Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2013: Week 14

My sister and nephew left Dubai early on Sunday morning and the house was so quiet when I woke up. That afternoon I went to Onyx Spa and Fitness for a Brazilian keratin treatment – I’d bought the voucher on Groupon and was keen to use it before I forgot! I’ve had the Brazilian keratin treatment done in Dubai three times since I moved but the results have never been as good as used to be in London. It could be the weather, the fact that I exercise more, who knows?

Later that day I met up with someone who works in publishing. I’d never met her before but a friend of mine introduced us on Facebook as he’d met her on a night out and thought we should meet. We met at the Media One Hotel (where her office is) and had a juice at Cafe M. She was friendly and helpful – she asked me to send her my CV and she would forward it to a few people. I’m not sure how I feel about working full time again but if any freelance work came my way I wouldn’t say no to it.

I met up with a friend for lunch on Monday. We went to Ping Pong at the Dubai Mall. It was entertaining as always! After lunch, I went to the Al Qasr Hotel as some friends from London were staying there. They stayed there last year when we went to their fabulous Friday brunch! We sat by the pool for a while, watching the kids splashing around. We then took the kids to the kids’ area where they played ‘chef’ and served us various dishes! We took an abra back to their villa (beautiful rooms). The kids were in the bath and I sat on their balcony with a glass of champagne reading my book – does life get any better than this?? We decided to try the Spanish restaurant Al Hambra for an early dinner. We ordered a selection of tapas and a jug of sangria! We were done by 9pm and I went home.

I did a juice cleanse on Tuesday. Luckily I had a few things to distract myself from the fact I wasn’t eating all day. I had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon followed by a piano lesson. There were a couple of times when all I could think about was a big burger and some French fries, but I resisted! Just as I was finishing my piano lesson we heard a strange creaking coming from the next room. My teacher and I went in to see what it was but couldn’t figure it out. I told him that if I didn’t know any better I’d say the building was swaying. As I left the building a friend sent me a text asking if I was OK? I wasn’t sure what she was referring to but said I was fine and why wouldn’t I be? She told me (all the way from South Africa) that there had been an earthquake. It’s quite possible that the building I’d been in had been swaying after all – but being on the first floor we didn’t notice!

On Wednesday I went back to Onyx Spa and Fitness as I had another voucher for a Dermalogica facial and massage. The last time I’d had a facial and massage there was back in November. My therapist was Lulu, an Indonesian lady. I told her I wanted the facial first followed by the massage, but she said the treatments had to be done the other way around. I couldn’t be bothered to argue with her so just left her to get on with it. She was very good – much better than the previous therapist I had (the one with the cough).

A friend invited me to a girls’ night out on Thursday night. It was at someone’s house in Jumeirah and everyone had to take a bottle of whatever they were going to drink. Everyone was very friendly – and a many of them were ex or current Emirates staff. I heard some interesting stories! We were there till about 1.30am and then went home.

I met up with a friend for dinner and drinks on Friday night. We met at Caramel and had dinner there (carpaccio, spicy tuna rolls, TNT shrimp, yellowtail) and a bottle of white wine. After that we walked over to Zuma for some more drinks. After that we thought we’d go to The Act but when we got to the Shangri-La the staff told us that they’re only open on Thursdays. Oops. Oh well, we settled for a drink at the Balcony Bar and then went home.

I got home at around 3am and put my key on the door only to find that one of my parents had left their key in the door on the other side and I couldn’t get the door open! My dad is usually up until I get home but that night he’d decided to go to bed ‘early’. I called his mobile it was off. I called my mum’s mobile – it just rang and rang and went to voicemail. I called the landline – no answer. I rang the bell continuously – no answer. Shit. At 3.40 I texted a friend to see if she was awake and told her I was locked out. No answer. I was outside my front door until 5am, ringing the bell and calling the landline constantly. By then I needed the loo too! I thought about going back to the Shangri-La and getting a room. And then my friend texted me at 5.15 to ask if I managed to get in? Nope! So I went to her place and spent the night there. What a nightmare. What if it had been a real emergency??

I got home at about 1pm the next day, to very apologetic parents!

That night I went out with a friend to an over-35s Meetup group at the Marriott in Marina. The venue was The Observatory on the 52nd floor of the hotel. The views from up there are quite spectacular. We were there during happy hour so we had some mojitos and mingled with some interesting characters. We also ordered some food – baked Camembert, calamari and a mezze platter. It was all average – I’m not sure I’d go there again.

I got home after midnight and was absolutely shattered. I’d hardly slept the night before and couldn’t wait to get into bed!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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Dubai: Week 37

It was quite a busy week and I didn’t get as much work or writing done as I would have liked.

I’d bought a voucher a while ago for a Dermalogica massage and facial at Onyx Fitness and Spa on Jumeirah Beach Road. I made my appointment for Sunday and went along with my voucher. It’s a nice place – I think it’s new. The treatment rooms were spacious and my therapist told me she’d do the massage first and then the facial (which I thought was odd, but she was the expert). Both the massage and facial were OK – what ruined it for me was that the therapist kept coughing. I know that people get coughs and it can’t be helped – but during my facial she kept coughing and I just wanted her to stop! What should she have done? Covered her mouth when she coughed and washed her hands each time before continuing with the facial? Or carried on with the facial while coughing without covering her mouth? I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

On Monday I had an appointment with Randy, my new trainer – as Rama had left Dubai.

That afternoon I had an appointment for a Brazilian keratin treatment. It was another voucher I’d bought before my trip to Bali and it was expiring soon. I went to Hair and Colors Salon at the Four Points by Sheraton on Sheikh Zayed Road. The salon was empty apart from the two Arab men who worked there. In the past, it has always taken at least two hours to do the treatment – by the time my hair was washed, and the chemicals applied followed by the blowdry and ironing, it’s at least 2 hours – depending on the length of my hair.

The younger guy washed my hair, rough dried it with a hairdryer and applied the treatment. It wasn’t the same treatment I’d used in the past – it was a spray called Brazilian 24 Hour Keratin Treatment by Rejuvenol.

Rejuvenol

The hairdresser sprayed it into my damp hair, straightened my hair with hair straighteners and I was done. In just under an hour. He told me to leave the treatment in for 24 hours and then I could wash it. Great!

I picked up a French vanilla cappuccino from Tim Horton’s on my way home and settled down to do some work.

I was home most of Tuesday. That evening I met up with someone I’d met at the last wine club. Her office is at the World Trade Centre so we decided to meet at McGettigan’s at the World Trade Centre. I was half an hour late – it took me ages to find a cab and when I got to the World Trade Centre I couldn’t find the bar! I got there eventually and we had a few drinks and some dinner. Considering there was an exhibition on at the World Trade Centre the bar was quite quiet – apart from the table next to ours who were singing along with the Irish folk band. It was a nice evening and I was home at a reasonable hour.

After my session at the gym on Wednesday I washed my hair, not knowing what it would look like after the Brazilian keratin treatment. I let it air dry and was pleasantly surprised at the results. The frizz had gone and it was slightly wavy rather than poker straight. Perfect – now let’s hope it lasts at least a couple of months!

On Wednesday afternoon I headed to Abu Dhabi (for the first time) to see one of the boys who was there for the day. It took just over 1.5 hours to get there – partly because there had been an accident and traffic was being diverted in different directions. Thank goodness for Google Maps! His meeting was done by lunchtime so I met him at the Beach Rotana where he was staying and we had lunch outdoors at Indigo. We ordered our starters from the Indigo menu but didn’t fancy a heavy Indian meal for lunch – we asked them whether we could order from the Italian restaurant next door and they didn’t have a problem with that (eventually). We ordered the spinach salad with goat’s cheese and artichokes to start, and we shared the grilled salmon and tiger prawns as our main course. The salad was good, the main course was disappointing. We also had a bottle of rosé which went down rather quickly! It was great to see him and catch up – we hadn’t met since I was in London in June. Later that afternoon another friend of his joined us so we ended up ordering another bottle of rosé – and then heading to Trader Vic’s for a drink (totally unnecessary!).

I left Abu Dhabi at about 6.30pm and was home by 8pm. I thought the traffic heading back to Dubai at that time would be worse but it wasn’t too bad.

I was home most of Thursday, apart from a trip to the supermarket and a stop at Tim Horton’s for a French Vanilla cappuccino.

It was a very lazy weekend. Friday was lazy but I managed to drag myself to Karma Kafe for a drink with a friend. I had two drinks and was home soon after midnight. Saturday was also lazy. I suppose that’s what weekends are for!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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Dubai: Week 19

After my usual session with Rama on Sunday, my parents decided we’d take my grandmother to see the Dubai Mall and have lunch there. Being a working day we hoped it wouldn’t be too crowded. I’d found out that if you go to any information desk at the mall you can ask them for a wheelchair. Isn’t that so good? We got one for my grandmother just in case she got tired after walking for a while.

We showed her the aquarium and went down to Wafi Gourmet for lunch. It wasn’t as crowded as it normally is on the weekends, but the service was still rubbish. After lunch, I left them at the mall as I had a hair appointment.

I’d found an online deal a few weeks ago for a Brazilian keratin treatment at the Monarch Hotel and needed to use it before it expired. I got there on time and I was their only customer in the 1.5 hours I was there. The man told me that they used something called the Crystal Brazilian keratin treatment which doesn’t contain formaldehyde or any other harsh chemicals. Sure enough, it didn’t smell of anything as he was applying it and I didn’t have to cover my nose and mouth due to fumes. He told me I couldn’t wet my hair for three days. I also couldn’t tie it up, swim or exercise. 

I got home at around 6pm to find my mum asleep on the sofa, my grandmother asleep in her room, and my dad asleep in my parents’ room. There was snoring coming from every room in the flat. And manic laughter coming from Joy’s room (I think (hope) she was watching TV).

My grandmother brought a helper with her as she needs assistance with various things. Her name is Neeta and she speaks very little English but can understand most of it (I think). She talks to me in Hindi, I talk to her in English – it works. I tried speaking to her in Hindi but she laughed at my attempts (I don’t blame her – even my Indonesian is better than my Hindi).

Joy and Neeta, however, are another story. They are not getting on. At. All. Or rather Joy is not getting on with Neeta. There are times when Joy gets worked up when she assumes Neeta doesn’t understand what she’s saying. Neeta shakes her head and laughs which in turn makes Joy even more worked up as she assumes Neeta’s laughing at her and not at the situation they’re in. Then there are other times when I can hear them both laughing in the kitchen. 

On Monday night we went to Sukh Sagar for dinner again. I can see this becoming a regular thing with us! I had the same palak dosa I had last time. Everyone else ordered something different but when they tried my dosa they wished they’d ordered it for themselves! 

On Tuesday I was invited to a friend’s place for tea. I’ve learned that here in Dubai ‘tea’ can mean anything from literally just tea to a spread consisting of pizza, sandwiches, pasta, kebabs, four different kinds of cakes and ice cream. Tea on Tuesday was a full-on spread. There were about 10-12 women and I didn’t leave there until after 7pm. I went home for a while and then went to meet my parents for dinner at Mercato – we ended up at Bella Donna again. I was so full from tea that all I had for dinner was soup and a salmon carpaccio salad. 

On Wednesday night we decided to go to Lemongrass for dinner. My mum hadn’t been there yet, we thought my grandmother would like it, and we invited two of my cousins to join us. I’ve really enjoyed the food there in the past and looked forward to going. As always the food was yummy. And then, at the end of the meal, a cockroach ran across the table! I freaked out and pushed my chair back from the table, but instead of my chair moving backwards I ended up pushing the table forwards and my cousin’s glass fell off the table and practically on to her lap. Thankfully it was empty. Oops! I don’t know where the cockroach ended up but I saw another one a few minutes later on the cabinet above the bar area. The waitress didn’t seem particularly bothered by it so perhaps they’re all over the place! Dad asked if anyone wanted dessert. I said all I wanted was to get the hell out of there! I don’t think I can go back there again.

Thursday was a chilled day. I went to the gym, did some work and then sat by the pool for a while. I didn’t have any plans that evening until a friend got in touch and suggested going for dinner. We went to Royal China – I’d never seen it so crowded. We shared a bottle of red wine, and a couple of dishes, and were the last to leave the restaurant at about midnight. After that I went to meet my cousins at Cin Cin at the Fairmont. I had three vodkas with soda, and we were the last to leave the bar. I slept till 11am the next morning!

I didn’t have any plans for Friday either. I had lunch at home with my parents and grandmother and then went down to the pool at about 4pm with my book. I have quite a serious tan now! My mum can no longer call me ‘Paleface’ or ‘Casper’. That evening I ended up at Lafayette Gourmet with my cousins. Nothing too hectic and that way we could all order whatever cuisine we felt like.

On Saturday I walked over to the spin class at the Shangri-La only to find they don’t have a spin class on Saturday mornings. Surely someone could have told me that when I called them to reserve a space for it? I ended up using their gym instead (for free). I went back home and spent the afternoon at the pool with my book. Not a very eventful weekend, but I’m heading to London in a couple of weeks and will make up for it then! 

See more Dubai updates here.

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Results: Brazilian keratin treatment

Hurrah! I could finally wash my hair this evening after my Brazilian keratin treatment on Saturday afternoon.

To recap, this is what my hair looked like when it dried naturally before I had the treatment:
2011
I washed it this evening with an Elucence shampoo and conditioner. As far as I know, you can’t get this in the UK – a friend of mine brought this for me from the US a while ago. You need so little of each product that the shampoo and conditioner lasted an entire year – and that was with me washing my hair three times a week.
2011
My hair felt thinner while washing it but I think that’s because it’s much shorter than usual at the moment and I’m not used to it yet.
After washing it, I let it dry naturally – I combed it with a wide-tooth comb after towel drying it and didn’t touch it again. It was almost dry when I took this picture:
2011
What a difference!
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Brazilian keratin treatment: Don’t you know straight hair ain’t got no curl?

If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know that I have very curly hair and that I also had it cut quite short last weekend. It looks great when it’s blowdried straight, but when I wash it and leave it to dry naturally, it looks like this:

2011

The first time I heard about the Brazilian keratin treatment was when I went to Jamaica in the summer of 2009. I was told how amazing it was and how straight my hair would be and my mum urged me to do it. I didn’t want to do it there – I’d never heard of it and wanted to research it properly. When I got back to London, I read about it on various websites – some reviews were good, some were bad, the chemicals used are carcinogenic, there’s formaldehyde in the formula… It went on and on. But I wanted to see what it was all about and made an appointment at Joshua Altback in St John’s Wood High Street. The whole treatment took almost 3 hours and afterwards, instead of the crazy curls, I had much looser waves – I quite liked it. I did it again twice at the same place – the last time was a year ago.

I’d been wanting to do it again, but I didn’t feel like spending £200 on the treatment! I subscribe to these online deal websites – Groupon and kgbdeals – and when an offer came up in May for a Brazilian straightening treatment for £49, I bought it. It was at a place called Brazil Hair and Beauty on Charing Cross Road – when I rang them, a very English-sounding man made my booking and when I told him my name, he said ‘Oh, Nectar’. It only occurred to me to ask him how he knew what my name meant after I’d hung up. I figured I’d just ask him when I saw him at my appointment.

So I headed to Charing Cross Road today. I got to the right number on the street and was surprised to find a place that looked like an arcade/mini mall, selling electronics and other random stuff. I walked in anyway and asked the man behind the counter if he knew where the salon was – it was on the first floor so I took the escalator. The salon was right there and I almost wanted to laugh. I’m being generous when I call it a salon. I think the whole place is slightly larger than my kitchen. It reminded me of a salon called Blue Heaven in Colaba in Bombay – where my mum used to take me in the late 70s.

Both hairdressers (one male and one female) were busy and asked me to take a seat while they finished what they were doing. One of the customers asked me if I could speak Portuguese. I said I couldn’t – and she said that everyone at the salon – employees and clientele – were all Brazilian. So where was the guy who’d made my appointment then? The customer apologised for the hairdresser running late as it was her fault and asked me if I’d ever tried a Brazilian soft drink called Guaraná Antarctica. I thought it was a random question – and said I hadn’t. She spoke perfect English, but the two hairdressers seemed to speak only a few words. Anyway, eventually she was finished, my appointment was about 20 minutes late and while I was having my hair washed, she came back in with a cold can of this Guaraná Antarctica and gave it to me. I thought that was so sweet of her! It tasted pretty good…

Anyway, the assistant (who spoke good English) washed my hair with a clarifying shampoo, towel-dried it and sat me in front of the mirror. The female hairdresser rough-dried my hair with a hairdryer and then mixed the solution. She put on one rubber glove and started applying the solution to my hair. I thought it was odd that she used just the one glove as she was using both her hands to apply the solution and rub it in to my hair! Nobody had asked me if I’d ever had it done before or any questions at all about my hair. The application of the solution was fine.

After that she asked me to put on a mask that covered my nose and mouth (in the past I’ve just used held a towel against my nose/mouth and closed my eyes). She started blowdrying my hair. It was awful. The formula she used was much stronger than the ones I’ve used before – my eyes were burning, my throat was burning, even my nostrils were burning. At this point, the male hairdresser started blowdrying the other side of my head, so not only was I extremely uncomfortable, but my hair was being pulled in two different directions and I was getting irritated. I’m also sure I’ve developed lines around my eyes from scrunching up my face for so long.

After this, the female hairdresser disappeared and the man used the straighteners all over my hair. When he was nearly done, he said ‘For three days, no… er… no…’. ‘Wash?’ I ventured. ‘Yes, wash,’ he said. What amused me was that he couldn’t string a sentence together in English but knew all the words to ‘I Want to be a Millionnaire’ and every other song on the radio. My whole appointment took about 90 minutes and here’s what it looks like now:

2011

Quite a difference! The assistant tried to sell me some sodium-free shampoo but I told her I already had some. She then told me I shouldn’t wash my hair for three days. I told her I knew that. ‘Oh, this isn’t your first time?’ Shouldn’t she have asked me that before?

Just to be clear, I’m not expecting my hair to look like this after I wash it. I’m expecting a looser, more natural-looking wave.

Would I go back to the salon? I’m not sure right now. I might need a lesson or two in Portuguese first!

12 July 2011 update: Check out the results!

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