Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

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 13

Compared to the week before and the week before that, it wasn’t too busy a week.

I was working on Sunday and Monday. On Monday afternoon I had a massage at the Oberoi Spa – which was lovely, as usual!

My sister arrived on Monday night with her two boys – V1 is 4.5 years old and V2 is 7 months old. I hadn’t seen them since I was in London in October. They had flown Etihad so by the time they got home from Abu Dhabi it was after 11pm. We had dinner, played with the kids for a bit and went to bed.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went to see a hypnotherapist. I met her at the IBWG lunch a few weeks ago and decided I was finally going to get some help about my fear of descending stairs and escalators (and anything downhill with nothing to hold on to). I’d mentioned her name to a friend and she said she’d heard really good things about her so I was quite keen to get it done. I was at her office for about an hour and a half. She initially asked me all kinds of questions – how long I’d been in Dubai, what I did for a living, who I lived with, were my parents together, where were my siblings, what I did in my free time, whether I drank and smoked, whether I’d had hypnotherapy before (I had two sessions in 2011 when I was starting to lose weight). We talked about a lot of things. And then the hypnotherapy began. I was conscious the whole time while she spoke to me and responded when she asked me to. At times she would lift up my arm and drop it, to see how relaxed I was – or she would touch my shoulder or forehead. When the session was over, I felt good. We were on the first floor so she told me to take the stairs down and see how I felt. So I walked to the stairs and walked down – without holding on to the bannister. I didn’t freeze at the top, I just walked down like it was the most normal thing in the world. I went back up and told her. She asked if I wanted another session the following week but I told her I’d see how I got on and if I needed another one I’d be in touch with her after her holiday. And then I left, taking the stairs again without holding on to the side. I couldn’t believe myself.

I had a session with Trevor on Wednesday morning, and then worked the rest of the day. That evening I had a piano lesson and then met the rest of the family for dinner at PF Chang at The Dubai Mall. I hadn’t been there in ages. We had some hot and sour soup, dynamite prawns and spring rolls to start with. For our main course we just ordered the Mongolian beef and some rice. It was quite a filling meal.

On Thursday night I met up with a couple of friends at Calabar. I got there at about 7.30 and the place was packed – inside and outside. We had a space at the bar so we were comfortable but I’d have rather been outside. We had some wine (hooray for happy hour) and then ordered some pepper beef, volcano rolls and beef sliders (which I didn’t eat). We decided to go to La Petite Maison for a drink afterwards. Of course one drink became five and I got home at around 1am. I felt awful the next morning.

On Friday we were home until the late afternoon. My sister and I took V1 to Oasis Centre, which he loves. We went to Baby Shop (crowded and horrible) to pick up a few things and then wandered around. We took V1 to Fun City and then to McDonald’s. I hadn’t had McDonald’s in months but had some chicken nuggets and French fries.

I was home all day on Saturday. My sister and mum took V2 to the doctor as he’d been unwell for a few days. Dad was out playing poker. V1 decided he’d stay home with me. He was watching a movie, I was doing a bit of work. Everything was under control. And then. His movie finished and he ran into his room. Ten minutes later he still hadn’t come out so I went to see what he was up to. And then he started hollering for his mother. He hollered for an hour. In his room, in my room, in my face. I told him I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say when he was screaming so he would calm down for a few minutes, say what he wanted to say (mostly ‘Where’s Mama?’ and ‘Tell Mama to come home’) but as soon as I would respond he would start hollering again. He didn’t want chocolate, he didn’t want Oreos, he didn’t want to go for ice cream, he didn’t want to play with his iPad. Oh. My. God. Finally I told him I’d call his mother if he brought his iPad to my room. He said ‘I won’t bring it until you call her,’ and I responded with ‘I’m not calling her until you bring it.’ This went back and forth a few times until he brought his iPad to my room. I called my sister – there was no response so I pretended I was speaking to her – and then I told Vinay she was on her way home and that he had to teach me how to play ‘Memory Game’ on his iPad. By the time she got home with V2, he was so engrossed in the game, he barely looked at her! Men. Honestly.

That evening my sister, V1 and I went to the Dubai Mall to do some shopping. We picked up a bouncer from Mothercare and then went to Koton and Debenhams. I tried on a few things – I needed something to wear to my birthday drinks the following week and actually managed to find something (thank goodness). We were home for dinner and it was an early night for us all.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 12

I had a busy week with work and most of my plans to attend Art Dubai went out the window.

I had a session with Trevor on Sunday and then decided I was going to finally open my new laptop! Later that day I went to Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal for a massage. I wanted to use my Entertainer voucher before it expired at the end of March – they give a gift voucher which you can use for the second massage. The week before I’d been to the Oberoi and they told me I’d have to take the second massage before the end of March as that’s when the Entertainer voucher expired. I was prepared for the same thing to happen at the Oberoi, but instead they gave me a voucher valid for six months! Awesome – so I didn’t have to rush to use it (although I was fully prepared to squeeze in another massage before the end of the month).

I worked all day on Monday. I’d wanted to go to Art Night at DIFC but had too much work to do. I still had work to do on Tuesday but some friends of ours were in town so my dad and I took them out for lunch. We went to Don Alfonso – I’d been raving about it so much that Dad wanted to try it. We got there a little after 1.30 without a reservation and were shown to a table. I have to say it’s much more crowded at lunch than it was the last Thursday evening. They had a set menu for lunch.

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I thought that AED125 for two courses and dessert was very good value for money! I started with the seared tuna and capers (I love capers) – our friends ordered the buffalo mozzarella and tomato starter – the amount of mozzarella was huge – it was about the size of a tennis ball! For my main course I had the beef tagliata.

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It was excellent. I was full after that but as dessert was included we ordered a few things to share, including the almond lueco fagon – the waiter told me it was similar to cheesecake (it wasn’t, but it was still good).

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After lunch, I went to Holland & Barrett at Citywalk. I wanted to pick up some vitamins and the other things Dr Leila had mentioned in her talk the week before. I bought three things: a Holland & Barrett multivitamin for women, Omega 3 capsules and a probiotic. The total for those three things was AED360 – so expensive! I think I’ll have to stock up the next time I’m in London… After leaving there, I went to Boots next door and that’s when I discovered that instead of giving me AED140 in change, the shop assistant at Holland & Barrett had only given me AED90. So I went back, fully prepared for an argument. I told her what had happened and she just handed over the other AED50. Had she done it intentionally? I never check my change – perhaps I need to start!

It was almost 5pm by the time I got home and I finally settled down to do some work.

After my session with Trevor on Wednesday morning, I worked all day. And I mean all day. I cancelled my piano lesson that afternoon and knew I wasn’t going to make it to the opening night of Art Dubai which I’d been looking forward to. After last year, I somehow managed to make it on to the Collector’s Circle VIP list and wanted to make the most of all the talks they were holding! But work comes first.

I finally made it on Thursday. Some friends and I had decided we’d meet for a late dinner so we could have a look around Art Dubai beforehand. With various work commitments and traffic, it was almost 9pm by the time we got to Madinat Jumeirah and I noticed that they were closing at 9.30pm! I didn’t think we’d have enough time but in retrospect I think that’s the best time to go! By 9pm on Thursday, everyone was already at the bar and the halls weren’t crowded at all – we actually managed to walk around the exhibition in about 45 minutes. There were some stunning pieces of work – and there were some which made me wonder why they were there. I loved this person in prayer but I wish I’d taken it from different angles so that the letters were clearer.

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After walking around, my friend and I picked up a third friend from the Abraaj Lounge and walked over to MJ’s Steakhouse at Al Qasr where we were meeting our fourth for the evening.

We decided to skip the starters and go straight for the main course. I had the 200 g Wagyu steak and a side of macaroni and cheese (for the table – ahem). The food was delicious. We also had a couple of bottles of Shiraz – and it was a really lovely chilled evening.

It was only about 12.30 when we left Al Qasr and three of us decided to go to the Four Seasons for a drink. I hadn’t been there yet and had been wanting to see it. The hotel is stunning. We went up to Mercury Lounge, their rooftop bar. We were met with Randy Crawford’s ‘Street Life’ playing extremely loudly and one couple dancing furiously by themselves, between the bar and the lounge area. I thought they might be the ‘entertainment’ as they seemed to be very keen on the song!

After the chilled evening we’d had, none of us were in the mood for loud 80s music so we decided to try the bar in the lobby, Hendricks Bar. It was quiet and comfortable – just what we were looking for. We went through the wine list, thinking we’d share a bottle of rose but all they had was Whispering Angel (which the three of us had had before at La Serre) – either by the glass or a magnum. We certainly weren’t going to finish a magnum at that time of night between the three of us, so we ordered three glasses (at AED95 each – rip-off!). The waiter brought the magnum over with three glasses and poured it for me to try. It was nowhere near chilled and I told him so. ‘But it’s been in the fridge, madam,’ was his response. He was such a condescending shit I almost asked him whether the fridge was actually switched on. There was no doubt the glasses had been chilled, but the wine certainly wasn’t. At AED95 per glass, I expect chilled wine. We decided we’d all have a Belvedere and soda (my first vodka since 2nd January) and I asked for some fresh lime juice on the side. The lime juice never turned up and I just could not be bothered to ask for it again. We had one drink and left – it was after 2.30 by this time!

I met up with a friend for lunch on Friday. He had a friend staying with him so the three of us (and his puppy) went to Maison Bagatelle on the Boulevard for lunch. Even though it was cloudy, it was a surprisingly hot day but because we had the puppy with us we had to sit outside. I got there first and ordered a refreshing cucumber, apple, mint and ginger juice while I waited for the others to arrive. I ended up having the nicoise salad, my friend had the full English breakfast and his friend had the tapenade and a salad. We also ordered a truffle mac and cheese to share.

After lunch, we walked back to his place. The Classic Car Festival was on so we saw a few rare cars and then decided to walk through Burj Park. We opened a bottle of wine at his place, watching the activity on the Boulevard.

Mini Coopers on display

Mini Coopers on display

I went home after that. My mum arrived that evening so my parents and I stayed in for dinner and ordered some Chinese food.

I was home all day on Saturday. That evening, my mum’s cousins were having a housewarming at their new house in Emirates Hills. Mum was too tired to go so Dad and I went together. The dinner was outside in the garden – and it was such a lovely evening. I met some people I hadn’t seen in a while, had some dinner (catered by Royal Orchid) and was home by midnight. Perfect for a Saturday.

And that was my week!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 11

Compared to the previous week, this week was much busier, at least from Tuesday onwards.

I was home all of Sunday, apart from my session with Trevor.

On Monday afternoon I had a massage at the Oberoi. I’d have liked to go to the pool beforehand but it was a windy, sandy day. The last time I’d been there was in January and I asked to have the same therapist but she was away. Instead I had Hazel, who was also very good.

The spa at the Oberoi is different in that there’s no communal changing area with showers and lockers. Each therapy room is its own suite. So if you do use the pool before (or after) your treatment there’s nowhere to change into your swimsuit apart from the small toilet by the pool and there’s nowhere to leave your clothes and other items.

When I was paying for my treatment I decided I’d buy Trevor a gift voucher for a 90-minute massage. I still hadn’t bought him a Christmas present as I just didn’t know what to get! I figured you can’t really go wrong with a day at the pool and a massage. I enquired about couple massages – and the man at the desk told me they do them but it would be a woman giving the woman a massage and a man giving the man a massage. I thought that was weird. If I was having a couple’s massage I wouldn’t want some random guy in the room as well. Would you?? And doesn’t that contravene UAE laws about men/women being undressed in the same room??

I had a really busy Tuesday. I had my regular yoga class at home and then went to the World Trade Centre Club for a networking lunch. While I was at one of the sessions at the Literature Festival last week, I started chatting to the lady sitting next to me. It turned out that she knew a couple of people that I’d been doing some work for here in Dubai – and she told me that she was one of the founders of an organisation in Dubai called the International Business Women’s Group – and that they have a lunch every month for members and prospective members. She asked me to come along and thought I’d find it interesting.

I got there at around 12.15 and found my name tag. I paid for my ticket (AED 190 for non-members) and then had to pick a piece of paper with a number on it out of a glass bowl – that would be my table number. Everyone was very friendly and I met some really interesting women. One of the first women I met was a hypnotherapist – and this stunned me because just the day before I’d been thinking that I should see a hypnotherapist about my issues with stairs/descending. I’m not sure whether I’m over-reacting but I do think it’s getting worse – even stepping onto an empty descending escalator makes my pulse race. I told her what the problem was and she told me I’d need two or three sessions at the most and I’d be OK. Here’s hoping!

I also met a lawyer, a banker, an events coordinator, an explorer (!) and others. I even bumped into a friend of a friend. After about half an hour of mingling and canapes, we were asked to sit at our tables and our food would be brought over. When I reserved my seat for lunch I had to choose between the regular, vegetarian or healthy option meal. The regular option was grilled lamb chops with mint sauce, root vegetables and potatoes. The vegetarian option was open lasagna of Mediterranean vegetables. The healthy option (or Healthy Trendz, as they called it) was chicken breast stuffed with spinach. I went for the healthy choice and it was really delicious – much better than I thought it would be. After we’d finished eating, the guest speaker came on – that day it was Jane Drury, founder of expatwoman.com. She spoke for about 30 minutes – how and why she got started, and what’s in store for her company now. For dessert there was caramel fudge cheese cake and vanilla sauce. I had a few bites but didn’t finish it. I left at around 2.15pm – I was really glad I went and would consider joining the group as a full member.

That evening I met up with a friend for drinks at Calabar. We had a couple of bottles of wine and some food – it was a nice evening and I was home early(ish).

I had my regular session with Trevor on Wednesday and then settled down to do some work for a while. That afternoon I had a doctor’s appointment and then my piano lesson. After my piano lesson I went to Fitness First as one of Trevor’s clients was giving a talk about hormones and weight loss. I was there for about an hour – she talked about a lot of things and I think that if I don’t see results in a month or so, perhaps I should get a few things checked out.

On Thursday I had a friend in town from Mombasa. She was just here for a day in transit from Bombay on her way home. We met at the Dubai Mall for coffee. We ended up going to NOW Cafe on the Lower Ground Floor – she had a sandwich and we both had a cappuccino. Neither were particularly great and we ended up going Tim Horton’s where we shared a French vanilla cappuccino.

After that, my dad joined me at the mall. I’d asked him to come with me to look at laptops – I’d had mine for over three years and wanted to upgrade it. We went to Jacky’s but I didn’t really like anything there. I think the salesman was also a bit irritating which didn’t help. So we went to Jumbo Electronics and I settled on an HP Pavilion. As we stood in the queue to pay, my dad took out his wallet. ‘What are you doing?’ I asked him. ‘I thought you might need me to pay,’ he replied. I told him I was paying for my laptop myself. ‘If I’d known you were paying I’d have gotten something for myself too,’ he said. ‘What did you want?’ I asked. He said he wanted a new iPad – so I told him I’d buy him one. I think he was shocked. He decided on the iPad Air 2 and I paid for it. He was so happy! ‘Nobody buys me things,’ he said when we got home. And thinking about it, I suppose it’s true…

It was after 6pm by the time we got home and I was meeting a friend for sundowners and dinner at the Shangri-La. I freshened up and changed and went over to the Shangri-La. We had a couple of drinks at Ikandy to start with and then went to Don Alfonso for dinner. In Dubai, I usually find that restaurants serve great food but the service can be so terrible it sometimes ruins your meal altogether – but I have to say that at Don Alfonso both the food and service were excellent.

It wasn’t full at all when we got there – only two other tables were occupied. The manager helped us decide what to order as we just couldn’t choose from all the delicious things on there. (I have to admit I pointed out a couple of spelling mistakes to him I’d seen on the menu.) In the end, he suggested we share the lobster skewers for our starters and then each have our own main course. I ordered the John Dory ‘acqua pazza’ and my friend couldn’t decide between the gnocchi with mushrooms or the black squid ink and scallop risotto. She eventually decided on the latter and we also ordered a bottle of wine.

The lobster skewers were amazing. I wish I’d taken a photo. And considering he’d split the portion between the two of us, there was still a good amount on each of our plates. After we’d finished, they cleared our plates and a few minutes later he brought us a portion of the gnocchi with mushrooms split into two bowls – on the house. That was excellent too. And after that we had our main course. I’m glad I had the fish as it wasn’t too heavy – and was so tasty.

It tasted better than it looks - and I didn't eat the bread

It tasted better than it looks – and I didn’t eat the bread

The risotto was presented very colourfully and my friend said it was delicious. I was really full after all that food but we ended up sharing a tiramisu and then the manager brought us a tray of complimentary bite-size desserts. At this rate I would have to be rolled home.

What I liked about the place was that the staff were friendly, we didn’t have to tell them to clear the table after every course (which happens a lot here – waiters will bring more and more stuff to your table without taking away the empties), they didn’t serve each course as soon as the previous one was done so they weren’t trying to rush us through our meal, and the restrooms were at the back of the restaurant (whereas with the other restaurants at the Shangri-La you have to go up or down a level to get to the restrooms).

Which made me wonder why the restaurant was so empty. While we were there, two or three other parties came in for dinner but still more than half the restaurant was empty.

When I asked for the bill, I told the manager that I had an Entertainer voucher. He told me to save the voucher but that they’d still give us one of the main courses on the house. So we had the gnocchi and one of the main courses free! What an unexpected surprise! The manager also brought me an Essence form to fill in – the Essence card gives you 20% off in all the restaurants and bars at the Shangri-La. So I’ll definitely be going back.

On Friday I went to Taste of Dubai with some friends. We decided we’d go during the day as we thought it would be less crowded than going in the evening. This year we bought the VIP tickets – which included access to the VIP bar and lounge, three dishes from any of the participating restaurants and two drinks from the VIP bar.

We got there at about 1.30 and walked around, checking out the restaurants.

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It was already crowded by this time. The selection of restaurants this year was disappointing, I have to say: PF Chang, Katsuya, The Cheesecake Factory, Noodle House, Shang Palace, The Act. I could have just gone to the Dubai Mall or the Shangri-La and eaten there! Where was Nobu? Where was Hakkasan? We had some dynamite shrimp at PF Chang and went to claim our free drinks.

The queue at the VIP bar was ridiculous and unmoving. We eventually realised it was because they weren’t serving alcohol between 12 and 2pm because of Friday prayers. When we were finally served, we each ordered a glass of wine only to be given a glass a little larger than a thimble. I felt like Gulliver in Lilliput. And the wine tasted like sh…ardonnay.

We went out to the VIP garden area trying to find somewhere to sit and ended up standing in the shade under a tree. It was really hot that day – the first hot day after the series of sandstorms we’d had. While standing there, sipping our awful wine we noticed that there was another VIP section right next to us, which was for ‘invitation only’ guests. And then… about 20 feet away from us, UB40 got onto a tiny stage and started performing. What??? I had no idea they were even going to be there. And I’m pretty sure that nobody else outside the VIP area knew they were there or could even hear them. I ran into them in Ibiza last summer while I was staying at The Hard Rock Hotel where they were performing so to see them again here in Dubai was just bizarre!

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They sang about six songs: Homely Girl, Kingston Town, a few I didn’t recognise, and of course Red Red Wine. I also bumped into some other friends of mine, so we hung out with them for a bit and had our second free drink. After we finished our drinks, we decided to try some other food. We got the spicy tuna with crispy rice and chicken salad from Katsuya and then walked around trying to decide what to have. We had some mini desserts from a new company called Savarin – they were yummy and so refreshing! Now the place was absolutely heaving and I would have been happy to leave.

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We had a couple of dishes from The Act – both of which were excellent: the beef anticucho and the ceviche. We even considered going there for dinner the following weekend. By this time it was 4.30pm, walking anywhere involved fighting your way through a crowd and I’d had enough. We went back to the VIP bar, found a table and had some Prosecco. At 5pm, we called it a day and headed home.

I went home and got into my pajamas. I didn’t realise how tired I was until it was 10pm and I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I’d been working all evening and still hadn’t had a chance to open my new laptop!

I spent all of Saturday at home too – working mostly, eyeing my unopened laptop on my desk. It would just have to wait!

And that was my week!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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Dubai 2015: Week 10

I was shattered on Sunday. The week before had caught up with me and I just wanted to sleep but I had a ton of work to do.

I worked all of Sunday and then my dad arrived that evening from Bombay.

I was home for most of Monday too. I went to the Shangri-La for a massage in the afternoon – I’d bought four vouchers back in November and this was the last one I had.

On Tuesday I met up with my cousins who were visiting from Bombay. They were staying at The Address Dubai Mall so we met there for coffee. I wasn’t with them for long as I had to get back and meet some deadlines for work, but it was nice to see them.

Dad and I went out for lunch on Wednesday – we went to Sumo Sushi at Jumeirah Town Centre. The food was average – I’m not sure I’d go back in any rush. I prefer Yabani at City Walk and would rather go there! That evening I had a piano lesson and then it was back to work.

My weekend was very quiet – I was in on Thursday and Friday nights. I spent all of Friday at the Literature Festival – I was there from 11am until 8pm… It was the highlight of my weekend!

I was home all day on Saturday too. In the evening, Dad and I went to see ‘Kingsman’ at The Dubai Mall. It was surprisingly crowded considering the movie was out a few weeks ago. By the time it finished it was 10pm and we ended up at Noodle House for dinner. I ordered the Singapore noodles (yum) and Dad had the vegetarian Thai green curry.

And that was my week!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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Dubai 2015: Week 9

What a busy week!

I spent most of Sunday recovering from the wedding I’d been to over the weekend. That night I had dinner with some friends at Sho Cho. The weather hadn’t been great all day – there was still some sand flying around and it was really windy. We thought we’d decide whether to sit in or out when we got there. Walking from the entrance to the restaurant was like walking through gale-force winds! But funnily enough, once we got to the restaurant, the outside area was quite sheltered (I’m not sure how) and we decided to sit outside.

We ordered some edamame and lychee martinis to start with. We then ordered the yellowtail sashimi, rock shrimp tempura and the seared tuna salad. I hadn’t eaten there in a while and I have to say the food was disappointing. Even our lychee martinis were disappointing – and I ended up switching to red wine after the first drink. We were there until almost 1am and had to tackle even stronger winds on the way back to the car. As we drove past the Shangri-La on our way home, I noticed the doorman was wearing what looked like a sheer stocking over his face to protect it from the sand and dust flying around!

On Monday afternoon I had a piano lesson. That evening, I went to The Scene Club at Knowledge Village – they were hosting a screening of Wild Tales, an Argentinian movie that had been nominated for an Oscar (Best Foreign Film). It was brilliant! And crazy! And hilarious! It’s a black comedy/drama which consists of six standalone shorts – the only common theme is violence. Apparently the director wrote the entire movie in his bathtub. But what I really want to know is: what the hell was he smoking in that bathtub??

I was home for most of Tuesday. I went to the Shangri-La Spa for a massage in the afternoon. God, it was just so good. Ideally I’d have liked to have spent a couple of hours by the pool as well but: (1) I had too much work to do; and (2) the weather has become ‘cold’ again – last week it was 34/35C during the day and the last two days it’s been 20/21C.

On Wednesday I was home all day apart from my piano lesson. That night, I met up with a friend who was on her way back to Jakarta from Los Angeles. She was here for work for a couple of days and we hadn’t seen each other in over five years. I picked her up from her hotel and we went to Madinat Jumeirah. We walked around for a while and eventually decided to eat al fresco at Trader Vic’s. They’ve changed their menu! I was disappointed to see that their seared tuna with jasmine rice is no longer available. We decided we’d skip the starters and share two main courses – we ordered the lamb curry and the crispy chilli red snapper. Both dishes were tasty, but not as good as the seared tuna. We were two full for dessert after that and walked around the souk a bit longer.

She was leaving on Thursday evening so we decided we’d spend the afternoon together. I did some work in the morning and she came over at lunchtime. We went to Maison Bagatelle for lunch with a friend of hers. After lunch, we walked around the mall for a while and then went straight to the airport. It was so good to see her – and I hope it’s not another five years before we meet…

I stayed in on Thursday night, working. I knew the weekend was going to be busy so I tried to do as much as I could on Thursday night.

My friend from London who was here for New Year’s Eve was back in town for one night and staying at the Conrad again. We spent the afternoon at the Conrad poolside with a couple of his friends, drinking wine and eating. That evening we went to see John Legend performing at the Media City Amphitheatre with a few of my friends. He was amazing. I don’t know that many of his songs but I love ‘Ordinary People’. I think I’ve heard ‘All of Me’ a bit too much recently but I loved the version he sang at the end – with a Middle Eastern twist.

Whoever took that video must have been standing very close to us as we had the same view from the same distance. After the concert, my friend and I went to Pacha. I’d booked a table on the terrace – one of my other friends joined us, and a few of my friend’s friends joined us. What a night – champagne was flowing and I felt like hell the next day.

I was out all day on Saturday. I had another friend in town for the day so I met him and some mutual friends for lunch at Katsuya in the Dubai Mall – the food was really good but I was too hungover to deal with chopsticks! After lunch we decided to go to Karak House on the Boulevard for tea. All I really wanted was a Coke but I haven’t had a soft drink since 2nd January – so I ordered a mango iced tea instead. It tasted a lot better than it sounds… We sat there for what felt like hours. At about 5.30pm we decided to go to Calabar for drinks as happy hour would start at 6pm and his flight wasn’t until 11pm. Just outside the main entrance to the Address Downtown, we saw this crazy Ferrari with Saudi plates! Only in Dubai (and Saudi, I guess)!

We got a table outside, ordered some drinks and eventually some food – we were feeling peckish again. A few more people joined us but I left after we finished a bottle of Pinot Noir – I was home by 8.15pm, had some dinner and got into my pajamas!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 2

After the craziness of the week before, this week was quite the opposite.

I woke up on Sunday with a scratchy throat. I knew I was going to get sick soon. I left home at about 1pm to deposit a cheque at the new bank where we have our business account. We used to be with Standard Chartered but they closed our account in November last year (but that’s a whole other story). I wasn’t sure how long it would take, and the queue was horrendous when I got there. The waiting area reminded me of an airport lounge – some people looked like they’d been there for hours. Fortunately, the lady at reception told me there was a separate desk for cheque deposits and I was at the bank for all of 5 minutes.

I was meeting my cousin for lunch at Jones the Grocer and I was about 30 minutes early. He was just visiting on his way back to New York and wanted to have a late lunch. I got a table, ordered a fresh orange juice and made myself comfortable with my book. When he arrived, we ordered our food – I had the Jones wagyu burger with truffle mayo (they’d run out of truffle-infused brie) and some fries. He ordered the chargrilled harissa chicken. I also ordered a flat white coffee when we’d finished. After lunch he came over for a while to meet my parents and then went back to his hotel.

That night my mum wanted the three of us to go out for dinner so we went to Madeleine Cafe at the Dubai Mall. As usual, there were several sports cars parked outside the main entrance.

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And once inside the main entrance, there was a Breitling promotion in the atrium.

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Only in Dubai!

I’d never eaten at Madeleine Cafe but my parents wanted us to go somewhere different instead of the usual Wafi Gourmet and PF Chang. I had the goat’s cheese salad to start with, Mum had the escargots and Dad ordered a French onion soup. For my main course I ordered the tagliatelle with salmon, Dad ordered the vegetarian pasta and Mum wanted the quiche Lorraine. While we were waiting for the main course, the Burj Khalifa LED show started. It was the same as the show on New Year’s Eve, but without the fireworks.

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Our main course arrived, but they’d forgotten my mum’s quiche. We were eventually told that they’d run out of quiche and had forgotten to tell us. Mum was actually relieved as the escargots had been quite filling. She had a bit of pasta from me and some from Dad. They also wanted dessert and ordered the Fraise Melba – vanilla ice cream with strawberry sauce and whipped cream. I was so full I couldn’t even bear to look at it. We walked around for a while after dinner, trying to digest our food.

I had another friend in town from London. She was staying with other friends but we’d arranged to have a spa day together on Monday. I’d found an Entertainer 2-for-1 voucher for the spa at the Oberoi in Business Bay and booked two 1-hour massages for 4pm. I wasn’t feeling great – my throat still felt scratchy but I didn’t want to cancel. We met at 1pm at the hotel and went to the poolside. It wasn’t too busy and we were shown to two sunbeds. The weather was lovely and the pool area basked in the sunlight for the whole afternoon.

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After we sat down, the pool attendant came over to us with two bottles of complimentary water, two complimentary Evian facial sprays and even complimentary sunscreen (but we’d brought out own). We ordered some lunch. We decided to share the chicken wrap and the cold mezze platter.

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The food was delicious. After a while, the pool attendant offered us and the other sunbathers frozen fruit pieces served in large martini glasses – also complimentary. We went in for our massages – I opted for the Balinese massage and my massage therapist Ina was actually from Bali. I think she was surprised when I spoke to her in Indonesian… The massage was excellent and Ina gave me some ginger tea with honey for my throat when I was finished. I didn’t want to leave.

But I had to. I got home and got into my pajamas.

I woke up on Tuesday with a cough. I woke up on Wednesday with full-on flu. And I didn’t leave the house the rest of the week. I’d had lunch and dinner plans on Friday which I cancelled, and dinner plans on Saturday which I also cancelled. What a waste of a week! I’m just grateful I work from home and didn’t have to call in sick every day!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 34

After my session with Randy on Sunday morning, my parents suggested that I sort out my PIO card. I’d been putting this off for one reason or another but my parents were insistent that I sort it out. Ugh.

Mum and I went to a typing centre at Al Khaleej Centre. I don’t know why we went all the way there because I’m sure there must be places closer to us that offer the same service (or I could have done it at home). They basically filled in the application form for me – I took my passport, my parents’ PIO cards, their passports and they did the rest – and gave me a printed copy. All I had to do was take the form and submit it with all the relevant documents.

That afternoon I went to The Dubai Mall to meet a friend who was in town for the day on his way back to Lagos. I thought we’d go for coffee but he wanted to have a milkshake. I vaguely remembered seeing a milkshake place near The Cheesecake Factory so we went looking for it. We stumbled upon a calligraphy sculpture exhibition called ‘Moon Reflections’ in The Souk section:

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I thought it was pretty cool… I decided I’d take my DSLR camera to the mall later in the week and take some better photos.

We eventually found the milkshake place – it was called Millions of Milkshakes. My friend ordered an Oreo milkshake with cookie dough and I just couldn’t decide what to have. He tried to convince me to have the Galaxy milkshake but I knew it would be too sweet and I’d get sick of it. I opted for a mixed berry milkshake instead – and I’d have it again if I went back there. We caught up over our milkshakes and walked around the mall for a while and then headed home. He had a work event to go to and I had some work to do.

On Monday afternoon I went to see my GP about my knees. I wondered whether I should wait until my knees were sore again before going to see her but I didn’t want to start running, have to stop because of the pain and then start again. She asked me what kind of pain it was and how bad it could get – she was surprised when I told her that when it’s really bad it wakes me up in the night. She checked the range of motion of both my knees (all fine, no pain) and told me to start taking glucosamine and recommended SynoShield Forte (glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM with type II collagen biocomplex) twice a day for 2 months. She also suggested I have an X-ray of my left knee (instead of doing both knees, she thought it would be best to do the one which usually ached more). The radiology clinic wasn’t far from the GP so I went straight there after my appointment. They told me their X-ray machine was out of order and I would have to go to their other branch in Umm Suqeim. I decided to go home for lunch first and then went for my X-ray.

I didn’t have to make an appointment, I could just walk in and would be seen as soon as they were free. It was empty when I got there and I was taken straight in after filling in a registration form. I lay on the table and the X-ray technician positioned my knee so that my leg was straight for the first X-ray and then she covered me with a lead blanket from my thighs upwards. For the second X-ray I had to bend my knee and lay it flat on the table, turning a little on to my left side. I was done in 5 minutes. The results would be sent to my GP and she would let me know if anything suspicious showed up. (I got the all-clear on Wednesday morning.)

On Tuesday morning, my mum and I left home before 10am to sort out my PIO card at the Indian Consulate. I decided I’d do all the photocopying I needed when I got there:

  • Two application forms? Check
  • Two copies of applicant’s passport and valid UAE visa? Check
  • Two copies of parent’s passport? Check
  • Six passport photos? Check

I was sorted. There was no queue and we saw the lady immediately. She went through my forms: ‘Yes… Yes… Good… Sign here… Yes…’ And then: ‘No birth certificate?’ F***. It wasn’t even on the list of required documents. F***, f***, f***ety f***. And where is my birth certificate? In my safety deposit box. And where is my safety deposit box? In London. F***. It will have to wait until November.

On Wednesday evening I met up with a new friend for drinks. I met him at a friend’s dinner party in July and we eventually met this week. We went to La Serre at the new Vida Hotel downtown. It was quite empty when we got there – we met at 6.30 – but by the time we left (10pm – four glasses of wine and one vodka later) it was pretty crowded. It was a fun evening – and nice to talk to someone new…

On Thursday evening a friend invited me and a couple of friends to her brother’s flat in the Burj Khalifa (her brother was out of town). Trying to get into the Burj Khalifa is like getting into Fort Knox. Actually I’d imagine getting into Fort Knox is easier! The first security check is in the driveway – you stop, tell the security guy what flat you’re going to, they call the flat, the flat confirms whether or not you’re telling the truth. Then they let you through (or not). Once you’re in the building you have to check in with the receptionist – they ask what flat you’re going to and your name. Residents have to let security know in advance if they’re having people over. The receptionist then escorted us to the lift and we went up to the 23rd floor. The view was spectacular.

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We had some cheese and wine – it was a really nice evening. At about 11pm we decided to go to McGettigan’s for a drink. On the way out of the building I noticed the entrance to the Burj Khalifa Residence (I saw it on the way in obviously but didn’t really look at it as I was so flustered with the whole security process). There are cymbals on long poles that go all the way up to the ceiling – they’re different sizes and are placed at different heights. Water drips from the ceiling on to the cymbals and creates melodies! Isn’t that just genius?

We went to McGettigan’s for a drink and then headed home by 12.30. It was a nice evening – not too crazy!

On Friday, me and three girlfriends went to Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal on Sheikh Zayed Road. We’d bought a Cobone deal a couple of months before and decided we’d make a day of it. The voucher cost AED275 – it included use of the pool, steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and a 75-minute massage. Considering their 60-minute massage is AED400 and you have to pay extra to use the pool, it was a bloody good deal.

The pool at the Radisson Royal

The pool at the Radisson Royal

We got there at noon, swam, sunbathed, read, had lunch, had massages, went back to the pool to watch the sunset.

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I came home a few shades darker!

I was home all day on Saturday – I went to the gym, I swam, I read my book by the pool, I caught up on some work. A lovely day!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 33

Mum and I had an early lunch at Automatic in Jumeirah Beach Centre on Sunday. We ordered hummus, kibbeh, fatoush, shish taouk, and Mum had a lamb shawarma sandwich. There was some fatoush, kibbeh and shish taouk left over so I took it home for dinner.

That afternoon I went to the Emirates Grand Spa for a waxing appointment as my regular lady is away. I decided to go there because there was a half-price voucher in the Entertainer Body book! On my way in, it wasn’t as crowded as it was the week before but still looked shabby. I was taken to a dimly-lit room which also had no air conditioning. Not impressed at all. Luckily I was done in an hour and was out of there. Leaving the Spa was something else – I waited 10 minutes for the lift to come up to the 45th floor. It stopped about six times on the way down and by the time we got to the lobby there was no space to move and I had three kids stepping all over my feet. I’d have been really cross if I’d just had a pedicure! I could not wait to get out of there. I had second thoughts about going for a massage later in the week.

On Tuesday morning, the Emirates Grand Spa called to confirm my appointment for that afternoon. I had a voucher for a body scrub and full body massage. Both treatments together should have taken 90 minutes. What happened was this:

  • I got there 5 minutes before my appointment (which should have been at 4.30pm)
  • I waited in the waiting area for 20 minutes (during which time a receptionist asked me whether I’d enjoyed my treatment)
  • I had my lavender body scrub – it lasted about 10 minutes – and then while I showered the therapist disappeared for about 15 minutes
  • I had my massage – which finished at 5.45pm

There was no way that was a 90-minute treatment or even a 1-hour massage, unless they count the 20 minutes in the waiting area as part of the treatment. I didn’t complain because there would have been no point. While the masseuse is great, I’ve decided I won’t be going back there. The rest of the experience is a real let-down – everything from the elevator system to the crowded lobby to the annoying receptionists. I’d rather go back to the Radisson Royal which is a bit more civilised!

That night Mum and I went out for an early dinner. We went to Puranmal on Jumeirah Beach Road – an Indian vegetarian restaurant. Apart from one other table, the place was empty. I had a beetroot, carrot and ginger juice. Then I had one idli, half a dosa, and some paneer tikka. I ate far too much!

After my session with Randy, I spent all of Wednesday at home, working.

On Thursday I met up with a friend and some of her girlfriends for dinner at the Jazz Pizza Express at the Movenpick Hotel in JLT. It was the first time I’d been to JLT. Pizza Express was pretty standard as far as Pizza Expresses go – I had an American Hot leggera pizza (the thin crust with salad in the middle). I hadn’t had a good pizza in ages. We also had some rose wine – it was a fun dinner, and good to meet some new people.

After dinner my friend and I got a cab to the Murooj Rotana – it was the opening of The White Room, a Beirut club/lounge. I’d called ahead on Tuesday to find out how we could get on the guest list – the guy I spoke to said there was no guest list, and we could just show up at 11pm and we’d have no trouble getting in. I should have known better – I should have called back on Thursday and double-checked. We got there shortly after 11, and it was heaving at the door. We were told guest list entrance was on one side and tables on the other. But then 5 minutes later, everyone was told the opposite. I spoke to the woman at the door – I told her it was just the two of us and that the guy I’d spoken to said we wouldn’t have any problems. She said it was guest list and tables only that night. WTF. Standing outside The White Room for half an hour reminded me of standing outside Cafe de Paris in Leicester Square in the 90s – but instead of freezing your ass off the February cold, we were sweltering in the August heat. People were pushing and shoving – even people with tables were having trouble getting in. At about 11.45 I told my friend that I was too old for this shit and that I would rather go somewhere where they’d be happy for me to spend my money.

We headed to my favourite Dubai bar – Zuma. We got there and their main lift was out of order. We had to walk through the hot car park to another lift which opens next to Gaucho, just across from Zuma. We both looked like we’d been in a Bikram yoga class (or at least half of one) and were in dire need of a drink. We found some space at the bar and ordered a couple of passion fruit and chilli martinis. Fantastic. We ended up chatting to a Lebanese lawyer who said he was supposed to meet some friends at The White Room and asked if we wanted to join him – my friend and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. We told him what we’d been through and he decided he’d rather stay at Zuma – funnily enough a couple of his friends who had been to White Room (and had actually gotten in) came to Zuma because ‘it was shit’ (their words). We had a few more drinks and a couple of shots – I think we managed to salvage the night!

I got home shortly after 2am. Dad had arrived that night from Jamaica so I sat with my parents for a little while before they went to bed. I was up until about 5am though – watching ‘Homeland’ (stupid, I know).

I had lunch with my cousin, her parents and her kids on Friday. They’d all been away over the summer so it was nice to catch up with them. We went to Sumo Sushi at Town Centre – I quite like that place. Their avocado maguro is yummy (and fairly healthy, I’d imagine) and we had a selection of sushi too.

I didn’t do much the rest of the weekend – did some work, went to the gym, sat by the pool on Saturday. It was lovely.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 32

Aside from work and sessions with Randy it was a busy week.

I had a massage at the Emirates Grand Spa on Sunday evening. I’d bought an online deal a few months before and wanted to use it before it expired. The last time I’d been there was in September last year – and it was probably the best massage I’d had in Dubai. I asked for the same therapist – I remembered her name was Preeya.

I got to the hotel a few minutes before my appointment – it was like a train station! There were people everywhere – the lobby was packed and the lifts were crammed. There are no buttons in the lifts – there’s a number pad outside each lift and you have to press the floor you want to go to and it tells you which lift to get into.

I hate it when they write 'Saloon'!

I hate it when they write ‘Saloon’!

The hotel and spa seemed a lot shabbier than they did last year, which is a shame. My massage was still excellent though. However, getting up to the 45th floor and back down again was just irritating. In spite of being told what lift to get into, the lifts still stopped on too many floors in both directions. Surely this system is supposed to make travelling from floor to floor faster?

On Monday we went to China Times for lunch. We had hot and sour soup, spring rolls, some dim sum and some noodles. That night after dinner my sister and I took my nephew to Coldstone Creamery for ice cream. We walked there and back – and I spotted this sign:

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Sometimes I just want to walk around Dubai with a big red pen!

Anyway, I had a scoop of the cheesecake flavour – it’s fantastic!

On Tuesday we decided to have a pool day at the Shangri-La next door. My sister, nephew and I went shortly after 12 and went for a swim. We sent my nephew back home about an hour later and spent the rest of the afternoon there. We ordered a pizza to share for lunch – but the pizza was soggy and the service was terrible. We weren’t given any napkins or cutlery, and trying to get the waiter’s attention was almost impossible.

On Wednesday afternoon, my sister and I went to the Dermalogica store at the Dubai Mall. I’d booked us in for facials (hurrah for Entertainer vouchers!) and had been looking forward to it. My facial was excellent. I almost dozed off when I had the face mask on and my skin felt 10 years younger once I was finished.

By this time, my mum had bought my nephew to the mall so we met up with them and went down to PF Chang for an early dinner. We had all the usual food: soup, dynamite shrimp, spring rolls, Mongolian lamb.

Dynamite shrimp

Dynamite shrimp

After dinner we took my nephew to Coldstone. I ordered a scoop of the cheesecake flavour but I couldn’t finish it.

On Thursday my sister and I decided we’d go back to the pool at the Shangri-La. We took my nephew for a little while but then sent him home while we stayed on for the rest of the afternoon. The service was much better – probably because the manager is back from her holiday!

On Thursday night I met up with the people from my Arabic class for dinner. Ten of us went to Loca – we shared guacamole, and for my main course I had the barbecued lamb burrito, and a few of us had some frozen Margaritas too. The plan was to go dancing at Malecon afterwards but not many people were up for it so we decided to walk to Haagen Dazs at Palm Strip Mall for dessert instead. It wasn’t a late or a heavy night – I was home by midnight.

On Friday my mum and I dropped my sister and nephew off at the airport – they were heading back to Lagos. The three week just flew by!

I worked for most of the afternoon. That night I met up with some friends at McGettigan’s – we ended up being quite a large group and bumped into some more people that we knew (some guys I’d met at that party a couple of weeks ago). It was a really heavy night. I drank too much wine and don’t remember getting home. However, I did manage to take off my eye make-up and get into my pajamas.

I felt like crap on Saturday. I slept until 2pm and didn’t get out of my pajamas all day.

I love my life.

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