Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 7

After a very dull week the week before, it was business as usual this week.

Sunday was Valentine’s Day and after the gym that morning, I spent some of the afternoon working. I decided to treat myself to a 90-minute massage at Spa Zen in the late afternoon. It was just what I needed. That evening my dad took my mum and I out for dinner. I chose Taste of Italy by Heinz Beck at Galleria Mall – a friend of mine had been there recently and said the truffle pasta was to die for. Sold!

Everything on the menu looked good – and I came very close to having the red snapper but in the end the truffle pasta won. For starters I ordered the marinated salmon with sour cream, Dad had the seafood salad and Mum had the seabass carpaccio. Everything was excellent. For my main course I had the truffle pasta.

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Dad had the baked seabass and Mum wanted a side order of mashed potatoes (tut, honestly). I’m sure my pasta was about 1000 calories but I loved every bit of it. We shared a passion fruit crème brûlée for dessert.

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I would definitely go back there again.

My Monday was busy. I had a session with Pete in the morning, worked all afternoon and an Arabic class in the evening.

Apart from the gym on Tuesday I was at home, working in my pajamas.

I had another session with Pete on Wednesday. Before my Arabic class I had some errands to run at Mercato and when I left the mall at 5.30 it was pouring. In just the 15 seconds it took for me to get into the car, I got drenched. Luckily the rain had almost stopped by the time I got to the Trade Centre Tower, but there was a huge puddle at the bottom of the staircase and I ended up going halfway round the building via the carpark to get into the building. And by the time my class was over it had stopped altogether.

It was my last Arabic class of Intermediate 1 so we had an assessment. We were allowed to look up words in our books (thank God) and I managed to do the whole assessment written in Arabic. I was also the first to finish by almost 20 minutes so the teacher went through the paper with me once I’d finished. I was quite pleased with what I’d done, but my brain was totally fried after that!

I got home at 9pm and had a late dinner with my parents and some of their friends who had come over.

I went to yoga on Thursday morning and then met a friend for lunch at The Sum of Us. I had a green juice and the smoked salmon omelette with goats cheese. My friend had the veal schnitzel, and he said it was pretty good. We shared a slice of carrot cake for dessert and had some coffee.

After lunch I went to the Hummingbird Bakery at Citywalk to collect some mini cupcakes I’d ordered. It was about 2.30pm but Citywalk was packed – I didn’t think it would be so busy in the middle of a weekday afternoon. Once I got home, I got into my pajamas and worked for the rest of the day.

I’d been invited to a friend’s place for tea on Friday afternoon (hence the mini cupcakes) – it was just a small close crowd: me, her, her parents, a friend who was visiting with her 10-week-old baby and her mum, and a couple of other friends with their 1-year-old daughter. I was the first to arrive so my friend, her mum and I sat outside by the pool for a little while until the others arrived. It was a bit chilly for the baby outdoors so we moved inside. It was a lovely afternoon and I didn’t leave there until 7.30pm. My plan was to go home and change for a party at some friends’ place but in the end I just quickly stopped at home to freshen up and pick up a bottle of vodka and some chocolates.

It was such a fun evening – it was same group I’d been to China Grill with a few weeks ago so I knew it would be pretty boozy and at some point there would be loads of 80s music! I drank a lot of vodka – and I was making my own drinks which is never a good thing as I’m sure they get stronger and stronger as the night goes on. I got home at around 3am (I think).

I felt like hell on Saturday and had a really bad squink. A ‘squink’ is a word I coined to describe the feeling of being hungover with a stabbing pain in either or both eyes. Each time I blink it feels as if the Devil himself is stabbing my eyeball with his pitchfork, causing my eye to water uncontrollably and usually remain swollen for the rest of the day. And it’s usually my left eye (although I once had a double squink – which was pure torture). It’s not pretty. And it only started happening after I’d had my laser eye surgery in 2003. My siblings used to laugh at me in those days – and then it started happening to them too. That, my friends, is called Karma!

I was supposed to meet some friends at Purobeach at 11.30 but at 11.20 I was still in bed. I’d warned them the day before that there was a good chance I’d be hungover so they weren’t too surprised when I said I was going to be late. So, looking and feeling a bit like Shrek, I got ready and went over to the Conrad – I was there by 12.15 and kept my eyes fully covered with my sunglasses! It was still watering a little but not too badly. The four of us chatted for a while and then noticed a woman with long red hair (dyed) spilling out of her tiny bikini top. And then she stood up and bent over and we realised she was wearing a G-string. Oh. My. God. I would say she was perhaps a bit bigger than me – but she must have some serious body confidence to prance around wearing almost nothing! We were mesmerized – it was a bit like a car crash – we just couldn’t look away.

We had lunch at the Purobeach restaurant. We’ve all been trying to eat healthily this year and the three of them ordered salads. My hangover demanded that I have the hot dog and fries and a Coke. It was exactly what I needed. We went back to our sunbeds for a little while longer and then left at around 4pm.

I spent the rest of the day catching up with emails and some TV shows. I couldn’t focus on much else!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 46

I woke up on Sunday feeling awful. I’d been out the night before and had way too much champagne! Any plans I’d had of going to the gym in the morning (or even getting ready) went out the window as I got out of bed at 1pm. I spent the day in my pajamas. It took me all day to edit one paper which would have normally taken me an hour. I just couldn’t focus on anything.

Monday was a bit better. I had a session with Pete, sorted out some paperwork at the du shop and then had my piano lesson. I came home after that and worked the rest of the evening.

After the gym on Tuesday, I went to the monthly lunch of the IBWG (International Business Women’s Group) at the Trade Centre Club. On the way there, I realised that I was in one of those moods where I didn’t feel like speaking to anybody. Networking was not going to be easy that day! I got there, picked a number out of the bowl (which indicates which table you sit at) and found my name tag. I said hello to a couple of people I’d met before and had a quick chat, but a few minutes later I found my table and sat down. There were two other people already sitting there so I guess they didn’t feel like networking either! Our lunch was served – I opted for the braised lamb with vegetables.

The talk that day was really interesting. It was all about posture and ergonomic work spaces. Er – if the presenter could see how I worked, she’d have been furious. I work on my bed with my back against the headrest and my legs either straight in front of me or cross-legged. I suppose it’s good that I’m not hunched over my laptop though! She went through consequences of bad posture and some exercises (which I either do as stretches with Pete or in yoga). She was an interesting lady though – and I enjoyed the talk.

After lunch I went to Mercato to pick up some Patchi chocolates and other things that my mum needed in Bombay. My dad was leaving over the weekend and she had a list of things to buy.

I came home after that and did some more work. I’d been swamped for the last two weeks or so, which is great!

It was Diwali on Wednesday, but honestly it felt like any other day. I had a session with Pete which pretty much knocked me out for the rest of the day. I was exhausted. After lunch, I worked until the early evening, fighting off the urge to have a nap. At about 6pm, Dad and I did our Diwali puja – which took about fifteen minutes – and that was that. I’d been invited to a friend’s place for the evening but Dad didn’t want to go anywhere so I stayed in with him.

The weather was horrible on Thursday morning. Five minutes of rain in Dubai means five hours of traffic. The whole city comes to a standstill – and apparently so do I. I took one look out the window and decided to stay in and do some work.

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Of course, it had cleared up by the afternoon.

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That evening I met a friend for dinner at Segreto in Madinat Jumeirah. I had initially thought I’d eat something healthy, like grilled fish, but when we got there they had a special truffle menu which included pasta with truffles. We both took one look at that and ordered it. We shared a crab/prawn starter – it wasn’t what we expected but it was OK. The pasta with truffles was delicious. We also had a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, which was lovely. For dessert, we shared a cheese platter. I really think Segreto is one of the best Italian restaurants in Dubai – the food and service have always been excellent whenever I’ve been there.

After dinner we went to The Agency for a drink and then went to meet some friends at Cave at the Conrad. We had some more wine and at 1am, decided to head home. On the way home one of our friends decided he was hungry and wanted to stop at Burger Fuel. I hadn’t been there in ages and was also feeling a little peckish (our dinner was early – 7.30pm). I ordered a hamburgini with jalapenos – there was no way I could eat a regular burger so the mini one was just fine. I walked home after that and got into bed.

On Friday, I went to the gym in the morning. As I was walking to the Shangri-La at about 11am, I noticed how much cooler the temperature was – that rain the day before really cleared out the last of the humidity. That afternoon Dad and I went to Sakura at the Crowne Plaza for lunch with my uncle, aunt and the kids. The food was good, as usual, but it’s scary the amount of butter they put on the teppan when they’re preparing the food! I went home after lunch and did some work.

On Friday evening, I went to a friend’s birthday drinks at his place in Executive Towers. I didn’t know anybody there but him, but I’d already RSVP’d ‘yes’ and didn’t want to flake. I hate it when people do that to me, so I know how it feels! I stayed for over an hour, met some of his friends and then went to meet some other friends who were at Roberto’s in DIFC. I don’t know what it is about Roberto’s but every time I go there I just want to go to sleep. I start yawning and feel bored in general – it doesn’t matter who I’m with. Even though the bar area was crowded, it had such low energy that we had to leave after one drink.

As soon as we left – literally, as soon as we walked out of the restaurant – we were all in a much better mood! We went to La Cantine at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel and were dancing until 2am. When we left we decided to go to Zaatar w Zeit for some food. I hadn’t eaten dinner and was famished! After eating, I got home at around 3am.

I was home for most of Saturday. Dad left for Bombay and I did a bit of work. There was a gorgeous sunset that evening. I had been invited to Maya at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort for a friend’s engagement drinks. I got there at around 6pm and stayed for a couple of hours. A friend and I decided to have dinner after drinks instead of staying on there and went to Jones the Grocer. I hadn’t been there in ages. I had the pasta with chilli and prawns – which was OK. I thought it would be better. I was home by 10pm.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 9

What a busy week!

I spent most of Sunday recovering from the wedding I’d been to over the weekend. That night I had dinner with some friends at Sho Cho. The weather hadn’t been great all day – there was still some sand flying around and it was really windy. We thought we’d decide whether to sit in or out when we got there. Walking from the entrance to the restaurant was like walking through gale-force winds! But funnily enough, once we got to the restaurant, the outside area was quite sheltered (I’m not sure how) and we decided to sit outside.

We ordered some edamame and lychee martinis to start with. We then ordered the yellowtail sashimi, rock shrimp tempura and the seared tuna salad. I hadn’t eaten there in a while and I have to say the food was disappointing. Even our lychee martinis were disappointing – and I ended up switching to red wine after the first drink. We were there until almost 1am and had to tackle even stronger winds on the way back to the car. As we drove past the Shangri-La on our way home, I noticed the doorman was wearing what looked like a sheer stocking over his face to protect it from the sand and dust flying around!

On Monday afternoon I had a piano lesson. That evening, I went to The Scene Club at Knowledge Village – they were hosting a screening of Wild Tales, an Argentinian movie that had been nominated for an Oscar (Best Foreign Film). It was brilliant! And crazy! And hilarious! It’s a black comedy/drama which consists of six standalone shorts – the only common theme is violence. Apparently the director wrote the entire movie in his bathtub. But what I really want to know is: what the hell was he smoking in that bathtub??

I was home for most of Tuesday. I went to the Shangri-La Spa for a massage in the afternoon. God, it was just so good. Ideally I’d have liked to have spent a couple of hours by the pool as well but: (1) I had too much work to do; and (2) the weather has become ‘cold’ again – last week it was 34/35C during the day and the last two days it’s been 20/21C.

On Wednesday I was home all day apart from my piano lesson. That night, I met up with a friend who was on her way back to Jakarta from Los Angeles. She was here for work for a couple of days and we hadn’t seen each other in over five years. I picked her up from her hotel and we went to Madinat Jumeirah. We walked around for a while and eventually decided to eat al fresco at Trader Vic’s. They’ve changed their menu! I was disappointed to see that their seared tuna with jasmine rice is no longer available. We decided we’d skip the starters and share two main courses – we ordered the lamb curry and the crispy chilli red snapper. Both dishes were tasty, but not as good as the seared tuna. We were two full for dessert after that and walked around the souk a bit longer.

She was leaving on Thursday evening so we decided we’d spend the afternoon together. I did some work in the morning and she came over at lunchtime. We went to Maison Bagatelle for lunch with a friend of hers. After lunch, we walked around the mall for a while and then went straight to the airport. It was so good to see her – and I hope it’s not another five years before we meet…

I stayed in on Thursday night, working. I knew the weekend was going to be busy so I tried to do as much as I could on Thursday night.

My friend from London who was here for New Year’s Eve was back in town for one night and staying at the Conrad again. We spent the afternoon at the Conrad poolside with a couple of his friends, drinking wine and eating. That evening we went to see John Legend performing at the Media City Amphitheatre with a few of my friends. He was amazing. I don’t know that many of his songs but I love ‘Ordinary People’. I think I’ve heard ‘All of Me’ a bit too much recently but I loved the version he sang at the end – with a Middle Eastern twist.

Whoever took that video must have been standing very close to us as we had the same view from the same distance. After the concert, my friend and I went to Pacha. I’d booked a table on the terrace – one of my other friends joined us, and a few of my friend’s friends joined us. What a night – champagne was flowing and I felt like hell the next day.

I was out all day on Saturday. I had another friend in town for the day so I met him and some mutual friends for lunch at Katsuya in the Dubai Mall – the food was really good but I was too hungover to deal with chopsticks! After lunch we decided to go to Karak House on the Boulevard for tea. All I really wanted was a Coke but I haven’t had a soft drink since 2nd January – so I ordered a mango iced tea instead. It tasted a lot better than it sounds… We sat there for what felt like hours. At about 5.30pm we decided to go to Calabar for drinks as happy hour would start at 6pm and his flight wasn’t until 11pm. Just outside the main entrance to the Address Downtown, we saw this crazy Ferrari with Saudi plates! Only in Dubai (and Saudi, I guess)!

We got a table outside, ordered some drinks and eventually some food – we were feeling peckish again. A few more people joined us but I left after we finished a bottle of Pinot Noir – I was home by 8.15pm, had some dinner and got into my pajamas!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 1

Let me try this again. I haven’t updated this much (or at all) over the last year but I should start doing it again!

So, the last week of 2014 and the first week of 2015 were mental. One of my friends was in town from London with three of his friends. I’d met one of them before, both in London and Barcelona, and the other two I’d met very briefly at their home in July. They were all staying at the Conrad and arrived early on Sunday evening. I met my friend at the Conrad before dinner while the others were still getting ready and we had a drink together at Cave, the wine bar on the mezzanine level. I love this place – I’d been there twice before and always enjoy going there. On Sunday evening, however, it was very empty. One by one, the others joined us and we headed to Okku where we had our dinner reservation at 10pm. The food was great – as usual. For starters we had the sashimi salad, yellowtail sashimi, spicy tuna on crispy rice, two kinds of rock shrimp – one with creamy wasabi sauce and the other with spicy sweet soya sauce. For our main course we ordered the black cod with miso, king crab legs and truffle fried rice. We also drank. A lot. We started with a bottle of cold sake, then switched to another (cheaper) one. At midnight we had two bottles of champagne as it was my friend’s birthday and then we switched to vodka after that. We left at about 1.30 – the place was packed though. We went back to the Conrad and ended up at Suga – their ‘private’ members club. It’s always empty. We had a drink at the bar and my friend insisted on dropping me home. We ended up at Zaatar w Zeit which is open 24 hours and ate a lot – again! I didn’t get home until 4am.

I woke up on Monday with a headache. No surprises there! After lunch I joined the others at Puro Beach at the Conrad poolside. It was quite overcast and looked like it might even rain. We had some red wine and some Arabic mezze and at about 6pm I headed back home to get ready for dinner.

I went back to the Conrad before dinner. My friend had two more friends who had arrived in town and I hadn’t met them before – they were staying at the Grand Hyatt. We had a drink in my friend’s hotel room and then seven of us left for dinner. Dinner was at someone’s home in Emirates Hills. I met quite a few people that I already knew which was nice. There was so much food – and the birthday cake (from Coco’s) was fantastic. We were there till about 1.30am as getting a cab in that area isn’t easy and none of us could connect to Uber!

We spent Tuesday afternoon on a yacht. We met at the Marina Yacht Club at noon and were taken to our yacht. My friend and his friends had brought loads of champagne and vodka with them so we were all set for the afternoon. It was a spacious yacht and there were only 10 of us so we had lots of room to relax. The staff on the yacht were very attentive and made sure our glasses were full at all times! There was also finger food and sandwiches, but nobody ate much. We left the Marina and sailed around the Palm. We had an incredible view of the skydivers landing – they come down a lot faster than I thought they would! We stopped in front of the Atlantis for a few minutes for those who wanted to take photos and stopped again in front of the Burj Al Arab. I really wish I’d taken my Canon camera with me! We carried on sailing towards the World Islands and stopped near a private island for a while – those who wanted to went for a swim. We were there for about an hour before we headed back. We got back to the Yacht Club at about 5.30pm and everyone went home. I was exhausted. I got into my pajamas and decided I was going to stay in that evening – regardless of what the others were doing. I was asleep before midnight.

Wednesday. New Year’s Eve. My plan was to be up early and get my hair done before there was a queue at the salon. That didn’t happen – I got there at noon and ended up waiting a long time. It was almost 3pm by the time I left there. I always take a book with me so I’m not wasting time while I’m there. At 6.30 I headed over to the Conrad. We had some champagne in the hotel room and then went to Media City where we were going to a New Year’s Eve ‘MasterJam’ concert. I have to admit I had been dreading it. I was dreading the traffic going there and back and would have rather stayed home with a bottle of vodka than venture that far away. We thought the first act came on at 9pm so we left the Conrad at 7.30 – that would hopefully give us enough time to get there. The traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road had started to build up and was moving slowly (but still moving) until we passed the Burj Khalifa. After that there was hardly any traffic and we were at the Media City Amphitheatre at 8pm. Just as well, because Gloria Gaynor was almost done with her set and finished with ‘I Will Survive’! We found our Platinum Pod area and settled in. Again, there were 10 of us in quite a large space. Unlimited champagne was included in our package and we certainly made the most of it!

After Gloria Gaynor finished, Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge came on. I’d forgotten what great songs they’d had (‘Lost in Music’, ‘He’s the Greatest Dancer’, ‘Frankie’ and of course ‘We Are Family’) and everyone was singing along and dancing. Thirty-five years later, Kathy Sledge still has an amazing voice!

After Kathy Sledge finished her set, Chaka Khan came on. I’d been looking forward to her the most but she was disappointing. She seemed to have forgotten the words to some of her songs (my favourite ones!) so I wasn’t all that thrilled by her. She also sang her two most famous songs first (‘I Feel For You’ and ‘Ain’t Nobody’) and that didn’t make much sense to me.

After that came Nile Rodgers. I’m embarrassed to say I’d never heard of him, but he was in the band CHIC in the 1970s. I had no idea how many hits he’d written/produced – the album Diana by Diana Ross (Upside Down, I’m Coming Out), the album Let’s Dance by David Bowie, ‘The Reflex’ by Duran Duran, Like a Virgin by Madonna, and so many others – Thompson Twins, Mick Jagger, Steve Winwood; he even co-wrote Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’. The man is a genius and he was on stage for a long time as he performed a lot of the songs he’d written and produced.

And then it was midnight!

As you can see, we really made the most of that champagne! After midnight, the Jacksons came on stage.

I think they were having some sound issues. I don’t remember much after that. Oops. We ended up at a party in Emirates Hills until about 4.30am and then three of us went to Zaatar w Zeit (again). I eventually got home at 5.45am.

My parents and I had lunch at home the next day – I’d hardly seen them over the last few days between hectic social schedules! After lunch I went to Puro Beach at the Conrad to sit by the pool with my friends. Our evening plans were up in the air for a while but eventually got sorted thanks to the concierge at the hotel. I went to a friend’s place in the Meadows for early evening drinks and left at about 8.30 to meet my friends from out of town at Sass Cafe. We had a lovely table outside and decided we’d share some starters and a couple of main courses. We started with lentil salad, fried calamari, baked goats cheese, sea bass carpaccio and a couple of other things. We were quite full after that and decided to share just two main courses between five of us: the lamb chops and a whole sea bream. We also ordered a side of mashed potatoes with truffles, some green beans and a portion of French fries. The ‘whole’ sea bream was the size of a sardine and the lamb chops were mostly fat – very disappointing. There were about ten French fries in the portion so that disappeared in about 5 seconds. We ordered another portion of the truffle mash and French fries and asked for the bill. We’d complained about the fish and the lamb and the manager came over to speak to us. He eventually took both main courses off the bill!

Until this point our evening had been quite relaxed. We’d been sitting outside, the music wasn’t too loud, we were all very chilled. I’d booked a table at Pacha for after dinner and we thought we’d go for one drink and then head back home. We got to Pacha at about 11.30 and were shown to our table on the rooftop. What a fun place! Of course we ended up staying until almost closing time – and this time we all ended up at Zaatar w Zeit until 4am!

By Friday, I was shattered. We’d been out almost every day and night and I was actually relieved that Friday night was a dry night! This meant that nowhere would be serving alcohol after 6pm. Our original plan for Friday was to go to Blue Marlin but as it was a dry night they weren’t open at all. We ended up at Iris for brunch. We didn’t get there until 3pm and opted for the brunch option with house wine (instead of the champagne option). We also had Bloody Marys which went down well. There was a salad and sushi bar inside the restaurant, and out on the terrace they had the barbecue – truffle burgers, sausages, steaks. They also had a pasta station where they were making pasta and truffle risotto. You could eat and drink as much as you wanted to. A couple of my friends who live in Dubai ended up joining us as well. We were there until 6pm and then left.

I went home for a couple of hours and then met my friends at Zuma for dinner. It was busier than I thought it would be and we could only get a table upstairs in the lounge area. The food was as good as ever: crispy squid, yellowtail sashimi, rock shrimp, spinach ohitashi, tuna tataki (my absolute favourite), black cod, spicy beef and of course the green tea and banana cake for dessert. It was odd being at dinner and not drinking, but that evening was definitely all about the food – and there was so much of it! It was an early night as my friends had flights in the morning – I was home by 11pm and in bed by 11.15!

I spent all of Saturday at home in my pajamas. It was bliss.

I love my life.

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