Dubai: Week 35

What a busy week! I had my usual work and gym sessions but it was pretty busy otherwise as well.

On Sunday afternoon, Mum and I decided to go out for lunch. We ended up at the Cheesecake Factory – I really enjoyed their herb-crusted salmon the last time we went and I wanted it again! We shared the spinach and cheese dip as a starter and then I got my salmon. Mum ordered the Caesar salad – and even though she ordered the starter portion she had trouble finishing it. The portions are huge there! We skipped dessert though – we were both very full.

That night my cousin invited me to her book group as a one-off. She had asked me when I moved to Dubai whether I wanted to join them but I declined. She had told me they weren’t a serious group and I wasn’t sure it was for me. Anyway, the reason I went on Sunday was because they were discussing The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and I’d already read it a few years ago for my book group in London. I told her to let me know when she finished it so we could talk about it – so she invited me to join them. It’s a fantastic book – if you haven’t read it, I suggest you do so. It’s a quick read and even though I read it in 2 days, I haven’t been able to forget it.

I knew all the girls at book group already, apart from one. There was wine and appetisers followed by a full dinner. We discussed the book from time to time, and there was also more discussion about schools, Diwali, and 50 Shades of Grey. I think the trouble with meeting for the entire evening is that it’s easy to digress and come back to the book (several times). I much prefer book groups where you meet for an hour or so, discuss the book, and hang around at the end if you want to. I didn’t get home until midnight.

Monday was uneventful.

On Tuesday night I had dinner at Spectrum at the Fairmont with two of my cousins. It was quite crowded. We skipped the starters and ordered main courses only: black pepper beef, Thai green chicken curry, pad thai. We didn’t have dessert either. After dinner I rushed home to collect a parcel and then went back to the Fairmont to meet a friend who was leaving for London that night. We had a drink at Bridges, the sports bar at the Fairmont. I was home by midnight.

I didn’t sleep very well on Tuesday night and was quite tired on Wednesday. It was a long weekend here in Dubai, due to the Eid holidays. Thursday and Sunday were both holidays.

I stayed in on Wednesday night – I was in bed by 11 and passed out by midnight.

I was home for most of Thursday. That night a friend invited me to someone’s house party in Marina. It was a fun evening – but you would think I’d have learned by now not to mix my drinks. At about 2am, six of us headed to Amika at the H Hotel for more drinks and dancing. We left when they closed and I got home after 3.30am.

I was up earlyish on Friday but then went back to sleep as my eyes were burning! I eventually got out of bed at 1pm. All I wanted was houmous – it’s my new favourite hangover food.

Mum had some errands to run so I went to Mercato with her at about 5pm. After that we walked over to Choithram’s to pick up a couple of things for her trip to Jamaica and waited for a cab on the main road. There were none. We waited 20 minutes and then decided we’d start walking. Mum suggested going back to Mercato and waiting for a cab there but I’d seen the queue for taxis when we left and it would have been even longer an hour later.

We ended up walking home. It took about 40 minutes which is fine, but it was hot. We were sweaty and my hair looked like a nest. We got home just after 7pm, I got ready to see Enrique and then left a bit before 8pm.

At midnight after the concert, my friend insisted I go to a house party in Rashidiya with her. I wasn’t even dressed for a party – I was in jeans and a top. Plus, I was tired after walking home and standing throughout the concert. She told me that the guy whose house it was worked in the restaurant industry and there would be good food there. That worked. I’d barely eaten anything all day and I told her I’d go for one drink only.

Well, that’s not what happened. We got there, I sat at their bar and was spoiled rotten by flowing champagne and dim sum, and a fun group of people. Guests included: a sommelier at a top Dubai restaurant, a chef at another top Dubai restaurant, an Emirates pilot, and several other interesting people who were very welcoming.

I got home at 5.30am. What a night!

Saturday was painful. I’d only slept 3 hours and we were meeting my cousins for lunch at the Dubai Mall. The mall was a zoo – we ended up having lunch at PF Chang, outdoors. It was quite nice but I could barely string a sentence together and just wanted to be left in my zombie-like state. When I got home I got back into bed and tried to nap.

That night my cousin and I had dinner at Spectrum (yes, again). We ordered a bottle of wine – I couldn’t believe I was going to drink again after the two nights I’d had. We had the hot mezze platter to start and shared a chicken biryani for our main course. I was home by midnight.

I love my life.

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The final few

My session with Rama on Sunday morning was a tough one. I had just about finished my warm-up when he got to the gym so we began immediately.

I did the following circuit:

  • Lateral pulldowns x 15
  • Clean and press with 3-kg weights x 15
  • Pelvic lifts x 12
  • Military press with 3-kg weights x 15
  • Push-ups x 15
  • Bicep curls with 3-kg weights x 15
  • Squat jumps with 3-kg weights x 15
  • 500 metres on the treadmill

The hardest part of the circuit was the running. Rama told me to get as close to 3 minutes as possible – I managed it in 3:19. The last minute of that was awful and I didn’t think I’d make it. I also didn’t think I’d be able to do it again without crying if he asked me to.

I had a rest. Rama told me I was going to do the circuit again, but instead of the run at the end I was going to climb up to the sixth floor. Twice. It sounds crazy but I told him I’d prefer that to the running!

In the second round, I did the pelvic lifts using one leg only. And I was all set for the stairs. I hadn’t done them in a couple of weeks and wanted to see if I’d made any progress.

I went down in the lift and climbed up to the sixth floor in 1:12. My rest time was the length of time it took me to go back down in the lift. I climbed up the second time in 1:17.

After that there was another circuit of lower body exercises, then I had to walk while crouching for two lengths of the gym (I felt like I was waddling like ET) and then there were 25 star jumps. I did circuit that twice.

That was followed by two sets of one-armed tricep extensions and three sets of abs exercises. And then I was done!

It felt like a very long session.

I didn’t have yoga on Monday so decided I was going to spend 30 minutes on the treadmill and see how far I got. I was tempted to stop at 3km like I did the week before but forced myself to keep going. At 30 minutes I was at 3.9km – I decided to walk the last 100 metres and got to 4km at 30:57. I did some tricep dips after that and I was done for the day.

On Tuesday I did just 3.3km in 25 minutes. I struggled to get to 25 minutes, mostly because my right knee had been aching a bit. The only thing I feel may have caused this was the exercise where I had to crouch and walk in my Sunday session with Rama. By the time I got into bed that night it was aching even more.

My session on Wednesday was tough. I did three circuits, three times. I warmed up on the cross-trainer and then began. The first circuit was:

  • Squats holding 3-kg weights extended above my head x 10
  • Jumping from side to side with my feet together x 20
  • Lunges with 3-kg weights x 10 on each side
  • Alternating split lunges x 20
  • Rest

The second circuit consisted of:

  • Treadmill – alternating 30 seconds of running/rest (at an incline of 3) for 3 minutes
  • Upright row with a 10-lb weight x 5 on each side
  • Lateral raises with 3-kg weights x 10
  • Push-ups with 3-kg weights x 10
  • Rest

The third circuit was:

  • Dead lift combined with an upright row using a 10-lb weight x 5 on each side
  • Overhead press with 3-kg weights x 20, alternating sides
  • Squat jumps with 3-kg weights x 10
  • Burpees x 10
  • Rest

It was tough. Rama told me to ice my knee every few hours – it would feel better.

On Thursday I went back to the gym and aimed for 30 minutes on the treadmill. I only got to 3.7km as I couldn’t run as for as long as I wanted to because of my knee. I’d iced it and taken Nurofen but nothing seemed to be working.

I took Friday and Saturday off as I was tired and/or hungover on both days!

High point of the week? Going out on Thursday night and someone telling me I looked 28.

Low point of the week? Messing up my knee.

Weight loss? I’ve hit my lowest weight in years this week – I’ve lost 19 kilos (just under 42 lbs) since July 2011!

2012

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Your week ahead (28 October – 3 November)

Have a great week!

Aries

Pentacles_king

King of Pentacles – being enterprising – making any venture successful, attracting wealth, having the Midas touch; being adept – having quick reflexes, handling any situation competently, having a wide range of abilities; being reliable – being counted on in a crisis, assuming responsibility, meeting all commitments and promises; being supporting – encouraging the accomplishments of others, sponsoring worthwhile projects, readily jumping in to help; being steady – having a stabilising influence, maintaining a calm approach, avoiding mood and behaviour swings

Taurus

Pentacles_10

10 of Pentacles – enjoying affluence – feeling financially secure, having a good run of fortune, being free from money problems; seeking permanence – looking for a solution that will last, having an orderly family life, being concerned with the long term; following convention – being conservative, taking part in traditions, proceeding according to the rules

Gemini

5_hierophant

The Hierophant – getting an education – pursuing knowledge, seeking a deeper meaning; having a belief system – identifying a world view, knowing where to put your faith; conforming – fitting in, doing what’s expected; identifying with a group – devoting energy to a group, feeling loyal to others

Cancer

Wands_2

2 of Wands – having personal power – commanding attention and respect, holding the world in your hands, having authority; being bold – daring to do what you want, speaking your mind, seizing the day; showing originality – taking a different approach, doing what no one else has done, marching to a different drummer

Leo

Cups_6

6 of Cups – experiencing good will – doing a good turn for another, receiving a gift, feeling blessed; enjoying innocence – being acquitted, having a clear conscience, feeling simple contentment; focusing on childhood – feeling carefree, being taken care of, indulging in play

Virgo

Swords_king

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

Libra

7_chariot

The Chariot – achieving victory – reaching your goal, winning, beating the competition; using your will – rising above temptation, focusing your intent, concentrating your energies; asserting yourself – knowing who you are, feeling self-confident, having faith in yourself; achieving hard control – getting your way, maintaining discipline, curbing impulses

Scorpio

Wands_5

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

Sagittarius

Pentacles_8

8 of Pentacles – showing diligence – making an effort, plugging away, producing steady results; increasing knowledge – taking a course, researching, increasing expertise; paying attention to detail – being painstaking, checking and re-checking, noticing the fine points

Capricorn

Pentacles_ace

Ace of Pentacles – using material force – working with the physical, improving the body/health, focusing on concrete results; prospering – having the means to reach a goal, seeing efforts rewarded, increasing assets; being practical – using common sense, being realistic, accepting the tools at hand; proceeding with trust – feeling safe and protected, having a support system, believing in the good faith of others

Aquarius

Cups_4

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

Pisces

Swords_6

6 of Swords – feeling the blues – just keeping your head above water, working to get through the day, feeling somewhat depressed; recovering – dealing with the effects of a trauma, beginning to get your health back, heading toward a more positive place; travelling – changing location, taking a trip, going on a journey, entering into a new frame of mind

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For a personal tarot reading, please contact me.

Enrique!

First of all, I need to say that Enrique in concert was fantastic. He has never been someone I thought of as particularly hot, but I have to say that the broad shoulders, toned arms and white V-neck t-shirt did it for me. 

However.

The management company (M4 events, I believe) was a huge disappointment.

The concert had been advertised for weeks and a friend and I decided we would go. Ticket options were platinum, gold and silver. I suggested gold as middle ground – we got tickets at AED 550. 

Usual story – doors open at 7pm, concert starts at 9pm. My friend suggested we meet at 8.30 – I told her that might be too late as the queues tend to get really long (I knew this after my Il Divo experience) and suggested we meet at 8pm. 

My friend and I met at the Fairmont at 8pm and then walked over to the World Trade Centre where the concert was taking place. 

It was chaos. 

There were queues everywhere. Nobody seemed to know which queue was silver, which was gold or which was platinum. 

Img-20121026-00090

My friend and I stayed in one queue for a little while but realised it wasn’t moving. She then walked around trying to figure out whether we were in the right queue – as it turns out, we weren’t! There was no management in sight letting us know where we were supposed to be. Nobody knew what was going on.

I eventually found my friend in a separate ‘Gold’ queue which didn’t seem to move at all. By this time it was after 9pm. I went to Caffe Nero to get us some water (I queued there for almost 30 minutes and got the last two bottles of Evian) and went back to join the queue. It hadn’t moved.

To cut a long story short, we were in the queue until 9.45pm. It was like being in a herd of cattle. The queue didn’t seem to end, people were absolutely shameless about jumping the queue and nobody seemed to know what the f*** was going on.

We eventually got in and realised that all the silver and platinum ticket holders were where they should have been – so we have no idea what happened with the gold section.

And then we queued for another 30 minutes for drinks (f***ing ridiculous – and people still managed to jump the queue there too). 

We found a spot to stand in – and two guys started fighting with each other. To be honest, I’m surprised there weren’t more people fighting because at that moment I would have happily punched someone in the face. I don’t know what they were fighting about.

And then. Finally. At 10.45 the house lights went down. Enrique came on. He was in a black t-shirt. He started with ‘Tonight (I’m Loving’ You). Great song, I have to say.

The next song was ‘I Like How It Feels’ followed by ‘Dirty Dancer’ and ‘Rhythm Divine’.

Jesus, this man has amazing arms. How many tricep dips does he do??

‘Bailamos’ came after that followed by ‘Now That You’re Gone’.

At this point, Enrique scouted the audience and asked who would like to come on stage. He somehow chose a 20-year-old Kuwaiti guy called Abdullah. Would I have chosen him? No. So Abdullah came to Dubai from Kuwait on his own just to see Enrique in concert. He looked nervous. He sat on stage while Enrique sang ‘I Like It’.

Img-20121026-00096

Abdullah then declared his love for his Colombian girlfriend and Enrique sang ‘I’m Not In Love’ (because apparently once you declare you’re in love, it’s all over). Abdullah sang and danced, Enrique disappeared and Abdullah was summoned off stage.

Enrique reappeared in his trademark white t-shirt (wow) and sang ‘Tired of Being Sorry’. I have to admit I’d never heard this song before. He then sang ‘Escape’ which reminds me of someone I no longer speak to for some reason. I say ‘some reason’ because I don’t know what that reason is – and I also don’t know why I no longer speak to this person. I suppose that’s appropriate.

The song after this? I have no idea. I don’t know what it’s called – ‘sometimes I get a feeling’ seemed to be the main lyrics, but I’d never heard it before.

And then.

He sang ‘Hero’.

Enrique came out onto the runway into the middle of the audience, almost to the gold section.

Dubai-20121026-00100

Why did I include a photo of the guy in the white hat? He was shirtless and he was sweaty. It was gross. Keep your shirts on, boys. 

Enrique then picked out a woman in the crowd and sang to her. He hugged her. He kissed her on the lips (illegal in a public place – I must remember this). He hugged her again. 

The music picked up again – he sang ‘I Like It’ and then finished with ‘Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)’. If there was an encore we didn’t hang around to hear it. If the queues getting in were so bad, the queues getting out would be even worse.

Total queuing time: 2:30.

Total performance time: 1:20.

Worth it? NO.

The lack of staff and complete disorganisation of the event resulted in hundreds of people being completely f***ing pissed off. 

Would I do it again? No. 

Unless it’s Prince or George Michael (maybe even Lionel Richie or Simply Red), I’d rather stay at home, thanks.

Dubai: Week 34

The first half of the week was unpleasant, for reasons I won’t go into – and I was irritable and unmotivated. Aside from work and sessions at the gym, it was quite uneventful.

I woke up on Sunday not having slept well at all, Rama cancelled our session and I had to go to brunch at someone’s house. My cousin and I got there just before noon. All the girls who were at dinner at Toscana the week before were there, plus a couple more. Conversation revolved around schools (again), Bollywood movies (again), what the kids are going to wear for their Diwali show, and a couple of other things.

I left brunch at 2pm and went over to another friend’s place for a short while – she had been at brunch too and I went to say hi to her mum who was visiting Dubai. I felt brain-dead after brunch and making conversation was an effort. I left after 20 minutes.

While I was at brunch my mum decided to go to the Mall of the Emirates so I joined her on my way home. She was looking at coffee tables – and I didn’t like any of the ones she showed me. We went home and I sat down to do some work.

I didn’t sleep well on Sunday night either. I did manage to get some work done on Monday afternoon though, so that was good.

I slept about 4 hours on Monday night/Tuesday morning – I kept waking up and at about 6.30, I was up. I stayed in bed, hoping to go back to sleep for a while but it didn’t happen. I had too many thoughts rushing through my head. I was supposed to meet a friend for coffee that morning but she couldn’t make it in the end. That afternoon I sat down to do some work only to find that the files I’d worked on the day before were corrupted and I had to do the same work all over again. I wouldn’t even be able to charge for it. What a bloody waste of time.

I had a session with Rama on Wednesday morning. I sat down to do some work after that but at 4pm I decided to walk to Tim Horton’s for a coffee. I just needed to get out of the flat for a bit.

That night my mum, cousin and I went to the Dubai Mall for dinner and to a movie as it was my parents’ 42nd anniversary and my dad wasn’t in town. We had dinner at PF Chang and then went to see ‘Arbitrage’ (I was disappointed by the abrupt end).

Things started to pick up on Thursday. That evening I went to Wine Club. As usual there were six wines to taste – one sparkling, two white and three red. There was also a lot more food than last time (thank goodness – I dread to think what state I’d have been in if there hadn’t been enough food to go around). There was a lot of mingling at the bar afterwards and it turned out to be quite a heavy late night.

I was a little hungover on Friday but went to meet a friend for lunch. We went to Al Dawaar, the revolving restaurant on top of the Hyatt Regency. It’s a lovely restaurant – there was a variety of food but I went for the hummus, baba ganoush, grilled chicken. And a Bloody Mary, of course.

I was supposed to be out for dinner that evening too, but those plans fell through and I ended up staying home.

Saturday was a very chilled day. I spent the afternoon by the pool, reading my book.

That evening I went to a writers’ group at The Pavilion Downtown. When I decided to move to Dubai I thought I’d have more time to focus on my writing but apart from attending a different writers’ group a few months ago (and just once at that), I’d done f***-all about it. As the time drew nearer I was very tempted to back out but forced myself to go. I’m so glad I did.

I got there on time (no thanks to the idiotic cab driver) and there were just four of us to begin with. The organiser told us there would be two writing exercises, each one lasting 30 minutes, and we were to focus on dialogue. He gave us a line of dialogue, an object and a character and we had to start writing.

In the first exercise, the line of dialogue was ‘I don’t think that’s how it works’, the object was a bicycle and the character was a teenage girl. It took me ages to get started and I didn’t really connect with the first exercise at all.

The line of dialogue in the second exercise was ‘Tomorrow is another day’, the object was a red ball, and one of the characters had to be a grumpy old man. This was much easier for me. In fact, I’m thinking of turning this one into a proper short story.

Several people came in after we’d started the first exercise, including a guy who actually said he wasn’t really into writing so would just read his book while we carried on. I thought that was odd.

What I liked about the group was that we didn’t have to read out our work afterwards. We could ask questions about any issues we may have faced but we didn’t have to critique anyone else’s work.

After the second exercise was finished people hung around chatting to each other. It was a friendly group – 11 of us in the end – and I would definitely go back. They meet every two weeks. The next meeting clashes with a book group I was going to attend but I might cancel that – I think I need to focus on this now.

I also really liked The Pavilion – I can see myself spending more time there and it’s not far from home.

I got home at about 9pm, had dinner, watched a couple of episodes of ‘Revenge’ and read for a while.

I love my life.

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The final few

I was supposed to have a session with Rama on Sunday morning as usual but he couldn’t make it in the end. I would have gone to the gym on my own but I was going out for brunch and ended up running late.

I had yoga on Monday and decided to go to the gym as well. TM had done 3km in 21 minutes that morning and I tried to do the same. I couldn’t – I did it in 22:34. I may not have beaten his time but I improved mine by a whole minute!

I tried to beat that time on Tuesday but couldn’t. I did 3km in 22:54. I suppose I won’t see an improvement every single time I’m on the treadmill but at least I’m doing it. After the 3km I did some tricep dips and some lower body work.

I had a session with Rama on Wednesday. He told me it was going to be ‘different but challenging’. I did my warm-up on the cross-trainer and we began.

The first circuit consisted of:

  • Squats holding 3-lb weights with my arms stretched straight up x 10
  • Sumo squats combined with an upright row with a 10-lb weight x 10 on each side
  • Step-out lunges x 10 on each side
  • Low squats but only coming up halfway x 10

I did that circuit three times.

After that he made me do some agility work. I had to pretend there was a line down the middle of the gym and do the following:

  • Stepping above and below the line while moving sideways x 2 lengths of the gym
  • Jumping along the line (like star jumps) x 2 lengths of the gym (the second length was backwards)
  • I can’t even explain the third one – but I felt like I was warming up for a game of rugby (or performing in Riverdance)

After each of these exercises I had to do three burpees.

Then there was some core work. I did three sets of the following:

  • Slowly kicking each leg while holding 3-lb weights straight out in front of me
  • A core exercise twisting a 10-lb weight from my waist over my head and to the other side of my waist x 10
  • Russian twists x 20
  • Sit-ups with alternating knees x 12

Then I did three sets of tricep dips and tricep extensions followed by this circuit:

  • Stair-climbers x 30 seconds
  • Burpees x 30 seconds
  • Rest x 30 seconds
  • Stair-climbers x 30 seconds
  • Squat jumps x 30 seconds

It was just one set, but it was enough. In the past I’ve done the stair-climbers with my hands on a bench, but this time I had to rest my hands on the floor – it was much tougher!

And then I was done. It was a different kind of session but I knew my entire body would be in agony the next day – thighs, obliques, arms.

I walked/ran 3k on Thursday – once again I finished in 22:54 – exactly the same as Tuesday. I did lose some time because just after 2km my right shoelace needed re-tying so I had to pause the treadmill and wait for it to re-start, and so on. It was a drag. The other thing that bothered me was that my gym bottoms are so loose now that they kept slipping so I had to keep pulling them up!

I took the day off on Friday – I knew I’d have a heavy Thursday night and knew I wouldn’t even be able to walk in a straight line on Friday. (I was right.)

I did another 3km on Saturday – slightly faster at 22:47. Once again, my laces became undone and my gym bottoms were loose. I think I need to go shopping. Or at least get rid of my old size which I still wear now and then!

Low point of the week? Not getting to 5km on any day this week. I just wasn’t in the mood.

High point of the week? Being told I looked 28 when I was out on Thursday night.

Weight loss? A tiny amount – but I’ll get there!

2012

Read more updates here.