Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2015: Week 45

I woke up on Sunday feeling really tired. I decided to skip the gym and do some work instead. Later that afternoon I went to the Fairmont at the Palm to hang out with my friends who were leaving the following day. I’d met them on Thursday and Saturday but wanted to see them before they left. I got there at around 5pm – they were at the pool with their kids. I hadn’t intended to swim at all, but sat on one of the sunbeds watching the beautiful sunset! Once they were out of the pool, the husband took the kids up to get them ready for dinner and/or bed while the wife and I went to one of the pool bars for a glass of wine. After we’d had a drink, he came back down while she went up to get ready – so I managed alone time with both of them! I left the hotel at about 8pm, expecting terrible traffic on the way home but it only took me half an hour to get home. I have to add that on my way there and on my way back I had two different cab drivers, and both drove so fast I wasn’t sure I’d even make it to my destination…

On Monday morning I had a session with Pete and spent the rest of the day working.

After my yoga class on Tuesday morning, I settled down to a full day of work. I would usually have gone to the supermarket for the weekly shop but I was so fed up of getting a cab there and back. Kaleem, our driver, was back at work the next day so I decided I’d wait one more day.

I was ready to leave the house at 9am on Wednesday morning, but when we got to the car it wouldn’t start. After sitting in the car park for two months, the battery had died! Kaleem called one of his friends and they tried to get the battery started using jumper cables but that didn’t work either. At 9.40, Ajay (the cook) and I decided to cab it to the supermarket. I was supposed to have a session with Pete at 11am and I didn’t think I’d be back in time. He was fine about me cancelling so late and said he could do the following day instead. As we’d gone to the supermarket so early, we didn’t encounter as much traffic as we normally would have and by 10.40 we were on our way home. I went to the gym anyway and then settled down to some work.

After my Thursday session with Pete, I worked the rest of the day. That night, I went to see Texas in concert at the Dubai Tennis Stadium. I’d seen them live in January 2014 at the Irish Village (but had taken a break from blogging then). The venue this time was larger and there were seats. We could sit anywhere we wanted so we got some drinks and made ourselves comfortable.

The concert was brilliant – Sharleen Spiteri’s voice is still incredible, even after twenty-five years. They opened with ‘I Don’t Want a Lover’. This was followed by ‘Halo’, ‘When We Are Together’ and ‘In Our Lifetime’. She sang a couple of songs from their latest album which I didn’t know – ‘The Conversation’ and ‘Detroit City’. Then back to their old stuff: ‘In Demand’, ‘Summer Son’, ‘Black Eyed Boy’. They finished with ‘Say What You Want’ and said goodnight.

What I like about her is that she chats to the audience a lot! Their first encore was a cover of an Al Green song.

What an amazing vocal range she has! They then performed ‘Inner Smile’ which is my favourite song of theirs. Unfortunately as I was recording it, the camera on my phone froze and I lost the entire recording. So… here’s the one from last year.

I thought that would be their last song, but they did a cover version of Elvis’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ after that. It was after 11pm when they finished and I was home by 11.30pm, which was nice. I ended up working until 2am and went to bed.

I was home all day on Friday, mostly working. That evening Dad and I went to Mercato for dinner. We thought we’d try somewhere different and ended up at a Jordanian restaurant called Azkadenya on the first floor. We ordered one hummus and one fatoush to start with.

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The starters were really good – the salad was fresh and the hummus was creamy. Dad ordered a shish taouk for his main course and I had the lamb cubes. Both were very good but the portions were big – we could have shared one dish between us.

After dinner we still had some time to kill before the movie so we went to the Chocolate Bar for a coffee (for him) and hot chocolate (for me).

At 8.30 my cousin and her parents joined us and we went to see the new James Bond movie, Spectre, together. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I enjoyed it. I think I’d have enjoyed watching anything that involved Daniel Craig running around for two hours!

On Saturday evening, Dad and I went to a wedding reception at the Four Seasons. We got there at around 9pm, which was a bit early even though the card said 8.30pm. Cocktails were on the lawn and by 10pm there were a lot more people there, and people I hadn’t seen in a while. Honestly, I was surprised to have been invited as it’s not a group I usually socialise with, but I’m glad I went. I caught up with friends who had flown in from various places and I also drank a hell of a lot of champagne. I got home at around 3am…

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 44

After the gym on Sunday I came home, got into my pajamas and worked for the rest of the day. I suddenly had about 20 papers to copyedit, all with deadlines for this week!

On Monday morning I had a session with Pete and later that afternoon I had a piano lesson. After my piano lesson I walked over to Spa Zen at the Nassima Royal Hotel (formerly the Radisson Royal) and had a massage. I had one more voucher left which expired at the end of October and I needed to use it. The massage was amazing, as always.

After my yoga class, Ajay (our cook/housekeeper) and I went to Lulu for the weekly shop. Tedious, as usual. I came home and worked the rest of the day. Dad was out playing poker so it was quiet at home and I got a lot done.

I had another session with Pete on Wednesday morning. That afternoon I met up with a friend who was visiting from London with her family. She had a hectic schedule but I knew she was staying at Chelsea Tower Apartments so we managed to meet for a coffee. After that I came home, got into my pajamas and worked until the evening.

On Thursday evening I met up with some friends who were visiting from London. One of their friends who lives in Dubai had suggested meeting at Times of Arabia at Madinat Jumeirah for dinner. I’d never eaten there and thought it was an odd choice for Lebanese food. I met them there at 10pm – which suited me fine as I had so much work to do that day! I was the first to arrive. When I got there I noticed that the whole place smelled like grilled meat. My hair and clothes were going to stink when we walked out of there! I sat at the table and waited for the others. When they arrived, we ordered some food and wine. The food is pretty much the same as what you would get anywhere else. I hadn’t had hummus in ages and had forgotten how good it was! With our main course we ordered a portion of grilled prawns – these were excellent. We skipped dessert and walked around for a while but by this time it was 12.45am and most things were closing. I was happy to go home and carry on with some work.

On Friday I met some friends for brunch at Tesoro at the Taj in Business Bay. We picked this place because I had two Entertainer vouchers for brunch – so we’d get four brunches for the price of two. The place was lovely – very chilled – with a live band and saxophonist in one corner playing jazz. It was really nice. It was also very bright, which was great as the weather had just started to get cooler and it’s nice to be outdoors.

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Tesoro is a Peruvian restaurant so there was a good choice of ceviche and sushi. There was also a pancake station where you could have pancakes topped with guacamole or Peking duck (Peruvian?). I didn’t have much of the main course – just the beef anticuchos which I liked. We weren’t sitting outside but once it was a bit cooler we moved outdoors – the view was stunning.

We sat outdoors with our wine for quite a while and I got home at 7pm. I went home, sat with my dad for a few minutes, got changed and headed off to see Take That in concert! Yes, it was a busy day! I’d been looking forward to Take That for ages. We didn’t get to the Media City Amphitheatre until after 8pm and the place was rammed. I’d never seen it so crowded!

I also took a video of ‘Relight My Fire’ but I can hear someone singing really badly in the background and it may have been me! They sang a lot of their old songs: ‘Never Forget’, ‘A Million Love Songs’, ‘Could It Be Magic’, ‘Love Ain’t Here Anymore’, ‘Pray’, ‘Rule the World’. They were brilliant and were on stage for the whole 90 minutes.

When the concert finished, we headed to the bar at the Radisson Blu because we knew it would take ages to get a cab. We had some more drinks (I’d been drinking all day) and at around 12.30 we left. On my way home I stopped at Zaatar w Zeit because I was famished! Their pepperoni pizza really hit the spot.

I woke up on Saturday feeling… ugh. I spent most of the day in my pajamas but had to go to a condolence meeting at the Oberoi at 6pm. I came home after that and got changed. I met my friends from London for dinner at Bussola at the Westin Mina Seyahi Hotel. I’d never been there but had always heard how amazing it is. We sat outdoors on the terrace – the weather was lovely. I left the ordering to them – I had some burrata (yum), seafood salad (it looked better than it tasted), pizza with salami (real salami) and pizza with mushrooms and truffle oil. I could smell the truffles from my end of the table and my mouth started watering! We also had some wine.

After dinner, we went back to their hotel. They were staying at the Fairmont the Palm and we decided to have some tea/coffee on the terrace. I got home at around 1am. I did no work at all over the weekend!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 43

After the gym on Sunday morning I met up with a friend for an early lunch. We went to Tasha’s and got a table without having to wait – it was about noon by the time we got there. We sat down and decided to share the quinoa salad and the penne with mushrooms. Both were very good but I thought the pasta could have been a little less oily. We were there for a while as we hadn’t seen each other in ages and it was about 2.30pm by the time I got back home. I was home for the rest of the day.

On Monday morning I had a session with Pete and later that afternoon I had a piano lesson. My dad arrived from Bombay that evening – he’d been there since the end of August, when we all went together for his medical treatment. The house had been so quiet for so long – and now it was back to CNN and dodgy Indian channels at full volume!

I went to the gym earlyish on Tuesday morning. On my way home, I was rummaging through my handbag and couldn’t find my keys. I was pretty sure I’d taken them with me and thought I’d have a proper look once I was outside the flat. As I approached our front door I saw my keys hanging there. Crap! I’d locked the door from the outside and then left the keys there. Anyone could have picked them up and walked off with them. And if anything had happened on the inside, they wouldn’t have been able to open the door to get out.

After I’d had a cup of tea and showered, Ajay (our cook/housekeeper) and I went to Lulu for the weekly shop. It’s not the most exciting couple of hours of my week, I can tell you. I’m waiting for the driver to come back from his (ridiculously long) holiday so that I can send the two of them together!

Apart from my session with Pete on Wednesday morning I did nothing but catch up with work.

On Thursday night I met up with a friend from Lagos who was in town. He’d booked a table at La Petite Maison and I’d been looking forward to it all week. He’s vegetarian though, so everything we ordered was vegetarian. To start with we ordered the burrata, the lentil salad and the scrambled eggs with truffles. For our main course we shared the risotto with goats cheese, the gnocchi and the dauphinoise potatoes. I thought the gnocchi was bland, but the risotto and potatoes were fantastic. We shared the cheesecake for dessert.

After dinner, we went to White Dubai at Meydan. My friend had been invited to a party and took me as his ‘plus one’. I’d never been to White Dubai – what a place! The music was so good – and I wish I’d taken a photo of the view of Sheikh Zayed Road and the Burj Khalifa from there. Our hosts had a huge section to themselves which was nice. I even knew a few people there. I got home at around 3am.

I was tired on Friday and spent the day in my pajamas. Well, until 6pm anyway, when I decided I had to get ready if I was going to be on time to meet my friends for drinks and dinner. I met a couple of girlfriends at Fai at the Palace Downtown. We had a drink and then had dinner next door at Thiptara. We ordered a lot of prawns as one of my friends eats only seafood. For our starters we ordered the papaya salad and the deep fried prawns with hot chilli sauce. For our main course, we shared the phad thai, stir fried prawns with basil and chilli, and we ordered a red curry with prawns. We also ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Everything was fine, but when they brought us our main course, they brought us a green curry with prawns. They were very apologetic and eventually brought us what we’d ordered. They also gave us complimentary sorbets for dessert.

While the food was good, the service was terrible. There were only two waiters in the whole restaurant and getting their attention was not easy. It was Friday night and the restaurant was full – so two waiters really didn’t do the job!

After dinner I went to meet some other friends and left my two girlfriends at Fai. They later told me that the staff were still feeling bad about getting our order wrong and gave them a complimentary drink as well!

I was in high heels so luckily my friends picked me up from the Palace lobby and we decided to go to the Nippon Bottle Company at the Dusit Thani. I’d heard a lot about this place and had been wanting to go there. It’s just to the left of the lobby at the Dusit Thani, but the entrance is rather deceiving. Four of us managed to get a table and ordered some drinks. I thought it would be best if I stuck to wine, but the others had Kamikazes (I’ve only ever seen these as shots so it was weird seeing these served in tall glasses).

We each had two drinks and decided to join some of my other friends who were at La Cantine du Faubourg at the Emirates Towers Hotel. It was after midnight and the place was packed! I managed to find my friends and we hung out with them the rest of the night. By 2am I couldn’t take the pain any more and took my shoes off. I knew that putting the back on would be hell but by then I didn’t care! I left at about 2.30 with my neighbours and we came home…

I got out of bed on Saturday at about noon. All I wanted to do was sleep. And have a foot massage. I did neither. But I did spend the day in my pajamas, which was perfect!

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 16

It’s been a busy week! My cousin came into town from London for Easter weekend and we’d had quite a busy weekend. On Sunday I had my morning session with Rama, and then Dad took us to Hakkasan for lunch. I’d booked a table for 2pm, but the restaurant was very quiet when we got there. 

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We decided to go for the set menu for AED120. We had a choice of starters, a choice of main course and a choice of dessert. It also included steamed rice and greens. To start, Dad had the hot and sour soup with chicken, while the two of us went for the assorted steamed dim sum. We also ordered a portion of the prawns on toast with foie gras. We then had the prawns, beef and steamed red snapper to share. The choices for dessert were lemon tart and assorted sorbets. The portions were quite generous and I thought it was good value for money. 

After lunch we went to the mall – we all had a couple of errands to run. My cousin and I wanted to rush back and sit by the pool but it was quite a cloudy afternoon. We relaxed at home for a while and then got ready for dinner. I had booked Okku for 8pm but was still full from lunch. Of course we went anyway. My cousin and his wife joined us for a couple of drinks while we ate. We had edamame, spicy tuna and crispy rice, rock shrimp tempura, sashimi salad, and of course the truffle fried rice. The waiter asked whether we wanted something to eat with the rice – black cod, chicken? I was perfectly happy to have it on its own. At 9.45, the waiter said they would need the table by 10pm for the next sitting, but we could hang around by the bar and have a few more drinks. We decided to do that – a waiter took the drinks we already had and we followed him down to the bar. He disappeared in the crowd, never to be seen again. I complained to one of the staff and told him what had happened – and he replaced our drinks. It was quite crowded – I’d been told that Thursdays and Sundays are their busiest nights (Sunday being retro night). We started chatting to some random people, had more drinks (which the bartender didn’t charge me for – I’m definitely going back), and eventually decided to leave at 1am. I only left because I had yoga the next morning, and was already dreading it.

After yoga, we decided to sit by the pool before lunch – it was a hot day and I took my book. When we got to the pool I realised I was still wearing my bedroom slippers. Thankfully there was nobody else around. I was outdoors for about an hour and had to come back in – it was too hot for me. After lunch, we went back down to the pool (in my flip-flops) and I sat under an umbrella while she lay out in the sun. I managed to get some colour, however, and no longer look anaemic. Hurrah! I went back indoors at 4pm as I was meeting a schoolfriend at Gloria Jean’s at the mall. I hadn’t seen her since we left school in 1991.

It was nice catching up – finding out who the other was in touch with, what everyone else was doing. We chatted for almost an hour and a half, and then I went to Wafi Gourmet to meet some friends who were in town from London for the Easter holidays. They’d booked their tickets to Dubai before I booked mine last year – and I couldn’t believe how quickly the time has gone and that they were already here! It was great to see them.

My cousin left early on Tuesday morning, very unwillingly. Back to the cold and the rain and the office. I love my life. I thought I’d sit by the pool that afternoon but it was cloudy so I decided to stay indoors and do some work. 

After my Wednesday session with Rama, I went down to the pool for some fresh air and to finish my book. The pool area was pretty crowded – there were seven of us there. That’s the most crowded I’ve seen it since I moved here. By 1.15 I was sweltering and decided to go back indoors for lunch and some work. I had an umbrella covering most of me, but the three girls sitting by the pool didn’t and I wondered how they coped in the heat. I went back down at about 4.30 with some proofreading – it was still hot but there was nobody else around.

On Thursday Joy and I did our weekly shop at Lulu. I’d written a couple of weeks ago that going to Lulu is a pointless task for me because all I do is push the trolley. I’ve since learned that that is not the case. I’ve noticed that Joy shops according to her list, not according to what aisle she’s in. For example, if she needs chicken fillets and minced chicken but they’re not next to each other on her list, she will get the chicken fillets, and then look for whatever comes next (toothpaste, homous – it could be anything) and then eventually come back to the minced chicken. She could spend all day at the supermarket if she continued shopping like that. No wonder it has taken us so long in the past – today it took 1 hour. There is no method to her madness. 

On our way home from the supermarket, our cab was suddenly surrounded by dust and sand – and there was debris flying into the windscreen. It was a sandstorm! I don’t know where it came from but by the time we got to our block of flats, I couldn’t get the cab door open as the gusts of wind were so strong. We managed to get the shopping into a trolley and take it into the building. After unpacking everything I decided to go to the gym. It was still windy outside and while I was on the treadmill I could see the sunbeds and umbrellas being blown over. And then it stopped just as suddenly as it had started. 

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On Friday, my friends from London invited me to brunch at their hotel. We had planned to spend the rest of the afternoon by the pool but one of the kids had a skiing lesson at Ski Dubai so we went there instead. 

I didn’t do much at all on Saturday – went to the gym, sat by the pool, watched ‘Game of Thrones’. I love my life. 

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Dubai: Week 14

On Sunday I had been in Dubai for exactly three months! The weeks just seem to fly by here…

I worked all of Sunday and then met my cousin from Bombay and her family for dinner in the evening. Her husband’s cousin lives in Dubai so we met at her house in Marina. I don’t know that area at all and of course I had a cab driver who was most unhelpful. It took 40 minutes to get to her flat – including time spent in traffic – but I got there eventually. It was a nice flat, with a huge balcony where we all sat. The view from one side of the balcony was beautiful, you could see the Marina and the yachts. On the other side, however, the neighbouring buildings were so close I could see what people were watching on TV in their living rooms. We sat around for a while and decided to stay in and order Thai food. It was so good – my no carbs at night rule went out the window. Pad thai, red curry and rice. Yum. I got home just after midnight and went back to work. Crazy, I know.

On Monday I had my yoga class and went straight to work. 

On Tuesday I had a session with Rama and went straight to work. I was aiming to get this book copyedited by Wednesday (even though the deadline was Friday) and I finished it just after midnight. There was still some formatting to do and changes to be made, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. By this point I was so sick of obstetrics and gynaecology, and I was glad there were no images in the book. At one point in the evening I had to read about manual removal of the placenta and wanted to throw up. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be an obstetrician and/or gynaecologist.

On Wednesday I went to the gym and after lunch Joy and I did the Lulu grocery shopping. It’s a completely pointless task for me – I push the trolley while she goes through her list of things we need. I could do it on my own but as she’s the one who cooks it makes sense for her to choose her ingredients… The only good thing about the trip to Lulu is my ‘treat’ at the till – I buy myself a small bar of Galaxy chocolate!

I worked all of Wednesday afternoon and evening. I was supposed to go to an InterNations event on Wednesday night but I decided to just get on and finish my work. Just before 10pm I was done. I spent over 60 hours on that book, plus more hours spent on the work I was doing for two other publishers. But it was finally done. For a while I was worried I’d have to break my policy of not working on my birthday, but luckily it didn’t come to that.

On Thursday morning I left my flat at 11 and was met with a wall of heat outside. I was outdoors for no more than 2 minutes but the heat was stifling. Summer had arrived! I had a mani and pedi at the Fairmont, followed straight after by lunch with the girls at Royal China. Earlier in the week I was unsure of being able to go but by Wednesday I knew I’d be free. Conversation revolved around kids, schools, teachers and the weather (it hit 39C on Thursday). One of the girls had organised a cake for me – which was lovely but unexpected! And delicious. I couldn’t remember the last time I had cake.

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That night I went to see The Hunger Games. I was disappointed. We got home after midnight and Dad pulled out a big pink bag from his room and brought it to me. ‘It’s not your real present, it’s just something small…’ He got me a teddy bear! He said the ear muffs reminded him of the ones I wore during London winters…

My birthday was nice – it was the first birthday I’d celebrated away from London since 1994. I had a relaxing morning after the manic work week I’d had. My dad’s brother had invited us to lunch with his family so we all went to PF Chang at the Dubai Mall. Being a Friday, it was packed and we had to wait an hour for a table. By the time we sat down we were all famished and over-ordered and subseqently ate too much. After lunch Dad and I went to Gloria Jean’s for coffee and then to du to sort out my phone.

I’d been using a pay as you go number since December, and buying top-up cards every time I ran out of credit. I thought it would be best to switch to a regular mobile contract – partly because I kept forgetting to top up the credit for the BlackBerry service. The guy in the store was helpful and said that my phone would be out of service for about 2 hours. I was still getting calls and messages from friends so I asked him if they could do the change over the following day instead. He said it wouldn’t be a problem. 

That night Dad and I went to Zuma for dinner. We had the edamame, tuna tatake, rock shrimp tempura, ohitashi, and black cod. And then ordered another portion of the tuna tatake. I had two glasses of wine. I usually order a chocolate dessert but that evening I ordered the green tea and banana cake – I’d never tried it before and I’d go back just to have that. Amazing.

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We were home by 11pm and soon after midnight my phone stopped working. No calls, no BB Messenger, no texts, no Twitter, nothing. A couple of hours later it still wasn’t working. I went to sleep and woke up and it still wasn’t working. It was starting to piss me off. I called du and was told that it could take up to 24 hours for the change over to complete. TWENTY-FOUR HOURS without a phone? Were they mad? I went to the gym, came home, had lunch, went down to the pool with my book for a couple of hours, came back up at 5.30pm and it STILL wasn’t up and running yet. 

That evening I managed to arrange dinner with a friend who was visiting from India. We met at MoE and decided to go to PF Chang. I’d eaten there the day before but I didn’t mind as I fancied the steamed salmon with ginger which we didn’t have the previous day. I had a healthy dinner of steamed dumplings, steamed salmon and brown rice, and I was home by 10pm. 

My phone started working shortly before midnight – but if anyone had tried to reach me on Saturday I wouldn’t even know as none of those messages or missed calls came through. So those of you that didn’t call on Friday (and you know who you are), if you tell me you tried to get through on Saturday and couldn’t, I may actually believe you. Then again, I may not. 

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Dubai: Week 9

A terrible week for me!

I mentioned that at the end of week 8, my throat was hurting. I went to sleep early, hoping I could sleep it off, and I also had a 9am session with Rama the next morning. I woke up at 3.30am in such pain. Every time I swallowed it was like there were daggers being stuck into my throat. I wanted to cry. I was awake for over an hour, unable to get back to sleep because of the pain. I took some Panadol, texted Rama at 4.30 cancelling my session, and tried to get back to sleep. I woke up at about 10am, still in pain, and barely able to speak. Everything hurt. I usually self-medicate but that morning I wanted to see a doctor.

I asked my cousin for her doctor’s details and made an appointment for that afternoon. I felt feverish, light-headed and my throat hurt like hell, but I made it there in one piece – I also forgot to take my passport, my insurance card, or any ID. Luckily, the receptionist didn’t send me home (which she really should have, thinking about it) and the doctor saw me. She was English, and moved to Dubai in September. She checked my throat, ears, breathing – all the usual stuff. She said if I didn’t feel any better by the following day to start a course of antibiotics – and she gave me a prescription. She said many infections seem to be immune to antibiotics in Dubai – antibiotics are so freely available at any pharmacy without a prescription (I noticed this at the chemist the other day) and people take them when they don’t need to and build their immunity to them. Earlier that day Joy suggested I take some of her amoxicillin to feel better (er – no!). I asked her where she got it? From the pharmacy. Crazy. 

I went home, got into bed and watched an episode of ‘Downton Abbey’. I thought about reading, thinking of my Mount TBR Reading Challenge but the words were swimming in front of me. I went to sleep instead. Luckily I had the place to myself that evening so I had dinner and went back to bed. I texted my yoga teacher and cancelled my class for the following morning – I hate cancelling at the last minute.

I spent Monday and Tuesday at home – on Monday Dad said he was starting to feel unwell (oh God, no – I can’t cope with that!) but he looked fine. I think he just wanted an excuse to stay in his pajamas all day. I started the antibiotics on Monday and by Tuesday I was feeling much better. My throat hurt less, but I was coughing more. And sneezing. And just felt tired in general. Rama texted to see how I was feeling – was I up for a session the next day? I thought about it, but I barely had any energy. I told him that hopefully by Sunday I’d be OK…

By Wednesday night I’d developed cabin fever and I was feeling well enough to walk to the Shangri-La Hotel for dinner. It was my cousin’s last night with us so we thought we’d have an early dinner there – and Joy was at church that evening. We went to the Vietnamese restaurant at the hotel, Hoi An. It was my first time there. For starters we shared the fresh spring rolls and we ordered a soup each. I order the crab and sweetcorn soup with truffles which was excellent. I would normally order a hot and sour soup, but I didn’t think it would be good for my throat/cough. For our main course we shared the lemongrass beef, grilled chicken and vegetable fried rice. For dessert we shared the ginger crème brûlée. When we got to the restaurant at 8.30 there were quite a few empty tables around but by the time we left at 10.30 the restaurant was full. 

I spent all of Thursday at home again, and had my first real ‘outing’ on Friday. When we went to Thai Chi a couple of weeks ago, Dad and I applied for the Wafi Card, which gives you discounts at the shops and restaurants at the Wafi City Mall. They called on Sunday evening to say our cards were ready for collection. I was feeling much better by Friday morning (still coughing though) so we thought we’d go to Wafi City, collect our cards, have lunch and walk around a bit. I didn’t take any photos the last time I was there, but it looked much nicer in daylight. The outside of Wafi Pyramids:

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A couple of ‘statues’ inside:

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Just to give you an indication of size, the Cleopatra ‘statue’ is probably double my height, but the Pharoah is a regular-sized person (in fact I had to look twice as I thought it was a real person in costume)…

We ended up at an Italian restaurant called Biella. They have a nice outdoor seating area, but Dad wanted to sit inside. I originally wasn’t going to have a starter but when I saw the salad of goat’s cheese and artichokes (two of my favourite things), I had to have it (but left the bread).

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My main course was bresaola ravioli in a cream and caper sauce – it tasted better than it looked.

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We walked around the mall for a while. Considering it was Friday, the mall was empty. They have all the usual designer stores there, but I’d say not even 10% of the crowd at the Dubai Mall. The stained-glass pyramid was pretty, but it’s no competition for the aquarium, fountain and waterfalls of the Dubai Mall!

2012

On Saturday morning I woke up with a nosebleed. I get them when I’m tired, stressed, unwell, or all of the above.
The irony is that just two days previously I thought to myself that I hadn’t had one since I’d been in Dubai and couldn’t remember the last one I had in London. Sometimes they’re light and stop in a few minutes, at other times they seem to go on and on and I wonder if I need to go to hospital. Thankfully the nosebleed on Saturday morning was the former.

As I was awake, I decided I’d go to the bank downstairs and open a bank account. It had been on my to-do list that week but I didn’t have the energy earlier in the week. I had spoken to them on the phone and told them I wanted to open a current account. However, for various reasons I was unable to do that so I settled for a savings account. I’ll still get a debit card and phone/online banking – the only thing I won’t get is a cheque book (does anyone use cheque books anymore?). It was a painless process – all I had to take was my passport and valid residence visa and I was done in 20 minutes. My debit card will be delivered in three days and then I can register for online banking. And… the customer service guy said my account number was very lucky. No, obviously I will not tell you what it is.

So how had I been managing for the last two months without a bank account? ‘Dad, can I have some money?’ and ‘Mum, can I have some money?’ My income had been going straight into the company account and I’d been unable to get to it. It will still go into the company account but at least I have somewhere to transfer it now. Considering Dubai is supposed to be some kind of financial capital (isn’t it?) the banking system here seems quite primitive. The company account mail is still going to the previous address my parents stayed at in Dubai even though the bank has been told every week that we’ve moved. And every week my dad gives them the new address. And nothing changes. I asked a couple of friends about who they bank with – and the general consensus is that every bank is the same: rubbish. Oh good. Just what I wanted to hear. Expect a rant in the future about banking. 

That afternoon, Joy and I went to Lulu – a supermarket in Karama. She’d been sulking all morning because I got annoyed with her the night before. After dinner on Friday, she left the flat without telling anyone. I don’t know how long she’d been gone – it was only when we were going out to a movie that I realised she wasn’t there. She hadn’t taken her keys and she hadn’t taken her phone. I know she’s not a slave and I’m happy for her to go out, but at least let me know? We couldn’t leave and lock the door because when she did come back she wouldn’t be able to get in, and I couldn’t get in touch with her telling her to come back and collect the keys. So when she did show up, I told her off. ‘I didn’t know you were going out,’ she said. ‘Excuse me, but did you tell me you were going anywhere?’ She had nothing to say to that.

Lulu was crowded. I used to hate grocery shopping in London but seems to take longer here. It could be because I’ve never been to the same supermarket twice – so I have no idea where things are and it takes twice as long. Saturday afternoon is the worst time to go grocery shopping – so I decided that in future we’ll go in the morning during the week. Another lesson learned the hard way! 

And that was my week. On Saturday I’d been in Dubai for exactly two months…

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