Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 11

I had another busy week and a whole lot of work to do. I managed to fit in a few gym and yoga sessions too…

I met a friend for coffee on Sunday afternoon. We went to The Brass at the new Citywalk extension. We sat outdoors – but we didn’t find the chairs particularly comfortable and we also had to keep swatting the flies away! I guess the weather is starting to get warmer, which brings the flies.

I had a busy Monday – with a session with Pete, a piano lesson and Arabic in the evening. I often get no real work done on a Monday (just emails and other random bits and pieces) as I’m in and out of the flat all day. I’d wanted to go to Art Night at DIFC but by the time I was done with Arabic it was late and I was knackered.

I did make it to Art Dubai on Tuesday evening though. I’d been invited to the opening and took a friend (V) with me. We got there at around 8pm (it took us an hour to get to the Madinat because of an accident on Sheikh Zayed Road) and had a look around. It was pretty busy, considering it was the Patron’s Circle opening – and people were more interested in being seen than actually looking at any art. We decided to walk through the two halls and then get some food and drinks, before heading over to the main bar. I bumped into another friend and V and I joined him and his friends for some drinks. We left just before midnight, both of us having early starts on Wednesday.

I was tired on Wednesday, and very tempted to have a nap after my session with Pete! But I had work to do, so I didn’t. I also had to finish off my Arabic homework and go to class!

I thought I’d be able to get a lot of work done on Thursday. I went to yoga in the morning and had lunch with NP at Zuma. I hadn’t seen her in months so it was great to catch up. We both ordered the business lunch – you get a miso soup, two starters and a main course for AED 130. I ordered the beef skewers and prawn gyoza for starters and the seabass for my main course. She ordered the Zuma salad and the gyoza for her starters and had the black cod for her main course. We also ordered a portion of the tuna tataki from the a la carte menu for the table (which mostly I ate).

I got home after lunch, got into my pajamas and settled down to do some work. About 30 minutes later, the doorbell rang. Some friends of ours were in town and popped in to see us before leaving that evening. They stayed until 7pm – so I got no work done. I started working after dinner and didn’t finish until 3.30am.

I was tired on Friday but carried on working for some of the day. I met up with a friend for dinner. We went to Loca at Souk al Bahar. We got a table in the bar area and ordered some drinks while it was still happy hour. She had wine, I had margaritas. We also ordered a portion of the spinach and artichoke dip to share. I later realised that there was no artichoke in it at all, it was just spinach. We both had the jalapeno prawns for our main course.

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It’s definitely my favourite thing on their menu. When we left Souk al Bahar, we got into the cab and I suggested we go to Zuma for a drink. It wasn’t even 10pm yet, but Zuma was pretty empty when we got there. We only stayed for a drink and left. It took me almost 40 minutes to get home from Zuma – there was so much traffic at that time of night!

I took it easy on Saturday and then went for a walk on the beach. We went early and caught the sun setting.

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I was home by 7.15pm. Dad and I had dinner together and another week was over.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 10

I had a really hectic week and struggled to find time to get any work done! I managed to squeeze in a lot of exercise, but not a whole lot of work.

After my yoga class on Sunday evening, my parents picked me up from Village Mall and we went to Markette at Box Park for dinner. They’d been there for dinner the week before and had liked it. The funny thing is: they both thought the menu was two-sided, but it actually opened so there were four sides to it – they’d missed out half the menu! We shared the calamari and shish taouk platter for starters.

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The calamari was just average, I thought. The shish taouk was very good – the chicken was tender and juicy. After that, my mum ordered a soup for her main course, my dad ordered the grilled corn and chicken salad and I ordered a galette (an open crêpe, if you like) with turkey ham, cheese and two fried eggs.

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I was really full after that, not to mention sleepy after my yoga class.

Monday was busy – I had a session with Pete on Monday and a piano lesson that afternoon. I also had my Arabic class that evening! An exhausting day.

I went to an IBWG lunch at the Trade Centre Club on Tuesday afternoon. I hadn’t been in a while – I was swamped with work during the January lunch and had the flu during the February lunch so I thought I’d better make an effort for March or risk my membership lapsing. I was on a table with just three other women, but we had some interesting conversations. I was home by 3pm and then decided I’d go to a yoga class at 4pm. After that, I worked for the rest of the evening.

I woke up on Wednesday and it was pouring! It was so dark outside, I wasn’t even sure what time it was. It usually makes no difference to me when it rains as I barely leave the house, but on this particular day I had places to go. And when 5 minutes of rain leads to 5 hours of traffic, I was dreading it. I had a session with Pete in the morning, managed to do some work until about 3pm and then headed off to DIFC for my meeting at Caffe Nero. It was still drizzling by that time. At 4.30pm I went over to the Conrad as I had a schoolfriend staying there for a few days and we were meeting for coffee. I think the last time we’d met was over 10 years ago – it was nice to see her, but we only managed to spend an hour together as I had to head off to my Arabic class! Thankfully it had stopped raining by then, but there was still a lot of traffic everywhere – and there were only five of us in the class.

On Thursday afternoon, a friend came over with her baby for a little while. After she left, I went to Roberto’s for a friend’s birthday drinks. I thought I’d only join them for a bit, and I got there at 7pm, but I ended up getting home at 2am. That always happens to me!

On Friday morning I got an email from my client who had sent me the Chinese paper the week before. They wanted me to continue working on it. Were they mad? I told them that I had no idea what I was doing and that it would take too long. They told me they would increase the rate and the deadline. They also told me they’d send it to the author to check before it was published. For goodness’ sake – what good would that do? The author already thought that the garbage he’d submitted was proper English, how would he even understand what I was writing?

Anyway, I decided I’d focus on that on Saturday and spent most of Friday working on other things.

I was up early on Saturday morning as I had tickets to see Chris Cleave at the Literature Festival. When I left the house, I told myself I wasn’t going to buy any books. None. At. All. I got to the Intercontinental at Festival City shortly after 9am and had bought a book by 9.15am. I think someone should host an intervention for me. I bumped into a friend of mine who was attending the same session at 9.30am and we went in together.

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I had never read anything by Ann Cleves (but want to now) and had only read The Other Hand by Chris Cleave (and bought his latest book, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, that morning). He came across as such a lovely guy – so humble and so surprised that people would want to hear him speak about his books. They both were so interesting to listen to and made some really good points about writing about the horrors of life. Chris Cleave said that we all know what the horrors are, and we don’t always have to write about them so graphically – sometimes just referring to what’s happening ‘offstage’ is enough. He said you have to trust your readers to know what you’re talking about…

After the session, we queued up with our books for him to sign. When I got to the front, he shook my hand and thanked me for buying his books. I told him that my copy of The Other Hand had been bought in Dubai and taken to Bali and Nigeria and was finally back with me. He asked me if I’d been to Nigeria and I told him I lived there as a child. He told me he went there once for a week – he said it was fascinating but that he wouldn’t want to live there! I think a lot of people who live there feel like that too! He was really interesting to talk to – and he signed both my books.

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He said he was running a couple of workshops that afternoon, but when I went to see if there were any tickets still available they were sold out.

I had an hour until my next session at 11.30am. My friend and I grabbed a cup of tea before separating for our respective sessions. I bumped into some other friends as well, but on the whole I got the feeling that the Festival was much quieter than in previous years.

The next session I attended was called ’14 Centuries of Arab History’. The author was John McHugo – his two books are A Concise History of the Arabs and Syria: A Recent History. The person moderating the session was Riz Khan, who used to work for the BBC and CNN – apparently he lives in Dubai now. I was disappointed by this session – it could have been so much more interesting than it was. I know that one hour isn’t a very long time, but the session was mostly questions from the audience, a bit like ‘Question Time’, so no topic was covered in any real depth.

My friend and I met up again after that and walked over to the Belgian Beer Cafe for lunch. It wasn’t too hot, so we sat outside and both ordered the fish and chips. She had another session after lunch and I came back home.

I have to say I was disappointed with the Literature Festival this year. Last year I struggled to fit in all the authors I wanted to see but this year I struggled to find anyone I really liked. After speaking to a few other people, I think that was the general consensus.

That afternoon, I had to fight to stay awake while editing the awful Chinese paper, and then I headed to the beach for my evening walk – it was really busy! I was home a little after 7pm and had dinner with my parents.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 9

Apart from work (and lots of it) and the gym (some form of exercise every day), I wasn’t all that busy. I decided to go to Spa Zen for a massage on Sunday evening. What better way than that to start the week?

On Monday I was busy as usual. I had a session with Pete on Monday and a piano lesson that afternoon. My Intermediate II Arabic class started that evening as well. It had only been ten days since the last class and I’d already forgotten all the new vocabulary I’d learned!

I was home all day on Tuesday, working.

I had another session with Pete on Wednesday morning. That afternoon I met a friend for coffee at Caffe Nero in DIFC. I’d really forgotten what it’s like to go out in the week – I seem to have become a bit of a recluse recently. On my way out I bumped into another friend of mine. I should really get out more! I had another Arabic class that evening.

I went to a yoga class on Thursday morning and was at home working the rest of the day. In fact, I was at home working the entire weekend. My parents were out most of the time so I had the place to myself.

On Friday morning one of my clients emailed to ask if I could fast-track an article for them – it was about Chinese local government and debt. I said I could return it to them by Saturday – they were thrilled. However, when I saw the document, I was horrified. It was 12,000 words of complete nonsense which had clearly been written using Google Translate. Here’s an example:

This paper try to resolve the unbalance relationship between the “power, responsibility and interests” of the local debt in China, which is on the view of the power endowment, the responsibility restriction and the interests transformation.

And that’s not even the worst of it. It needed to be completely rewritten – and I wasn’t even sure what the author was trying to say, so rewriting it was difficult. On Saturday afternoon, I gave up. I emailed my client to say that it was impossible to edit, and that it should be returned to the author to be translated by an English-speaking professional. Thankfully my client agreed with me! Seriously, though – what a complete waste of time that was.

I went to the beach on Saturday evening for a walk, but I went late and did most of my walk in the dark which wasn’t much fun. The track is mostly well lit but I felt a bit uncomfortable and exposed (even though there were several other people around). I’m definitely sticking to daytime/sunset walks from now on!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 8

Apart from work and the gym, I had a pretty busy week. I was also feeling quite lazy – I didn’t have Arabic as I’d finished the Intermediate 1 course the week before and Intermediate 2 was starting the following week – and I just wanted to sit at home.

On Sunday afternoon I went to Dermalogica at the Dubai Mall for a facial. I usually book with Judy – and she’s excellent. Days later, my skin still felt and looked incredible.

I had a session with Pete on Monday and a piano lesson that afternoon. I spent the rest of the day working – my parents were out for dinner so it was quiet at home.

I went to the gym on Tuesday and also squeezed in a yoga class that afternoon – and apart from that I worked! And apart from my session with Pete on Wednesday, I continued working…

On Thursday I decided to treat myself to a much-needed manicure and pedicure. I took my book with me and spent some time at the salon. I realised that we were already at the end of February and it was time to start planning something for my birthday! Again! It seems to come around so quickly…

On Thursday evening I went to the Dubai Jazz Festival at the Media City Amphitheatre – David Gray, Chris Botti and his band, and Sting were all performing that night. David Gray was good, but apart from the three or four songs I knew (‘Babylon’, ‘Sail Away’, ‘This Year’s Love’) the rest all started to sound the same.

I’d never heard of Chris Botti – but I now realise that I’d seen him perform before with Sting on his Brand New Day tour. He also played on the album (it’s one of my favourites). Chris Botti and his band were quality musicians – versatile and talented. In a way, I feel they were wasted on a Dubai audience who wouldn’t appreciate their skills. Even though I didn’t know any of their music, I still enjoyed listening to them play for an hour or so.

And then Sting came on – man, he looks good. He started with ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith In You’ – I think that’s one of my favourite songs. But each time he started a song I’d think ‘Oh, I love this song.’ He then played ‘Englishman in New York’ and ‘Message in a Bottle’. He also sang ‘Fields of Gold’, ‘Every Little Thing She Does is Magic’ and ‘Roxanne’, and of course ‘Desert Rose’.

He also sang ‘Shape of  My Heart’ and a few other songs I can’t remember right now. It was fantastic.

The first time I saw Sting in concert was in the summer of 2001 in Hyde Park. It was a Sunday evening in July and the weather was perfect. I somehow I managed to get tickets for seats six rows from the front and had no idea until we got there – so we had a great view too. When he started singing ‘Fields of Gold’, I looked to the sky on my right – the sun was setting and the sky was a mixture of reds and oranges and pinks and purples. It was almost as if he’d ordered this sunset to go with his song.

When we’ve been to concerts in Media City, we usually go for drinks afterwards to avoid the crowds and the taxi rush, but that night I wanted to get home as I had work to do and I wasn’t drinking. My friend also wanted to get home and we luckily managed to get into a cab as people were getting out at one of the hotels. I dropped her home and was home by 1am. I ended up working until almost 4am.

I worked on Friday afternoon and that evening went to the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. I went with my cousin – we’d missed the first game (Wawrinka v Kyrgios) but got there in time to watch Lopez v Baghdatis. It wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be – I managed to get our tickets using my Emirates airmiles so I don’t think they were sold out. It was a good match – although Lopez really lost it in the third set.

After the tennis, my cousin and I went to Thai Chi at Wafi for dinner. We ordered a tom yum soup with chicken to share and the papaya salad to start with. The soup was really filling – three or four people could have shared it – so when it was time to order our main course we decided to skip the green curry and just have the grilled tiger prawns topped with hot basil sauce and Thai peppercorns. It was amazing. I’d never had it before but I would definitely order it again. It was really spicy though! I was home by midnight and again ended up working late, this time until 3am.

I was home on Saturday. I was tired as I hadn’t slept much. That evening a friend and I went to the beach for our Saturday evening walk. Neither of us had been the week before, but I could really feel the change in the temperature – it was already much warmer. We managed our 6 km in under an hour and went home in time for dinner.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 6

I had an incredibly dull week.

After the gym on Sunday morning, I spent the rest of the day working.

My Monday was busy as usual – it’s my busiest day. I had a session with Pete in the morning, my piano lesson after lunch and an Arabic class in the evening.

And on Tuesday I came down with the flu. I went to the gym that morning but by the end of the day I felt terrible. I cancelled my session with Pete on Wednesday morning and I emailed the Arabic Language Centre to let them know I wouldn’t be at the class that evening. I spent the day in bed, drinking Lemsip and listening to ‘Serial‘ podcasts. My God, it’s so addictive!

I felt better on Thursday but not perfect and I stayed in all day. And all of Friday too.

I finally felt well enough to go out on Saturday, but just to the beach for a walk.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 5

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

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

I also had my Arabic class that evening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 4

I was at the gym on Sunday morning, even though I’d done eight workouts the week before. I worked the rest of the day.

On Monday I asked my piano teacher if I could postpone my lesson to later in the week. I was really up to my eyeballs in work and just didn’t have the time. He suggested Wednesday afternoon – and I agreed as I would have finished most of my work by then. I had a session with Pete on Monday morning and my Arabic class in the evening.

On Tuesday morning I went to the gym, came home, showered and got back into pajamas. I worked the rest of the day.

I went to a Hatha Yoga class at Eco Yoga Sanctuary on Wednesday morning as Pete was away. My piano teacher texted to say he had to cancel our class (thank goodness because I was still so busy). And I had another Arabic lesson that evening.

I went to the gym on Thursday morning and worked the rest of the day. That evening I went to see Simple Minds in concert at the Dubai Tennis Stadium next to Irish Village. Similar to the Spandau Ballet concert in September, I was one of the younger people in the audience! I also realised that apart from ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ and ‘Alive and Kicking’, I didn’t really know any of their songs. I thought they would play ‘Don’t You…’ right at the end as their encore – but they played it in the first hour of the show.

I love that song. It reminds me of London in the summer of 1985 when I went to see The Breakfast Club with my older cousins who were visiting from the USA – they had to plead with my mum to let me go because it was rated ’15’ and I was only 12 at the time. Of course, I loved the movie – and still do…

They also played ‘Promised You a Miracle’, which I had no idea that they sang. Their penultimate song was ‘Alive and Kicking’ and their final encore was a song I didn’t know. Even though I didn’t know much of their music, they had tremendous energy (they were on stage for 2 hours straight) – and some of the moves that Jim Kerr had made me convinced that he does yoga! The word ‘spry’ came to mind when he was on stage! I didn’t hang around for drinks after the concert and was home before midnight.

It was cloudy and grey on Friday.

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On Friday night I had my first real night out in ages. A friend had organised a surprise evening for her husband’s birthday and we were all to meet at 8.30pm at El Sur at the Westin Mina Seyahi. It was really cold and windy that evening – and by the time I’d walked to the car my hair looked like a nest and I’d also flashed the whole of Sheikh Zayed Road as a gust of wind blew my dress up around my waist! Not embarrassing at all…

So, we met at El Sur for a few drinks to begin with. I hadn’t seen quite a few of them since our Christmas dinner at The Scene, back in December before my trip to Bali, so it was really nice to catch up with everyone. A little before 10pm we walked over to China Grill because we had a table booked for their night brunch. For AED250, you get unlimited food and house beverages until 1.30am. The food was snacky stuff like dim sum, sushi, beef skewers, calamari – but you could order as much of it as you wanted until midnight. And house spirits and house wine were also unlimited. I stuck to vodka even though there were trays of tequila shots going around (also included in the price)! It was a really fun night – the music was great, everyone was dancing and I think everyone had a good time. I was home at around 2.30am.

I was home for most of Saturday and then met up with a friend for our Saturday walk along Jumeirah Beach. It had been overcast for most of the day but the sun started coming out at around 4pm and by the time we got to the beach we were treated to a glorious sunset.

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It was still cold though – and by the time I got home all I wanted was a hot shower, some hot food and my warm bed.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 3

I went to the gym on Sunday morning and went to Eco Yoga Sanctuary that evening but realised it was a teacher I didn’t like and left!

Monday was a busy day – I had a session with Pete in the morning. That afternoon I had a piano lesson (I started making a recording of my latest piece) and that evening I had my Arabic class. I’m quite enjoying being back in class but finding the time to study at home is another matter!

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

I’d been swamped with work ever since Christmas and by Wednesday night I had just three papers left to edit – and they were all due on Friday. That would be easy – and I could enjoy my weekend totally guilt-free!

I went to a Hatha Flow class at Eco Yoga Sanctuary on Thursday morning and finished off those three papers. That evening I went to Wine Club at Origami at the Nassima Royal Hotel – and while I was there I got email notifications of papers being sent to me for editing. By the time I got home, there were 22 of them – six due on Monday, ten due on Tuesday and eight on Wednesday. Oh. My. God.

Anyway, back to Wine Club. It was the first time I’d been in over a year. As usual, there were six wines – this time all six were from South America. There were three white wines and three red wines, all blinded.

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I really think I’m going off wine, white wine in particular – which is surprising because I usually love white wine. I didn’t like any of these three, including the Sauvignon Blanc, and didn’t finish them. The three red wines were OK, and I drank those. There were a few nibbles served at each table (mostly bread-based), but I wouldn’t call it a meal by any standards! As I knew how much work I had to do, and I wanted to go to the gym in the morning, and I seem to have gone off wine, I left soon after the wines were revealed. I was home by 11pm, and did a bit of work.

I went to the gym on Friday and did some work. That evening I went to Maya at Le Royal Meridien for a friend’s birthday. I got there at around 6pm, just as the sun was setting. It was nice to see people I hadn’t seen in a while and I was there till midnight. I had a few vodkas, but again I didn’t go overboard as I had a huge amount of work to get through.

I was home all day on Saturday (apart from the gym and a walk on the beach). My parents were out for dinner so I had the place to myself, which was nice. I did a bit more work but was struggling to keep my eyes open and decided to have an early night.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 1

I woke up with a start at 7am on Friday, New Year’s Day. I could smell smoke all over the flat and I got out of bed to find out where it was coming from. I thought something was on fire but I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I opened the front door and the smell of smoke was even stronger out by the lifts. I called security downstairs and told them I could smell smoke everywhere. He said he’d take a look and get back to me. He called me a few minutes later to say that the whole building smelled of smoke because of the fire at the Address Hotel Downtown the night before. The wind had changed direction and was blowing the smoke towards us. I couldn’t believe the hotel was still smouldering.

I was home all of Friday. I was working and reading. On Saturday I went out to get some new gym clothes but was home the rest of the day. I went to the gym on Sunday but that was it – I worked the rest of the day.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning. I got ready straight after my session and went to meet my cousin for brunch. He was in transit for a few hours on his way back to New York.

We went to The Sum of Us for a bite. I had a green juice and ordered the smoked salmon salad. He had the lamb salad. Considering we ordered just salad, it took a very long time for the food to come! When the food finally arrived, I realised my smoked salmon salad wasn’t smoked salmon at all – it was more like seared salmon. It was still good though. I was at home working after that. I cancelled my piano lesson as I had so much work to do and was starting to panic about deadlines!

Apart from the gym on Tuesday, I worked. At about 4pm I decided to stop working and look at my Arabic course books from the previous classes I’d taken. I was starting a new Arabic course on Wednesday, Intermediate I, and hadn’t done any Arabic in almost two years. In hindsight, looking at those course books and realising how much I’d forgotten probably wasn’t a good idea. I guess you can’t cram several months of Arabic into two days!

I had another session with Pete on Wednesday morning. That evening I had my Arabic class.

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Apart from one other person and myself, all the others in the class had been on the previous course together. So they all knew each other and were more practised with their Arabic. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be though – I remembered a lot of the grammar, now I just need to brush up on my vocabulary to really catch up with them. It was the first time I was doing an evening class – all the other courses I’d been on were in the morning. They seemed like a fun group though. The classes have really changed since the last time I did Arabic – the teacher now writes on a tablet on her desk, which is project onto the screen behind her, and we all get sent PDF files of the class the following morning. It certainly beats taking photos of the blackboard every few minutes!

I went to a yoga class on Thursday morning and had a much-needed manicure and pedicure that afternoon. My feet were starting to resemble something that could swoop down from the sky and snatch my dinner out of a lake – I hadn’t even wanted to touch my own feet in the yoga class that morning. I also wanted to get out of the house for a while. All I’d done all week was work, and I needed a break. I stayed in on Thursday night.

I was home all of Friday and most of Saturday. I decided to treat myself to a 90-minute massage at Spa Zen on Saturday afternoon. It was amazing. And it was also an Entertainer voucher so I got a voucher for another massage! I got home at the same time as my parents were arriving from the airport. I’d really enjoyed having the place to myself – I think that was part of the reason I hadn’t really forced myself to go anywhere! I also hadn’t had a drink since Christmas Day but I sensed all that would change now that my parents were back!

I love my life.

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