Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2014: Week 13

The week started off much quieter than the previous week. I was busy at work on Sunday and Monday – the April issue finally went to press! I’m really pleased with this issue – my editorial was easy to write and I’ve got an article and photo published in the issue too.

On Monday morning I went to the clinic for my blood test. I’d been dreading it because every time I have a blood test I end up being stuck with needles as my veins are difficult to find. My record is eight times, spread over two days (they gave up after a few times on the first day). By the end of the second day, the doctors were looking at my ankles and I told them there was no way they were sticking needles in my ankles. They eventually found a viable vein in my wrist. The pain in my fingers had vanished which was a relief. I was called in to the nurses’ station and a male nurse sat me down and tried to find a vein. He told me he could see one in my right arm and started preparing me for it. I really had my doubts – but he did it the first time. I was so impressed!

On Monday evening I had dinner with NP at Toko Dubai. We went early – I’d booked for 8pm and the place was rather empty. I guess 8pm is early for Dubai! NP had never eaten there so was happy to go along with most of my suggestions: rice chips, nasu dengaku, beef gyoza and Japanese salad to begin with. For our next course we had the soft-shell crab tempura, grilled avocado and seared salmon maki. For dessert we shared the green tea ice cream and coconut sorbet.

I decided to work at home on Tuesday. The doctor called with my blood test results. She said I was severely anaemic – that my iron levels are ‘on the floor’ and my haemoglobin levels are so low that I’m a fraction away from a blood transfusion. Oh great. She said she would prescribe iron tablets which I’d have to take three times a day and have a blood test in another week to see if there was any improvement.

I went to my piano lesson that evening – we went through various patterns you can use with the left hand while playing the melody with the right hand. He also gave me some new music (‘Let It Go’ from Frozen) and a couple of others. I had wanted to walk home after my lesson but it was raining.

When I woke up on Wednesday it was still raining. And by the time I left for work it was pouring. I stopped at the clinic to collect my prescription and tried to get what I needed at the pharmacy in the same complex. They didn’t have ferrous sulfate 200 mg so she offered me ferrous sulfate 80 mg. Well, that’s not what the prescription says, is it? I declined and told her I’d find somewhere else. I went to work (waste of time) and got a lift back to the Dubai Mall from a friend. I rarely go to the mall but I needed something to wear for my birthday drinks on Friday.

He dropped me off at the Waitrose entrance so I went to the pharmacy next to the supermarket – they didn’t have ferrous sulfate. I went to Boots – they didn’t have it. I went to one more pharmacy and they didn’t have it either. I picked up a dress and then on my way home stopped at Life Pharmacy on Al Wasl. The pharmacist told me that they only had ferrous sulfate 80 mg and that’s the highest dose pharmacists are allowed to stock. If I wanted 200 mg I’d have to go to a hospital. Now why couldn’t the first pharmacy have told me that? It would have saved me a lot of time and irritation! In the end I went with the 80 mg but just got double the quantity!

I took the day off on Thursday. I did some work at home and had an early dinner at the Meat Company in Souk Al Bahar with a couple of friends. I was tired and I didn’t want to be hungover the following day. I was home by 10pm – my parents were out and came home shortly afterwards. ‘Are you ill?’ my dad asked (as I knew he would). No, of course not. ‘Why are you home so early?’

On Friday I’d organised drinks at 40 Kong at the H Hotel from 6pm onwards. My birthday wasn’t until Sunday but Sunday is a working day here… I was at 40 Kong with a friend shortly after 6pm just in case anyone did show up at that time! It was a little chilly up on the 40th floor but at least it wasn’t raining! We ordered a bottle of Prosecco and watched the sun set.

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My guests started arriving from about 7pm onwards. It was a fun evening – a very mixed crowd but everyone seemed to get on with everyone else. And then, my surprise cake was brought out. The cake that stole my thunder. Everyone wanted a photo of it – I don’t even know where my two friends got it from and they still won’t tell me! All that was left of it was this:

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At about 1am, most people had gone and a friend and I decided we were hungry and went to Zaatar w Zeit. I was home by 2.15. I’d had a really fun night and I think everyone had a good time.

I woke up on Saturday feeling exhausted. I was home for most of the day and then went to meet a couple of friends at Iris for drinks. I was only there for a couple of hours and had two glasses of red wine and really wished I’d had only one. It started to make me feel sick – and I don’t normally drink red wine any more. I got to Sapore di Bice at CityWalk where I was meeting my parents for dinner and nothing on the menu appealed to me. I thought I’d go with something simple and ordered the penne arrabiata. Yes, it’s boring, but it was a safe choice. When the food arrived I started to feel much better! We were home by 11pm and I watched a couple of episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 38

The first half of the week was quite quiet as I wasn’t very well – I had a terrible cough and sore throat after the heavy weekend I had.

I was home until Tuesday afternoon when I went for my piano lesson. What I love about the piano is that no matter how rubbish I’m feeling or how distracted by other things, I just forget about everything when I’m in my lessons or practising.

On Wednesday evening I went to a friend’s place for dinner. I hadn’t seen him since his impromptu dinner party back in July and it was nice to catch up. He made grilled salmon, stir-fried vegetables and salad. We had some wine with dinner – and there was Cookies & Cream ice cream and strawberries for dessert. It wasn’t a late night – I was home by 12.30.

I went to a cheese and wine evening at the H Hotel on Thursday night. They hold this event every Thursday from 7-10pm in the Arcadia Lounge and it costs AED150 for unlimited cheese and wine. There were about 20 cheese to choose from (including a fondue) and several different wines too. The friends I was with had two ‘2 for 1’ vouchers so we ended up spending just AED75 each! It was a chilled evening and the guitarist was brilliant.

On Friday I went to a party in Marina as the guest of the friend who had dinner at home on Wednesday. I had a few drinks, met some new interesting people, danced a bit and got home at 4am (or was it later?). It was an interesting evening – maybe one day I’ll write about it and you can read about the types of idiotic men I meet here in Dubai!

I was home all day on Saturday and spent most of the day working.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Arabic on Wednesday! We learned:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The relaxation room

The relaxation room

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 7

It wasn’t a very busy week. I was home for most of it.

On Tuesday afternoon I had to go to Abu Dhabi for a meeting. I left home at about 4pm and was back by 9pm. It was exhausting though. I don’t know how people do that every day – and I wasn’t even driving.

The Dubai Jazz Festival was on this week so on Wednesday evening some friends and I went to the Jazz Garden in Festival City to listen to some music. It was a free event if you registered on Facebook so there was a complete mixture of random people there. The big events took place in the bigger arena somewhere else in the grounds. All the tables were full so we got some food and drinks and found somewhere to sit on the grass. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I would do it again…

I had a piano lesson on Thursday. My teacher was already at his studio when I got there – I think it was the first time I didn’t have to wait for him! We worked on ‘Comptine’ and ‘Solfegietto’. He also gave me a new piece from the movie The Piano called ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First‘ (I loved this movie).

That night I had quite a night! I started at wine club at the H Hotel. One of my friends and I got there before the third so we got a glass of Prosecco and tried to find a table. There was a table with three Australian guys on it so we asked if we could join them?

‘Actually we’re going to be eight people, so if it’s just the two of you, that’s fine,’ he replied. I told him we were three so we’d find somewhere else.

‘Why doesn’t the least boring of you sit somewhere else and two of you can sit with us,’ he said.

‘That’s not going to work,’ I replied, and we walked off and eventually ended up sitting on a lovely table with a complete mixture of people: one American woman, an Italian/German couple, one French man, three South Africans, and the three of us (Brits). The wines were served and we started tasting them. At the end of the evening we discovered they were all Chilean. They were:

  • Vascos (Lafite Rothschild) Sauvignon Blanc: This fine Sauvignon consists of grapes selected from the fashionable cool climate Casablanca Valley. It has all the pure, intensely refreshing flavours you’d want in a Sauvignon, but what really sets it apart is the tremendous elegance and complexity in each delicious, crisp glassful. That’s Lafite’s winemaking expertise. An ideal white with smoked salmon, Thai crab cakes or plaice with a creamy lemon sauce.
  • Vascos Chardonnay: This is a fresh and delicate wine, with a harmonious and fruity bouquet. Flavourful, fresh and pleasant, this wine has an appealing character with good length of fruit. The nose offers an explosion of aromas with notes of melon, banana, grapefruit and other tropical fruit. The vineyard’s own Chardonnay grapes are complemented by a selection of grapes from the Casablanca Valley located further north between Santiago and Valparaiso. Naturally, this was my least favourite – and I knew it was Chardonnay as soon as I tasted it.
  • Veramonte Pinot Noir: This light to medium-bodied Pinot Noir has a bright ruby red appearance and nose of sweet plummy fruit with inflections of cooked meat. The dominant flavour component is the sweet plummy fruit complimented by impressions of strawberries and wet stones.
  • Santa Carolina Carmenere: Dark as night, with mildly leafy, herbal, varietal appropriate aromas of olive, earth, tea and black fruits. The palate is big but nicely chiseled, with good acidity and tannic support for roasted berry, plum, fig and peppery flavours. A smooth, correct high-end Carmenere. Pair with same foods as Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon: From Lafite Rothschild, the grape that made the estate famous. The vintages all share a mature and fruity quality, fresh aromas, and a supple fleshy structure. This wine has a sparkling ruby red colour and a pleasantly fruity nose with aromas of black cherries, raspberries and plums, all with a hint of spice. This is a silky, flavourful wine, with a supple tannin structure.
  • Santa Carolina Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc: Golden in colour, with aromas of citrus fruits and white flowers on the nose. Intensely complex flavours on the palate, with great balance and a long finish. Pairs well with dairy-based desserts like cheesecake. I loved this – I wish it was considered OK to drink dessert wine at any time!

I was very keen to try out my new Vivino app on my phone – a friend of mine had told me about it in London. Using the app, you take a photo of the label on the wine bottle, it scans it and tells you what it is, where it’s from, the year it was produced, what to drink it with, where you can buy it, how much it costs, its ranking within its region, country and worldwide. It is amazing.

While we had some lovely wines, I think the food was a real let-down. There was no cutlery on the tables – which is fine as most of the food was finger food – but there were no napkins either. When we asked for napkins, the waitress brought us one napkin. Were we supposed to share it between 10 of us? ‘For everyone, please,’ I said. She looked annoyed and came back with a box of tissues. I expected more from a 5-star hotel.

After that I went to La Petite Maison to meet a friend and a couple of her friends. As I walked out of wine club, the same Australian guy from earlier asked me, ‘So how was your table?’

‘Better than yours!’ I called out over my shoulder.

The bar at La Petite Maison was crowded but we hung around for a while. I had a passion fruit martini and then for some reason switched to vodka. We walked over to Capital Club for a drink and then ended up at Cavalli Club until they closed. It was a heavy night and I actually turned down the offer of a drink at last call. I think that’s a first!

Needless to say, I had a headache the following day. My parents and I ended up at the Dubai Mall for a very late lunch. We ate at the Outback Steakhouse and then went to see the latest Die Hard movie. Good grief, it was shit. While we were at the cinema my parents bumped into some friends and they decided we’d all have dinner together at Wafi Gourmet. All I wanted was my bed but I went with them. I was still full from our late lunch so couldn’t eat very much.

I spent all of Saturday in my pajamas. It was lovely.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 36

Sunday was another holiday and I was still recovering from the long weekend for Eid. I was home most of the day. That evening I went to see ‘Skyfall’ at the IMAX Meydan with my cousin and her son. I’d never been to the IMAX and if you asked me to point it out on a map I wouldn’t be able to – I have no idea where it was. The cinema itself was great though – a huge screen – and it was full. It’s much more expensive than the regular cinemas though – standard tickets are AED 60 (compared to AED 35). Even the popcorn is more expensive – I bought a small popcorn, nachos for my nephew and a bottle of water and that came to AED 62. It would have been less than AED 30 anywhere else. Anyway – the movie was great (much better than ‘Quantum of Solace’) and I enjoyed it.

On Monday night my mum left for Jamaica. My dad had been in Kingston for a few weeks and hadn’t been very well for the last 10 days or so. She’d wanted to leave sooner but Hurricane Sandy was wreaking havoc in the Caribbean and we didn’t want her to be stranded somewhere mid-journey. It was the first time I was home alone since I left London in December last year. My parents didn’t want me to be on my own – how would I manage? Er – I was alone in London for so many years, I told them – and I managed just fine!

I was home most of Tuesday – in the morning I met my cousin at the Dubai Mall for a coffee at Tim Horton’s and that night I went to an InterNations event at Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Lounge in JBR. I went with a friend, we met a few people we knew, and we had too much wine.

Wednesday was uneventful – I had my last session with Rama (although I didn’t know it would be my last session with him!). I was home the rest of the day. I don’t know whether it was boredom or determination but I signed up to take part in NaNoWriMo – I have the time, I have the peace at home, I just didn’t have a plot.

Thursday was busy. I’d been wanting to get my hair cut for a while and a friend recommended Pastels salon in Jumeirah. I made an appointment for a hair cut, colour and blowdry. The two women who did my hair were a South African woman called Shakira and a Filipina woman called Girly (yes, really). I have to say they did a great job – I paid more than I would have at the Fairmont but it was worth it. The colour was better, the blowdry was better.

After getting my hair done I went to the Fairmont to get my nails done – the place was packed and I had to wait a while. By the time I got home it was after 5pm.

That night a friend of mine was in town for one night on his way back to Lagos. I hadn’t seen him since January so we had lots to catch up on. We went to Hakkasan for dinner (we’d been on the waiting list for Zuma and La Petite Maison for days without any luck) and when we were done we were so full. I ordered the prawns on toast with foie gras and left the rest of the ordering to my friend (who is vegetarian). We had the vegetarian dumplings and the lettuce wrap. We also shared two dishes for our main course and a couple of cocktails. It was too much – I could have done without the prawns on toast (I had to eat all four). We skipped dessert. It was lovely to see him and I was home by midnight.

I went to a friend’s engagement brunch on Friday. It was at the H Hotel (formerly the Monarch), at Mizaan restaurant. I knew a handful of people there, and met some of the people I’d met in Phuket over the summer too. I got home at around 5pm and relaxed for a while.

That night a friend made me dinner – it was an early night.

I was home most of Saturday – day 3 of NaNoWriMo and I was already behind. That evening I went to the Dubai Writers’ Group at the Pavilion. Unfortunately the organiser couldn’t make it in the end so people were just focusing on their own work. Several of the people there were also taking part in NaNoWriMo so it was interesting to hear how people approached their writing – I asked whether anyone actually had a plan of what they were going to write about (I never do and usually just go with the flow – wherever that may be). I was relieved to find I’m not the only one who does that. The downside to that is because I never know where my characters are going to end up, I have several beginnings of stories but no endings.

I decided to stay on at the Pavilion and have a bite to eat after we were done – I had the smoke salmon on gluten-free bread (yummy) and then headed home.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 27

What a hectic week!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The theme for the evening was rosé:

2012

We had the same menu as last time:

2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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