Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2015: Week 41

After a very busy few days, I was exhausted on Sunday. All I wanted to do was stay in bed but I had work to do. I had also booked a 90-minute hot stone massage at the Shangri-La Spa for later that afternoon. It was exactly what I needed and I couldn’t wait to get home and get into my pajamas when it was over. Unfortunately, I had accepted an invitation to a friend’s 40th birthday drinks that evening so I had to wait a bit longer for my pajamas!

Her birthday drinks were at Iris – and thankfully indoors because it was still unbelievably humid outside. I hadn’t been to the indoor section of Iris but was pleasantly surprised – a long bar and lots of seating. The outside area was totally empty that night. It was all women at her drinks – and it was my first outing after the summer (with this particular group of women) so it was nice to catch up with everyone. As soon as the birthday girl cut her cake, I left with one of my neighbours who was also at the drinks.

On Monday I had a session with Pete at 10am – by noon I was showered and back in my pajamas. And I intended to stay in my pajamas until Tuesday morning! It had been days since I’d been able to do that and I was looking forward to it.

Apart from yoga on Tuesday morning, I was at home (in pajamas) until the early evening. I met up with a couple of friends at Calabar for happy hour. We got there at 6.15 so we were able to make the most of it! At about 9pm, we ended up going to The Eloquent Elephant where we had a bit more wine (not very wise). I was home by midnight.

I had to be up early on Wednesday as I had to go to Sharjah for some paperwork. Drinking all that wine the night before really wasn’t a good idea. I got back home by 11.20am, had a cup of tea and got ready for my session with Pete. After that was over, and I’d had some lunch, I got back into bed and slept for a couple of hours!

On Thursday I met up with a friend who was in town from Lagos for a couple of days. We went to his favourite – Wafi Gourmet at the Dubai Mall – and ended up overeating as usual! I actually felt a bit ill afterwards. We thought we’d walk around for a while to digest our food but ended up walking to Patchi (and not buying anything) and then walking on to Eataly where we sat down for coffee. I needed to be rolled home after that.

I got home and did some work for a few hours. That evening I met up with some friends for dinner at Catch at the Fairmont on Sheikh Zayed Road. I hadn’t been there and had heard mixed reviews – but I was pleasantly surprised. We were seven people, and a few of them had been before so knew what to order. And because we were so many we were able to order a wider variety of dishes. Some of the starters we had were: crunchy rice cakes (similar to the spicy tuna on crispy rice at Okku), crispy shrimp and the DXB roll (tuna, crab, avocado, wasabi, yuzu). For our main course we had the Korean fried chicken and a whole roasted sea bass (chilli rubbed, cracked olive, artichoke, rocket greens, turmeric silky potatoes). For the sides we had the macaroni & cheese and parmesan truffle fries. I didn’t think I could eat any more after that and had a small bite of dessert when it came (the ‘Hit Me’ chocolate cake). We also had two bottles of wine (which isn’t bad between seven people!). It turned out that I knew the sommelier – she used to be the co-organiser of the wine club but now works at Catch full time.

There was some debate about what to do after dinner, but I was too tired to do much and was home by midnight.

I met up with some friends for lunch at La Serre on Friday afternoon. We met at 1.30pm and surprisingly didn’t have to wait too long for a table for five people on the ground floor. Once we had ordered, however, the food took ages to arrive! We complained about how long it was taking and our waitress was very apologetic.

I couldn’t decide whether to have breakfast (scrambled eggs with truffles) or lunch. In the end I opted for the portobello mushrooms with braised beef. Divine! After we’d ordered our coffees and dessert (lemon cake and some pistachio thing which I didn’t try), the waitress said that our coffees and dessert would be on the house.

On Friday evening I met up with a couple of friends for dinner at Loca. We met early, at 7.30pm, and it wasn’t too crowded at that time. They have several new guacamole options on the menu so we decided to try the guacamole with prawns. We also had the spinach and artichoke dip (of course). For my main course, I ordered the camarones a la diablo (tiger prawns sauteed in jalapeno butter). We skipped dessert as we were all too full. I was home before 11pm which was nice!

I was up early on Saturday as I had a piano lesson (I didn’t go on Monday so had to make up the lessson). After lunch I met up with a couple of friends at Common Grounds at Mall of the Emirates. Common Grounds is the new cafe from the people who opened Tom & Serg and The Sum of Us, and it’s in the new expansion at MoE. We had to wait a while for a table as it was pretty crowded. Once we sat down, we ordered a couple of juices and again I couldn’t decide between breakfast or lunch! In the end, two of us shared the pan-fried salmon and jerk chicken. Both were very good. I’d definitely go back and try something else. We also had some coffee and skipped dessert.

We couldn’t decide what to do after lunch and thought about seeing a movie at the new Vox Cinemas at the mall but there was nothing on for at least another hour. We eventually decided to go back to my friend’s place on the Palm and play Scrabble! He has a great view from his flat:

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We ended up playing a game of Scrabble on the balcony (I won) and making plans for our upcoming road trip to Muscat.

I got home at around 6pm and got straight into my pajamas!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 17

Another busy week!

I had a session with Trevor on Sunday morning and managed to get some work done that afternoon. My friend from London was still in town so we went to Iris for happy hour. It was lovely – not too hot, not too crowded. We had some red wine and then he was going out for dinner and I went home to have dinner with my parents.

I worked the next day and then met up with a friend for a drink at Zuma. We met early, so it wasn’t too crowded – and we managed to get a table in the bar area. I hadn’t been there in a while – but I really do like that bar.

On Tuesday I had lunch with a friend from my Arabic class. She was in my Beginners I class a couple of years ago – and it wasn’t until our last class that I realised she lives in the same building as me! We went to Yo! Sushi in the Dubai Mall. I’d walked past it hundreds of times but had never eaten there. The food was pretty good and (mostly) healthy.

That evening I had a massage at Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal. I can honestly say it was one of the worst massages I’ve ever had. The therapist’s hands were so rough and bony, it was like being massaged with gravel. I even had bruises on my upper arms the following day. I would still go back to Spa Zen (this was the only bad experience I’ve had there) and now I know who not to ask for.

On Wednesday evening, I had dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House at the Address Marina. A friend of mine’s father had won a voucher for dinner worth AED 1000, so my friend invited me to join her as her dad wasn’t going to use it. The food was great – we shared the calamari and a Caesar’s salad to start. I then had the 8 oz. petite filet (it was the smallest cut they had) with pepper sauce. We also ordered some mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and onion rings. It was far too much food – and we ended up returning the onion rings as they weren’t cooked properly. After all that, we still looked at the dessert menu but didn’t order anything. It was a nice evening and I’d go back – especially as I found out they do two-for-one on Tuesday nights. Buy one steak, get the second free! Bargain.

On Thursday, my friend from London came back to Dubai (he’d been in Abu Dhabi for work since Monday). He was staying at the Palace Hotel for his uncle’s 70th birthday weekend. That afternoon, I went to meet them by the pool and have a couple of drinks: his parents, his uncle, his cousins… it was nice. Eventually it was just the two of us so we ended up ordering a bottle of wine.

That night we’d been invited to our friends’ place in Emirates Hills. It was a small(ish) dinner – under 20 people, but it was a lot of fun. There was drinking, dancing, eating… even some swimming (just the guys). And I fell asleep on their sofa. We eventually got home at 6am. SIX! It was broad daylight when I went to bed and I hadn’t done that in the longest time.

I couldn’t get out of bed on Friday. At about 1.30 my mum asked me if I wanted lunch but I think I mumbled something incoherent and went back to sleep. I got out of bed at 4pm, got ready and went back to the Palace Hotel. I met my friend at the pool, ordered a Coke (my second one this year) and went for a swim. The water wasn’t warm, but it wasn’t freezing – it was just what I needed to wake me up properly. We ordered a bit of food and were joined by another friend who was in town for the 70th birthday celebrations. We sat by the pool long after the sun had gone down and then realised we had to rush to get to our respective dinners on time.

The ladies were meeting at Neo’s at the Address Downtown while the men had been invited to a Bahraini friend’s house for dinner (without alcohol – ha!). The guys did eventually join us at Neo’s at about 11.30pm and just before 1am, my friend from London and I left to go to Pacha where another friend of mine was celebrating his birthday. We didn’t get home until 4.30am.

On Saturday I went back to the Palace Hotel for lunch. We ate by the poolside – it started off as just the two of us, and then we were three, then five, then three, and so on. People came and left, bottles of wine came and left (empty).

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I went back home at about 6.30pm to get ready for the dinner that evening. The dinner was held in the Ballroom at the Palace Hotel. Being a Saturday night I thought it wouldn’t be a late night, but I was wrong. We danced until 2am and it was 2.40am by the time I got home. I got into bed and texted Trevor to say I wouldn’t be able to make my session on Sunday morning!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 1

Let me try this again. I haven’t updated this much (or at all) over the last year but I should start doing it again!

So, the last week of 2014 and the first week of 2015 were mental. One of my friends was in town from London with three of his friends. I’d met one of them before, both in London and Barcelona, and the other two I’d met very briefly at their home in July. They were all staying at the Conrad and arrived early on Sunday evening. I met my friend at the Conrad before dinner while the others were still getting ready and we had a drink together at Cave, the wine bar on the mezzanine level. I love this place – I’d been there twice before and always enjoy going there. On Sunday evening, however, it was very empty. One by one, the others joined us and we headed to Okku where we had our dinner reservation at 10pm. The food was great – as usual. For starters we had the sashimi salad, yellowtail sashimi, spicy tuna on crispy rice, two kinds of rock shrimp – one with creamy wasabi sauce and the other with spicy sweet soya sauce. For our main course we ordered the black cod with miso, king crab legs and truffle fried rice. We also drank. A lot. We started with a bottle of cold sake, then switched to another (cheaper) one. At midnight we had two bottles of champagne as it was my friend’s birthday and then we switched to vodka after that. We left at about 1.30 – the place was packed though. We went back to the Conrad and ended up at Suga – their ‘private’ members club. It’s always empty. We had a drink at the bar and my friend insisted on dropping me home. We ended up at Zaatar w Zeit which is open 24 hours and ate a lot – again! I didn’t get home until 4am.

I woke up on Monday with a headache. No surprises there! After lunch I joined the others at Puro Beach at the Conrad poolside. It was quite overcast and looked like it might even rain. We had some red wine and some Arabic mezze and at about 6pm I headed back home to get ready for dinner.

I went back to the Conrad before dinner. My friend had two more friends who had arrived in town and I hadn’t met them before – they were staying at the Grand Hyatt. We had a drink in my friend’s hotel room and then seven of us left for dinner. Dinner was at someone’s home in Emirates Hills. I met quite a few people that I already knew which was nice. There was so much food – and the birthday cake (from Coco’s) was fantastic. We were there till about 1.30am as getting a cab in that area isn’t easy and none of us could connect to Uber!

We spent Tuesday afternoon on a yacht. We met at the Marina Yacht Club at noon and were taken to our yacht. My friend and his friends had brought loads of champagne and vodka with them so we were all set for the afternoon. It was a spacious yacht and there were only 10 of us so we had lots of room to relax. The staff on the yacht were very attentive and made sure our glasses were full at all times! There was also finger food and sandwiches, but nobody ate much. We left the Marina and sailed around the Palm. We had an incredible view of the skydivers landing – they come down a lot faster than I thought they would! We stopped in front of the Atlantis for a few minutes for those who wanted to take photos and stopped again in front of the Burj Al Arab. I really wish I’d taken my Canon camera with me! We carried on sailing towards the World Islands and stopped near a private island for a while – those who wanted to went for a swim. We were there for about an hour before we headed back. We got back to the Yacht Club at about 5.30pm and everyone went home. I was exhausted. I got into my pajamas and decided I was going to stay in that evening – regardless of what the others were doing. I was asleep before midnight.

Wednesday. New Year’s Eve. My plan was to be up early and get my hair done before there was a queue at the salon. That didn’t happen – I got there at noon and ended up waiting a long time. It was almost 3pm by the time I left there. I always take a book with me so I’m not wasting time while I’m there. At 6.30 I headed over to the Conrad. We had some champagne in the hotel room and then went to Media City where we were going to a New Year’s Eve ‘MasterJam’ concert. I have to admit I had been dreading it. I was dreading the traffic going there and back and would have rather stayed home with a bottle of vodka than venture that far away. We thought the first act came on at 9pm so we left the Conrad at 7.30 – that would hopefully give us enough time to get there. The traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road had started to build up and was moving slowly (but still moving) until we passed the Burj Khalifa. After that there was hardly any traffic and we were at the Media City Amphitheatre at 8pm. Just as well, because Gloria Gaynor was almost done with her set and finished with ‘I Will Survive’! We found our Platinum Pod area and settled in. Again, there were 10 of us in quite a large space. Unlimited champagne was included in our package and we certainly made the most of it!

After Gloria Gaynor finished, Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge came on. I’d forgotten what great songs they’d had (‘Lost in Music’, ‘He’s the Greatest Dancer’, ‘Frankie’ and of course ‘We Are Family’) and everyone was singing along and dancing. Thirty-five years later, Kathy Sledge still has an amazing voice!

After Kathy Sledge finished her set, Chaka Khan came on. I’d been looking forward to her the most but she was disappointing. She seemed to have forgotten the words to some of her songs (my favourite ones!) so I wasn’t all that thrilled by her. She also sang her two most famous songs first (‘I Feel For You’ and ‘Ain’t Nobody’) and that didn’t make much sense to me.

After that came Nile Rodgers. I’m embarrassed to say I’d never heard of him, but he was in the band CHIC in the 1970s. I had no idea how many hits he’d written/produced – the album Diana by Diana Ross (Upside Down, I’m Coming Out), the album Let’s Dance by David Bowie, ‘The Reflex’ by Duran Duran, Like a Virgin by Madonna, and so many others – Thompson Twins, Mick Jagger, Steve Winwood; he even co-wrote Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’. The man is a genius and he was on stage for a long time as he performed a lot of the songs he’d written and produced.

And then it was midnight!

As you can see, we really made the most of that champagne! After midnight, the Jacksons came on stage.

I think they were having some sound issues. I don’t remember much after that. Oops. We ended up at a party in Emirates Hills until about 4.30am and then three of us went to Zaatar w Zeit (again). I eventually got home at 5.45am.

My parents and I had lunch at home the next day – I’d hardly seen them over the last few days between hectic social schedules! After lunch I went to Puro Beach at the Conrad to sit by the pool with my friends. Our evening plans were up in the air for a while but eventually got sorted thanks to the concierge at the hotel. I went to a friend’s place in the Meadows for early evening drinks and left at about 8.30 to meet my friends from out of town at Sass Cafe. We had a lovely table outside and decided we’d share some starters and a couple of main courses. We started with lentil salad, fried calamari, baked goats cheese, sea bass carpaccio and a couple of other things. We were quite full after that and decided to share just two main courses between five of us: the lamb chops and a whole sea bream. We also ordered a side of mashed potatoes with truffles, some green beans and a portion of French fries. The ‘whole’ sea bream was the size of a sardine and the lamb chops were mostly fat – very disappointing. There were about ten French fries in the portion so that disappeared in about 5 seconds. We ordered another portion of the truffle mash and French fries and asked for the bill. We’d complained about the fish and the lamb and the manager came over to speak to us. He eventually took both main courses off the bill!

Until this point our evening had been quite relaxed. We’d been sitting outside, the music wasn’t too loud, we were all very chilled. I’d booked a table at Pacha for after dinner and we thought we’d go for one drink and then head back home. We got to Pacha at about 11.30 and were shown to our table on the rooftop. What a fun place! Of course we ended up staying until almost closing time – and this time we all ended up at Zaatar w Zeit until 4am!

By Friday, I was shattered. We’d been out almost every day and night and I was actually relieved that Friday night was a dry night! This meant that nowhere would be serving alcohol after 6pm. Our original plan for Friday was to go to Blue Marlin but as it was a dry night they weren’t open at all. We ended up at Iris for brunch. We didn’t get there until 3pm and opted for the brunch option with house wine (instead of the champagne option). We also had Bloody Marys which went down well. There was a salad and sushi bar inside the restaurant, and out on the terrace they had the barbecue – truffle burgers, sausages, steaks. They also had a pasta station where they were making pasta and truffle risotto. You could eat and drink as much as you wanted to. A couple of my friends who live in Dubai ended up joining us as well. We were there until 6pm and then left.

I went home for a couple of hours and then met my friends at Zuma for dinner. It was busier than I thought it would be and we could only get a table upstairs in the lounge area. The food was as good as ever: crispy squid, yellowtail sashimi, rock shrimp, spinach ohitashi, tuna tataki (my absolute favourite), black cod, spicy beef and of course the green tea and banana cake for dessert. It was odd being at dinner and not drinking, but that evening was definitely all about the food – and there was so much of it! It was an early night as my friends had flights in the morning – I was home by 11pm and in bed by 11.15!

I spent all of Saturday at home in my pajamas. It was bliss.

I love my life.

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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 2014: Week 12

What a week! I didn’t have my usual session with Trevor on Sunday – I wasn’t feeling great and had to be at work early. I had lots to get through as the April issue of the magazine was due to go to press this week. So aside from a lot of hours at the office, this is what I got up to…

It was the week of Art Dubai and a friend managed to get us passes for the entire week. I’d never been to Art Dubai – I totally missed it the first year I was here and last year a friend and I got there just as they were closing. I was determined not to miss it for the third time!

Monday night was the opening of the Modern Art section at the Mina A’Salam Hotel. It was small and exclusive. My friend had been in touch with a gallery in New York who were selling paintings by MF Hussain and Sadequain, and they were extremely keen to sell her one! The guy who was showing us the paintings didn’t really impress me. He showed us two MF Hussain paintings and told us that the first one was done in the 1950s and nobody knew when the second was done. I looked at the canvas and said, ‘But it says 1971 on the canvas.’ And when I looked at the tag next to the painting that also said 1971. ‘Oh right! Well done, you could do my job.’ Er, yup, I could. Perhaps he was jet-lagged. He and his colleagues invited us to drinks at Bahri Bar once the exhibition had closed and my friend and I walked around the rest of the hall. It was quiet as the opening of the Modern Art section coincided with Art Night at DIFC and another event at Al Serkal Avenue.

We joined them at Bahri Bar at 9pm along with a few other select clients and sat with them for an hour. We had a great view of the Burj Al Arab (it was St Patrick’s Day).

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After that the two of us decided to go elsewhere for a drink on our own and ended up at Left Bank. We ordered some wine, calamari and French fries and caught up properly. I got home at around midnight and went to bed.

In order to explain what happened to me on Monday night I need to go way off-topic. When I have a manicure and pedicure I usually paint just my toenails, but at the end of January I began doing my fingernails as well. For the last few weeks my fingernails have been a little sore. I know it sounds ridiculous but it wasn’t all my fingers all the time – one day it would be my middle finger on my right hand and the index finger on my left, the next it could be my right thumb and the middle finger on my left hand. It was uncomfortable, but not painful enough for me to worry about. Before going to Art Dubai on Monday evening I removed the nail polish completely and cut my nails as I had a piano lesson the next day.

At 4am on Monday night, the pain in my fingers was so bad that it woke me up. The nails and fingertips of my thumb, index finger and middle finger were throbbing and they were swollen. I was in so much pain I couldn’t even press the Panadol tablets out of the foil packet. I eventually managed and took two tablets. I made the mistake of asking ‘Dr Google’ what throbbing painful fingertips could be a symptom of and immediately wished I hadn’t as everything pointed to amputation or dying. I eventually fell asleep as the pain subsided and knew I’d have to see a doctor as soon as possible.

On Tuesday morning I called the clinic and made an appointment for that morning. The doctor was horrified at the state of my nails (as was I).

Left hand

Left hand

Right hand

Right hand

She asked if I’d been using Gelish or Shellac but I told her that it was just regular OPI which I changed each week. I had told her I thought I might be allergic to nail polish but that didn’t explain why all my fingers weren’t in pain. She said that if it had been just one hand she would have concluded it was a strained nerve and left it at that. As it was both hands, it couldn’t be so straightforward. She explained that the fact that it was just my thumb and two fingers on each hand was significant because those three digits are connected to one nerve, whereas the ring finger and little finger are connected to another nerve. She suggested I have a blood test to check whether I had any vitamin deficiencies and booked me in for the following week. If that test was normal she’d have to do more tests.

I went to work. The pain had subsided and I’d also taken more Panadol so I was able to get through some work and just about managed my piano lesson that afternoon. My teacher was very keen I learn a Bollywood song (Tum Hi Ho) which he’s crazy about so I agreed.

On Tuesday night I was going back to Art Dubai with a friend for the VVIP opening of the main halls. I was tired and didn’t really feel like walking around all evening but didn’t want to cancel. When I picked him up, he got in the cab and said ‘Should we just go to La Serre for drinks?’ Genius. He read my mind. We got to La Serre and made ourselves comfortable at the bar.

The bar menu at La Serre

The bar menu at La Serre

Baby Batman at La Serre

Baby Batman at La Serre

We made ourselves a little too comfortable as we each ended up paying about AED 750 that night! We did have some food too. And the bartender was lovely – even though burrata isn’t on their bar menu I asked him if they could bring me a portion, et voila! There it was…

I was a bit hungover on Wednesday but had loads to get through at work. I also went back to Art Dubai that evening for the official opening (I don’t know how many openings Art Dubai has!). I walked around for a while but didn’t get to see everything. These are some of the pieces I saw and liked…

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And my absolute favourite:

Kirsten Everberg

Kirsten Everberg

I caught up with my friend and we went to have a drink and some food. The staff at the bar were extremely disorganised but we managed to get a couple of glasses of overpriced plonk. We then got some food – black pepper beef from Zheng Ye and pad thai from Pai Thai. Luckily we found somewhere to sit as I couldn’t hold my plate for very long – my fingers still ached but not as much as on Monday night. My friend then managed to locate one of her friends who was at the event and the three of us went to the bar across the bridge for a couple more drinks. At midnight I decided I needed to get home as I had a long day the following day.

After my session with Trevor, I went to work and was there till 6.30pm. I got home, tired and irritable (I hadn’t had lunch). I did a bit of work until 9pm and then met up with a friend at Double Decker for some drinks. It was quite relaxed, not hectic at all.

On Friday I decided to get my hair cut and coloured – it was long overdue. That evening I went over to some friends for dinner. It was just seven of us. We started with Bloody Marys and some canapes (salmon sushi and cucumber rolls). We all sat round the table for dinner. The food was amazing. The starters were pastry with oyster mushrooms and scallops, as well as a prawn mousse. The main course was barbecued steak (it has been marinated in cognac, olive oil, black pepper and chilli) and asparagus. Dessert was something lemony (sorry) and mango sorbet with tequila. And it was all made at home. I told our hosts that they were never coming to my place for dinner unless they did the cooking!

This couple also has a 65-kg Great Dane who’s almost 2 years old. He was in the garden for most of the night but was allowed in once we’d eaten. He was the size of a horse and luckily left me alone most of the time, apart from when he drooled all down my sleeve. We were still sitting around the dining table and talking, and the bottle of Patron came out. Oh God. I sipped mine and then decided it was time to go home. I got home and was sober enough to do some work. In fact, I was up until 5am.

I think I only slept for four hours. I was working at home and then met up with a friend. We considered going to Safa Park as there was some music festival on but we ended up going for a drive along the beach and then to Iris for their chill-out Saturday session as he wanted a drink. I really didn’t feel like drinking but had two spritzers. Another friend joined us as well but by 8pm I felt like a total zombie and we all went home.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2014: Week 11

After another crazy weekend, I was exhausted. I had a session with Trevor on Sunday morning and went to work.

That evening two friends and I had signed up for a Restronaut event at Spill the Bean, a coffee shop at the mall. I’d been on the Restronaut mailing list for several months but this was the first time I’d been compelled to attend an event. The email said:

The Outpost is a Beirut-based magazine about possibilities in the Arab world. The magazine was named by the Guardian as the successor to the Economist. The Editor in Chief is in town for the weekend. Join him in this gathering where he’ll talk about how stories can impact societies and cultures and the quest to create a magazine with a mission to change the world. Join this table if you’re interested in creativity, media and culture. If you’re a writer, artist, film-maker or thinker, this gathering’s for you.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? It cost AED 70 to attend which included a coffee and a selection of cakes and muffins. We got there at 7pm and met a few people at our table – we were supposed to be 11 in total but at that time we were only five. There were a few copies of The Outpost being passed around. I have to say it’s a beautifully produced quarterly magazine, the kind you would be proud to display on your coffee table. It’s printed on high quality matt paper and is very text heavy. I would buy it – and it would probably take me three months to get through each issue. The editor in chief told us that it was in its second year of publication and until now had been financed by himself and a few investors. He was looking for fundraising ideas. Or perhaps he was just looking for money – because whenever someone made a suggestion I don’t think he gave any of them much consideration. I can understand that when you’ve worked so hard and someone tells you to change it, it’s difficult – you have your own ideas of how things should be. But then why ‘invite’ people to discuss these issues? I felt a bit bad for the editor in chief – I think he came under attack by a few people who asked why, if the magazine was aimed at change in the Arab world, it was published in English? Wasn’t that considered elitist? I left at about 8:30pm. I was tired and was disappointed by the evening. I think the description of the event was misleading and didn’t think it applied to writers, artists, film-makers or thinkers. But that could just be me.

On my way home I spoke to my parents. They were having dinner at Silver Fox Steakhouse at Citywalk so I joined them. I was tired and hungry and a steak sounded so good. I ordered the 6 oz. petite filet. It was served with mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. It was just perfect. We got home, I got into bed and passed out.

I woke up on Monday with a sore throat and fever and was home until Wednesday.

On Wednesday I decided I had to get back to the office – I had so much to do! I met a friend for lunch at the Urban Bistro. I really like that place. We shared the chicken and avocado wrap and the smoked salmon focaccia sandwich. I had a green juice to drink. I really wanted a Coke but they didn’t have any!

On Thursday night some friends and I went to Toko for dinner. I’d been thinking about the beef gyoza since the last time I’d eaten there!

It had been cloudy all day and by the evening it was drizzling. I was worried because I’d booked a table outdooors. I got there about 20 minutes early as my parents were dropping me off so I decided to have a drink at the bar while I was waiting for the others to arrive. It wasn’t very pleasant – it had that stale bar/cigarette/alcohol smell that you find in cheap bars and it really put me off. Luckily my friends showed up on time and we moved to our table.

I have to say the food was amazing. For starters we had the spicy edamame, crispy rice chips (okowa age), nasu dengaku, the warm French bean salad and the beef gyoza. We ordered one dish at a time so we could enjoy each dish without worrying about the other dishes getting cold!

After our starters we ordered some sushi – prawn tempura rolls and spicy tuna rolls.

By the time we were supposed to order main course we were quite full but we ordered the grilled avocado (excellent) and the grilled scallops.

All the food was incredible and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

For dessert we ordered the chocolate and hazelnut fondant. Once we had demolished that we ordered another. Fantastic! Our bill was a nightmare though – between us we’d had 24 vodkas. It would have been cheaper to buy a bottle!

I was home all day on Friday – I stayed in my pajamas, did some work and caught up on some TV shows.

On Saturday I was home for most of the day and then met up with a friend at Iris. They have a chill-out Saturdays where selected wines and cocktails are half price and you get free food between 5pm and 9pm. We got there at around 7pm, it wasn’t crowded and we got a table. I had the rose wine and my friend had the red wine. We were brought a platter of food to share – crudites and dip, cheese, olives, bresaola, spring rolls. It was quite substantial. We were there way beyond 9pm though and I got home at about 1.30am, already dreading having to wake up the next day.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2014: Week 9

In case you’re wondering – no, you haven’t missed several posts, I just haven’t written them yet! I figured I had to start somewhere so I thought I’d start with my most recent antics and work my way backwards (and forwards).

I had a Sunday morning session with Trevor and then went to work. It was a manic day – the March issue was due to go to press on Monday and I still needed to go through the table of contents and do the contributors page! Once we’d sent everything off to the printer, I could relax. It’s just as well that I don’t have my Arabic class for a while as I had to be in the office early on Monday to go through the proofs and make any changes.

I left home at 9.15 on Monday – the proofs should have been in by 9am – but I encountered the most awful traffic. I didn’t get in until 10am. And I didn’t think that because I was stuck in traffic, the proofs would be too. We waited around for a while and they eventually arrived at 11am. I made a few changes and the proofs were sent off to be printed. My first issue put to bed! I went home for a while and then had a meeting at PAUL in Mercato with Jan who’s running a yoga for teenagers course starting in March. This is the same lady whose meditation course I went to last year. We decided I’d go to their first session to meet them and ask questions and maybe take some photos for the magazine. I’d then go to their fourth and final session and ask them whether they feel any different and whether they’ve found the course beneficial, etc.

I decided not to go to the office on Tuesday as the issue had been wrapped up and my editorial meeting was postponed to Wednesday. I’d have been sitting around with not very much to do when I could be at home getting on with other work. I met up with NP for lunch at Tom & Serg. We’ve both been so busy that we hadn’t met since before Christmas! I had a piano lesson that afternoon (still playing Wonderwall, More than Words, One and Only – I really need to practise!) and then went to Calabar for drinks. I had a friend in town for a few days so a few of us were meeting for drinks during happy hour. Of course we stayed beyond happy hour and had some dinner too. We ordered some tempura rolls, chicken enchiladas and club sandwiches.

On Wednesday I got to work only to find that the issue we’d worked so bloody hard to put together hadn’t gone to press at all. The printer had called that morning to say they hadn’t been paid which was why nothing had been done. That was infuriating. And not my responsibility. We’d done our job – organising payment is not a part of it! I had my editorial meeting with my team and a couple of freelance writers – trying to put the April issue together in good time. After the meeting one of the writers and I went to Urban Bistro for a coffee and quick bite. I’d never been there and loved it. We shared some guacamole (delicious) and I had a flat white. I went back to the office for a bit and then went home.

That evening I was meeting my friend from out of town and some of his friends at Iris. It was happy hour until 8pm (I love happy hour!) but again we stayed after that and had some dinner as well. We ordered the french bean salad, the seared tuna and the beef sliders. The food there is excellent.

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On Thursday I had another session with Trevor and decided to work at home that day – I had a few deadlines to meet and ended up working until 8.30pm. That night six of us went to Toko Dubai for dinner. I’d been there twice before – once for drinks and once to the official launch party – but had never eaten there. The food was incredible and I’m already planning my next dinner there. We had spicy edamame, beef gyoza (I insisted we order another portion of this as it was so good), tempura, sushi, salmon miso, nasu dengaku, chicken skewers, chicken wings, some avocado dish I’d never heard of before, and we shared three desserts – yuzu cheesecake, chocolate fondant and a mousse. We also had two bottles of Chenin Blanc. I’d have been quite happy to stay there and have more wine but a couple of others wanted to go elsewhere. In the end, four of us ended up at Cafe Habana in Souk Al Bahar. After the sophisticated atmosphere of Toko, it was a bit of a letdown! We had one drink and headed home.

I had brunch with some friends on Friday. We went to Story Restaurant at the Holiday Inn Express in Knowledge Village. It wasn’t very crowded and we initially sat indoors as it was too warm outside. The food was Peruvian and quite varied – the starters were great (guacamole, quinoa salad, ceviche nipon) but most of the mains were fried (lamb spring rolls, chicken empanadas, etc). The quinoa salad and ceviche were my favourites and I went back for more! We also had a ton of alcohol – once 4pm came and our free drinks ran out (we were sitting on the terrace by this time) we thought it would be a good idea to order a bottle of vodka and watch the sunset. And we ordered some dudu shots. And once we’d finished the vodka (we were seven people so it was easily done) we ordered a bottle of champagne. And once that bottle had finished, we ordered another. We were at the restaurant until 9:30pm and I was supposed to be at Zuma at 11pm.

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We left at that point but the traffic was so bad I didn’t get home until 10:30 and then quickly got ready to go to Zuma. I got to Zuma at 11:20 only to find that the couple of friends I was meeting there couldn’t get in – and I’d just ordered my drink. Luckily I knew a couple of other people there so hung out with them for a bit. I ended up chatting to one of their friends and the two of us ended up going to Harry Ghatto’s for a drink, but also hoping to sing! It was quite late by the time we got there – and the song queue was too long so we had a drink and called it a night. Don’t ask me how I lasted that long – I have no idea!

I woke up on Saturday wanting to stay in bed all day but had told my cousin from out of town I’d meet her for lunch. We were going to meet at the Dubai Mall so I got there a little after 2pm. She was still shopping so I told her I’d meet her by the fountain when she was done. The weather was beautiful – it had suddenly warmed up in the last week and I enjoyed the fresh air while I waited for her. We eventually had lunch at a Lebanese place in Souk Al Bahar – Zahr El-Laymoun. I’d never been there before but would definitely go back. We had labneh, hummus, Mediterranean salad and grilled halloumi to start with. For our main course we shared the grilled chicken with thyme. I don’t often eat chicken when I go out but this chicken was tender and succulent.

After lunch, she carried on shopping and I met up with some friends for coffee at Carluccio’s. I got home at about 6pm, got into bed and did some work for the rest of the evening. What a week/weekend!

I love my life.

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