Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

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!

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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).

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Dubai 2015: Week 2

After the craziness of the week before, this week was quite the opposite.

I woke up on Sunday with a scratchy throat. I knew I was going to get sick soon. I left home at about 1pm to deposit a cheque at the new bank where we have our business account. We used to be with Standard Chartered but they closed our account in November last year (but that’s a whole other story). I wasn’t sure how long it would take, and the queue was horrendous when I got there. The waiting area reminded me of an airport lounge – some people looked like they’d been there for hours. Fortunately, the lady at reception told me there was a separate desk for cheque deposits and I was at the bank for all of 5 minutes.

I was meeting my cousin for lunch at Jones the Grocer and I was about 30 minutes early. He was just visiting on his way back to New York and wanted to have a late lunch. I got a table, ordered a fresh orange juice and made myself comfortable with my book. When he arrived, we ordered our food – I had the Jones wagyu burger with truffle mayo (they’d run out of truffle-infused brie) and some fries. He ordered the chargrilled harissa chicken. I also ordered a flat white coffee when we’d finished. After lunch he came over for a while to meet my parents and then went back to his hotel.

That night my mum wanted the three of us to go out for dinner so we went to Madeleine Cafe at the Dubai Mall. As usual, there were several sports cars parked outside the main entrance.

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And once inside the main entrance, there was a Breitling promotion in the atrium.

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Only in Dubai!

I’d never eaten at Madeleine Cafe but my parents wanted us to go somewhere different instead of the usual Wafi Gourmet and PF Chang. I had the goat’s cheese salad to start with, Mum had the escargots and Dad ordered a French onion soup. For my main course I ordered the tagliatelle with salmon, Dad ordered the vegetarian pasta and Mum wanted the quiche Lorraine. While we were waiting for the main course, the Burj Khalifa LED show started. It was the same as the show on New Year’s Eve, but without the fireworks.

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Our main course arrived, but they’d forgotten my mum’s quiche. We were eventually told that they’d run out of quiche and had forgotten to tell us. Mum was actually relieved as the escargots had been quite filling. She had a bit of pasta from me and some from Dad. They also wanted dessert and ordered the Fraise Melba – vanilla ice cream with strawberry sauce and whipped cream. I was so full I couldn’t even bear to look at it. We walked around for a while after dinner, trying to digest our food.

I had another friend in town from London. She was staying with other friends but we’d arranged to have a spa day together on Monday. I’d found an Entertainer 2-for-1 voucher for the spa at the Oberoi in Business Bay and booked two 1-hour massages for 4pm. I wasn’t feeling great – my throat still felt scratchy but I didn’t want to cancel. We met at 1pm at the hotel and went to the poolside. It wasn’t too busy and we were shown to two sunbeds. The weather was lovely and the pool area basked in the sunlight for the whole afternoon.

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After we sat down, the pool attendant came over to us with two bottles of complimentary water, two complimentary Evian facial sprays and even complimentary sunscreen (but we’d brought out own). We ordered some lunch. We decided to share the chicken wrap and the cold mezze platter.

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The food was delicious. After a while, the pool attendant offered us and the other sunbathers frozen fruit pieces served in large martini glasses – also complimentary. We went in for our massages – I opted for the Balinese massage and my massage therapist Ina was actually from Bali. I think she was surprised when I spoke to her in Indonesian… The massage was excellent and Ina gave me some ginger tea with honey for my throat when I was finished. I didn’t want to leave.

But I had to. I got home and got into my pajamas.

I woke up on Tuesday with a cough. I woke up on Wednesday with full-on flu. And I didn’t leave the house the rest of the week. I’d had lunch and dinner plans on Friday which I cancelled, and dinner plans on Saturday which I also cancelled. What a waste of a week! I’m just grateful I work from home and didn’t have to call in sick every day!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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Dubai 2013: Week 34

After my session with Randy on Sunday morning, my parents suggested that I sort out my PIO card. I’d been putting this off for one reason or another but my parents were insistent that I sort it out. Ugh.

Mum and I went to a typing centre at Al Khaleej Centre. I don’t know why we went all the way there because I’m sure there must be places closer to us that offer the same service (or I could have done it at home). They basically filled in the application form for me – I took my passport, my parents’ PIO cards, their passports and they did the rest – and gave me a printed copy. All I had to do was take the form and submit it with all the relevant documents.

That afternoon I went to The Dubai Mall to meet a friend who was in town for the day on his way back to Lagos. I thought we’d go for coffee but he wanted to have a milkshake. I vaguely remembered seeing a milkshake place near The Cheesecake Factory so we went looking for it. We stumbled upon a calligraphy sculpture exhibition called ‘Moon Reflections’ in The Souk section:

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I thought it was pretty cool… I decided I’d take my DSLR camera to the mall later in the week and take some better photos.

We eventually found the milkshake place – it was called Millions of Milkshakes. My friend ordered an Oreo milkshake with cookie dough and I just couldn’t decide what to have. He tried to convince me to have the Galaxy milkshake but I knew it would be too sweet and I’d get sick of it. I opted for a mixed berry milkshake instead – and I’d have it again if I went back there. We caught up over our milkshakes and walked around the mall for a while and then headed home. He had a work event to go to and I had some work to do.

On Monday afternoon I went to see my GP about my knees. I wondered whether I should wait until my knees were sore again before going to see her but I didn’t want to start running, have to stop because of the pain and then start again. She asked me what kind of pain it was and how bad it could get – she was surprised when I told her that when it’s really bad it wakes me up in the night. She checked the range of motion of both my knees (all fine, no pain) and told me to start taking glucosamine and recommended SynoShield Forte (glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM with type II collagen biocomplex) twice a day for 2 months. She also suggested I have an X-ray of my left knee (instead of doing both knees, she thought it would be best to do the one which usually ached more). The radiology clinic wasn’t far from the GP so I went straight there after my appointment. They told me their X-ray machine was out of order and I would have to go to their other branch in Umm Suqeim. I decided to go home for lunch first and then went for my X-ray.

I didn’t have to make an appointment, I could just walk in and would be seen as soon as they were free. It was empty when I got there and I was taken straight in after filling in a registration form. I lay on the table and the X-ray technician positioned my knee so that my leg was straight for the first X-ray and then she covered me with a lead blanket from my thighs upwards. For the second X-ray I had to bend my knee and lay it flat on the table, turning a little on to my left side. I was done in 5 minutes. The results would be sent to my GP and she would let me know if anything suspicious showed up. (I got the all-clear on Wednesday morning.)

On Tuesday morning, my mum and I left home before 10am to sort out my PIO card at the Indian Consulate. I decided I’d do all the photocopying I needed when I got there:

  • Two application forms? Check
  • Two copies of applicant’s passport and valid UAE visa? Check
  • Two copies of parent’s passport? Check
  • Six passport photos? Check

I was sorted. There was no queue and we saw the lady immediately. She went through my forms: ‘Yes… Yes… Good… Sign here… Yes…’ And then: ‘No birth certificate?’ F***. It wasn’t even on the list of required documents. F***, f***, f***ety f***. And where is my birth certificate? In my safety deposit box. And where is my safety deposit box? In London. F***. It will have to wait until November.

On Wednesday evening I met up with a new friend for drinks. I met him at a friend’s dinner party in July and we eventually met this week. We went to La Serre at the new Vida Hotel downtown. It was quite empty when we got there – we met at 6.30 – but by the time we left (10pm – four glasses of wine and one vodka later) it was pretty crowded. It was a fun evening – and nice to talk to someone new…

On Thursday evening a friend invited me and a couple of friends to her brother’s flat in the Burj Khalifa (her brother was out of town). Trying to get into the Burj Khalifa is like getting into Fort Knox. Actually I’d imagine getting into Fort Knox is easier! The first security check is in the driveway – you stop, tell the security guy what flat you’re going to, they call the flat, the flat confirms whether or not you’re telling the truth. Then they let you through (or not). Once you’re in the building you have to check in with the receptionist – they ask what flat you’re going to and your name. Residents have to let security know in advance if they’re having people over. The receptionist then escorted us to the lift and we went up to the 23rd floor. The view was spectacular.

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We had some cheese and wine – it was a really nice evening. At about 11pm we decided to go to McGettigan’s for a drink. On the way out of the building I noticed the entrance to the Burj Khalifa Residence (I saw it on the way in obviously but didn’t really look at it as I was so flustered with the whole security process). There are cymbals on long poles that go all the way up to the ceiling – they’re different sizes and are placed at different heights. Water drips from the ceiling on to the cymbals and creates melodies! Isn’t that just genius?

We went to McGettigan’s for a drink and then headed home by 12.30. It was a nice evening – not too crazy!

On Friday, me and three girlfriends went to Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal on Sheikh Zayed Road. We’d bought a Cobone deal a couple of months before and decided we’d make a day of it. The voucher cost AED275 – it included use of the pool, steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and a 75-minute massage. Considering their 60-minute massage is AED400 and you have to pay extra to use the pool, it was a bloody good deal.

The pool at the Radisson Royal

The pool at the Radisson Royal

We got there at noon, swam, sunbathed, read, had lunch, had massages, went back to the pool to watch the sunset.

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I came home a few shades darker!

I was home all day on Saturday – I went to the gym, I swam, I read my book by the pool, I caught up on some work. A lovely day!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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