Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2015: Week 8

What began as a quiet(ish) week ended up quite the opposite! After my session with Trevor on Sunday, I was home the rest of the day.

On Monday afternoon I went to the Dubai Mall – I was thinking about getting a foundation (I don’t wear much makeup) and had heard that Sephora had some skin-matching machine/app that would find you the perfect foundation. I thought I’d give it a try. I walked into Sephora – and I walked straight out. It was like the makeup equivalent of Top Shop – crowded, loud pumping music and inattentive sales staff. No, thank you.

So I walked to Bobbi Brown – much better. Not crowded, no music (that I could hear) and someone who knew what she was talking about. In the end, I ditched the foundation idea and bought a tinted moisturiser. The reason I don’t wear foundation is that every month my skin is a different colour – I’m either tanned or not, and how many foundations can a person have, really??

I had a facial at Dermalogica after my little shopping expedition. They really are the best – and they have an offer on Mondays which is 25% off your treatment. I’d been using the same products for a while: Special Cleansing Gel and an SPF 15 moisturiser (which has since been discontinued and is only available as tinted moisturiser now – why?). I rarely bothered with toner (although I have it) or exfoliator (I have that too). After my facial, Judy suggested I try the UltraCalming Sensitised Skin Kit – my cheeks tend to be more sensitive – and I thought I’d give it a try. It’s only been a week but I’m amazed at the difference in my skin. The only thing that irks me (don’t you love that word?) is that the moisturiser doesn’t have an SPF. In this day and age, it should be mandatory for all moisturisers to have an SPF.

On Tuesday evening I went to Karma Kafe with a friend. It was ladies night so we got three tokens each for drinks – and 50% off our food bill in the lounge area. We used to go quite regularly but hadn’t been in a while. We had some edamame to start, and then we had the dim sum basket, rock shrimp tempura and spicy tuna rolls.

I had a piano lesson on Wednesday afternoon and then was home after that.

I knew the weekend was going to be hectic as I was attending a friend’s wedding at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I ended up getting slammed with work on Thursday so couldn’t attend the lunchtime functions on Friday (mehendi) or Saturday (wedding ceremony).

Thursday night was the engagement dinner at the poolside. I didn’t know a lot of people there – it was a very different crowd. I didn’t think it would be a late night but we ended up going to the after party in one of the suites and were there until 5am!

There was a sandstorm all day on Friday. They usually last an hour or two and then it starts to clear up – but not this one. It went on all day. On Friday night (sangeet), I was exhausted. I only stayed until 1.30 – I couldn’t wait to get home and get into my pajamas.

The sandstorm continued all day on Saturday too. I didn’t want to leave the house but I had to go and get my hair done at the Shangri-La next door for the reception. I didn’t think Saturday night would be late as Sunday is a working day here – but the wedding card said the reception started at 10pm. I got there at 11pm and was still ‘on time’. The newlyweds hadn’t made their entrance yet. They came in at about 11.30pm – and we didn’t eat until almost 1am. And once again, it was a 5am finish!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 31

I had Arabic every morning from Sunday to Tuesday and then I was done with my Beginners II course! We covered:

  • More vocabulary
  • A very confusing root tree which explains the relationship between nouns and verbs
  • An oral presentation to the rest of the class about where you’re from, what you do in Dubai, where you live, when you’re travelling, and so on
  • A written assessment – in Arabic and English – and a listening comprehension

The Beginners III class starts in September but as I’m planning to be away for most of October I have to wait until November to start again. I’m quite disappointed about that – and I’m also worried I’ll have forgotten everything I’ve learned so far.

After my class I had a session with Randy. I was home for the rest of the day.

After my Arabic class on Tuesday I had lunch with a friend at Noodle House at DIFC. I’d never been there before but would go back just for the sea bass.

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After lunch, we went to Pinkberry for some frozen yoghurt. It was my first time having Pinkberry!

On Tuesday evening I went to see a French/Arabic movie called Le Sac de Farine. It was organised by The Scene Club and was shown at Knowledge Village Conference Centre. It was free – and included free water and popcorn! The director was also there and did a Q&A session afterwards. They show a movie every month and I’ll definitely go to more events like this – I didn’t even know this existed.

On Wednesday night my mum, sister and I went to Lafayette Gourmet for dinner. We all wanted something different so this was perfect. I had a hot and sour soup to start with followed by some sushi; my mum had a lamb shawarma sandwich; my sister had kebabs and a mushroom pasta.

It was Eid on Thursday (hurrah!) and it was a holiday. That night I met a friend for some drinks at Zuma. We got there early enough to get one of the tall tables in the bar area. By 9pm, the place was packed. The music was back on and it was loud! A guy asked us whether he could perch at our table – of course we said yes. We started chatting – he was from Bahrain so I started practising my Arabic with him. He laughed at my accent. I expected that though! He told me he’d been learning Spanish – so we started conversing in Spanish. I love languages! We left at about 10.30pm as my friend had an early flight the next day. I dropped her home and then went to the Marriott Marquis to meet another friend and some of his family who were in town. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let us go up to The Vault as one of the guys was wearing slippers, so we ended up at the bar at the Indian restaurant, Rang Mahal. I’ve noticed that all the restaurants in the hotel are absolutely huge, and they’re mostly empty. After a couple of glasses of wine, we decided to go to Calabar at The Address Downtown for our last round of drinks.

I had a headache on Friday but also had a friend in town who was in Dubai for the weekend. She lives in San Francisco but had been visiting her parents in India and decided she was going to come over for the weekend and take me out as a belated birthday present! We hadn’t met in almost 3 years so we had lots to catch up on. We had lunch at La Petite Maison. We got there at 1.30 and we were there until 6pm. We had the burrata (of course), the lentil salad, the pisaladiere (without the anchovies) and the goat cheese salad. And a glass of champagne. We talked and talked, and decided we’d rather skip the main course and go straight for dessert. We had one warm chocolate mousse and a cheesecake, and coffee. The food and service were both excellent.

That night we had dinner at Karma Kafe with some other friends. The food was good, but it was really warm in the restaurant – they were having some trouble with their air-conditioning and I think that has been going on for some time now. After dinner we went to Sake No Hana for a drink and then went home.

On Saturday we went to Kaleidoscope at The Atlantis for lunch. It was like a zoo – there were people everywhere. The first time I went to The Atlantis was in 2009 and I remember being so impressed with their aquarium. Now, having seen the one at the Dubai Mall, this aquarium seemed tiny in comparison.

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Lunch was fabulous. It was a buffet – and they served all kinds of cuisine. I have to say the sushi didn’t look very appealing and I stuck to the Lebanese/Arabic food for most of it. They also had Indian, Mexican, Chinese and Italian food. The dessert section was impressive:

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I tried the carrot cake and the red velvet cake. The portions are a perfect size – two bites and you’re done.

We walked around a little bit more, looking around the hotel.

The blue room I fell in love with...

The blue room I fell in love with…

The main lobby

The main lobby

By this time it was almost 5pm and we decided to head home. That night some friends invited us over to their place for dinner. I went to pick up my friends from their flat in Burj Residences. It used to take me about 10 minutes but on this occasion it took me over 40 minutes. Previously you would have to make a U-turn on the boulevard but since they’ve installed the new traffic lights you can make a left straight into the road where the Burj Residences are. It took forever. The lights changed so quickly I was stuck in that traffic for almost 30 minutes. I know now to go the other way round! It was 10pm by the time we got to our friends’ place for dinner. It was a chilled evening and we were there until 1am – late for a Saturday night (in Dubai).

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 23

After my session with Randy on Sunday morning I did some work and then spent the afternoon at the pool. That evening I had a friend and her son flying in from Hong Kong for a couple of days on their way to London. I went to the airport that night to collect them and by the time we got home it was after midnight. We chatted for a while and eventually went to sleep.

My friend’s mum was arriving early on Monday morning (and also staying with me) so we left home at 8am to pick her up from the airport. We got home, I had a cup of tea and then had to go to my Arabic class. We learned:

  • The words for month/s and year/s
  • How to say whether we were married or not – and also the words for husband and wife
  • How to ask someone how long they’d been in a place (and a reply)
  • More pronouns, e.g. his house, her house, their house
  • More random vocabulary: yesterday, day before yesterday, tomorrow, day after tomorrow
  • How to use the tamarbuwta
  • More verbs – to want, to visit, to go, to drink – and how to conjugate them in the first person

After my class, I met up with my friend, her son and her mum at Nando’s and we had some lunch. She and her mum had some errands to run so I took her son to the pool for a while.

That night, the two of us went out with some friends. We went to Pai Thai at the Madinat Jumeirah. I’d never been there and was pleasantly surprised. The service was also better than in many places I’ve been to. I used two Entertainer vouchers as well and we saved about AED 200!

The next day the four of us went to Wafi Gourmet for lunch. I had to go to a piano lesson straight after and my friend and her mum and son were out until the evening. That night the two of us had dinner at Karma Kafe with a friend we bumped into at the airport on Monday morning. Small world! The food was good, as usual – and I used yet another Entertainer voucher. I’ve used so many of them this year already! We got home a little after 11pm and my friend, her mum and son left for the airport at about midnight. It was quite a busy couple of days!

I had another Arabic lesson on Wednesday. We learned:

  • More verbs – to live/reside, to study, to know – and how to conjugate them in the second person (male and female)
  • Random vocabulary – family, parents, people before, sometimes, always, beach, gym, building
  • We learned two new letters and also did some writing practice (still looks like a 3-year-old’s writing!)

I went home, did some work and then that evening went to my second creative writing class at The Pavilion Downtown. We talked about opening paragraphs and how naming characters is so important – names change with generations and different social classes. We were told that we need to be the character we’re writing about and have to know them inside out. We talked about character traits and how flawed characters leave plenty of room for growth. For our homework we were asked to write about people meeting and coming together, perhaps at a dinner party, picnic, or something along those lines. How do they behave? What are their flaws?

I was home all of Thursday and then met up with a couple of friends at The Agency in Madinat Jumeirah. What a night! We ended up having four bottles of wine. When we left we wanted to go dancing, so we hopped in a cab and headed to Malecon. We were only there for about half an hour, and we didn’t drink any more, but we had a great time dancing to salsa music!

I was home the whole of Friday. My head was aching and I didn’t feel like doing very much apart from reading by the pool.

On Saturday I did some reading by the pool and then went to see The Internship with my dad and uncle. It was better (and longer) than I thought it would be – I quite enjoyed it!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 17

I got back from Vietnam late on Monday night. I was home by about 2.30 but chatted with my mum for a while before passing out. I can’t remember the last time I was so tired. I would have gladly spent all of Tuesday in bed but had a piano lesson that afternoon!

I also had loads of work to catch up on as I hadn’t done anything (including check my email) while I was away.

On Wednesday evening I went back to my meditation class. We started with another Tibetan breathing exercise, a standing one this time. It involved standing with your feet apart, and rocking from one foot to the other very slowly, extending one arm at a time, depending on which direction you were rocking in (if you’re moving to the right, extend your right arm). I preferred the walking meditation from the first week though.

We then talked about our experiences with the 4x4x4x4 meditation from the week before. I told the group I really hadn’t enjoyed it and the fact that I wasn’t supposed to inhale for 4 counts made me more stressed than anything else. The teacher explained why: inhaling equals life, exhaling equals death. We then talked about death and various religious/spiritual views on what happens to us once we die. We then did the meditation exercise we would have to practise for the week: alternate nostril breathing. I do this in yoga all the time but found this much more relaxing. I’ve noticed I sleep so much better on the days I go to my meditation class (and the days I manage to do the meditation exercises)!

On Thursday I was taken out by NP – it was her birthday present to me: lunch at Zuma! We started with a glass of champagne (I know, even I didn’t think I’d be able to manage a drink for a while after Vietnam – I was wrong). We both had the set menu but then ordered a couple of things from the a la carte menu to share (including tuna tataki – my favourite!). And of course the dessert (green tea and banana cake) was fabulous as always.

That night I had dinner with a friend at Left Bank in Souk Al Bahar. I had some Entertainer vouchers and I’d never been there so we thought we’d try it. We didn’t order any starters and just went for the main course and a bottle of white wine. I ordered the sea bass and she had the fish and chips. After dinner we walked over to Karma Kafe for a drink and had a couple of glasses of wine. It was a nice evening and I was home before midnight.

A few weeks ago I’d seen an offer for Friday brunch at Latitude at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel – buy one, get one free – so three friends and I had booked it and had been looking forward to it. We got there at 1pm and were shown to our table. The selection of food on offer was impressive (but nothing like Al Qasr) – I had sushi, dim sum, a couple of duck rolls, and a grilled red snapper. I also had some cheese and some cheesecake. And of course alcohol was unlimited. The one thing that was disappointing was the service – they clearly didn’t have enough staff and we soon realised that our waiter was the only one in our section of the restaurant. I expected more from a 5* hotel!

On Saturday afternoon a friend and I went to Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal on Sheikh Zayed Road. We sat by the pool for a while and then both had 90-minute massages. It was fantastic. I will definitely go back for some more pampering. I had an Entertainer voucher for the spa so we got two massages for the price of one.

I was home the rest of the day, just relaxing and catching up on work.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 10

This week was much quieter compared to last week and the week before that. I had my usual gym session on Sunday and then had lunch with my parents at Vapiano.

On Monday evening I went to see Tarek Yamani. He’s a self-taught jazz pianist and he was amazing. I got to The Fridge when the doors open because I like to sit where I can see the keyboard. There’s a really good review of the evening here. He played some Brazilian and Lebanese songs. He did a great version of ‘Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime’ by The Korgis, too. I’d definitely see him perform again.

I had a piano lesson on Tuesday. I’m still working on ‘Solfegietto’ and ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First’ but I think they’re both coming along nicely. We did some work on the Mozart sonata too. My teacher gave me a new piece to work on – ‘Amelie’s Waltz’ – which should be fun.

I met a friend for lunch on Wednesday. We went to Okku – they have a set menu for lunch which is excellent value. They have three options – we went for the middle one – which was 89 dirhams. You get a miso soup, one starter and one main course.

I chose the yellowtail as my starter (my friend chose the calamari) and we both had the black cod as our main course.

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We ordered a few things off the ‘à la carte’ menu as well so our bill was much higher than it would have been had we just stuck to the set menu! But it was still good value for money. I was shocked at how empty the restaurant was – I thought it would have been crowded but there were only three other occupied tables that afternoon. As I was playing with my wooden chopsticks, I got a splinter! I thought I’d managed to remove it but it was only when I got home and was doing some work that I realised the splinter was still in my finger. I managed to remove it but it took almost half an hour to get it out!

I had a quiet weekend. I was home on Thursday but met up with a friend on Friday night for dinner. We went to Karma Kafe in Souk al Bahar for dinner. It was quite chilled – we had some rock shrimp tempura to start with and then shared a black cod and lamb main course. We also had a bottle of rosé wine. I had some Entertainer vouchers and we saved 160 dirhams off our total bill – nice! I was home a little after midnight.

I spent all of Saturday at home in my pajamas. I decided I wasn’t going to do any work or even check my work email. I read my book, practised the piano and caught up on some TV. Perfect!

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 31

What a busy week!

Aside from gym sessions and work, it’s been quite a social week.

On Monday I had dinner with NP at Zuma. I hadn’t seen her since before the summer and it was fun to catch up. The food at Zuma is always excellent: we had the sliced seabass with yuzu and truffle oil (amazing), tuna tataki, Zuma salad and rock shrimp. We skipped dessert although I’m going to have to go back at some point and have the green tea and banana cake!

On Tuesday evening, Mum and I went to the Dubai Mall as she wanted to send some chocolates to Bombay. In the end, she picked up a box of dates from Bateel. Every time we go there the man at the counter gives us a taster – I usually go for the dates with pecan but this time I also tried one with ginger. It was interesting, but I prefer the pecan.


The Hummingbird Bakery also had its opening at the Dubai Mall on Tuesday and they were giving away free cupcakes. Yes, of course I had one. You could choose any one you wanted so I got a red velvet cupcake. The mall is becoming a dangerous place!

I went to see ‘The Imposter’ on Wednesday evening with a friend and one of her friends. I’d heard about the movie and it was the last night it was playing so I decided to go (and also because I really fancied some popcorn). ‘The Imposter’ is a documentary about a French man who manages to convince a Texan family that he’s their long lost teenage son. It’s a true story. I can understand that they must have been desperate to believe that anyone was Nicholas, but these two people looked nothing alike. Nicholas was blond with blue eyes, Frederic Bourdin had brown eyes, dyed blond hair and spoke with a French accent. Even with a shadow of a doubt, wouldn’t you insist on a DNA test? There were some funny moments in the movie, such as when Nicholas’ sister recalls receiving the phone call telling her that he was found in Spain, she says ‘Spain? Isn’t that on the other side of the country?’ Good grief.

We had a girls’ night on Thursday evening – five of us went to Loca at the Dubai Marine Beach Resort. I’d never been there, and it was a nice place. We started with wine and I moved on to vodka after that. It wasn’t a very late night, and we did eat while we were there (spinach and artichoke dip, spicy guacamole, lamb burrito – which was actually very tasty) so I didn’t feel too awful the next day.

Dad and I had lunch at Sakura on Friday with my uncle, aunt and their grandchildren. My cousin was out of town and I ended up sitting between the 12-year-old and the 4-year-old. I had a headache by the end of lunch. My mum’s aunt and her two sons came over to visit later that afternoon and stayed for a couple of hours. I’d forgotten how much my great-aunt looks like my late grandfather – they have the same eyes – and I couldn’t help but miss him.

That night I was supposed to see The Proclaimers at Irish Village with a friend and were told tickets were available at the door – but when we got there they had sold out! Who knew they had so many fans in Dubai? Or anywhere, for that matter? We decided to go for a drink instead and ended up at Carter’s at Wafi. The crowd was dire and the music was appalling. We sat at the bar and had a few drinks and I was home before midnight.

I lazed around the flat on Saturday. I did some work, watched some episodes of ‘Suits’, Dad left for Jamaica. I met up with a friend for drinks and dinner that night. We met at Karma Kafé at Souk Al Bahar with two of her friends whom I hadn’t met. We had a few drinks at the bar intending to move on to Bice Mare for dinner, but in the end we stayed there for dinner. It was a fun evening, the vodka was flowing, the conversation was stimulating and the food was great. We had salmon tataki, prawn tempura maki, new style tuna sashimi, black cod with nam pla sauce, and a chocolate fondant for dessert. We calculated at the end that we’d had 25 vodkas between the four of us by the end of the evening!

I love my life.

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