Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2015: Week 14

I was working all of Sunday and didn’t leave the flat other than to go to the gym.

It was my birthday on Monday so I spent most of the day with the family. I’ve had a ‘no work on my birthday’ policy for the last few years (I would even take the day off when I worked in London) and managed to stick to it this year. At about 10am, the guy from security came up and told us there was going to be a fire drill and we’d have to leave the flat. I was a bit annoyed because I’d seen the signs next to the lift the day before and specifically asked him if we’d have to leave and he said it was just to test the fire alarms. So, instead of waiting for the fire alarm to go off at 10.30 and having to walk down 23 flights of stairs with two kids, I got ready for the gym and made a cup of tea while my mum and sister put V2 in his stroller. We went down in the lift and just waited for everything to kick off. Dad decided he was going to stay in bed (no, I’m not joking). Once the alarm went off, some people came out of the building while others just watched from their balconies (again, I’m not joking). The fire engines came, the paramedics came. V1 was thrilled to see it all in real life but it was a joke. Forty-five minutes after the alarm had gone off, people were still strolling out of the building in no rush whatsoever.

Once everyone was allowed back inside, I went to the gym. Later that day as I told friends about the fire drill, they said ‘Oh, wow. You got to see some real firemen on your birthday. What a treat!’ I had to point out that these weren’t New York firemen, worthy of a calendar page – these were short, stocky men from Kerala and Tamil Nadu!

That afternoon, my sister, V1, my cousin and I went to the Meat Company for lunch. We had steaks all round – so good! V1 had eaten at home and just had some chips. Afterwards we went home and I chilled for a bit. We cut a cake that evening, with V1 helping me to blow out the candles. That night my parents, sister and Vs 1 and 2 went to Sapori di Bice for dinner. It’s very kid-friendly and V1 had brought his scooter to play around on. I also bumped into a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in about a year so that was quite nice. I thought I might go out for a drink after dinner but was feeling really tired and lazy! It was such a chilled birthday – and not even one drink…

On Tuesday afternoon, Vs 1 and 2 had been invited to a friend’s daughter’s second birthday party. The party was at G’s Cafe in JLT and V2 cried all the way there. When we got to the party all the kids were with the entertainer already and the mums were having tea and coffee and finger sandwiches and little pastries. It was really nice. I even met someone that I knew but hadn’t seen in about two years! When it was time to cut the cake, we all went into the cafe – and there were some amazing cakes on display! After having a bite to eat, we headed home. V2 had slept the entire time we were there and woke up just in time to cry all the way home in the car.

I had a gym session with Trevor on Wednesday and a piano lesson in the evening. I tried to do as much work as I could as I knew I wouldn’t get much done at the weekend.

I woke up on Thursday to the most awful sandstorm. Visibility was almost zero and the world had taken on a bizarre natural sepia filter. I couldn’t see the Shangri-La next door or even the street below.

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Someone told me there had been a weather warning and that this was going to last all weekend. I panicked as I’d booked my birthday drinks at Calabar and had reserved an outdoors space. I sent the manager of the bar a neurotic email and he called me back a few hours later to say that it looked like the sandstorm was improving (it was) and that they were opening their outdoor area that evening (phew) and that it would be fine tomorrow (it bloody better be).

I worked most of Thursday. That night I had dinner at Royal China with a friend of mine. We’d booked a table for six people but everyone gradually bailed as the day went on, so we decided to go anyway – and he bought me dinner for my birthday. The food and service were really good. We shared a hot and sour soup with chicken to start and a quarter crispy aromatic duck. For our main course we had the Szechuan prawns and black bean beef with steamed rice and a portion of pak choi. Yum! I was full after all this but we had toffee banana for dessert anyway! It was a quiet evening and I was home by 11pm.

I woke up on Friday to glorious sunshine and clear skies. Thank goodness. However, that afternoon my sister and I walked to the Shangri-La to get our hair done and it was so windy that by the time we got there we were covered in sand. It was disgusting. I could feel it down my back (how??) and up my nose and in my throat. Ugh. Luckily the walk home was nowhere near as bad, and even though there was a breeze at Calabar that night, it wasn’t a gale!

It was a nice evening. I got to Calabar with a friend at about 6pm and my first guest arrived at 6.30. I had 39 people show up, 22 people didn’t. Out of those 22, some had said they couldn’t make it, some had RSVP’d ‘yes’ but never bothered showing up (rude) and some didn’t bother to RSVP at all (also rude). But I think those that showed up had a good time – I know I did! And then when the bill came, I couldn’t find my debit card in my handbag. I knew it was there because I had checked twice before leaving home and I hadn’t opened my bag so it couldn’t have fallen out at any point. I emptied my bag but it was nowhere to be found. In the end, a friend paid the bill for me. After he’d paid, the waiter said he’d ‘found’ my card on the floor somewhere. It was all very suspicious. And for the next two days I thought I must have been going mad every time I mentioned it as people laughed it off and put it down to too much alcohol. And then I thought they might be right until… a friend told me that when she got home she noticed that her credit cards were loose in her handbag instead of in her wallet like they usually are. So, on the plus side – I wasn’t going mad. On the minus side, the only people who had access to our bags were my guests. And that is a real negative. But, if you were going to go through someone’s handbag, wouldn’t you take the cash instead of the cards? I had AED 700 in my bag and it was still there the next day. None of it made any sense.

I had asked everyone not to bring a present, but a few people did get me something. I got: a box of Godiva chocolates, a book of 5-minute crosswords, a spiralbound notebook and two Smythson notebooks – one is black and says ‘Frankly, my dear’ on the front and the other is orange and says ‘Expect the unexpected’ on the front. Lots of notebooks!

It’s probably no surprise that I spent all of Saturday at home. I got out of bed at about 1pm, barely able to move. I had lunch, got back into bed and watched an episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ with my eyes closed. I showered, got into different pajamas and lazed around all day.

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 2013: Week 2

Yet another busy week!

After my session with Randy on Sunday I took my sister to the doctor at GMC in Jumeirah. We then wandered around the book store for a little while waiting for our mum to show up. By this time it was after 3pm and none of us had eaten lunch. We ended up at Johnny Rocket’s on the other side of Jumeirah Beach Road. Once we’d sat down, Dad decided to join us as well. The food was average and the fries are better at McDonald’s. I wouldn’t go back.

Across the car park from the restaurant was a pet shop called Animal World. We took Vinay in to have a look at the animals – they had many puppies, birds and rabbits.

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After the pet store, my sister, Vinay and I went to Mercato. He fell asleep in his pram in about 5 minutes so we walked around in peace. We went to La Senza and I saw a pair of pajamas I liked. I didn’t feel like trying them on (especially after the burger and chips I had) so I asked one of the sales assistants for help.

‘Do you think I need a medium or large?’ I asked. I had a medium pair in my left hand and the large in my right.

‘Yes,’ she replied.

I looked at my sister. I repeated it slower. She looked like she understood.

‘Yes. We have medium and large.’

Jesus.

‘Yes, I’m holding them. Do I need medium or large?’

It would have been quicker and less painful to try them on.

‘I think medium will be OK. Large is bigger.’

Genius.

That wasn’t much help but I went with the medium though – the large pair seemed too long and big.

We had a quick look in a few other shops and then went home.

Our parents were out that evening so we relaxed at home.

I had a doctor’s appointment on Monday on Monday afternoon – back in October I had a stye and I thought it had cleared but while I was in Singapore it had come back. It wasn’t swollen or painful, just a solid lump under my eyelid. The doctor gave me a prescription for a cream that should be applied and massaged on the eyelid at night. She also suggested I see the eye specialist at the clinic the following week. I thought I might as well mention my sore wrists but she told me to just ignore it unless it got worse. Er, OK?

After my appointment I picked up a French Vanilla cappuccino from Tim Horton’s next door and went home.

That night my sister and I had dinner with three of our cousins at The Meat Company at Souk Al Bahar. We had to sneak out of the house and hope Vinay wouldn’t notice we’d gone! I’d just bought the new Entertainer voucher book so took three vouchers with me and we ended up saving AED 585! We ordered six main courses and got three free. Bargain! I think the steaks there are very good, and definitely worth it if you get two main courses for the price of one. We also had two bottles of red wine.

Tuesday was the busiest, most exhausting day. My sister, Vinay and I left home at 10.30 to meet a friend at The Dubai Mall for breakfast/coffee. We met at Erik Kayser and ordered our food. We had omelettes and coffee. The omelette was good but the coffee was vile. I didn’t enjoy it at all.

Just after 12 our friend had to leave and Vinay had been promised a ride on a bus since the day he’d arrived. As we walked to the main entrance of the mall, we walked past Nine West and got distracted. We each bought a pair of bright yellow heels and my sister also bought a bright pink pair too. As we were paying I wondered how we’d carry these things around with us, and look after Vinay. I asked the sales assistant if we could leave the packages with him and come back for them later? Yes, no problem, madam. Great.

We made it to the front entrance without buying anything else. Phew! We waited outside for the Big Bus to arrive and a few minutes later there it was. The expression on Vinay’s face as we got on the bus was priceless. He was so excited and couldn’t stop grinning.

We took the Red Route which took us to the older part of Dubai. The Blue Route went down Sheikh Zayed Road to The Atlantis on the Palm and Mall of the Emirates and so on, and we didn’t fancy that. You could hop on and off at the various stops but because we were with Vinay we stayed on the bus the whole time. We went to Wafi, Creek Park, the Spice Souk, the Gold Souk, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s house, the Old Souk, Al Fahidi Fort (which houses the Dubai Museum). The route took about 1.5 hours and all the excitement proved too much for Vinay who fell asleep. We eventually got to Burjuman where we had to change buses to get back to the Dubai Mall.

I realised that once we had switched to the Blue Route it wouldn’t take us straight back to the mall. It was going down Jumeirah Beach Road towards the Palm. We got off the bus at the Jumeirah Mosque and took a cab to the mall. Our parents were meeting us there for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. By this time it was 3pm.

It didn’t take long to get a table, thank goodness. I was hungry, thirsty and tired. I had my usual herb-encrusted salmon. I do want to try some of the other dishes but the portions there are huge! I always order from the Lunch Specials menu where the portions are smaller (and even then the portions are still big). We were talking about the bus tour we’d been on when Vinay suddenly announced: ‘I’m farting in my nappy’. We all burst out laughing – it was so unexpected!

After lunch my parents took Vinay home and my sister and I stayed on at the mall. It was 8pm by the time we got home! We were shattered. It had been a long day.

I met a couple of friends for lunch on Wednesday. We went to Balance Cafe at the Oasis Centre. I’d never been there before and both Rama and Randy had told me the food was very good and very healthily prepared. Through the Entertainer website I’d coincidentally found vouchers for Balance Cafe – buy one main course and get the second free! Lunch was very nice – we ordered a salad to start, and for my main course I had the steamed cream dory with asparagus. It was so tasty! One of my friends ordered the grilled chicken skewer and the other ordered a prawn curry. For dessert we had coffees and shared the chocolate and date torte (yum).

I was home the rest of the day.

I had a piano lesson on Thursday. We worked on some sightreading, some scales, ‘Autumn Leaves’, and spent most of the time on ‘Comptine’.

My sister and Vinay left for Lagos that night. The flat was so quiet after they’d gone.

I went to a party at my cousin’s place in The Lakes. I knew about seven out of the 100 people there but it was a fun evening. They had the party out in the garden, the food was catered from Royal Orchid, they had leather sofas to lounge on, and the DJ was really good. We drank, danced (a bit), ate. It was after 3am when I got home.

I spent all of Friday in my pajamas. That night I met up with a couple of friends at Vintage in Wafi. We had a couple of bottles of wine and some cheese fondue. After that we went next door to Carter’s for a drink. I’d only been there once, back in September. The music was much better than the last time but it was just as empty. It was an early night – I was home by midnight.

On Saturday Dad and I decided we’d go out for lunch. Mum was busy at home with the cleaner so it was just the two of us. We thought we’d try a Chinese place my parents had found the week before called China Times at Jumeirah Plaza. We really fancied some dim sum but when we got there, the waiter told us their steamer had broken down. We ended up ordering soup and crispy beef for starters.

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I ordered the steamed hammour for the main course but the waiter reminded me that the steamer wasn’t working. We ordered the black pepper beef instead (we’d forgotten about the beef starter).

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I wanted the pak choy in garlic but they didn’t have that either. The food was good but I think if I decide to go back I’ll call them beforehand to find out what they have and whether their steamer is working!

That evening I went to my writers’ group at the Pavilion Downtown. As my wrist had been sore I decided I’d take my iPad and work on that rather than my usual pen and paper. I downloaded an app called ‘Inkwell for Dropbox’ which backs up your documents to your Dropbox account automatically. Amazing!

I got to the Pavilion, connected to their wi-fi network and we began. The organiser had decided that she would do ‘first liners’ this week, where she provides a sentence and you make that the first line of your writing. The first exercise began with: ‘His grandfather had worked at the grocery store ever since he was a young man’. I started to write about an older Cuban man who had been in New York since he was a child. It was very different to anything I’d written and I really thought it was something I’d consider continuing when I got home. Once 30 minutes was up, we stopped writing and talked about what we’d written. How had we found the exercise? Did this method of writing work for me? I said it did, because it’s easier than looking at a blank page and wondering where to start!

After a chat around the table, the organiser gave us the second sentence. I powered up my iPad and… the writing I’d done had disappeared. I checked my Dropbox account. It was empty. F***! I was so annoyed! I wanted to punch someone – I’d written about 700 words and was so pleased with what I’d done. I decided to use the regular ‘Notes’ section in my iPad for the second exercise.

The second exercise began with ‘In the middle of nowhere, along a quiet stretch of road, the diner dreamt of the hungry dead’. I was still upset about my writing vanishing so I wrote about a writer sitting in a cafe thinking how being eaten by a zombie would be a better fate than facing his editor (with whom he had also just begun a relationship) and telling her how he’d managed to lose all his research and didn’t have a back-up. The other members in the group were quite amused when I told them what had happened…

I was home by 8.30pm and my parents were out so I had some dinner, read my book and went to sleep.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 27

What a hectic week!

I had a session with Rama on Sunday and then had lunch at Karam Cafe with my parents and cousins who were visiting from Ghana. I hadn’t seen them in ages – so it was nice to have a meal and meet their gorgeous twins! By the time we finished lunch it was after 4pm and I wanted to do some shopping before travelling the following weekend.

I was looking for a dress for a friend’s wedding in August. I tried on a light turquoise dress – it was simple but pretty and I thought it would be perfect. When I took it to the till, the assistant noticed a stain on the dress but when I went back to get another one there weren’t any more in my size. So annoying! I ended up buying just a couple of pairs of shorts for my holiday and that was it. I should have browsed in some other shops but I was running late.

That evening I went over to a friend’s place to watch the Wimbledon men’s final and was home by 11.30pm.

After the gym on Monday I went to Spaces at the Oasis Centre for a Dermalogica facial. It was my third time there and all three times I’ve had the same Kenyan lady for my facial. And all three times she has asked me whether I’ve been there before. Perhaps she thinks there’s no point in remembering people because Dubai is such a transient place? Anyway, I didn’t enjoy the facial as much as I had in the past – mainly because she kept banging around with various things while I was trying to relax! After my facial was over I decided to have a blowdry. I was going out that evening and didn’t feel like doing it myself.

I went to an InterNations event at Amika at the H Hotel (formerly the Monarch Hotel – when did it change?? And why is their website so rubbish?) The friend I was supposed to go with couldn’t make it in the end so I decided to go on my own. I just really wanted a glass of wine! I got there at about 8.30pm and the queue to get in went all the way down the corridor to Okku but luckily it was moving pretty fast. I got in, got my glass of Sauvignon Blanc and said hello to some people I recognised from previous events. I then got chatting to three English people I’d never met before and it became quite a fun evening – but I found the venue a bit small for the number of people there. When I went to get a refill the bartender told me they didn’t have any white wine left. How the f*** does a bar run out of white wine? I decided to switch to vodka. Five vodkas later it was almost midnight and the place was starting to empty out so I decided to head home. 

I woke up on Tuesday feeling like hell. I still made it to the gym though – I knew I wouldn’t be doing much on Friday, Saturday or Sunday so thought I’d better just go and get it over with. That afternoon I met a friend at Tim Horton’s for coffee. When we finished I decided to walk home – it’s about a 7-minute walk but at 4.30pm it was sweltering outside. Luckily the side of the street I was walking on was in the shade at that time but it still felt like a sauna. But I still prefer the heat to the relentless London rain! I worked for the rest of the day (and caught up on ‘True Blood’!).

I had my 40th session with Rama on Wednesday morning. It was tough, as always! That afternoon I met up with NP at Jones the Grocer for a late lunch. Well, I had a late lunch, she had two green teas. I know I said that the next time I went I would have the wagyu burger but after my workout that morning I felt like eating something healthy(ish). I ordered the pumpkin and feta salad with grilled chicken. It was very good – and yes, I forgot to take a photo of it. Next time… When we were done we picked up her son from nursery and she dropped me off at Times Square Center so I could get a cab (my parents had the car for the day). It was a fun afternoon with lots of laughs.

Thursday was busy too – I was up early, the piano tuner came, I went to the gym, the sleazy hairdresser did my hair. I worked in the afternoon and then went to wine club in the evening. It was held at the Radisson again, in the Indo-Thai restaurant. I ended up sitting with four people I already knew and I met a couple of new people I will definitely get in touch with when I’m back in September. 

The theme for the evening was rosé:

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We had the same menu as last time:

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I thought I liked rosé but it turns out that apart from the first one I tried, they all taste the same to me and I struggled to find a second choice (I went for ‘C’ in the end – don’t ask me why). Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t finish them. We eventually discovered we had been drinking these wines:

  • A: Chemin des Sables d’Anjou (2010) – from the Loire valley in France; ripe peach and apricot aromas; full of fruit flavour; made from Cabernet Franc grapes
  • B: False Bay Rosé (2011) – from the Stellenbosch-Paarl region of South Africa; a delicately spiced rosé with summer fruit on the palate; produced from Cinsaut and Mourvedre
  • C: Masia Perelada Rosado (2010) – from Catalonia; a bright pink colour; the fragrance contains raspberries and strawberries; 60% Grenache, 40% Tempranillo
  • D: Santa Cristina Rosato Cipresseto (2010) – link pink in colour with cherry tones; complex in aroma with notes of berry fruit, particularly raspberries and strawberries; full and rich in flavour, fruity on the finish; 85% Sangiovese, 15% other complimentary grapes
  • E: Massaya Bekka Valley Rosé (2011) – from Lebanon; strawberry hue with aromatic notes reminiscent of raspberries, summer stone fruit and subtle spices; elegant and round on the palate; graceful acidity with a crisp finish; 40% Cinsault, 30% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • F: Chateau de Marsan Bordeaux Rosé (2010) – pretty pale raspberry in colour; expressive nose of red berries with nice smoky and resinous aromas; full and fruity on the palate with a racy finish; 20% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon

There was some mingling at the bar later on where a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc were consumed. At about 11pm, a few of us decided to go to Cirque du Soir. In the lobby of the Radisson I suggested we walk to the Fairmont as it was just a couple of blocks. It wouldn’t have taken more than 7 minutes. As I walked out of the hotel it was like stepping into a sauna. I could feel my hair start to frizz and knew that if I didn’t get back in the air conditioning in 5 minutes by the time I got to the club I’d be mistaken for Chaka Khan. We got into two cabs, convinced the drivers to take us the short distance and off we went.

I’d heard a lot about Cirque du Soir and was unsure of what to expect. Not surprisingly there was a queue to get in. Whe the woman at the door turned away five semi-naked girls just before us I thought there was no chance we’d get in (I was with three guys as the other cab hadn’t arrived yet). She let us in. 

The place is smaller than I imagine
d – and it was hot, smoky and crowded. And it is disturbing. Contortionists, trapeze artists, painted faces… I felt bad for the little person in the glass cage being gawked at.

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I decided to leave at about 1.30am – it was too crowded and I’d had too much to drink. I’m glad I went, but now that I know what it’s all about, I won’t be rushing back. 

I woke up on Friday feeling rough. Two hangovers in one week – that’s a first for me (in Dubai)!

Once I’d surfaced my parents and I decided to go out for lunch. Our original idea was to go to Sumo Sushi at Jumeirah Town Centre but when we got there I noticed a Persian restaurant on the first floor called Shish Kebab and we thought we’d try it. We had some hummus to start with, my parents both ordered the koobideh for their main course and I ordered one koobideh skewer and one grilled chicken skewer. 

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We walked around the small mall for a while. Next to the restaurant we came across the Hello Kitty Spa, a spa for kids. Mum and I asked if we could have a look around and the lady showed us into the spa. I’ve never seen anything like it – it was even nicer than some adult spas I’ve seen! The photos below are from their Facebook page:

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It was full. A few girls were getting their nails and hair done and there was even one who couldn’t have been older than 6 or 7 who was getting her make-up done. I’m not sure how I feel about that, to be honest. Kids already grow up so fast these days… 

When we went back downstairs I noticed a lingerie shop called TKD (The Knickers Drawer). Just out of curiosity I went in to see what they had and noticed they stocked all my favourite brands. I tried on a couple of (rather overpriced) tankinis and ended up buying them both. A swimsuit had been on my list of things to get but I hadn’t managed to find one I liked so this was great! I’m not sure I would shop there on a regular basis as it is quite expensive but at least I know where to go if I ever have a bra-related emergency!

Afterwards Mum and I went to Lulu to pick up some holiday supplies – sunscreen, insect repellent, shampoo, and so on. Thankfully it didn’t take too long. 

That evening I met my cousin for a drink at Cin Cin at the Fairmont and then had dinner with my parents. They wanted to go to Ravi Restaurant in Satwa. The food is good, but the place is a dump. The tables are covered in clear plastic, you drink from styrofoam cups, there’s a tissue box on each table…

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I noticed ‘brain fry’ on the menu, which Mum subsequently ordered (gross).

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I ordered the chicken tikka – it seemed like the safest option.

2012

When we got home I decided I’d better start packing. Two Indian outfits, four pairs of shoes, one pair of trainers, four handbags, seven dresses, swimwear, casual wear, gym stuff, pajamas, underwear, toiletries = 30 kg. F***. I was allowed 25 kg. I unpacked – I’d wear my trainers, I didn’t need that dress, swapped pajamas for lighter pajamas, put some gym stuff in Mum’s bag. Still 30 kg. How was that even possible?? I hadn’t even packed any books. I unpacked again, trying to figure out if there was anything I could leave behind. There wasn’t. At 3am I decided I’d just pay the excess weight and be done with it. Had I not been attending a wedding in August I could have left behind the Indian clothes, two pairs of shoes and two handb
ags, but there you go.

I was up early on Saturday as I had a few things to do. On Wednesday my mum suddenly decided she wanted to open a safety deposit box at the bank so I had to find out how to go about it. I didn’t have time to do it on Thursday so it had to be Saturday. My cousin came over with his three girls in the morning. They are all just adorable, and the twins were in matching Hello Kitty outfits! After they left an hour later, Mum and I went to open a safety deposit box at the bank. We had to sign some forms, pay a deposit and then the lady showed us how it all worked. 

The system is automatic. You swipe your debit card to enter the locker area – it’s open 24 hours. You go into one of the rooms, insert your debit card into the machine, punch in your PIN number on the screen, place your hand in the reader and then the screen tells you your box is on its way to you. The table opens up and your box appears. Once the box is open, the door to the room is automatically locked – nobody can enter or leave. When you’ve finished with your box, you lock it, press ‘Deposit’ on the screen and the box is automatically taken away and you’re done. Amazing. Very ‘Mission Impossible’! It makes the safety deposit box area in Selfridges seem so antiquated.

When we got home, I weighed all our luggage hoping I could transfer some of my weight to my parents’ bags. My bag was still 30 kg, Mum’s bag was 30 kg and Dad’s was 26 kg. He was smug until I pointed out that he’d given stuff to both Mum and me to carry. ‘Can you reduce your luggage?’ he asked me. ‘What should I remove? My Indian clothes? My gym clothes? My everyday clothes? It’s not like we’re going for a week, we’re away for almost 2 months.’ He wasn’t happy. Any bloody excuse.

The afternoon was quite chilled. I packed my hand luggage (some books, laptop, camera, iPod, all the wires that go with them!) and did some work. 

I had been dreading travelling with my parents since the beginning of the week. The last time the three of us flew together was in July 2009 from Miami to Kingston and back again. It was like travelling with two 8-year-olds who had never been to an airport. One time my mum and I flew together from Bombay to Bali, she left her boarding pass on the table in the lounge at KL airport. 

Well, what happened this time? We left home, got down to the lobby and Dad realised he’d forgotten something. He went back up. When he came down, Mum realised she’d forgotten something. She went back up and eventually came down. We got to the airport, checked in (luckily they didn’t question the weight of our bags), went through passport control and security, and then Dad asked, ‘Where are the Patchi chocolates??’ Mum and I looked at each other because he insisted on carrying them in his hand rather than packing them. ‘They didn’t come out of the cab,’ I said. ‘In fact, I’m not even sure they went into the cab.’ After a few phone calls we discovered he’d left them in the lobby. Oh dear. What next? 

Thankfully the rest of our journey was uneventful, albeit somewhat turbulent. We stopped off in Singapore for 45 minutes – we were sped away on a buggy to our connecting flight and took off for Bali. I wondered whether our luggage had time to make the connection… 

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 21

A busy week!

After my usual session with Rama, my mum, grandmother and I decided to go to Royal China for lunch.

I’d barely been there 5 minutes and the waitress started to annoy me. She asked us three times whether we wanted virgin mojitos and we told her three times that we didn’t. We ordered some dim sum (prawn and chive dumplings, vegetarian dumplings, spring rolls, crispy asparagus), and after we’d finished that we ordered our main course (noodles with mixed vegetables, tofu and pak choy). She asked us about the virgin mojitos again. Good grief. NO! 

After lunch we went to the Dubai Mall. I had a couple of dresses that needed altering and we’d been told there was a good tailor there. I’d heard about other tailors in Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai but this was much more convenient. I tried on both dresses and they said they’d be ready later that evening. 

That evening, I was supposed to go to an InterNations event at Jambase but by the time we got home it was after 5pm and I was feeling too lazy. I got into bed and decided to do some work.

On Monday I had yoga and was home until the evening. I’d booked a facial at Spaces at Oasis Mall (they offer 50% off on Mondays) for 7pm. I learned that 7pm is really the wrong time to go. There was traffic getting there and back, and the spa was crowded too. Next time I’ll go in the middle of the afternoon. A couple of days later I got a call from the spa telling them the payment on my card hadn’t gone through.

‘Really?’ I asked. ‘Because I paid cash.’ 

‘Oh! So sorry for the inconvenience, mam.’ 

Mental.

I worked all of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but was out those three nights.

On Tuesday evening I met up with NP (formerly known as ‘Twitter friend’). She suggested we meet at Jetty Lounge at the Royal Mirage Hotel. I’d never been there so it was nice to go somewhere new (for me). It’s located on the beach, on a jetty (hence the name), and it was very chilled. We ordered a bottle of rosé and some food (the mezze and Mexican platters). The houmous and guacamole were fantastic. It was a warm night and the rosé went down very smoothly.  

On Wednesday evening I met up with a friend and one of her friends at Blends Bar at The Address Marina. It was Havana Night, which meant women got free mojitos until midnight and there was also a free salsa lesson taught by Aloy Junco. We got there at about 9pm, got a round of drinks and then joined the salsa class. There were about 40 people in the class and once I figured out the instructor’s strong Cuban accent it wasn’t difficult to follow. As the class went on, the room started filling up, and once the class was over the dancefloor was overtaken by the serious salsa lovers. It was fantastic to watch – all that twirling and hip-shaking! By the time we left just after midnight the dancefloor was heaving. We had such a good time we decided to make it a regular event once get back from our various travels. 

On Thursday night I headed to Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel for Dubai Wine Club. As I walked in I prayed that the crazy woman from last time wasn’t there. And my prayers were answered! What a fun evening! Our table consisted of four men and six women (nine singles, one married man): I knew one of the women, and two of the men and two of the women were on my table at the last wine tasting. Again, we were seated outdoors just outside the lobby area, and this time all six wines were red. I thought it was a shame as it was quite warm and a perfect night for chilled white wine! We went through all six wines – talking about them (and other things). The woman on my right said ‘I think they’re all Cabernets from different regions’ (the bottles are covered so you don’t know what you’re drinking). How on earth could anyone possibly know that? One of the guys said ‘I think F is a Malbec.’ I had to disagree because I actually like Malbec and F smelled (and tasted) like burning tyres. At the end of the evening, the organiser unveiled the bottles and, sure enough, they were all Cabernets. Genius. The conversation flowed (sex was the topic of choice) and people on other tables kept looking over at us wondering what the raucous laughter was about. We were by far the best table there. Pretty soon we were the only table left, still sitting down, still talking – and the organiser brought over two bottles of Bordeaux to our table. At about 11.30pm we decided to move into the bar area as it was getting too warm outside. I think Dubai is the only place where it gets hotter as the night goes on rather than cooler – of course the red wine didn’t help. I left soon after midnight – all that red wine had left me feeling dopey.

Friday was relaxing – I had lunch with my parents and grandmother at Sakura at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. We all overate, as usual. Imagine if I’d gone for that awful massage after Sakura?? After lunch I went down to the pool, pleasantly surprised to find nobody there. I stayed in that evening – I think being out three nights in a row is enough for me! Plus I knew Saturday would be an early start as Mum and I were taking Joy to the airport.

After seeing Joy go through passport control, Mum and I left the airport. The Metro station was right there so we decided to go home by train. I hadn’t been on the Metro yet and was in no rush to get home. I already had Mum’s old Nol card which needed topping up. I put it in the machine and decided to top it up with 5 dirhams. As I was fishing around for change in my bag, I noticed that there were some coins in the change box in the ticket machine. Five dirhams exactly! Perfect. 

Because we were close to the beginning of the line we got seats on the train. It was 9am. We got to Financial Centre Metro station by 9.30 and started walking home. We passed Tim Horton’s and decided to get a coffee. Mum bought a croissant which looked and smelled so good. I’ll admit I had two bites of it. It was my first time at Tim Horton’s and was pleasantly surprised by their coffee. We got home by 10am – it’s about a 7-minute walk from Tim Horton’s to our building and I could feel my skin burning, even at that time of the morning.

When we got home I finished my coffee, did the crossword, and sat with my grandmother. Mum went back to sleep. At about 11am I decided to go down to the pool. It was boiling so I sat under an umbrella. After a while I was so hot I thought I’d do a couple of laps in the pool. The metal railings on the ladder getting into the pool were so hot I could barely hold them for more than a couple of seconds at a time. And once I was in the pool I felt like I was in a tepid bath; that’s how warm it was. 

That afternoon I was supposed to go to my writing/book group, but I only went for the book part of it. There were just four of us this time, but I got some good book suggestions which I’ll look into when I’m in London. After book group I went to meet my mum and grandmother at Burjuman. They were having coffee with one of their friends at Hediard Cafe in the mall. After that we walked Saks for a little while and then went home. 

That evening we went to Social House for dinner. Mum had made lunch but didn’t feel like making dinner so we went out. When we got to the mall we passed a watch repair shop so I had a few links removed from my watch so that it finally fit properly. Let’s hope I never have to use them again! The man charged me 10 dirhams. By the time we sat down to eat it was 9.45 and I was famished. I couldn’t see anything on the menu that sounded as appealing as the Wagyu beef burger and fries (I didn’t eat the bread)… and it really hit t
he spot. 

I was shattered by the time we got home and couldn’t wait to get into bed. It was the longest day I’d had in a while!

I love my life.

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