Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 1

I woke up with a start at 7am on Friday, New Year’s Day. I could smell smoke all over the flat and I got out of bed to find out where it was coming from. I thought something was on fire but I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I opened the front door and the smell of smoke was even stronger out by the lifts. I called security downstairs and told them I could smell smoke everywhere. He said he’d take a look and get back to me. He called me a few minutes later to say that the whole building smelled of smoke because of the fire at the Address Hotel Downtown the night before. The wind had changed direction and was blowing the smoke towards us. I couldn’t believe the hotel was still smouldering.

I was home all of Friday. I was working and reading. On Saturday I went out to get some new gym clothes but was home the rest of the day. I went to the gym on Sunday but that was it – I worked the rest of the day.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning. I got ready straight after my session and went to meet my cousin for brunch. He was in transit for a few hours on his way back to New York.

We went to The Sum of Us for a bite. I had a green juice and ordered the smoked salmon salad. He had the lamb salad. Considering we ordered just salad, it took a very long time for the food to come! When the food finally arrived, I realised my smoked salmon salad wasn’t smoked salmon at all – it was more like seared salmon. It was still good though. I was at home working after that. I cancelled my piano lesson as I had so much work to do and was starting to panic about deadlines!

Apart from the gym on Tuesday, I worked. At about 4pm I decided to stop working and look at my Arabic course books from the previous classes I’d taken. I was starting a new Arabic course on Wednesday, Intermediate I, and hadn’t done any Arabic in almost two years. In hindsight, looking at those course books and realising how much I’d forgotten probably wasn’t a good idea. I guess you can’t cram several months of Arabic into two days!

I had another session with Pete on Wednesday morning. That evening I had my Arabic class.

2016-01-06 18.10.36

Apart from one other person and myself, all the others in the class had been on the previous course together. So they all knew each other and were more practised with their Arabic. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be though – I remembered a lot of the grammar, now I just need to brush up on my vocabulary to really catch up with them. It was the first time I was doing an evening class – all the other courses I’d been on were in the morning. They seemed like a fun group though. The classes have really changed since the last time I did Arabic – the teacher now writes on a tablet on her desk, which is project onto the screen behind her, and we all get sent PDF files of the class the following morning. It certainly beats taking photos of the blackboard every few minutes!

I went to a yoga class on Thursday morning and had a much-needed manicure and pedicure that afternoon. My feet were starting to resemble something that could swoop down from the sky and snatch my dinner out of a lake – I hadn’t even wanted to touch my own feet in the yoga class that morning. I also wanted to get out of the house for a while. All I’d done all week was work, and I needed a break. I stayed in on Thursday night.

I was home all of Friday and most of Saturday. I decided to treat myself to a 90-minute massage at Spa Zen on Saturday afternoon. It was amazing. And it was also an Entertainer voucher so I got a voucher for another massage! I got home at the same time as my parents were arriving from the airport. I’d really enjoyed having the place to myself – I think that was part of the reason I hadn’t really forced myself to go anywhere! I also hadn’t had a drink since Christmas Day but I sensed all that would change now that my parents were back!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

Leave a comment »

Dubai 2015: Weeks 52/53

I got back from Bali on the 23rd morning. Similar to when I left, the passengers had to get on a bus after leaving the plane and were then taken to the terminal. I stood at the top of the stairway at 5am and was hit by a blast of cold air. I got on the bus, found a seat and sat down because I was feeling tired and lazy. Just as well, because the bus ride to the airport took forever. It felt like we were going around the airport in circles. I felt like one of the hostages in the movie Speed. We finally got to the terminal, I went through the e-Gate, collected my luggage, bought five bottles of champagne at Duty Free and went home. I was so happy to be home, and back in my own bed. I’d missed my pillows! I passed out for a few hours until lunch.

That evening, a friend had invited a few people over for mulled wine and mince pies. We got to her place in The Springs at about 7pm. It was nice to see everyone after my trip, and we sat out in the garden, sipping wine and chatting. I left at around 9.30pm – I was exhausted and a bit jet-lagged.

On Thursday, I went to the Dubai Mall – I needed a Secret Santa present for Christmas lunch the next day. Once I’d picked that up I went back home. I had a load of work to do and was starting to panic about how I was going to get it all done before the deadlines. I stayed in that night.

I spent Christmas Day with some friends at their flat in Business Bay. I got there at around 2pm and we had lunch at 4pm. It was also my fourth anniversary of being in Dubai – I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone!

2015-12-25 14.31.10

There was so much food! Prawn cocktail to start with, and then turkey, pork shoulder, roast potatoes, stuffing, brussel sprouts, pigs in blankets, and I’m sure there was more that I can’t remember. There was Christmas pudding and cheese for dessert. Not to mention the prosecco, champagne and wine that we all enjoyed. The weather was lovely too – and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sitting on their balcony, watching the full moon move across the sky (and watching random YouTube music videos).

2015-12-25 20.29.51

I got home at around 11pm. It was a long day, but it was really fun.

I went to the Dubai Mall on Saturday as I was meeting some friends at Vogue Cafe in the Shoe District for tea.

On Sunday, I decided to try out a new yoga studio at Village Mall. It was really nice and I ended up buying a package for 15 classes.

I had my usual piano lesson on Monday, but that was all I did that day. All I’d been doing otherwise was working. I’d hoped that as my UK clients were closed for the holidays, there’d be no more work coming in over the holidays and I could catch up properly, but I didn’t realise that their Indian offices would still be open and send me things to work on! It was good though – I kept my head down and got on with it.

I’d been invited out for lunch on Tuesday. I wasn’t keen on going but I had some friends visiting Dubai who would be at lunch so I went anyway. Lunch was at Apres in Mall of the Emirates. I got there at 1pm (which was the time on the invitation) and there was nobody there, not even the two hosts. There was also no table set up for 10-12 people so I asked the waitress at the door whether they had a booking under either of the hosts’ names. ‘For today, ma’am?’ Well, yes, I’m here, aren’t I? She looked in her diary. ‘Oh yes, 1pm for 12 people.’ So, where is the table? ‘Oh, we didn’t know if they wanted smoking or non-smoking.’ You have the number there so why didn’t you call to confirm? ‘Yes, ma’am.’ The woman was irritating. But what irritated me more was that the hosts should have been dealing with the lack of a table and not me. I got the table sorted and sat down. I asked the waiter for a bottle of water (which never arrived). At about 1.15pm one of the hosts arrived – she’d had errands to run in the mall which was why she was late. Good grief – couldn’t she have done that later? Anyway, people started arriving – we were nine girls in the end – and lunch seemed to go on forever. The service was awful. I would never go back there. At 4pm I made my excuses and left – the others seemed quite happy to sit there for longer but I had s*** to do!

I had a session with Pete on Wednesday and spent the rest of the day working.

On Thursday morning I went back to Eco Yoga Sanctuary for a Hatha Flow class. After that I decided to get my  hair done as I looked like a homeless person after the yoga class. It was also New Year’s Eve and I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do that night. My number one choice was to stay home. I’d been invited to a few places but I couldn’t face the thought of the traffic going Downtown and then getting stuck there until 4am. I could see it building up from the afternoon onwards.

2015-12-31 17.25.39

I ended up staying home. And I’m glad I did because soon after I’d had dinner, I saw a post on Facebook that said the Address Downtown was on fire. What?? I’d been hearing sirens for the last 10 minutes but assumed it was regular New Year’s Eve police controlling the traffic. I thought it was a hoax and then I checked Twitter. I couldn’t believe the pictures I was seeing.

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

I felt sick – there were hundreds of thousands of people in that small area – and I couldn’t imagine how many people would be injured. I kept reading that there were no injuries but I just couldn’t believe that. Eventually, it was reported that there were 14 minor injuries – a bit more realistic, but still unbelievable in a way. I hoped everyone had managed to get out of that building in time. And then I heard that they were planning to go ahead with the fireworks Downtown. Next to a burning building? It seemed ludicrous. And people were still heading Downtown. Friends called from London and other places to see if I was OK – WhatsApp had stopped working!

2015-12-31 22.44.21

At about 10 minutes before midnight I made my way to the pool area of my building to watch the fireworks. The crazy thing I’ve noticed about people on New Year’s Eve is that wherever they are on Sheikh Zayed Road, they’ll abandon their cars and run to where they can see the Burj Khalifa and watch the fireworks. It’s like watching a disaster movie, although instead of running from disaster, they’re running towards the fireworks!

23:55 on New Year's Eve

23:55 on New Year’s Eve

And then it was midnight. The Address Downtown was still on fire (but under control, they said) and the Burj Khalifa lit up.

2016-01-01 00.01.03 (2)

It was bizarre. The fireworks went on for about 5 minutes – I brought in the New Year watching the smoke from the fireworks drift off into the night like dancing skeletons, with the smoke from the Address Downtown streaming behind it.

I’m so glad I stayed in.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

1 Comment »

Dubai 2015: Week 49

I spent all of Sunday at home, enjoying the last day of quiet before my parents got back from their trip.

They were home by 8am on Monday morning. I had a session with Pete on Monday morning and a piano lesson that afternoon. I went home after that and carried on with some work.

I had some errands to run at Mercato on Tuesday but apart from that, I was at home.

Wednesday was busy. I had another session with Pete. We had our session outside even though the gym is finally finished! That afternoon I had my hair coloured and cut, which seemed to take forever.

On Wednesday evening I had Christmas dinner at The Scene in Pier 7, behind Marina Mall. There were 12 of us seated at a long table. I think it was the first turkey dinner I’d had since I moved to Dubai almost four years ago. I started with the smoked salmon starter and then had the roast turkey and trimmings for my main course. I didn’t have dessert. After a few more drinks, everyone was planning where to go to next, but I decided to go home as I knew I had a busy day the next day and still had some work to finish off.

I think the concept of having seven different bars and restaurants in one place is great, but it could have been planned better. There are three lifts which stop at all seven floors and waiting for them is just annoying. Leaving Pier 7 is also pretty awful. We waited for a taxi and then eventually decided to walk up to the main road. It must have taken us almost 20 minutes to get a cab – there weren’t many around that evening, and those that were around and available weren’t even stopping.

A friend of mine (R) arrived from London on Thursday morning and was staying at the Fairmont on Sheikh Zayed Road. We’d arranged to meet at the sports bar just off the lobby of the Fairmont at noon, but I was running late and got there at 12.30pm. R had a pint and I had some water. He’d booked a table at Okku for lunch so we walked there from the Fairmont. It was empty – there were only two other tables apart from ours. We ordered some water and a bottle of cold sake (which I can’t believe we finished!). We shared two starters and two main courses: we had the spicy tuna on crispy rice and the beef tataki, and for our main course we had the Chilean sea bass and lamb cutlets with the truffle fried rice. All the food was excellent.

After lunch, R had a meeting and I had some errands to run but we arranged to meet at the sports bar at the Fairmont later on. I did my errands, packed my suitcase and was at the Fairmont by 6pm. A friend of R’s joined us as well and we had a few drinks. We started with a mojito, then switched to a vodka tonic, and then had a shot of whiskey for the road with a beer chaser. I’m so glad I went home after that. I was surprisingly sober and had dinner with my parents and finished off my packing.

I left for the airport at 6.45am on Friday morning. I checked in my bag, picked up a copy of The Economist and a book and went to the gate. Well, the gate consisted of a waiting room where we were then taken by bus to the plane. The journey on the bus took so long I wondered if we were being driven to Bali. I had a window seat and I didn’t think the flight would be crowded. Sure enough when they closed the doors, I had two empty seats next to me. After breakfast was served, I stretched out for the first half of the flight and managed to sleep, and then read and watched two movies for the rest of the flight.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

3 Comments »

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.

For more updates, click here.

1 Comment »

Dubai 2015: Week 9

What a busy week!

I spent most of Sunday recovering from the wedding I’d been to over the weekend. That night I had dinner with some friends at Sho Cho. The weather hadn’t been great all day – there was still some sand flying around and it was really windy. We thought we’d decide whether to sit in or out when we got there. Walking from the entrance to the restaurant was like walking through gale-force winds! But funnily enough, once we got to the restaurant, the outside area was quite sheltered (I’m not sure how) and we decided to sit outside.

We ordered some edamame and lychee martinis to start with. We then ordered the yellowtail sashimi, rock shrimp tempura and the seared tuna salad. I hadn’t eaten there in a while and I have to say the food was disappointing. Even our lychee martinis were disappointing – and I ended up switching to red wine after the first drink. We were there until almost 1am and had to tackle even stronger winds on the way back to the car. As we drove past the Shangri-La on our way home, I noticed the doorman was wearing what looked like a sheer stocking over his face to protect it from the sand and dust flying around!

On Monday afternoon I had a piano lesson. That evening, I went to The Scene Club at Knowledge Village – they were hosting a screening of Wild Tales, an Argentinian movie that had been nominated for an Oscar (Best Foreign Film). It was brilliant! And crazy! And hilarious! It’s a black comedy/drama which consists of six standalone shorts – the only common theme is violence. Apparently the director wrote the entire movie in his bathtub. But what I really want to know is: what the hell was he smoking in that bathtub??

I was home for most of Tuesday. I went to the Shangri-La Spa for a massage in the afternoon. God, it was just so good. Ideally I’d have liked to have spent a couple of hours by the pool as well but: (1) I had too much work to do; and (2) the weather has become ‘cold’ again – last week it was 34/35C during the day and the last two days it’s been 20/21C.

On Wednesday I was home all day apart from my piano lesson. That night, I met up with a friend who was on her way back to Jakarta from Los Angeles. She was here for work for a couple of days and we hadn’t seen each other in over five years. I picked her up from her hotel and we went to Madinat Jumeirah. We walked around for a while and eventually decided to eat al fresco at Trader Vic’s. They’ve changed their menu! I was disappointed to see that their seared tuna with jasmine rice is no longer available. We decided we’d skip the starters and share two main courses – we ordered the lamb curry and the crispy chilli red snapper. Both dishes were tasty, but not as good as the seared tuna. We were two full for dessert after that and walked around the souk a bit longer.

She was leaving on Thursday evening so we decided we’d spend the afternoon together. I did some work in the morning and she came over at lunchtime. We went to Maison Bagatelle for lunch with a friend of hers. After lunch, we walked around the mall for a while and then went straight to the airport. It was so good to see her – and I hope it’s not another five years before we meet…

I stayed in on Thursday night, working. I knew the weekend was going to be busy so I tried to do as much as I could on Thursday night.

My friend from London who was here for New Year’s Eve was back in town for one night and staying at the Conrad again. We spent the afternoon at the Conrad poolside with a couple of his friends, drinking wine and eating. That evening we went to see John Legend performing at the Media City Amphitheatre with a few of my friends. He was amazing. I don’t know that many of his songs but I love ‘Ordinary People’. I think I’ve heard ‘All of Me’ a bit too much recently but I loved the version he sang at the end – with a Middle Eastern twist.

Whoever took that video must have been standing very close to us as we had the same view from the same distance. After the concert, my friend and I went to Pacha. I’d booked a table on the terrace – one of my other friends joined us, and a few of my friend’s friends joined us. What a night – champagne was flowing and I felt like hell the next day.

I was out all day on Saturday. I had another friend in town for the day so I met him and some mutual friends for lunch at Katsuya in the Dubai Mall – the food was really good but I was too hungover to deal with chopsticks! After lunch we decided to go to Karak House on the Boulevard for tea. All I really wanted was a Coke but I haven’t had a soft drink since 2nd January – so I ordered a mango iced tea instead. It tasted a lot better than it sounds… We sat there for what felt like hours. At about 5.30pm we decided to go to Calabar for drinks as happy hour would start at 6pm and his flight wasn’t until 11pm. Just outside the main entrance to the Address Downtown, we saw this crazy Ferrari with Saudi plates! Only in Dubai (and Saudi, I guess)!

We got a table outside, ordered some drinks and eventually some food – we were feeling peckish again. A few more people joined us but I left after we finished a bottle of Pinot Noir – I was home by 8.15pm, had some dinner and got into my pajamas!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

3 Comments »

Dubai 2013: Week 36

What a busy week! I had my usual work and gym sessions but it was also a very social week…

After my session with Randy on Sunday morning I went to the airport to meet a friend from London who was on his way to Riyadh. He’d been in Abu Dhabi for work and his flight to Riyadh was leaving from Dubai. We went to the food court in Terminal 1 and ended up having ice cream rather than coffee. I had a scoop of the Pralines ‘n Cream flavour. I don’t eat ice cream very often and I never know what flavour to have! We spent about an hour together and then he had to go check in for his flight.

By this time it was 2pm and I was getting hungry. I’d been meaning to go to the Dubai Mall to take some photos of the Moon Reflections sculpture so I decided to do that and have some lunch there too. I’d been thinking about the pasta with creamy salmon at Vapiano for a few days so I took my photos and then headed down to the Lower Ground Floor to the restaurant. Being Sunday it was fairly empty – I ordered my food and a Diet Coke and thoroughly enjoyed it when it arrived! I was home by 3.30pm and spent the rest of the day at home.

As I didn’t have yoga on Monday, my cousin and I decided to go to Tim Horton’s for a coffee. She’d been in London for a friend’s wedding and we hadn’t caught up properly. We spent about an hour there and I went home for lunch and to finish off some work. At about 5pm I noticed that it had suddenly gone very dark – I looked out the window and all I could see was… nothing. It was like being in a big white cloud – I felt like Mary Poppins.

Sandstorm!

Sandstorm!

The sandstorm came out of nowhere. Visibility was very limited for about 10-15 minutes but gradually started to improve. As it cleared up I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw people still swimming in the Shangri-La pool. Sandstorms are disgusting – if you happen to find yourself outdoors and in the middle of one you will end up with sand in your hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, nostrils, ears, teeth, throat – it gets everywhere!

That evening I went to Galleries Night in Alserkal Avenue with a friend. It was the first event of the new art season – it’s a sign that summer is definitely over and things are starting to happen again! All the galleries were open and serving refreshments. I was surprised to see some of them serving wine and champagne as I didn’t think they’d have a license there.

We started at Salsali Private Museum which was exhibiting photos by Christian Voigt. I loved them. All of them.

Nocturnes

Nocturnes

Dark Burj

Dark Burj

There was also a fabulous photo of Downtown Dubai (which I never tire of looking at) and one of the Pharaoh’s tomb in Egypt.

At another gallery (I can’t remember which one) we met a young local Emirati photographer who had three photos exhibited – I liked all three photos which depicted life, death and burial with a woman’s hands and jewellery. I also liked some work by Jung Lee at the Green Art Gallery.

JL1

JL2

We walked around a few more galleries but nothing was as good as the Christian Voigt exhibition (for me).

While walking around Galleries Night I realised I’d forgotten how dressed up people get for events like this. It clearly is the place to see and be seen! Heels, make-up, little black dresses (actually little dresses in all colours) – it all seemed a bit much to me. But I suppose this is Dubai. Note to self: don’t wear jeans to events like this ever again.

After I left Alserkal Avenue I met NP for dinner at MJ’s Steakhouse at Al Qasr. I hadn’t been there before but I had Entertainer vouchers so we thought we’d try it. We each had a glass of red wine and we both had the same steak (200 g organic tenderloin) and shared three sides: garden salad, onion rings and the mac and cheese. While we were waiting for our food, our waiter brought over an amuse bouche – unfortunately neither of us could figure out what it was even though we asked him to repeat it three times. We were then told we could choose our own steak knife.

I chose the sixth knife from the left

I chose the sixth knife from the left

The food was really good – I’d definitely go back. For dessert, we decided to share the blueberry cheesecake. With my Entertainer voucher we got one main course free, so we each paid AED250 (we saved AED110 each) – not bad!

On Tuesday afternoon I had my first piano lesson since July. I also hadn’t done any practising since my last piano lesson! At about 2.30 Kaleem (our driver) called me to say that the car wouldn’t start. WTF? I walked over to the car park and another driver had jump start cables attached to our car and was trying to get it started. I had no idea what to do, who to call; I don’t even drive! I called my dad who told me to get in touch with AAA who provide roadside assistance. They said they’d have someone with us in about an hour. We managed to get the car started, Kaleem dropped me off at my lesson and I told him to go back home and wait for them to call.

My lesson was good – it was good to be back at the piano. I must practise more! We went over a couple of things I’d been learning (When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars and Primavera). When I finished I called Kaleem to see if help had arrived. He said they hadn’t called him yet and he came to pick me up. He’d obviously left the engine on the entire hour I was at my lesson because once he switched it off it wouldn’t start again! They called while we were on our way home and had a look at the car. They replaced the battery and everything was fine after that.

That evening I met up with a friend from Lagos who was in town for the night. We went to Loca. We went after dinner so I had a couple of margaritas. One of the guys with us was a stand-up comedian. He was so interesting – and as he was speaking I vaguely remembered reading about him in the paper a few months ago. His father is South Korean and his mother is Vietnamese – he was born and raised in the Middle East and speaks fluent Arabic – in fact, his shows are mostly in Arabic. I asked him what languages he spoke at home with his parents and sisters – they speak Arabic at home, to his mother he speaks Vietnamese, to his father he speaks English, and when the siblings don’t want their parents to know what they’re talking about they speak French which they learned in school. Fascinating! He had us all laughing – it was a great evening.

I was home all of Wednesday until the evening. I went to see a movie called The Hunt (Danish with subtitles) which was being screened at Knowledge Village by The Scene Club. It was absolutely packed and they had to turn away people who had reserved tickets (you sign up online and then collect your tickets at the door – it’s all free). The movie was brilliant but a little disturbing. It’s set in a close-knit community in Denmark. The main character is a teacher who has lost his job and is helping out at the local nursery where he gets falsely accused of exposing himself to his best friend’s daughter. He gets shunned by the community but the ostracism turns to violence when his dog is killed and he gets beaten up while trying to buy food at his local grocery. Eventually everything gets resolved but it just shows you how a person’s life can change overnight. Why would a child lie about something like that? The main character was played by Mads Mikkelsen (Le Chiffre in Casino Royale) and he won the Best Actor Award at Cannes in 2012. It’s definitely worth watching.

On Thursday night a friend and I went to Zuma for drinks. Yes, I go there a lot! We were having a good time – we bumped into the guy from Bahrain we’d met a few weeks before and were chatting with him and some friends until they left. We had just about finished our bottle of wine when the bartender gave us two more glasses telling us they were from the guy standing next to my friend. He was probably in his late 50s, but wouldn’t he have thought that if we were interested in speaking to him, we would have started a conversation? So now we had to talk to him. He was Swiss, born in Ethiopia (he was half Ethiopian but didn’t look it), and spoke German, French, Italian and Ethiopian. His English was terrible. My friend asked him about Haile Selassie and what he thought of him. The Swiss guy then said that he was a descendant of Haile Selassie. I really didn’t want to talk to him so said very little. When the next two glasses of wine came for us (again without him asking us whether we wanted them), we decided it was time for us to leave. When I tried to settle our tab, the Swiss guy told us he would take care of it, and the bartender annoyingly let him and gave my card back to me. So we actually didn’t pay for any drinks at Zuma that night. Did I have a business card for him? Hell, no.

It was only 10pm at this point and my friend and I decided we’d go elsewhere for a drink. We walked into McGettigan’s and decided it was a bit like being in Essex (now that summer is over, everyone is back in town). We ended up back at DIFC at Caramel – much better! We had a couple of drinks there and then decided it was time to go home. We were both hungry by this time and decided to stop at Burger Fuel on Sheikh Zayed Road. We both ordered the Hot Rod (beef, sliced jalapeno peppers, melted Cheddar, salad) and fries. It was the best damn burger I’ve had in a long time!

I spent all of Friday at home in my pajamas.

I had a lot of work come in this week so spent most of Saturday at home working too. A friend and I had booked massages at Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal – I had two vouchers for AED100, one of which was expiring soon and wanted to use up. The massage was great, as always. It was almost 6:30 when we finished so we decided we’d go up to Icho, the bar on the 51st floor. Being a Saturday evening it wasn’t very crowded so we sat at a table near the bar. The waitress told us that it was happy hour until 8pm and they were offering 50% off some of their wines. Excellent! I asked her what time happy hour began – she said they had happy hour every day from noon till 8pm! That’s good to know! We had two glasses of wine and then our friendly waitress convinced us to split one glass between us (I think she just wanted to finish off the bottle) – but when she poured the wine, the ‘half’ glasses were as full as the two previous ones! Our bill came and we paid just AED70 each. I was home by 9pm, had some dinner and did some more work before getting into bed.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

Leave a comment »

Dubai 2013: Week 32

Aside from work and sessions with Randy it was a busy week.

I had a massage at the Emirates Grand Spa on Sunday evening. I’d bought an online deal a few months before and wanted to use it before it expired. The last time I’d been there was in September last year – and it was probably the best massage I’d had in Dubai. I asked for the same therapist – I remembered her name was Preeya.

I got to the hotel a few minutes before my appointment – it was like a train station! There were people everywhere – the lobby was packed and the lifts were crammed. There are no buttons in the lifts – there’s a number pad outside each lift and you have to press the floor you want to go to and it tells you which lift to get into.

I hate it when they write 'Saloon'!

I hate it when they write ‘Saloon’!

The hotel and spa seemed a lot shabbier than they did last year, which is a shame. My massage was still excellent though. However, getting up to the 45th floor and back down again was just irritating. In spite of being told what lift to get into, the lifts still stopped on too many floors in both directions. Surely this system is supposed to make travelling from floor to floor faster?

On Monday we went to China Times for lunch. We had hot and sour soup, spring rolls, some dim sum and some noodles. That night after dinner my sister and I took my nephew to Coldstone Creamery for ice cream. We walked there and back – and I spotted this sign:

2013-08-12 21.07.34

Sometimes I just want to walk around Dubai with a big red pen!

Anyway, I had a scoop of the cheesecake flavour – it’s fantastic!

On Tuesday we decided to have a pool day at the Shangri-La next door. My sister, nephew and I went shortly after 12 and went for a swim. We sent my nephew back home about an hour later and spent the rest of the afternoon there. We ordered a pizza to share for lunch – but the pizza was soggy and the service was terrible. We weren’t given any napkins or cutlery, and trying to get the waiter’s attention was almost impossible.

On Wednesday afternoon, my sister and I went to the Dermalogica store at the Dubai Mall. I’d booked us in for facials (hurrah for Entertainer vouchers!) and had been looking forward to it. My facial was excellent. I almost dozed off when I had the face mask on and my skin felt 10 years younger once I was finished.

By this time, my mum had bought my nephew to the mall so we met up with them and went down to PF Chang for an early dinner. We had all the usual food: soup, dynamite shrimp, spring rolls, Mongolian lamb.

Dynamite shrimp

Dynamite shrimp

After dinner we took my nephew to Coldstone. I ordered a scoop of the cheesecake flavour but I couldn’t finish it.

On Thursday my sister and I decided we’d go back to the pool at the Shangri-La. We took my nephew for a little while but then sent him home while we stayed on for the rest of the afternoon. The service was much better – probably because the manager is back from her holiday!

On Thursday night I met up with the people from my Arabic class for dinner. Ten of us went to Loca – we shared guacamole, and for my main course I had the barbecued lamb burrito, and a few of us had some frozen Margaritas too. The plan was to go dancing at Malecon afterwards but not many people were up for it so we decided to walk to Haagen Dazs at Palm Strip Mall for dessert instead. It wasn’t a late or a heavy night – I was home by midnight.

On Friday my mum and I dropped my sister and nephew off at the airport – they were heading back to Lagos. The three week just flew by!

I worked for most of the afternoon. That night I met up with some friends at McGettigan’s – we ended up being quite a large group and bumped into some more people that we knew (some guys I’d met at that party a couple of weeks ago). It was a really heavy night. I drank too much wine and don’t remember getting home. However, I did manage to take off my eye make-up and get into my pajamas.

I felt like crap on Saturday. I slept until 2pm and didn’t get out of my pajamas all day.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

2 Comments »

Dubai 2013: Week 23

After my session with Randy on Sunday morning I did some work and then spent the afternoon at the pool. That evening I had a friend and her son flying in from Hong Kong for a couple of days on their way to London. I went to the airport that night to collect them and by the time we got home it was after midnight. We chatted for a while and eventually went to sleep.

My friend’s mum was arriving early on Monday morning (and also staying with me) so we left home at 8am to pick her up from the airport. We got home, I had a cup of tea and then had to go to my Arabic class. We learned:

  • The words for month/s and year/s
  • How to say whether we were married or not – and also the words for husband and wife
  • How to ask someone how long they’d been in a place (and a reply)
  • More pronouns, e.g. his house, her house, their house
  • More random vocabulary: yesterday, day before yesterday, tomorrow, day after tomorrow
  • How to use the tamarbuwta
  • More verbs – to want, to visit, to go, to drink – and how to conjugate them in the first person

After my class, I met up with my friend, her son and her mum at Nando’s and we had some lunch. She and her mum had some errands to run so I took her son to the pool for a while.

That night, the two of us went out with some friends. We went to Pai Thai at the Madinat Jumeirah. I’d never been there and was pleasantly surprised. The service was also better than in many places I’ve been to. I used two Entertainer vouchers as well and we saved about AED 200!

The next day the four of us went to Wafi Gourmet for lunch. I had to go to a piano lesson straight after and my friend and her mum and son were out until the evening. That night the two of us had dinner at Karma Kafe with a friend we bumped into at the airport on Monday morning. Small world! The food was good, as usual – and I used yet another Entertainer voucher. I’ve used so many of them this year already! We got home a little after 11pm and my friend, her mum and son left for the airport at about midnight. It was quite a busy couple of days!

I had another Arabic lesson on Wednesday. We learned:

  • More verbs – to live/reside, to study, to know – and how to conjugate them in the second person (male and female)
  • Random vocabulary – family, parents, people before, sometimes, always, beach, gym, building
  • We learned two new letters and also did some writing practice (still looks like a 3-year-old’s writing!)

I went home, did some work and then that evening went to my second creative writing class at The Pavilion Downtown. We talked about opening paragraphs and how naming characters is so important – names change with generations and different social classes. We were told that we need to be the character we’re writing about and have to know them inside out. We talked about character traits and how flawed characters leave plenty of room for growth. For our homework we were asked to write about people meeting and coming together, perhaps at a dinner party, picnic, or something along those lines. How do they behave? What are their flaws?

I was home all of Thursday and then met up with a couple of friends at The Agency in Madinat Jumeirah. What a night! We ended up having four bottles of wine. When we left we wanted to go dancing, so we hopped in a cab and headed to Malecon. We were only there for about half an hour, and we didn’t drink any more, but we had a great time dancing to salsa music!

I was home the whole of Friday. My head was aching and I didn’t feel like doing very much apart from reading by the pool.

On Saturday I did some reading by the pool and then went to see The Internship with my dad and uncle. It was better (and longer) than I thought it would be – I quite enjoyed it!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

1 Comment »