Dubai: Week 39

It started off as a quiet week but soon changed!

I had a session with Randy on Sunday morning and then decided that as I’d spent most of the weekend working I wasn’t going to do any work that day. I sat by the pool for a while, I got into bed and read my book. I did check my work email once but didn’t reply to any messages or do anything else work-related.

On Monday night I went out with a friend and a few of her friends. I’d met two of them before, at the end of September when we went to Karma Kafe, but the other two were new to me. Six of us met at La Petite Maison. We had a drink at the bar and then moved to our table. There was lots of burrata. We also ordered a bottle of rosé. The waiter came back to say that they didn’t have the regular size available but would we like the magnum? Why, yes. Yes, we would. The guy sitting on my right was concerned that it might be too much wine, but we finished the wine before we even finished our main course. We then decided to switch to Tomatinis (tomato martinis). I’d never tried one, but the girl on my left let me try hers before I ordered mine. Wow. No wonder she didn’t want any wine! It’s like a chilled gazpacho sprinkled with black pepper. I had two. After dinner we decided we’d order dessert at the bar. We switched to vodkas with soda. I had two. It was a fun evening. It was just what I needed. It was also the most expensive meal I have ever had in my life!

I woke up on Tuesday with a headache. I got out of bed to make some tea but got back in for the rest of the morning. I had a conference call with the new publishers that afternoon – the three women I spoke to seemed pleasant and professional. When I asked them how long they thought they would need me, they said it would be about 4 to 6 months – which is better than what I’d imagined.

That night my cousin and I went to The Meat Co at Madinat Jumeirah for dinner. We both had steaks – I had mine with a jacket potato, she had the mashed potatoes. I hadn’t planned on drinking alcohol but ended up having some red wine with dinner. It was a nice evening – and we saved 100 dirhams each as I had an Entertainer voucher for the restaurant.

On Wednesday I had a meeting with a potential piano teacher. I finally got round to calling him on Monday and he suggested I meet him for a chat and he could explain his teaching method. My appointment was supposed to be at noon. I was walking towards the car when I got a text from him asking if we could postpone to either later on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday afternoon. I called him and said I couldn’t do either of those times. We eventually agreed to meet at 12.30 – in the meantime I went to the supermarket, dropped my groceries off at home and then went to meet the teacher. His studio is in Saeed Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road – very convenient for me! I got there a bit early but he hadn’t arrived yet so I waited in the corridor. He was 10 minutes late.

Anyway, we sat down and he explained that he didn’t have a conservative method of teaching music. He said that as adults, people expect to progress faster and he had a method which would get people playing immediately. I was a classically trained pianist (even though I haven’t played properly in 20 years) and my old piano teacher would probably be turning in her grave if she heard what he said! I spent hours practising scales – major, minor, chromatic, a third apart; arpeggios; tearing pieces of music apart bar by bar – hands separately, then together. Hours. He told me he didn’t teach that way but he did say that his method would have may playing all my old clasical pieces on my own quickly. Of course I want to play all the George Michael and Prince in the world, but I still love Chopin and Schubert and would like to get back to that level at some point.

He made me sit at the piano – he asked me to play something I could remember, just so he could see how my hands moved. I couldn’t remember much but played a few bars of a Chopin waltz. He then played some chords and asked me to sing the notes back to him. He then asked me to play a Mozart piece that was open on the stand in front of me. He said I would progress quickly and that daily practice would be important. I wasn’t sure how his method of teaching would work for me but I decided there was only one way to find out. I’m scheduled for lessons every Tuesday afternoon from now until the end of the year. I may even upload some recordings later on… You have been warned.

I met NP for lunch on Thursday. I’d been craving Jones the Grocer so we went there. It was good to see her and catch up – I hadn’t seen her since our dinner at Zuma soon after I got back from Bali. I couldn’t decide what to have but each time I’ve been there I’ve told myself that next time I’ll have the Wagyu burger. We both ended up having that – it was fantastic. I don’t think I’d have it every time I went there, but I’m glad I finally tried it.

That night was wine club. This month it was held at Origami at the Radisson Royal on Sheikh Zayed Road – convenient for me! The venue was nice – a big room, round tables, and it was for wine club members only. The wines were average – there weren’t any that I particularly loved, and there were a couple that I really didn’t like (but still drank, of course). The wines were:

  • Veuve de Vernay Brut Sparkling Wine-NV: Pale straw in colour, fresh, fruity and floral on the nose. The palate is full with delicate apple and pear fruit flavours complimented by smooth velvety bubbles. This wine is perfect served as an aperitif or with salads, fish, white meats and fruit desserts. Colombard 40%, Sauvignon Blanc 40%, Chardonnay 20%
  • Lamberti Pinot Grigio: Very crisp, a little light, citric, bright and clear, if somewhat short in the finish. Pair with light foods or as an aperitif
  • Robert Mondavi Private Chardonnay: These Central Coast of California Chardonnay grapes enjoyed an extended period maturing on the vine, resulting in fruit with impressively concentrated flavours and richness. Serve with light meats or cheese dishes (Chardonnay? Enough said)
  • Sidi Brahim Rose: Made in North Africa, bottled in France. Second most popular selling imported brand of wine in France as of 2005 (I can’t think why). Made in a New World fruity style. Consists of 40% Cinsault grapes and 60% Grenache Gris
  • Robert Mondavi Private Pinot Noir: On the nose, lovely rose petal, violet, and red cherry aromas mingle with complementary scents of smoky vanilla and nutmeg. Very soft and round with good length and richness on the palate, the wine displays supple, silky berry and cherry jam flavours
  • Antares Merlot: From Chile’s Valle Central, a major grape-growing and wine-making region of central Chile. ‘Lovely, sweet and complex cassis fruit. Delicious follow-through – a perfect glass for uncomplicated pleasure’ (Lies)

As usual there was some mingling at the end, and I ended up going to Icho, the bar at the top of the hotel, with a couple of people where we had even more wine…

I spent all of Friday in my pajamas. It was awesome.

I thought I’d venture out on Saturday so I went to the Dubai Mall. I had lunch at Vapiano and then browsed in Kinokuniya (the book store) for ages. I walked from one end to the other, just checking out what they had: a ridiculous amount of books on how to have a healthy relationship or a ‘happy’ divorce, business books (How to Make Partner and Still Have a Life – I’m serious), the usual fiction (including the 50 Shades trilogy which I thought was banned here), and I was surprised to see they even had a small Tarot section (but I have most of those already).

After that I went over to a friend’s place for a cup of tea and then headed home. I was supposed to be out for dinner but that was cancelled at the last minute – which was annoying, but c’est la vie.

I love my life.

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The final few

I had my third session with Randy on Sunday morning. I told him that last week I really wasn’t motivated to do very much but decided I just needed to snap out of it and get back into my routine.

I did my 5 minutes on the cross-trainer and then started the first circuit:

  • Side T plank x 12 on each side
  • Lateral pulldown x 15
  • Stepping on and off a bench x 12 on each side
  • Crunches on a bench x 15
  • Rest x 1 minute

I did that three times followed by 3 minutes on the cross-trainer.

The next circuit consisted of:

  • Incline press x 20 (3-kg weights in the first and third set, and 10-lb weights in the middle set)
  • Tricep extensions x 20
  • Kickback butt exercises on a bench x 15 on each side
  • One other lower body exercise (no idea what it’s called) on the bench x 15 on each side
  • Rest x 1 minute

I did that circuit three times followed by 3 minutes on the cross-trainer. I asked Randy to reduce the weights in the third set of the incline press because my wrist was starting to ache again. It had started the night before at my writing class and I thought it was just temporary, but any pressure on it is making it uncomfortable.

To finish off there were some stretches. As I got up off the floor, I felt a prickling feeling around my lips and forehead and knew that meant I was going to faint. I had to sit down. Randy asked me if I was OK – he said my lips had gone completely white. I told him I just needed a minute. He made me lie on the bench with my feet elevated on one of the machines. I closed my eyes and just waited for the feeling to subside. A couple of minutes later I was ready to get up and go home. Randy was worried he’d worked me too hard, but I told him I was probably tired and hadn’t slept much the night before and also hadn’t had anything to eat that morning. I felt fine by the time I got home.

And that was all I did this week. I initially thought that Rama took my gym mojo with him when he left, but I now feel that because I have the flat to myself and it’s so quiet all the time, I don’t feel like I need to escape to the gym to be alone! In fact, as the week went by I looked forward to waking up without the TV on and being able to read the papers in bed and have a cup of tea – and even stay there until noon if I wanted to. Oh well, that will be over soon.

High points? Erm… None?

Low points? I don’t think there were any low points either.

Weight loss? I broke through the 20-kg barrier one day this week (just for a day – but still)!

2012

Read more updates here.

Your week ahead (25 November – 1 December)

Have a great week!

Aries

Wands_8

8 of Wands – taking quick action – making your move, putting plans into action, rushing into a new area; coming to a conclusion – closing out an activity, completing unfinished business, having all elements come together; receiving news – getting an important message, finding the missing puzzle piece, having a meaningful conversation

Taurus

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

Gemini

Cups_9

9 of Cups – having your wish fulfilled – obtaining your goal, having your dream come true; feeling satisfied – feeling pleased as punch, indulging in a little smugness; enjoying sensual pleasure – relaxing, making love, appreciating the arts

Cancer

Cups_2

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

Leo

16_tower

The Tower – going through sudden change – experiencing upheaval, being in chaos; releasing – exploding, erupting in anger; falling down – suffering a blow to the ego, experiencing a crash; having a revelation – exposing what was hidden, seeing everything in a flash

Virgo

Swords_10

10 of Swords – bottoming out – having nowhere to go but up, knowing it’s darkest before dawn, being at the lowest point; feeling like a victim – bemoaning your fate, seeing life as hostile, suffering from an attack; being a martyr – putting your own interests last, being self-deprecating, feeling like a doormat

Libra

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

Scorpio

Wands_ace

Ace of Wands – using creative force – inventing a better way, expressing yourself, allowing a talent to unfold; showing enthusiasm – feeling fired up and eager, creating an aura of excitement, giving 110%; having confidence – believing in yourself, having high self-esteem, knowing things will work out; proceeding with courage – being true to your beliefs, daring to take a stand, facing your fears

Sagittarius

1_magician

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

Capricorn

11_justice

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

Aquarius

Swords_9

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

Pisces

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

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Dubai: Week 38

It was a somewhat turbulent week – not much seemed to be happening on the surface, but it was all going on behind the scenes.

I had a session with Randy on Sunday morning. That afternoon I met a friend from London for coffee at the Armani Cafe. After that, I decided I’d try on some clothes – I hardly ever feel like doing this so I thought I’d make the most of it. I’d had my eye on a dress for a while and when I found it I just decided to buy it!

I went home and had a call with the person who took over my job when I left London. It wasn’t a good conversation – I had to sign a confidentiality agreement before we had the call but I’ve since seen a press release about it so I can mention it here.

When I got the confidentiality agreement on Saturday I told a friend of mine what my suspicions were – that the journals had been sold to another publisher – and this was confirmed on Sunday evening during my phone call. Before I asked what this meant for my position, I asked about the team I’d put together. They were being made redundant and had been told 3 weeks before. All of them. They’d all had to sign confidentiality agreements which explained why I hadn’t heard from any of them in a while! Not one of them had been offered a job with the new publisher. Hearing that actually made me feel sick – I’d hired most of them and now they were all out of jobs. And me? After hearing about my team I expected to be told my services were no longer required. However, my colleague explained that as I was a supplier for the company, the new publisher had agreed to continue using the existing suppliers. I was surprised – of course my colleague couldn’t tell me how long they’d use me for – it could be for just a month or so. I emailed my team to say how sorry I was to hear the news and if they needed any references from me I’d be more than happy to provide them. Only three people responded – I felt terrible.

It was a quiet week otherwise – I’d been very unmotivated to do anything. I met a friend for lunch on Monday – we’d been trying (not very hard admittedly) to meet up since I moved here but one of us was always either busy or out of town. We went to Shakespeare & Co, next to Park n Shop – it was a fun lunch and it was good to catch up.

Tuesday was my first Diwali in Dubai and I was on my own. I was home all day, and that evening I went over to my cousin’s for the Diwali puja and then we went on to a couple of parties, one in the Meadows and the other in Emirates Hills. I actually knew a few people at the Emirates Hills party – people I’ve met over the last few months.

I didn’t go anywhere on Wednesday and was home most of Thursday too – on Thursday night I met up with my same friend from Monday’s lunch – we went to Costa Coffee at Mercato. It was a very impromptu evening – I was glad to get out of my flat and out of my own head. My thoughts were going round in circles and I welcomed the distraction.

I went home in a more positive frame of mind. It’s cheesy, I know, but I decided to re-read The Secret. I read it a few years ago and I thought I should read it again. I was up till 4am on Thursday night and finished reading it on Friday morning. I felt a lot better than I had all week. I decided I was going to focus on the positive things in my life and I am grateful that there are so many of them.

I spent the rest of Friday at home – mostly working.

I was home most of Saturday too. I decided I wasn’t going to continue with the NaNoWriMo challenge this year – I was already 15,000 words behind schedule and had no idea what I was writing about. Next year (if not before) I will be more prepared, less distracted, block out some time, and kick November’s ass!

Writer

I went to the bookshop at the Dubai Mall in the evening – I wanted a couple of Moleskine notebooks (I love them!). As I was waiting for Kaleem to bring the car round (how spoilt do I sound?) I noticed that it was a bit chilly outside! The temperature couldn’t have been any lower than 24C but it felt cool. I’ve also noticed that it’s dark by 6pm these days. Winter is coming! After the mall, I went to my writing group at The Pavilion Downtown in the evening. I was a bit early but the organiser was already there when I got there and we ended up chatting for a while.

‘What do you usually write?’ she asked me.

‘Rubbish,’ I replied. She burst out laughing and then expected more. ‘Rubbish fiction,’ I clarified.

We talked about the writing process and how we both went about it.

We were eventually joined by a few people and the session started. As before there were two exercises, each lasting 30 minutes. The first one was about characterisation – you could develop the characters however you wanted but the one stipulation was you had to mention a card game. I’m not a big card player so I actually wrote about a Tarot reading (the origins of Tarot lie in 15th century Europe, and it started as a deck of playing cards) and developed my main character through that.

The second exercise was about voice – the organiser asked us to use a humorous voice about finding directions to a coffee shop. I found this one tough – humour is actually very difficult to write, no matter how funny you think you are. If I try and re-create a funny incident that took place, it never sounds as funny as it was when it happened. Halfway through this exercise my wrist started aching. Some people bring their laptops to the write-in, but I prefer a notebook and pen. When the 30 minutes were up, the organiser said we could do another 30-minute exercise and had my wrist not been hurting so much I’d have stayed on. I didn’t think I’d be able to write for 30 minutes.

I was home by 8.30pm and finished off some work. It was a quiet weekend, but I enjoyed it.

I love my life.

Feeling_great

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The final few

I had my second session with Randy, my new trainer, on Sunday morning.

I started off with a 5-minute warm-up on the cross-trainer while he set up the equipment I was going to use.

The first circuit consisted of:

  • Chest fly with resistance bands x 15
  • Chest press with resistance bands x 15
  • Alternating lunges x 12 on each side
  • Dumbbell military press with 3-kg weights x 20
  • Plank knee to opposite elbow x 15 on each side

I did that circuit three times followed by 3 minutes on the cross-trainer.

The second circuit consisted of:

  • Crawl-outs x 10 (similar to bear crawl but you move your arms forwards and backwards without moving your feet)
  • Squats x 20
  • Burpees x 10

I did that circuit three times followed by another 3 minutes on the cross-trainer. And then I was done. It doesn’t sound like much but each circuit took me a while to get through. In the first circuit I found the military press the hardest, even harder than the lunges. In the second set, the crawl-outs were tougher than the burpees. I was glad when the session was over.

I didn’t work out the rest of the week. I told Randy I couldn’t do Wednesday as I was bound to have a late night on Tuesday. In reality, I could have had a later session on Wednesday or even one on Thursday but I was unmotivated and feeling blah in general. I’m aware that exercise usually makes me feel better when I’m down but getting to the gym is the hardest part. Every night I’d tell myself I’d go the following day but when morning came I just didn’t feel like it. I’m hoping that’s over now.

Low point of the week? Only working out once all week and not being very motivated.

High point of the week? I don’t think there were any!

Weight loss? I’m 0.4 kg away from my 20-kg total!

2012

Read more updates here.