Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 12

Another busy week!

After the gym on Sunday, Dad and I decided to go out for lunch. I wanted to look at some dresses at the Dubai Mall – I was having my birthday drinks on Friday and wanted to look around. He wanted to look at electronics. So we decided to have lunch at Markette, opposite the Aquarium.

We got there at around 2pm. We both ordered the smoked salmon galette, which was much heavier than I thought it would be. I ordered a mixed salad on the side and Dad had the seafood chowder.

After lunch we walked to Debenhams. I was so full – and perhaps trying on clothes after a heavy meal wasn’t the best idea. There was absolutely nothing that I really liked. I tried on one dress, but it looked awful. In the end, I decided I’d wear something I already had.

We walked to the electronics section and stopped at Samsung. I had a look at the new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, which I’d had my eye on for a while. I decided I’d buy it, and in the end Dad bought it for me as an early birthday present. We went home and I spent the rest of the afternoon setting up my new phone and then worked into the night.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning. A friend of ours was in town on his way back to Bali so we met him for lunch at the JW Marriott Marquis. I’d been craving Italian food (no idea why) but the Italian restaurant, Positano, was closed for lunch. We ended up at Kitchen 6, the ‘international’ restaurant. There was so much food – I started with some hummus and salad. I then wandered over to the Italian section, but I’d also spotted the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, so I ended up with that instead. The trouble with buffets is I just don’t know what to eat (or when to stop).

After lunch, we went back home. I did a bit of work and then went to Arabic.

After the gym on Tuesday, I got on with some work. That evening, I went to Bahri Bar for a friend’s birthday. It was ladies night so we got three free glasses of Prosecco. We also had some food – and because we had Entertainer vouchers, two of the dishes were free. I was home by 10.30pm and did a bit more work.

After my session with Pete on Wednesday, I worked until the late afternoon. I had a piano lesson and then went straight to Arabic. It took me 20 minutes to get to the Trade Centre from Said Tower 1, which is almost just across the road! Traffic is crazy at that time of day.

I went to yoga on Thursday morning. By the time I got home after running some errands it was time for lunch. I also came home to this box:

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And when I opened it and put the pieces together I had a terrarium for my desk.

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Apparently it needs minimal care (thank God) and it’s very cute.

I got back into my pajamas and worked for the rest of the day. I didn’t want to go out that night as I knew Friday would be busy and I didn’t want to be tired. Clearly, this is a sign of age.

My sister arrived with her friends early on Friday morning. She was staying at the Shangri-La for Easter weekend, but popped in for a while to say hi on Friday morning. After lunch I walked over to the Shangri-La to get my hair and nails done, and she and her friends joined me at the salon. I relaxed for the rest of the day (the three of them went to the Dubai Mall).

That evening I’d invited a few friends to celebrate my birthday at the Ikandy at the Shangri-La poolside. I got there a little before 8pm and was really pleased with the area they’d arranged.

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Two friends arrived at 8pm on the dot as they didn’t want me sitting there by myself. Isn’t that so sweet?? We chatted for a while and opened the vodka – and by 8.30pm a few more people had arrived. I’d asked the manager to serve the food between 9 and 11pm – and there was so much of it! I think everyone had a good time – I know I did. I’d asked friends not to bring presents, but some just couldn’t help themselves. By 2am I’d signed the tab and two friends and I decided to have a drink at the Balcony Bar before they walked me home with my presents.

I spent most of the next day relaxing. I opened my presents (mostly books, alcohol and wine glasses), had some lunch and got back into bed while my sister and her friends traipsed around Mirdif City Centre all day. I met them in the evening at Ikandy for a drink before heading to Zuma for a late dinner. It was a very chilled evening…

I love my life.

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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 2015: Weeks 52/53

I got back from Bali on the 23rd morning. Similar to when I left, the passengers had to get on a bus after leaving the plane and were then taken to the terminal. I stood at the top of the stairway at 5am and was hit by a blast of cold air. I got on the bus, found a seat and sat down because I was feeling tired and lazy. Just as well, because the bus ride to the airport took forever. It felt like we were going around the airport in circles. I felt like one of the hostages in the movie Speed. We finally got to the terminal, I went through the e-Gate, collected my luggage, bought five bottles of champagne at Duty Free and went home. I was so happy to be home, and back in my own bed. I’d missed my pillows! I passed out for a few hours until lunch.

That evening, a friend had invited a few people over for mulled wine and mince pies. We got to her place in The Springs at about 7pm. It was nice to see everyone after my trip, and we sat out in the garden, sipping wine and chatting. I left at around 9.30pm – I was exhausted and a bit jet-lagged.

On Thursday, I went to the Dubai Mall – I needed a Secret Santa present for Christmas lunch the next day. Once I’d picked that up I went back home. I had a load of work to do and was starting to panic about how I was going to get it all done before the deadlines. I stayed in that night.

I spent Christmas Day with some friends at their flat in Business Bay. I got there at around 2pm and we had lunch at 4pm. It was also my fourth anniversary of being in Dubai – I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone!

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There was so much food! Prawn cocktail to start with, and then turkey, pork shoulder, roast potatoes, stuffing, brussel sprouts, pigs in blankets, and I’m sure there was more that I can’t remember. There was Christmas pudding and cheese for dessert. Not to mention the prosecco, champagne and wine that we all enjoyed. The weather was lovely too – and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sitting on their balcony, watching the full moon move across the sky (and watching random YouTube music videos).

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I got home at around 11pm. It was a long day, but it was really fun.

I went to the Dubai Mall on Saturday as I was meeting some friends at Vogue Cafe in the Shoe District for tea.

On Sunday, I decided to try out a new yoga studio at Village Mall. It was really nice and I ended up buying a package for 15 classes.

I had my usual piano lesson on Monday, but that was all I did that day. All I’d been doing otherwise was working. I’d hoped that as my UK clients were closed for the holidays, there’d be no more work coming in over the holidays and I could catch up properly, but I didn’t realise that their Indian offices would still be open and send me things to work on! It was good though – I kept my head down and got on with it.

I’d been invited out for lunch on Tuesday. I wasn’t keen on going but I had some friends visiting Dubai who would be at lunch so I went anyway. Lunch was at Apres in Mall of the Emirates. I got there at 1pm (which was the time on the invitation) and there was nobody there, not even the two hosts. There was also no table set up for 10-12 people so I asked the waitress at the door whether they had a booking under either of the hosts’ names. ‘For today, ma’am?’ Well, yes, I’m here, aren’t I? She looked in her diary. ‘Oh yes, 1pm for 12 people.’ So, where is the table? ‘Oh, we didn’t know if they wanted smoking or non-smoking.’ You have the number there so why didn’t you call to confirm? ‘Yes, ma’am.’ The woman was irritating. But what irritated me more was that the hosts should have been dealing with the lack of a table and not me. I got the table sorted and sat down. I asked the waiter for a bottle of water (which never arrived). At about 1.15pm one of the hosts arrived – she’d had errands to run in the mall which was why she was late. Good grief – couldn’t she have done that later? Anyway, people started arriving – we were nine girls in the end – and lunch seemed to go on forever. The service was awful. I would never go back there. At 4pm I made my excuses and left – the others seemed quite happy to sit there for longer but I had s*** to do!

I had a session with Pete on Wednesday and spent the rest of the day working.

On Thursday morning I went back to Eco Yoga Sanctuary for a Hatha Flow class. After that I decided to get my  hair done as I looked like a homeless person after the yoga class. It was also New Year’s Eve and I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do that night. My number one choice was to stay home. I’d been invited to a few places but I couldn’t face the thought of the traffic going Downtown and then getting stuck there until 4am. I could see it building up from the afternoon onwards.

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I ended up staying home. And I’m glad I did because soon after I’d had dinner, I saw a post on Facebook that said the Address Downtown was on fire. What?? I’d been hearing sirens for the last 10 minutes but assumed it was regular New Year’s Eve police controlling the traffic. I thought it was a hoax and then I checked Twitter. I couldn’t believe the pictures I was seeing.

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

I felt sick – there were hundreds of thousands of people in that small area – and I couldn’t imagine how many people would be injured. I kept reading that there were no injuries but I just couldn’t believe that. Eventually, it was reported that there were 14 minor injuries – a bit more realistic, but still unbelievable in a way. I hoped everyone had managed to get out of that building in time. And then I heard that they were planning to go ahead with the fireworks Downtown. Next to a burning building? It seemed ludicrous. And people were still heading Downtown. Friends called from London and other places to see if I was OK – WhatsApp had stopped working!

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At about 10 minutes before midnight I made my way to the pool area of my building to watch the fireworks. The crazy thing I’ve noticed about people on New Year’s Eve is that wherever they are on Sheikh Zayed Road, they’ll abandon their cars and run to where they can see the Burj Khalifa and watch the fireworks. It’s like watching a disaster movie, although instead of running from disaster, they’re running towards the fireworks!

23:55 on New Year's Eve

23:55 on New Year’s Eve

And then it was midnight. The Address Downtown was still on fire (but under control, they said) and the Burj Khalifa lit up.

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It was bizarre. The fireworks went on for about 5 minutes – I brought in the New Year watching the smoke from the fireworks drift off into the night like dancing skeletons, with the smoke from the Address Downtown streaming behind it.

I’m so glad I stayed in.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Weeks 37 and 38

I got back from Bombay on Thursday night. It was nice to have the place to myself. I hadn’t made any plans for the weekend and spent most of it catching up with work and reading.

I ventured out on Saturday afternoon to meet a friend for coffee at Eataly in the Dubai Mall. We bumped into a mutual friend of ours who joined us – it was nice to be out and about again.

On Sunday evening a friend and I decided to go for a mani/pedi together. We’d booked at The Nail Spa at Mercato – she had a gift voucher and I had a voucher for a free manicure when I booked my pedicure. It’s a nice place but I still prefer going to the Shangri-La for my nails.

I had a piano lesson on Monday afternoon and on my way home I joined the gym at the Shangri-La. And once I got back home I didn’t leave the house again until Wednesday morning, when I went to the gym.

That evening I met up with a friend for dinner. We went to Teatro at the Towers Rotana. We started with a couple of drinks and then ordered the pandan chicken to start with followed by sushi (we were trying to be healthy). We ordered the Screaming Salmon (sliced salmon with jalapeno and traditional ponzu – this was my favourite dish of the evening), Yuzu Tuna (sliced tuna with cilantro and yuzu vinaigrette) and spicy salmon and tuna rolls. After dinner we went to Novikov for a drink. It is so much nicer than the one in London! We stayed for one drink and then left.

On Thursday I went for a much-needed haircut and colour. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d cut my hair and it was just an inch shy of my waistline. I’ve never had hair that long – but it really needed a cut so I had a few inches taken off. I spent most of my afternoon at the salon!

On Thursday night I met up with a friend at the Novotel’s Blue Bar (at the World Trade Centre) – we were catching a drink and quick bite before going to see Spandau Ballet! Neither of us was particularly hungry so we ordered the calamari and the nachos. I had Entertainer vouchers so we only paid for one dish (and the wine).

We made our way to the arena a little before 9pm and got some drinks. I’d been hesitant about going as I didn’t know that many Spandau Ballet songs – but I’m glad I went because they were so good!

I thought they would finish with ‘True’ as they’d already done a short a cappella version of ‘Gold’ earlier. But they played the whole song again.

And they ended with ‘Through the Barricades’. It was a great concert. Tony Hadley’s voice is incredible, even after 30 years.

We walked back to the Blue Bar after that and had a few more drinks.

I was home all day on Friday. I did a bit of work, watched a few episodes of ‘Transparent’, did some yoga. It was very chilled.

On Saturday night I met a friend for dinner at Prime 68 on the 68th floor of the JW Marriott Marquis. We shared a Caesar’s salad to start and then both had the 7 oz French Charolais filet with peppercorn sauce. We also shared three sides: lobster creamed corn, baby French potatoes (crisped in duck fat) and Mom’s mac and cheese (disappointingly bland). We also had a bottle of Pinot Noir. We were far too full to even contemplate dessert!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 16

Another busy week!

After my session with Trevor on Sunday morning, my sister, her husband and I took the kids to the Shangri-La pool. We’d wanted to do this for a while but V2 had been quite unwell and coughing so we thought we’d wait for him to get better. It was his first time in a swimming pool. V1 had insisted from the beginning of their holiday that there was absolutely no way he was going to go swimming. My sister told him to just wear his swimming trunks anyway, and that he didn’t have to come in the water.

We got to the poolside at about 1pm and there were no sunbeds available. We put our stuff down in the lounge area and got V2 ready for his first dip. There were no tears, no fuss. He was very happy floating around in his inflatable turtle! V1 still refused to get in. We were all in the shallow children’s pool and kept pushing V2 back and forth in his turtle. Eventually V1 suggested he might dip his feet in. But just his feet. Once he’d dipped his feet in it didn’t take long for him to put on his armbands, take off his T-shirt and get in the pool with us! At about 2.30pm we sent V2 back home for his milk and nap. V1 was still jumping around in the kids’ pool.

So, we ordered some lunch and some wine. V1 had a couple of chicken nuggets, said he wasn’t hungry any more and got straight back in the pool. Then he insisted that we all go to the big pool. He was really enjoying himself!

At about 4pm, I decided to walk home. V1 was still in the pool with his parents. My sister later told me that on their way home, she asked him if he’d had a good time. ‘Not really,’ he responded. Cheeky!

That evening we had dinner at Silver Fox Steakhouse at Citywalk. We took V1’s dinner from home as they didn’t really have a children’s menu and ordered him some French fries too. He ordered his dessert while we were having our main course – it was the biggest slice of chocolate cake I’ve ever seen. It was bigger than his head!

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Of course, he couldn’t finish it. He had a few bites and then fell asleep. We were all tired from being out in the sun that afternoon. The car had to make two trips to get us all back home so Dad and I walked around while we waited for the car to come back for us.

I worked at home on Monday and Tuesday. Vs 1 and 2 and their parents left for Lagos on Wednesday morning. They left at around 6.45am and I went back to bed. Trevor had also cancelled our session and I was so pleased I could have a lie-in! I had some friends in town who were staying at the Atlantis for the week so I went to meet them for lunch. I got there at 1pm and one of them was waiting for me in the lobby. We walked to where he had left his wife and kids by the pool – it was packed! There wasn’t one sunbed free – and the pool area is huge. We ordered some fresh juice and chatted while the kids went back in the pool. We walked over to Nasimi Beach and had lunch there. It was a really hot day. We ordered a couple of salads and the sushi platter. It was too hot for anything else. I had to leave at around 4pm as I had a piano lesson that afternoon.

After my piano lesson (I started learning a song called ‘Take me to church’), I met up with a friend at Calabar. I still had a bottle of Pinot Grigio left over from my birthday drinks and had to finish it before Friday. We ended up ordering a second bottle and I had more sushi as my dinner. I was home early though, before 10pm.

On Thursday I was at home during the day, catching up on work. That evening I went to the Capital Club party with some friends who are members. The theme this year was ‘The 7-year itch’. There were a lot of Marilyn wigs and dresses, and one woman even showed up in an itsy bitsy teeny weeny (pink) polka dot bikini! The spread of food was amazing. Last year we made the mistake of drinking first and missed out on all the good food. This year, we knew exactly what to do!

After a couple of drinks, we went down to the third floor. There was a seafood section with oysters, lobster, smoked salmon and different kinds of ceviche. Yum. They also had the champagne bar on that floor. After we were done with the seafood, we were able to walk through the kitchen where they had fresh caviar (I’m not a fan) and where they were preparing the foie gras. Gosh, it was so good. And it was empty! So we hung around there for a bit and decided to go back upstairs.

We stopped on the fourth floor to see what was on offer there – there was one room where they were preparing salt beef sandwiches and nothing else. Again, that room was empty at this point. After the salt beef we decided to go back up to the main bar and maybe try and find somewhere to sit. On the way back up the stairs, I could smell cheese – and remembered from the year before that there was a whole room with nothing but cheese in it. We decided to come back for it in a little while. We found a table out on the terrace and made ourselves comfortable. It was nice to sit down! We spent an hour there – someone went in and came back with two plates of cheese. Heaven! Once the bar on the fifth floor closed, we went back down to the fourth floor. Earlier in the evening they had different live bands on each floor, but now they’d set up the DJ and dance floor – and we danced the rest of the night. Until 3am. Until they threw us out (in a nice way). None of us took any photos which was a shame. On the way out there was a guy passed out on the sofa – and I did take a photo of that, but nobody really wants to see it.

By the time I got home it was almost 4am and I was exhausted. I woke up on Friday at 10am. I wasn’t hungover – I had stuck to vodka the night before – but I was tired. I got ready and went to a friend’s champagne breakfast for her birthday at her place. I picked up a friend on the way and we got to her place at about 11.30. She had scrambled eggs, cold cuts, croissants and champagne. It was a really nice start to the day – and the view from her balcony is gorgeous!

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I also liked the way she was collecting champagne corks!

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At 1pm her limo arrived to take everyone to Cove Beach at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. I had declined this part of the invitation as I knew it would be a long day and I knew I would be tired from the night before.

I went home, got into bed and tried to do some work. I also tried to have a nap but couldn’t. That evening I had a friend in town from London for the weekend (the same one from January and February). We went to the 40th birthday part of one of his friends – it was at the Atlantis, in one of the ballrooms. I knew more people there than I thought I would. Champagne was flowing, we had some dinner – my friend who was staying at the hotel joined us for a drink too (she abandoned her kids and husband for an hour). There were also live performances by Apache Indian (yes, he’s still alive) and Sukhbir. It was a fun evening – lots of dancing – but it was another late night and I got home after 3am.

I didn’t want to wake up on Saturday. I stayed in bed for as long as possible and then got out of bed for lunch. Later that afternoon I met a couple of friends for coffee at the Dubai Mall. They were already at Papparoti so I joined them there. It was my first time at Papparoti and they just couldn’t believe I’d never tried it. Part of me hadn’t wanted to try it because I thought I’d like it so much I’d be eating their buns all the time. I ordered a ginger milk tea (low fat) and had a bite from one of the buns they’d ordered. It was… OK. I think I’d heard so much about these buns that I was a little disappointed. At least I know I won’t be tempted by them again! After we said our goodbyes, I ended up buying two dresses from Debenhams – and then went home.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 15

What a busy week!

I had a session with Trevor on Sunday morning. I still had a headache from my birthday drinks two days before! I was home in the afternoon and managed to get some work done – my mum and sister took the kids to Mirdif City Centre. That evening I went to a barbecue with some friends in JBR. It took forever to get there. The traffic is a nightmare and if I lived in that area, I would move! It was a really nice evening on their balcony – champagne, barbecued meats, what more does a person want? It wasn’t too late a night – I was home by 11pm.

On Monday I did some work and that afternoon my dad and I went to see Fast and Furious 7 at Mercato Mall.

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Everyone in Dubai loves these movies – even the cinema at Mercato was half full which must be a record for them! I thought it was OK, the action is entertaining but it was far too long and the acting was terrible. I did like the tribute to Paul Walker at the end though.

While we were at the movie, my mum, sister and kids had come to Mercato as well so we met up with them for dinner afterwards. Mum was halfway through her pizza, my sister and V1 had finished their McDonald’s and Dad and I ordered from Noon-o-Kabab. As the driver would have to make two trips to get us all back home, the others left while Dad and I finished our dinner.

On Tuesday I told V1 that I would take him to the Aquarium at the Dubai Mall. We got there at around noon and walked through the tunnel. I love seeing the sharks close up. I tried to take some photos but they were moving too fast! After going through the tunnel we went to the Underwater Zoo upstairs. I could have spent much longer at each exhibit but V1 kept dragging me off to see something else. He wouldn’t even let me look at the piranhas! It was my first time seeing ‘King Croc’. I’m pretty sure the life-size replica they have at the Aquarium entrance on the ground level is much smaller than the crocodile in the exhibit upstairs. This crocodile is massive, weighing in at 750 kg and measuring 5 metres in length! You can view it from the level above and stand directly over it, and you can also see it as a regular exhibit, through the glass. There was a short video playing – a documentary about how they got him to Dubai. I’m sure they must have paid a fortune for him.

After we were finished at the Underwater Zoo, we met up with my sister and a couple of her friends for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. It was full of families, children, noisy (fake) animals. My sister and I both ordered the steak (nothing special). She also said the bathroom was really awful – just one stall and really dirty. After we’d ordered our food, the waitress came back with a plastic cup with flashing lights and asked V1 if he’d like to have his milkshake in that. Of course he said yes. The waitress then turned to my sister and said ‘It’s AED 35 and you can take it home with you.’ Cheeky! I think now that we’ve been there, there’s no need to go back. Ever.

The Rainforest Cafe is a restaurant I associate with families, kids, noise. So imagine my surprise when, on our way out, I spot three men in business suits having lunch there. How random!

On Tuesday night, we were out for dinner at Royal China with some friends. I’d just been there the week before but really didn’t mind going back – the food is so good. There were eight of us at the table, and the restaurant was quite crowded for a weeknight. We wanted to order some crispy duck but they’d run out (annoying). We ordered some soup, crispy asparagus and a couple of other things to start with. For our main course we had the chicken in black bean sauce, beef with ginger and spring onions, and Szechuan prawns. Yummy.

I had a gym session with Trevor on Wednesday and a piano lesson in the evening. I finished my recording of Le Onde (by Ludovico Einaudi). It’s a bit long but I quite like it.

My sister and I went to Jumeirah Town Centre for a wander before dinner that evening. We went into a children’s clothing store and I spotted some hair products on a shelf. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m always looking for some miracle straightening, defrizzing hair product (no luck yet). I used to be able to manage my curls, but now that most of it is grey (and coloured) the texture is very different. It’s coarser and frizzier and nothing seems to work on it except a Brazilian keratin treatment and that just makes my hair fall out. I’d rather have frizzy hair than no hair! Anyway, I found a product called Natural Curl Calmer by a company called Organic Sprout.

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It’s 100% vegan and completely organic. I’ve used it twice since I bought it – I’ve noticed that my hair is definitely softer after I’ve used it and let it dry naturally. It’s not cheap though – it was AED 80 for the tube!

On Thursday evening I met up with a couple of friends at Calabar. I had some alcohol left over from my birthday drinks the week before and had two weeks to finish it. There was half a bottle of Belvedere, two bottles of Merlot and one bottle of Pinot Grigio. It was just three of us and we managed to polish off the vodka and the red wine. I’d have to go back for the Pinot Grigio soon! It was a really fun evening and we were out later than we intended (considering we met at 7pm)…

I was home all day on Friday. That evening, my sister, her husband and I went to La Petite Maison for dinner. As usual, the food was excellent. To start with we had: burrata (of course), beef carpaccio, lentil salad and crab and lobster salad. For the main course we had the salt-baked sea bass and the beef entrecote. We also had a lovely bottle of white wine. We shared the cheesecake for dessert and finished with a cocktail. Lovely evening…

On Saturday afternoon, my sister, V1 and I went to the Dubai Mall to do some shopping. We stopped at Tim Horton’s to pick up a coffee to walk around with and went straight to the Shoe District. My sister bought a pair of shoes and we went on to Sephora. I bought a mascara and eye liner from BeneFit (which I didn’t need). We stopped at Mothercare and Waitrose as well. I took V1 home while my sister had a mani/pedi at the mall. I was home that evening – the mall is quite tiring!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 13

Compared to the week before and the week before that, it wasn’t too busy a week.

I was working on Sunday and Monday. On Monday afternoon I had a massage at the Oberoi Spa – which was lovely, as usual!

My sister arrived on Monday night with her two boys – V1 is 4.5 years old and V2 is 7 months old. I hadn’t seen them since I was in London in October. They had flown Etihad so by the time they got home from Abu Dhabi it was after 11pm. We had dinner, played with the kids for a bit and went to bed.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went to see a hypnotherapist. I met her at the IBWG lunch a few weeks ago and decided I was finally going to get some help about my fear of descending stairs and escalators (and anything downhill with nothing to hold on to). I’d mentioned her name to a friend and she said she’d heard really good things about her so I was quite keen to get it done. I was at her office for about an hour and a half. She initially asked me all kinds of questions – how long I’d been in Dubai, what I did for a living, who I lived with, were my parents together, where were my siblings, what I did in my free time, whether I drank and smoked, whether I’d had hypnotherapy before (I had two sessions in 2011 when I was starting to lose weight). We talked about a lot of things. And then the hypnotherapy began. I was conscious the whole time while she spoke to me and responded when she asked me to. At times she would lift up my arm and drop it, to see how relaxed I was – or she would touch my shoulder or forehead. When the session was over, I felt good. We were on the first floor so she told me to take the stairs down and see how I felt. So I walked to the stairs and walked down – without holding on to the bannister. I didn’t freeze at the top, I just walked down like it was the most normal thing in the world. I went back up and told her. She asked if I wanted another session the following week but I told her I’d see how I got on and if I needed another one I’d be in touch with her after her holiday. And then I left, taking the stairs again without holding on to the side. I couldn’t believe myself.

I had a session with Trevor on Wednesday morning, and then worked the rest of the day. That evening I had a piano lesson and then met the rest of the family for dinner at PF Chang at The Dubai Mall. I hadn’t been there in ages. We had some hot and sour soup, dynamite prawns and spring rolls to start with. For our main course we just ordered the Mongolian beef and some rice. It was quite a filling meal.

On Thursday night I met up with a couple of friends at Calabar. I got there at about 7.30 and the place was packed – inside and outside. We had a space at the bar so we were comfortable but I’d have rather been outside. We had some wine (hooray for happy hour) and then ordered some pepper beef, volcano rolls and beef sliders (which I didn’t eat). We decided to go to La Petite Maison for a drink afterwards. Of course one drink became five and I got home at around 1am. I felt awful the next morning.

On Friday we were home until the late afternoon. My sister and I took V1 to Oasis Centre, which he loves. We went to Baby Shop (crowded and horrible) to pick up a few things and then wandered around. We took V1 to Fun City and then to McDonald’s. I hadn’t had McDonald’s in months but had some chicken nuggets and French fries.

I was home all day on Saturday. My sister and mum took V2 to the doctor as he’d been unwell for a few days. Dad was out playing poker. V1 decided he’d stay home with me. He was watching a movie, I was doing a bit of work. Everything was under control. And then. His movie finished and he ran into his room. Ten minutes later he still hadn’t come out so I went to see what he was up to. And then he started hollering for his mother. He hollered for an hour. In his room, in my room, in my face. I told him I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say when he was screaming so he would calm down for a few minutes, say what he wanted to say (mostly ‘Where’s Mama?’ and ‘Tell Mama to come home’) but as soon as I would respond he would start hollering again. He didn’t want chocolate, he didn’t want Oreos, he didn’t want to go for ice cream, he didn’t want to play with his iPad. Oh. My. God. Finally I told him I’d call his mother if he brought his iPad to my room. He said ‘I won’t bring it until you call her,’ and I responded with ‘I’m not calling her until you bring it.’ This went back and forth a few times until he brought his iPad to my room. I called my sister – there was no response so I pretended I was speaking to her – and then I told Vinay she was on her way home and that he had to teach me how to play ‘Memory Game’ on his iPad. By the time she got home with V2, he was so engrossed in the game, he barely looked at her! Men. Honestly.

That evening my sister, V1 and I went to the Dubai Mall to do some shopping. We picked up a bouncer from Mothercare and then went to Koton and Debenhams. I tried on a few things – I needed something to wear to my birthday drinks the following week and actually managed to find something (thank goodness). We were home for dinner and it was an early night for us all.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 11

Compared to the previous week, this week was much busier, at least from Tuesday onwards.

I was home all of Sunday, apart from my session with Trevor.

On Monday afternoon I had a massage at the Oberoi. I’d have liked to go to the pool beforehand but it was a windy, sandy day. The last time I’d been there was in January and I asked to have the same therapist but she was away. Instead I had Hazel, who was also very good.

The spa at the Oberoi is different in that there’s no communal changing area with showers and lockers. Each therapy room is its own suite. So if you do use the pool before (or after) your treatment there’s nowhere to change into your swimsuit apart from the small toilet by the pool and there’s nowhere to leave your clothes and other items.

When I was paying for my treatment I decided I’d buy Trevor a gift voucher for a 90-minute massage. I still hadn’t bought him a Christmas present as I just didn’t know what to get! I figured you can’t really go wrong with a day at the pool and a massage. I enquired about couple massages – and the man at the desk told me they do them but it would be a woman giving the woman a massage and a man giving the man a massage. I thought that was weird. If I was having a couple’s massage I wouldn’t want some random guy in the room as well. Would you?? And doesn’t that contravene UAE laws about men/women being undressed in the same room??

I had a really busy Tuesday. I had my regular yoga class at home and then went to the World Trade Centre Club for a networking lunch. While I was at one of the sessions at the Literature Festival last week, I started chatting to the lady sitting next to me. It turned out that she knew a couple of people that I’d been doing some work for here in Dubai – and she told me that she was one of the founders of an organisation in Dubai called the International Business Women’s Group – and that they have a lunch every month for members and prospective members. She asked me to come along and thought I’d find it interesting.

I got there at around 12.15 and found my name tag. I paid for my ticket (AED 190 for non-members) and then had to pick a piece of paper with a number on it out of a glass bowl – that would be my table number. Everyone was very friendly and I met some really interesting women. One of the first women I met was a hypnotherapist – and this stunned me because just the day before I’d been thinking that I should see a hypnotherapist about my issues with stairs/descending. I’m not sure whether I’m over-reacting but I do think it’s getting worse – even stepping onto an empty descending escalator makes my pulse race. I told her what the problem was and she told me I’d need two or three sessions at the most and I’d be OK. Here’s hoping!

I also met a lawyer, a banker, an events coordinator, an explorer (!) and others. I even bumped into a friend of a friend. After about half an hour of mingling and canapes, we were asked to sit at our tables and our food would be brought over. When I reserved my seat for lunch I had to choose between the regular, vegetarian or healthy option meal. The regular option was grilled lamb chops with mint sauce, root vegetables and potatoes. The vegetarian option was open lasagna of Mediterranean vegetables. The healthy option (or Healthy Trendz, as they called it) was chicken breast stuffed with spinach. I went for the healthy choice and it was really delicious – much better than I thought it would be. After we’d finished eating, the guest speaker came on – that day it was Jane Drury, founder of expatwoman.com. She spoke for about 30 minutes – how and why she got started, and what’s in store for her company now. For dessert there was caramel fudge cheese cake and vanilla sauce. I had a few bites but didn’t finish it. I left at around 2.15pm – I was really glad I went and would consider joining the group as a full member.

That evening I met up with a friend for drinks at Calabar. We had a couple of bottles of wine and some food – it was a nice evening and I was home early(ish).

I had my regular session with Trevor on Wednesday and then settled down to do some work for a while. That afternoon I had a doctor’s appointment and then my piano lesson. After my piano lesson I went to Fitness First as one of Trevor’s clients was giving a talk about hormones and weight loss. I was there for about an hour – she talked about a lot of things and I think that if I don’t see results in a month or so, perhaps I should get a few things checked out.

On Thursday I had a friend in town from Mombasa. She was just here for a day in transit from Bombay on her way home. We met at the Dubai Mall for coffee. We ended up going to NOW Cafe on the Lower Ground Floor – she had a sandwich and we both had a cappuccino. Neither were particularly great and we ended up going Tim Horton’s where we shared a French vanilla cappuccino.

After that, my dad joined me at the mall. I’d asked him to come with me to look at laptops – I’d had mine for over three years and wanted to upgrade it. We went to Jacky’s but I didn’t really like anything there. I think the salesman was also a bit irritating which didn’t help. So we went to Jumbo Electronics and I settled on an HP Pavilion. As we stood in the queue to pay, my dad took out his wallet. ‘What are you doing?’ I asked him. ‘I thought you might need me to pay,’ he replied. I told him I was paying for my laptop myself. ‘If I’d known you were paying I’d have gotten something for myself too,’ he said. ‘What did you want?’ I asked. He said he wanted a new iPad – so I told him I’d buy him one. I think he was shocked. He decided on the iPad Air 2 and I paid for it. He was so happy! ‘Nobody buys me things,’ he said when we got home. And thinking about it, I suppose it’s true…

It was after 6pm by the time we got home and I was meeting a friend for sundowners and dinner at the Shangri-La. I freshened up and changed and went over to the Shangri-La. We had a couple of drinks at Ikandy to start with and then went to Don Alfonso for dinner. In Dubai, I usually find that restaurants serve great food but the service can be so terrible it sometimes ruins your meal altogether – but I have to say that at Don Alfonso both the food and service were excellent.

It wasn’t full at all when we got there – only two other tables were occupied. The manager helped us decide what to order as we just couldn’t choose from all the delicious things on there. (I have to admit I pointed out a couple of spelling mistakes to him I’d seen on the menu.) In the end, he suggested we share the lobster skewers for our starters and then each have our own main course. I ordered the John Dory ‘acqua pazza’ and my friend couldn’t decide between the gnocchi with mushrooms or the black squid ink and scallop risotto. She eventually decided on the latter and we also ordered a bottle of wine.

The lobster skewers were amazing. I wish I’d taken a photo. And considering he’d split the portion between the two of us, there was still a good amount on each of our plates. After we’d finished, they cleared our plates and a few minutes later he brought us a portion of the gnocchi with mushrooms split into two bowls – on the house. That was excellent too. And after that we had our main course. I’m glad I had the fish as it wasn’t too heavy – and was so tasty.

It tasted better than it looks - and I didn't eat the bread

It tasted better than it looks – and I didn’t eat the bread

The risotto was presented very colourfully and my friend said it was delicious. I was really full after all that food but we ended up sharing a tiramisu and then the manager brought us a tray of complimentary bite-size desserts. At this rate I would have to be rolled home.

What I liked about the place was that the staff were friendly, we didn’t have to tell them to clear the table after every course (which happens a lot here – waiters will bring more and more stuff to your table without taking away the empties), they didn’t serve each course as soon as the previous one was done so they weren’t trying to rush us through our meal, and the restrooms were at the back of the restaurant (whereas with the other restaurants at the Shangri-La you have to go up or down a level to get to the restrooms).

Which made me wonder why the restaurant was so empty. While we were there, two or three other parties came in for dinner but still more than half the restaurant was empty.

When I asked for the bill, I told the manager that I had an Entertainer voucher. He told me to save the voucher but that they’d still give us one of the main courses on the house. So we had the gnocchi and one of the main courses free! What an unexpected surprise! The manager also brought me an Essence form to fill in – the Essence card gives you 20% off in all the restaurants and bars at the Shangri-La. So I’ll definitely be going back.

On Friday I went to Taste of Dubai with some friends. We decided we’d go during the day as we thought it would be less crowded than going in the evening. This year we bought the VIP tickets – which included access to the VIP bar and lounge, three dishes from any of the participating restaurants and two drinks from the VIP bar.

We got there at about 1.30 and walked around, checking out the restaurants.

2015-03-14 12.06.11

It was already crowded by this time. The selection of restaurants this year was disappointing, I have to say: PF Chang, Katsuya, The Cheesecake Factory, Noodle House, Shang Palace, The Act. I could have just gone to the Dubai Mall or the Shangri-La and eaten there! Where was Nobu? Where was Hakkasan? We had some dynamite shrimp at PF Chang and went to claim our free drinks.

The queue at the VIP bar was ridiculous and unmoving. We eventually realised it was because they weren’t serving alcohol between 12 and 2pm because of Friday prayers. When we were finally served, we each ordered a glass of wine only to be given a glass a little larger than a thimble. I felt like Gulliver in Lilliput. And the wine tasted like sh…ardonnay.

We went out to the VIP garden area trying to find somewhere to sit and ended up standing in the shade under a tree. It was really hot that day – the first hot day after the series of sandstorms we’d had. While standing there, sipping our awful wine we noticed that there was another VIP section right next to us, which was for ‘invitation only’ guests. And then… about 20 feet away from us, UB40 got onto a tiny stage and started performing. What??? I had no idea they were even going to be there. And I’m pretty sure that nobody else outside the VIP area knew they were there or could even hear them. I ran into them in Ibiza last summer while I was staying at The Hard Rock Hotel where they were performing so to see them again here in Dubai was just bizarre!

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They sang about six songs: Homely Girl, Kingston Town, a few I didn’t recognise, and of course Red Red Wine. I also bumped into some other friends of mine, so we hung out with them for a bit and had our second free drink. After we finished our drinks, we decided to try some other food. We got the spicy tuna with crispy rice and chicken salad from Katsuya and then walked around trying to decide what to have. We had some mini desserts from a new company called Savarin – they were yummy and so refreshing! Now the place was absolutely heaving and I would have been happy to leave.

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We had a couple of dishes from The Act – both of which were excellent: the beef anticucho and the ceviche. We even considered going there for dinner the following weekend. By this time it was 4.30pm, walking anywhere involved fighting your way through a crowd and I’d had enough. We went back to the VIP bar, found a table and had some Prosecco. At 5pm, we called it a day and headed home.

I went home and got into my pajamas. I didn’t realise how tired I was until it was 10pm and I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I’d been working all evening and still hadn’t had a chance to open my new laptop!

I spent all of Saturday at home too – working mostly, eyeing my unopened laptop on my desk. It would just have to wait!

And that was my week!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 10

I was shattered on Sunday. The week before had caught up with me and I just wanted to sleep but I had a ton of work to do.

I worked all of Sunday and then my dad arrived that evening from Bombay.

I was home for most of Monday too. I went to the Shangri-La for a massage in the afternoon – I’d bought four vouchers back in November and this was the last one I had.

On Tuesday I met up with my cousins who were visiting from Bombay. They were staying at The Address Dubai Mall so we met there for coffee. I wasn’t with them for long as I had to get back and meet some deadlines for work, but it was nice to see them.

Dad and I went out for lunch on Wednesday – we went to Sumo Sushi at Jumeirah Town Centre. The food was average – I’m not sure I’d go back in any rush. I prefer Yabani at City Walk and would rather go there! That evening I had a piano lesson and then it was back to work.

My weekend was very quiet – I was in on Thursday and Friday nights. I spent all of Friday at the Literature Festival – I was there from 11am until 8pm… It was the highlight of my weekend!

I was home all day on Saturday too. In the evening, Dad and I went to see ‘Kingsman’ at The Dubai Mall. It was surprisingly crowded considering the movie was out a few weeks ago. By the time it finished it was 10pm and we ended up at Noodle House for dinner. I ordered the Singapore noodles (yum) and Dad had the vegetarian Thai green curry.

And that was my week!

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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