Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Bali 2015: Days 15 to 17 (and a fairy tale wedding)

When I found out my cousin had decided to have her wedding in Bali, I decided to go a few days earlier and have some time to myself. I was on a yoga retreat for a week and then moved to the Sofitel in Nusa Dua for the wedding. So, I’d been in Bali for two weeks by the time the wedding started…

It was a fairy tale wedding, quite literally. The invitations, parties, do not disturb signs and even key holders all had a fairy tale theme to them!

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On Friday morning there were a couple of pujas (prayers) followed by lunch. After lunch we relaxed in our room for a while and then eventually had to get ready for the dinner.

The first night was a costume party where we had to go dressed as a fictional character. I’d ordered a ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ set from the USA, but by the time I left for Bali it still hadn’t arrived (and a month later, it still hasn’t). It would have been perfect – with long black gloves, tiara, cigarette holder, pearl necklace… but it would have also been perfect if the damn thing had arrived. Instead I wore a pink dress with butterflies on it (there actually is a Hans Christian Andersen story called ‘The Butterfly’, who knew?) but was amazed at the lengths other wedding guests had gone to. The bride and her fiance were Guinevere and Lancelot, there was a Storm Trooper, there was a V (from ‘V for Vendetta’), there were a couple of Maleficents, a Queen of Hearts, a few Tinkerbells, a Zorro and so many others. My dad said he saw someone in ‘just his hotel dressing gown’ but when I spotted the same person later on, I realised he was supposed to be Luke Skywalker. There was a Snow White, and a couple of Cruella de Vils too.

The entrance to the venue was stunning – it was like an enchanted forest. There were even little speakers in the trees with birds singing!

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Once dinner had been served, it was ‘Shots O’Clock’ every half an hour…

We left just before 3am, but I believe the party went on until breakfast was served.

On Saturday afternoon, there was pool party at Nikki Beach.

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We didn’t stay too long though.

On Saturday night was the sangeet. The way the hall was decorated was incredible. I have never seen anything like it before. It had an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme, and you even had to go through a maze to get into the ballroom.

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There were women on stilts with trays of shots, and there were even people dressed as pawns moving around the chessboard – and they joined in with the dancing later on in the night. It was basically like a very large zumba class, but a lot more fun! (Sorry, the sound quality in the video is terrible.)

I was back in my room before 3am, but again the party went on all night.

We were woken up at about 11am on Sunday as we had to attend another puja. I thought I could have a nap after that, but we were told that the bride couldn’t be on her own until the wedding at 4.30pm and that we had to be ready by 2.30pm to collect the groom and bring him to her. It was going to a be long day. So, my sister and I were ready by 2.30pm, but of course nobody else was. We eventually went to collect the groom and his friends and family, and they did the baraat (groom’s wedding procession) to where the bride was waiting. Luckily it had stopped raining, but they moved the wedding ceremony indoors just in case.

The ceremony seemed to go on forever. The bride’s family and the groom’s family had each brought their own priest, so they both were trying to conduct the ceremony.

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People were coming and going, getting tea and snacks, and I don’t think anyone would have noticed if I’d slipped out, but I was needed towards the end of the ceremony to shower the couple with rose petals as they walked around the fire.

That evening was the wedding reception. Once again, the ballroom had been completely transformed.

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I was really struggling with my dress though. I’d bought it over the summer when I was in London and thought I’d lose some weight before wearing it at the wedding, and I had, but it was SO tight. I put it on while I was getting ready, then realised that I couldn’t sit down to put my shoes on. So I took it off again, put my shoes on and then put the dress back on. I then realised that I wouldn’t be able to lift it up if I needed the loo and would have to take the whole thing off again! Good Lord. I decided that if I did need the loo later on, I’d just go back to my room and change before coming back to the reception…

Luckily, it didn’t get to that stage. My sister and I left when our parents did, as we intended to be up early the next morning to go into Seminyak.

So, congratulations to the beautiful bride and groom – and here’s hoping their marriage is every bit the fairy tale as their wedding was!

I love my life.

To read more about Bali, click here.

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Dubai 2015: Week 17

Another busy week!

I had a session with Trevor on Sunday morning and managed to get some work done that afternoon. My friend from London was still in town so we went to Iris for happy hour. It was lovely – not too hot, not too crowded. We had some red wine and then he was going out for dinner and I went home to have dinner with my parents.

I worked the next day and then met up with a friend for a drink at Zuma. We met early, so it wasn’t too crowded – and we managed to get a table in the bar area. I hadn’t been there in a while – but I really do like that bar.

On Tuesday I had lunch with a friend from my Arabic class. She was in my Beginners I class a couple of years ago – and it wasn’t until our last class that I realised she lives in the same building as me! We went to Yo! Sushi in the Dubai Mall. I’d walked past it hundreds of times but had never eaten there. The food was pretty good and (mostly) healthy.

That evening I had a massage at Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal. I can honestly say it was one of the worst massages I’ve ever had. The therapist’s hands were so rough and bony, it was like being massaged with gravel. I even had bruises on my upper arms the following day. I would still go back to Spa Zen (this was the only bad experience I’ve had there) and now I know who not to ask for.

On Wednesday evening, I had dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House at the Address Marina. A friend of mine’s father had won a voucher for dinner worth AED 1000, so my friend invited me to join her as her dad wasn’t going to use it. The food was great – we shared the calamari and a Caesar’s salad to start. I then had the 8 oz. petite filet (it was the smallest cut they had) with pepper sauce. We also ordered some mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and onion rings. It was far too much food – and we ended up returning the onion rings as they weren’t cooked properly. After all that, we still looked at the dessert menu but didn’t order anything. It was a nice evening and I’d go back – especially as I found out they do two-for-one on Tuesday nights. Buy one steak, get the second free! Bargain.

On Thursday, my friend from London came back to Dubai (he’d been in Abu Dhabi for work since Monday). He was staying at the Palace Hotel for his uncle’s 70th birthday weekend. That afternoon, I went to meet them by the pool and have a couple of drinks: his parents, his uncle, his cousins… it was nice. Eventually it was just the two of us so we ended up ordering a bottle of wine.

That night we’d been invited to our friends’ place in Emirates Hills. It was a small(ish) dinner – under 20 people, but it was a lot of fun. There was drinking, dancing, eating… even some swimming (just the guys). And I fell asleep on their sofa. We eventually got home at 6am. SIX! It was broad daylight when I went to bed and I hadn’t done that in the longest time.

I couldn’t get out of bed on Friday. At about 1.30 my mum asked me if I wanted lunch but I think I mumbled something incoherent and went back to sleep. I got out of bed at 4pm, got ready and went back to the Palace Hotel. I met my friend at the pool, ordered a Coke (my second one this year) and went for a swim. The water wasn’t warm, but it wasn’t freezing – it was just what I needed to wake me up properly. We ordered a bit of food and were joined by another friend who was in town for the 70th birthday celebrations. We sat by the pool long after the sun had gone down and then realised we had to rush to get to our respective dinners on time.

The ladies were meeting at Neo’s at the Address Downtown while the men had been invited to a Bahraini friend’s house for dinner (without alcohol – ha!). The guys did eventually join us at Neo’s at about 11.30pm and just before 1am, my friend from London and I left to go to Pacha where another friend of mine was celebrating his birthday. We didn’t get home until 4.30am.

On Saturday I went back to the Palace Hotel for lunch. We ate by the poolside – it started off as just the two of us, and then we were three, then five, then three, and so on. People came and left, bottles of wine came and left (empty).

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I went back home at about 6.30pm to get ready for the dinner that evening. The dinner was held in the Ballroom at the Palace Hotel. Being a Saturday night I thought it wouldn’t be a late night, but I was wrong. We danced until 2am and it was 2.40am by the time I got home. I got into bed and texted Trevor to say I wouldn’t be able to make my session on Sunday morning!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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Dubai 2015: Week 4

I had to cancel my Sunday morning session with Trevor as I had to be in Sharjah by 10am and I wasn’t sure I’d be back in time. I got to Sharjah, had my blood test and X-ray and was done in about 20 minutes. The traffic coming back to Dubai was pretty bad and I’m glad I’d cancelled the session.

Instead of going straight home, I decided to go to the Dubai Mall and have a look around. I needed to get a birthday present for a friend and I’d seen the perfect book at Kinokuniya – Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (Charley was Steinbeck’s dog and my friend has a dog called Charlie). On a previous visit to Kinokuniya I’d noticed three Folio Society copies of the book and thought I’d get one. I also wanted a couple of books for myself (naturally). The Folio Society copies were nowhere to be found. I couldn’t believe that three people had bought them and I went to the Information desk to find out if they had any in stock. I gave the man behind the desk the title, the author, the publisher – and he insisted they’d never had that edition in stock. And I insisted that they had at one point. Why was I so sure, he asked me. Because I used to work at that publisher in London, and I worked on that particular book. Anyway, I ended up getting the Penguin Classics edition of the book – it’s nowhere near as impressive as the Folio Society edition, but there you go. I also picked up the new Wally Lamb book (We Are Water) and a book called Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It was written before Shadow of the Wind but was only translated a couple of years ago. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have bought the second book because I doubt it will be as good as The Shadow of the Wind! While I was browsing I was horrified to see this sign on one of the shelves.

I was so horrified I went to Debenhams and bought a dress to cheer myself up. I was home in time for lunch and spent the rest of the day at home.

I woke up at about 6am on Monday – all I could hear was the wind howling outside. It was dark and looked like rain. It rained most of the day and I hoped that my piano lesson would be cancelled (it wasn’t). Luckily, when I left for my lesson it had stopped raining and only started again after I got back home. I could still see lightning and hear thunder as I got into bed at around midnight.

I had yoga on Tuesday morning and then met up with NP for lunch at Tasha’s in Galleria Mall on Al Wasl Road. NP got there a little before me and managed to snap up the last available table. There were already people waiting when I got there at 1pm. She had the wagyu burger – she said it was better than the one at Jones the Grocer. I had my usual quinoa salad with chicken and a carrot/beetroot/apple/ginger juice. We both had a coffee after that and went our separate ways.

I got home and did a bit of work. I was reading Natalie Goldberg’s The True Secret of Writing and it made me want to start writing again so I decided that my project for the week would be to clear up my desk. (I finished reading the book later that night, and to sum up her ‘true secret’ of writing: Shut up and write.)

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Yes, that is a bottle of vodka. No, I haven’t been drinking it – I inherited it half full. What else is on there? Camera lenses, books, papers, sunscreen, makeup, my old laptop from three years ago which I must get rid of. I haven’t worked at my desk in about two years and I need to start using it again. Where do I work? On my bed. No comments, please.

So I put off clearing up my desk until the evening. And then I spent about four hours sorting out papers, emptying drawers and basically throwing out a lot of sh*t.

On Wednesday morning, my desk looked like this:

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Miles better, but still room for improvement! After my session with Trevor that morning, I had to get ready in a rush to go back to Sharjah to finish off the rest of the visa renewal process. I was in the visa application centre this time. My dad had arranged for someone to take me through the procedure as I had no idea what to do or what queue to stand in. I had to wait in line at the front desk while they stamped all my forms, then I had to queue to pay for my renewal, then I had to queue to submit my passport, then finally I had to submit the rest of the forms. I sat in the chair opposite a local woman. She looked at me and decided she’d rather continue chatting to the male colleague on her right. For about ten minutes. Eventually, she decided she’d better get on with her job and looked through my forms. She told me one form was missing, so the guy I was with rushed off to get it while I waited there, and this ‘official’ folded her arms on her desk and just put her head down. Erm – that’s professional. The guy came back with the form, I filled it in, signed it, she woke up and that was it.

I had a piano lesson on Wednesday afternoon – we spent the entire hour working on the Debussy Arabesque. I spent a few more hours clearing up my desk that day. I even came across my first plane ticket which my mum had saved.

By Thursday morning, my desk looked like this:

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Yes, there was still crap under the desk and that’s a work in progress. But – I’ve been feeling very positive and energised since clearing it up.

On Thursday night, I went to my friend’s Gatsby-themed birthday party at his house (I wore my new dress and he loved Travels with Charley). It was a nice evening – and not as many people as I thought there would be. I had just two glasses of red wine (I hadn’t had any alcohol since my friends left after that mad week they were here). I hadn’t really missed it and even started with a mocktail, but because we were outdoors and it was quite chilly I thought the red wine would warm me up. I got home at about 2.30 and went to bed.

I worked all day on Friday and most of Saturday. I had a sudden influx of work on Thursday and my only option was to work all weekend.

On Saturday evening a friend and I went to visit some friends who’d had a baby just before Christmas. We were there for about an hour and then headed home. And I went back to work for a few more hours! I love being busy at work, but I’d been swamped on Friday and Saturday. According to one of my clients, I should expect it to be like that for the next couple of weeks. Oh well, more work equals more money!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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Dubai 2013: Week 38

The first half of the week was quite quiet as I wasn’t very well – I had a terrible cough and sore throat after the heavy weekend I had.

I was home until Tuesday afternoon when I went for my piano lesson. What I love about the piano is that no matter how rubbish I’m feeling or how distracted by other things, I just forget about everything when I’m in my lessons or practising.

On Wednesday evening I went to a friend’s place for dinner. I hadn’t seen him since his impromptu dinner party back in July and it was nice to catch up. He made grilled salmon, stir-fried vegetables and salad. We had some wine with dinner – and there was Cookies & Cream ice cream and strawberries for dessert. It wasn’t a late night – I was home by 12.30.

I went to a cheese and wine evening at the H Hotel on Thursday night. They hold this event every Thursday from 7-10pm in the Arcadia Lounge and it costs AED150 for unlimited cheese and wine. There were about 20 cheese to choose from (including a fondue) and several different wines too. The friends I was with had two ‘2 for 1’ vouchers so we ended up spending just AED75 each! It was a chilled evening and the guitarist was brilliant.

On Friday I went to a party in Marina as the guest of the friend who had dinner at home on Wednesday. I had a few drinks, met some new interesting people, danced a bit and got home at 4am (or was it later?). It was an interesting evening – maybe one day I’ll write about it and you can read about the types of idiotic men I meet here in Dubai!

I was home all day on Saturday and spent most of the day working.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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