Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

After my crazy weekend, I was exhausted. I had a session with Trevor on Sunday morning and went to work. Still no sign of the March issue! As I was waiting for the lift to leave, one of the guys saw me and said the magazine would be at the office in 20 minutes. Would I wait? I decided not to – I’d see it the next day. And anyway, I wouldn’t be able to change anything if I spotted any mistakes (which always happens after publication!).

I got home, my parents went to a movie so I caught up with some TV, practised the piano, had some dinner and decided to have an early night. I was asleep before midnight!

The downside of going to bed so early meant that I was up before 6am. I don’t know if I was already awake or whether the call to prayer woke me up, but I couldn’t get back to sleep after that – no matter how hard I tried!

I got to the office by noon and my first issue of the magazine was on my desk! So exciting!

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I was home by 5pm that evening and spent the rest of the evening working.

After work on Tuesday, I had a piano lesson. Instead of going through what I’d been learning over the last few weeks, my teacher decided to go back to the music I’d learned at the very beginning but use more complicated chords and rhythms in the bass. It was quite fun! Straight after my lesson I went to DIFC where I was meeting a couple of girls for ladies night. The plan was to meet at Caffe Florian, then go to The Gramercy and then end up at Caramel where we’d get some food as well. When we got there we realised that Caffe Florian wasn’t open, so we went straight to The Gramercy at 6:30. We each ordered a drink as ladies night didn’t begin until 7pm. At 7pm we were each given four vouchers for free drinks. These went down really quickly. Another friend joined us but as she wasn’t drinking, she ordered a non-alcoholic drink and gave us her remaining three vouchers. At 9pm we couldn’t decide whether to go to Caramel or not – and made a good call to go home. We’d had six drinks each and I also wasn’t up for a very late night.

I had a session with Trevor and worked at home on Wednesday – uneventful!

On Thursday I had to go to a workshop at the Literature Festival. This year I decided to pay the extra money to be a ‘friend’ of the festival. As I was early I sat in the Friends’ Lounge (lovely outdoor space) and had some water and a cup of tea. The workshop was run by Anita Papas, a psychologist from Lebanon, and she was speaking about positivity. I went because I was going to interview her for the magazine. I wasn’t sure what to expect from an ‘interactive workshop’ but she did most of the talking. She was interesting – it wasn’t information I didn’t already know but putting these things into practice is always harder than one imagines (I think). After the session I waited for her to finish her book signing (and ended up buying three books) and we had a quick chat in one of the rooms. It wasn’t an interview really – by then I’d decided to write about what she covered in her workshop and there wasn’t much else she could tell me. I thought about getting a bite to eat at the festival but in the end went home.

That night some friends and I went to see Eric Clapton at the Media City Amphitheatre. It was much more crowded than when Alicia Keys performed in November. I didn’t recognise the first few songs and it was only when one of my friends and I were stuck in the longest drinks queue ever that he played ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ and ‘Wonderful Tonight’. Typical. We got our drinks, headed back to the others and he played ‘Tears in Heaven’. The audience was quiet during this song. I don’t even know how he sings it without crying. He played a few more songs that I didn’t know and by 11pm it was over. He didn’t play ‘Change the World‘ which was disappointing as it’s one of my all-time favourite songs.

After the concert we went to Icon, the bar at the Radisson Blu, to avoid the mad rush for taxis. There was no avoiding the mad rush for drinks though as several people had the same idea! We were there till almost 2am and drank far too much wine.

On Friday morning I woke up feeling like hell and realised I’d missed the first session of the day at the Literature Festival. I don’t know what I was thinking booking a session for 10am but I didn’t make it. Luckily it wasn’t someone I really wanted to see. One of my friends was at the festival so I got ready and met her for lunch at Jamie’s Kitchen. I ordered the pasta of the day which was spaghetti with crab meat, olive oil and chillies. Yummy! My first afternoon session was with Nicholas Evans, author of The Horse Whisperer (and four other books I haven’t read yet).

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If you haven’t read The Horse Whisperer, please do. Just read the first chapter and you’ll be hooked. I read it when it was first published and I’ve never forgotten it – it has one of the best opening chapters I’ve ever read. I could never bring myself to watch the movie though.

He talked about how he got started, how he was in so much debt when he started writing The Horse Whisperer, how six UK publishers were fighting over his book at the Frankfurt Book Fair – literally passing one page after the other to the next person once it had been read. He also said that the day he was told he’d sold his book (even though he hadn’t finished it yet) he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma and wasn’t sure he’d even live long enough to finish it. He said he had visions of his children being left with nothing, and an unfinished manuscript that could have been their future… He also said that a few years ago, he and his wife and a couple of relatives were poisoned by deadly mushrooms that they’d collected. He said they all had to undergo dialysis for years and eventually had a transplant using a kidney donated by his daughter. He’s such an interesting guy – and lovely to talk to. I bought a copy of his latest book The Brave and he signed it for me. He asked me what my name meant. ‘That’s quite a name!’ he said. I wonder if he’ll use it in his next book…

By the time he’d signed my book, I was late getting to my next session which was with Jojo Moyes. I’d only ever read one of her books (Me Before You) but thought she would be interesting to listen to. She was very funny and so down to earth. I picked up a couple of her books (she says none of them are alike) and she signed them for me.

I love the Literature Festival, but clearly it isn’t for everyone!

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I got home at about 5.30, did some work and then got ready for my evening at Music Hall at the Zabeel Saray on the Palm. A friend was going with some friends and asked me if I wanted to join them so I’d said yes. I got there at about 10.15pm.

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So what happens is every half an hour there’s a live act that comes on stage. Between the live performances there’s a DJ playing music. It starts off quite civilised – the DJ played a few songs from the 70s and 80s – but as the evening progresses the DJ and the live acts get more current. The first act I saw was a country singer (‘Take It Easy’ by The Eagles), then there was a Russian folk singer, then there was an Arabic instrumental group, then a Brazilian group, then a couple of Arabic guys, a reggae act, it just went on and on. People were dancing everywhere and the place was packed. At about 2am I thought it would be wise to leave as I knew getting a cab at 3am when the club closed would be a nightmare. I was home by 2.45 and couldn’t wait to get into bed.

On Saturday I met a friend for lunch at La Serre. We met in the lobby of the Vida Hotel at 1pm. I love this hotel – there’s always a beautiful display in the lobby.

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We walked downstairs to La Serre and got a table outside – the weather was amazing and I felt like I was on holiday. Earlier in the week, I’d seen a friend’s photo on Facebook of the scrambled eggs with truffles at La Serre and had been dreaming about that ever since. So when we sat down I said that was what I was going to have. When I looked at the menu, I noticed that was the most expensive thing on there at AED 185 (roughly £30). Bloody hell. I thought about having something else but nothing appealed to me and I knew I’d still be dreaming about those silly scrambled eggs with truffles. My friend said to just go ahead and have whatever I wanted so I followed his advice. The eggs came, served in a hot dish, and as soon as the waiter put them down the smell of truffles floated up to me and I knew I’d made the right choice. The eggs were covered in truffles – it was incredible. I wish I’d taken a photo but I couldn’t wait to eat them. (Next time.) For dessert we shared a strawberry tart. We were there till about 4.30pm – it was a fun afternoon.

That evening I met my cousin for dinner at Yabani at Citywalk in Jumeirah. I’d been wanting to try it and had heard good things so I booked an outdoor table. To start with we had the cucumber and sesame salad, the rock shrimp tempura, the seared tuna with black pepper, and the salmon and tuna izuzukuri. Everything was excellent. For our main course we shared the hibachi beef and for dessert we shared the chocolate fondant. Our waiter was efficient and I can’t complain about anything. I’d definitely go back. As my cousin and I hadn’t seen each other since I started working at the end of January, we had a lot to catch up on and were at the restaurant till after midnight.

I got home, totally shattered, and was so happy to get into bed.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

3 thoughts on “Dubai 2014: Week 10

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