Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2013: Week 11

Another unexpectedly busy week in Dubai…

I had my usual session with Randy on Sunday morning and then did some work the rest of the day. That night I went to Sho Cho for dinner with my cousin and some of our Lagos friends. Being a Sunday night I thought it would be quiet, but I was completely wrong! Every table was full and by the time we left even the bar area was packed. I had no idea Sunday was ‘retro night’. I’ll definitely be doing that again! I had two ginger martinis (or was it three?) and the food was really good too.

On Monday evening I went to the Shangri-La to sort out my birthday party. I’ve been so unexcited about it, if I’m honest. If I didn’t have friends flying in from other places I would actually cancel the whole thing. After that I went to Art Night at DIFC – I wasn’t with anyone, but I just wanted to get out of the house. It was crowded, more crowded than the one in February (I thought) and I didn’t stay too long. I walked around a couple of galleries, bumped into a couple of friends, and was home for dinner. I did see this lovely tree made of books:

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I had coffee with my cousin in DIFC on Tuesday and while we were walking around I saw this beautiful photograph.

Isn't this beautiful?

Isn’t this beautiful?

I had a piano lesson that afternoon which was great. I’m still working on all the same things as the week before, and finally started working on: Amelie’s Waltz.

There was another InterNations event on Wednesday evening so a friend and I went together. It was at Seville’s in Wafi, in their outdoor area. We’d been looking forward to it as we’d had such a great time two weeks before, but this was disappointing. Neither of us was feeling particularly social to start with, and we would have been happy to just talk to each other as we hadn’t seen each other in two weeks. The staff at the restaurant were absolutely clueless about everything. It took us almost 30 minutes to order a bottle of wine, and that was after a lot of going back and forth because they didn’t have certain wines on the list. It was just irritating. When we’d finished our wine we decided we’d leave and go elsewhere to catch up.

We walked over to Carter’s and ordered our drinks at the bar. We were then approached by an Indian guy who insisted on buying us champagne which we politely declined. I could sense him looking at me so I continued staring in the opposite direction while my friend told him we weren’t interested. We got our drinks and found a table outside. Twenty minutes later the guy showed up outside and said he wanted to buy us a drink. We told him we still weren’t interested. ‘Are you Indian?’ he asked me. ‘No, I’m Spanish,’ I replied. ‘But I mean, where are you from originally?’ ‘Spain,’ I replied. He didn’t believe me so I started speaking Spanish.

And then my friend said: ‘That’s a lovely wedding ring you’re wearing.’

I hadn’t even noticed. His persistence suddenly turned into sheepishness. He mumbled something about it being a ‘separation’ ring and he left us alone. Jesus, what a tool.

I woke up with a slight headache on Thursday. I was home all day but had wine club that evening. It was supposed to be held at the the new JW Marriot Marquis at their poolside but because the weather had been terrible all day (grey and windy) they moved it indoors. It was  a good venue but there really wasn’t enough food (in my opinion). The wines we had were:

  • Villa Maria Private Bin 2011 Sauvignon Blanc: Strong citrus grassy notes on nose and palate. Race acidity that pairs well with vegetables, seafood and lighter dishes. Excellent with asparagus. Typical New Zealand style from the South Island. This was my second favourite.
  • Villa Maria Private Bin 2011 Chardonnay: Mineral, citrus, and very clean aroma. In the mouth, good acidity, grapefruit, and clean long finish with a hint of spice. I hated this.
  • Cusumano Chardonnay: Grown and produced in Sicily, taking advantage of the island’s rich history in wine-making and full sunny days for optimal ripeness and full-flavoured wines. I hated this too.
  • Villa Maria Private Bin Dry Riesling: A pure and delicate bouquet of ripe citrus-lime and spring blossom aromas. The palate is beautifully balanced with intense flavours, lovely juicy length and a zest lime finish. Great on its own or with light fresh food.
  • Villa Maria Gewurztraminer: Gewurztraminer is an aromatic wine grape variety. The name literally means ‘Spice Traminer’. The grape has a pink to red skin colour, and is high in natural sugar. The resulting wine is white and usually off-dry, with a flamboyant bouquet of lychees. Its aromatic flavours make Gewurztraminer an ideal companion for mild curries and chillies, Thai and Japanese cuisine, pork and ham, and spiced apple desserts. This was my favourite.
  • Cusamano Cabernet Sauvignon: Loaded with rich berry fruit and substantial tannins. Best to let set out for a while before drinking to soften when young. Excellent with hearty dishes and red meats.

I was sitting with a friend on one table but had a few friends on another table so we all met up afterwards and went to Vault, the wine bar on the 70th floor. We had more wine (South African Chenin Blanc) and were there until they closed at 3am.

I felt like shit the next day. I eventually got out of bed at 1pm, took some Nurofen and had some lunch. My entire day was going to waste until I asked a friend if she wanted to go to Art Dubai. She said yes, and that she’d drive as she had to drop her daughter off at JBR. Great! I was ready by 5pm, she picked me up, we went to pick up her daughter but she wasn’t ready so we hung out in the kitchen for a while. Then her daughter said she wasn’t meeting her friends until later, so we waited a bit more. We left her place at 6pm, encountered terrible traffic to and from JBR (which is an everyday occurrence, apparently) and spent half an hour stuck in the parking lot at the Madinat. It did not bode well. We eventually parked 10 minutes away, walked back to the Madinat and got there at 7.30pm. We asked for two tickets and the man said they had just closed. WTF?? It was 7.30pm on Friday. I thought it would have been open until at least 9.30, but neither of us had even thought to check. I was gutted. I missed it last year, and I missed it this year (I wasn’t able to go on the Saturday). Third time lucky?

We decided we’d get some food at the Madinat as we were both famished and hungover. We went to Japengo – I really fancied some Iranian kebabs and some houmous but when we sat down the waitress told us that they didn’t have any Lebanese or Iranian food. I could have wept. We ordered some spicy tuna rolls and some French fries (which appeased me a little). I was home by 10pm.

Saturday was a long day. I was up at 6am as I was volunteering at the Jack Canfield 1-day workshop (Living the Success Principles) at the Meydan Hotel. I had wanted to go but I felt 2000 dirhams was a lot of money to spend, especially as I haven’t had any income since November (long story). Luckily for me, my parents know the organisers who told me that if I came as a volunteer I could help out before and after the event, and in the breaks, and attend for free. Amazing! I left home at 7am, helped with registration (handing out name badges), put flyers on the tables in the breaks, put inserts into leaflets for about 10 minutes during the afternoon session, and sold some books at the end. It was totally worth it. And I felt the workshop was just what I needed to set some goals – personal and professional – for the year ahead.

2013.03.23 Jack Canfield

It also gave me an insight into what it would be like working in event management. I’ve realised I would loathe it. I like to get on with things in peace and quiet rather than be bothered by people asking me questions all day!

Anyway, I was home by 7.30pm and in bed by 9pm.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 9

The beginning of the week was fairly quiet – apart from my usual gym and yoga sessions I didn’t do much apart from work.

On Tuesday afternoon I decided I would spend the afternoon at the pool with my book. I didn’t feel like working at all! I was barely there for an hour but had to come back in as it was just too hot.

That night my parents and I went to Shang Thai on Sheikh Zayed Road for dinner. The restaurant has been open just over a year and my parents had been there the week before with their friends. There were quite a few tables occupied and the service was pretty good. We had soup to start with (I had the tom kha soup). The portions are too big though – I think at least two people could have shared my soup. We ordered a papaya salad to share. For our main course we had the green chicken curry (which was a bit bland) and the steamed fish with Thai chilli and lemon (which we sent back because it was cold). They reheated it and brought it back – it was much tastier than the chicken. It’s a good place if you want a quick casual meal without alcohol.

A friend and I went to an InterNations event on Wednesday night – the last time we’d been to an InterNations event was in October. It was at Clique at Jumeirah Emirates Towers. We got there quite early and found a table to stand at. We were joined by a Greek woman who introduced herself to us and the three of us started talking. We were joined by a French guy and one of his friends. We were then joined by even more people: English, Lebanese, Syrian, American. It was such an unexpectedly fun evening! At 11pm I had to go home. I didn’t want to… but I knew that if I had another glass of wine I’d be in trouble.

My headache the next morning made me thankful I’d gone home at 11pm. I had my piano lesson on Thursday afternoon – even though I felt like a zombie for most of it. I was still working on ‘Solfegietto’ and ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First’. My teacher gave me a new piece of music as well – the 2nd movement of Mozart’s sonata in C major (‘Sonata Semplice‘). I think this one will take a while to learn!

On Thursday night I met a friend for dinner at Caramel. It was a chilled evening with more wine (but not too much). I do like the food at Caramel, but as I’ve mentioned before it’s just too dark at night! You need a small torch just to read the menu. It wasn’t a late night because I had to be up early the next morning. I spent all of Friday at the Literature Festival – I was there from 9.45am to 8pm! It was fantastic.

That night I had dinner with a couple of friends and one of their friends at Rivington Grill in Souk Al Bahar. I hadn’t been there before but was pleasantly surprised. We shared a selection of starters (Welsh rarebit, Devonshire dressed crab, Eggs Benedict, warm smoked salmon salad). For our main course, two of us shared the beef Wellington, and the other two shared the Rivington burger and the seabass. For dessert we had the apple and blackberry crumble. It was a fun evening – we sat outside and had a great view of the Dubai Fountain. I know I’ve seen it many times, but I still think it’s spectacular.

On Saturday afternoon, my parents and I went to see the Classic Car Festival in Downtown. There were hundreds of cars on display – and some of them were incredible.

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Isn't this so 'Bonnie and Clyde'?

Isn’t this so ‘Bonnie and Clyde’?

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I didn’t get to see several cars as I had to rush off to my writing group at The Pavilion Downtown. There were about 10 of us that evening – and it was a fun group. The first exercise was to describe the room of one of the following characters (they cannot be in the room): a faded movie star who thinks she’s still famous, a student about to drop out of high school, a cashier who has just won the lottery, a paranoid schizophrenic. I chose the last one – everything in his room is covered in tin foil. I’m not very good with descriptions – I always want to go into the mind of the character and explain why things are that way rather than explaining how they look. I guess that’s something I’ll have to work on.

The second exercise consisted of writing a scene or story with three characters. The three characters had to be the personification of your heart, your brain and your soul. In my story, my heart was a voluptuous blonde, my brain was a male psychology professor, and my soul was a classroom adjudicator (silent, but observing everything). The blonde asks her psychology professor if he can explain what goes on in the male mind in 10 minutes, why they say one thing and do another, or why they say one thing and do nothing. We only had 15 minutes so I wasn’t able to write what the professor would have said to her. It’s probably just as well because I’m clueless when it comes to things like that!

For the third exercise we were given a sentence and had to continue the story. I love these – I think it’s the easiest way to start writing. The sentence we were given was: ‘Someone must have slandered Joseph, for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.’ I wrote about a white man living in a small Nigerian town where the locals don’t trust him. Interestingly, the woman sitting next to me was from South Africa, and her Joseph character was a black man in a predominantly white neighbourhood. It’s amazing what different stories you get from just one starter sentence.

I didn’t stay for the fourth exercise – I was feeling rather drained so I left. I was home by 8.30pm. I had dinner, got into bed and read my book.

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 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 27

What a hectic week!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The theme for the evening was rosé:

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We had the same menu as last time:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 25

Apart from Wednesday, it was quite an uneventful week.

I had a session with Rama on Sunday and spent the rest of the day working. I did enough work in London to keep things ticking along, but had quite a bit to catch up on when I got back to Dubai. 

I went to the gym on Monday and that afternoon I met up with a friend for coffee at Starbucks in Mercato. I hadn’t seen her in a couple of months even though we’re in touch constantly on Twitter and BBM. It amazes me how quickly the days go by here. 

Tuesday wasn’t very eventful. I went to the gym, had lunch, did some work and then went down to the pool. I started a new book and after being completely disappointed (and bored) by The Marriage Plot, I think I’ve accidentally stumbled upon the best book I’ve read so far this year (The Other Hand by Chris Cleave). I read one-third of it in the 2 hours I spent at the pool. I did a few lengths to cool off, but wanted to continue reading! 

The sunset on Tuesday was gorgeous:

2012

On Wednesday I had another session with Rama. I did some work that afternoon and that evening I went to an InterNations event at Ruth’s Chris Steak House Lounge at The Address Marina. I went with a couple of expat friends – I met one of the girls in the lobby of the hotel and we realised we were wearing very similar dresses – same colours, same vertical stripes, but the styles were slightly different! Yes, we got a few comments that evening. One of our other friends joined us a bit later on and we had a couple of drinks. They left at about 10pm but I stayed on with a couple of people I’d met that evening. It was actually a very fun night – I got home at about 2.30am after several glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. 

I woke up feeling rather fragile on Thursday – I didn’t (couldn’t!) get out of bed until 12.30pm and skipped the gym. I wouldn’t have been able to walk in a straight line anyway! That afternoon Mum and I went to Dubai Festival City Mall. There was a music store there (Thomsun Music) I wanted to check out as I’d seen an ad in the paper that morning – they were on sale. Their ‘range’ consisted of four Yamaha upright pianos, one Yamaha baby grand, one Yamaha concert grand and a mahogany Bösendorfer grand piano (it was beautiful – if I had the space and the money!). There wasn’t a lot of choice but I decided to go for one of the Yamaha uprights (instead of the  Ritmüller pianos I had looked at the week before). 

Now that I’ve bought the piano, I’m plagued with fears that I won’t remember anything that I used to play and will never be as good as I used to be. I need to find a good teacher (again) and learn everything all over again. It’s been 20 years since I played seriously. I’ve held on to all my old sheet music for all these years. I can’t wait to start playing Chopin again…

I stayed in on Thursday night. I thought I had plans to meet someone for dinner and drinks but he didn’t call (and I didn’t have his number). Guys not calling me when they say they will seems to be the general trend these days. A friend asked why we didn’t just swap BBM pins so I explained that he had an iPhone. ‘Doomed from the start,’ was his reply! I was actually shattered from the night before – so the night in was probably a good thing! 

I had a lie-in on Friday, went to the gym, had lunch at Biella at Wafi City Mall with my parents (terrible service and I forgot to take photos – again!), walked around for a while and came home. I went down to the pool with my book and read another third of it. I ended up finishing it that evening. Yes, definitely the best book I’ve read so far this year.

On Saturday morning I went to the gym and was home the rest of the day. My piano was supposed to be delivered from 2pm onwards and it showed up just after 5pm. While I was waiting at home, I watched a movie on YouTube that Rama had recommended called ‘An American Crime’. He had told me it was quite disturbing but didn’t tell me what it was about. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for it. It’s a true story about a suburban housewife in Indiana who kept a teenage girl in the basement of her home in the 1960s. People are insane. 

That night I had dinner with my cousin at Caramel. I’d been there a few times but I’m not really sure how I feel about the place. There’s something about it I don’t like. Being a Saturday I expected it to be not very crowded, but I hadn’t expected it to be quite so empty. I think a lot of people are already away for the summer. We were shown to our table which was in a very dark corner. And I remembered that that is what I don’t like about the place. It’s just too dark. We needed little torches to read our menus. My cousin ordered a Cosmo, I ordered a (double) vodka with soda. It was bloody strong. Just how I like it.

We ordered a few starters to share and thought we’d order the main course afterwards. We had the spicy tuna roll and Chinese chicken salad to start:

2012

We also had the yellowtail sashimi, miso black cod and mac and cheese. It was quite filling for just the two of us so we ordered another round of drinks and decided to skip the main course (we had planned to order the seared Chilean seabass). We shared the dark chocolate fondant with cappuccino ice cream for dessert: 

2012

We had a lot of catching up to do – we hadn’t really talked properly since I got back from London. It was a chilled evening and I was home before midnight. 

I love my life.

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