Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 7

After a very dull week the week before, it was business as usual this week.

Sunday was Valentine’s Day and after the gym that morning, I spent some of the afternoon working. I decided to treat myself to a 90-minute massage at Spa Zen in the late afternoon. It was just what I needed. That evening my dad took my mum and I out for dinner. I chose Taste of Italy by Heinz Beck at Galleria Mall – a friend of mine had been there recently and said the truffle pasta was to die for. Sold!

Everything on the menu looked good – and I came very close to having the red snapper but in the end the truffle pasta won. For starters I ordered the marinated salmon with sour cream, Dad had the seafood salad and Mum had the seabass carpaccio. Everything was excellent. For my main course I had the truffle pasta.

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Dad had the baked seabass and Mum wanted a side order of mashed potatoes (tut, honestly). I’m sure my pasta was about 1000 calories but I loved every bit of it. We shared a passion fruit crème brûlée for dessert.

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I would definitely go back there again.

My Monday was busy. I had a session with Pete in the morning, worked all afternoon and an Arabic class in the evening.

Apart from the gym on Tuesday I was at home, working in my pajamas.

I had another session with Pete on Wednesday. Before my Arabic class I had some errands to run at Mercato and when I left the mall at 5.30 it was pouring. In just the 15 seconds it took for me to get into the car, I got drenched. Luckily the rain had almost stopped by the time I got to the Trade Centre Tower, but there was a huge puddle at the bottom of the staircase and I ended up going halfway round the building via the carpark to get into the building. And by the time my class was over it had stopped altogether.

It was my last Arabic class of Intermediate 1 so we had an assessment. We were allowed to look up words in our books (thank God) and I managed to do the whole assessment written in Arabic. I was also the first to finish by almost 20 minutes so the teacher went through the paper with me once I’d finished. I was quite pleased with what I’d done, but my brain was totally fried after that!

I got home at 9pm and had a late dinner with my parents and some of their friends who had come over.

I went to yoga on Thursday morning and then met a friend for lunch at The Sum of Us. I had a green juice and the smoked salmon omelette with goats cheese. My friend had the veal schnitzel, and he said it was pretty good. We shared a slice of carrot cake for dessert and had some coffee.

After lunch I went to the Hummingbird Bakery at Citywalk to collect some mini cupcakes I’d ordered. It was about 2.30pm but Citywalk was packed – I didn’t think it would be so busy in the middle of a weekday afternoon. Once I got home, I got into my pajamas and worked for the rest of the day.

I’d been invited to a friend’s place for tea on Friday afternoon (hence the mini cupcakes) – it was just a small close crowd: me, her, her parents, a friend who was visiting with her 10-week-old baby and her mum, and a couple of other friends with their 1-year-old daughter. I was the first to arrive so my friend, her mum and I sat outside by the pool for a little while until the others arrived. It was a bit chilly for the baby outdoors so we moved inside. It was a lovely afternoon and I didn’t leave there until 7.30pm. My plan was to go home and change for a party at some friends’ place but in the end I just quickly stopped at home to freshen up and pick up a bottle of vodka and some chocolates.

It was such a fun evening – it was same group I’d been to China Grill with a few weeks ago so I knew it would be pretty boozy and at some point there would be loads of 80s music! I drank a lot of vodka – and I was making my own drinks which is never a good thing as I’m sure they get stronger and stronger as the night goes on. I got home at around 3am (I think).

I felt like hell on Saturday and had a really bad squink. A ‘squink’ is a word I coined to describe the feeling of being hungover with a stabbing pain in either or both eyes. Each time I blink it feels as if the Devil himself is stabbing my eyeball with his pitchfork, causing my eye to water uncontrollably and usually remain swollen for the rest of the day. And it’s usually my left eye (although I once had a double squink – which was pure torture). It’s not pretty. And it only started happening after I’d had my laser eye surgery in 2003. My siblings used to laugh at me in those days – and then it started happening to them too. That, my friends, is called Karma!

I was supposed to meet some friends at Purobeach at 11.30 but at 11.20 I was still in bed. I’d warned them the day before that there was a good chance I’d be hungover so they weren’t too surprised when I said I was going to be late. So, looking and feeling a bit like Shrek, I got ready and went over to the Conrad – I was there by 12.15 and kept my eyes fully covered with my sunglasses! It was still watering a little but not too badly. The four of us chatted for a while and then noticed a woman with long red hair (dyed) spilling out of her tiny bikini top. And then she stood up and bent over and we realised she was wearing a G-string. Oh. My. God. I would say she was perhaps a bit bigger than me – but she must have some serious body confidence to prance around wearing almost nothing! We were mesmerized – it was a bit like a car crash – we just couldn’t look away.

We had lunch at the Purobeach restaurant. We’ve all been trying to eat healthily this year and the three of them ordered salads. My hangover demanded that I have the hot dog and fries and a Coke. It was exactly what I needed. We went back to our sunbeds for a little while longer and then left at around 4pm.

I spent the rest of the day catching up with emails and some TV shows. I couldn’t focus on much else!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 5

After the gym on Sunday morning, I went to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch with my parents and some friends who were visiting from out of town. After lunch I went to Go Sports to get a yoga strap – and I also ended up picking up a new zip-up top from Nike and a t-shirt from Under Armour. Mum wanted to go to Kinokuniya (honestly, it wasn’t my idea) to look around (and I ended up buying a book).

On Monday I had my piano lesson in the afternoon and finished recording a piece called ‘Elements’ by Ludovico Einaudi.

I also had my Arabic class that evening.

On Tuesday I went to the gym and then took my parents to Jean-Georges at the Four Seasons. It was my mum’s birthday and neither of them had been there. The weather was lovely so we had a table outside, in the shade. We each ordered a glass of Prosecco and shared a few starters: truffle pizza, hamachi, crispy sushi, warm prawn salad.

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We ordered our own main courses: I had the ‘simply prepared’ grilled sea bass, my mum had the lamb chops and my dad had the roast sea bass. For dessert I ordered the cheesecake for all of us to share, but they also brought out a little chocolate mousse cake with a candle for my mum (I’d called the day before to see if they could organise something).

After lunch we went to the Virgin Megastore at the Dubai Mall as Dad wanted to get a new printer. I ended up getting some new headphones (Yurbuds) for my iPod, for the gym. That evening Mum and I went to see Sisters at Mercato (Dad went to play poker) – it was a funny movie if you’re in the mood for a chick flick. We had planned to grab a bite at Mercato after the movie but we were still so full from lunch so we came home and had some soup instead.

I had a session with Pete on Wednesday morning and my Arabic class in the evening.

On Thursday evening I went to the Capital Club for a friend’s birthday. I got there at about 7.30pm and met a few of her friends. I’d met a couple of them before, but it was mostly a new crowd. They were a fun group and there was a lot of vodka. I left at around 2.15am (several of them were still there) and it was only when I got home that I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch – apart from some peanuts at the bar…

On Friday afternoon, I went to Spa Zen for a massage with my friend who had celebrated her birthday the night before. Our massages were at 4.15pm but we met at 3.30pm and chatted in the relaxation room until our appointments began. Luckily there was nobody else in the room! After our massages, we carried on talking until 7pm before deciding it was time to get ready and go home. I got home, ordered some sushi and got into my pajamas.

I was home on Saturday, doing some work and generally lazing around. In the evening, my friend picked me up for our usual walk on the beach. We got there a bit later than usual but still managed to catch a gorgeous sunset! I was home by 7.15pm and had a relaxing evening at home.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 2

Apart from going to the gym on Sunday, I didn’t do much else apart from work.

Monday was a busy day – I had a session with Pete in the morning. That afternoon I had a piano lesson and that evening I had my Arabic class. I managed to get through the class – I’ve realised I can remember most of the grammar but my vocabulary is awful! I need to build that up again…

I was at home on Tuesday, apart from going to the gym. I had another session with Pete on Wednesday morning and that evening I had another Arabic class.

I went to a Hatha Flow class at Eco Yoga Sanctuary on Thursday morning. That afternoon I went to Mercato to buy a present for a friend’s baby. I wasn’t sure what to buy and stumbled across a shop I’d never seen called Caramel & Sun – they had some different things in there and I ended up buying a gift box for a baby girl. It had a baby blanket, little photo album, a bangle for the mother, and a couple of other little things in it. While the gift was being wrapped I started chatting with the owner of the store, a French woman. She said the store had been open since August and was doing quite well. She said their sale was starting the following day but that she’d give me the sale price anyway – that was nice of her. I’ll go back for more gifts when I need to!

That evening I met up with my friend who was visiting Dubai on her way to Pakistan – with her 7-week-old baby and husband. Two of their friends also joined us, so we were five people in total. We went to the Armenian restaurant Mayrig on the Boulevard Downtown. I’d heard that the restaurant was really good and had been keen to try it. We started with some hummus, lentil salad, soubeureg (pastry with three cheeses) and the kibbeh with cherry coulis and yoghurt. The cheesy pastry thing was a bit bland and too cheesy but everything else was excellent. We ordered a variety of things for our main course: soujouk fekhara (beef sausages in tomato sauce – this is a starter dish though), grilled kebab and one grilled hammour. I was surprised that all the kebabs were beef rather than lamb… and I also thought the starters were better than the main courses. It was an earlyish night and I was home by 11pm.

I pottered around the house on Friday for a while and started working after lunch. A friend had invited me over to his place on the Palm for the afternoon/evening but I’d told him I’d have to see how work was going. At about 4pm, I thought: ‘F*** this, I need to get out of the house’. So I got ready and went over to the Palm – I was there in time for a cup of tea and the sunset.

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He’d invited a few other friends over, some of whom I’d met before. He brought out the fishing rods and a couple of them went down to the beach to see if they could catch anything. And one of them caught a 3-foot barracuda! Remind me never to swim there! Once the fish was dead, it was handed over to the cook to be cleaned and cooked for dinner. There was a lot of fish and all eight of us had some. It’s not my favourite fish to eat, but it doesn’t get much fresher than that. After dinner, we moved over to the open fire and sat there for a while – it was quite a chilly night and I decided to have some red wine – it was the first day I was drinking since Christmas Day. Three whole weeks! We then moved indoors for a few rounds of karaoke… I got home at around 2.30am.

I was tired on Saturday. I’d slept late on Friday night and was up early on Saturday and couldn’t get back to sleep. I eventually got out of bed and did a bit of work after lunch. At 5pm a friend picked me up for a walk on Jumeira Open Beach. I’d never been there before but it was lovely – the fresh air, the sea breeze and the sunset…

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We walked for an hour and then went home. I had dinner with my parents and spent the rest of the evening working and reading.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 46

I woke up on Sunday feeling awful. I’d been out the night before and had way too much champagne! Any plans I’d had of going to the gym in the morning (or even getting ready) went out the window as I got out of bed at 1pm. I spent the day in my pajamas. It took me all day to edit one paper which would have normally taken me an hour. I just couldn’t focus on anything.

Monday was a bit better. I had a session with Pete, sorted out some paperwork at the du shop and then had my piano lesson. I came home after that and worked the rest of the evening.

After the gym on Tuesday, I went to the monthly lunch of the IBWG (International Business Women’s Group) at the Trade Centre Club. On the way there, I realised that I was in one of those moods where I didn’t feel like speaking to anybody. Networking was not going to be easy that day! I got there, picked a number out of the bowl (which indicates which table you sit at) and found my name tag. I said hello to a couple of people I’d met before and had a quick chat, but a few minutes later I found my table and sat down. There were two other people already sitting there so I guess they didn’t feel like networking either! Our lunch was served – I opted for the braised lamb with vegetables.

The talk that day was really interesting. It was all about posture and ergonomic work spaces. Er – if the presenter could see how I worked, she’d have been furious. I work on my bed with my back against the headrest and my legs either straight in front of me or cross-legged. I suppose it’s good that I’m not hunched over my laptop though! She went through consequences of bad posture and some exercises (which I either do as stretches with Pete or in yoga). She was an interesting lady though – and I enjoyed the talk.

After lunch I went to Mercato to pick up some Patchi chocolates and other things that my mum needed in Bombay. My dad was leaving over the weekend and she had a list of things to buy.

I came home after that and did some more work. I’d been swamped for the last two weeks or so, which is great!

It was Diwali on Wednesday, but honestly it felt like any other day. I had a session with Pete which pretty much knocked me out for the rest of the day. I was exhausted. After lunch, I worked until the early evening, fighting off the urge to have a nap. At about 6pm, Dad and I did our Diwali puja – which took about fifteen minutes – and that was that. I’d been invited to a friend’s place for the evening but Dad didn’t want to go anywhere so I stayed in with him.

The weather was horrible on Thursday morning. Five minutes of rain in Dubai means five hours of traffic. The whole city comes to a standstill – and apparently so do I. I took one look out the window and decided to stay in and do some work.

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Of course, it had cleared up by the afternoon.

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That evening I met a friend for dinner at Segreto in Madinat Jumeirah. I had initially thought I’d eat something healthy, like grilled fish, but when we got there they had a special truffle menu which included pasta with truffles. We both took one look at that and ordered it. We shared a crab/prawn starter – it wasn’t what we expected but it was OK. The pasta with truffles was delicious. We also had a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, which was lovely. For dessert, we shared a cheese platter. I really think Segreto is one of the best Italian restaurants in Dubai – the food and service have always been excellent whenever I’ve been there.

After dinner we went to The Agency for a drink and then went to meet some friends at Cave at the Conrad. We had some more wine and at 1am, decided to head home. On the way home one of our friends decided he was hungry and wanted to stop at Burger Fuel. I hadn’t been there in ages and was also feeling a little peckish (our dinner was early – 7.30pm). I ordered a hamburgini with jalapenos – there was no way I could eat a regular burger so the mini one was just fine. I walked home after that and got into bed.

On Friday, I went to the gym in the morning. As I was walking to the Shangri-La at about 11am, I noticed how much cooler the temperature was – that rain the day before really cleared out the last of the humidity. That afternoon Dad and I went to Sakura at the Crowne Plaza for lunch with my uncle, aunt and the kids. The food was good, as usual, but it’s scary the amount of butter they put on the teppan when they’re preparing the food! I went home after lunch and did some work.

On Friday evening, I went to a friend’s birthday drinks at his place in Executive Towers. I didn’t know anybody there but him, but I’d already RSVP’d ‘yes’ and didn’t want to flake. I hate it when people do that to me, so I know how it feels! I stayed for over an hour, met some of his friends and then went to meet some other friends who were at Roberto’s in DIFC. I don’t know what it is about Roberto’s but every time I go there I just want to go to sleep. I start yawning and feel bored in general – it doesn’t matter who I’m with. Even though the bar area was crowded, it had such low energy that we had to leave after one drink.

As soon as we left – literally, as soon as we walked out of the restaurant – we were all in a much better mood! We went to La Cantine at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel and were dancing until 2am. When we left we decided to go to Zaatar w Zeit for some food. I hadn’t eaten dinner and was famished! After eating, I got home at around 3am.

I was home for most of Saturday. Dad left for Bombay and I did a bit of work. There was a gorgeous sunset that evening. I had been invited to Maya at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort for a friend’s engagement drinks. I got there at around 6pm and stayed for a couple of hours. A friend and I decided to have dinner after drinks instead of staying on there and went to Jones the Grocer. I hadn’t been there in ages. I had the pasta with chilli and prawns – which was OK. I thought it would be better. I was home by 10pm.

I love my life.

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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 42

After a weekend of eating out for almost every meal, I just wanted to stay at home and relax. After a trip to the supermarket and then the gym on Sunday morning, I came home, showered and got into my pajamas. I intended to spend the day bumming around the house. I caught up with some work, caught up with some TV and read my book.

I had a session with Pete on Monday and a piano lesson later that afternoon. I managed to finish my recording of the Chopin prelude I’d been working on:

After my piano lesson I walked to the Radisson Royal and went for a massage at Spa Zen. I’d bought two Cobone vouchers before my trip to Bombay and I needed use them before the end of October. The massage was lovely and I didn’t want it to end!

I woke up feeling a bit fluish on Tuesday morning. Ugh – I really didn’t want to get sick! I went ahead with yoga and then got ready for the monthly IBWG (International Business Women’s Group) lunch at the Trade Centre Club. I’d already paid for it, and I didn’t feel ill enough to cancel. Once again, I met some interesting people – and of the four other people on my table, I’d met three of them before. It wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be, considering summer is well and truly over now. The presentation was all about effective networking – language, body language, etc. It wasn’t anything I didn’t know before but it served as a good reminder.

Once I got home, I got into my pajamas and did a bit of work. I felt a bit worse by the time the evening came round and thought it would be wise to cancel the trip to Muscat. We were supposed to leave on Thursday morning and I didn’t want to get there and feel even worse.

I felt the same on Wednesday but still went ahead with my training session with Pete. I took it easy the rest of the day and most of Thursday.

I’d been invited to a friend’s place for dinner on Thursday night and I knew it wouldn’t be crazy so I went over with a couple of friends. It was a lovely relaxing evening at South Ridge – five of us spent the evening on her balcony with our sushi and wine and/or champagne, with a view of the Burj Khalifa.

I woke up on Friday feeling much better than the last couple of days. I didn’t have any plans until the evening so I took it easy during the day. I decided I wasn’t going to do any work and spent most of the day reading my book. That evening I met up with a couple of friends at Taste Kitchen in Mercato Mall. I had the spicy tomato juice (yum) and the pasta with prawns, garlic and chilli. It was also very good. The three of us then went to see Legend, the new movie about the Kray twins starring Tom Hardy. I thought it was a great movie, but a bit too long (over 2 hours) and a bit too violent (but that was to be expected). The acting was excellent. I was home soon after midnight.

I woke up on Saturday feeling feverish all over again so I spent most of the day in bed.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 15

What a busy week!

I had a session with Trevor on Sunday morning. I still had a headache from my birthday drinks two days before! I was home in the afternoon and managed to get some work done – my mum and sister took the kids to Mirdif City Centre. That evening I went to a barbecue with some friends in JBR. It took forever to get there. The traffic is a nightmare and if I lived in that area, I would move! It was a really nice evening on their balcony – champagne, barbecued meats, what more does a person want? It wasn’t too late a night – I was home by 11pm.

On Monday I did some work and that afternoon my dad and I went to see Fast and Furious 7 at Mercato Mall.

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Everyone in Dubai loves these movies – even the cinema at Mercato was half full which must be a record for them! I thought it was OK, the action is entertaining but it was far too long and the acting was terrible. I did like the tribute to Paul Walker at the end though.

While we were at the movie, my mum, sister and kids had come to Mercato as well so we met up with them for dinner afterwards. Mum was halfway through her pizza, my sister and V1 had finished their McDonald’s and Dad and I ordered from Noon-o-Kabab. As the driver would have to make two trips to get us all back home, the others left while Dad and I finished our dinner.

On Tuesday I told V1 that I would take him to the Aquarium at the Dubai Mall. We got there at around noon and walked through the tunnel. I love seeing the sharks close up. I tried to take some photos but they were moving too fast! After going through the tunnel we went to the Underwater Zoo upstairs. I could have spent much longer at each exhibit but V1 kept dragging me off to see something else. He wouldn’t even let me look at the piranhas! It was my first time seeing ‘King Croc’. I’m pretty sure the life-size replica they have at the Aquarium entrance on the ground level is much smaller than the crocodile in the exhibit upstairs. This crocodile is massive, weighing in at 750 kg and measuring 5 metres in length! You can view it from the level above and stand directly over it, and you can also see it as a regular exhibit, through the glass. There was a short video playing – a documentary about how they got him to Dubai. I’m sure they must have paid a fortune for him.

After we were finished at the Underwater Zoo, we met up with my sister and a couple of her friends for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. It was full of families, children, noisy (fake) animals. My sister and I both ordered the steak (nothing special). She also said the bathroom was really awful – just one stall and really dirty. After we’d ordered our food, the waitress came back with a plastic cup with flashing lights and asked V1 if he’d like to have his milkshake in that. Of course he said yes. The waitress then turned to my sister and said ‘It’s AED 35 and you can take it home with you.’ Cheeky! I think now that we’ve been there, there’s no need to go back. Ever.

The Rainforest Cafe is a restaurant I associate with families, kids, noise. So imagine my surprise when, on our way out, I spot three men in business suits having lunch there. How random!

On Tuesday night, we were out for dinner at Royal China with some friends. I’d just been there the week before but really didn’t mind going back – the food is so good. There were eight of us at the table, and the restaurant was quite crowded for a weeknight. We wanted to order some crispy duck but they’d run out (annoying). We ordered some soup, crispy asparagus and a couple of other things to start with. For our main course we had the chicken in black bean sauce, beef with ginger and spring onions, and Szechuan prawns. Yummy.

I had a gym session with Trevor on Wednesday and a piano lesson in the evening. I finished my recording of Le Onde (by Ludovico Einaudi). It’s a bit long but I quite like it.

My sister and I went to Jumeirah Town Centre for a wander before dinner that evening. We went into a children’s clothing store and I spotted some hair products on a shelf. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m always looking for some miracle straightening, defrizzing hair product (no luck yet). I used to be able to manage my curls, but now that most of it is grey (and coloured) the texture is very different. It’s coarser and frizzier and nothing seems to work on it except a Brazilian keratin treatment and that just makes my hair fall out. I’d rather have frizzy hair than no hair! Anyway, I found a product called Natural Curl Calmer by a company called Organic Sprout.

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It’s 100% vegan and completely organic. I’ve used it twice since I bought it – I’ve noticed that my hair is definitely softer after I’ve used it and let it dry naturally. It’s not cheap though – it was AED 80 for the tube!

On Thursday evening I met up with a couple of friends at Calabar. I had some alcohol left over from my birthday drinks the week before and had two weeks to finish it. There was half a bottle of Belvedere, two bottles of Merlot and one bottle of Pinot Grigio. It was just three of us and we managed to polish off the vodka and the red wine. I’d have to go back for the Pinot Grigio soon! It was a really fun evening and we were out later than we intended (considering we met at 7pm)…

I was home all day on Friday. That evening, my sister, her husband and I went to La Petite Maison for dinner. As usual, the food was excellent. To start with we had: burrata (of course), beef carpaccio, lentil salad and crab and lobster salad. For the main course we had the salt-baked sea bass and the beef entrecote. We also had a lovely bottle of white wine. We shared the cheesecake for dessert and finished with a cocktail. Lovely evening…

On Saturday afternoon, my sister, V1 and I went to the Dubai Mall to do some shopping. We stopped at Tim Horton’s to pick up a coffee to walk around with and went straight to the Shoe District. My sister bought a pair of shoes and we went on to Sephora. I bought a mascara and eye liner from BeneFit (which I didn’t need). We stopped at Mothercare and Waitrose as well. I took V1 home while my sister had a mani/pedi at the mall. I was home that evening – the mall is quite tiring!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 7

What a quiet week!

I decided on Sunday afternoon that I’d go see a movie. I went to Mercato and got a ticket for ‘Birdman’. It was empty – apart from one guy. I love empty cinemas!

Apart from yoga on Monday morning, I didn’t leave the house the rest of the day. And not on Tuesday either.

On Wednesday I had a session with Trevor. That evening I went to my piano lesson and then met a friend for dinner at Loca. We had the spinach and artichoke dip to start with, and I was thrilled to see that the sauteed prawns in jalapeno butter were back on the menu. I’d tried them once last year (they were a special) and ever since then they haven’t been available. Now they’re on the actual menu and it looks like they’re permanent! Just look at the size of the prawns…

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I think it’s the best thing on the menu. As it was ladies night we also got two tokens each for margaritas.

On Thursday I went to get my hair coloured. I’d been toying with the idea of changing the colour altogether but my regular hairdresser wasn’t there so I just stuck to my usual root colour. Maybe next time…

That evening I had dinner with some friends at their place. It was very casual, just five of us – roast chicken, potatoes, loads of cheese. They’d had a photo shoot of their dining table earlier that day – isn’t it gorgeous??

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I was home early – before 11pm. I spent all day Friday at home – I was working and reading. I was home most of Saturday too – but by the time 5pm came around I decided I’d go to the Dubai Mall – just for a walk around. I ended up buying a pair of sparkly shoes from LK Bennett. I also went to Kinokuniya and picked up two more books. Well, a girl has to treat herself sometimes, no?

I love my life.

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Dubai 2014: Week 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 38

It was a somewhat turbulent week – not much seemed to be happening on the surface, but it was all going on behind the scenes.

I had a session with Randy on Sunday morning. That afternoon I met a friend from London for coffee at the Armani Cafe. After that, I decided I’d try on some clothes – I hardly ever feel like doing this so I thought I’d make the most of it. I’d had my eye on a dress for a while and when I found it I just decided to buy it!

I went home and had a call with the person who took over my job when I left London. It wasn’t a good conversation – I had to sign a confidentiality agreement before we had the call but I’ve since seen a press release about it so I can mention it here.

When I got the confidentiality agreement on Saturday I told a friend of mine what my suspicions were – that the journals had been sold to another publisher – and this was confirmed on Sunday evening during my phone call. Before I asked what this meant for my position, I asked about the team I’d put together. They were being made redundant and had been told 3 weeks before. All of them. They’d all had to sign confidentiality agreements which explained why I hadn’t heard from any of them in a while! Not one of them had been offered a job with the new publisher. Hearing that actually made me feel sick – I’d hired most of them and now they were all out of jobs. And me? After hearing about my team I expected to be told my services were no longer required. However, my colleague explained that as I was a supplier for the company, the new publisher had agreed to continue using the existing suppliers. I was surprised – of course my colleague couldn’t tell me how long they’d use me for – it could be for just a month or so. I emailed my team to say how sorry I was to hear the news and if they needed any references from me I’d be more than happy to provide them. Only three people responded – I felt terrible.

It was a quiet week otherwise – I’d been very unmotivated to do anything. I met a friend for lunch on Monday – we’d been trying (not very hard admittedly) to meet up since I moved here but one of us was always either busy or out of town. We went to Shakespeare & Co, next to Park n Shop – it was a fun lunch and it was good to catch up.

Tuesday was my first Diwali in Dubai and I was on my own. I was home all day, and that evening I went over to my cousin’s for the Diwali puja and then we went on to a couple of parties, one in the Meadows and the other in Emirates Hills. I actually knew a few people at the Emirates Hills party – people I’ve met over the last few months.

I didn’t go anywhere on Wednesday and was home most of Thursday too – on Thursday night I met up with my same friend from Monday’s lunch – we went to Costa Coffee at Mercato. It was a very impromptu evening – I was glad to get out of my flat and out of my own head. My thoughts were going round in circles and I welcomed the distraction.

I went home in a more positive frame of mind. It’s cheesy, I know, but I decided to re-read The Secret. I read it a few years ago and I thought I should read it again. I was up till 4am on Thursday night and finished reading it on Friday morning. I felt a lot better than I had all week. I decided I was going to focus on the positive things in my life and I am grateful that there are so many of them.

I spent the rest of Friday at home – mostly working.

I was home most of Saturday too. I decided I wasn’t going to continue with the NaNoWriMo challenge this year – I was already 15,000 words behind schedule and had no idea what I was writing about. Next year (if not before) I will be more prepared, less distracted, block out some time, and kick November’s ass!

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I went to the bookshop at the Dubai Mall in the evening – I wanted a couple of Moleskine notebooks (I love them!). As I was waiting for Kaleem to bring the car round (how spoilt do I sound?) I noticed that it was a bit chilly outside! The temperature couldn’t have been any lower than 24C but it felt cool. I’ve also noticed that it’s dark by 6pm these days. Winter is coming! After the mall, I went to my writing group at The Pavilion Downtown in the evening. I was a bit early but the organiser was already there when I got there and we ended up chatting for a while.

‘What do you usually write?’ she asked me.

‘Rubbish,’ I replied. She burst out laughing and then expected more. ‘Rubbish fiction,’ I clarified.

We talked about the writing process and how we both went about it.

We were eventually joined by a few people and the session started. As before there were two exercises, each lasting 30 minutes. The first one was about characterisation – you could develop the characters however you wanted but the one stipulation was you had to mention a card game. I’m not a big card player so I actually wrote about a Tarot reading (the origins of Tarot lie in 15th century Europe, and it started as a deck of playing cards) and developed my main character through that.

The second exercise was about voice – the organiser asked us to use a humorous voice about finding directions to a coffee shop. I found this one tough – humour is actually very difficult to write, no matter how funny you think you are. If I try and re-create a funny incident that took place, it never sounds as funny as it was when it happened. Halfway through this exercise my wrist started aching. Some people bring their laptops to the write-in, but I prefer a notebook and pen. When the 30 minutes were up, the organiser said we could do another 30-minute exercise and had my wrist not been hurting so much I’d have stayed on. I didn’t think I’d be able to write for 30 minutes.

I was home by 8.30pm and finished off some work. It was a quiet weekend, but I enjoyed it.

I love my life.

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