of her quotes I love is:

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Beautiful sentiments indeed. The only problem is, Maya Angelou wrote neither.

The former can be traced back to a children’s author named Joan Walsh Anglund, and her 1967 book, A Cup of Sun. And the latter belongs to Carl William Buehner who was a general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1952 to 1961 and was the Republican Party candidate for governor of Utah in the 1968 election.

Regardless, the latter is a quote that came to mind on Sunday when I met Naveed Syed.

I first came across Naveed when he commented on a few of the articles I wrote. I found his comments particularly meaningful. They were obviously written by someone who took the time to read what I wrote. And they always added value to the piece.

I did what every modern-day stalker does – I checked him out on instagram. From there I discovered he had a blog of his own, The Need for Coffee. And, as he told me on Sunday, it’s a space for him to document his journey through specialty coffee. It’s a good read. It’s such a good read I reached out to him to see if he’d be keen to write for FLTR He was. And wrote one of the most popular pieces on portafilter, about the best coffee roasters in Dubai. It’s not a definitive list. But it’s great place to start if you’re looking to explore specialty coffee roasters in the Emirates.

Anyway, I had to meet this guy.

I chose Lowe as the venue. It’s my favourite restaurant in Dubai. The interior is on point. Cosy without being claustrophobic. Exposed cement walls. Open kitchen. Friendly faces. The space manages to feel modern and welcoming. Like going home to your mother’s house. If your mom’s house also had a modern coffee bar with a poster of Tupac Shakur.

But like any good restaurant, it’s the menu that’s the star of the show. It feels thoughtfully restrained, not limited. Filled with experimental dishes which take their cue from produce that’s in season. All of it cooked naturally over an open fire. On a charcoal grill, rotisserie or in a wood-fired oven.

It’s exceptional. As was my guest.

Naveed and I chatted like old friends. The content of our conversation is what you’d imagine it would be. But that’s not what made an impression on me. It’s the way he made me feel.

He is totally at peace.

He has a calmness about him that I pay a therapist good money to teach me to achieve in weekly sessions. And it’s a calmness that envelopes everyone he comes into contact with. Like a warm blanket in winter. Like it did for this writer.

If you ever have the opportunity to spend time with Naveed, take it. It’s cheaper than therapy and way more effective.