Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2015: Week 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that was my week!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 32

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

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

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

I hate it when they write 'Saloon'!

I hate it when they write ‘Saloon’!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dynamite shrimp

Dynamite shrimp

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 30

Again, I had Arabic every morning from Sunday to Wednesday – we covered:

  • How we find life in Dubai – easy, fun, boring, etc
  • Whether our friends are local or foreigners
  • How to say sentences such as: I see you, he sees me, she helps them, and so on
  • More verbs

After my class I had a session with Randy. I was home for the rest of the day and that night had dinner with my sister at the Dubai Mall. We went to the Outback Steakhouse for an early dinner. We were so early, in fact, that I couldn’t have a baked potato with my steak as they weren’t ready yet.

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On Monday afternoon my sister and I went to Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal for massages. We couldn’t get our appointments at the same time so had to go one after the other. I took my book with me and actually managed to read some of it (even though I wasn’t particularly enjoying it and have put it aside for now).

On Tuesday evening I met a friend for Suhoor. It’s traditionally the pre-dawn meal during Ramadan, but it seems to run on straight after Iftar until the early hours. We went to the Courtyard at the Al Manzil Hotel. I had contemplated getting my hair done but am glad I didn’t as we were sitting outdoors and it was humid. I’d have looked like Chaka Khan by the end of the evening. We met late, at 10.30pm, and got a table. We had some hummus, fatoush, shish taouk, fresh juices (they don’t serve alcohol during Iftar and Suhoor). As we started so late, I didn’t get home until 1am.

On Thursday I had a session with Randy and then went to get my hair done. That night I met up with some friends for drinks at Zuma. One of the girls brought a guy who was a banker by day, magician by night. (Yes, the obvious joke was that during the day he made money disappear.) He asked me what the time was. I told him it was 9:05. He asked me to take my watch off and hold it in my closed right hand. I did. He covered my right hand with both his hands and asked me to think of a number between 20 and 40. I chose 38. He told me to imagine that my watch now said 9:43 (9:05 + 38 minutes). He removed his hands, I opened my palm and looked at my watch. It said 9:40 (close enough)! How did he do that?? (No, he hadn’t been holding my hand for 35 minutes.) He did a few more tricks with someone else’s wedding ring, another person’s 20 dirham note, and someone else’s pair of glasses. I thought he was incredible. Do you believe in magic?

After Zuma we went on to McGettigan’s where we stayed until they closed. Again, it was packed.

On Friday my sister and I had a late lunch at Royal China. Dim sum and Coke suited me just fine! That night I had dinner with a friend at Rivington Grill in Souk Al Bahar (hurrah for Entertainer vouchers). We both had the lamb shoulder which was excellent. For dessert, I had the cheese platter. I love cheese! We joined a couple of friends at McGettigan’s after dinner and had some more wine.

I was home all day on Saturday. That night my sister and I went to PF Chang for dinner. We had the dynamite shrimp, hot and sour soup, Mongolian lamb, and brown rice. And then we noticed their new dessert menu. She ordered the hot chocolate fondant and I ordered the red velvet cheesecake.

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Neither of us finished our dessert. We were both ridiculously full after eating and had to roll ourselves to the taxi queue.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 29

I don’t know where the time goes and I don’t know how I got to be a month behind writing my blog!

I had Arabic every morning from Sunday to Wednesday – it was exhausting but we learned a lot (as usual). We covered:

  • More directions – north, south, east, west, above, below, tunnel, in front, behind
  • How to say you will do something (but not the future tense exactly)
  • Holiday vocabulary – Where will you stay? When are you going? Where are you going? and so on
  • Food – bread, cheese, fruit, dates
  • More verbs

After my class I had a session with Randy. I worked for most of the afternoon and that night I had dinner at Shang Palace with my cousin and a friend. The food was really good, but the service wasn’t great. In fact, when we wanted the bill we had to go looking for someone to give it to us as there was nobody around.

On Tuesday afternoon I met a friend for lunch. We went to DIFC as that was the only place which serves food in the day during Ramadan. All the restaurants were open but they were all covered by a thick white curtains so nobody could see inside. We ended up at Royal China. We had a selection of dim sum – I hadn’t been there in a while and I enjoyed it.

On Wednesday I decided to get my hair cut. I hadn’t had it cut since November and it really was looking quite bad. I had about 4 inches taken off. While I was there I decided to get my nails done too. When in Rome and all that!

That evening a friend had an impromptu dinner party at his place. The food was OK (chicken skewers, pasta, salad) but the dessert was excellent (made by a couple of his friends). It was a nice evening – nice to meet some new people as well…

On Thursday I met up with some friends for drinks at Zuma. After Zuma we went on to McGettigan’s where we met up with some other friends. I’ve noticed that during Ramadan McGettigan’s gets more and more crowded each weekend! I left at about 1am as my sister and nephew were arriving from Lagos later that night.

We were home all day on Friday – I had a headache (as usual). That night we had dinner PF Chang at the Dubai Mall and then I went on to a party with a friend. I was so tired from the night before but didn’t want to cancel. I’d been to one of their parties before, back in October (after the Enrique concert) and it was awesome. We got there at about 10.30 – Prosecco was flowing, there was loads of food, and the craziest people I’ve met in Dubai. I ended up talking to a Greek Australian who looked like Alcide from ‘True Blood’:


Hot, right? He came over to me while I was sitting at the bar and we started talking. He was one of the very few straight men in the room (by this point the others were all dancing and mostly shirtless). After he spent 10 minutes telling me about himself, the conversation went something like this:

Alcide: Where are you from?

Me: London.

Alcide: Originally?

Me: India.

Alcide: I’ve never slept with an Indian woman.

Me: Really – that’s too bad. (And it’s not happening tonight!)

He started to stroke his chest hair.

Me: Are you sure you’re not gay? Why is your shirt unbuttoned? And what’s with that medallion?

Alcide (still stroking his chest): Have you ever seen such a hairy chest?

Me: Dude, I’m Indian. I’ve seen women with hairier chests than that.

I think he realised he wasn’t going to get anywhere with me, but I did laugh at his expression when I made that last comment. He went to talk to my friend, who later on told me that she couldn’t even talk to him because she thought he was so hot and she was speechless.

We got home at 5am. It was a fantastic evening – we danced, we drank, we met crazy people. Amazing.

Saturday? Painful. That’s all I can say. We went to McDonald’s for dinner that night. It was just what I needed – I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had McDonald’s…

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 28

I started my Beginners II Arabic course on Sunday morning. It was an intensive Ramadan term – 30 hours in 4 weeks. I didn’t want to wait until September as I thought I would forget what I’d learned, especially the alphabet! I also knew I’d be travelling in October and would miss about 3 weeks of classes – which seemed pointless. So I thought I’d continue while it was still fresh in my mind. I had originally signed up for the 12-2pm class which would take place four times a week from Sunday to Wednesday. About a week before the course was due to start I was told that there hadn’t been enough demand for that time slot and the only other one available was from 9-11am. Jesus, I thought. It would probably kill me, but I decided to go for it anyway.

Luckily I had the same teacher as my Beginners I course – and I think she’s a great teacher. It was a full a class – 12 people from all over – India, Pakistan, Venezuela, Brazil, the UK, Poland, Spain, Turkey. Our first session consisted of revision of what we had learned in Beginners I – it had only been 10 days since my last class but it’s shocking how quickly I had forgotten a few things. As it was Ramadan, we weren’t allowed to eat or drink in the classroom. I was used to making a cup of tea in the break and sipping it throughout the second half of the lesson but I couldn’t do that any more.

After Arabic I had a session with Randy and then worked the rest of the day.

In Monday’s Arabic class we did some more revision and learned a few new things:

  • Directions – what area you live in, what building, next to/opposite, road/street, turn

Our teacher told us that after the first week of Beginners II she would no longer write in phonetics and all her writing on the overhead projector would be in Arabic. Uh-oh.

Tuesday was a busy day. We learned more new things in Arabic:

  • More directions – close to/far from, roundabout, airport, traffic, flat/apartment, giving directions to your home

I had a piano lesson that afternoon. I had paid for the whole month (five lessons) but my piano teacher told me he’d be travelling the following week and wanted to cram three lessons into the same week. I didn’t mind having two lessons that week, but three seemed a bit much!

That evening I went to an Iftar at Mizaan at the H Hotel. I can see why people don’t lose weight over Ramadan. The selection of food is astonishing. And the desserts were incredible – not just Arabic dessert either – cheesecake, wheat-free chocolate cake, regular chocolate cake, it was all there. After dinner we decided to have a drink at the bar just off the lobby – One on One. It was freezing in there. I had a glass of wine and went home. I was tired and had to be up early the next day.

More Arabic on Wednesday! We learned:

  • More directions – first, second, third, floor, ground floor, in front/behind, straight
  • Verb conjugations
  • More random vocabulary – hotel, tax, trade centre, language(s), to know, to travel

That afternoon I met up with my cousin and his wife and kids who were visiting Dubai for a few days.

That night I met another cousin for dinner. We went to PF Chang and had our usual favourites – hot and sour soup, dynamite shrimp, Mongolian lamb, brown rice. The menu never changes.

We ended up at The Cheesecake Factory for dessert. I had the Red Velvet Cheesecake and felt quite sick afterwards.

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I had my second piano lesson of the week on Thursday – it would be my last one for a month. I’d felt like I’d been making some progress over the last couple of months and thought a month of no lessons wouldn’t be good for me!

That evening I went to wine club. We’d been told that because of summer and Ramadan there wouldn’t be another wine club until September but demand was so high that the organisers arranged for wine club to take place without them! It was held at Vintage at Wafi Pyramids. The format was a little different – instead of having people sitting at tables of 10 as usual, we were given six tokens (labelled A to F) and had to go to the bar to collect our drinks when we were ready. I think many people (myself included) weren’t happy with the quantity of wine being served – at a table you get one-tenth of a bottle but here we were lucky if we got one-tenth of a glass! And I didn’t really enjoy any of the wines we had:

  • Rosemount ‘O’ Moscato (Australia) – spicy, grapefruit aromas. Palate delicately sparkling this wine displays luscious, sweet fruit flavours with beautifully balanced acidity – like biting into a cool, crisp grape. A light, fresh and zesty style with fruit sweetness ensuring flavour, balance and intensity are retained when served over ice.
  • Boukenhoutskloof Porcupine Ridge Viognier Grenache Blanc (Coastal Region, South Africa) – an unusual blend of white grapes, reminiscent of a Rhone blend, partially fermented in French oak. The aromas of ripe apricots and spicy floral aromas dominate the nose, while the palate is made more crisp by the Grenache Blanc, with a streak of minerality.
  • Yalumba Viognier (Barossa Valley, Australia) – this is a full-bodied dry white, with a gorgeously perfumed floral scent and a ripe, peach and apricot fruit, with a silky palate-feel.
  • Nicolas Rossignol Bourgogne Rouge (France) – 100% Pinot Noir. The fruits are soft and silky in the mouth with a touch of raspberry with fine tannins. The finish is firm but fresh. Excellent pairing with game, red meats, roasted vegetables and risotto.
  • Dourthe La Terrase de la Garde (AOC, Pessac Leognac, France) – intense ruby red in colour. The typical Pessac-Leognan bouquet offers abundant fruit-laden character, revealing black cherries, plum and a trace of smoke, lifted with a hint of spice. Generous and dense on the palate, with a noticeable tannic structure, with no hint of aggressive character, evolving towards a powerful, savoury finish.
  • Marques de Caceres Reserva (DOC Rioja, Spain) – a dense bouquet of toasted aromas, red and black berries, luscious fruits and spices with a rich, layered body of spicy black fruits and succulent red fruits with integrated tannins, fresh acidity.

We stayed on for a while, ordering a couple of bottles of wine for a few of us, and some food. I met the manager, a lovely Spanish lady and we had a long conversation in Spanish. I always speak better Spanish after a few drinks – I think it unlocks a part of my brain and I suddenly start remembering random vocabulary! After we left Vintage, four of us ended up at McGettigan’s. It was a really fun evening.

Friday morning was not so fun. I felt like hell. A friend and I had booked massages at the Palace Hotel for later that afternoon. We met at 4.15pm and went to the spa.

The relaxation room

The relaxation room

My 80-minute massage was amazing. When I was finished I was lying down in the relaxation room when a woman walked in. I was a bit bleary-eyed from my massage and thought it was my friend when she lay on the bed next to mine. I looked closer and realised that it wasn’t her at all. We started talking – she asked me if I was staying at the hotel (she was), I asked her where she was from (Kenya), when I told her I grew up in Nigeria she mentioned someone else she knew who grew up in Nigeria but who now lives in Hong Kong. It turned out that she knew a very good friend of mine who I’ve known since we were babies! This is the same friend who stayed with me in June… What a small world! We swapped numbers – my friend and I invited her to join us for dinner later but she was jetlagged.

My friend and I decided to get ready. I saw this notice in the changing room:

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We walked to Souk Al Bahar and ended up at Left Bank. We got there just as the cannon went off and she started sipping her water. We both ordered the fish and chips (a huge portion which I couldn’t finish). I was surprised when my friend asked the waitress what time they started serving alcohol because she was fasting! I guess everyone interprets the rules differently. I asked her how she could drink and then fast the following day – wouldn’t she be hydrated? She said that she would go home, have 2 litres of water and be fine the next day. One of my friends joined us for a drink and we ended up ordering a bottle of the rose. Another friend also joined us after a little while.

After dinner we walked over to Karma Kafe but decided we wouldn’t stay there. We ended up having cocktails at Sake No Hana. I’d heard mixed things about the food, and sure enough the restaurant area was quite empty, but the bar is lovely! I’d definitely go back again. It wasn’t a heavy night and I was home by 12.30.

I spent all of Saturday at home, catching up on work. My Mum arrived from India that evening so we spent the evening catching up.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 19

What a week!

After my usual session with Randy on Sunday morning I met up with a friend for lunch. We thought we’d try Fuego, the new Mexican place at Souk Al Bahar. We got there a little after 2pm and apart from one other table, we were the only people in the restaurant. We ordered the Salsa Fresca (which was made at our table) and the Fuego Sampler (mushroom quesadillas, chicken flautas, homemade guacamole, tortilla chips and sour cream). For our main course we shared the beef fajitas. I thought the food was average. I’m not a huge fan of Mexican food though, so perhaps I’m not the best judge!

On Monday I had lunch with my cousins at PF Chang and then worked until the evening. I went to the fourth History of Islamic Art session which was all about Persian painting but covered Islamic book illustration all the way to miniatures. These are some of the things we talked about:

  • Calephs collected books – Islamic books, Greek texts, they had it all – and they translated everything into Arabic
  • Early Islamic books – the Koran of Ibn al-Bawwab (1000-1001), a calligrapher and illuminator; The Book of Fixed Stars (1009), an astronomical text; De Materia Medica by Dioscorides (13th century); Kalila wa Dimna (12th-13th centuries), a collection of morality tales
  • Ilkhanids – Rashid al-Din’s Compendium of Histories (Jami’ al-tawarikh) (14th century), an entire history of the world. It was produced in Soltaniyeh, Iran but there is no complete set in existence
  • Timurids – Book production expanded during this period; Diwan of Khwaju Kermani (1396), paintings by Junayd (you can see the Chinese influences here); Anthology of Poetry, Music and Chess by Baysunghur, a prince from the house of Timurids
  • Safavids – There were two centres of book production: Tabriz (bright and colourful) and Herat (more traditional); Rustam sleeps while Rakhsh fights the lion (1515-1522), attributed to Sultan Muhammad; Allegory of Worldly and Otherworldly Drunkenness (1531-1533) from the Divan of Hafiz, attributed to Sultan Muhammad
  • The Shahnameh (The Book of Kings) (1525-1535) – until 1959 a complete copy of this volume existed. It belonged to Edmond de Rothschild who had so carefully preserved the work that the miniatures had not even been exposed to light and  had remained intact in the same way that they had been made centuries ago. It was sold to Richard Houghton who dissected the book into sheets – he displayed several miniatures at the New York Metropolitan Museum and donated 88 miniatures to the museum to avoid paying the tax he owed to the US government. Some of it was auctioned at Christie’s. After Houghton’s death in 1990, the Houghton Foundation exchanged the remaining Shahnameh with De Kooning’s Lady No. 3 which had been rejected by Iranian officials for public display as they considered it anti-Islamic (but the Iranian government still owned it). Fascinating story!

I was home all day on Tuesday but Wednesday was busy!

My mum left for India that morning, I had a session with Randy, and I also had my first Arabic class that afternoon. I’d been meaning to take some lessons ever since I moved to Dubai but of course had done nothing about it for ages. I finally sprung into action and found out about classes. I eventually decided to go to the Arabic Language Centre in the World Trade Centre Tower. They had six sessions to choose from – ideally the afternoon class would have been great but it clashed with my piano lesson. I settled for the lunchtime class on Mondays and Wednesdays. There are 10 of us in the class (nine women and one man) and we are from everywhere: UK, India, Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, Uruguay, USA, Korea, Australia, Russia. Amazing. Some have been here a few months, some have been here for years and finally decided to learn Arabic.

In my first class we learned how to say:

  • Hello
  • My name is…
  • What’s your name?
  • How are you? Fine, great
  • Nice to meet you
  • Thank you / you’re welcome
  • I want tea / coffee / water with / without milk / sugar
  • Other random vocabulary – left, right

We also learned four letters and practised reading and writing them. I love languages so I’m really going to enjoy this!

That evening I had my meditation class. It was a 2-hour class instead of the usual 1 hour. We did a meditation practice to begin with. It was called ‘Closing the curtains on the day’ where you take your mind back in 2-hour chunks (e.g. if you start your meditation practice at 7pm, you think back to what you were doing between 5 and 7pm, then you think back to what you were doing between 3 and 5pm, then you think back to what you were doing between 1 and 3pm, and so on. Once you’ve gone back to the time you woke up, you start moving forward. So, think ahead to what you’ll be doing between 7 and 9pm, and then between 9 and 11pm, and so on). It wasn’t my favourite meditation practice, I have to admit. Once the day is over, I usually don’t want to relive it!

In the second half of the class, our teacher had brought sandwiches and other snacks for us, and we listened to a selection of music we could listen to while meditating. The music was varied:

  • Classical (Concierto de Aranjuez by Rodrigo, has always been one of my favourites)
  • Western devotional songs (Sarah Brightman singing Lloyd Webber’s ‘Pie Jesu’)
  • Eastern devotional chanting (Krishna Das)
  • ‘Spa’ music
  • Subliminal music
  • Synthesized music that imitates brain wave patterns coming into harmony (Meditation by Eberhard Schoener) – this actually made me feel like I was in an episode of ‘Lost’

After my class I went home and got ready for dinner (I told you it was a busy day!). I had dinner at Zuma with my dad and some of his friends. The food was fabulous as always and I’d have loved to have had a tuna tataki all to myself!

I had a piano lesson on Thursday afternoon and then had wine club that night.

I always look forward to wine club – it’s one of the best nights out each month – but this time it was awful. The venue chosen was the Media One Hotel in Media City:

  • The room was so dark, you couldn’t see who was on the next table
  • It was an L-shaped room so even if the lighting had been better, you wouldn’t have been able to find people you knew
  • The portions of food were ridiculously small – each table of 10 was given a platter containing 3-4 sliders, 3-4 pieces of sushi and 3-4 pieces of chicken
Wine club - it was so dark I could barely see my wine

Wine club – it was so dark I could barely see my wine

The wines we had were:

  • Folonari Soave, 2010 (Italy): pale straw colour; light citrus aromas; crisp citrus and mild almond flavours; crisp dry finish. Excellent as an aperitif, with light finger foods and seafood
  • Antares Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 (Chile): from the warm Central Valley, south of Santiago. This is a refreshing and floral wine, with tropical fruit flavours and mouth-watering crisp acidity. Pair with fish, shellfish, green salad, asparagus and artichokes
  • Italia Pinot Grigio Rose, 2011 (Italy, obviously): a delicious Pinot Grigio Rose showing delicate red fruit flavours. A true rose made from Pinot Grigio is a rarity, as it can only be made in years when the hot autumn sun turns the grape skins a copper colour. When pressed, the grapes give the wine a pale pink tinge, floral aromas and soft red fruit flavours. Perfect with fish-based pasta dishes
  • Chemin des Sables Rose, 2011 (French): still one of the Loire Valley’s most popular wines. Flavours of peach, strawberry and cherry in a light, easy drinking style. A blend of Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Pineau d’Aunis and Grolleau
  • Gabbiano Chianti Classico, 2009 (Italy): this matures in oak for 18 months to soften the tannins giving a complex wine that’s bold and spicy on the palate, and attractive berry aromas. Food pairing is best with pasta or red meat
  • Folonari Valpolicella, 2011 (Italy): sister to Bardolino but slightly further East. The spicy, cherry accents are much the same, with slightly more weight. A blend of Molinara and Corvina grapes. Pair with dark poultry, red meat, pasta and mature cheeses

We usually all catch up at the bar afterwards and go elsewhere but I just couldn’t wait to get out of there. Three of us went to the the poolside bar for a drink (The Dek on Eight – don’t even get me started about the spelling of ‘deck’). The crowd was quite young, but the music was great – lots of 80s and 90s music. We had a drink there and then went to Calabar to meet up with another friend and some of her friends. That was much better!

I was home all day on Friday, catching up on work. On Saturday I decided to have a massage at Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal. I went early, had lunch by the pool, read my book and then had a hot stone massage. Amazing afternoon.

That evening Dad and I went to see The Big Wedding. It had a good cast, but what a pile of shit. Still, I suppose it wasn’t as bad as Oblivion. We had Iranian kebabs for dinner and then headed home.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 13

After the excesses of my birthday weekend, we showed no signs of stopping.

My friends who were staying at the Shangri-La invited us over on Sunday to hang out by the pool. We were there by noon and we took Vinay with us – he thoroughly enjoyed splashing around in the water. The poolside was crowded and my friend managed to convince the pool staff to turn a couple of sofas into a very large sunbed!


We had pizza and several bottles of wine. At last count, it was four bottles (I think?). At about 4pm I went to The Fairmont to see my other friends who were leaving that evening too – we had a few drinks in the bar. I got home at about 7.30. I chilled out for a while and then met up with my parents, sister and brother-in-law at the Dubai Mall. We had dinner at PF Chang – their hot and sour soup really does hit the spot! By this point my hangover was starting to kick in. That’s the trouble with daytime drinking!

I was home all day on Monday – I was exhausted and was starting to feel jetlagged. That evening I met up with a couple of friends at iKandy for their ladies’ night. We met at 7pm and shared a few bottles of Prosecco – my sister and brother-in-law also joined us as the three of us were going on to have dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at the H Hotel. I’d booked a table but the restaurant was completely empty apart from one couple in a booth. We each had a steak (my cousin joined as too) and shared the dessert and two bottles of red wine. I managed to use a couple of Entertainer vouchers too! My brother-in-law left late that night for Lagos…

By Tuesday I was sure I needed a new liver. The last few days had been mental and it needed to stop. I cancelled my piano lesson and stayed in my pajamas. All day. I was shattered. I did some work but didn’t leave the house. It was also my first day without alcohol in 5 days!

It was my cousin’s birthday on Wednesday and she had organised a girls’ lunch at Apres at the Mall of the Emirates. There were six of us at lunch – we shared a cheese fondue, some pizza, and some other random starters. We also had a bottle of wine between us. After lunch, we had planned to walk around and do some shopping but we walked around for about 20 minutes and quickly lost interest in everything. We headed home instead.

Thursday was busy. I had lunch at Vapiano at the Dubai Mall with my sister and then we did some shopping. She bought me a lovely Ted Baker dress for my birthday and had some of her own things to do! We went home for a while and then decided to go to Safa Park. None of us had been there – and Vinay was very excited. We got there at about 6pm so it wasn’t too hot.

IMG_2564 IMG_2566 IMG_2571

We walked around for a while and then my sister took Vinay and the nanny for a boat ride. It was getting dark by the time they’d finished…


But Vinay didn’t want to leave!


That night my sister and I went to iKandy for a drink. We just wanted to get out of the house really – and I hadn’t tipped our waiter from the night of my party as every time I’d been back to iKandy he’d had the day off or was ill. I finally got to meet him on Thursday evening – he told me that there he had kept what was left of the Patron XO Cafe and could pour us a shot now if we wanted one. I looked at him like he was crazy. I’d have to do that another night…

We had lunch with my cousin and her parents and kids on Friday. We went to PF Chang at Mirdif City Centre which was nice for a change. After that everyone went their own separate ways – my dad went home, my mum took Vinay to the kids’ area, my sister and I walked around the shops for a while.

That night we went to see Olympus Has Fallen. I’d heard it was good but had no idea what it was about or who was in it – I thoroughly enjoyed it!

We were back at the mall on Saturday. A sandstorm (or shamaal, I’ve learnt) had blown in and there was sand everywhere. My sister and I went to Tim Horton’s for a coffee but there was nowhere to sit inside so we ended up outside – in about 10 minutes we were covered in dust. It was gross. She ran her errands, I tagged along and then we went home. At about 8pm she realised she had to go back to the mall to change the iPad cover she’d bought. Kaleem, the driver, had already gone home so we had to get a cab. It was windy outside! We were in the mall for about 20 minutes and then took another cab back home. On the way home it started raining. There was lightning every few minutes and it was windy! It was so windy that when we got home I couldn’t push the cab door open – the driver had to turn the car around so that we weren’t against the wind! We had sand everywhere when we got home – our hair, our eyes, our ears. Yuck.

My sister and Vinay left late that night – the house was going to be very quiet after that!

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 43

What a busy week!

I was home most of Sunday but had dinner at Caramel with my sister and a friend who now lives in Nairobi. I really enjoy the food at Caramel but always forget how dark the place really is. I know I’ve said that before – but it does take some of the enjoyment out of eating there.

On Monday my sister asked me if I’d go shopping with her. I declined (as she knew I would) but when she got to the mall she realised she’d left her credit card behind (on purpose, I wonder?). I had a piano lesson to make up for the one I’d missed while I was in Singapore and then went to join her at the Dubai Mall.

My piano lesson was good, considering I’d hardly done any practising since my last lesson. My teacher gave me a few new songs to learn – ‘Skyfall’ and a Scott Joplin ragtime piece, and I did some more work on ‘Love in Portofino’.

I met my sister at the mall and we had lunch at Vapiano. I ordered the penne arrabiata which I’d never had before – it’s so good! We sat outdoors by the fountain. The weather in Dubai in December is just gorgeous.

And then came the shopping. I’m a terrible shopper – I can’t bear going from one shop to the next, browsing without looking for anything specific. We eventually ended up in Michael Kors where I saw a dress I liked and tried it on. I wasn’t sure about it but when I came out of the changing room my sister said I had to buy it. So I did. At least I have something to wear for New Year’s Eve. Now I just need somewhere to go! We also walked through the new Shoe District in Dubai Mall. If you like (love) designer shoes, you need to go there.

I was at home on Tuesday until the afternoon. My sister and NP had arranged a play date for the two boys. We met up outside Ski Dubai and took the kids up to the toy shop where they had a trampoline for the kids to jump around on – they had a blast.

Not much happened on Wednesday – I was home all day after my session with Randy.

Thursday was busy. I had another piano lesson (still working on ‘Skyfall’, Scott Joplin and ‘As Time Goes By’ and then walked to The Fairmont to get my hair done.

That evening I went to Wine Club. This time it was held at the Empire Room at the H Hotel and the format was a little different. Instead of having tables of 10, the wines were set up at different stations around the room. There was one sparkling wine, two white wines and three red wines. The wines we had were:

  • Chandon Sparkling Rose NV: In the glass, the colour is a dramatic deep pink with a blush of sunset. Intense ripe strawberry, juicy watermelon and fresh red cherry fruit aromas and flavours are interwoven with apple, pear and stone fruit. On the palate, the wine is creamy and seductive, with defined structure from the addition of still Pinot Noir at tirage. The overall impression is one of bold vibrancy and impact from start to finish.
  • Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon Blanc: ‘Attitude’ has a beautiful freshness in mouth, a frank attack, delicate green and lemon flavours, citrus fruits, green apple and kiwi aromas. The minerality gives a long finish to the wine, a smoothness and elegance.
  • Richter Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett: This Kabinett has light, elegant, racy, honeyed green fruits offset by a firm acidity. From a very well-known and highly thought of vineyard and winemaker in the Mosel region of Germany. Serve well chilled.
  • Mazzei Belguardo Serrata di Belguardo: Intense ruby red. Aromatic with scents of ripe cherries, spice and chocolate on the nose. A rich, balanced red. Soft and well-structured with flavours of wild berries, spices and herbs. Abv: 13.6%; 80% Sangiovese, 20% Alicante Nero.
  • R Stuart Big Fire Pinot Noir (this was my favourite wine of the evening): Made in Oregon, USA. Voluptuous, ripe. Vibrant with rich chocolate, dark berries, fragrant new cherries and sinfully creamy texture. Pairs well with duck pate, fresh figs and goat cheese mousse.
  • Dourthe Diane de Belgrave Bordeaux Blend: Diane de Belgrave is produced at Dourthe’s Fifth Growth property, Chateau Belgrave. This beautiful estate in the Haut-Medoc is adjacent to the prized Saint Julien appellation. The wine shows an evolved crimson in the glass. Very elegant nose of red and black fruits with subtle, well integrated notes of cedar. Supple on the palate, with a rather velvety texture and juicy mid-palate; acidity gives good lift on the finish. Aromas of stewed fruits, cassis and dark mulberry. An elegant, medium-bodied wine, where Cabernet Sauvignon flavours dominate.

When the wine had finished a few of us went to Calabar at the Address Downtown. I was home by 1.30am.

I didn’t sleep well on Thursday night and was tired on Friday. My sister and I met our cousins for lunch at Royal China. It was lovely sitting outdoors in DIFC. We had dim sum (sadly no char siu pau) and soup, noodles and Szechuan chicken and rice.

After lunch, my parents, sister, nephew and I went to Mirdif City Centre for some shopping – I ended up buying two more dresses. We had a bite at PF Chang and were home by 8.30.

I quickly got ready as I was meeting a friend and some of her friends at Villa Romana at the Habtoor Grand in Marina. I got there a little before 9.30pm and the place was empty apart from our party of six and a two other groups of two and three. I was surprised as it’s quite new and I thought it would be crowded. We sat down to dinner after 10pm – the menu was disappointing – it was limited and nothing appealed to me. I ordered a pasta in the end. I think we all thought the food was average. The entertainment was disappointing and the music was rubbish. We didn’t stay for dessert or another drink.

Instead we decided to walk over to XL Beach Club which was right next door to Villa Romana. It was a bit more happening, the music was better, but we only stayed for one drink. The night just seemed doomed to never pick up. And then we went to I2.

We walked in and the DJ was playing ‘The Only Way Is Up’ by Yazz and the Plastic Population. Jesus, I thought to myself, more shit music. But it got so much better – it seemed to be retro night so all the hits from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s were played, along with their respective videos. The place was packed – we started off at the bar where we had three Dudu shots each. What’s in them? Vodka, lime juice, tabasco and a green olive. They taste much better than they sound. I think that if we’d started the night on these shots we’d have had a much better time! We moved on to the dance floor (Ice Ice Baby, Billie Jean, Last Christmas, Grease) and stayed there until 3am. I got home at 3.30am but couldn’t sleep until 5am and was awake early the next morning.

I was exhaustd on Saturday but had been invited to the India Club for lunch by one of my mum’s friends. We got there at 1.30 and stayed for a couple of hours. My sister and I went to the Dubai Mall after lunch (I bought another dress) and we got home at about 7pm.

Later that evening I had a drink with one of my cousins at iKandy at the Shangri-La. She was in town for the night on her way back to London. I’d never been to iKandy – it’s outdoors on the terrace by the pool. We caught up over a couple of glasses of wine and I walked home at midnight.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 35

What a busy week! I had my usual work and gym sessions but it was pretty busy otherwise as well.

On Sunday afternoon, Mum and I decided to go out for lunch. We ended up at the Cheesecake Factory – I really enjoyed their herb-crusted salmon the last time we went and I wanted it again! We shared the spinach and cheese dip as a starter and then I got my salmon. Mum ordered the Caesar salad – and even though she ordered the starter portion she had trouble finishing it. The portions are huge there! We skipped dessert though – we were both very full.

That night my cousin invited me to her book group as a one-off. She had asked me when I moved to Dubai whether I wanted to join them but I declined. She had told me they weren’t a serious group and I wasn’t sure it was for me. Anyway, the reason I went on Sunday was because they were discussing The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and I’d already read it a few years ago for my book group in London. I told her to let me know when she finished it so we could talk about it – so she invited me to join them. It’s a fantastic book – if you haven’t read it, I suggest you do so. It’s a quick read and even though I read it in 2 days, I haven’t been able to forget it.

I knew all the girls at book group already, apart from one. There was wine and appetisers followed by a full dinner. We discussed the book from time to time, and there was also more discussion about schools, Diwali, and 50 Shades of Grey. I think the trouble with meeting for the entire evening is that it’s easy to digress and come back to the book (several times). I much prefer book groups where you meet for an hour or so, discuss the book, and hang around at the end if you want to. I didn’t get home until midnight.

Monday was uneventful.

On Tuesday night I had dinner at Spectrum at the Fairmont with two of my cousins. It was quite crowded. We skipped the starters and ordered main courses only: black pepper beef, Thai green chicken curry, pad thai. We didn’t have dessert either. After dinner I rushed home to collect a parcel and then went back to the Fairmont to meet a friend who was leaving for London that night. We had a drink at Bridges, the sports bar at the Fairmont. I was home by midnight.

I didn’t sleep very well on Tuesday night and was quite tired on Wednesday. It was a long weekend here in Dubai, due to the Eid holidays. Thursday and Sunday were both holidays.

I stayed in on Wednesday night – I was in bed by 11 and passed out by midnight.

I was home for most of Thursday. That night a friend invited me to someone’s house party in Marina. It was a fun evening – but you would think I’d have learned by now not to mix my drinks. At about 2am, six of us headed to Amika at the H Hotel for more drinks and dancing. We left when they closed and I got home after 3.30am.

I was up earlyish on Friday but then went back to sleep as my eyes were burning! I eventually got out of bed at 1pm. All I wanted was houmous – it’s my new favourite hangover food.

Mum had some errands to run so I went to Mercato with her at about 5pm. After that we walked over to Choithram’s to pick up a couple of things for her trip to Jamaica and waited for a cab on the main road. There were none. We waited 20 minutes and then decided we’d start walking. Mum suggested going back to Mercato and waiting for a cab there but I’d seen the queue for taxis when we left and it would have been even longer an hour later.

We ended up walking home. It took about 40 minutes which is fine, but it was hot. We were sweaty and my hair looked like a nest. We got home just after 7pm, I got ready to see Enrique and then left a bit before 8pm.

At midnight after the concert, my friend insisted I go to a house party in Rashidiya with her. I wasn’t even dressed for a party – I was in jeans and a top. Plus, I was tired after walking home and standing throughout the concert. She told me that the guy whose house it was worked in the restaurant industry and there would be good food there. That worked. I’d barely eaten anything all day and I told her I’d go for one drink only.

Well, that’s not what happened. We got there, I sat at their bar and was spoiled rotten by flowing champagne and dim sum, and a fun group of people. Guests included: a sommelier at a top Dubai restaurant, a chef at another top Dubai restaurant, an Emirates pilot, and several other interesting people who were very welcoming.

I got home at 5.30am. What a night!

Saturday was painful. I’d only slept 3 hours and we were meeting my cousins for lunch at the Dubai Mall. The mall was a zoo – we ended up having lunch at PF Chang, outdoors. It was quite nice but I could barely string a sentence together and just wanted to be left in my zombie-like state. When I got home I got back into bed and tried to nap.

That night my cousin and I had dinner at Spectrum (yes, again). We ordered a bottle of wine – I couldn’t believe I was going to drink again after the two nights I’d had. We had the hot mezze platter to start and shared a chicken biryani for our main course. I was home by midnight.

I love my life.

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