Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Your month ahead (October 2015)

Have a great October!

Aries

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

Taurus

13 Death

Death – ending – closing one door to open another, putting the past behind you; going through transition – changing status, being in the middle; eliminating excess – concentrating on essentials, shedding old attitudes; experiencing inexorable forces – going through what cannot be avoided, riding your fate

Gemini

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

Cancer

21 The World

The World – integrating – experiencing wholeness, combining, working in unison; accomplishing – realising your goals, seeing dreams come true, finding a beautiful solution; becoming involved – rendering a service, using a gift or talent, sharing what you have; feeling fulfilled – savouring the present, taking pleasure in life, enjoying peace of mind, counting your blessings

Leo

19 The 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

Virgo

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

Libra

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

Scorpio

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

Sagittarius

12 The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man – letting go – accepting what is, ending the struggle, giving up control; reversing – turning the world around, seeing from a new angle, overturning old priorities; suspending action – giving up urgency, living in the moment, pausing to reflect; sacrificing – putting self-interest aside, putting others first, giving up for a higher cause

Capricorn

Wands Princess

Princess of Wands – being creative – taking a novel approach, finding a new area of self-expression; being enthusiastic – getting excited, being passionate; being confident – stretching your envelope, moving beyond doubts; being courageous – taking assertive action, overcoming a fear

Aquarius

Swords 8

8 of Swords – feeling restricted – feeling trapped by circumstances, experiencing few options, being fenced in by obstacles; feeling confused – being unsure which way to turn, not understanding what is happening, needing guidance and clarity; feeling powerless – doubting anything you do will help, looking for a white knight, avoiding responsibility

Pisces

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

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Dubai 2015: Week 39

After going to the gym on Sunday morning, I decided to take the rest of the day off. I’d done quite a bit of work over the weekend and felt like switching off for a while.

I had a facial at Dermalogica in the Dubai Mall (I’d booked it the previous week). I’ve been going there for a while now and I think they’re excellent – highly recommended!

After my facial I went to see Everest at the cinema. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would – even though I found it quite stressful in places (and even cried at the end). The one thing that annoyed me was at the beginning when they’re on a bus in Kathmandu. It’s supposed to be March 1996 and yet the Bollywood song playing in the background (on the radio, I guess) is from Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham which wasn’t released until 2001. Or do movies come out five years earlier in Nepal? I thought that if they were going to such lengths to make sure everything is authentic, perhaps they could have researched the music too?

I popped into Debenhams before I got a cab home and ended up buying a dress.

I had a trial session with a new trainer on Monday – I thought it went well!

I had some friends in town for the long weekend so on Wednesday afternoon two of us went to Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal for a 90-minute massage. Damn, it was good. I hadn’t had a massage in ages. After sitting in the relaxation room for a while, we went to The Stables for a drink. It was a little after 7pm and the place was empty. We had one drink and left.

That night I was meeting a friend who was in transit for a few hours. She was on her way to London and we met at the airport. We couldn’t really go anywhere as she had to check in her bags again but the BA counter didn’t open until 10.45. We ended up sitting in the Food Court at the airport (which really needs a facelift) for an hour – once she’d checked in again we went to Starbucks for some dessert.

On Thursday, eleven of us went to The Sum of Us for lunch. I hadn’t been there and had been looking forward to it. Everyone ordered their own dishes – I had the prawn scrambled eggs. I’d definitely order it again too! After lunch, I came home and did some work.

That night I went to a friend’s surprise birthday party at someone’s flat on the Palm. We missed the surprise by seven minutes as we were waiting at the wrong entrance. Oops! I drank far too much and felt like hell the next day.

Friday was very chilled. I had a friend in town from London who was staying at the Conrad. We went to La Petite Maison for lunch. The food was absolutely excellent. We had the pissaladière, crab and lobster salad, and salt code croquettes. For our main course we shared the grilled entrecote and the dauphinois potatoes. A-maz-ing. We shared the pain perdu for dessert. I was so full by the end of it! My friend came over after lunch and we both lumped around in the TV room until it was time to go for dinner. She had suggested going for Thai food so I called Thiptara at the Palace Hotel. I’d been wanting to try the restaurant for a while and we were put on the waiting list for dinner that night. Luckily they called back to say they could accommodate us.

We shared the steamed chicken/prawn wontons (although we initially sent this back as it wasn’t hot enough) and papaya salad to start with. For our main course we shared the stir-fried prawns with mushrooms, onions, sweet basil and Thai chilli paste and a red chicken curry. The food was excellent – I’d definitely go back there again. For dessert, my friend ordered the mango with sweet sticky rice – I had a bite. It was really good but I just couldn’t eat any more!

On Saturday I had a friend’s leaving brunch at Mint Leaf in DIFC. He’d booked and paid for brunch for twenty people. Apart from him and one other friend, I knew nobody but it was a really friendly group of people and I ended up swapping numbers with a lot of people! Brunch went on and on. And on and on. We were still drinking at 9pm when I left to meet some other friends at Left Bank. In hindsight, that was a really bad idea – I should have just gone home. And once again, I felt like hell the next day!

I love my life.

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The final few

I went to Shangri-La gym on Sunday morning. It was surprisingly empty – there were just three other people in there. did the Fitness22.com workout for Week 2, Day 1 which consisted of:

  • Warmup x 5 min
  • Run x 1.5 min
  • Walk x  2 min
  • Run x 1.5 min
  • Walk x 2 min
  • Run x 1.5 min
  • Walk x 2 min
  • Run x 1.5 min
  • Walk x 2 min
  • Run x 1 min
  • Walk x 1.5 min
  • Run x 1 min
  • Walk x 1.5 min
  • Cooldown x 5 min

I alternated between 5.5 km/h and 7.5 km/h and but I found it tough. I’d mentioned before that the speed on the treadmills in my building’s wasn’t the same as the speed on the app, but when I get to the end of the run on the Shangri-La treadmills they’re only out by 3-4 seconds, a vast improvement!

I then did Week 2, Day 1 of the squats app:

  • Squats x 10
  • Rest
  • Squats x 10
  • Rest
  • Squats x 6
  • Rest
  • Squats x 6
  • Rest

I got my shit together for the situps app and did Week 2, Day 1:

  • Situps x 5
  • Rest
  • Situps x 6
  • Rest
  • Situps x 7
  • Rest
  • Situps x 6
  • Rest
  • Situps x 5
  • Rest

I did some stretches after that and I was done. While I was working out in the mat area, there was a guy next to me really going for it – burpees, lunges, step-ups. It was quite intimidating!

I had a trial session with a new trainer on Monday. His name is Pete and he’s from the Czech Republic. I showed him the gym and we sat down to have a chat. He asked me what my goals were, how old I was (he thought I was 37 – clearly I’ve aged), what I weighed, what I did for a living. He wrote everything down – what I’d told him and what we did in the session. I told him that none of the treadmills were working properly (even though one was being used) so he suggested I warm up on the cross-trainer. There are two cross-trainers in the gym. I used to use one of them quite a lot, especially when I trained with Rama – but since it started rattling noises I stopped using it. Whenever I had to use a cross-trainer I’d use the other one – which just felt weird to me.

Anyway, I started warming up on the cross-trainer I didn’t like and a minute into the warmup it just stopped. It froze. I couldn’t even move it an inch. So I moved over to the next one. It sounded like a steam train as I was using it. I used it for the 10-minute warmup. Pete asked me if I could go any faster – and I told him I could but I was worried the whole thing might fall apart!

After the warmup he put me through some very thorough stretching exercises and then we began the real work:

  • Combined deadlifts/shoulder press x 6 (with 10-lb weights)
  • Jumping jacks x 20
  • Run lengths of the gym x 8
  • Abdominal in/out x 20
  • Pushups x 12
  • Rest x 1 min
  • Repeat

Wow, that was exhausting! I had a short break and then we moved on to some abs exercises:

  • Upper-body crunches x 20
  • Rest x 20 s
  • Upper-body crunches x 20
  • Rest x 20 s
  • Elbow to alternate knee x 10 on each side
  • Rest x 20 s
  • Elbow to alternate knee x 10 on each side
  • Rest x 20 s
  • Tabletop with spine stretch x 4 on each side
  • Rest x 20 s
  • Tabletop with spine stretch x 4 on each side
  • Rest x 20 s
  • Pelvic raises x 20
  • Rest x 20 s
  • Pelvic raises x 20
  • Rest x 20 s
  • Reverse crunches x 20
  • Rest x 20 s
  • Reverse crunches x 20
  • Rest

And then we moved to my least favourite treadmill. Pete said that from what he could see so far, I had the strength and the muscle – I just needed to shed the fat. He asked me what speed I usually run at and almost laughed when I told him 7.5 km/h. So I spent 8 minutes on the treadmill, alternating between walking (6 km/h) and running (7.5-8 km/h) every 30 seconds. He asked me how I found the speed at 8 km/h – I told him it was fine because I knew it was just for 30 seconds!

I was so happy when it was over. He put me through another thorough stretch, gave me a high five and I was done for the day! I felt like I’d worked hard. By the time I went to bed I could feel my legs getting sore.

I had yoga on Tuesday. I’d woken up feeling like I was getting a cold but it was still a good class. My legs didn’t ache as much as I thought they would from the session the day before. Instead I could feel it more in my abs and shoulders. Pete texted me in the afternoon to see how I was feeling – I told him I wasn’t as bad as I thought I would be!

I had my first real session with Pete on Wednesday. I started with a 7-minute warmup on the treadmill:

  • Walking x 1 min (5.5 km/h)
  • Running x 30 s (7.5 km/h)
  • Walking x 30 s (5.5 km/h)
  • Running x 30 s (7.5 km/h)
  • Walking x 30 s (5.5 km/h)
  • Running x 30 s (7.5 km/h)
  • Walking x 30 s (5.5 km/h
  • Running x 1 min 30 s (7.5 km/h)
  • Walking x 1 min 30 s (5.5 km/h)

The last three minutes were supposed to be continuous running but I’ve had a pain in my right ankle for the last few days. It comes and goes and I don’t know what causes it – I’ve been using the Air Salonpas spray which helps a bit. It doesn’t feel like a sprain but I’m not sure what it is.

After some thorough stretching I did the following:

  • Lateral pulldowns x 6 (underhand grip)
  • Side to side jumping x 20
  • Side bends x 10 on each side (15-lb weight)
  • High knee wall run x 20 s

I did that circuit three times – and for the second and third times I did the high knee wall runs for 30 seconds instead of 20 seconds. After a short water break, I did the next circuit:

The squats were hard. The hardest part about them was lifting the dumbbells and holding them up while squatting. In the second set I did 8 squats and in the third set I did 6 squats. I had some more water and then did an abs circuit. Pete called it the ‘Holy Trinity’ of abs exercises and I wondered whether it was because I’d be praying for it to be over by the end of it! He said it targetted the three areas of the abs: lower abs, obliques and upper abs:

I did two sets of that followed by some more thorough stretching. And then I was done! But oh, I was going to ache the next day! And I was right. I woke up on Thursday aching in places I’d completely forgotten about.

I did go to the gym at the Shangri-La though. I did Week 2 Day 2 of the 5k Runner app (which was the same as Week 2 Day 1). I then did the squats circuit:

  • Squats x 10
  • Rest
  • Squats x 10
  • Rest
  • Squats x 8
  • Rest
  • Squats x 8

The situps routine was:

  • Situps x 5
  • Rest
  • Situps x 5
  • Rest
  • Situps x 7
  • Rest
  • Situps x 5
  • Rest
  • Situps x 5
  • Rest
  • Situps x 3

I did some stretching after that and was done. I didn’t work out again over the long weekend.

Low point of the week? I ate and drank all weekend.

High point of the week? Five workouts again this week – pretty good!

Weight loss? None.

2015-09-21 06.37.37

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Your week ahead (27 September – 3 October 2015)

Have a great week!

Aries

Pentacles Princess

Princess of Pentacles – having an effect – making plans real, using your body, acting on your dreams; being practical – taking a realistic approach, using common sense, finding a solution that works; being prosperous – increasing your means, enriching yourself, becoming secure; being trusting/trustworthy – having faith in others, keeping your word, establishing credibility

Taurus

Cups 5

5 of Cups – suffering a loss – letting go of a hope, being defeated, saying goodbye; feeling bereft – breaking up a relationship, longing to be reunited, feeling sorrow; feeling regret – being disappointed by events, wanting to turn back the clock, believing you made the wrong choice, wishing for what might have been

Gemini

05 The 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

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

Leo

02 The 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

Virgo

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

Libra

Wands 4

4 of Wands – celebrating – rejoicing over an event, observing an anniversary or milestone or special time, enjoying well-deserved rewards; seeking freedom – breaking free of bonds, cutting loose, letting go of limitations; feeling excited – bubbling over with delight, feeling jubilant, being surprised

Scorpio

Swords 4

4 of Swords – resting – taking a break, giving your body time to heal, taking life easy; contemplating – taking time alone to think, standing back from the situation, reviewing where you are; quietly preparing – making sure your base is secure, tying up loose ends, stabilising

Sagittarius

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

Capricorn

14 Temperance

Temperance – being temperate – finding the middle ground, reaching a compromise; maintaining balance – recognising all sides, feeling centred and secure; experiencing health – renewing energy and vigour, flourishing; combining forces – joining with others, finding the right mix

Aquarius

21 The World

The World – integrating – experiencing wholeness, combining, working in unison; accomplishing – realising your goals, seeing dreams come true, finding a beautiful solution; becoming involved – rendering a service, using a gift or talent, sharing what you have; feeling fulfilled – savouring the present, taking pleasure in life, enjoying peace of mind, counting your blessings

Pisces

Pentacles 5

5 of Pentacles – experiencing hard times – running into material troubles, feeling insecure, struggling to make ends meet; suffering ill health – feeling run down and tired, abusing your body, refusing to take care of yourself; being rejected – having the door slammed in your face, being ostracised, standing alone

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Dubai 2015: Weeks 37 and 38

I got back from Bombay on Thursday night. It was nice to have the place to myself. I hadn’t made any plans for the weekend and spent most of it catching up with work and reading.

I ventured out on Saturday afternoon to meet a friend for coffee at Eataly in the Dubai Mall. We bumped into a mutual friend of ours who joined us – it was nice to be out and about again.

On Sunday evening a friend and I decided to go for a mani/pedi together. We’d booked at The Nail Spa at Mercato – she had a gift voucher and I had a voucher for a free manicure when I booked my pedicure. It’s a nice place but I still prefer going to the Shangri-La for my nails.

I had a piano lesson on Monday afternoon and on my way home I joined the gym at the Shangri-La. And once I got back home I didn’t leave the house again until Wednesday morning, when I went to the gym.

That evening I met up with a friend for dinner. We went to Teatro at the Towers Rotana. We started with a couple of drinks and then ordered the pandan chicken to start with followed by sushi (we were trying to be healthy). We ordered the Screaming Salmon (sliced salmon with jalapeno and traditional ponzu – this was my favourite dish of the evening), Yuzu Tuna (sliced tuna with cilantro and yuzu vinaigrette) and spicy salmon and tuna rolls. After dinner we went to Novikov for a drink. It is so much nicer than the one in London! We stayed for one drink and then left.

On Thursday I went for a much-needed haircut and colour. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d cut my hair and it was just an inch shy of my waistline. I’ve never had hair that long – but it really needed a cut so I had a few inches taken off. I spent most of my afternoon at the salon!

On Thursday night I met up with a friend at the Novotel’s Blue Bar (at the World Trade Centre) – we were catching a drink and quick bite before going to see Spandau Ballet! Neither of us was particularly hungry so we ordered the calamari and the nachos. I had Entertainer vouchers so we only paid for one dish (and the wine).

We made our way to the arena a little before 9pm and got some drinks. I’d been hesitant about going as I didn’t know that many Spandau Ballet songs – but I’m glad I went because they were so good!

I thought they would finish with ‘True’ as they’d already done a short a cappella version of ‘Gold’ earlier. But they played the whole song again.

And they ended with ‘Through the Barricades’. It was a great concert. Tony Hadley’s voice is incredible, even after 30 years.

We walked back to the Blue Bar after that and had a few more drinks.

I was home all day on Friday. I did a bit of work, watched a few episodes of ‘Transparent’, did some yoga. It was very chilled.

On Saturday night I met a friend for dinner at Prime 68 on the 68th floor of the JW Marriott Marquis. We shared a Caesar’s salad to start and then both had the 7 oz French Charolais filet with peppercorn sauce. We also shared three sides: lobster creamed corn, baby French potatoes (crisped in duck fat) and Mom’s mac and cheese (disappointingly bland). We also had a bottle of Pinot Noir. We were far too full to even contemplate dessert!

I love my life.

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The final few

After two weeks of doing nothing in Bombay but eating, I went back to the gym on Sunday. I’d complained about the treadmills before I went away and was disappointed to see all three still there and still not working. I decided to do 30 minutes on the bike but after 5 minutes I was bored so I got onto my second favourite treadmill and thought I’d walk instead of run and see how that worked.

It was mostly OK at a walking speed but when I tried to take the speed up it started doing strange things again. I walked for 20 minutes and called it a day.

On Monday I was feeling lazy but decided to try out the new Yoga Studio app my sister-in-law had recommended. I did a beginner’s combination class for 30 minutes followed by a 10-minute guided meditation. It was really good. Definitely worth the £2.99 I’d spent downloading it to my iPad. When I was in Bombay I decided to buy a new yoga mat. Unfortunately I couldn’t feel it when it was in the store as it was shrinkwrapped but it was quite thick which I like due to my sensitive knees. So I tried it out on Monday morning. It was horrible! It didn’t even stay in one place and kept moving around on the floor as I moved. Very annoying!

That evening I went to the Shangri-La and joined the gym. I’d mentioned earlier that they had a restricted membership option for AED 2800 (£495) for 12 months – but when I went there on Monday they’d removed that option! Dammit! My choices were full membership or off-peak membership. I decided to go for the full membership but for three months to begin with. I wanted to see if anything would change at our building’s gym before committing to a 12-month membership at the Shangri-La. Also, with the off-peak membership I wouldn’t be able to go on weekends or public holidays and there are a few holidays coming up in the next three months!

I had yoga on Tuesday morning. My cousin couldn’t make it so it was just me. The teacher talked throughout the class and it was just irritating. I can’t do breathing exercises when she’s talking about her daughter’s school and expecting me to respond, can I??

I went to the Shangri-La gym on Wednesday. The treadmills are really hi-tech and have been upgraded since the last time I was there. I’d forgotten what it was like to have people around while I’m working out – and all these people were really fit (it was embarrassing, actually). I decided to go back to the Fitness22.com apps but thought it would be best to go back to Week 1. So I did Week 1 Day 2:

  • Warmup x 5 min
  • Walking/running x 20 min (1 min running, 1.5 min walking)
  • Cooldown x 5 min

After two weeks of doing nothing, I found it quite tough but I stuck with it, alternating between 5.5 km/h and 7.5 km/h. I then did Week 1 Day 2 of the squats and situps too. The squats consisted of:

  • Squats x 6
  • Rest
  • Squats x 6
  • Rest
  • Squats x 4
  • Rest
  • Squats x 4

And the situps consisted of four sets of 5 situps with a rest between sets. I did some stretching after that and decided to go home.

I went back to the Shangri-La gym on Thursday. I did Week 1 Day 3 of all three apps, and the 5k Runner app was the same as the previous day. I don’t know why but I found it harder than I did on Wednesday – perhaps I was tired or something, but by the time I got to the seventh run, I had to take the speed down on the treadmill because I just couldn’t do it. And for the eighth run I walked at a high speed instead of running.

The squats consisted of:

  • Squats x 8
  • Rest
  • Squats x 8
  • Rest
  • Squats x 6
  • Rest
  • Squats x 4

The situps consisted of five sets of 5 situps with a rest between sets. After that I did some stretching and went home.

On Friday I was home all day and after lunch I decided to do a 60-minute yoga session using the Yoga Studio app. It was a good workout but I wish they had an Android version I could download to my phone! I also tried using the new yoga mat I bought in Bombay – it’s still rubbish.

I took Saturday off. I’d done some form of exercise six days in a row (even if it was brief)…

Low point of the week? The treadmills at my gym still not working…

High point of the week? Joining the gym at the Shangri-La Hotel next door and actually doing some form of exercise six times this week!

Weight loss? I managed to lose 1 kg halfway through the week and then put it back on again. I’m not sure how as I tried to be really careful this week! I came this close to ordering a pizza on Friday night but ordered sushi instead…

2015-09-01 04.33.56

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Your week ahead (20-26 September 2015)

Have a great week!

Aries

Swords Queen

Queen of Swords – being honest – facing the truth, even if it’s unpleasant, playing by the rules, avoiding lies and deception; being astute – sizing up a situation quickly, being quick on the uptake; being forthright – getting to the heart of the matter, being candid when necessary; being witty – never taking anything too seriously; being experienced – having seen and done it all, having realistic expectations

Taurus

Swords 5

5 of Swords – acting in your own self-interest – thinking of your own needs, going for the win-lose result, gloating; experiencing discord – choosing to battle, creating ill will, feeling people are set against each other; witnessing open dishonour – losing your moral compass, sacrificing integrity, knowing of criminal activity

Gemini

Swords Ace

Ace of Swords – using mental force – being objective, finding out the facts, analysing the situation; having fortitude – facing problems, finding the strength to overcome; seeking justice – righting a wrong, accepting responsibility, establishing the truth; proceeding with truth – cutting through confusion, being honest, having clear understanding

Cancer

Cups Princess

Princess of Cups – being emotional – being moved or touched, letting your feelings show, being sentimental or romantic; being intuitive – acting on a hunch, trusting your gut reaction, having a psychic experience; being intimate – starting or renewing a love affair, getting closer to someone, solidifying a friendship; being loving – forgiving yourself, forgiving someone who has hurt you, mending a broken relationship

Leo

04 The Emperor

The Emperor – fathering – protecting and defending, bringing security and comfort; emphasising structure – creating order out of chaos, being organised; exercising authority – taking a leadership role, representing the establishment; regulating – establishing law and order, setting standards of behaviour

Virgo

17 The Star

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

Libra

Cups 8

8 of Cups – seeking deeper meaning – leaving the rat race, finding out the facts, concentrating on what is important; moving on – abandoning a hopeless situation, starting on a trip of unknown length, finishing up and walking away; growing weary – dragging through the day, lacking energy, getting weighed down by worries

Scorpio

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

Sagittarius

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

Capricorn

Cups King

King of Cups – being wise – giving good advice, understanding many levels of experience; being calm – keeping your head in a crisis, never seeming nervous or tense; being diplomatic – balancing the needs of many people, being able to diffuse a tense situation; being caring – feeling compassion for the less fortunate, doing volunteer and charity work; being tolerant – allowing others their freedom, being patient in trying circumstances

Aquarius

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

Pisces

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

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Not today: part 2

Exactly five weeks ago, my dad had a heart attack.

The doctors in Dubai told us that Dad would need a valve replacement and a bypass. And soon – within the next few weeks. They kept pushing for a procedure called a TAVI (transcatheter aortic heart valve). Every time the doctors and nurses were checking up on him they would push for this procedure. They kept asking whether he’d set a date. They said they knew an excellent doctor. So when my mum said they wanted to meet the doctor and then decide what to do, she was told that they first had to decide to have the surgery and then they could meet the doctor. What nonsense.

So, Dad was home – I sent his reports to a cardiologist friend in London. He wrote back to me within minutes telling me to get a second opinion. He also said not to let anyone do a TAVI on him!

We eventually decided to go to Bombay (Mumbai, you know what I mean). My grandmother’s family are trustees of one of the hospitals and Dad would have access to the best doctors there. It also meant that we would have somewhere to stay (instead of having to rent a place which is what we’d have had to do if we’d gone to London). We’d sent Dad’s reports ahead and the cardiologist told us to come straight to the hospital once we were out of the airport and not go take him home first.

The three of us flew to Bombay together on Sunday, 30th August. My brother (S) was going to joining us there – but he had a much longer flight: Kingston to Miami to London to Bombay. He left Kingston on Monday morning and got to Bombay on Tuesday night!

So once we’d landed, we went straight to the hospital. I hadn’t been there in years. I was a bit apprehensive – even though Dad was on the 16th floor (the VIP floor) it looked really run down, the room was dark and I wouldn’t have wanted to stay there. My mum decided she was going to stay at the hospital with him so that she could meet the doctors when they did their rounds early the next morning. My grandmother joined us at the hospital and I went home with her when she left, leaving my parents at the hospital.

I went back the following day and had lunch with my parents. Dad was in and out of the room for various tests. I hung around the hospital until the evening when my grandmother came and went home with her. On our way out, we bumped into one of the cardiologists. He said he’d seen my dad earlier that day and had some good news – there was nothing wrong with his valves! What a relief!

I spent all of Tuesday at the hospital and had lunch there again. In the afternoon, the head of cardiology came to see my dad with his proposed course of action. He said that as he had just one artery that was blocked, the best thing to do would be to have an angioplasty and stent. He said that it would still be challenging, given the location of the artery, but it was far less invasive than a bypass and the whole thing would take 45 minutes under a local anaesthetic. I couldn’t believe it. In Dubai they were ready to cut him open and do God-knows-what to him! Unbelievable.

The next morning, S and I went to the hospital before Dad was taken in for his operation. We met the doctor again and he told us we could wait in his office while Dad was in the operating theatre. We sat down, ordered some tea and coffee and about 10 minutes later, a nurse came in. ‘Mrs B____, the doctor’s calling you.’ What was going on? S and I looked at each other as Mum went rushing out; and a minute later she came in to get us. ‘The doctor’s calling us.’ I thought something had gone horribly wrong. We were taken into a room next to the operating theatre and the doctor was there in his scrubs. What had happened??

‘I just want to show you on the screen what I’ve done.’ Jesus Christ! Couldn’t he have told us earlier that he was going to do that? He shows us the guidewire that was in my dad at that moment. He shows us that there was nothing wrong with his valves. He still thought the best treatment for him was an angioplasty and stent and he was going to carry on with that. Excellent.

We went back to the doctor’s office and waited. Ten minutes later, the door opened and my dad walked in. Well, obviously it wasn’t my dad – it was his brother, but S and I both thought it was my dad! About an hour later, the doctor called us back to that small room with the computer and screen. He showed us exactly what he’d done and we were also able to wave to Dad in the next room. He was sent to the recovery room for a while – and Mum, S and I went to Royal China for lunch.

That evening, my grandmother, mum and I went to visit Dad in the ICU. S had passed out so we left him at home. He seemed to be in good spirits – I think he was just glad it was over. As he was spending the night in the ICU, my mum decided to spend the night at home.

Dad was moved back to his room on Thursday and he was discharged on Friday.

Now comes the hard part of controlling his diet and getting him to do some light exercise each day – he knows what he can and cannot eat, but even getting him to walk for 20 minutes a day is proving a challenge.

At least this part is over. For now.

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Bombay 2015: Week 2

After mixing champagne and vodka on Saturday night, I woke up on Sunday with a headache. My brother (s) and I had lunch at my grandmother’s and then decided to do some shopping. We went to Colaba and walked around there for a while – actually it was more like elbowing our way through the crowds for a while. We went to Nike, Metro shoes and some other random shops. I bought a new yoga mat for 650 Rupees (£6.50) – bargain! (Although I’ve since used it and really don’t like it.)

On Sunday night we went over to my cousin’s place where my mum’s sister-in-law was babysitting her grandchildren. My cousin and her husband were out of town but we got to see her three kids and her fabulous new home on the 60th floor of their new building. You have to take three lifts to get to her flat – imagine getting downstairs and realising you’d left something upstairs: nightmare. After a drink at the flat, we went to Shiro for dinner. I’d never been there and had heard good things about it. The owner is a good friend of my parents and he’d pre-ordered the food for us – and there was so much of it! I can’t even tell you what we ate, but it was a lot.

On Monday we had lunch at home as usual. That afternoon we decided to do some shopping for my cousin’s wedding in Bali. We went to a few designer stores but everything was so ridiculously expensive and there was nothing that I loved enough (or even fit into, to be honest) to be able to justify spending that kind of money.

That evening S and I went to visit a friend for a quick drink and then had dinner with my mum and aunts at Umame. We had the rock shrimp tempura roll and the piri piri roll to start with. We also had the Umame barbecued chicken. The rest of the food was vegetarian as there were three vegetarians at dinner (rock corn tempura, vegetarian khao suey, tofu and barbecued paneer). It was pretty good – for dessert, we ordered the chocolate souffle but when it came I was too full to even try it.

On Tuesday morning, S and I decided to try the breakfast in the Club Lounge (as we had a Club room). I had the scrambled eggs and sausages (average). He then went to see my parents and I went to the salon for an oil head massage. I had warm almond oil rubbed into my hair and scalp for 40 minutes – it was amazing. I then had a wash and blowdry and went to see my parents. After lunch, my mum, S and I went to run some errands and I went over to see my cousin for tea. I sat at her place for a while and then went to meet a friend at Metro Pizza Metro for a drink. I hadn’t seen her since she left London seven years ago and we had a lot to catch up on. I went back home for dinner and then S and I went back to the hotel at around 10pm.

S left early on Wednesday morning. As I was awake I decided to go to breakfast at the Club Lounge. I ordered the buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup. When they came, I realised the chef sprinkled crushed pistachios all over them. Why would anyone do that?? I scraped it all off and tried to enjoy the pancakes! I did a bit of work and then went to see my parents. After lunch we went to the hospital as Dad had an appointment with the nephrologist. We went back home after that and then Mum and I had an appointment to see some clothes. (Remind me to never get married, just the shopping for clothes would kill me.) I actually liked a few things and bought a couple of outfits! Hurrah! We got stuck in traffic on the way home – and it was 7.30pm by the time I got back to the hotel. A friend was waiting for me so we had a coffee together in the Club Lounge (this is the same friend I had dinner with at Rivington Grill in Dubai a couple of weeks ago). After he left, I got ready in a rush and went over to my cousin’s place for a drink. After just one drink I headed to my grandmother’s for dinner with her and my parents. I’d been rushing around all day and could not wait to get into bed. I packed my suitcase (didn’t take long) and my cousin from London who was staying at the Oberoi came over for a chat – we had such a laugh!

I was up early on Thursday morning and went for breakfast. This time I ordered the Indian version of scrambled eggs – with turmeric, coriander and chilli. It was much better than the eggs I’d had before (but not worthy of a photograph). I did a bit of packing after that, checked out of the hotel and went to my grandmother’s place. We had a late lunch and at 3.30pm my Emirates car arrived to take me to the airport. The journey to the airport didn’t take as long as I expected and checking in was a breeze. I browsed the shops for a while – can you believe there’s no bookshop at Bombay Airport?? I got so excited when I saw a Crossword store but it only sold toys. Meh.

So I went to the lounge. I didn’t feel like eating or drinking and one of the hostesses asked me if I’d like to have a complimentary foot massage before my flight. Er, yes please! She led me to the spa area at the back of the lounge and I got comfortable while the therapist massaged my feet for 15 minutes. And then it was time to board.

What I noticed in Bombay on this trip:

  • It’s so humid at this time of year that having a blowdry is almost pointless (almost)
  • The landline at home rings more often than the mobiles (perhaps because the mobile networks are so bad)
  • The roads are so bumpy, women are better off wearing a sports bra when in the car (and maybe some men too)
  • The service at the Trident is excellent (efficient and friendly)
  • I still wouldn’t want to live there

The flight was delayed for about half an hour and I didn’t get home until 10pm. I unpacked and got into bed. Oh, it felt so good…

I love my life.

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Bombay 2015: Week 1

My parents and I left for Bombay on Sunday afternoon as my dad was supposed to have surgery. They were travelling in First Class and I was in Business Class (the perk of travelling with my parents!) so we had two Emirates cars take us to the airport. (I think there were two cars because my booking was made separately, but it really wasn’t necessary to have two cars.)

We got to the airport – check-in was easy, security was easy, immigration was easy. Everything was so easy! Dad had requested a wheelchair and we were taken straight to the First Class lounge. We hadn’t had breakfast so we sat in the restaurant. I had a cheese omelette and chicken sausages, and Mum and Dad both wanted smoked salmon. After breakfast, we moved to the lounge area. I read my book with a cup of tea, Mum went to the Duty Free shops and Dad played on his iPad.

We boarded the flight and got to Bombay without any problems. It wasn’t a long flight, but I was pretty tired when we landed. The cabin crew didn’t have any landing cards so we had to fill them in when we landed (what a waste of time) and it was a really long walk from the plane to Immigration! Our luggage was out in a matter of minutes and we got in our Emirates car and took Dad straight to the hospital. Dad was admitted that evening and Mum decided she’d stay there with him so she could meet the doctors when they did their rounds early in the morning. My grandmother also joined us there and I went home with her when she left.

My mum’s two sisters-in-law were also staying at home. I hadn’t seen one in seven years and the other in four years. They’d moved into one room so that there would be space for my brother (S) (when he arrived) and me. One of my aunts was moving into her daughter’s place the next day as she was babysitting her grandchildren while their parents were away. So I had a room to myself for a couple of nights, which was nice!

I hadn’t been to India in five years. It seemed more crowded – more traffic, more people in the streets, more car horns (which drove me nuts).

The first two days were spent going from the house to the hospital. On Monday and Tuesday I had lunch at the hospital with my parents and would go home in the evening with my grandmother when she came to visit my dad.

On Tuesday night, my mum and I went to pick up S from the airport. He’d had a really long journey – Kingston to Miami to London to Bombay. He left Kingston early on Monday morning and got to Bombay late on Tuesday night. We dropped my mum off at the hospital on our way home and were surprised to find my grandmother waiting up for us. It was after 1am but she hadn’t seen S since his wedding. By the time I fell asleep it was after 2.30am.

Dad had his surgery on Wednesday morning and once he was in the recovery room there was no point in us hanging around. Mum, S and I went to Royal China for a late lunch. The food was excellent – we had hot and sour soup, char siu pau, prawn and chive dumplings, har gau, char siu cheung fun and a couple of other things. It was so good. After that I just wanted to take a nap. My mum, grandmother and I went back to the hospital to visit Dad in the ICU. S had passed out and when we tried to wake him he told us go without him. An hour later, while we were at the hospital S sent me a text: ‘Where are you?’ At the hospital, I replied. ‘Why didn’t you wake me??’ Err, we did!

We were at the hospital on Thursday when one of my mum’s cousins invited us to the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) for lunch. We had lunch at their Maharaja restaurant – they do Indian and Chinese food and we ordered a bit of both. The food was really good. After lunch, my cousin took us on a tour of the facilities – the place is huge! Tennis, swimming, squash, table tennis, it’s all there. They also have the largest gym in Mumbai – there were at least fifteen treadmills along one wall. It wasn’t very crowded either – but I guess it was 4pm so not peak time yet. After lunch we went back to the hospital to see Dad for a while.

Dad was discharged from hospital on Friday so while they were getting his paperwork in order, S and I went to Crossword at Kemp’s Corner to do some book shopping. I bought eight books (just what I need!) and S bought a few too. When we were done, we called our parents to see whether they were ready to leave. Mum said Dad was having a nap and that we should have lunch there. Just a few doors away from Crossword we found a restaurant called Pizza Metro Pizza. S ordered the ‘Diavola’ (mozzarella, tomato, salami, basil, mushrooms and chilli) and I had the ‘Capricciosa’ (mozzarella, tomato, ham, salami, black olives and mushrooms). Just as we were finishing our coffees, my mum called to say they would pick us up on the way home. Perfect timing!

We got home and hung around for a while. As both my parents were home, there was no space for all of us so S and I had booked a room at the Trident Hotel at Nariman Point. We checked in on Friday afternoon, unpacked and relaxed for a while. On the 30th floor, you could hardly hear the traffic and car horns. And the view from our room was spectacular.

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On Friday night two of my cousins took me out for dinner. We went to Indigo Deli in Colaba for dinner and had to wait for a table. We eventually got one and ordered some wine and food. We shared a starter – cheese and spinach souffle. For my main course I had the ravioli with salmon and artichokes. One of my cousins had the chicken Sloppy Joe and the other had a steak (I thought beef was banned in Maharashtra??). The food was really good and we were too full for dessert. After dinner, I went to meet S and a friend at Dome, at the top of the Intercontinental Hotel on Marine Drive. We had a bottle of wine and sat there for the longest time. The place was empty, the music was too loud and having a false roof on top of an open air bar just isn’t right (whether or not it’s monsoon season). We didn’t get back to the hotel until 3am.

I woke up on Saturday feeling so tired. S and I went home for lunch and to hang out with the family. That evening S decided to stay in and I went to our friend’s place for drinks. He’d invited a couple of other friends whom I knew so it was nice to catch up with them after a long time. After drinks at his place we went to Aer at the Four Seasons. I’m sure it’s a beautiful place but, again, with the false roof it was hot and muggy (my hair looked like Diana Ross’ hair when I left) and should really be called ‘No Aer’ during the monsoons. It’s also really expensive! One Belvedere with soda and one glass of white wine cost 2400 Indian Rupees (almost £24)! I bumped into a few friends from London who now live in Bombay so it was nice to see them. I didn’t get back to the hotel until 3.30am and I was exhausted.

I love my life.

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