Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2013: Week 4

I was feeling less cranky on Sunday than I had for the previous 2 to 3 days (thank goodness).

I had a session with Randy and then had lunch at the Dubai Mall with my parents. I’d been wanting a steak but knew I was going to have one that night so we ended up at Vapiano instead. I had the penne with salmon (as usual). After lunch Dad went to a movie on his own while Mum and I browsed the shops. I was heading to London soon and needed to take some gifts for all the new babies that had arrived since my last trip!

That night I met up with NP for dinner. The last time we’d met was before Christmas when her son and my nephew had a playdate at the Mall of the Emirates. We went to Ruth’s Chris Steak House at The Address Marina. I walked in and was immediately impressed with the music (George Michael’s ‘Older). It wasn’t very crowded and the service was good. We both ordered the set menu (three courses and a side dish for AED 315 each). We both had the seared ahi tuna to start with (other options were Caesar salad, onion soup au gratin, and mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat); and we both had the 8 oz filet of beef with pepper sauce as our main course (other options were Caribbean lobster tail, stuffed chicken, and caper dill sea bass). We shared creamed spinach and fresh broccoli (the third choice was mashed potatoes) and shared the two dessert options (chocolate sin cake and creme brulee). I think it was pretty good value for money. We also had a nice bottle of red wine (I think it was a Malbec but can’t remember). We enjoyed the wine so much we ended up ordering another glass each after dinner. When the waiter brought our bill we thought it looked surprisingly low and then realised that the waiter hadn’t charged us for the bottle of wine (of course we told him). 

Monday was uneventful but when I woke up on Tuesday morning I couldn’t see out the window. It was a little before 9am but it was like being in thick white cloud. I couldn’t see the Shangri-La just a block away. I could barely see the pool 17 floors below.

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As the day progressed, it got better.

On Tuesday evening a friend and I went to a Lime and Tonic event at Hakkasan. The deal was AED 150 for a selection of dim sum and two cocktails. I was expecting it to be an interactive event like the Secret Gourmet Supper Club the week before so I was mentally ready for that (kind of). We got to Hakkasan and were taken to the separate bar area away from the main restaurant. People were sitting at tables in small groups and we were asked to sit anywhere we wanted. We joined a couple of girls who had also just sat down; they were so engrossed in their conversation so we just caught up on our own. 

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Our dim sum basket arrived with our cocktails. I ordered the Thea martini (vodka, apple juice, ginger juice, lime juice, vanilla/chilli sugar) – it was yummy!

We stayed for an hour and then walked over to The Agency at the Emirates Tower Hotel where we had another drink each. After our drink I went over to Thai Chi at Wafi Pyramids to meet my parents who were having dinner with some cousins who were in town unexpectedly. They were on their way back to Ghana from India and had missed their connecting flight.

The following morning it was foggy again, but not as bad as it had been the day before. On Wednesday night I went over to a friend’s place for dinner. It was a lovely chilled evening – good food, good wine and good music (once we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’) figured out how to create a playlist on the computer)!

Thursday was a public holiday (the Prophet’s birthday) and I didn’t have my piano lesson. That night I went to wine club with a couple of friends. This month it was at the Radisson Royal on Sheikh Zayed Road so quite convenient for me! Sadly there was no wine that I really enjoyed that night – and I noticed the ‘Sula’ on the neck of the bottle as the wines were being poured. I have to say that Indian wine is disgusting.

The wines we had were:

  • Lindeman’s Bin 30 Sparkling Rose (Australia): A fresh, lively, full-flavoured sparkling rose. Strawberry and cherry fruit flavours are complemented by a creamy texture. The finish is soft and dry with lingering flavours. If I had to pick a favourite this time, this would be it…
  • Argento Pinot Grigio (Argentina): Pale straw colour; peach and tropical fruit aromas; extra dry palate with medium body and crisp flavours. Serve as an aperitif or with creamy pasta dishes.
  • Sula Sauvignon Blanc (India): Herbaceous, crisp and dry, with hints of green pepper and a touch of spice at the finish, this wine is well balanced with good acidity. Serve chilled at 8-10C.
  • Mancaro Marche Sangiovese (Italy): Ruby red colour with purple tints, fruited, fragranted bouquet with hints of wild berries. Fresh, delicate taste.
  • Sula Shiraz (India): A smooth, medium-bodied red wine accentuated by ripe cherry  and plum fruit, with attractive aromas of black pepper. Pair with tandoori dishes and mildly spiced curries. Serve lightly chilled. Open and allow to breathe before serving. If it were up to me it would be opened and poured down the drain and never served.
  • Argento Shiraz (Argentina): Dark berry fruit, cedar and smoke on the nose. Palate confirms the nose and has moderate tannin in a house style that is maintained from year to year. Serve with lamb, beef, duck and hard cheeses.

There was a good selection of food – some sushi rolls, and a lot of small sandwiches this time round – no satays or anything. There were also some delicious deep-fried cheese rolls. 

We didn’t feel like lingering that evening – usually we’re the last to leave wine club and hang out on one table at the end, but this evening we decided to leave early and go elsewhere. We ended up at the Blue Bar at the Novotel World Trade Centre. We ordered a round of drinks and listened to the live band (who were actually very good). We stayed till after midnight and then decided to call it a night.

Friday was very chilled as well – I was home until the evening. I went to see Argo with my cousin and a friend. What a fantastic movie! I’m not usually a Ben Affleck fan but he was so good in this. And the last 10 minutes – oh my goodness – my heart was beating so fast! What I couldn’t unders
tand, though, is that over here in Dubai subtitles are in Arabic and French – which is fine – but during the movie, in the parts where the conversation is in Persian/Farsi, there were no English subtitles. Luckily I could understand what was happening by reading the French subtitles but my friend didn’t have a clue! A few days later my parents went to see the movie and came home asking the same question: ‘What happened in that bit with the housekeeper?’

After the movie we had planned to eat at the mall but it was SO crowded. Instead we ended up at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Burj Plaza called Yeldizlar – it was average, I’d say. We ordered a mixed grill, some hummus and some tabouleh. The service wasn’t great either. We did walk over to the Dubai Fountain to watch the Fire and Water show at 10pm. 

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We watched for about 10 minutes and then walked back to our table. I was home by midnight.

I was home all day on Saturday until my writing group at the Pavilion Downtown. I wasn’t in the mood to go but decided that I had to go if I was going to write anything! There were 13 of us and I felt that the group was too big. In theory we just sit and write but that particular day people were talking and it was very distracting. There were a couple of annoying characters there who I hope I never see again. 

I got home at around 8.30pm. I had some dinner and had the place to myself for the rest of the evening.

I love my life.

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The final few

I’ve been tired this week and was very tempted to cancel my sessions with Randy but knew that I’d feel better after each session!

On Sunday I did my 5-minute warm-up on the cross-trainer and we began the first circuit:

  • Kettlebell swings x 20
  • Step-ups on to a bench with 3-kg weights x 10 on each side
  • Alternate knee to elbow x 10 on each side
  • Reverse crunches x 20
  • Rest

I did that circuit three times and then hopped back on the cross-trainer for another 3 minutes.

The second half of our session was spent boxing! Randy brought boxing gloves and pads and we started with basic punches, hooks and uppercuts. He set his timer for 3-minute sessions and we began. Boxing reminds me of choreography. Right punch, left hook, right uppercut, left punch, and so on. We did variations of that a few times and then moved on to the legs – roundhouse kicks and knee strikes. Right hook, left uppercut, right knee strike, right roundhouse kick, and then the same on the other side. It was exhausting but it was a good workout!

I did some stretches after that and wondered if I’d be able to move my arms the next day.

I had yoga on Monday. Nothing new to report there. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my body didn’t ache as much as I thought it might after the boxing.

I had my second session with Randy on Wednesday. I’m so used to having the gym to myself so I was surprised to find another guy in there with his radio on. I got on the cross-trainer for my 5-minute warm-up.

The first circuit consisted of:

  • Kettlebell (6 kg) swings x 20
  • Squat combined with a shoulder press using 3-kg weights x 15
  • Plank reaching out with alternate hands x 10 on each side
  • Reverse curls x 20

I did that circuit three times. The plank exercise was actually supposed to be moving from an elbow plank to a full plank and back down again 10 times. I did it twice but my right wrist couldn’t take the pressure so Randy switched the exercise.

I did 3 minutes on the cross-trainer. The second circuit consisted of:

  • One-armed kettlebell swings (6 kg) x 15 on each side
  • Alternating lunges combined with bicep curls using 3-kg weights x 10 on each side
  • Wall squat combined with lateral fly using 3-lb weights x 30 seconds
  • Sit-ups x 15

I did another 3 minutes on the cross-trainer and then Randy stretched out my lower body. I was done!

I didn’t work out again during the week. I’ve just been very unmotivated.

Low point of the week? I’m still eating Galaxy bars – I don’t know why I can’t seem to stop.

High point of the week? I can’t think of anything!

Weight loss? My weight fluctuated a lot over the week (it can go up or down by more than 1 kg from day to day sometimes!) but in the end it remained the same.

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Your week ahead (27 January – 2 February)

Have a good week!

Aries

Cups_10

10 of Cups – feeling joy – radiating love, delighting in good fortune, counting your blessings; enjoying peace – doing away with hostilities, reducing stress and tension, calling a truce; looking to the family – working for peace in the home, supporting a relative in need, reaffirming a family commitment

Taurus

16_the_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

Gemini

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

Cancer

Cups_page

Page of Cups – being emotional – being moved or touched, responding to beauty, letting your heart lead the way; being intuitive – acting on a hunch, trusting your gut reaction; being intimate – starting or renewing a love affair, meeting someone you’re attracted to, sharing something personal; being loving – making a thoughtful gesture, forgiving yourself, brightening someone’s day

Leo

Pentacles_2

2 of Pentacles – juggling – coping with demands, having a lot of irons in the fire, keeping everything in balance; being flexible – going with the flow, seeing the possibilities, handling challenges; having fun – taking time to play, feeling in high spirits, seeing the humour in the situation

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

Pentacles_queen

Queen of Pentacles – being nurturing – giving love and support, making people feel better; being big-hearted – giving freely and abundantly; being down-to-earth – handling problems matter-of-factly, taking a simple and sensible approach; being resourceful – making a little go a long way, being handy and versatile; being trustworthy – being loyal and steadfast, keeping confidences and secrets

Scorpio

3_the_empress

The Empress – mothering – giving birth, nourishing life, expressing tenderness; welcoming abundance – luxuriating in plenty, having more than enough, feeling rich; experiencing the senses – giving and receiving pleasure, focusing on the body, doing physical activity; responding to Nature – embracing the natural, feeling connected to the Earth, going outdoors

Sagittarius

0_fool

The Fool – beginning – entering a new phase, expanding horizons, beginning an adventure, heading into the unknown; being spontaneous – letting go of expectations, acting on impulse, surprising someone; having faith – staying open, feeling protected and loved, recapturing innocence; embracing folly – taking the ‘foolish’ path, being true to yourself, trusting your heart’s desire

Capricorn

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The Hermit – being introspective – thinking things over, looking for answers within, needing to understand; searching – wanting the truth at all costs, desiring a new direction, needing more; receiving/giving guidance – going to or being a mentor, turning to or being a trusted teacher; seeking solitude – needing to be alone, desiring stillness, experiencing seclusion

Aquarius

Swords_2

2 of Swords – blocking emotions – denying true feelings, hiding distress, maintaining your cool; avoiding the truth – refusing to look at facts, choosing not to know, ignoring the warning signs; being at a stalemate – staying stuck, refusing to decide, being unwilling to rock the boat

Pisces

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The Star – regaining hope – having faith in the future, thinking positively; being inspired – realising an inner strength, regaining motivation; being generous – wanting to give or share, offering with no reservations; feeling serene – experiencing peace of mind, being tranquil amid trouble

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Dubai 2013: Week 3

Another busy week!

After my session with Randy on Sunday I met a friend for lunch. He was in town from Lagos for a few days and I was looking forward to catching up with him. We hadn’t met since November and it was the first time in 5 years that we hadn’t had our New Year’s Day dim sum lunch together. We decided to meet at the Dubai Mall.

I was there a little early so sat outside watching the fountain (Puccini’s ‘O mio babbino caro’). It was a beautiful day, warm but not too hot, and it wasn’t very crowded being a Sunday.

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We went to Ping Pong for lunch (just to keep up our dim sum tradition). I hadn’t been to Ping Pong in Dubai and had heard mixed reviews about it. I was pleasantly surprised. As he’s vegetarian we ordered more vegetarian dumplings, but I ordered the prawn and chive dumplings and lobster dumplings for myself.

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Nothing on their dessert menu appealed to us so we went to the Hummingbird Bakery a few doors down and had a cupcake each. And I wonder why I’ve put on weight recently! To be fair I did ask if they had any mini cupcakes but the waitress said they were special orders only.

I walked around the mall for a while and then went home.

That evening a friend and I had booked to go to Lime and Tonic’s first Secret Gourmet Supper Club. We’d booked it in advance (AED 260) and were told the pick-up spot would be at DIFC. As it was Art Night the dinner would have an ‘arty’ theme to it. About 30 people gathered at the entrance to DIFC and we were led to a coach. We had no idea where we were going. We knew vaguely what we’d be eating as we’d been sent a list of ingredients beforehand so we could let them know if we had any allergies. There would be no alcohol served.

About 15 minutes later the coach pulled up outside Sama Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road, between the H Hotel and the Fairmont. We were having dinner at the Miele showroom! We were given glasses of lime and tonic when we arrived and were shown around the store. We were taken upstairs where they have a space for cookery classes (I’d imagine?) and met the chef who would be preparing our dinner. We gathered around one of the long tables and were told that it would be a very interactive evening and it would be a lot of fun.

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At that point, all I really wanted was my dinner and the thought of being ‘interactive’ did not appeal at all. I simply wasn’t in the mood. Two long tables had been set and we sat down and waited for our starters.

We each had a card with ‘tasks’ listed inside.

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We were already speaking to people we didn’t know. I had a French/Australian couple on my left and a freelance journalist from the UK opposite me. We started drawing our favourite dishes on the blank placemats in front of us (full English for me, thanks).

Ten of us were then called up to collect the starters – one dish for ourselves and another for someone we didn’t know. As it had an ‘art’ theme, the starter was based on Jackson Pollock’s ‘Summertime’.

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It was quail breast and roulade with mushroom, lemon confit, beetroot, balsamic and jus – the four sauces were drizzled over the plate, similar to the painting. I took my portion and an extra and served someone on the next table explaining the significance of the drizzled sauces. When I got back to my seat, the placemats had been turned over and was an image of Pollock’s ‘Summertime’. I thought that was clever.

Our main course was based on Joan Miro’s ‘Sun’. Once again, our placemats were changed to match the painting.

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The main course was fillet of beef with smoked eggplant, capers, herbs and anchovies. It was really good – the meat was so tender.

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For dessert we had banana cake with cardamom, caramelised banana and whipped sour cream. That was based on Andy Warhol’s ‘Banana’.

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After dinner we were each given a thank you card which listed the evening’s menu.

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Each card had a little present inside – fridge magnets!

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Mine was Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Girl with Ball’.

After we said our goodbyes, we all got on the coach and headed back to DIFC. It was a fun evening but I’m not sure how often I would do something like that. Perhaps if I was with a bigger group of friends I’d consider it.

On Monday afternoon I had to go back to GMC to see the eye specialist. I was given an eye test (perfect, she said) and she looked at the lump under my eyelid. She gave me a prescription for eyedrops and an ointment, both containing steroids. I wasn’t crazy about the idea but she told me to try it and come back in 3 weeks.

That night I met my friend from Lagos for dinner. We went to Zuma. I can’t believe that place is always so crowded, even on a Monday! We met at the bar and ordered a drink – I had the raspberry and passion fruit martini (again). We went down to our table and ordered our food and sake. Most of our food was vegetarian but I ordered the tuna tataki for myself. As always, the food was excellent. And the sake was fantastic too. In fact, we ordered a second flask of sake! After dinner we were joined by one of his Lebanese friends so we hung out at the bar for a while and had a few more drinks. I got home at around 1am.

Fortunately I had no plans on Tuesday until the evening. A friend and I were going to a talk by Egyptian photographer Laura El-Tantawy at Gulf Photo Plus in Alserkal Avenue. The talk lasted over an hour – she talked about her work on Egyptian identity, suicide in rural India and her latest collection called ‘The Veil’. She was very passionate about her work – I think to be an artist you need to be passionate. As she was talking I wondered how she survived financially on photography and she later said that she had a regular job which enabled her to save up and travel and take photos. Artists really suffer for their work… 

I was home all day on Wednesday and had a piano lesson on Thursday afternoon. I had managed to learn ‘Comptine’ but it still wasn’t perfect and I wanted to record it in my next class. We spent most of the lesson working on something new: Solfeggietto in C minor. I hope I sound as good as that when I finish learning it!

That evening my friend from Lagos and I went to Trader Vic’s at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for a couple of drinks and some deep-fried cheese balls. I thought we could get a table and sit down but as we weren’t having main courses we had to stay in the bar area. It was horrible – we managed to find a stool at the bar but it was really smoky in there. We stayed for an hour or so and left. He was heading out for a late dinner and I went home. 

I was home all day on Friday – I just didn’t feel like doing very much. I had a couple of friends call to go out that evening but I just wanted to be at home. 

On Saturday afternoon I went back to Gulf Photo Plus as I’d booked a ticket for a seminar on architectural photography. It wasn’t a practical seminar so I didn’t even need to take my camera, just a notebook and pen. Several of the people were architects or interior designers and I thought it might be a bit too advanced for me (I was just curious), but it was interesting to learn how to take photos of buildings and rooms and to get the best shots. The photographer said he spends as much time in Photoshop as he did taking the actual photos. Perhaps I’m just naive but he said that on all hotel websites/brochures, all the photos you see are actually made up of several different shots! I thought that was kind of sad in a way. It’s like finding out Santa Claus doesn’t really exist!

I went home that evening and got into bed. I’d been feeling tired and cranky and upset and broke (long story) for the last few days and just couldn’t figure out why I felt so down. What was I doing with my life in Dubai? Would I be better off back in London? All kinds of things were going through my mind. As I was brushing my teeth that night I caught sight of my eyedrops and wondered whether it could be the steroids in the eyedrops that were affecting me so negatively? The percentage of steroids in the eyedrops must be miniscule so it didn’t seem likely, but I actually started to feel better once I had a probable cause of this ‘meltdown’ (to be overly dramatic). 

And that’s another week gone! I think this year will go by even quicker than last year!

I love my life. 

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The final few

The week began with my usual session with Randy on Sunday morning. It was a tough one.

I began with my usual 5-minute warm-up on the cross-trainer.

The first circuit consisted of:

  • Plank x 45 seconds
  • Rest x 10 seconds
  • Mountain climbers x 45 seconds
  • Rest x 10 seconds
  • Push-ups x 45 seconds
  • Rest x 10 seconds
  • Burpees x 45 seconds
  • Rest x 10 seconds
  • Jumping jacks x 45 seconds
  • Rest

I did that three times. After the plank and mountain climbers, doing push-ups was hard on my shoulders – and it got tougher after each round.

I did 3 minutes on the cross-trainer and began the next circuit:

  • Parallel bar abdominal knee raises x 15
  • Lunges with 10-lb weights x 15
  • Wall squat x 30 seconds

I did that circuit three times. Again, the knee raises were tough on my shoulders as I was using them to support my body weight.

I did another 3 minutes on the cross-trainer and did an abs circuit:

  • Boat pose x 20 seconds
  • Rest x 10 seconds
  • Sit-ups x 20 seconds
  • Rest x 10 seconds

I did that circuit eight times. EIGHT! Eight minutes of abs.

And then we were done. Randy stretched me out and I crawled home.

The next morning I woke up with my abs on fire. And not in a good way.

I had my first yoga class in a month and it was tough. Not just because it had been a month but because moving into and out of any position hurt!

I had my second session with Randy on Wednesday – and my abs were still sore from Sunday!

I did my usual 5 minutes on the cross-trainer as a warm-up and then we went outside. The first circuit consisted of:

  • Running sideways x 2 lengths followed by 10 squats x 5
  • Burpees x 10
  • Lunges with a torso twist x 10 on each side
  • Punches with 3-lb weights x 1 minute

So after doing that circuit three times I realised I’d done 150 squats! It was quite windy outside and my exercise mat kept blowing away so we moved indoors for the rest of the session.

I did 3 minutes on the cross-trainer and did the next circuit:

  • Seated row x 15
  • Tricep extensions with 3-kg weights x 15
  • Double crunches x 10
  • Ab cycles x 20

After three sets of that Randy stretched out my legs and I was done.

On Thursday my abs had stopped aching but my triceps continued to ache until my next session. On Thursday afternoon I decided to pick up some protein from one of the nutrition stores at the Dubai Mall. I got MET-Rx’s Ultramyosyn why isolate in creamy vanilla. Let’s hope it does the trick.

Low point of the week? I ate out a lot, and not very well either. Deep-fried cheese balls at Trader Vic’s are hard to resist and I seem to be addicted to Galaxy chocolate once again.

High point of the week? A friend of mine was in town from Lagos and said I looked ‘tall and thin’. Yay!

Weight loss? None. But no weight gain either.

To_do_list

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Silent Sunday

2013

Silent Sunday

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Your week ahead (20-26 January)

Have a great week!

Aries

15_devil

The Devil – experiencing bondage – being obsessed, being addicted and enslaved, losing independence; focusing on the material – forgetting the spiritual, getting and spending, being caught up in appearances; staying in ignorance – being unaware, choosing to stay in the dark, fearing the unknown; feeling hopeless – believing the worst, lacking faith, thinking negatively

Taurus

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

Gemini

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

Cancer

20_judgement

Judgement – making a judgement – having a day of reckoning, taking a stand, getting off the fence; feeling reborn – awakening to possibilities, making a fresh start, discovering joy; hearing a call – feeling drawn to a new direction, answering a need, recognising your true vocation; finding absolution – feeling cleansed and refreshed, atoning for past mistakes, feeling sins washed away

Leo

Pentacles_7

7 of Pentacles – assessing – evaluating the status, making sure you’re on course, finding out where you stand; reaping a reward – receiving payoffs, reaching a milestone, finally seeing some results; considering a direction change – pondering alternatives, thinking about change, standing at a crossroads

Virgo

19_sun

The Sun – becoming enlightened – finding the sense behind the chaos, getting to the heart of the matter; experiencing greatness – being singled out for notice, becoming the centre of attention; feeling vitality – experiencing joy, feeling invigorated; having assurance – knowing you can succeed, trusting your abilities

Libra

Pentacles_2

2 of Pentacles – juggling – coping with demands, having a lot of irons in the fire, keeping everything in balance; being flexible – going with the flow, seeing the possibilities, handling challenges; having fun – taking time to play, feeling in high spirits, seeing the humour in the situation

Scorpio

2_high_priestess

The High Priestess – staying non-active – withdrawing from involvement, being receptive to influence, waiting patiently; accessing the unconscious – using your intuition, trusting your inner voice, being aware of a larger reality; seeing the potential – allowing development, opening to what could be; sensing the mystery – opening to the unknown, seeking what is concealed, looking beyond the obvious

Sagittarius

16_the_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

Capricorn

Wands_knight

Knight of Wands – finding a balance between being charming/superficial – being physically attractive/focusing on style and appearance; being self-confident/cocky – totally lacking self-doubt/overestimating abilities; being daring/foolhardy – risking anything without fear/being reckless and rash; being adventurous/restless – loving travel and new experiences/never being content to sit still; being passionate/hot-tempered – taking a vocal stand/acting without thinking

Aquarius

Swords_knight

Knight of Swords – finding a balance between being direct/blunt – being frank and outspoken/tactless and rude; being authoritative/overbearing – commanding with attention/forcing a position on others; being incisive/cutting – being sharp and alert/having a barbed wit; being knowledgeable/opinionated – having well-reasoned opinions/being arrogant; being logical/unfeeling – reasoning clearly/undervaluing intuition

Pisces

Wands_9

9 of Wands – defending yourself – being paranoid, protecting others, feeling wary and guarded; persevering – trying repeatedly, keeping your resolve, refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer; showing stamina – holding fast, keeping up the pace, continuing despite fatigue

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Dubai 2013: Week 2

Yet another busy week!

After my session with Randy on Sunday I took my sister to the doctor at GMC in Jumeirah. We then wandered around the book store for a little while waiting for our mum to show up. By this time it was after 3pm and none of us had eaten lunch. We ended up at Johnny Rocket’s on the other side of Jumeirah Beach Road. Once we’d sat down, Dad decided to join us as well. The food was average and the fries are better at McDonald’s. I wouldn’t go back.

Across the car park from the restaurant was a pet shop called Animal World. We took Vinay in to have a look at the animals – they had many puppies, birds and rabbits.

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After the pet store, my sister, Vinay and I went to Mercato. He fell asleep in his pram in about 5 minutes so we walked around in peace. We went to La Senza and I saw a pair of pajamas I liked. I didn’t feel like trying them on (especially after the burger and chips I had) so I asked one of the sales assistants for help.

‘Do you think I need a medium or large?’ I asked. I had a medium pair in my left hand and the large in my right.

‘Yes,’ she replied.

I looked at my sister. I repeated it slower. She looked like she understood.

‘Yes. We have medium and large.’

Jesus.

‘Yes, I’m holding them. Do I need medium or large?’

It would have been quicker and less painful to try them on.

‘I think medium will be OK. Large is bigger.’

Genius.

That wasn’t much help but I went with the medium though – the large pair seemed too long and big.

We had a quick look in a few other shops and then went home.

Our parents were out that evening so we relaxed at home.

I had a doctor’s appointment on Monday on Monday afternoon – back in October I had a stye and I thought it had cleared but while I was in Singapore it had come back. It wasn’t swollen or painful, just a solid lump under my eyelid. The doctor gave me a prescription for a cream that should be applied and massaged on the eyelid at night. She also suggested I see the eye specialist at the clinic the following week. I thought I might as well mention my sore wrists but she told me to just ignore it unless it got worse. Er, OK?

After my appointment I picked up a French Vanilla cappuccino from Tim Horton’s next door and went home.

That night my sister and I had dinner with three of our cousins at The Meat Company at Souk Al Bahar. We had to sneak out of the house and hope Vinay wouldn’t notice we’d gone! I’d just bought the new Entertainer voucher book so took three vouchers with me and we ended up saving AED 585! We ordered six main courses and got three free. Bargain! I think the steaks there are very good, and definitely worth it if you get two main courses for the price of one. We also had two bottles of red wine.

Tuesday was the busiest, most exhausting day. My sister, Vinay and I left home at 10.30 to meet a friend at The Dubai Mall for breakfast/coffee. We met at Erik Kayser and ordered our food. We had omelettes and coffee. The omelette was good but the coffee was vile. I didn’t enjoy it at all.

Just after 12 our friend had to leave and Vinay had been promised a ride on a bus since the day he’d arrived. As we walked to the main entrance of the mall, we walked past Nine West and got distracted. We each bought a pair of bright yellow heels and my sister also bought a bright pink pair too. As we were paying I wondered how we’d carry these things around with us, and look after Vinay. I asked the sales assistant if we could leave the packages with him and come back for them later? Yes, no problem, madam. Great.

We made it to the front entrance without buying anything else. Phew! We waited outside for the Big Bus to arrive and a few minutes later there it was. The expression on Vinay’s face as we got on the bus was priceless. He was so excited and couldn’t stop grinning.

We took the Red Route which took us to the older part of Dubai. The Blue Route went down Sheikh Zayed Road to The Atlantis on the Palm and Mall of the Emirates and so on, and we didn’t fancy that. You could hop on and off at the various stops but because we were with Vinay we stayed on the bus the whole time. We went to Wafi, Creek Park, the Spice Souk, the Gold Souk, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s house, the Old Souk, Al Fahidi Fort (which houses the Dubai Museum). The route took about 1.5 hours and all the excitement proved too much for Vinay who fell asleep. We eventually got to Burjuman where we had to change buses to get back to the Dubai Mall.

I realised that once we had switched to the Blue Route it wouldn’t take us straight back to the mall. It was going down Jumeirah Beach Road towards the Palm. We got off the bus at the Jumeirah Mosque and took a cab to the mall. Our parents were meeting us there for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. By this time it was 3pm.

It didn’t take long to get a table, thank goodness. I was hungry, thirsty and tired. I had my usual herb-encrusted salmon. I do want to try some of the other dishes but the portions there are huge! I always order from the Lunch Specials menu where the portions are smaller (and even then the portions are still big). We were talking about the bus tour we’d been on when Vinay suddenly announced: ‘I’m farting in my nappy’. We all burst out laughing – it was so unexpected!

After lunch my parents took Vinay home and my sister and I stayed on at the mall. It was 8pm by the time we got home! We were shattered. It had been a long day.

I met a couple of friends for lunch on Wednesday. We went to Balance Cafe at the Oasis Centre. I’d never been there before and both Rama and Randy had told me the food was very good and very healthily prepared. Through the Entertainer website I’d coincidentally found vouchers for Balance Cafe – buy one main course and get the second free! Lunch was very nice – we ordered a salad to start, and for my main course I had the steamed cream dory with asparagus. It was so tasty! One of my friends ordered the grilled chicken skewer and the other ordered a prawn curry. For dessert we had coffees and shared the chocolate and date torte (yum).

I was home the rest of the day.

I had a piano lesson on Thursday. We worked on some sightreading, some scales, ‘Autumn Leaves’, and spent most of the time on ‘Comptine’.

My sister and Vinay left for Lagos that night. The flat was so quiet after they’d gone.

I went to a party at my cousin’s place in The Lakes. I knew about seven out of the 100 people there but it was a fun evening. They had the party out in the garden, the food was catered from Royal Orchid, they had leather sofas to lounge on, and the DJ was really good. We drank, danced (a bit), ate. It was after 3am when I got home.

I spent all of Friday in my pajamas. That night I met up with a couple of friends at Vintage in Wafi. We had a couple of bottles of wine and some cheese fondue. After that we went next door to Carter’s for a drink. I’d only been there once, back in September. The music was much better than the last time but it was just as empty. It was an early night – I was home by midnight.

On Saturday Dad and I decided we’d go out for lunch. Mum was busy at home with the cleaner so it was just the two of us. We thought we’d try a Chinese place my parents had found the week before called China Times at Jumeirah Plaza. We really fancied some dim sum but when we got there, the waiter told us their steamer had broken down. We ended up ordering soup and crispy beef for starters.

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I ordered the steamed hammour for the main course but the waiter reminded me that the steamer wasn’t working. We ordered the black pepper beef instead (we’d forgotten about the beef starter).

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I wanted the pak choy in garlic but they didn’t have that either. The food was good but I think if I decide to go back I’ll call them beforehand to find out what they have and whether their steamer is working!

That evening I went to my writers’ group at the Pavilion Downtown. As my wrist had been sore I decided I’d take my iPad and work on that rather than my usual pen and paper. I downloaded an app called ‘Inkwell for Dropbox’ which backs up your documents to your Dropbox account automatically. Amazing!

I got to the Pavilion, connected to their wi-fi network and we began. The organiser had decided that she would do ‘first liners’ this week, where she provides a sentence and you make that the first line of your writing. The first exercise began with: ‘His grandfather had worked at the grocery store ever since he was a young man’. I started to write about an older Cuban man who had been in New York since he was a child. It was very different to anything I’d written and I really thought it was something I’d consider continuing when I got home. Once 30 minutes was up, we stopped writing and talked about what we’d written. How had we found the exercise? Did this method of writing work for me? I said it did, because it’s easier than looking at a blank page and wondering where to start!

After a chat around the table, the organiser gave us the second sentence. I powered up my iPad and… the writing I’d done had disappeared. I checked my Dropbox account. It was empty. F***! I was so annoyed! I wanted to punch someone – I’d written about 700 words and was so pleased with what I’d done. I decided to use the regular ‘Notes’ section in my iPad for the second exercise.

The second exercise began with ‘In the middle of nowhere, along a quiet stretch of road, the diner dreamt of the hungry dead’. I was still upset about my writing vanishing so I wrote about a writer sitting in a cafe thinking how being eaten by a zombie would be a better fate than facing his editor (with whom he had also just begun a relationship) and telling her how he’d managed to lose all his research and didn’t have a back-up. The other members in the group were quite amused when I told them what had happened…

I was home by 8.30pm and my parents were out so I had some dinner, read my book and went to sleep.

I love my life.

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The final few

So I put on weight over the holidays – about 2 kg. I don’t think you can tell by looking at me, but the scales don’t lie! I also feel unfit and not toned at all. All that eating out hasn’t done me any good – and for some reason I’ve started having toast and peanut butter every morning! That has got to stop.

I only had one training session with Randy between Christmas and New Year, and I ended up cancelling my session on the 2nd of January as I was SO tired.

So now I’m on a mission. I’m going to lose the 2 kg I put on over the holidays and a further 8 kg. Well, I’m aiming for a further 8 kg but I can live with losing just another 5 kg!

I had my first session of the year with Randy on Sunday morning. I started with my 5-minute warm-up on the cross-trainer and then did the following circuit:

  • Bench press with 10-lb weights x 15
  • Push-ups x 10
  • A back-strengthening exercise which involved me lying on my front with my upper body off the floor pulling a towel towards and away from me x 10
  • Ab cycles x 20 on each side
  • Rest

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

The second set consisted of:

  • Alternate lunges combined with a squat x 10 on each side (lunge, lunge, squat)
  • Side plank with reach under x 10 on each side
  • Star jumps x 30 seconds
  • Rest

I did that three times and then Randy stretched out my lower body.

I didn’t work out at the gym until Wednesday when I had my second session with Randy (although traipsing around the Dubai Mall the day before surely counts as some exercise?).

I did my 5-minute warm-up on the cross-trainer while Randy set up the TRX equipment outside by the pool.

The first circuit consisted of:

  • Kettlebell swings (6 kg) x 20
  • TRX squats x 12
  • Kettlebell dead lift combined with an upright row x 15
  • TRX pull-ups x 15
  • Rest

I did 3 minutes on the cross-trainer and we stayed in the gym for the second circuit. It comprised:

  • Step-ups on a bench x 10 on each side
  • Burpees x 10
  • Knee-to-elbow using a bench x 10 on each side
  • Stepping on and off a (stationary) treadmill x 1 minute
  • Rest

I did a further 3 minutes on the cross-trainer and then Randy stretched out my lower body and we were done. Yay!

I didn’t work out again the rest of the week – that has got to change.

High point of the week? Learning that an hour of playing the piano burns 175 calories!

Low point of the week? My mum telling me my face had ‘filled out’ over the last few weeks.

Weight loss? Well, I covered that above – a weight gain of 2 kg over the last 3-4 weeks!

Scales

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Silent Sunday

2013

Silent Sunday

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