Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2013: Week 17

I got back from Vietnam late on Monday night. I was home by about 2.30 but chatted with my mum for a while before passing out. I can’t remember the last time I was so tired. I would have gladly spent all of Tuesday in bed but had a piano lesson that afternoon!

I also had loads of work to catch up on as I hadn’t done anything (including check my email) while I was away.

On Wednesday evening I went back to my meditation class. We started with another Tibetan breathing exercise, a standing one this time. It involved standing with your feet apart, and rocking from one foot to the other very slowly, extending one arm at a time, depending on which direction you were rocking in (if you’re moving to the right, extend your right arm). I preferred the walking meditation from the first week though.

We then talked about our experiences with the 4x4x4x4 meditation from the week before. I told the group I really hadn’t enjoyed it and the fact that I wasn’t supposed to inhale for 4 counts made me more stressed than anything else. The teacher explained why: inhaling equals life, exhaling equals death. We then talked about death and various religious/spiritual views on what happens to us once we die. We then did the meditation exercise we would have to practise for the week: alternate nostril breathing. I do this in yoga all the time but found this much more relaxing. I’ve noticed I sleep so much better on the days I go to my meditation class (and the days I manage to do the meditation exercises)!

On Thursday I was taken out by NP – it was her birthday present to me: lunch at Zuma! We started with a glass of champagne (I know, even I didn’t think I’d be able to manage a drink for a while after Vietnam – I was wrong). We both had the set menu but then ordered a couple of things from the a la carte menu to share (including tuna tataki – my favourite!). And of course the dessert (green tea and banana cake) was fabulous as always.

That night I had dinner with a friend at Left Bank in Souk Al Bahar. I had some Entertainer vouchers and I’d never been there so we thought we’d try it. We didn’t order any starters and just went for the main course and a bottle of white wine. I ordered the sea bass and she had the fish and chips. After dinner we walked over to Karma Kafe for a drink and had a couple of glasses of wine. It was a nice evening and I was home before midnight.

A few weeks ago I’d seen an offer for Friday brunch at Latitude at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel – buy one, get one free – so three friends and I had booked it and had been looking forward to it. We got there at 1pm and were shown to our table. The selection of food on offer was impressive (but nothing like Al Qasr) – I had sushi, dim sum, a couple of duck rolls, and a grilled red snapper. I also had some cheese and some cheesecake. And of course alcohol was unlimited. The one thing that was disappointing was the service – they clearly didn’t have enough staff and we soon realised that our waiter was the only one in our section of the restaurant. I expected more from a 5* hotel!

On Saturday afternoon a friend and I went to Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal on Sheikh Zayed Road. We sat by the pool for a while and then both had 90-minute massages. It was fantastic. I will definitely go back for some more pampering. I had an Entertainer voucher for the spa so we got two massages for the price of one.

I was home the rest of the day, just relaxing and catching up on work.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 12

This was a crazy busy week!

On Sunday, my cousin and a friend were hosting a lunch at Roberto’s to celebrate my 40th birthday. When they told me they wanted to have a lunch, I told them it really wasn’t necessary but they insisted. And the invite they sent out really made me laugh. It said:

Oh no, say it isn’t so…
Amreeta is going to be the big 4-0!
She said, ‘A lunch? No way!’
But we decided to have one anyway!

I was up early on the Sunday. I thought I’d be able to go to the gym before lunch, but lunch was at 12.30 and I had to get my hair done before that too. I was tempted to show up in jeans but actually made a bit of an effort and wore a dress. Apart from the hosts, I was the first one to show up at lunch. By 1.15 most people had shown up and were seated at one of the two tables. There was wine at my table (naturally). It was a lovely lunch actually. They’d even had menus printed especially for us.

And I got lots of lovely presents! Champagne, perfume, jewellery, shawls, a Harvey Nichols gift voucher. My parents were shocked when I went home with all the gifts.

I met a friend for lunch at Jones the Grocer on Monday. I’d been craving the Wagyu burger and insisted we meet there! It was a grey day and it was raining by the time we left the restaurant.

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That evening I went to iKandy to sort out the alcohol and food for Friday night. I asked the manager what we would do if it rained on Friday? ‘Postpone it,’ she said. That really didn’t help my anxiety about the rain. It was something I hadn’t even considered until that day!

I tried to do as much work as possible on Tuesday because I knew that once my sister and friends arrived I wouldn’t get anything done. My piano teacher cancelled our lesson as well, and I didn’t mind as I hadn’t practised much that week.

A friend of mine from Hong Kong was supposed to arrive on Wednesday evening but just as I got to the gym for my session with Randy she called to say she couldn’t make it due to a family emergency. I was so disappointed – I don’t even remember the last time we met and had been looking forward to her trip. Much later that night, my sister and nephew arrived from Lagos and it was 5am by the time we went to sleep.

One of my friends arrived from London on Thursday morning. I laughed when I got a text from him saying ‘Fancy a pint at 5?’ – that was our standard Friday morning conversation when I lived in London. I met him at The Fairmont sports bar shortly after 5pm.

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While we were there another friend invited us over to his place for a drink so we went to see him at 7pm. My friend had an early dinner to go to but said he would join my sister and me at Caramel when he was done. Our table was booked for 10pm and he joined us by 10.15! We had two bottles of wine, some cocktails and some B52 shots.

I woke up on Friday morning not sure I’d even make it to 40. I didn’t know what day it was to start with. My cousin had arrived from London that morning and was staying at the Shangri-La Hotel so we decided to meet for lunch with a friend who had flown in from Lagos that morning too. We hadn’t booked anywhere but thought we’d try our luck at Zuma. We were there shortly after 12.30.

I spoke to the cow at the front desk:

Me: Do you by any chance have a table for three for lunch today?
Her: We don’t do lunch on Friday, it’s brunch.
Me: Do you have a table for brunch then?
Her: No. People usually book 2 weeks in advance.

She went back to texting on her mobile. I wanted to punch her in the face.

We walked around DIFC and thought we’d try at La Petite Maison. They had a table outdoors and would need it back by 3pm. It was only 1pm and that was perfect.

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All I wanted was the burrata but of course I ate whatever was put on our table! We also had a bottle of wine to go with our food.

That night I had my birthday party at iKandy at the Shangri-La. I’d invited about 25 friends – I wanted to keep it small – but was worried that because my friends are so random, people would find it hard to mingle and have a good time. Most people showed up (including three more friends from London who had arrived that morning and evening). My parents came for a drink in the first hour and then I packed them off to dinner. It was quite a civilised evening – until about 11pm when my brother-in-law bought a bottle of Patron XO Cafe (a tequila-coffee blend) and started handing out shots. It gets hazy after that – I’d started on vodka, had a shot of Patron and switched to champagne a little before midnight. I remember cutting the cake. I vaguely remember what I said in my speech. I don’t remember having many photos taken but there are loads. I don’t remember paying the bill at the end of the night. I remember walking home (just about).

Considering it was after 4am when I went to bed, I was up quite early on Saturday. My phone had been ringing since 10am and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I opened the presents I’d received the night before: books, wine, champagne, Scotch, an encyclopaedia of wine, shawls, a tapas cookbook (clearly someone who doesn’t know me at all), a ‘tree’ pendant, a necklace with my name written in Arabic on the pendant (which I wore to lunch).

I had lunch at Royal China with the family. I was tired but I knew the only way to get through the day would be to have a drink so I ordered a glass of Prosecco. And a Coke. And some water.

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The Chinese food really hit the spot. After lunch I got back into bed, just to chill for a while, and I had the place to myself.

That night, after I cut the cake at home with the family, eight of us went to Sho Cho for dinner. It was mostly my friends who had flown in from abroad and it was a relaxing evening. We had sushi and sake while we tried to piece together the events of the night before!

It was a fantastic birthday – and I was so touched that family and friends flew to Dubai to celebrate with me! I feel so blessed to have them in my life.

I love my life.

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Lazy

Yes, I know, I know. I’ve been lazy over the last few weeks.

I’ve been lazy about:

  • Going to the gym (I’ve only been during sessions with Randy)
  • Finding a venue for my ‘big’ birthday (right now I wish I hadn’t invited anyone so I could change my mind!)
  • Backing up my blog files so that when Posterous shuts down I’ll still have my content
  • Writing my blog (the last installment of London, the last two weeks in Dubai – so busy!)
  • Writing book reviews
  • Writing anything at all (anything)
  • Reading (I’m already behind on my 20-books-a-year goal)
  • Getting a pedicure (I have hobbit feet at the moment – well, almost)

 I haven’t been lazy about:

  • Going out every night last week
  • Drinking copious amounts of wine
  • The weekly and monthly tarot readings
  • Working

I will be back on track this week, I promise!

2012
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London: February 2013 (Part 1)

I had a friend and a cousin in London turning 40 in the same week at the beginning of February and decided I’d celebrate with them. I had bought a return ticket when I was in London last year so I didn’t need to buy another ticket – and I managed to use my air miles for a flight back to Dubai.

The last time I was in London it was a really hectic trip and I was determined not to do that again. I wanted to relax and hang out with my friends. Sadly, even the best laid plans go astray.

I was dreading the cold. One winter away and I’d turned into a wimp. I hardly packed any clothes as my Dubai wardrobe would have been completely useless there! I wore the one pair of closed slip-ons I own, my jeans, a t-shirt, a hoodie, a scarf, and luckily I had brought my coat with me when I moved. My plan was to get a minicab from the airport, go to the storage place to get my winter clothes, and then go to my cousin’s place where I was staying. The journey really made no sense as I’d have to go from Heathrow to St John’s Wood and then back to Gloucester Road – and when we drove past Gloucester Road first I decided to just go home and drop my stuff off. I’d collect my winter stuff the following morning.

So from the time I landed, I’d been getting messages from friends telling me to join them at our usual pub in Oxford Circus. ‘Come straight from storage,’ they said. ‘Erm – and what about my luggage?’ ‘Bring it!’ I was actually very tempted – and had I gone to St John’s Wood like I planned I probably would have done that!

Anyway, I dropped my stuff off at my cousin’s place, freshened up and headed to Oxford Circus. I caught up with a few of the guys – it was so good to see them! We had a few drinks and all headed home. That night my cousin and I went to see her sister whose twins were almost 5 months old. I couldn’t wait to meet them but they were both asleep by the time we got there. I did get to hold one of them though. We ordered some pizza and had some cold cuts and wine. It wasn’t a late night as everyone was quite tired.

On Saturday morning I went to St John’s Wood to get my boots and jumpers. I opened the bag with my things in it and pulled out my boots and five jumpers: grey, grey, grey, grey and grey. I can’t believe how much grey I used to wear! My wardrobe has completely changed now – a combination of being a smaller size and living in sunnier climes!

I met the girls for brunch at Raoul’s after that. I had really missed them – especially over the last few weeks. I was also so excited to have scrambled eggs and sausages! And of course we shared a French toast for dessert. After that we walked over to Baker & Spice for a coffee. We hung out for a while and then I managed to get a ride back to Kensington with my cousin. I caught this sunset on camera:

2013

That night was my cousin’s 40th birthday party. She’d booked the private room at The Wolesley for 14 of us – it was beautifully done. The waiter was very generous with the champagne and I eventually had to ask him to stop refilling my glass as I’d had three glasses by 8.30pm! This was our menu:

2013

After dinner we went to Annabel’s for some more drinks and dancing – we were there till they closed! I had checked in my coat at the cloakroom, tucking my black shawl with the diamantes into the sleeve of my coat – but when I went to collect it at the end of the night my shawl was missing! I was so annoyed – it was my favourite shawl and my warmest… The woman in the cloakroom said she’d call me if it showed up but I knew it was gone for good.

I met up with a schoolfriend for lunch on Sunday. She was staying at her parents’ place in Wimbledon for the weekend and I was thrilled when she said she’d meet me at Gloucester Road as she had to come into central London. We walked to Ask and sat down for some pizza and a glass of wine. I couldn’t believe I was actually having another drink after the night I’d had. We spent a couple of hours together, catching up on our lives and then she had to go. I had no plans for that evening so I went over to some friends in Portland Place (where I stayed last time) and hung out with them for the rest of the day. We got a take away from Pearl Liang (I really fancied a hot and sour soup!) and by the time we were done with dinner we all looked like we were going to pass out.

Monday was a long day. I met a friend for brunch at Raoul’s. Instead of my usual scrambled eggs and sausages I decided to have the mushroom tagliatelle with truffle oil. It was delicious!

2013

After lunch I ran some errands for my mum and then walked from Park Lane to M&S and Selfridges. I was just browsing – wandering around aimlessly. I decided to walk up Baker Street and then to St John’s Wood. I walked down St John’s Wood High Street and realised I still had an hour to kill before meeting my cousins at Richoux so I went to Starbucks, ordered a chai latte and read my book until 4pm. Is that sad??

I met three of my cousins (including the birthday girl) for tea at Richoux. My mum had asked me to have a scone for her so how could I refuse? We met for just an hour as everyone was rushing off to do other things. People are busy in London!

I met up with a friend who I hadn’t seen since before I moved to Dubai. He had moved to Hong Kong a couple of months before I left London but was now back in town. We met at Baker Street and walked to The Marylebone on Marylebone High Street. I had a couple of glasses of red wine (which were quite unnecessary). It was great to see him and catch up – we’ve known each other since we were about 6 or 7 years old!

After I met him I headed to Tsunami where I was meeting the girls for an early dinner. I’d forgotten how good the food is there – the nasu goma, the ohitashi, the crab shiu mai. Just divine. I think the starters there are much better than the main course dishes they have (although their black cod is excellent too). I was so full by the end of dinner I could barely move.

I was home by 10pm and rolled into bed, absolutely exhausted.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 14

On Sunday I had been in Dubai for exactly three months! The weeks just seem to fly by here…

I worked all of Sunday and then met my cousin from Bombay and her family for dinner in the evening. Her husband’s cousin lives in Dubai so we met at her house in Marina. I don’t know that area at all and of course I had a cab driver who was most unhelpful. It took 40 minutes to get to her flat – including time spent in traffic – but I got there eventually. It was a nice flat, with a huge balcony where we all sat. The view from one side of the balcony was beautiful, you could see the Marina and the yachts. On the other side, however, the neighbouring buildings were so close I could see what people were watching on TV in their living rooms. We sat around for a while and decided to stay in and order Thai food. It was so good – my no carbs at night rule went out the window. Pad thai, red curry and rice. Yum. I got home just after midnight and went back to work. Crazy, I know.

On Monday I had my yoga class and went straight to work. 

On Tuesday I had a session with Rama and went straight to work. I was aiming to get this book copyedited by Wednesday (even though the deadline was Friday) and I finished it just after midnight. There was still some formatting to do and changes to be made, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. By this point I was so sick of obstetrics and gynaecology, and I was glad there were no images in the book. At one point in the evening I had to read about manual removal of the placenta and wanted to throw up. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be an obstetrician and/or gynaecologist.

On Wednesday I went to the gym and after lunch Joy and I did the Lulu grocery shopping. It’s a completely pointless task for me – I push the trolley while she goes through her list of things we need. I could do it on my own but as she’s the one who cooks it makes sense for her to choose her ingredients… The only good thing about the trip to Lulu is my ‘treat’ at the till – I buy myself a small bar of Galaxy chocolate!

I worked all of Wednesday afternoon and evening. I was supposed to go to an InterNations event on Wednesday night but I decided to just get on and finish my work. Just before 10pm I was done. I spent over 60 hours on that book, plus more hours spent on the work I was doing for two other publishers. But it was finally done. For a while I was worried I’d have to break my policy of not working on my birthday, but luckily it didn’t come to that.

On Thursday morning I left my flat at 11 and was met with a wall of heat outside. I was outdoors for no more than 2 minutes but the heat was stifling. Summer had arrived! I had a mani and pedi at the Fairmont, followed straight after by lunch with the girls at Royal China. Earlier in the week I was unsure of being able to go but by Wednesday I knew I’d be free. Conversation revolved around kids, schools, teachers and the weather (it hit 39C on Thursday). One of the girls had organised a cake for me – which was lovely but unexpected! And delicious. I couldn’t remember the last time I had cake.

2012

That night I went to see The Hunger Games. I was disappointed. We got home after midnight and Dad pulled out a big pink bag from his room and brought it to me. ‘It’s not your real present, it’s just something small…’ He got me a teddy bear! He said the ear muffs reminded him of the ones I wore during London winters…

My birthday was nice – it was the first birthday I’d celebrated away from London since 1994. I had a relaxing morning after the manic work week I’d had. My dad’s brother had invited us to lunch with his family so we all went to PF Chang at the Dubai Mall. Being a Friday, it was packed and we had to wait an hour for a table. By the time we sat down we were all famished and over-ordered and subseqently ate too much. After lunch Dad and I went to Gloria Jean’s for coffee and then to du to sort out my phone.

I’d been using a pay as you go number since December, and buying top-up cards every time I ran out of credit. I thought it would be best to switch to a regular mobile contract – partly because I kept forgetting to top up the credit for the BlackBerry service. The guy in the store was helpful and said that my phone would be out of service for about 2 hours. I was still getting calls and messages from friends so I asked him if they could do the change over the following day instead. He said it wouldn’t be a problem. 

That night Dad and I went to Zuma for dinner. We had the edamame, tuna tatake, rock shrimp tempura, ohitashi, and black cod. And then ordered another portion of the tuna tatake. I had two glasses of wine. I usually order a chocolate dessert but that evening I ordered the green tea and banana cake – I’d never tried it before and I’d go back just to have that. Amazing.

2012

We were home by 11pm and soon after midnight my phone stopped working. No calls, no BB Messenger, no texts, no Twitter, nothing. A couple of hours later it still wasn’t working. I went to sleep and woke up and it still wasn’t working. It was starting to piss me off. I called du and was told that it could take up to 24 hours for the change over to complete. TWENTY-FOUR HOURS without a phone? Were they mad? I went to the gym, came home, had lunch, went down to the pool with my book for a couple of hours, came back up at 5.30pm and it STILL wasn’t up and running yet. 

That evening I managed to arrange dinner with a friend who was visiting from India. We met at MoE and decided to go to PF Chang. I’d eaten there the day before but I didn’t mind as I fancied the steamed salmon with ginger which we didn’t have the previous day. I had a healthy dinner of steamed dumplings, steamed salmon and brown rice, and I was home by 10pm. 

My phone started working shortly before midnight – but if anyone had tried to reach me on Saturday I wouldn’t even know as none of those messages or missed calls came through. So those of you that didn’t call on Friday (and you know who you are), if you tell me you tried to get through on Saturday and couldn’t, I may actually believe you. Then again, I may not. 

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