Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 8

Apart from work and the gym, I had a pretty busy week. I was also feeling quite lazy – I didn’t have Arabic as I’d finished the Intermediate 1 course the week before and Intermediate 2 was starting the following week – and I just wanted to sit at home.

On Sunday afternoon I went to Dermalogica at the Dubai Mall for a facial. I usually book with Judy – and she’s excellent. Days later, my skin still felt and looked incredible.

I had a session with Pete on Monday and a piano lesson that afternoon. I spent the rest of the day working – my parents were out for dinner so it was quiet at home.

I went to the gym on Tuesday and also squeezed in a yoga class that afternoon – and apart from that I worked! And apart from my session with Pete on Wednesday, I continued working…

On Thursday I decided to treat myself to a much-needed manicure and pedicure. I took my book with me and spent some time at the salon. I realised that we were already at the end of February and it was time to start planning something for my birthday! Again! It seems to come around so quickly…

On Thursday evening I went to the Dubai Jazz Festival at the Media City Amphitheatre – David Gray, Chris Botti and his band, and Sting were all performing that night. David Gray was good, but apart from the three or four songs I knew (‘Babylon’, ‘Sail Away’, ‘This Year’s Love’) the rest all started to sound the same.

I’d never heard of Chris Botti – but I now realise that I’d seen him perform before with Sting on his Brand New Day tour. He also played on the album (it’s one of my favourites). Chris Botti and his band were quality musicians – versatile and talented. In a way, I feel they were wasted on a Dubai audience who wouldn’t appreciate their skills. Even though I didn’t know any of their music, I still enjoyed listening to them play for an hour or so.

And then Sting came on – man, he looks good. He started with ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith In You’ – I think that’s one of my favourite songs. But each time he started a song I’d think ‘Oh, I love this song.’ He then played ‘Englishman in New York’ and ‘Message in a Bottle’. He also sang ‘Fields of Gold’, ‘Every Little Thing She Does is Magic’ and ‘Roxanne’, and of course ‘Desert Rose’.

He also sang ‘Shape of  My Heart’ and a few other songs I can’t remember right now. It was fantastic.

The first time I saw Sting in concert was in the summer of 2001 in Hyde Park. It was a Sunday evening in July and the weather was perfect. I somehow I managed to get tickets for seats six rows from the front and had no idea until we got there – so we had a great view too. When he started singing ‘Fields of Gold’, I looked to the sky on my right – the sun was setting and the sky was a mixture of reds and oranges and pinks and purples. It was almost as if he’d ordered this sunset to go with his song.

When we’ve been to concerts in Media City, we usually go for drinks afterwards to avoid the crowds and the taxi rush, but that night I wanted to get home as I had work to do and I wasn’t drinking. My friend also wanted to get home and we luckily managed to get into a cab as people were getting out at one of the hotels. I dropped her home and was home by 1am. I ended up working until almost 4am.

I worked on Friday afternoon and that evening went to the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. I went with my cousin – we’d missed the first game (Wawrinka v Kyrgios) but got there in time to watch Lopez v Baghdatis. It wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be – I managed to get our tickets using my Emirates airmiles so I don’t think they were sold out. It was a good match – although Lopez really lost it in the third set.

After the tennis, my cousin and I went to Thai Chi at Wafi for dinner. We ordered a tom yum soup with chicken to share and the papaya salad to start with. The soup was really filling – three or four people could have shared it – so when it was time to order our main course we decided to skip the green curry and just have the grilled tiger prawns topped with hot basil sauce and Thai peppercorns. It was amazing. I’d never had it before but I would definitely order it again. It was really spicy though! I was home by midnight and again ended up working late, this time until 3am.

I was home on Saturday. I was tired as I hadn’t slept much. That evening a friend and I went to the beach for our Saturday evening walk. Neither of us had been the week before, but I could really feel the change in the temperature – it was already much warmer. We managed our 6 km in under an hour and went home in time for dinner.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 48

I was a bit of a recluse this week. I had one of my most relaxing weeks ever. I was home all day on Sunday.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning and a piano lesson that afternoon. After my piano lesson, I had a facial at Dermalogica at the Dubai Mall. I’d run out of Entertainer vouchers but they offer 25% off on Mondays – so I always try and book on a Monday! I went home after that and carried on with some work.

My parents left for Tenerife early on Tuesday morning, at about 4am – and I didn’t leave the house until Friday afternoon, apart from to go to the gym. Tuesday and Wednesday were wet and grey, and I felt quite cosy at home.

Seriously though – I would wake up, go to the gym, come home, shower and get back into fresh pajamas. It was amazing. I’d either work or read in bed. The flat was so quiet. I even stayed in on Thursday night!

The weather has definitely cooled down a lot, which means there are clouds almost every day, which means there are amazing sunsets almost every evening.

2015-11-22 17.26.04

On Friday, some friends and I went over to another friend’s place on the Palm. We got there at around 4.30 pm and the four of us sat outside, sipping chilled champagne. There was a beautiful sunset.

2015-11-27 17.09.05

Another couple joined us later on and we ordered some Lebanese food for dinner and then toasted marshmallows on the open fire. It was actually a bit chilly once the sun had gone down. Just before midnight, I thought it was time to go home – my two other friends had left earlier as they had work the next day, and the other couple were leaving too. I booked an Uber, which was 20 minutes away. About 10 minutes later, I checked my Uber app to see where the car was, only to find that the driver had cancelled the journey and that there was now a price surge of 2.8x. The cheek! I didn’t rebook – we decided to have another drink instead. A few minutes later, the Uber driver called me to say he was outside. He asked me if I’d cancelled the journey – I said I hadn’t, and that he had. Anyway, I told him I’d managed to get a lift and didn’t need the car. So my friend and I had another drink and then we thought it would be a good idea to do some karaoke! It was 2.30am by the time I left his place – we were having such a laugh, singing along to old 80s songs.

On Saturday I went to the New Orleans Jazz Brunch at Imperium at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. I’d been to their regular Friday brunch in February 2013, and had been wanting to go back. We had a lovely table outside – and we ordered some drinks to start with. The food was more or less the same as the Friday brunch – although the last time we were there they had fresh lobster and fresh salmon on the outside grill, this time they had fresh prawns. The spread inside consisted of everything: a seafood table, salads, beef Wellington, roast lamb, oysters, mussels, a pork section, scrambled eggs with truffles, cheeses and a huge variety of dessert. The food was fresh and tasty – although the beef Wellington was chewy and a bit disappointing. I skipped dessert and had a variety of cheese instead. I have to say that even though the choice of food is fantastic and the ambiance is lovely, the service is a real letdown. And I remembered that from last time too. But that seems to be a problem in most places in Dubai – first-world prices and third-world service. We had two Entertainer vouchers for brunch, so we each ended up paying AED260. Not bad for all you can eat and drink!

I think the hotel itself is stunning and every time I’ve been there I’m so tempted to check in for a week!

The chandelier in the lobby of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

The chandelier in the lobby of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

It was 6pm by the time I got home as we hit traffic on the way back. I got into my pajamas and chilled for the rest of the evening. Perfect.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 39

After going to the gym on Sunday morning, I decided to take the rest of the day off. I’d done quite a bit of work over the weekend and felt like switching off for a while.

I had a facial at Dermalogica in the Dubai Mall (I’d booked it the previous week). I’ve been going there for a while now and I think they’re excellent – highly recommended!

After my facial I went to see Everest at the cinema. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would – even though I found it quite stressful in places (and even cried at the end). The one thing that annoyed me was at the beginning when they’re on a bus in Kathmandu. It’s supposed to be March 1996 and yet the Bollywood song playing in the background (on the radio, I guess) is from Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham which wasn’t released until 2001. Or do movies come out five years earlier in Nepal? I thought that if they were going to such lengths to make sure everything is authentic, perhaps they could have researched the music too?

I popped into Debenhams before I got a cab home and ended up buying a dress.

I had a trial session with a new trainer on Monday – I thought it went well!

I had some friends in town for the long weekend so on Wednesday afternoon two of us went to Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal for a 90-minute massage. Damn, it was good. I hadn’t had a massage in ages. After sitting in the relaxation room for a while, we went to The Stables for a drink. It was a little after 7pm and the place was empty. We had one drink and left.

That night I was meeting a friend who was in transit for a few hours. She was on her way to London and we met at the airport. We couldn’t really go anywhere as she had to check in her bags again but the BA counter didn’t open until 10.45. We ended up sitting in the Food Court at the airport (which really needs a facelift) for an hour – once she’d checked in again we went to Starbucks for some dessert.

On Thursday, eleven of us went to The Sum of Us for lunch. I hadn’t been there and had been looking forward to it. Everyone ordered their own dishes – I had the prawn scrambled eggs. I’d definitely order it again too! After lunch, I came home and did some work.

That night I went to a friend’s surprise birthday party at someone’s flat on the Palm. We missed the surprise by seven minutes as we were waiting at the wrong entrance. Oops! I drank far too much and felt like hell the next day.

Friday was very chilled. I had a friend in town from London who was staying at the Conrad. We went to La Petite Maison for lunch. The food was absolutely excellent. We had the pissaladière, crab and lobster salad, and salt code croquettes. For our main course we shared the grilled entrecote and the dauphinois potatoes. A-maz-ing. We shared the pain perdu for dessert. I was so full by the end of it! My friend came over after lunch and we both lumped around in the TV room until it was time to go for dinner. She had suggested going for Thai food so I called Thiptara at the Palace Hotel. I’d been wanting to try the restaurant for a while and we were put on the waiting list for dinner that night. Luckily they called back to say they could accommodate us.

We shared the steamed chicken/prawn wontons (although we initially sent this back as it wasn’t hot enough) and papaya salad to start with. For our main course we shared the stir-fried prawns with mushrooms, onions, sweet basil and Thai chilli paste and a red chicken curry. The food was excellent – I’d definitely go back there again. For dessert, my friend ordered the mango with sweet sticky rice – I had a bite. It was really good but I just couldn’t eat any more!

On Saturday I had a friend’s leaving brunch at Mint Leaf in DIFC. He’d booked and paid for brunch for twenty people. Apart from him and one other friend, I knew nobody but it was a really friendly group of people and I ended up swapping numbers with a lot of people! Brunch went on and on. And on and on. We were still drinking at 9pm when I left to meet some other friends at Left Bank. In hindsight, that was a really bad idea – I should have just gone home. And once again, I felt like hell the next day!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 8

What began as a quiet(ish) week ended up quite the opposite! After my session with Trevor on Sunday, I was home the rest of the day.

On Monday afternoon I went to the Dubai Mall – I was thinking about getting a foundation (I don’t wear much makeup) and had heard that Sephora had some skin-matching machine/app that would find you the perfect foundation. I thought I’d give it a try. I walked into Sephora – and I walked straight out. It was like the makeup equivalent of Top Shop – crowded, loud pumping music and inattentive sales staff. No, thank you.

So I walked to Bobbi Brown – much better. Not crowded, no music (that I could hear) and someone who knew what she was talking about. In the end, I ditched the foundation idea and bought a tinted moisturiser. The reason I don’t wear foundation is that every month my skin is a different colour – I’m either tanned or not, and how many foundations can a person have, really??

I had a facial at Dermalogica after my little shopping expedition. They really are the best – and they have an offer on Mondays which is 25% off your treatment. I’d been using the same products for a while: Special Cleansing Gel and an SPF 15 moisturiser (which has since been discontinued and is only available as tinted moisturiser now – why?). I rarely bothered with toner (although I have it) or exfoliator (I have that too). After my facial, Judy suggested I try the UltraCalming Sensitised Skin Kit – my cheeks tend to be more sensitive – and I thought I’d give it a try. It’s only been a week but I’m amazed at the difference in my skin. The only thing that irks me (don’t you love that word?) is that the moisturiser doesn’t have an SPF. In this day and age, it should be mandatory for all moisturisers to have an SPF.

On Tuesday evening I went to Karma Kafe with a friend. It was ladies night so we got three tokens each for drinks – and 50% off our food bill in the lounge area. We used to go quite regularly but hadn’t been in a while. We had some edamame to start, and then we had the dim sum basket, rock shrimp tempura and spicy tuna rolls.

I had a piano lesson on Wednesday afternoon and then was home after that.

I knew the weekend was going to be hectic as I was attending a friend’s wedding at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I ended up getting slammed with work on Thursday so couldn’t attend the lunchtime functions on Friday (mehendi) or Saturday (wedding ceremony).

Thursday night was the engagement dinner at the poolside. I didn’t know a lot of people there – it was a very different crowd. I didn’t think it would be a late night but we ended up going to the after party in one of the suites and were there until 5am!

There was a sandstorm all day on Friday. They usually last an hour or two and then it starts to clear up – but not this one. It went on all day. On Friday night (sangeet), I was exhausted. I only stayed until 1.30 – I couldn’t wait to get home and get into my pajamas.

The sandstorm continued all day on Saturday too. I didn’t want to leave the house but I had to go and get my hair done at the Shangri-La next door for the reception. I didn’t think Saturday night would be late as Sunday is a working day here – but the wedding card said the reception started at 10pm. I got there at 11pm and was still ‘on time’. The newlyweds hadn’t made their entrance yet. They came in at about 11.30pm – and we didn’t eat until almost 1am. And once again, it was a 5am finish!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 32

Aside from work and sessions with Randy it was a busy week.

I had a massage at the Emirates Grand Spa on Sunday evening. I’d bought an online deal a few months before and wanted to use it before it expired. The last time I’d been there was in September last year – and it was probably the best massage I’d had in Dubai. I asked for the same therapist – I remembered her name was Preeya.

I got to the hotel a few minutes before my appointment – it was like a train station! There were people everywhere – the lobby was packed and the lifts were crammed. There are no buttons in the lifts – there’s a number pad outside each lift and you have to press the floor you want to go to and it tells you which lift to get into.

I hate it when they write 'Saloon'!

I hate it when they write ‘Saloon’!

The hotel and spa seemed a lot shabbier than they did last year, which is a shame. My massage was still excellent though. However, getting up to the 45th floor and back down again was just irritating. In spite of being told what lift to get into, the lifts still stopped on too many floors in both directions. Surely this system is supposed to make travelling from floor to floor faster?

On Monday we went to China Times for lunch. We had hot and sour soup, spring rolls, some dim sum and some noodles. That night after dinner my sister and I took my nephew to Coldstone Creamery for ice cream. We walked there and back – and I spotted this sign:

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Sometimes I just want to walk around Dubai with a big red pen!

Anyway, I had a scoop of the cheesecake flavour – it’s fantastic!

On Tuesday we decided to have a pool day at the Shangri-La next door. My sister, nephew and I went shortly after 12 and went for a swim. We sent my nephew back home about an hour later and spent the rest of the afternoon there. We ordered a pizza to share for lunch – but the pizza was soggy and the service was terrible. We weren’t given any napkins or cutlery, and trying to get the waiter’s attention was almost impossible.

On Wednesday afternoon, my sister and I went to the Dermalogica store at the Dubai Mall. I’d booked us in for facials (hurrah for Entertainer vouchers!) and had been looking forward to it. My facial was excellent. I almost dozed off when I had the face mask on and my skin felt 10 years younger once I was finished.

By this time, my mum had bought my nephew to the mall so we met up with them and went down to PF Chang for an early dinner. We had all the usual food: soup, dynamite shrimp, spring rolls, Mongolian lamb.

Dynamite shrimp

Dynamite shrimp

After dinner we took my nephew to Coldstone. I ordered a scoop of the cheesecake flavour but I couldn’t finish it.

On Thursday my sister and I decided we’d go back to the pool at the Shangri-La. We took my nephew for a little while but then sent him home while we stayed on for the rest of the afternoon. The service was much better – probably because the manager is back from her holiday!

On Thursday night I met up with the people from my Arabic class for dinner. Ten of us went to Loca – we shared guacamole, and for my main course I had the barbecued lamb burrito, and a few of us had some frozen Margaritas too. The plan was to go dancing at Malecon afterwards but not many people were up for it so we decided to walk to Haagen Dazs at Palm Strip Mall for dessert instead. It wasn’t a late or a heavy night – I was home by midnight.

On Friday my mum and I dropped my sister and nephew off at the airport – they were heading back to Lagos. The three week just flew by!

I worked for most of the afternoon. That night I met up with some friends at McGettigan’s – we ended up being quite a large group and bumped into some more people that we knew (some guys I’d met at that party a couple of weeks ago). It was a really heavy night. I drank too much wine and don’t remember getting home. However, I did manage to take off my eye make-up and get into my pajamas.

I felt like crap on Saturday. I slept until 2pm and didn’t get out of my pajamas all day.

I love my life.

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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.

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Dubai 2013: Week 5

My week began with a session with Randy, as usual.

That afternoon I went to Spaces at the Oasis Centre for a Dermalogica facial. I hadn’t had one since November and felt like pampering myself. After that I went to a new salon called Nadia Beauty Style at Sama Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road. I’d bought a Groupon voucher for a keratin treatment and wanted to use it before I went to London. It wasn’t a Brazilian keratin treatment, it was an Argan keratin treatment, and I knew the results would be nowhere near as good as the Brazilian keratin treatment. The stylist put the solution on my hair and left me under a dryer for 40 minutes. My hair felt soft, smooth and shiny – but I think that’s what happens when you suddenly inject Argan oil and keratin into your hair. It was little more than a deep conditioning treatment.

On Monday afternoon I had a piano lesson to make up for the one I’d missed the week before, due to the public holiday. I got to the studio and my teacher wasn’t there. Ten minutes after he should have been there I sent him a text to let him know I was waiting for him. He called me 2 minutes later, claiming to have forgotten about my lesson. Great, I thought. What a waste of time. Luckily the studio isn’t far from where I live so I went home and went back to work.

I went to see Django Unchained on Tuesday evening. I thought it was brilliant! My friend and I went to More Cafe for dinner afterwards. We shared a pasta and a Greek salad. The portions there are huge…

I was home all day on Wednesday. I had some work to do and thought I’d better start packing for my trip to London. I didn’t have much to take as my Dubai wardrobe would have been completely useless in London in February. I took a few dresses for the evenings, some jeans, vests – I’d pick up all my winter clothes from storage when I got there – and the rest of my suitcase consisted of baby clothes and Patchi chocolates for friends.

On Thursday I had a piano lesson at 2pm. At 1.58 my teacher texted to say he was running 5 minutes late. I waited in the corridor outside his studio for 20 minutes and was very tempted to just leave. Did he not want to teach me? If he didn’t I could find a new teacher. Don’t I have better things to do than to wait around? Even if he’d told me at 1.40 that he was running late, I could have left home later and not wasted my time. He showed up at 2.20 – ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so busy, I’m going to Doha tomorrow…’

‘You’re not the only one who has things to do, you know,’ I snapped. Was his time more valuable than mine?

He looked a bit sheepish then and apologised. I had my lesson – he again apologised profusely for being late. I doubt that will change anything in the future though!

After my piano lesson I went for a manicure and pedicure at Amro. I spent the rest of the evening packing and left for London the following morning.

I love my life.

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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.

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Dubai: Week 27

What a hectic week!

I had a session with Rama on Sunday and then had lunch at Karam Cafe with my parents and cousins who were visiting from Ghana. I hadn’t seen them in ages – so it was nice to have a meal and meet their gorgeous twins! By the time we finished lunch it was after 4pm and I wanted to do some shopping before travelling the following weekend.

I was looking for a dress for a friend’s wedding in August. I tried on a light turquoise dress – it was simple but pretty and I thought it would be perfect. When I took it to the till, the assistant noticed a stain on the dress but when I went back to get another one there weren’t any more in my size. So annoying! I ended up buying just a couple of pairs of shorts for my holiday and that was it. I should have browsed in some other shops but I was running late.

That evening I went over to a friend’s place to watch the Wimbledon men’s final and was home by 11.30pm.

After the gym on Monday I went to Spaces at the Oasis Centre for a Dermalogica facial. It was my third time there and all three times I’ve had the same Kenyan lady for my facial. And all three times she has asked me whether I’ve been there before. Perhaps she thinks there’s no point in remembering people because Dubai is such a transient place? Anyway, I didn’t enjoy the facial as much as I had in the past – mainly because she kept banging around with various things while I was trying to relax! After my facial was over I decided to have a blowdry. I was going out that evening and didn’t feel like doing it myself.

I went to an InterNations event at Amika at the H Hotel (formerly the Monarch Hotel – when did it change?? And why is their website so rubbish?) The friend I was supposed to go with couldn’t make it in the end so I decided to go on my own. I just really wanted a glass of wine! I got there at about 8.30pm and the queue to get in went all the way down the corridor to Okku but luckily it was moving pretty fast. I got in, got my glass of Sauvignon Blanc and said hello to some people I recognised from previous events. I then got chatting to three English people I’d never met before and it became quite a fun evening – but I found the venue a bit small for the number of people there. When I went to get a refill the bartender told me they didn’t have any white wine left. How the f*** does a bar run out of white wine? I decided to switch to vodka. Five vodkas later it was almost midnight and the place was starting to empty out so I decided to head home. 

I woke up on Tuesday feeling like hell. I still made it to the gym though – I knew I wouldn’t be doing much on Friday, Saturday or Sunday so thought I’d better just go and get it over with. That afternoon I met a friend at Tim Horton’s for coffee. When we finished I decided to walk home – it’s about a 7-minute walk but at 4.30pm it was sweltering outside. Luckily the side of the street I was walking on was in the shade at that time but it still felt like a sauna. But I still prefer the heat to the relentless London rain! I worked for the rest of the day (and caught up on ‘True Blood’!).

I had my 40th session with Rama on Wednesday morning. It was tough, as always! That afternoon I met up with NP at Jones the Grocer for a late lunch. Well, I had a late lunch, she had two green teas. I know I said that the next time I went I would have the wagyu burger but after my workout that morning I felt like eating something healthy(ish). I ordered the pumpkin and feta salad with grilled chicken. It was very good – and yes, I forgot to take a photo of it. Next time… When we were done we picked up her son from nursery and she dropped me off at Times Square Center so I could get a cab (my parents had the car for the day). It was a fun afternoon with lots of laughs.

Thursday was busy too – I was up early, the piano tuner came, I went to the gym, the sleazy hairdresser did my hair. I worked in the afternoon and then went to wine club in the evening. It was held at the Radisson again, in the Indo-Thai restaurant. I ended up sitting with four people I already knew and I met a couple of new people I will definitely get in touch with when I’m back in September. 

The theme for the evening was rosé:

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We had the same menu as last time:

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I thought I liked rosé but it turns out that apart from the first one I tried, they all taste the same to me and I struggled to find a second choice (I went for ‘C’ in the end – don’t ask me why). Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t finish them. We eventually discovered we had been drinking these wines:

  • A: Chemin des Sables d’Anjou (2010) – from the Loire valley in France; ripe peach and apricot aromas; full of fruit flavour; made from Cabernet Franc grapes
  • B: False Bay Rosé (2011) – from the Stellenbosch-Paarl region of South Africa; a delicately spiced rosé with summer fruit on the palate; produced from Cinsaut and Mourvedre
  • C: Masia Perelada Rosado (2010) – from Catalonia; a bright pink colour; the fragrance contains raspberries and strawberries; 60% Grenache, 40% Tempranillo
  • D: Santa Cristina Rosato Cipresseto (2010) – link pink in colour with cherry tones; complex in aroma with notes of berry fruit, particularly raspberries and strawberries; full and rich in flavour, fruity on the finish; 85% Sangiovese, 15% other complimentary grapes
  • E: Massaya Bekka Valley Rosé (2011) – from Lebanon; strawberry hue with aromatic notes reminiscent of raspberries, summer stone fruit and subtle spices; elegant and round on the palate; graceful acidity with a crisp finish; 40% Cinsault, 30% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • F: Chateau de Marsan Bordeaux Rosé (2010) – pretty pale raspberry in colour; expressive nose of red berries with nice smoky and resinous aromas; full and fruity on the palate with a racy finish; 20% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon

There was some mingling at the bar later on where a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc were consumed. At about 11pm, a few of us decided to go to Cirque du Soir. In the lobby of the Radisson I suggested we walk to the Fairmont as it was just a couple of blocks. It wouldn’t have taken more than 7 minutes. As I walked out of the hotel it was like stepping into a sauna. I could feel my hair start to frizz and knew that if I didn’t get back in the air conditioning in 5 minutes by the time I got to the club I’d be mistaken for Chaka Khan. We got into two cabs, convinced the drivers to take us the short distance and off we went.

I’d heard a lot about Cirque du Soir and was unsure of what to expect. Not surprisingly there was a queue to get in. Whe the woman at the door turned away five semi-naked girls just before us I thought there was no chance we’d get in (I was with three guys as the other cab hadn’t arrived yet). She let us in. 

The place is smaller than I imagine
d – and it was hot, smoky and crowded. And it is disturbing. Contortionists, trapeze artists, painted faces… I felt bad for the little person in the glass cage being gawked at.

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I decided to leave at about 1.30am – it was too crowded and I’d had too much to drink. I’m glad I went, but now that I know what it’s all about, I won’t be rushing back. 

I woke up on Friday feeling rough. Two hangovers in one week – that’s a first for me (in Dubai)!

Once I’d surfaced my parents and I decided to go out for lunch. Our original idea was to go to Sumo Sushi at Jumeirah Town Centre but when we got there I noticed a Persian restaurant on the first floor called Shish Kebab and we thought we’d try it. We had some hummus to start with, my parents both ordered the koobideh for their main course and I ordered one koobideh skewer and one grilled chicken skewer. 

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We walked around the small mall for a while. Next to the restaurant we came across the Hello Kitty Spa, a spa for kids. Mum and I asked if we could have a look around and the lady showed us into the spa. I’ve never seen anything like it – it was even nicer than some adult spas I’ve seen! The photos below are from their Facebook page:

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It was full. A few girls were getting their nails and hair done and there was even one who couldn’t have been older than 6 or 7 who was getting her make-up done. I’m not sure how I feel about that, to be honest. Kids already grow up so fast these days… 

When we went back downstairs I noticed a lingerie shop called TKD (The Knickers Drawer). Just out of curiosity I went in to see what they had and noticed they stocked all my favourite brands. I tried on a couple of (rather overpriced) tankinis and ended up buying them both. A swimsuit had been on my list of things to get but I hadn’t managed to find one I liked so this was great! I’m not sure I would shop there on a regular basis as it is quite expensive but at least I know where to go if I ever have a bra-related emergency!

Afterwards Mum and I went to Lulu to pick up some holiday supplies – sunscreen, insect repellent, shampoo, and so on. Thankfully it didn’t take too long. 

That evening I met my cousin for a drink at Cin Cin at the Fairmont and then had dinner with my parents. They wanted to go to Ravi Restaurant in Satwa. The food is good, but the place is a dump. The tables are covered in clear plastic, you drink from styrofoam cups, there’s a tissue box on each table…

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I noticed ‘brain fry’ on the menu, which Mum subsequently ordered (gross).

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I ordered the chicken tikka – it seemed like the safest option.

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When we got home I decided I’d better start packing. Two Indian outfits, four pairs of shoes, one pair of trainers, four handbags, seven dresses, swimwear, casual wear, gym stuff, pajamas, underwear, toiletries = 30 kg. F***. I was allowed 25 kg. I unpacked – I’d wear my trainers, I didn’t need that dress, swapped pajamas for lighter pajamas, put some gym stuff in Mum’s bag. Still 30 kg. How was that even possible?? I hadn’t even packed any books. I unpacked again, trying to figure out if there was anything I could leave behind. There wasn’t. At 3am I decided I’d just pay the excess weight and be done with it. Had I not been attending a wedding in August I could have left behind the Indian clothes, two pairs of shoes and two handb
ags, but there you go.

I was up early on Saturday as I had a few things to do. On Wednesday my mum suddenly decided she wanted to open a safety deposit box at the bank so I had to find out how to go about it. I didn’t have time to do it on Thursday so it had to be Saturday. My cousin came over with his three girls in the morning. They are all just adorable, and the twins were in matching Hello Kitty outfits! After they left an hour later, Mum and I went to open a safety deposit box at the bank. We had to sign some forms, pay a deposit and then the lady showed us how it all worked. 

The system is automatic. You swipe your debit card to enter the locker area – it’s open 24 hours. You go into one of the rooms, insert your debit card into the machine, punch in your PIN number on the screen, place your hand in the reader and then the screen tells you your box is on its way to you. The table opens up and your box appears. Once the box is open, the door to the room is automatically locked – nobody can enter or leave. When you’ve finished with your box, you lock it, press ‘Deposit’ on the screen and the box is automatically taken away and you’re done. Amazing. Very ‘Mission Impossible’! It makes the safety deposit box area in Selfridges seem so antiquated.

When we got home, I weighed all our luggage hoping I could transfer some of my weight to my parents’ bags. My bag was still 30 kg, Mum’s bag was 30 kg and Dad’s was 26 kg. He was smug until I pointed out that he’d given stuff to both Mum and me to carry. ‘Can you reduce your luggage?’ he asked me. ‘What should I remove? My Indian clothes? My gym clothes? My everyday clothes? It’s not like we’re going for a week, we’re away for almost 2 months.’ He wasn’t happy. Any bloody excuse.

The afternoon was quite chilled. I packed my hand luggage (some books, laptop, camera, iPod, all the wires that go with them!) and did some work. 

I had been dreading travelling with my parents since the beginning of the week. The last time the three of us flew together was in July 2009 from Miami to Kingston and back again. It was like travelling with two 8-year-olds who had never been to an airport. One time my mum and I flew together from Bombay to Bali, she left her boarding pass on the table in the lounge at KL airport. 

Well, what happened this time? We left home, got down to the lobby and Dad realised he’d forgotten something. He went back up. When he came down, Mum realised she’d forgotten something. She went back up and eventually came down. We got to the airport, checked in (luckily they didn’t question the weight of our bags), went through passport control and security, and then Dad asked, ‘Where are the Patchi chocolates??’ Mum and I looked at each other because he insisted on carrying them in his hand rather than packing them. ‘They didn’t come out of the cab,’ I said. ‘In fact, I’m not even sure they went into the cab.’ After a few phone calls we discovered he’d left them in the lobby. Oh dear. What next? 

Thankfully the rest of our journey was uneventful, albeit somewhat turbulent. We stopped off in Singapore for 45 minutes – we were sped away on a buggy to our connecting flight and took off for Bali. I wondered whether our luggage had time to make the connection… 

I love my life.

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Pure Beauty: a great Dermalogica website

I love Dermalogica. I don’t know why, I just do. And their range is getting bigger and bigger which means my bathroom is being taken over by more and more products…

I started using Dermalogica a few years ago – and I just had the basics: cleanser, toner, moisturiser. Now I’ve added the precleanse, exfoliator, hydrating masque and a couple of other things to the long list of products I own!

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Before I went to Barcelona earlier this month, I was looking for a sunscreen online and came across Dermalogica’s Solar Defence Wipes – SPF 15 towelettes which you can take anywhere with you, similar to Wet Ones. They’re not cheap – a pack of 15 usually costs £22.50. After some browsing online, I came across Pure Beauty – a website that sells Dermalogica products at reduced prices. I’d bought Dermalogica products from a couple of other websites before, but this site was even cheaper than those. The Wipes were £16.95 on this site so I bought them. 

One of the great things about this site is that when you buy a product, you get to choose up to 5 samples you want. I thought about what I’d need for the weekend away and ordered samples of those products (shower gel, moisturiser, after sun, face wash, and an eye make-up remover which I was disappointed with). No bulky bottles to take, and nothing to bring back!

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I placed my order online on a Sunday afternoon and I got the package by first class post (free delivery) on Tuesday. I was so impressed with the service. And the wipes were a good idea – easier to carry around than a bottle of sunscreen, no fiddling around with lotion while on the move, and I didn’t burn.

I placed an order for moisturiser at 1am on Wednesday morning and by noon on Wednesday I’d received an email telling me that my order had been despatched. And again I was able to choose the 5 samples I wanted – I’ve gone for new stuff this time: the Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque (sounds complicated), tinted moisturiser, Dynamic Skin Recovery (for ageing skin – depressing) and a couple of other things I wanted to try! And the parcel arrived this morning – 36 hours after placing my order. That’s amazing. Even Amazon doesn’t deliver that fast for free.

If you’re a fan of Dermalogica, I’d highly recommend this website – it’s quick, well worth the money, and you won’t end up with random samples that nobody wants!

 

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