Dubai: Week 22

What a busy week!

I didn’t have my usual session with Rama on Sunday. Instead I was invited out for an early(ish) lunch at Siddharta Lounge at Grosvenor House Tower 2. It’s a beautiful restaurant – it reminded me of the Sanderson Hotel in London. It was all white – white bar chairs, white sofas, floor-to-ceiling windows all the way round. It’s a gorgeous venue for lunch, but I’ve heard it’s also very popular on Thursday and Friday nights. 

After lunch, my mum, grandmother and I went to the Patchi store at Mercato. My grandmother and I both needed to buy gifts for a few people. Unfortunately the store at Mercato was being refurbished and they didn’t have a big variety of gifts on display. I picked up a few things but we decided to go to the store at the Dubai Mall as well. We were there for what seemed like forever. Between us we ordered about 20 boxes of chocolates and waited around for them to be prepared. By the time we got home it was 6.30. I rushed upstairs, changed and freshened up and was out again by 6.45.

My cousin had asked me to join her and some friends at Capital Club in DIFC for quiz night. I love quizzes so I went along. There were six of us on the team and that particular evening it turned out to be an all-music quiz. My five teammates weren’t very happy about that but I was thrilled about this as I thought my musical knowledge was pretty good. 

Which is why it pains and embarrasses me to say that we came last. LAST. Out of seven teams. There were eight rounds consisting of eight questions each. The first two rounds were fine (TV themes and Oscar winners) but it went rapidly downhill after that. We were by far the youngest team there and the rest of the quiz seemed to revolve around music from the 1960s and 1970s – and I think my musical knowledge only begins with the 1980s (unless it’s classical music). I hate losing. When I got home and told my parents, they were shocked that we lost too!

I had my usual yoga class on Monday and then worked for the rest of the day. I had a lot of work to get through and didn’t want to have to do it when I got to London. That evening we went to a restaurant called Aryaas in Bur Dubai, another vegetarian Indian restaurant. On the menu was a ‘family dosa’ which we were told was their specialty. I have never seen such a big dosa in my life. I don’t even know how they managed to make them so big. I thought the food was just OK – I still prefer the palak dosa at Sukh Sagar! 

I had a session with Rama on Tuesday and then went to Sharjah with my parents. Our work barely took 15 minutes and we were on our way back home. We decided to stop at Mirdif City Centre for lunch. I’d never been there – it was quite empty compared to the Dubai Mall and it was nice to walk around. We ended up at PF Chang’s. 

After lunch, I went to the Dubai Mall as I needed to pick up a few gifts for friends I was seeing in London. I also managed to sneak in a quick visit to Gloria Jean’s. I stayed in that night finishing off some work and thinking about packing. 

I started packing on Wednesday morning. And by that I mean I started looking at my clothes, trying things on, and deciding what to take with me. I left everything I was going to pack on my bed. That afternoon I went to get my hair cut, coloured, highlighted and blow-dried. When I got to the salon I decided to get rid of the highlights and skip the cut. For months the hairdresser kept telling me how ‘terrible’ my highlights were and the colour was all wrong. I was so sick of hearing it I just thought it would be best to get rid of them altogether. I also had a mani/pedi.

I went to have tea with my cousin after getting my hair done. She had flown in from India the day before with her husband and one-year-old daughter and was staying at the Fairmont. It was good to catch up, even though it was just for an hour. I went home, finished packing, did some work and then we went out for dinner. 

It was my grandmother’s last night in Dubai so we decided to go somewhere nice for dinner. We went to Bice Mare at Souk al Bahar. Sadly they didn’t have a table outside but we could still see the Dubai Fountain from our table. The three of them ordered some starters but I decided to have just a main course. I ordered the baked turbot with artichokes and black truffles. It was fantastic. 


My parents ordered the seafood platter to share and my grandmother had a vegetarian pasta. When we had finished our meal we went out on to the terrace and watched the fountain. 


We were home before midnight and I was in bed by 1am. 

I woke up at 6am on Thursday and my mum and I left for the airport a little after 7am… I couldn’t wait to get to London!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here


The final few: Week 7

I didn’t have my usual session with Rama on Sunday as he’d injured his knee playing rugby the day before. I thought about going to the gym anyway but decided against it as I was out for an early lunch.

On Monday I had my usual yoga class.

I had a 9.30am session with Rama on Tuesday. I did 5 minutes on the cross-trainer followed by two sets of 15 push-ups to warm up. And then the circuit began. I repeated it four times.

  • Squats against a Swiss ball holding 10-lb weights x 30 seconds
  • Swiss ball crunches x 30 seconds
  • Swinging squats holding a 10-lb weight x 1 minute (30 seconds with the weight in each hand)
  • Boxing (jabs and uppercuts) holding 3-kg weights x 1 minute

There was one more exercise but I can’t remember what it was. 

‘So what are you going to do in London?’ Rama asked me during one of the breaks.

‘Eat. Drink. Shop.’

‘I meant to stay fit.’

‘Oh. Er. Walk to the pub and walk home.’

I don’t think he was very impressed.

‘My friends are also going to let me use their guest passes to their gym.’

‘That’s more like it.’

The next circuit consisted of tricep extensions, tricep dips and bicep curls – 15 per set – and I did that circuit three times. My arms were exhausted by the end of that.

I then did two more sets of Swiss ball crunches.

And my session was over. It would be my last session for a while as I was off to London for a couple of weeks.

I didn’t work out on Wednesday – I had last-minute errands to run – and I left on Thursday morning. 

I did a lot of walking on Friday but I had blisters by the end of the day after walking around in sandals. I’d deliberately left my sneakers in Dubai as I knew I’d then be forced to buy a new pair in London. I’d been wearing mine for years and they really needed replacing. 

I spent Saturday and Sunday eating and hanging out with friends – which is what I knew would happen in London!

Low point of the week? Having a sandwich and two-finger KitKat on the flight to London. I was famished – there’s something about flying that makes me really hungry. Also, as soon as I got home, I unpacked my suitcase, freshened up and went to the pub for a pint. I also shared French toast at Raoul’s on Saturday… Oh well, that’s what holidays are for!

High points of the week? Seeing my friends and their reactions to my weight loss:

  • ‘You’re a fraction of the woman you were 5 months ago!’
  • ‘Your legs look amazing.’
  • ‘You’re skinny!’
  • ‘Dubai suits you – you look… happy.’
  • ‘You look hot.’
  • ‘Your clothes are too big – when are we going shopping?’

And actually going shopping on Friday and buying four dresses (I always felt frumpy in dresses and never wore them).

Weight loss? No idea – I don’t think I’m going to weigh myself until I’m back in Dubai!


Read more updates here.


Your week ahead (27 May – 2 June)

Have a great week!



9 of Swords – worrying – doubting all will go well, going over and over an issue, getting worked up; feeling guilty – wanting to turn back the clock, being hard on yourself, getting overwhelmed by remorse; suffering anguish – feeling you’ve reached your limits, having sleepless nights, wanting to cry



King of Cups – being wise – giving good advice, understanding many levels of experience; being calm – keeping your head in a crisis, never seeming nervous or tense; being diplomatic – balancing the needs of many people, being able to diffuse a tense situation; being caring – feeling compassion for the less fortunate, doing volunteer and charity work; being tolerant – allowing others their freedom, being patient in trying circumstances



3 of Cups – feeling exuberant – bursting with energy, being in the flow, dancing and singing; enjoying friendship – getting together with people you like, sharing, finding companions; valuing community – taking part in a support group, working together, discovering a common goal



8 of Cups – seeking deeper meaning – leaving the rat race, finding out the facts, concentrating on what is important; moving on – abandoning a hopeless situation, starting on a trip of unknown length, finishing up and walking away; growing weary – dragging through the day, lacking energy, getting weighed down by worries



The Moon – feeling fear – lacking courage, being overcome by anxieties, feeling a nameless apprehension; believing illusions – deceiving yourself, experiencing distortions, chasing after a fantasy; stimulating the imagination – opening to fantasy, having vivid dreams or visions, plumbing the unconscious; feeling bewildered – losing direction and purpose, being easily distracted, feeling disoriented



King of Swords – being intellectual – ably carrying out research, using thought creatively; being analytical – applying reason and logic, understanding a problem quickly; being articulate – being a lucid writer and speaker, being a stimulating conversationalist; being just – being impartial and objective, being concerned with truth and fairness; being ethical – encouraging high standards, living by your highest principles



Justice – respecting justice – seeking equality, trying to do what is right, insisting on fairness; assuming responsibility – settling old accounts and debts, admitting involvement, doing what has to be done; preparing for a decision – weighing all sides of an issue, setting a course for the future, balancing all factors; understanding cause and effect – seeing how you chose your situation, accepting the results you created, recognising the action of karma, knowing that what is makes sense



5 of Wands – disagreeing – quibbling over details, quarreling, arguing and bickering; experiencing competition – rising to the challenge, trying to outdo yourself, looking for a fight; experiencing hassles – getting annoyed by demands, needing to take care of details, being bothered by trivialities



2 of Cups – making a connection – joining with another, celebrating a marriage or union, working together; calling a truce – bringing together opposites, letting bygones be bygones, forgiving and forgetting; acknowledging an attraction – recognising a bond that is developing, accepting your preferences, feeling a positive response



4 of Cups – being self-absorbed – concentrating on your own feelings, seeing only your point of view, ignoring gifts and blessings; feeling apathetic – losing interest, finding life stale and flat, lacking motivation; going within – meditating, dreaming, withdrawing from involvement



The Magician – taking action – doing what needs to be done, producing magical results; acting consciously – acknowledging your motivations, examining the known situation; concentrating – feeling centred, being totally committed; experiencing power – having vitality, feeling vigorous, being creative



6 of Wands – triumphing – having your day in the sun, coming out on top, achieving success; receiving acclaim – earning applause, achieving recognition, getting a pat on the back; feeling pride – strutting your stuff, holding your head up high, having a high opinion of yourself

For previous readings, see Notes by Nectar.



Today is my 5-month anniversary of leaving London, and what better way to celebrate than by going back. When I booked my return date to London, May seemed so far away, but the last 5 months have flown by. I know people say times flies as you get older, but these days I feel like I open my eyes on Sunday morning, blink, and it’s suddenly Thursday night again. Crazy.

So, what am I looking forward to?

  • Catching up with friends and their little ones (and a couple of new ‘bumps’)
  • Brunch with the girls
  • Martinis
  • Going to the pub and not spending £10 on a glass of cheap wine
  • Two 40th birthdays
  • Drinks with work friends
  • Walking
  • Pork 
  • The theatre (War Horse)
  • My favourite restaurants: Raoul’s, Oslo Court, Le Cochonnet, Arirang, Osteria Basilico and whatever else may come along

What am I not looking forward to?

  • Rain
  • Public transport
  • The high possibility of putting on the 15 kg I’ve lost
  • A day trip to Oslo for a meeting
  • Making my own tea (although with Joy gone, I do this in Dubai now)
  • Shopping

Yes, you read that correctly. I hate shopping. Almost as much as I hate ironing. Last week I tried on a lovely dress but didn’t buy it because there were so many layers to the skirt and I just couldn’t face ironing it. Previously I knew that Joy (or one of her personalities) would have ironed it for me, but now I’ll have to do it myself.

I’ve never enjoyed shopping, and I think I hated it even more because nothing ever fit. I’m hoping this time it will be different though because I have an ever-growing list of things I need: swimsuits (mine are too big), jeans (mine are too big), gym clothes (mine are too big), and so on. 

It is going to be a hectic trip, but I can’t wait! 


Tales of Joy, tales of woe

I was surprised to see Joy in her uniform on Friday morning, considering she’d ‘informed’ us the week before that she would take every Friday off. She made my tea and breakfast and got on with her work. There wasn’t very much for her to do as we were out for lunch, and I was the only one home for dinner. Just as well as she had a long day on Saturday.

We left home at 7am on Saturday morning, got to the airport by 7.20 and went to the check-in counter. Everything was going fine – the luggage was the correct weight, the flight was on time – and then the woman checking us in called for her luggage to come back. Just as it was going down the conveyor belt. I asked her what the problem was. She said the flight was over-booked and we’d have to go to a different counter to check-in. Surely if a flight is over-booked the people who are at the airport first should get on the flight?

We went to the specified check-in counter where a Philippino man was telling everyone that the flight was over-booked and they’d have to wait until 8.30 to find out whether they could travel. Joy went to talk to him. When she came back I asked her what he’d said. ‘He said if I don’t go today I can go on the later flight or tomorrow.’ There was no way she was coming back home with us.  

‘Are you mad?’ I asked her (already knowing the answer). ‘Tell him your father is sick and you have to go on this flight.’

That seemed to get her moving so she went back to talk to him and he told her she would ‘definitely be on the flight’. I had a feeling he said that to everyone who asked though. We sat down and waited. Joy apologised for being ‘grumpy’. I told her we were used to it. She said that’s why she goes to church, because she used to be worse before. Good God, I can’t even imagine. She also said that she preferred to work in a house rather than in a flat because in a flat you have to keep pressing for the lift when you want to go up or down. Mental. 

Joy went to talk to some other passengers who were also waiting to see whether they would get on the flight.

‘Mum, can you imagine Dad’s face when he wakes up and sees Joy still at home?’ I asked her. We both burst out laughing. We knew she had to go on that flight or she wouldn’t survive until the next one.

Thankfully, the man didn’t lie to her. He sent home a family of four people in the queue before her, but gave her a boarding pass and took her luggage. Phew.

We walked her to passport control. As she hugged us goodbye, she told my mum that if we didn’t find someone else she could come back. Still crazy, then.

‘Good luck, Joy,’ I told her. She was really going to need it. And good luck to the person sitting next to you on the flight, I thought to myself.

She was only with us for 5 months but she is someone we will never forget. And for all the wrong reasons!

Goodbye, Joy. Hello, happiness!

To read more about Joy, click here.


Dubai: Week 21

A busy week!

After my usual session with Rama, my mum, grandmother and I decided to go to Royal China for lunch.

I’d barely been there 5 minutes and the waitress started to annoy me. She asked us three times whether we wanted virgin mojitos and we told her three times that we didn’t. We ordered some dim sum (prawn and chive dumplings, vegetarian dumplings, spring rolls, crispy asparagus), and after we’d finished that we ordered our main course (noodles with mixed vegetables, tofu and pak choy). She asked us about the virgin mojitos again. Good grief. NO! 

After lunch we went to the Dubai Mall. I had a couple of dresses that needed altering and we’d been told there was a good tailor there. I’d heard about other tailors in Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai but this was much more convenient. I tried on both dresses and they said they’d be ready later that evening. 

That evening, I was supposed to go to an InterNations event at Jambase but by the time we got home it was after 5pm and I was feeling too lazy. I got into bed and decided to do some work.

On Monday I had yoga and was home until the evening. I’d booked a facial at Spaces at Oasis Mall (they offer 50% off on Mondays) for 7pm. I learned that 7pm is really the wrong time to go. There was traffic getting there and back, and the spa was crowded too. Next time I’ll go in the middle of the afternoon. A couple of days later I got a call from the spa telling them the payment on my card hadn’t gone through.

‘Really?’ I asked. ‘Because I paid cash.’ 

‘Oh! So sorry for the inconvenience, mam.’ 


I worked all of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but was out those three nights.

On Tuesday evening I met up with NP (formerly known as ‘Twitter friend’). She suggested we meet at Jetty Lounge at the Royal Mirage Hotel. I’d never been there so it was nice to go somewhere new (for me). It’s located on the beach, on a jetty (hence the name), and it was very chilled. We ordered a bottle of rosé and some food (the mezze and Mexican platters). The houmous and guacamole were fantastic. It was a warm night and the rosé went down very smoothly.  

On Wednesday evening I met up with a friend and one of her friends at Blends Bar at The Address Marina. It was Havana Night, which meant women got free mojitos until midnight and there was also a free salsa lesson taught by Aloy Junco. We got there at about 9pm, got a round of drinks and then joined the salsa class. There were about 40 people in the class and once I figured out the instructor’s strong Cuban accent it wasn’t difficult to follow. As the class went on, the room started filling up, and once the class was over the dancefloor was overtaken by the serious salsa lovers. It was fantastic to watch – all that twirling and hip-shaking! By the time we left just after midnight the dancefloor was heaving. We had such a good time we decided to make it a regular event once get back from our various travels. 

On Thursday night I headed to Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel for Dubai Wine Club. As I walked in I prayed that the crazy woman from last time wasn’t there. And my prayers were answered! What a fun evening! Our table consisted of four men and six women (nine singles, one married man): I knew one of the women, and two of the men and two of the women were on my table at the last wine tasting. Again, we were seated outdoors just outside the lobby area, and this time all six wines were red. I thought it was a shame as it was quite warm and a perfect night for chilled white wine! We went through all six wines – talking about them (and other things). The woman on my right said ‘I think they’re all Cabernets from different regions’ (the bottles are covered so you don’t know what you’re drinking). How on earth could anyone possibly know that? One of the guys said ‘I think F is a Malbec.’ I had to disagree because I actually like Malbec and F smelled (and tasted) like burning tyres. At the end of the evening, the organiser unveiled the bottles and, sure enough, they were all Cabernets. Genius. The conversation flowed (sex was the topic of choice) and people on other tables kept looking over at us wondering what the raucous laughter was about. We were by far the best table there. Pretty soon we were the only table left, still sitting down, still talking – and the organiser brought over two bottles of Bordeaux to our table. At about 11.30pm we decided to move into the bar area as it was getting too warm outside. I think Dubai is the only place where it gets hotter as the night goes on rather than cooler – of course the red wine didn’t help. I left soon after midnight – all that red wine had left me feeling dopey.

Friday was relaxing – I had lunch with my parents and grandmother at Sakura at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. We all overate, as usual. Imagine if I’d gone for that awful massage after Sakura?? After lunch I went down to the pool, pleasantly surprised to find nobody there. I stayed in that evening – I think being out three nights in a row is enough for me! Plus I knew Saturday would be an early start as Mum and I were taking Joy to the airport.

After seeing Joy go through passport control, Mum and I left the airport. The Metro station was right there so we decided to go home by train. I hadn’t been on the Metro yet and was in no rush to get home. I already had Mum’s old Nol card which needed topping up. I put it in the machine and decided to top it up with 5 dirhams. As I was fishing around for change in my bag, I noticed that there were some coins in the change box in the ticket machine. Five dirhams exactly! Perfect. 

Because we were close to the beginning of the line we got seats on the train. It was 9am. We got to Financial Centre Metro station by 9.30 and started walking home. We passed Tim Horton’s and decided to get a coffee. Mum bought a croissant which looked and smelled so good. I’ll admit I had two bites of it. It was my first time at Tim Horton’s and was pleasantly surprised by their coffee. We got home by 10am – it’s about a 7-minute walk from Tim Horton’s to our building and I could feel my skin burning, even at that time of the morning.

When we got home I finished my coffee, did the crossword, and sat with my grandmother. Mum went back to sleep. At about 11am I decided to go down to the pool. It was boiling so I sat under an umbrella. After a while I was so hot I thought I’d do a couple of laps in the pool. The metal railings on the ladder getting into the pool were so hot I could barely hold them for more than a couple of seconds at a time. And once I was in the pool I felt like I was in a tepid bath; that’s how warm it was. 

That afternoon I was supposed to go to my writing/book group, but I only went for the book part of it. There were just four of us this time, but I got some good book suggestions which I’ll look into when I’m in London. After book group I went to meet my mum and grandmother at Burjuman. They were having coffee with one of their friends at Hediard Cafe in the mall. After that we walked Saks for a little while and then went home. 

That evening we went to Social House for dinner. Mum had made lunch but didn’t feel like making dinner so we went out. When we got to the mall we passed a watch repair shop so I had a few links removed from my watch so that it finally fit properly. Let’s hope I never have to use them again! The man charged me 10 dirhams. By the time we sat down to eat it was 9.45 and I was famished. I couldn’t see anything on the menu that sounded as appealing as the Wagyu beef burger and fries (I didn’t eat the bread)… and it really hit t
he spot. 

I was shattered by the time we got home and couldn’t wait to get into bed. It was the longest day I’d had in a while!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.