Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai: Week 33

Aside from the usual gym sessions and work, it wasn’t a very exciting week.

I went to an InterNations gathering with a friend on Sunday night at the Ritz-Carlton at DIFC. As usual we were given a choice of wine or beer as our complimentary drink, but the serving was so tiny it was quite ridiculous. It was also quite warm indoors as the doors to the terrace were open – and it was much cooler outdoors. We met a few new people and some people we’d met before. It was a nice evening, and not too late – I was home by 10.30pm.

On Wednesday night I had dinner with some girl friends at Toscana at the Madinat Jumeirah. We initially had a table outside but eventually moved indoors as it was too hot outside. We ordered some starters to share – and I had a slice of pizza. It was my first slice since Bali! We also shared some main courses – some grilled chicken, risotto and pasta. I thought the food was just average. I remember it being better when I went there the first time back in January.

I went for dinner because I hadn’t left the flat (other than to go to the gym) in 3 days. Out of the six other women at dinner, I only really knew two of them, and two of the others were brand new to me. The conversation revolved around schools, Bollywood movies and a couple of other things I’ve forgotten. I had absolutely nothing in common with them. They must also think I’m pretty dull as I don’t say very much when I’m with them.

I was supposed to leave for London on Thursday morning but decided to postpone my trip. I was away for so long over the summer and was just getting back into my routine. I just didn’t feel like travelling. Not going to London meant selling my George Michael tickets – it was the sole purpose of my trip. I’d had those tickets for 18 months (due to the rescheduled shows) and had really been looking forward to it!

I stayed in on Thursday night – I didn’t really feel like doing much that evening.

On Friday night I met up with a friend – we went to Karma Kafe at Souk Al Bahar for some drinks and a bite, and then headed to Movida for more drinks and dancing. It was a really fun night – the music was good, the vodka was flowing, and I even bumped into someone that I knew (which is weird because I only know about five people in this city). We left when the club closed. I got home at around 3.30am or so.

For some reason I thought it would be a good time to watch an episode of ‘Revenge’ and chat to a friend in San Francisco on Skype. By the time I went to sleep it was 5am. I woke up at 8am – couldn’t sleep. I tried to go back to sleep at about 11.30 or so but managed to snooze for a little while only.

That afternoon I had to go to the Virgin Atlantic office to pay for the date change of my ticket. Mum and I went together, it took 5 minutes to sort out, and then we went to BurJuman. I had a coffee at Gloria Jean’s while she had a sandwich. We walked around for a while. I tried on a dress in Ted Baker but thought it looked better on the hanger.

After BurJuman Mum and I decided to go to Mirdif City Centre for a wander. By the time we got home it was 8pm and I was shattered. I couldn’t wait to get into bed and pass out. I watched a couple of episodes of ‘Revenge’ and that was the end of my weekend!

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 29

After a tough session with Rama on Sunday morning, my parents and I went out for lunch. We went to a place called Gypsy Chinese at the Dhow Palace Hotel in Bur Dubai. Dad had been to another restaurant in the hotel the day before and wanted to try this Bombay Chinese place.

It’s a small restaurant, and there was only one other table occupied that afternoon. We looked through the menu and I started ordering – soup, spring rolls and dynamite chicken for starters. And then I started ordering the main course. ‘Could we have the sizzling lamb in black bean sauce?’ I began. ‘And some crispy noodles…’ The Indian waiter interrupted and asked what we were going to eat the lamb with? Well, rice obviously, I thought to myself. ‘Why don’t you try the other lamb?’ Because I want the one I’ve bloody ordered. He was starting to irritate me. We eventually ordered the lamb he suggested and rice. We had wanted noodles but decided to see if we were still hungry after the lamb (we weren’t – and even if we were I’m not sure we’d have been allowed to order anything!). The food was good but I don’t think I’d go back in a rush.

After lunch we wandered around Burjuman for a while and had a coffee at Gloria Jean’s. We decided we’d go to a movie that evening and settled on ‘The Bourne Legacy’ at Mercato. I had no idea what was going on in the first 20 minutes but it eventually all came together. I actually only went for the popcorn, and although my mum and I both ordered the small size, mine was much smaller than hers!

I had yoga on Monday morning and then went to Dreamworks Spa for a massage. I’d bought a voucher before my holiday and it was expiring soon. I worked for the rest of the afternoon and evening – I still had a lot to catch up on from the last couple of weeks in Bali, but I was getting there slowly. On Tuesday I went to the gym and worked all day.

On Wednesday I had another session with Rama and then went to Baker & Spice at Souk Al Bahar with some friends. I hadn’t been there yet – and was pleasantly surprised. We shared some salads to start with, and then shared some roast chicken, red snapper, gnocchi and pasta with prawns (which I didn’t have). For dessert we had the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten. It was out of this world.

I worked all afternoon – my parents went out to a movie – and then I joined them for dinner at PF Chang at the Dubai Mall. All I wanted was soup and the steamed salmon, but as usual ended up over-eating.

I ended up staying home all of Thursday too (apart from the gym). I’d been in work mode most of the week and just wanted to get things done.

On Friday I went to a friend’s birthday brunch at the Grand Grill at the Habtoor Grand. It was a fun afternoon – the food was good and the booze was flowing. That night I met up with a friend at Vintage in Wafi – they still had their two-for-one offer on bottles of wine and we were there for quite a while.

I felt awful on Saturday. I hadn’t slept well the night before and had a headache. I lazed around at home for most of the day and in the evening went to the mall with my parents. My phone needed sorting out at Du, we went for coffee, and then had dinner at Lafayette Gourmet. We like going there because it means we don’t have to agree on what cuisine we want – Dad had ┬áThai curry, Mum had a Caesar’s salad, and I had hot and sour soup and sushi. Perfect. On our way out we noticed there was a new churros place that had opened.

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Oh good. Just what the mall needs… more deep-fried crap. Of course we bought some. We were home by 10pm and I finished watching Season 5 of ‘Mad Men’.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 22

What a busy week!

I didn’t have my usual session with Rama on Sunday. Instead I was invited out for an early(ish) lunch at Siddharta Lounge at Grosvenor House Tower 2. It’s a beautiful restaurant – it reminded me of the Sanderson Hotel in London. It was all white – white bar chairs, white sofas, floor-to-ceiling windows all the way round. It’s a gorgeous venue for lunch, but I’ve heard it’s also very popular on Thursday and Friday nights. 

After lunch, my mum, grandmother and I went to the Patchi store at Mercato. My grandmother and I both needed to buy gifts for a few people. Unfortunately the store at Mercato was being refurbished and they didn’t have a big variety of gifts on display. I picked up a few things but we decided to go to the store at the Dubai Mall as well. We were there for what seemed like forever. Between us we ordered about 20 boxes of chocolates and waited around for them to be prepared. By the time we got home it was 6.30. I rushed upstairs, changed and freshened up and was out again by 6.45.

My cousin had asked me to join her and some friends at Capital Club in DIFC for quiz night. I love quizzes so I went along. There were six of us on the team and that particular evening it turned out to be an all-music quiz. My five teammates weren’t very happy about that but I was thrilled about this as I thought my musical knowledge was pretty good. 

Which is why it pains and embarrasses me to say that we came last. LAST. Out of seven teams. There were eight rounds consisting of eight questions each. The first two rounds were fine (TV themes and Oscar winners) but it went rapidly downhill after that. We were by far the youngest team there and the rest of the quiz seemed to revolve around music from the 1960s and 1970s – and I think my musical knowledge only begins with the 1980s (unless it’s classical music). I hate losing. When I got home and told my parents, they were shocked that we lost too!

I had my usual yoga class on Monday and then worked for the rest of the day. I had a lot of work to get through and didn’t want to have to do it when I got to London. That evening we went to a restaurant called Aryaas in Bur Dubai, another vegetarian Indian restaurant. On the menu was a ‘family dosa’ which we were told was their specialty. I have never seen such a big dosa in my life. I don’t even know how they managed to make them so big. I thought the food was just OK – I still prefer the palak dosa at Sukh Sagar! 

I had a session with Rama on Tuesday and then went to Sharjah with my parents. Our work barely took 15 minutes and we were on our way back home. We decided to stop at Mirdif City Centre for lunch. I’d never been there – it was quite empty compared to the Dubai Mall and it was nice to walk around. We ended up at PF Chang’s. 

After lunch, I went to the Dubai Mall as I needed to pick up a few gifts for friends I was seeing in London. I also managed to sneak in a quick visit to Gloria Jean’s. I stayed in that night finishing off some work and thinking about packing. 

I started packing on Wednesday morning. And by that I mean I started looking at my clothes, trying things on, and deciding what to take with me. I left everything I was going to pack on my bed. That afternoon I went to get my hair cut, coloured, highlighted and blow-dried. When I got to the salon I decided to get rid of the highlights and skip the cut. For months the hairdresser kept telling me how ‘terrible’ my highlights were and the colour was all wrong. I was so sick of hearing it I just thought it would be best to get rid of them altogether. I also had a mani/pedi.

I went to have tea with my cousin after getting my hair done. She had flown in from India the day before with her husband and one-year-old daughter and was staying at the Fairmont. It was good to catch up, even though it was just for an hour. I went home, finished packing, did some work and then we went out for dinner. 

It was my grandmother’s last night in Dubai so we decided to go somewhere nice for dinner. We went to Bice Mare at Souk al Bahar. Sadly they didn’t have a table outside but we could still see the Dubai Fountain from our table. The three of them ordered some starters but I decided to have just a main course. I ordered the baked turbot with artichokes and black truffles. It was fantastic. 

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My parents ordered the seafood platter to share and my grandmother had a vegetarian pasta. When we had finished our meal we went out on to the terrace and watched the fountain. 

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We were home before midnight and I was in bed by 1am. 

I woke up at 6am on Thursday and my mum and I left for the airport a little after 7am… I couldn’t wait to get to London!

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 20

A mixed week, I think. Drama at home with Joy, lots of work to do, spending time with my grandmother…

I had my usual session with Rama on Sunday morning. I had wanted to spend the afternoon at the pool but we’d been invited to my cousin’s place in The Lakes for tea. We left home at 4pm and went to my aunt and uncle’s place in Marina. From there, we followed them to The Lakes where their son and daughter-in-law live. We had tea and snacks and were told that we then had to go to their daughter’s house in Emirates Hills. We got back in the two cars and followed them to Emirates Hills. We were there for about half an hour and then my aunt and uncle said they wanted my grandmother to see their flat in Marina. So we got back into the two cars and followed them to their flat. It was a long afternoon and it was 8pm by the time we got home. 

I had yoga on Monday and settled down to do some work after lunch. My mum and grandmother were out for tea again. They asked if I wanted to join them but I said I’d already been to three teas on Sunday and that was my quota for the week! By 4.30 I decided I’d proofread by the pool for an hour or so. 

On Tuesday afternoon I met a friend for coffee – we went to the Gloria Jean’s on Sheikh Zayed Road. I got home, sat at my desk for about 15 minutes and decided I’d rather work outside by the pool. I feel I should make the most of it before it gets too hot to sit outdoors at all!

I had another session with Rama on Wednesday. After that, my mum, grandmother and I decided we’d go to the Dubai Mall for lunch. We ate at Vapiano – I’d never been there before and the portions were huge. I had the tagliatelle with salmon, my mum and grandmother shared a fusilli with mushrooms and a quatro formaggi pizza, and the three of us shared a Greek salad. I could have eaten just the salad for lunch and that would have been enough for me. We walked around for a while. I tried on a couple of dresses but didn’t buy anything. It’s frustrating that nothing fits even after losing almost 15 kg. It makes no sense to me. We ended up having coffee at Gloria Jean’s and were home by 5pm. As I’d been out all day I settled down to some work and didn’t finish until 2am. 

I was home most of Thursday, apart from going to the gym and down to the pool in the afternoon. That evening we decided we’d go out for dinner. Mum wanted to go to Bikanervala in Karama. I hated it. It really was not my idea of going out for dinner. It was more like going to a crowded staff canteen with screaming children running around. You order your food at the main counter and then collect it from different sections, depending on what you ordered. Never again.

On Friday we went to Thai Chi at Wafi Pyramids for lunch. I’d been there once before, back in February, and the food was really good. What we didn’t know is that they instead of their regular menu for lunch, they have a buffet. It wasn’t bad – there was a large vegetarian selection for my grandmother – but their a la carte menu is much better. 

That evening my parents and I went to an engagement party. I didn’t know the couple who were engaged, just the parents of the groom-to-be, and I didn’t know many people there either. Luckily, a friend and his wife showed up, and we decided to leave a short while later. There were over 100 people at the party so they didn’t notice us slip out. On the way back home, we decided to stop somewhere for dinner and ended up at Japengo Cafe at the Palm Strip Mall. I’d seen one at the Dubai Mall but had never eaten there. It was very casual and we were extremely overdressed, but nobody seemed to bat an eyelid. I couldn’t decide between the Lebanese shish taouk and the Iranian koobideh. My friend and I decided to share one of each and his wife ordered some houmous and fatoush. I was home before midnight.

I went to the gym on Saturday morning and spent the afternoon at the pool with my book. Several people had the same idea – at one point there were 12 kids in the pool playing ‘Marco Polo’. It reminded me of being a kid in Lagos in the early 1980s and spending Sundays at the Ikoyi Club… And just as I was remembering that ‘All Night Long’ started playing on my iPod, which also reminds me of that time. Synchronicity.

And that’s another week gone! I love my life. 

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Dubai: Week 18

After my 100s workout with Rama, all I wanted to do was go back to bed. Instead I had to make a trip to Lulu with Joy. We left with Kaleem at almost 12.30, got whatever we needed, and were back home by 2pm. It makes such a difference having a driver – none of that waiting around, hoping for a cab to show up!

Dad and I decided to have lunch at the Dubai Mall – we both fancied a steak. By this time I would have eaten anything as I hadn’t had breakfast and walking around all that food in Lulu had made me ravenous. We went to the Outback Steakhouse on the second floor. I wanted the spinach and artichoke dip to start with, and Dad wanted the onion rings. So of course we ordered both. We each had a steak which came with two side orders – we both had the house salad and the jacket potato. 

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Next time I won’t order anything to start with – I was so full by the end of the meal. I didn’t finish the starter, the salad or the jacket potato. I was so full that I almost didn’t want a coffee at Gloria Jean’s, but had one in the end. We got home at around 4.30 and I just wanted to go to sleep.

I’d booked a massage deal through Cobone at Chelsea Tower – just a few minutes away: ‘Experience tranquility with a 60-minute Swedish massage for AED99 from Chelsea Serano Spa and Wellness Centre at Chelsea Tower Apartments’. I was looking forward to it as I hadn’t had a massage in months, maybe even a year. I went up to the sixth floor and the masseuse showed me to the spa. The ‘spa’ consists of one therapy room, right next to the main reception area and gym. I could hear everything that was going on outside the room and it was very distracting. When she started the massage I remembered why I rarely have them – I’m so ticklish that I’m usually more tense after the massage than I was before it. Then I thought that maybe if I kept coming back, she would eventually figure out where I was most ticklish and avoid those areas. 

When I turned over she said, ‘You have baby?’

‘Excuse me?’ 

‘You have baby inside?’

‘No.’ (F***ing bitch.)

‘You married?’

‘No.’

‘How old are you?’

‘Thirty-nine.’

‘THIRTY-NINE?? Why you no married??’

Oh, FFS – just shut up and do the massage! I wanted to wring her neck. Or kick her in the face. Or both.

‘I don’t know.’

‘Thirty-nine? Or twenty-nine? You no look thirty-nine.’

‘I think I know how old I am.’

Well, that decided it for me. I was never going back there again.

Monday and Tuesday were uneventful. I had yoga on Monday morning and that evening Dad wanted to go out for dinner. Being a vegetarian day we went to Sukh Sagar in Bur Dubai for an early dinner. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a dosa and I’d avoided having one so far because of all the carbs. We started with paneer tikka.

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Dad also had pani puri (which I didn’t have). I then had a palak dosa. I’d never heard of this before, but instead of the dosa having a potato filling, it was spinach. And it was so good. The portions are very big and next time I’m not going to order a starter unless one or two others are going to share it. We also had mango ice cream for dessert. Everything was so tasty. Our bill for the whole dinner was AED 87. Amazing.

On Wednesday I had a session with Rama in the morning. I told him about what the masseuse said and he burst out laughing. That afternoon Dad and I went to the airport to pick up my mum and grandmother. My mum had left in the middle of February and was finally coming back. My grandmother was coming to stay for about a month – her last trip to Dubai was in 2001. She also brought a helper with her as she needs assistance with various things.

Dad and I waited at the airport for ages – we had a coffee, browsed in the book store (yes, I did buy something), and finally they came out of customs. 

I had a busy day on Thursday – I had been invited to my first party in Dubai! It was a friend’s 40th and she’d booked the whole of At.mosphere (at the top of the Burj Khalifa) for the occasion. So naturally there were preparations to take care of. By 5pm that day I’d been manicured, pedicured, blowdried and waxed to within an inch of my life. It was tedious. 

My cousin and I went together. We got there at about 10.45pm and I think we were still one of the first few people to get there even though the invitation said 9.30. That’s Dubai for you. Nothing starts on time, apart from the movies. I’d met many of the women before, at lunches and teas, but it was the first time I’d met their husbands since I’d been here – even though I’ve known some of them for years. It was a fun evening, the view was spectacular, and the music was brilliant. Some of it reminded me of being at Bacchus in Lagos in the mid to late 1980s. I told our hostess this (she grew up in Lagos too) and she said that’s exactly what she had in mind when she hired the DJ. We left at about 1.45am and headed home. 

I woke up with a headache on Friday, took some Nurofen and went back to sleep. We had lunch at home, I spent a couple of hours at the pool, and that evening we took my grandmother to Mercato Mall. It was the busiest I’d ever seen it – I’ve only ever been there in the day time during the week, but on a Friday evening it is packed! We had an al fresco dinner at Bella Donna – great food – and were home by 10pm. 

On Saturday the hairdresser was coming in the morning as a friend had a girls’ lunch at Hakkasan. This hairdresser has been to me a few times but I think I’m going to have to find someone else as he’s started getting a bit sleazy. He’s also one of the most unattractive men I’ve ever seen and smells like an ashtray. This particular morning he told me he was single (I wonder why). He asked me if I had a boyfriend. I said I did. ‘In Dubai?’ he asked. ‘Of course in Dubai,’ I said. I hoped he didn’t ask to see a photo because I hadn’t thought that far ahead.

Anyway, back to lunch. There were nine of us and it was really nice. When I got there, the waitress looked at me and asked if I’d been there before. I said I had. ‘I remember you from last time,’ she said. I’m not surprised – that was my third time there for lunch in April. After lunch I went home, needing a nap. I ended up doing some work instead.

That evening I was going to a new book group. I’d found the Bibliophiles Dubai Book Club online and decided to join them. They meet at Caffe Nero in DIFC every three weeks – it was perfect as it’s not far from where I live. For some reason, I thought they met at 7.30pm so was dilly-dallying at home – and then I checked my email and realised they actually met at 7pm! It was already 7.05 and I was going to be late. I got there at 7.30, made my apologies and sat down. We were 12 people and it was an interesting group. There was one other person who was also there for the first time. The book being discussed was The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize). We finished at 9pm and I went
home. Another weekend over!

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 17

It started off as a quiet(ish) week. I didn’t have my usual session with Rama on Sunday, and I didn’t go to the gym either. I’d invited my friends from London and their kids over for lunch – and invited my cousin too. I’d asked Joy to make spaghetti and minced chicken (separately in case the kids wanted plain spaghetti), and broccoli salad. For dessert there was fruit (watermelon, blueberries, strawberries and kiwis) and vanilla ice cream. Most of the food finished – and while we were lingering over dessert the kids were running around the bare living room. They caught sight of the pool below and that was it – they had to be there. We went down for an hour and a half, the kids splashed around for a while, and then we came back up. The kids were changed and they all left at about 5pm.

I had no plans for the rest of the day so I got into my pajamas and watched ‘Game of Thrones’ in bed. 

On Monday I had yoga and then was home working for the rest of the day. At about 4.30pm I decided to take my book down to the pool – it was such a nice day. There were a couple of kids and their nanny already there, but by the time I left at about 6pm, there were nine other people there. It was so nice, I thought I’d do the same on Tuesday.

But Tuesday was cloudy and grey and windy. I went to the gym in the morning, did some work and then decided to get my hair coloured. When I left the Fairmont, I walked to Gloria Jean’s – I was at a good part of my book so I decided to sit in there and have a coffee while I finished the chapter I was reading. It wasn’t hot at all and I thought about walking the rest of the way home. It would have taken me 15-20 minutes, but in the end I opted for a cab.

Wednesday was a busy day. After my session with Rama, my Dad and I went to Hakkasan for lunch with my uncle, aunt and cousin. We all had the set menu, but were there for quite a while. We didn’t leave there until 3.45pm. After that Dad and I went to Festival City to collect our new car. He had been toying with the idea of getting a Jaguar or Mercedes, but I asked him what the point of that is when the only person who’s going to be driving the car is the driver? So he settled on a Volvo. We got there just after 4pm and were there FOREVER. Paperwork, registration, insurance, plates. I had two coffees (which were very good, I have to say) talked James (the sales exec) to death, and at 6.30pm one of their drivers drove us home in our new car. 

A little while later I went to MoE (by cab) to meet a schoolfriend for dinner. She was another friend I hadn’t seen since I left school 20 years ago and she was in Dubai for work. We ended up at More Cafe and talked about school, and what we were up to now, and so on. Her flight back to Tokyo was later that same evening so we said goodbye a little after 9.30pm. It was nice to see her – and I think she’ll be coming to Dubai twice or thrice a year. I think I’ve met more Cobham girls in the last couple of weeks than I have in the last year!

On Thursday I was home all day working (or trying to) and in the evening I went to a wine club meet-up.

I had lunch with Dad at Lemongrass on Friday. We both like the food there and it’s reasonably priced too. After that we went for a wander around Lamcy Plaza – he was looking for a calculator but we couldn’t find one. We went home and I went to my spinning class at the Shangri-La.

That evening we went to see ‘Battleship’ at the Dubai Mall with my cousin and her parents. It was so bad. It should be called ‘Battlesh*t’. It’s set in Hawaii – and I kept hoping Alex O’Loughlin and the 5-0s would show up, save the day and cut the movie short. Bad script, bad acting, too long – the first and last 20 minutes were OK, but the rest was awful.

While we were at the mall, I could hear a lot of activity from the ice rink below. I walked over to the railing and looked over. The ice had been covered and people were playing football instead!

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I had planned to spend Saturday by the pool, but that morning one of the women I’d met at the British expat drinks in January sent me a text about a new writing group that was meeting that afternoon. I decided to go as I hadn’t done any writing since moving to Dubai (apart from this blog). I went down to the pool after breakfast and read for a while. I could only manage an hour as it was so hot. That evening I got into my pajamas, read a little and caught up on some TV shows. 

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 16

It’s been a busy week! My cousin came into town from London for Easter weekend and we’d had quite a busy weekend. On Sunday I had my morning session with Rama, and then Dad took us to Hakkasan for lunch. I’d booked a table for 2pm, but the restaurant was very quiet when we got there. 

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We decided to go for the set menu for AED120. We had a choice of starters, a choice of main course and a choice of dessert. It also included steamed rice and greens. To start, Dad had the hot and sour soup with chicken, while the two of us went for the assorted steamed dim sum. We also ordered a portion of the prawns on toast with foie gras. We then had the prawns, beef and steamed red snapper to share. The choices for dessert were lemon tart and assorted sorbets. The portions were quite generous and I thought it was good value for money. 

After lunch we went to the mall – we all had a couple of errands to run. My cousin and I wanted to rush back and sit by the pool but it was quite a cloudy afternoon. We relaxed at home for a while and then got ready for dinner. I had booked Okku for 8pm but was still full from lunch. Of course we went anyway. My cousin and his wife joined us for a couple of drinks while we ate. We had edamame, spicy tuna and crispy rice, rock shrimp tempura, sashimi salad, and of course the truffle fried rice. The waiter asked whether we wanted something to eat with the rice – black cod, chicken? I was perfectly happy to have it on its own. At 9.45, the waiter said they would need the table by 10pm for the next sitting, but we could hang around by the bar and have a few more drinks. We decided to do that – a waiter took the drinks we already had and we followed him down to the bar. He disappeared in the crowd, never to be seen again. I complained to one of the staff and told him what had happened – and he replaced our drinks. It was quite crowded – I’d been told that Thursdays and Sundays are their busiest nights (Sunday being retro night). We started chatting to some random people, had more drinks (which the bartender didn’t charge me for – I’m definitely going back), and eventually decided to leave at 1am. I only left because I had yoga the next morning, and was already dreading it.

After yoga, we decided to sit by the pool before lunch – it was a hot day and I took my book. When we got to the pool I realised I was still wearing my bedroom slippers. Thankfully there was nobody else around. I was outdoors for about an hour and had to come back in – it was too hot for me. After lunch, we went back down to the pool (in my flip-flops) and I sat under an umbrella while she lay out in the sun. I managed to get some colour, however, and no longer look anaemic. Hurrah! I went back indoors at 4pm as I was meeting a schoolfriend at Gloria Jean’s at the mall. I hadn’t seen her since we left school in 1991.

It was nice catching up – finding out who the other was in touch with, what everyone else was doing. We chatted for almost an hour and a half, and then I went to Wafi Gourmet to meet some friends who were in town from London for the Easter holidays. They’d booked their tickets to Dubai before I booked mine last year – and I couldn’t believe how quickly the time has gone and that they were already here! It was great to see them.

My cousin left early on Tuesday morning, very unwillingly. Back to the cold and the rain and the office. I love my life. I thought I’d sit by the pool that afternoon but it was cloudy so I decided to stay indoors and do some work. 

After my Wednesday session with Rama, I went down to the pool for some fresh air and to finish my book. The pool area was pretty crowded – there were seven of us there. That’s the most crowded I’ve seen it since I moved here. By 1.15 I was sweltering and decided to go back indoors for lunch and some work. I had an umbrella covering most of me, but the three girls sitting by the pool didn’t and I wondered how they coped in the heat. I went back down at about 4.30 with some proofreading – it was still hot but there was nobody else around.

On Thursday Joy and I did our weekly shop at Lulu. I’d written a couple of weeks ago that going to Lulu is a pointless task for me because all I do is push the trolley. I’ve since learned that that is not the case. I’ve noticed that Joy shops according to her list, not according to what aisle she’s in. For example, if she needs chicken fillets and minced chicken but they’re not next to each other on her list, she will get the chicken fillets, and then look for whatever comes next (toothpaste, homous – it could be anything) and then eventually come back to the minced chicken. She could spend all day at the supermarket if she continued shopping like that. No wonder it has taken us so long in the past – today it took 1 hour. There is no method to her madness. 

On our way home from the supermarket, our cab was suddenly surrounded by dust and sand – and there was debris flying into the windscreen. It was a sandstorm! I don’t know where it came from but by the time we got to our block of flats, I couldn’t get the cab door open as the gusts of wind were so strong. We managed to get the shopping into a trolley and take it into the building. After unpacking everything I decided to go to the gym. It was still windy outside and while I was on the treadmill I could see the sunbeds and umbrellas being blown over. And then it stopped just as suddenly as it had started. 

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On Friday, my friends from London invited me to brunch at their hotel. We had planned to spend the rest of the afternoon by the pool but one of the kids had a skiing lesson at Ski Dubai so we went there instead. 

I didn’t do much at all on Saturday – went to the gym, sat by the pool, watched ‘Game of Thrones’. I love my life. 

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Dubai: Week 15

What a busy week!

I had my usual session with Rama on Sunday morning. That afternoon I went for a Dermalogica deep cleansing facial at Spaces Spa at the Oasis Centre on Sheikh Zayed Road. I hadn’t had a facial in about a year and was in dire need of one. It was perfect – my skin felt like it could breathe again after it was over. There was a promotion on so I got a 25% discount and was told that if I booked a facial on any Monday in April and May I’d get 50% off. I must remember to make the most of that.

That night some of my neighbours (who I knew before I moved to Dubai) invited me over for dinner and a game of Monopoly Deal. Her original plan was to order pizza but I told her I didn’t eat bread so we got a takeaway from Lemongrass instead. I’d never played Monopoly Deal – it’s basically like Monopoly but without the board. Instead you have a deck of cards telling you what to do in each turn. It’s like a cross between Monopoly and Uno. 

On Tuesday my cousin had her birthday lunch at Cascades at the Fairmont. It was mostly the same women who were at lunch the previous week and a couple of other women. The food was sushi, prawn tempura, salads and pizza (which I didn’t have). After lunch I went home and did some work.

Over the weekend I received an email from one of the publishers I freelance for asking if I had time to copyedit 10 papers which they needed urgently. I said I did – and then thought I’d better get on with them if I was going to send them all back before the weekend! 

On Wednesday I had another session with Rama and then met a friend for lunch at Social House at the Dubai Mall. I hadn’t had breakfast and I was starving. We both ordered the mie goreng, and I had the fresh carrot, beetroot and ginger juice. The food was excellent – it was just what I needed. It was very hot on Wednesday so when I got home I changed, took some proofs down to the pool and did some work there for a couple of hours. I’m pleased to say I no longer look anaemic. 

Thursday was a long day. Joy and I went to Lulu at 9.15am – she wanted to go early as it would be too hot later on in the day. We were home by 10.45 and I was at the gym by 11. After that I had lunch at Zuma with my Twitter friend on Thursday. We had the set lunch menu – we had miso soup, sashimi, maki rolls and then she had the rib eye and I had the black cod. We shared the green tea/banana cake for dessert – but we didn’t finish it. 

After lunch I went to the International Exhibition Centre as the Bride Show was on and a friend of mine was here from London exhibiting there. He’d been in town for a few days but we hadn’t managed to meet up so I thought I’d pop along to the stand and say hi as I was in the area. It was very quiet but I was sure it would pick up on Friday and Saturday. I was there for about an hour and then went home to do some work.

I stayed home on Thursday night – it had been a busy day and my cousin was arriving the next day from London and I knew the next few days would be busy.

On Friday morning I went to the gym, then Dad and I went to Lemongrass near Lamcy Plaza. We shared the tom yum soup with prawns to start, and then had the panaeng curry with prawns and steamed hammour with lime, ginger and chillies. The food there is very good. I also had a Time Out voucher giving us two main courses for the price of one. 

We went home after that and my cousin arrived just before 6pm. We relaxed and chatted for ages. I’d booked a table at Zuma for 10pm but we decided we’d get there earlier because: (a) we would get too lazy and not want to go out at all; and (b) we could have a drink at the bar before dinner. We got there at 9.30 and had a drink at the bar. It wasn’t too crowded at that time, but it was starting to fill up by the time our table was ready. We had the edamame, ohitashi, tuna tataki, rock shrimp tempura, chicken skewers and beef skewers. And a flask of hot sake.

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The food was excellent, and the sake went down smoothly. So smoothly that we ended up ordering another flask. The waitress brought us the dessert menu but we decided to have some spicy tuna rolls first – and then ordered the green tea/banana cake. It was almost midnight by then but we were still talking and people watching, and fancied some more sake, so along came the third flask. We were the last people to leave the restaurant area, just after 1am. I should get loyalty points for Zuma – three times in one week must be a record.

On Saturday we lazed around at home for a while and then went to the Dubai Mall for lunch. My cousin who lives in Dubai joined us and we went to Lafayette Gourmet. I thought it would be a good choice as we could each order whatever cuisine we felt like – we all shared dim sum, sushi and mezze, and it was all very good. The service was better than usual too. We had coffee at Gloria Jean’s afterwards (yay!) and headed home. Our initial plan was to go to Desi Night at Boudoir that evening (I’m not sure why), but by the time evening came we weren’t really up for it so decided to see a movie instead. I booked tickets for the three of us to see ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ – I loved it. I’d been wanting to see it and I knew it wouldn’t be in the cinema for much longer, and I’m so glad we went… 

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Dubai: Week 12

What a busy week!

I had a killer session with Rama on Sunday morning, followed by a trip to Lulu for our weekly shop. I decided mornings would be the best time to go – the last time I went was on a Saturday afternoon and there was no way I was doing that again. After bringing everything home, Dad and I decided to go to Burjuman for a late lunch. He’d been to Zone Lounge before and wanted to go back. It’s an Italian/Lebanese restaurant and I ordered the houmous and shish taouk. I was famished by the time the food arrived – it was 3.30 and I hadn’t eaten all day – so I ate the houmous with bread (gasp!). Dad ordered the seafood soup because the photo looked good in the menu. Unfortunately it didn’t look anything like it did in the photo and he was disappointed. The shish taouk was OK – the chips that came with it were good though. So I basically had a carb-loaded lunch. I don’t think I’d go back there again though. I’d seen a Gloria Jean’s Coffee place on our way to the restaurant and we went there when we were done.

We had a couple of errands to run in Deira after our late lunch so off we went. I always thought it was so far (because that’s what I’d been told) but it really wasn’t. It looked like an interesting area of Dubai – you could see the dhows and shipping boats being loaded in Dubai Creek – and I’d have liked to walk around but Dad didn’t want to and I’d been out of the house most of the day so I didn’t mind too much. It was also quite chilly by the waterfront and I didn’t have a shawl.

On Monday evening I went to an InterNations event at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC. I’d kept in touch with a couple of people from the British Expat drinks I went to in January and they were going to the InterNations get-together. I got there at about 8.45 and there must have been at least 300 people there – and all from different countries. I registered/paid at the door, was given a token for a free drink and a sticker with your name on it, and then I was let loose with the others. While waiting at the bar I started chatting to a couple of people (mostly about how slow the bar staff were). After being served I went outside to look for the people I knew – it took me ages to find them in that crowd – and just by walking around I ended up chatting to people I didn’t know who have since been in touch. It wasn’t a late night, or a heavy one, but I will definitely go to more events like that. 

On Wednesday I met a new friend for lunch at More Cafe at MoE. I’d never met her before but we’d been chatting on Twitter for the last few weeks. We do have one friend in common but keeping track of her was proving difficult so we decided to meet without her. It was a lovely lunch and I’m looking forward to more of them! After lunch I met up with another friend for coffee at Columbus Cafe – she’d just been to London so it was nice to hear about her trip and catch up. Yes, I was rather jealous but time is flying and May will be here before I know it. 

I’ve decided I need to re-think my ‘no work in the morning’ policy for the next few weeks if I’m going to get all my projects done by their various deadlines. The main deadline at the moment is 30th March so until then my mornings aren’t going to be as relaxed as they are now. 

On Thursday morning, I was up early. I was at the gym by 9am only to find that it was closed as it was being repainted. Damn! I got ready and was at my desk by 10am – and I was there pretty much all day (apart from meals). 

That night I had dinner with some friends at Zuma. Our table was booked for 10pm but by the time we sat down it was after 10.30. I have never seen such scantily-clad women in my life. There was a woman who came up in the lift with us and I wondered why she bothered wearing a top at all! I guess the mall dress code doesn’t apply to Dubai after dark.

On Friday Dad and I went to Sumo Sushi & Bento at Jumeirah Town Centre for lunch. It’s a small mall right next to Mercato.

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We decided to have the set meal for two – it included miso soup, a sushi platter (there was a choice of three), prawn tempura (again, a choice of three starters), chicken katsu and barbecued beef (there was a choice of four main courses). It was a lot of food – and an hour after that I went to Taste of Dubai.

Taste of Dubai was held at the amphitheatre in Media City. It’s similar to Taste of London – all the restaurants have stalls, you can buy any of their signature dishes, there’s live music, cooking demonstrations, chefs doing signings. Some of the restarants with stalls were Nobu, Ronda Locatelli, Gaucho, ToroToro, Rhodes Twenty10, Rivington Grill and PF Chang’s. The dishes served at Nobu were black cod, nasu miso, sashimi tacos, tuna sashimi salad and mochi ice cream. I had the black cod and tuna sashimi salad – each portion is about two bites’ worth of food which was perfect after the lunch I had! A few of my friends had signed up for a session at the Miele Cookery School.

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There were 12 cooking stations and the chef from Rivington Grill showed them how to make seared salmon salad. It smelled and looked pretty good…

We wandered around for a while after that, looking at all the foods on display.

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At about 7pm we went back to the main area and tried to find somewhere to sit. It wasn’t easy.

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We eventually found somewhere, sent the kids to get us some food and got ourselves some beers. When I see certain things on a menu, I have to have them – such as truffles, artichokes, wine… The Ronda Locatelli stall had a truffle ravioli on their menu (I’d spotted it earlier and had been thinking about little else) and when the kids brought it back I could smell the truffles from across the table. I had to have it. Just one bite. It was divine. We relaxed for an hour or so and then a few of us had to leave as we had tickets to see a play at the Madinat Theatre.

‘August: Osage County’ was the winner of the 2007 Pullitzer Prize and seven Tony Awards. The play wa
s written by Tracy Letts and the original version is set in Oklahoma. The production we saw was adapted and directed by Lilette Dubey, and set in Goa. Before the play started, an English woman came up on stage to announce members of the cast and who the sponsors were. The woman could barely read. The main sponsor was Petrochem – and she pronounced the ‘chem’ exactly as it’s spelled. It didn’t bode well for the rest of the play. 

Fortunately, she was soon forgotten once the play started. It was brilliant. It was about a dysfunctional family who come together for their father’s funeral. It reminded me a bit of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom – or a long episode of ‘Brothers and Sisters’ (but well written). I stopped watching ‘Brothers and Sisters’ somewhere in season 2. I figured if I wanted to listen to a family arguing I could just go to my living room and sit with mine. Anyway, the play was funny, dark, sad – thoroughly enjoyable.

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The only criticisms I will make (and that have nothing to do with the production) was that the sound system wasn’t very good, and that for the first half of the play the theatre was freezing, even with my shawl wrapped tightly around me. The play ended after midnight so it was almost 1am by the time I got home.

On Saturday I went to the gym and then decided I was going to do nothing all day. I didn’t even switch on my computer. Armed with factor 20 sunscreen, I took The Hunger Games down to the pool and sat there for a couple of hours.

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It was the first time I’d been to the pool since I moved to Dubai. It had been too cold and/or windy before that to sit down there. When I got home I got into bed and continued reading until I’d finished the book. A perfect Saturday… 

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Dubai: Week 8

Quite a busy week, I think!

I started off my week with an 8.45am session with Rama on Sunday morning. I was keen to get back on track after the week before where I did almost nothing. Dad and I went to Texas Roadhouse for lunch at the Dubai Mall – I wasn’t all that keen on going, but thought it would be a change from PF Chang! I ordered a filet steak, with a salad and jacket potato on the side. The house salad was disappointing but the steak was actually very good. I was pleasantly surprised – and very full when I was done.

We walked around for a while and sat down for coffee at Gloria Jean’s on the first floor. Just that morning I’d complained to Rama that most places in Dubai had never heard of a flat white coffee – even the staff at Starbucks stared at me blankly when I asked for it. At Gloria Jean’s it was on the menu – and it was one of the best coffees I’ve had in Dubai. Definitely somewhere to go back to! 

Dad had a doctor’s appointment after that, so while he was at the clinic I went to the supermarket next door and picked up whatever we needed for the house. Joy had given me a list of things we’d run out of so I trawled the aisles looking for them. It was so dull. I took my time on purpose as I knew Dad’s doctor was running late, but it was just so boring. I’m sure the security guards looked at me suspiciously as I pottered down the aisles over and over again.

Anyway, we finally got home, I changed into my pajamas and that was Sunday over with.

On Monday I had my yoga class at home and then worked all day. On Tuesday I met a friend for lunch at Social House at the Dubai Mall. The last time I went there we sat inside on bench-type chairs which weren’t conducive to long lunches. I didn’t realise there was a whole separate section on the other side – and a huge outdoor section. It was a nice lunch – I had the spicy tuna roll to start with and then had the spicy wok-fried chicken. The portion was really big and I ended up taking half of it home for Joy. 

On Wednesday I had my 10th session with Rama and then worked the rest of the day. 

My yoga teacher had a cancellation on Thursday so my cousin and I took advantage of that! I then went to PF Chang for lunch at the mall (again). Someone I know had just gotten married and moved to Dubai – she got in touch and we decided to meet for lunch. There were four of us in the end – the two of us, her friend from Singapore who also lives here (who I met for lunch a few weeks before at Social House), and her cousin who lives in Dubai. They decided to wander around the mall after lunch, but I headed home. 

On Thursday night I was supposed to go to one of the British expat meet-ups in Marina, but that afternoon a friend said he was going to Okku for dinner and did I want to join him? I still drool when I think of the truffle fried rice, so I said I would. I met him there at 8pm – we had a table at the bar. He had said two other people were joining us but they were running late. In the meantime we ordered a portion of the wasabi rock shrimp and two types of chicken. I’d forgotten he rarely eats anything but chicken. Oh well, more shrimp for me, and I thought we could order some more food when the others arrived. When they did arrive, one turned out to be vegetarian and the other vegan. Yes, vegan! This did not bode well for the food fest I had planned. So I switched to vodka. After dinner we moved to the bar and a couple of other friends joined us. It wasn’t a late night but it was nice to be out and about!

On Friday, I woke up and looked out the window. I couldn’t see very far and thought it was fog… but it was a sandstorm.

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A couple of hours later, it got worse. When I leave my building, the first thing I see is the Burj Khalifa, but on Friday it had disappeared. Apparently visibility was 800m that day (according to the paper). When I think of sandstorms I think of that old Laurel and Hardy movie, Beau Hunks, where they join the Foreign Legion because Hardy has a broken heart – and they then get lost in the desert in a sandstorm!

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Dad and I went to Red Lobster for lunch. I’d mentioned in an earlier post that the Dubai Mall has everything you could possibly imagine – and I wasn’t kidding! Dad and I shared the fried calamari and vegetables as a starter. I then ordered the grilled salmon and broccoli as my main course. It was extremely filling. After lunch we went back to Gloria Jean’s for some coffee…

We were only outside for 10 minutes at the most but by the time I got home, there was sand in my hair, my eyes, my throat… it was gross.

That night I had dinner with my cousins at Spectrum on One at the Fairmont. The restaurant was empty – apparently it gets very busy for Friday brunch, but by dinner time the crowd had gone. We had sushi to start with, and then shared the prawn teppanyaki and two portions of the lamb chops. We had ordered the black pepper beef but sent it back as it wasn’t very good. We shared the chocolate fondant for dessert.

Another cousin from Lagos arrived on Saturday morning – and was staying with us. He arrived at about 9.30am and we chatted for a couple of hours until he decided to go nap. I went to the gym. The sandstorm still hadn’t subsided. We later met our other cousins for lunch at Lafayette Gourmet – the service was bad, and I wasn’t sure whether our waiter was a man or a woman. I asked the others what they thought and they weren’t sure either. We had a mixture of food for lunch – sushi, pasta, curry – they do it all there. After that we went to Caffe Nero for coffee. I did try to get them to go to Gloria Jean’s but they said it was too far.

I went home and decided I wasn’t going anywhere else the rest of the day. And by dinner time my throat was hurting… 

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