Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai: Week 35

What a busy week! I had my usual work and gym sessions but it was pretty busy otherwise as well.

On Sunday afternoon, Mum and I decided to go out for lunch. We ended up at the Cheesecake Factory – I really enjoyed their herb-crusted salmon the last time we went and I wanted it again! We shared the spinach and cheese dip as a starter and then I got my salmon. Mum ordered the Caesar salad – and even though she ordered the starter portion she had trouble finishing it. The portions are huge there! We skipped dessert though – we were both very full.

That night my cousin invited me to her book group as a one-off. She had asked me when I moved to Dubai whether I wanted to join them but I declined. She had told me they weren’t a serious group and I wasn’t sure it was for me. Anyway, the reason I went on Sunday was because they were discussing The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and I’d already read it a few years ago for my book group in London. I told her to let me know when she finished it so we could talk about it – so she invited me to join them. It’s a fantastic book – if you haven’t read it, I suggest you do so. It’s a quick read and even though I┬áread it in 2 days, I haven’t been able to forget it.

I knew all the girls at book group already, apart from one. There was wine and appetisers followed by a full dinner. We discussed the book from time to time, and there was also more discussion about schools, Diwali, and 50 Shades of Grey. I think the trouble with meeting for the entire evening is that it’s easy to digress and come back to the book (several times). I much prefer book groups where you meet for an hour or so, discuss the book, and hang around at the end if you want to. I didn’t get home until midnight.

Monday was uneventful.

On Tuesday night I had dinner at Spectrum at the Fairmont with two of my cousins. It was quite crowded. We skipped the starters and ordered main courses only: black pepper beef, Thai green chicken curry, pad thai. We didn’t have dessert either. After dinner I rushed home to collect a parcel and then went back to the Fairmont to meet a friend who was leaving for London that night. We had a drink at Bridges, the sports bar at the Fairmont. I was home by midnight.

I didn’t sleep very well on Tuesday night and was quite tired on Wednesday. It was a long weekend here in Dubai, due to the Eid holidays. Thursday and Sunday were both holidays.

I stayed in on Wednesday night – I was in bed by 11 and passed out by midnight.

I was home for most of Thursday. That night a friend invited me to someone’s house party in Marina. It was a fun evening – but you would think I’d have learned by now not to mix my drinks. At about 2am, six of us headed to Amika at the H Hotel for more drinks and dancing. We left when they closed and I got home after 3.30am.

I was up earlyish on Friday but then went back to sleep as my eyes were burning! I eventually got out of bed at 1pm. All I wanted was houmous – it’s my new favourite hangover food.

Mum had some errands to run so I went to Mercato with her at about 5pm. After that we walked over to Choithram’s to pick up a couple of things for her trip to Jamaica and waited for a cab on the main road. There were none. We waited 20 minutes and then decided we’d start walking. Mum suggested going back to Mercato and waiting for a cab there but I’d seen the queue for taxis when we left and it would have been even longer an hour later.

We ended up walking home. It took about 40 minutes which is fine, but it was hot. We were sweaty and my hair looked like a nest. We got home just after 7pm, I got ready to see Enrique and then left a bit before 8pm.

At midnight after the concert, my friend insisted I go to a house party in Rashidiya with her. I wasn’t even dressed for a party – I was in jeans and a top. Plus, I was tired after walking home and standing throughout the concert. She told me that the guy whose house it was worked in the restaurant industry and there would be good food there. That worked. I’d barely eaten anything all day and I told her I’d go for one drink only.

Well, that’s not what happened. We got there, I sat at their bar and was spoiled rotten by flowing champagne and dim sum, and a fun group of people. Guests included: a sommelier at a top Dubai restaurant, a chef at another top Dubai restaurant, an Emirates pilot, and several other interesting people who were very welcoming.

I got home at 5.30am. What a night!

Saturday was painful. I’d only slept 3 hours and we were meeting my cousins for lunch at the Dubai Mall. The mall was a zoo – we ended up having lunch at PF Chang, outdoors. It was quite nice but I could barely string a sentence together and just wanted to be left in my zombie-like state. When I got home I got back into bed and tried to nap.

That night my cousin and I had dinner at Spectrum (yes, again). We ordered a bottle of wine – I couldn’t believe I was going to drink again after the two nights I’d had. We had the hot mezze platter to start and shared a chicken biryani for our main course. I was home by midnight.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 27

What a hectic week!

I had a session with Rama on Sunday and then had lunch at Karam Cafe with my parents and cousins who were visiting from Ghana. I hadn’t seen them in ages – so it was nice to have a meal and meet their gorgeous twins! By the time we finished lunch it was after 4pm and I wanted to do some shopping before travelling the following weekend.

I was looking for a dress for a friend’s wedding in August. I tried on a light turquoise dress – it was simple but pretty and I thought it would be perfect. When I took it to the till, the assistant noticed a stain on the dress but when I went back to get another one there weren’t any more in my size. So annoying! I ended up buying just a couple of pairs of shorts for my holiday and that was it. I should have browsed in some other shops but I was running late.

That evening I went over to a friend’s place to watch the Wimbledon men’s final and was home by 11.30pm.

After the gym on Monday I went to Spaces at the Oasis Centre for a Dermalogica facial. It was my third time there and all three times I’ve had the same Kenyan lady for my facial. And all three times she has asked me whether I’ve been there before. Perhaps she thinks there’s no point in remembering people because Dubai is such a transient place? Anyway, I didn’t enjoy the facial as much as I had in the past – mainly because she kept banging around with various things while I was trying to relax! After my facial was over I decided to have a blowdry. I was going out that evening and didn’t feel like doing it myself.

I went to an InterNations event at Amika at the H Hotel (formerly the Monarch Hotel – when did it change?? And why is their website so rubbish?) The friend I was supposed to go with couldn’t make it in the end so I decided to go on my own. I just really wanted a glass of wine! I got there at about 8.30pm and the queue to get in went all the way down the corridor to Okku but luckily it was moving pretty fast. I got in, got my glass of Sauvignon Blanc and said hello to some people I recognised from previous events. I then got chatting to three English people I’d never met before and it became quite a fun evening – but I found the venue a bit small for the number of people there. When I went to get a refill the bartender told me they didn’t have any white wine left. How the f*** does a bar run out of white wine? I decided to switch to vodka. Five vodkas later it was almost midnight and the place was starting to empty out so I decided to head home. 

I woke up on Tuesday feeling like hell. I still made it to the gym though – I knew I wouldn’t be doing much on Friday, Saturday or Sunday so thought I’d better just go and get it over with. That afternoon I met a friend at Tim Horton’s for coffee. When we finished I decided to walk home – it’s about a 7-minute walk but at 4.30pm it was sweltering outside. Luckily the side of the street I was walking on was in the shade at that time but it still felt like a sauna. But I still prefer the heat to the relentless London rain! I worked for the rest of the day (and caught up on ‘True Blood’!).

I had my 40th session with Rama on Wednesday morning. It was tough, as always! That afternoon I met up with NP at Jones the Grocer for a late lunch. Well, I had a late lunch, she had two green teas. I know I said that the next time I went I would have the wagyu burger but after my workout that morning I felt like eating something healthy(ish). I ordered the pumpkin and feta salad with grilled chicken. It was very good – and yes, I forgot to take a photo of it. Next time… When we were done we picked up her son from nursery and she dropped me off at Times Square Center so I could get a cab (my parents had the car for the day). It was a fun afternoon with lots of laughs.

Thursday was busy too – I was up early, the piano tuner came, I went to the gym, the sleazy hairdresser did my hair. I worked in the afternoon and then went to wine club in the evening. It was held at the Radisson again, in the Indo-Thai restaurant. I ended up sitting with four people I already knew and I met a couple of new people I will definitely get in touch with when I’m back in September. 

The theme for the evening was rosé:

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We had the same menu as last time:

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I thought I liked rosé but it turns out that apart from the first one I tried, they all taste the same to me and I struggled to find a second choice (I went for ‘C’ in the end – don’t ask me why). Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t finish them. We eventually discovered we had been drinking these wines:

  • A: Chemin des Sables d’Anjou (2010) – from the Loire valley in France; ripe peach and apricot aromas; full of fruit flavour; made from Cabernet Franc grapes
  • B: False Bay Rosé (2011) – from the Stellenbosch-Paarl region of South Africa; a delicately spiced rosé with summer fruit on the palate; produced from Cinsaut and Mourvedre
  • C: Masia Perelada Rosado (2010) – from Catalonia; a bright pink colour; the fragrance contains raspberries and strawberries; 60% Grenache, 40% Tempranillo
  • D: Santa Cristina Rosato Cipresseto (2010) – link pink in colour with cherry tones; complex in aroma with notes of berry fruit, particularly raspberries and strawberries; full and rich in flavour, fruity on the finish; 85% Sangiovese, 15% other complimentary grapes
  • E: Massaya Bekka Valley Rosé (2011) – from Lebanon; strawberry hue with aromatic notes reminiscent of raspberries, summer stone fruit and subtle spices; elegant and round on the palate; graceful acidity with a crisp finish; 40% Cinsault, 30% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • F: Chateau de Marsan Bordeaux Rosé (2010) – pretty pale raspberry in colour; expressive nose of red berries with nice smoky and resinous aromas; full and fruity on the palate with a racy finish; 20% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon

There was some mingling at the bar later on where a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc were consumed. At about 11pm, a few of us decided to go to Cirque du Soir. In the lobby of the Radisson I suggested we walk to the Fairmont as it was just a couple of blocks. It wouldn’t have taken more than 7 minutes. As I walked out of the hotel it was like stepping into a sauna. I could feel my hair start to frizz and knew that if I didn’t get back in the air conditioning in 5 minutes by the time I got to the club I’d be mistaken for Chaka Khan. We got into two cabs, convinced the drivers to take us the short distance and off we went.

I’d heard a lot about Cirque du Soir and was unsure of what to expect. Not surprisingly there was a queue to get in. Whe the woman at the door turned away five semi-naked girls just before us I thought there was no chance we’d get in (I was with three guys as the other cab hadn’t arrived yet). She let us in. 

The place is smaller than I imagine
d – and it was hot, smoky and crowded. And it is disturbing. Contortionists, trapeze artists, painted faces… I felt bad for the little person in the glass cage being gawked at.

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I decided to leave at about 1.30am – it was too crowded and I’d had too much to drink. I’m glad I went, but now that I know what it’s all about, I won’t be rushing back. 

I woke up on Friday feeling rough. Two hangovers in one week – that’s a first for me (in Dubai)!

Once I’d surfaced my parents and I decided to go out for lunch. Our original idea was to go to Sumo Sushi at Jumeirah Town Centre but when we got there I noticed a Persian restaurant on the first floor called Shish Kebab and we thought we’d try it. We had some hummus to start with, my parents both ordered the koobideh for their main course and I ordered one koobideh skewer and one grilled chicken skewer. 

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We walked around the small mall for a while. Next to the restaurant we came across the Hello Kitty Spa, a spa for kids. Mum and I asked if we could have a look around and the lady showed us into the spa. I’ve never seen anything like it – it was even nicer than some adult spas I’ve seen! The photos below are from their Facebook page:

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It was full. A few girls were getting their nails and hair done and there was even one who couldn’t have been older than 6 or 7 who was getting her make-up done. I’m not sure how I feel about that, to be honest. Kids already grow up so fast these days… 

When we went back downstairs I noticed a lingerie shop called TKD (The Knickers Drawer). Just out of curiosity I went in to see what they had and noticed they stocked all my favourite brands. I tried on a couple of (rather overpriced) tankinis and ended up buying them both. A swimsuit had been on my list of things to get but I hadn’t managed to find one I liked so this was great! I’m not sure I would shop there on a regular basis as it is quite expensive but at least I know where to go if I ever have a bra-related emergency!

Afterwards Mum and I went to Lulu to pick up some holiday supplies – sunscreen, insect repellent, shampoo, and so on. Thankfully it didn’t take too long. 

That evening I met my cousin for a drink at Cin Cin at the Fairmont and then had dinner with my parents. They wanted to go to Ravi Restaurant in Satwa. The food is good, but the place is a dump. The tables are covered in clear plastic, you drink from styrofoam cups, there’s a tissue box on each table…

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I noticed ‘brain fry’ on the menu, which Mum subsequently ordered (gross).

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I ordered the chicken tikka – it seemed like the safest option.

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When we got home I decided I’d better start packing. Two Indian outfits, four pairs of shoes, one pair of trainers, four handbags, seven dresses, swimwear, casual wear, gym stuff, pajamas, underwear, toiletries = 30 kg. F***. I was allowed 25 kg. I unpacked – I’d wear my trainers, I didn’t need that dress, swapped pajamas for lighter pajamas, put some gym stuff in Mum’s bag. Still 30 kg. How was that even possible?? I hadn’t even packed any books. I unpacked again, trying to figure out if there was anything I could leave behind. There wasn’t. At 3am I decided I’d just pay the excess weight and be done with it. Had I not been attending a wedding in August I could have left behind the Indian clothes, two pairs of shoes and two handb
ags, but there you go.

I was up early on Saturday as I had a few things to do. On Wednesday my mum suddenly decided she wanted to open a safety deposit box at the bank so I had to find out how to go about it. I didn’t have time to do it on Thursday so it had to be Saturday. My cousin came over with his three girls in the morning. They are all just adorable, and the twins were in matching Hello Kitty outfits! After they left an hour later, Mum and I went to open a safety deposit box at the bank. We had to sign some forms, pay a deposit and then the lady showed us how it all worked. 

The system is automatic. You swipe your debit card to enter the locker area – it’s open 24 hours. You go into one of the rooms, insert your debit card into the machine, punch in your PIN number on the screen, place your hand in the reader and then the screen tells you your box is on its way to you. The table opens up and your box appears. Once the box is open, the door to the room is automatically locked – nobody can enter or leave. When you’ve finished with your box, you lock it, press ‘Deposit’ on the screen and the box is automatically taken away and you’re done. Amazing. Very ‘Mission Impossible’! It makes the safety deposit box area in Selfridges seem so antiquated.

When we got home, I weighed all our luggage hoping I could transfer some of my weight to my parents’ bags. My bag was still 30 kg, Mum’s bag was 30 kg and Dad’s was 26 kg. He was smug until I pointed out that he’d given stuff to both Mum and me to carry. ‘Can you reduce your luggage?’ he asked me. ‘What should I remove? My Indian clothes? My gym clothes? My everyday clothes? It’s not like we’re going for a week, we’re away for almost 2 months.’ He wasn’t happy. Any bloody excuse.

The afternoon was quite chilled. I packed my hand luggage (some books, laptop, camera, iPod, all the wires that go with them!) and did some work. 

I had been dreading travelling with my parents since the beginning of the week. The last time the three of us flew together was in July 2009 from Miami to Kingston and back again. It was like travelling with two 8-year-olds who had never been to an airport. One time my mum and I flew together from Bombay to Bali, she left her boarding pass on the table in the lounge at KL airport. 

Well, what happened this time? We left home, got down to the lobby and Dad realised he’d forgotten something. He went back up. When he came down, Mum realised she’d forgotten something. She went back up and eventually came down. We got to the airport, checked in (luckily they didn’t question the weight of our bags), went through passport control and security, and then Dad asked, ‘Where are the Patchi chocolates??’ Mum and I looked at each other because he insisted on carrying them in his hand rather than packing them. ‘They didn’t come out of the cab,’ I said. ‘In fact, I’m not even sure they went into the cab.’ After a few phone calls we discovered he’d left them in the lobby. Oh dear. What next? 

Thankfully the rest of our journey was uneventful, albeit somewhat turbulent. We stopped off in Singapore for 45 minutes – we were sped away on a buggy to our connecting flight and took off for Bali. I wondered whether our luggage had time to make the connection… 

I love my life.

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