Wow, I’m so behind with my writing!
So, after my exhausting weekend when I got locked out, I met my friends from London for lunch at Jones the Grocer. I had the rocket and feta salad with grilled chicken. I was tempted by the burger but decided on the healthy option (for once!).
After lunch I dropped them back at their hotel and went home. A little while later I started feeling a bit queasy and fluish but hoped it was just temporary.
I woke up on Monday feeling even worse. I took some Lemsip and spent much of the day in bed. I felt much better on Tuesday after resting.
I had a piano lesson on Tuesday afternoon. I left my flat and waited for the lift. I got into it, and just as the doors closed I heard a loud rumbling noise. I thought there might be workmen moving furniture in one of the other lifts. By the time I got to the ground floor it had stopped. My mum called to ask if I was OK? Erm, yes – I only just left home. ‘There’s been another earthquake,’ she said. She and my dad were terrified on the 23rd floor – she said the whole flat was shaking. I was glad I hadn’t been there but I don’t think the lift is a safe place to be at all! As we drove to my lesson, there were hundreds of people all leaving their buildings on Sheikh Zayed Road. I started to wonder about that – if there’s a serious earthquake, wouldn’t you be safer indoors under a desk rather than outside surrounded by tall buildings, most of them made of glass?
On Wednesday evening I started my meditation course at the Osteopathic Health Centre. One of my friends had done the course in January and February and I was keen to do it too. Meditation is something that I’ve been interested in but have never actually done. In February 2012 I bought a book called The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg. I’m embarrassed to say it’s still sitting on my desk, unopened. I’m hoping that once I finish the 7-week course I’ll get round to reading it.
So, in my first meditation class we introduced ourselves. There were four new people and one person who had done the course already (once you’ve done the course the first time you can attend as many future courses/classes as you like). We talked about why we wanted to learn about meditation – one of the women said her brain was like ‘a pinball machine’ – I thought that was such a great analogy! We talked about what we thought meditation is (and isn’t). We talked about where in our homes we would have our meditation space – would it be light or dark? Would you have music or not? Would you light a candle? When would be the best time for each of us? How would we be able to time ourselves?
Our teacher then taught us a cooling breath: sitting in a cross-legged position, make an ‘O’ shape with your mouth and as you breathe in imagine you’re sucking on a straw; put your chin on your chest and count to seven; look up and exhale slowly through your nose; do this seven times in total and then breathe normally again. We all went at our own pace and when we had finished she asked us how we felt. I said I felt refreshed, someone else said she felt a bit light-headed, everyone had a different reaction.
We then learnt a simple walking meditation: begin by stepping forward with the right foot by placing the heel then the toes slowly on the floor and lifting the back heel; move your weight forward to the right foot; rock your weight back into the heel by lifting the toes of the right foot; move the weight forward again onto the right foot and lift the back heel at the same time balancing and stepping the left foot slowly through the air; place the left heel first then the toes onto the floor and lift the back heel; continue for 10 minutes. We were told to move as slowly as possible and focus all our attention on the rocking movement. Our teacher told us to let any thoughts just come and go.
We then did a seated meditation where we had to imagine our mind was like the inside of a cinema and that there was a screen inside the mind behind the centre of our eyebrows. We had to imagine that we were sitting inside our minds on a chair just watching as thoughts came and went, without trying to fix or change any thoughts. If we got distracted we were told to focus on our breathing and the cinema screen.
Our homework was to practise the three techniques for 20 minutes each day – it was up to us to decide how we spent the 20 minutes. That evening I downloaded an Android app called ‘Meditation Helper’. I set it to chime at 20 minutes, with a chime halfway through as well. It’s a very unobtrusive noise, just a single chime. What I like about the app is that it keeps a log of your meditation sessions and even sends a reminder if you haven’t meditated (of course you can always change the settings so you don’t get any reminders). The other thing it does is it silences all the other sounds on your phone – you won’t get any other notifications.
After my class I met my parents at the Dubai Mall for a quick dinner in the food court followed by a movie. We went to see Oblivion, the new Tom Cruise movie. Oh. My. God. It was painful. Actually, the first half was OK, but once he met his clone I just switched off. It reminded me of Top Gun in a way – he flies a plane, he rides a motorbike, he wears sunglasses – but that’s where the similarity ended. I spent most of the second half of the movie chatting to a couple of friends on BBM.
Thursday was a busy day. I’d bought a copy of The Entertainer Body edition and wanted to take advantage of the deals they had. A friend and I decided to go for massages at the Armani Spa. We got there early and spent some time at the pool while we ordered some lunch (chicken shawarma wraps – disappointing, and tasted more like chicken tikka).
We then had our 80-minute massages. My therapist was called Titi and she was Indonesian. She was fantastic. We relaxed in the post-treatment room and then decided it was time to head home.
I could have done with a nap after the massage but I had to get ready for wine club! It was at the Radisson Royal and I found most of the wines disappointing:
- Valdo Prosecco Edizione Oro: Glera (formerly Prosecco) is the name approved by the European Union (EU) for the green-skinned Prosecco grape of north-eastern Italy. The name change occurred in 2009, when the Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene region was promoted to DOCG status and the Italian authorities decided that Prosecco should only be used as a geographical indication. Glera, an old synonym of the Prosecco grape, was chosen to avoid confusion between the Prosecco region and grape variety. The grape’s origins are debated between Friuli and Veneto, but it seems plausible that the variety is named after the town of Prosecco on the Italian border with Slovenia. As far as the Italians (and the EU) are concerned, Prosecco may only be produced in the Prosecco DOC region and two Prosecco DOCGs (Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene and Asolo Prosecco-Colli Asolani). Anything else made from the same variety must be referred to as Glera. Italian wine produced from Glera is almost always either slightly fizzy or sparkling (in Italian, frizzante and spumante, respectively). A few still wines are also made from Glera, but on nowhere near the same scale as the sparkling wines that are so exported around the globe. The worldwide thirst for Prosecco has resulted in many imitations of the style. In the vineyard, Glera is a highly productive grape that ripens late in the season. It has high acidity and a fairly neutral palate, making it ideal for sparkling wine production. Glera’s aromatic profile is characterized by white peaches, with an occasional soapy note. The wine is light-bodied and low in alcohol (8.5% is the minimum permitted alcohol level for Prosecco), well-suited to drinking in the summer months or as an aperitif. Outside Italy, Glera is grown in Slovenia and Australia, in particular the King Valley.
- Producteurs Plaimont 2011 Colombelle L’Original Blanc White: A blend of Colombard and Ugni Blanc, this is crisp and lively. It has a wonderfully fruity tang, and is packed with flavors of citrus fruit and green apple juice. The blend here is 80% Colombard and 20% Sauvignon Blanc and Ugni Blanc and the SRP is $10. In the glass, the wine was a pale silvery lemon color. The nose was very aromatic with white grapefruit and grapefruit peel with a bit of pear fruit as well. On the palate, the wine was light bodied with high acidity. There were flavors of tart lemon, white grapefruit and sour pineapple. The grassy herbaceous character extended through the palate as well. The wine was clean and very refreshing with a stony minerality to the finish. This wine would be a great stand-in for those looking for a substitute for Sauvignon Blanc or anyone looking for a tart, high acid aperitif. For $10, this is an outstanding wine that would be great with shellfish or light chicken dishes.
- 2011 Laroche Rose de la Chevaliere, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France – Languedoc-Roussillon wine region. ‘De La Chevalière’, or ‘of the knight’s lady’, is a reference to ‘Mas La Chevalière’ which is literally the ‘farmhouse of the knight’s lady’, the Laroche winery in southern France where this wine is produced. Sourced from across the Languedoc region: Syrah from the Cévennes; Grenache from Béziers and the Cévennes. The Cévennes is a maze of deep valleys with winding rivers of clear waters, steep slopes covered in forests and jagged rock cliffs and ledges. More than a mountain chain, the Cévennes are in fact a multitude of many-sided open spaces which form the southern part of the Central Massif as it veers towards the Languedoc. Maritime and mountain influences provide cooler night-time temperatures. Vineyard orientation is south and east; the soil is varied, with limestone, slate, marl and schist predominant. An excellent vintage in the South of France. Very complex aromatics.
- Producteurs Plaimont 2011 Colombelle L’Original Rose: A deliciously fruity rosé, brimming with smiling red-berry flavors and enhanced by a lime-like tang. It is just what a light summer rosé should be.
- Producteurs Plaimont 2011 Colombelle L’Original Rouge/Red: With its black currant intensity and a soft, slightly stalky texture, this fruity red is for summer drinking. 60% Tannat, 20% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon with an SRP of $10. Tannat is usually a very fierce grape in its youth, so to soften it, the winemakers used a technique known as micro-oxygenation, which is essentially like sticking an aquarium bubbler into the wine as it is fermenting to introduce a lot of oxygen very quickly which reduces the tannic bite of a wine and makes it more approachable in its youth. The technique is not without controversy, but you can go watch Mondovino or read any number of other writers if you’re interested. In the glass, this wine was a medium purple ruby color which wasn’t all that deep, but which was very intense. The nose was nicely aromatic with black cherry and dark plummy fruit with a noticeable bell pepper edge to it. On the palate, the wine was medium bodied with fairly high acidity and low tannins. There was juicy cherryish fruit with some bell pepper herbaceousness and some dark, earthy undertones to balance it out.
- 2011 Rigal The Original Malbec, Vin de Pays du Lot, France: Vin de Pays du Lot (renamed Cotes du Lot in 2011) is the Vin de Pays (VDP) title for the Lot administrative department in south-western France. It covers every vineyard in the department, irrespective of terroir. Long before Argentina brought Malbec to the masses, Cahors in the South West of France was the home of Malbec. This grape variety expresses itself on its own terroir of Origin in its finest and fruitiest characteristics through an intense black colour and an exceptional aromatic complexity at a fraction of the alcohol levels produced in the New World. Aromas of blackberries, cherries, plums and spices, and well-balanced with supple tannins, a touch of vanilla and a clean, long finish.
After we were finished several of us went up to Icho, on the 50th floor of the hotel, and stayed there until closing. We had more wine, there was dancing, it was a fun night!
And as usual I woke up feeling like rubbish the next day. I stayed in my pajamas all day!
I had another piano lesson on Saturday to make up for one I’d missed earlier in the month. That evening I went to my writing group at The Pavilion. We did four exercises of 15 minutes each. In the first one we had to write about a person who had no sense of smell. I started writing about a chef but then remembered a funny story about someone I knew in London whose mother had no sense of smell – they got away with so much! The next writing exercise had to begin with the sentence: ‘The garden was overgrown now.’ I wrote about a person going back to their childhood home after 20 years. The third exercise had to be a dialogue between two or more characters where they’re trying to find something that is buried. I wrote about someone who had written a postcard to PostSecret but hadn’t yet sent it and couldn’t find it anywhere. The fourth exercise was writing about a fashion model who refuses to have pictures in her house. I really couldn’t think of much for that one – I just thought photos bring back memories which make you realise that time is passing and and that you’re getting old(er). It was pretty dull, if I’m honest.
And that was my week!
I love my life.
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