Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 5

After the gym on Sunday morning, I went to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch with my parents and some friends who were visiting from out of town. After lunch I went to Go Sports to get a yoga strap – and I also ended up picking up a new zip-up top from Nike and a t-shirt from Under Armour. Mum wanted to go to Kinokuniya (honestly, it wasn’t my idea) to look around (and I ended up buying a book).

On Monday I had my piano lesson in the afternoon and finished recording a piece called ‘Elements’ by Ludovico Einaudi.

I also had my Arabic class that evening.

On Tuesday I went to the gym and then took my parents to Jean-Georges at the Four Seasons. It was my mum’s birthday and neither of them had been there. The weather was lovely so we had a table outside, in the shade. We each ordered a glass of Prosecco and shared a few starters: truffle pizza, hamachi, crispy sushi, warm prawn salad.

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We ordered our own main courses: I had the ‘simply prepared’ grilled sea bass, my mum had the lamb chops and my dad had the roast sea bass. For dessert I ordered the cheesecake for all of us to share, but they also brought out a little chocolate mousse cake with a candle for my mum (I’d called the day before to see if they could organise something).

After lunch we went to the Virgin Megastore at the Dubai Mall as Dad wanted to get a new printer. I ended up getting some new headphones (Yurbuds) for my iPod, for the gym. That evening Mum and I went to see Sisters at Mercato (Dad went to play poker) – it was a funny movie if you’re in the mood for a chick flick. We had planned to grab a bite at Mercato after the movie but we were still so full from lunch so we came home and had some soup instead.

I had a session with Pete on Wednesday morning and my Arabic class in the evening.

On Thursday evening I went to the Capital Club for a friend’s birthday. I got there at about 7.30pm and met a few of her friends. I’d met a couple of them before, but it was mostly a new crowd. They were a fun group and there was a lot of vodka. I left at around 2.15am (several of them were still there) and it was only when I got home that I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch – apart from some peanuts at the bar…

On Friday afternoon, I went to Spa Zen for a massage with my friend who had celebrated her birthday the night before. Our massages were at 4.15pm but we met at 3.30pm and chatted in the relaxation room until our appointments began. Luckily there was nobody else in the room! After our massages, we carried on talking until 7pm before deciding it was time to get ready and go home. I got home, ordered some sushi and got into my pajamas.

I was home on Saturday, doing some work and generally lazing around. In the evening, my friend picked me up for our usual walk on the beach. We got there a bit later than usual but still managed to catch a gorgeous sunset! I was home by 7.15pm and had a relaxing evening at home.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 28

I started my Beginners II Arabic course on Sunday morning. It was an intensive Ramadan term – 30 hours in 4 weeks. I didn’t want to wait until September as I thought I would forget what I’d learned, especially the alphabet! I also knew I’d be travelling in October and would miss about 3 weeks of classes – which seemed pointless. So I thought I’d continue while it was still fresh in my mind. I had originally signed up for the 12-2pm class which would take place four times a week from Sunday to Wednesday. About a week before the course was due to start I was told that there hadn’t been enough demand for that time slot and the only other one available was from 9-11am. Jesus, I thought. It would probably kill me, but I decided to go for it anyway.

Luckily I had the same teacher as my Beginners I course – and I think she’s a great teacher. It was a full a class – 12 people from all over – India, Pakistan, Venezuela, Brazil, the UK, Poland, Spain, Turkey. Our first session consisted of revision of what we had learned in Beginners I – it had only been 10 days since my last class but it’s shocking how quickly I had forgotten a few things. As it was Ramadan, we weren’t allowed to eat or drink in the classroom. I was used to making a cup of tea in the break and sipping it throughout the second half of the lesson but I couldn’t do that any more.

After Arabic I had a session with Randy and then worked the rest of the day.

In Monday’s Arabic class we did some more revision and learned a few new things:

  • Directions – what area you live in, what building, next to/opposite, road/street, turn

Our teacher told us that after the first week of Beginners II she would no longer write in phonetics and all her writing on the overhead projector would be in Arabic. Uh-oh.

Tuesday was a busy day. We learned more new things in Arabic:

  • More directions – close to/far from, roundabout, airport, traffic, flat/apartment, giving directions to your home

I had a piano lesson that afternoon. I had paid for the whole month (five lessons) but my piano teacher told me he’d be travelling the following week and wanted to cram three lessons into the same week. I didn’t mind having two lessons that week, but three seemed a bit much!

That evening I went to an Iftar at Mizaan at the H Hotel. I can see why people don’t lose weight over Ramadan. The selection of food is astonishing. And the desserts were incredible – not just Arabic dessert either – cheesecake, wheat-free chocolate cake, regular chocolate cake, it was all there. After dinner we decided to have a drink at the bar just off the lobby – One on One. It was freezing in there. I had a glass of wine and went home. I was tired and had to be up early the next day.

More Arabic on Wednesday! We learned:

  • More directions – first, second, third, floor, ground floor, in front/behind, straight
  • Verb conjugations
  • More random vocabulary – hotel, tax, trade centre, language(s), to know, to travel

That afternoon I met up with my cousin and his wife and kids who were visiting Dubai for a few days.

That night I met another cousin for dinner. We went to PF Chang and had our usual favourites – hot and sour soup, dynamite shrimp, Mongolian lamb, brown rice. The menu never changes.

We ended up at The Cheesecake Factory for dessert. I had the Red Velvet Cheesecake and felt quite sick afterwards.

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I had my second piano lesson of the week on Thursday – it would be my last one for a month. I’d felt like I’d been making some progress over the last couple of months and thought a month of no lessons wouldn’t be good for me!

That evening I went to wine club. We’d been told that because of summer and Ramadan there wouldn’t be another wine club until September but demand was so high that the organisers arranged for wine club to take place without them! It was held at Vintage at Wafi Pyramids. The format was a little different – instead of having people sitting at tables of 10 as usual, we were given six tokens (labelled A to F) and had to go to the bar to collect our drinks when we were ready. I think many people (myself included) weren’t happy with the quantity of wine being served – at a table you get one-tenth of a bottle but here we were lucky if we got one-tenth of a glass! And I didn’t really enjoy any of the wines we had:

  • Rosemount ‘O’ Moscato (Australia) – spicy, grapefruit aromas. Palate delicately sparkling this wine displays luscious, sweet fruit flavours with beautifully balanced acidity – like biting into a cool, crisp grape. A light, fresh and zesty style with fruit sweetness ensuring flavour, balance and intensity are retained when served over ice.
  • Boukenhoutskloof Porcupine Ridge Viognier Grenache Blanc (Coastal Region, South Africa) – an unusual blend of white grapes, reminiscent of a Rhone blend, partially fermented in French oak. The aromas of ripe apricots and spicy floral aromas dominate the nose, while the palate is made more crisp by the Grenache Blanc, with a streak of minerality.
  • Yalumba Viognier (Barossa Valley, Australia) – this is a full-bodied dry white, with a gorgeously perfumed floral scent and a ripe, peach and apricot fruit, with a silky palate-feel.
  • Nicolas Rossignol Bourgogne Rouge (France) – 100% Pinot Noir. The fruits are soft and silky in the mouth with a touch of raspberry with fine tannins. The finish is firm but fresh. Excellent pairing with game, red meats, roasted vegetables and risotto.
  • Dourthe La Terrase de la Garde (AOC, Pessac Leognac, France) – intense ruby red in colour. The typical Pessac-Leognan bouquet offers abundant fruit-laden character, revealing black cherries, plum and a trace of smoke, lifted with a hint of spice. Generous and dense on the palate, with a noticeable tannic structure, with no hint of aggressive character, evolving towards a powerful, savoury finish.
  • Marques de Caceres Reserva (DOC Rioja, Spain) – a dense bouquet of toasted aromas, red and black berries, luscious fruits and spices with a rich, layered body of spicy black fruits and succulent red fruits with integrated tannins, fresh acidity.

We stayed on for a while, ordering a couple of bottles of wine for a few of us, and some food. I met the manager, a lovely Spanish lady and we had a long conversation in Spanish. I always speak better Spanish after a few drinks – I think it unlocks a part of my brain and I suddenly start remembering random vocabulary! After we left Vintage, four of us ended up at McGettigan’s. It was a really fun evening.

Friday morning was not so fun. I felt like hell. A friend and I had booked massages at the Palace Hotel for later that afternoon. We met at 4.15pm and went to the spa.

The relaxation room

The relaxation room

My 80-minute massage was amazing. When I was finished I was lying down in the relaxation room when a woman walked in. I was a bit bleary-eyed from my massage and thought it was my friend when she lay on the bed next to mine. I looked closer and realised that it wasn’t her at all. We started talking – she asked me if I was staying at the hotel (she was), I asked her where she was from (Kenya), when I told her I grew up in Nigeria she mentioned someone else she knew who grew up in Nigeria but who now lives in Hong Kong. It turned out that she knew a very good friend of mine who I’ve known since we were babies! This is the same friend who stayed with me in June… What a small world! We swapped numbers – my friend and I invited her to join us for dinner later but she was jetlagged.

My friend and I decided to get ready. I saw this notice in the changing room:

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We walked to Souk Al Bahar and ended up at Left Bank. We got there just as the cannon went off and she started sipping her water. We both ordered the fish and chips (a huge portion which I couldn’t finish). I was surprised when my friend asked the waitress what time they started serving alcohol because she was fasting! I guess everyone interprets the rules differently. I asked her how she could drink and then fast the following day – wouldn’t she be hydrated? She said that she would go home, have 2 litres of water and be fine the next day. One of my friends joined us for a drink and we ended up ordering a bottle of the rose. Another friend also joined us after a little while.

After dinner we walked over to Karma Kafe but decided we wouldn’t stay there. We ended up having cocktails at Sake No Hana. I’d heard mixed things about the food, and sure enough the restaurant area was quite empty, but the bar is lovely! I’d definitely go back again. It wasn’t a heavy night and I was home by 12.30.

I spent all of Saturday at home, catching up on work. My Mum arrived from India that evening so we spent the evening catching up.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 2

Yet another busy week!

After my session with Randy on Sunday I took my sister to the doctor at GMC in Jumeirah. We then wandered around the book store for a little while waiting for our mum to show up. By this time it was after 3pm and none of us had eaten lunch. We ended up at Johnny Rocket’s on the other side of Jumeirah Beach Road. Once we’d sat down, Dad decided to join us as well. The food was average and the fries are better at McDonald’s. I wouldn’t go back.

Across the car park from the restaurant was a pet shop called Animal World. We took Vinay in to have a look at the animals – they had many puppies, birds and rabbits.

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After the pet store, my sister, Vinay and I went to Mercato. He fell asleep in his pram in about 5 minutes so we walked around in peace. We went to La Senza and I saw a pair of pajamas I liked. I didn’t feel like trying them on (especially after the burger and chips I had) so I asked one of the sales assistants for help.

‘Do you think I need a medium or large?’ I asked. I had a medium pair in my left hand and the large in my right.

‘Yes,’ she replied.

I looked at my sister. I repeated it slower. She looked like she understood.

‘Yes. We have medium and large.’

Jesus.

‘Yes, I’m holding them. Do I need medium or large?’

It would have been quicker and less painful to try them on.

‘I think medium will be OK. Large is bigger.’

Genius.

That wasn’t much help but I went with the medium though – the large pair seemed too long and big.

We had a quick look in a few other shops and then went home.

Our parents were out that evening so we relaxed at home.

I had a doctor’s appointment on Monday on Monday afternoon – back in October I had a stye and I thought it had cleared but while I was in Singapore it had come back. It wasn’t swollen or painful, just a solid lump under my eyelid. The doctor gave me a prescription for a cream that should be applied and massaged on the eyelid at night. She also suggested I see the eye specialist at the clinic the following week. I thought I might as well mention my sore wrists but she told me to just ignore it unless it got worse. Er, OK?

After my appointment I picked up a French Vanilla cappuccino from Tim Horton’s next door and went home.

That night my sister and I had dinner with three of our cousins at The Meat Company at Souk Al Bahar. We had to sneak out of the house and hope Vinay wouldn’t notice we’d gone! I’d just bought the new Entertainer voucher book so took three vouchers with me and we ended up saving AED 585! We ordered six main courses and got three free. Bargain! I think the steaks there are very good, and definitely worth it if you get two main courses for the price of one. We also had two bottles of red wine.

Tuesday was the busiest, most exhausting day. My sister, Vinay and I left home at 10.30 to meet a friend at The Dubai Mall for breakfast/coffee. We met at Erik Kayser and ordered our food. We had omelettes and coffee. The omelette was good but the coffee was vile. I didn’t enjoy it at all.

Just after 12 our friend had to leave and Vinay had been promised a ride on a bus since the day he’d arrived. As we walked to the main entrance of the mall, we walked past Nine West and got distracted. We each bought a pair of bright yellow heels and my sister also bought a bright pink pair too. As we were paying I wondered how we’d carry these things around with us, and look after Vinay. I asked the sales assistant if we could leave the packages with him and come back for them later? Yes, no problem, madam. Great.

We made it to the front entrance without buying anything else. Phew! We waited outside for the Big Bus to arrive and a few minutes later there it was. The expression on Vinay’s face as we got on the bus was priceless. He was so excited and couldn’t stop grinning.

We took the Red Route which took us to the older part of Dubai. The Blue Route went down Sheikh Zayed Road to The Atlantis on the Palm and Mall of the Emirates and so on, and we didn’t fancy that. You could hop on and off at the various stops but because we were with Vinay we stayed on the bus the whole time. We went to Wafi, Creek Park, the Spice Souk, the Gold Souk, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s house, the Old Souk, Al Fahidi Fort (which houses the Dubai Museum). The route took about 1.5 hours and all the excitement proved too much for Vinay who fell asleep. We eventually got to Burjuman where we had to change buses to get back to the Dubai Mall.

I realised that once we had switched to the Blue Route it wouldn’t take us straight back to the mall. It was going down Jumeirah Beach Road towards the Palm. We got off the bus at the Jumeirah Mosque and took a cab to the mall. Our parents were meeting us there for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. By this time it was 3pm.

It didn’t take long to get a table, thank goodness. I was hungry, thirsty and tired. I had my usual herb-encrusted salmon. I do want to try some of the other dishes but the portions there are huge! I always order from the Lunch Specials menu where the portions are smaller (and even then the portions are still big). We were talking about the bus tour we’d been on when Vinay suddenly announced: ‘I’m farting in my nappy’. We all burst out laughing – it was so unexpected!

After lunch my parents took Vinay home and my sister and I stayed on at the mall. It was 8pm by the time we got home! We were shattered. It had been a long day.

I met a couple of friends for lunch on Wednesday. We went to Balance Cafe at the Oasis Centre. I’d never been there before and both Rama and Randy had told me the food was very good and very healthily prepared. Through the Entertainer website I’d coincidentally found vouchers for Balance Cafe – buy one main course and get the second free! Lunch was very nice – we ordered a salad to start, and for my main course I had the steamed cream dory with asparagus. It was so tasty! One of my friends ordered the grilled chicken skewer and the other ordered a prawn curry. For dessert we had coffees and shared the chocolate and date torte (yum).

I was home the rest of the day.

I had a piano lesson on Thursday. We worked on some sightreading, some scales, ‘Autumn Leaves’, and spent most of the time on ‘Comptine’.

My sister and Vinay left for Lagos that night. The flat was so quiet after they’d gone.

I went to a party at my cousin’s place in The Lakes. I knew about seven out of the 100 people there but it was a fun evening. They had the party out in the garden, the food was catered from Royal Orchid, they had leather sofas to lounge on, and the DJ was really good. We drank, danced (a bit), ate. It was after 3am when I got home.

I spent all of Friday in my pajamas. That night I met up with a couple of friends at Vintage in Wafi. We had a couple of bottles of wine and some cheese fondue. After that we went next door to Carter’s for a drink. I’d only been there once, back in September. The music was much better than the last time but it was just as empty. It was an early night – I was home by midnight.

On Saturday Dad and I decided we’d go out for lunch. Mum was busy at home with the cleaner so it was just the two of us. We thought we’d try a Chinese place my parents had found the week before called China Times at Jumeirah Plaza. We really fancied some dim sum but when we got there, the waiter told us their steamer had broken down. We ended up ordering soup and crispy beef for starters.

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I ordered the steamed hammour for the main course but the waiter reminded me that the steamer wasn’t working. We ordered the black pepper beef instead (we’d forgotten about the beef starter).

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I wanted the pak choy in garlic but they didn’t have that either. The food was good but I think if I decide to go back I’ll call them beforehand to find out what they have and whether their steamer is working!

That evening I went to my writers’ group at the Pavilion Downtown. As my wrist had been sore I decided I’d take my iPad and work on that rather than my usual pen and paper. I downloaded an app called ‘Inkwell for Dropbox’ which backs up your documents to your Dropbox account automatically. Amazing!

I got to the Pavilion, connected to their wi-fi network and we began. The organiser had decided that she would do ‘first liners’ this week, where she provides a sentence and you make that the first line of your writing. The first exercise began with: ‘His grandfather had worked at the grocery store ever since he was a young man’. I started to write about an older Cuban man who had been in New York since he was a child. It was very different to anything I’d written and I really thought it was something I’d consider continuing when I got home. Once 30 minutes was up, we stopped writing and talked about what we’d written. How had we found the exercise? Did this method of writing work for me? I said it did, because it’s easier than looking at a blank page and wondering where to start!

After a chat around the table, the organiser gave us the second sentence. I powered up my iPad and… the writing I’d done had disappeared. I checked my Dropbox account. It was empty. F***! I was so annoyed! I wanted to punch someone – I’d written about 700 words and was so pleased with what I’d done. I decided to use the regular ‘Notes’ section in my iPad for the second exercise.

The second exercise began with ‘In the middle of nowhere, along a quiet stretch of road, the diner dreamt of the hungry dead’. I was still upset about my writing vanishing so I wrote about a writer sitting in a cafe thinking how being eaten by a zombie would be a better fate than facing his editor (with whom he had also just begun a relationship) and telling her how he’d managed to lose all his research and didn’t have a back-up. The other members in the group were quite amused when I told them what had happened…

I was home by 8.30pm and my parents were out so I had some dinner, read my book and went to sleep.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 44

Another hectic week!

After my training session with Randy on Sunday, my sister, Vinay and I went to The Cheesecake Factory for lunch. We didn’t get there until 3pm and were told we’d have to wait an hour for a table. We decided to finish our errands and then go back for our table. It was 4pm by the time we sat down and I was famished.

We ordered the spinach dip and I had the herb-crusted salmon (as usual). My sister had a cheeseburger and Vinay had the kid-size portion of chicken nuggets and fries. We were too full for cheesecake. I think we’ll have to go back just for cheesecake one of these days.

On Monday I went to meet some friends at the Dubai Mall who were in town from New York on their way to Bombay. We met at Fauchon Cafe and caught up over coffee – with their two kids. It was good to see them. One good thing about Dubai is that people are always passing through here! After we were finished my sister and Vinay came to the mall so we walked around for a while and I bought another dress. That makes five dresses in 1 week. I think I’m done for a while now!

It was my first anniversary in Dubai on Christmas Day! I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone by. It feels more like 3 months rather than a whole year. Christmas Day is a regular working day here in Dubai but that didn’t really affect any of us. We opened our presents before lunch (Samsung Galaxy phones all round) and then went to Shang Palace at the Shangri-La next door for lunch. It was just the six of us and one of Dad’s banker friends. The food was good – but the service was a bit slow.

After lunch Dad and I went to sort out our micro SIM cards for our new phones. We went to Du at Jumeirah Centre on Jumeirah Beach Road. In the past we’ve always been to Du at The Dubai Mall and have always had to wait in line. This store was empty and we got served immediately. We sorted out our phones – I decided to get a pay-as-you-go SIM for my BlackBerry, just for BBM, as I’m not sure I can quit that just yet! And for AED 1.5 per day I can afford to keep both lines! We stopped at Tim Horton’s for coffee and then went home. I spent the rest of the evening playing with my new phone.

On Wednesday afternoon, my sister, her husband, Vinay and I went to Jones the Grocer for lunch. My sister and I had the Wagyu beef burger, her husband had the prawn linguine (which looked very good), Vinay had some French fries, and we ordered a portion of the truffle parmesan fries as well (I know, that’s a lot of fries). Service was slow, but the food was good. After lunch we went to MoE to have a look round. I tried on a few things but didn’t buy anything. Trying on clothes after lunch isn’t a good idea!

That evening one of my cousins came over for dinner. Our parents were out so we hung out at home, opened a bottle of wine and relaxed.

The flat was very quiet on Thursday as Vinay and his parents went to the zoo at Al Ain. I would have loved to stay home but had a busy afternoon! I went to my piano lesson – we worked mainly on ‘As Time Goes By’ and chords. We also did some work on Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ and modulation – where you change keys in the middle of a song. My piano teacher told me that if you can play a song in any key you can do anything you want. I think that if I’d had a teacher like him as a child I’d be a completely different musician now. One of the main differences I’ve noticed is that if I’m sight-reading I’ll hesitate if I can’t find the notes I’m looking for. His opinion is that you should play anything, even if it’s wrong – hesitation is one of the worst things a musician can do. I didn’t tell him that with my old piano teacher I’d be too scared to make a mistake because she would start shouting at me! I need to find my old music theory books and go through them, just to remind myself of a few things.

After my lesson, I rushed to Pastels in Jumeirah – I had an appointment for a colour and blowdry. The salon recently moved and the new one is lovely – bright and airy. The garden is full of beautiful flowers too – I might take my camera the next time I go! I sat down with my book, and was given a cup of tea and a mince pie. I’d forgotten all about mince pies and thoroughly enjoyed it!

I went home after that – it was almost 6pm by then – and stayed home that evening.

We’d been undecided about what to do for New Year’s Eve as my sister is nanny-less this holiday and wasn’t even sure they’d go out at all. We’d heard about a party on the Palm but it wasn’t my first choice at all. It would be a trek to get there and back and it just didn’t appeal to me. I tried to get a ticket for my brother-in-law as he had some friends going but the organisers were being difficult about giving a ticket to one person (rather than a couple – even though they were selling single tickets) and we decided it wasn’t worth it. I found out a few days later that the two organisers had fallen out and that the party had been divided into two. What did this mean for ticket-holders? Basically, if you bought your ticket from one organiser and your friends had bought them from another, you’d be at two separate venues. Good grief. What a disaster! I was so glad we decided against that.

I then got an email from Okku about their New Year’s programme so I spoke to them about booking a table. They had availability but I still wasn’t sure about it. And then on Thursday morning I was going through the paper and iKandy was listed as one of the places to be on New Year’s Eve. It was perfect – we’d be able to walk there and back, sit outdoors, and watch the fireworks at the Burj Khalifa at midnight.

My brother-in-law and I took Vinay to the Shangri-La that evening to find out about their deal. We ended up booking three tickets. I told a friend of mine what our plan was and she subsequently decided to join us and booked her ticket too. It would be a chilled New Year’s Eve – I don’t think any of us were up for anything too crazy.

I was home all day on Friday. That night one of my cousins and I decided to go to Zuma for some drinks and dinner. It wasn’t as crowded as it usually is on a Friday and we got a table in the bar area and started on the martinis – I had the raspberry and passion fruit. Amazing. We ordered some food and more drinks. My brother-in-law joined us. We ordered some more food and drinks. And the green tea and banana cake. Another cousin joined us. We ordered another round of drinks. It was an expensive night.

I didn’t want to wake up on Saturday but had been invited to a girls’ lunch at Royal China. I didn’t know half the people there but sat at one end of the table with my cousin and some friends from Lagos and London. It was a fun afternoon and lunch didn’t finish until almost 4.30pm. I went home to change and then headed to the Fairmont for a much-needed manicure and pedicure. I decided to get my hair done while I was there too! It’s a hard life.

On Saturday night I went to a party at a friend’s place in JBR. Their flat is on the 38th floor and the party was on the terrace. It was a really nice evening – there was a clear sky and I could see so many stars and an almost full moon. It was nice to meet friends from London and Lagos who are in town for the holidays too. At about 1am a few of us decided to go to Boudoir. Unfortunately by the time we got there our table had been given away! We waited outside for about 20 minutes but I decided I’d had enough and my bed was sounding more and more appealing. I think what killed everyone’s mood was the long drive back from JBR! My brother-in-law and I decided we’d go to McDonald’s on the way home. We sat at a table and he realised he knew the people on the next table from Lagos. A few minutes later a couple of friends who had been trying to get into Boudoir with us walked in! I suppose McDonald’s is the place to be at 2.30 on a Saturday night!

We got home at 3am and went straight to bed.

I love my life.

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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 read 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 30

What a busy week!

Sunday began with my usual session with Rama. It was tough – and it’s only going to get tougher if I’m going to finish that vertical marathon in 6 months!

Dad was out for lunch so Mum and I decided to try the Cheesecake Factory at the Dubai Mall. It opened while we were in Bali and I’d been wanting to try it for the last couple of weeks. It’s right opposite the Aquarium and is always crowded. I thought if we went on a Sunday it wouldn’t be so bad. We got there at about 1.45pm and still had to wait 10 minutes for a table. We eventually sat down and looked through the menu. There is so much to choose from – and the portions looked huge. So Mum and I shared the spinach and cheese dip to start with.

2012

Then Mum had the pepperoni pizza and I had the herb-crusted salmon with asparagus and mash. It was really good – and I left most of the mash.

2012

And then we shared an Oreo cheesecake for dessert. We were both full, but we couldn’t not have cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. We couldn’t eat half the slice between us.

After that we wandered around for a bit, Dad joined us and we had coffee at Tim Horton’s.

That evening I’d booked a massage at the Emirates Grand Hotel. It was an online deal for a full body massage and pedicure – I’d bought it before my holiday and it was expiring in a few days. The spa at the hotel is on the 45th floor. My therapist, Preeya, was running late so I waited in the lounge for a while, flicking through magazines. She eventually took me through to the therapy room (we walked past dozens of rooms!) and told me to get changed. Each room has its own ensuite bathroom and I was given a gown and slippers.

Preeya hadn’t asked me what kind of massage I’d like so I just left her to do whatever she wanted. It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had. At one point, her knees were on the backs of my thighs and her hands were on my shoulder blades. She spent a lot of time on the knots in my shoulders. It was excellent. I asked her afterwards what kind of massage it was and she said it was a Hawaiian lomi lomi massage. I would go back for that. She then took me to another area for my pedicure (the pedicure was just average, but I didn’t care). I went home, had some dinner and went to bed happy.

On Monday morning I had a yoga class at home and then decided to go for a swim. I was at the pool for just half an hour as it was so hot! I worked all afternoon (I had the place to myself) and then went to Sukh Sagar for dinner with my parents (I had my usual palak dosa).

On Tuesday I went to the gym and worked all afternoon. That night I met a friend for drinks and dinner. We met at Aquara at the Dubai Marina Yacht Club. I’d never been there before and it was a fun place. The music was very 80s and 90s, reminding me of Lagos. We had a couple of drinks there and then went to Chinese Village (also in Marina) for dinner. The food was good (spring rolls, stir-fried chicken and lamb with black pepper sauce). After dinner we ended up at Embassy at Grosvenor House. Three new places in one night! We had a couple more drinks, bumped into some friends (I was told I resembled the Argentinian tennis player Gabriela Sabatini – that’s a first!) and eventually called it a night. I was home at about 1.30am.

My session with Rama on Wednesday morning was quite painful after my night out. I got home and was ready to spend the rest of the day working, but at about 12.30pm my dad started complaining about chest pains. He said he’d had them since about 10am – my mum gave him some Gaviscon but the pain persisted. My uncle came over a while later and we eventually decided to call an ambulance. I was so impressed – the paramedics were at our door in under 5 minutes. I didn’t think Dad was having a heart attack – he had no other symptoms (sweating, nausea, vomiting, upper body pain). I also think a part of me has been mentally prepared for this for a while now: all those years of unhealthy living are bound to catch up with you eventually. Anyway, the paramedics did an ECG and decided that as it was the first time Dad was experiencing this to take him to hospital to be checked out properly. My uncle went in the ambulance with Dad, and Mum and I followed in the car.

We went to Rashid Hospital – Kaleem took us to the A&E section (which also has valet parking, by the way) and we met Dad and my uncle there. They did another ECG and we waited for the doctor to show up. Dad stayed in his cubicle while the three of us went to have a coffee and a bite to eat. I had the chicken pasta salad – it didn’t look very appealing in the plastic container but after it was heated up and put on a plate it was surprisingly good.

We went back to see Dad – he’d been told that he would need a chest X-ray and a blood test and they would determine a course of action once they had the results. Dad was in less pain at this point and his blood pressure was normal. My uncle and I went home intending to go back later in the evening.

The blood test results showed that his cardiac enzyme levels were elevated so they wanted to re-do the blood test a couple of hours later. My uncle and I went back to the hospital at about 8.30pm and the doctor told us the second blood test results were normal. The problem wasn’t heart-related and he could be discharged. He told my dad that he should avoid spicy food and take it easy for a day or two. We were home a little after 9pm.

Will this episode have scared my dad into taking better care of himself? Unlikely.

On Thursday afternoon I went to get my hair coloured – it really needed to be done. After I was finished I decided that I needed to find a better hairdresser. Each time I’ve been to the same guy at the Fairmont I’ve been disappointed. I’m ready to try somewhere else!

That night I went to wine club at the Radisson Blu in Media City. I went with a friend and we met some other friends there. We had a good table – I ended up sitting next to a couple from London and we had a good laugh together. There was one white wine (Sauvignon Blanc), two roses, two reds and a sparkling wine (I don’t have the tasting notes yet!). There wasn’t as much mingling afterwards as at previous events but we were still there till 1am.

Friday was a write-off. I was in my pajamas all day, did some work and watched ‘Suits’. I was supposed to meet a friend and one of her friends for a drink that night but wasn’t feeling up to it.

Saturday was busy – I was at the gym in the morning, and my parents had organised a lunch for some of their banker friends and their husbands/wives so I went with them. We had lunch at Dynasty, the Chinese restaurant at the Ramada in Bur Dubai. There were 10 of us at the table – and there was far too much food: spring rolls, steamed dim sum, and a fried mushroom appetiser to start with; crispy aromatic d
uck followed; then we had chicken in black bean sauce, fish in ginger and spring onion, and sizzling lamb for our main course. There were also some veggies and noodles. Dessert was red bean pancakes and a fruit platter.

Straight after lunch I rushed to book club – but I didn’t rush enough and was 10 minutes late. I’d forgotten how long it took to get to there. We were six women, each talking about the books they’d read over the summer. I headed home after that.

One of my parents’ friends came over for a while that evening and once she’d left I got into my pajamas and watched more of ‘Suits’.

I love my life.

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Silent Sunday

2012

Silent Sunday mocha beanie mummy

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