Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai: Week 19

After my usual session with Rama on Sunday, my parents decided we’d take my grandmother to see the Dubai Mall and have lunch there. Being a working day we hoped it wouldn’t be too crowded. I’d found out that if you go to any information desk at the mall you can ask them for a wheelchair. Isn’t that so good? We got one for my grandmother just in case she got tired after walking for a while.

We showed her the aquarium and went down to Wafi Gourmet for lunch. It wasn’t as crowded as it normally is on the weekends, but the service was still rubbish. After lunch, I left them at the mall as I had a hair appointment.

I’d found an online deal a few weeks ago for a Brazilian keratin treatment at the Monarch Hotel and needed to use it before it expired. I got there on time and I was their only customer in the 1.5 hours I was there. The man told me that they used something called the Crystal Brazilian keratin treatment which doesn’t contain formaldehyde or any other harsh chemicals. Sure enough, it didn’t smell of anything as he was applying it and I didn’t have to cover my nose and mouth due to fumes. He told me I couldn’t wet my hair for three days. I also couldn’t tie it up, swim or exercise. 

I got home at around 6pm to find my mum asleep on the sofa, my grandmother asleep in her room, and my dad asleep in my parents’ room. There was snoring coming from every room in the flat. And manic laughter coming from Joy’s room (I think (hope) she was watching TV).

My grandmother brought a helper with her as she needs assistance with various things. Her name is Neeta and she speaks very little English but can understand most of it (I think). She talks to me in Hindi, I talk to her in English – it works. I tried speaking to her in Hindi but she laughed at my attempts (I don’t blame her – even my Indonesian is better than my Hindi).

Joy and Neeta, however, are another story. They are not getting on. At. All. Or rather Joy is not getting on with Neeta. There are times when Joy gets worked up when she assumes Neeta doesn’t understand what she’s saying. Neeta shakes her head and laughs which in turn makes Joy even more worked up as she assumes Neeta’s laughing at her and not at the situation they’re in. Then there are other times when I can hear them both laughing in the kitchen. 

On Monday night we went to Sukh Sagar for dinner again. I can see this becoming a regular thing with us! I had the same palak dosa I had last time. Everyone else ordered something different but when they tried my dosa they wished they’d ordered it for themselves! 

On Tuesday I was invited to a friend’s place for tea. I’ve learned that here in Dubai ‘tea’ can mean anything from literally just tea to a spread consisting of pizza, sandwiches, pasta, kebabs, four different kinds of cakes and ice cream. Tea on Tuesday was a full-on spread. There were about 10-12 women and I didn’t leave there until after 7pm. I went home for a while and then went to meet my parents for dinner at Mercato – we ended up at Bella Donna again. I was so full from tea that all I had for dinner was soup and a salmon carpaccio salad. 

On Wednesday night we decided to go to Lemongrass for dinner. My mum hadn’t been there yet, we thought my grandmother would like it, and we invited two of my cousins to join us. I’ve really enjoyed the food there in the past and looked forward to going. As always the food was yummy. And then, at the end of the meal, a cockroach ran across the table! I freaked out and pushed my chair back from the table, but instead of my chair moving backwards I ended up pushing the table forwards and my cousin’s glass fell off the table and practically on to her lap. Thankfully it was empty. Oops! I don’t know where the cockroach ended up but I saw another one a few minutes later on the cabinet above the bar area. The waitress didn’t seem particularly bothered by it so perhaps they’re all over the place! Dad asked if anyone wanted dessert. I said all I wanted was to get the hell out of there! I don’t think I can go back there again.

Thursday was a chilled day. I went to the gym, did some work and then sat by the pool for a while. I didn’t have any plans that evening until a friend got in touch and suggested going for dinner. We went to Royal China – I’d never seen it so crowded. We shared a bottle of red wine, and a couple of dishes, and were the last to leave the restaurant at about midnight. After that I went to meet my cousins at Cin Cin at the Fairmont. I had three vodkas with soda, and we were the last to leave the bar. I slept till 11am the next morning!

I didn’t have any plans for Friday either. I had lunch at home with my parents and grandmother and then went down to the pool at about 4pm with my book. I have quite a serious tan now! My mum can no longer call me ‘Paleface’ or ‘Casper’. That evening I ended up at Lafayette Gourmet with my cousins. Nothing too hectic and that way we could all order whatever cuisine we felt like.

On Saturday I walked over to the spin class at the Shangri-La only to find they don’t have a spin class on Saturday mornings. Surely someone could have told me that when I called them to reserve a space for it? I ended up using their gym instead (for free). I went back home and spent the afternoon at the pool with my book. Not a very eventful weekend, but I’m heading to London in a couple of weeks and will make up for it then! 

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Dubai: Week 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012

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

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 15

What a busy week!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012

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

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

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Dubai: Week 10

I woke up on Sunday morning to another sandstorm. There was no way I was leaving the house with all that dust outside – I’m convinced that’s what made me sick to start with! On Sunday afternoon I received a call from Dubai Bank. It was a courtesy call – what did I think of the procedure for opening a new account? Simple. How did I hear about them? There’s a branch under my building. Was I happy with my account? Well, it’s only been one day so ask me in a month.

On Monday morning I had another call from the bank. Actually it was Aramex telling me my debit card was ready and would be delivered the following day. Wow – they weren’t kidding when they said it would take three days. I have to admit I had my doubts. I had a yoga class on Monday morning – my first ‘exercise’ in 10 days. It was fine apart from a slight coughing fit after being in shoulderstand. I was home the rest of the day, working. 

On Wednesday I had a training session with Rama, did some work, and then went to watch the tennis with my cousin. While we were there I was given the option of coffee or alcohol. I chose coffee. I think that was the first time that’s ever happened. I bitterly regretted it when I was tossing and turning at 2am, unable to sleep. Always choose alcohol, I told myself. Always.

After the tennis, we went to a restaurant called Lemongrass near Lamcy Plaza. They were quite busy and we hadn’t made a reservation but managed to get a table. My cousin had a voucher which gave us one main course for free – so our meal of green chicken curry, steamed fish with ginger and soya sauce, rice, water and a soft drink cost us Dhs 77 (just over £13). Bargain!

On Thursday I had another yoga class and then met up with a friend for coffee. We went to Paul at Mall of the Emirates. We walked around for a while afterwards – she wanted to go to Crate and Barrel so I went with her. Shopping for household items really doesn’t interest me much but some of the things they sold in the store were fascinating. Not fascinating because I would want something like that, but fascinating because who buys all these things? Strawberry hullers, grapefruit knives, bagel knives, and so on. I have to admit that if I did cook I would want one of their garlic presses… After that my friend wanted to go to Carrefour. That’s where I drew the line and headed home.

On Friday we had lunch at Sakura at the Crowne Plaza Hotel with my cousin, her mum and kids. They do a special Friday lunch offer for AED170 (about £30) which includes salads, sushi and sashimi, tempura, teppanyaki and dessert. It doesn’t include drinks but is still great value for money. After that I really fancied a coffee at Gloria Jean’s which was a short walk away. They were closed when we got there! I was so disappointed – they close for the afternoon on Fridays. Surely that’s when they’d be busiest?? Dad and I decided we’d go to Mercato Mall and have a coffee there instead. We thought about seeing a movie that night but by the time we got home we were both feeling too lazy to do anything.

We’d been meaning to get a TV for Joy’s room – just so she’d have something to do in her free time and not get so bored. On Saturday we went to Harman House on Sheikh Zayed Road to see what they had. We chose a TV but didn’t buy it as the technician needs to come and check that the points in her room work. We haven’t told her about the TV so hopefully it will be a nice surprise for her when it arrives! 

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