Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2015: Weeks 52/53

I got back from Bali on the 23rd morning. Similar to when I left, the passengers had to get on a bus after leaving the plane and were then taken to the terminal. I stood at the top of the stairway at 5am and was hit by a blast of cold air. I got on the bus, found a seat and sat down because I was feeling tired and lazy. Just as well, because the bus ride to the airport took forever. It felt like we were going around the airport in circles. I felt like one of the hostages in the movie Speed. We finally got to the terminal, I went through the e-Gate, collected my luggage, bought five bottles of champagne at Duty Free and went home. I was so happy to be home, and back in my own bed. I’d missed my pillows! I passed out for a few hours until lunch.

That evening, a friend had invited a few people over for mulled wine and mince pies. We got to her place in The Springs at about 7pm. It was nice to see everyone after my trip, and we sat out in the garden, sipping wine and chatting. I left at around 9.30pm – I was exhausted and a bit jet-lagged.

On Thursday, I went to the Dubai Mall – I needed a Secret Santa present for Christmas lunch the next day. Once I’d picked that up I went back home. I had a load of work to do and was starting to panic about how I was going to get it all done before the deadlines. I stayed in that night.

I spent Christmas Day with some friends at their flat in Business Bay. I got there at around 2pm and we had lunch at 4pm. It was also my fourth anniversary of being in Dubai – I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone!

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There was so much food! Prawn cocktail to start with, and then turkey, pork shoulder, roast potatoes, stuffing, brussel sprouts, pigs in blankets, and I’m sure there was more that I can’t remember. There was Christmas pudding and cheese for dessert. Not to mention the prosecco, champagne and wine that we all enjoyed. The weather was lovely too – and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sitting on their balcony, watching the full moon move across the sky (and watching random YouTube music videos).

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I got home at around 11pm. It was a long day, but it was really fun.

I went to the Dubai Mall on Saturday as I was meeting some friends at Vogue Cafe in the Shoe District for tea.

On Sunday, I decided to try out a new yoga studio at Village Mall. It was really nice and I ended up buying a package for 15 classes.

I had my usual piano lesson on Monday, but that was all I did that day. All I’d been doing otherwise was working. I’d hoped that as my UK clients were closed for the holidays, there’d be no more work coming in over the holidays and I could catch up properly, but I didn’t realise that their Indian offices would still be open and send me things to work on! It was good though – I kept my head down and got on with it.

I’d been invited out for lunch on Tuesday. I wasn’t keen on going but I had some friends visiting Dubai who would be at lunch so I went anyway. Lunch was at Apres in Mall of the Emirates. I got there at 1pm (which was the time on the invitation) and there was nobody there, not even the two hosts. There was also no table set up for 10-12 people so I asked the waitress at the door whether they had a booking under either of the hosts’ names. ‘For today, ma’am?’ Well, yes, I’m here, aren’t I? She looked in her diary. ‘Oh yes, 1pm for 12 people.’ So, where is the table? ‘Oh, we didn’t know if they wanted smoking or non-smoking.’ You have the number there so why didn’t you call to confirm? ‘Yes, ma’am.’ The woman was irritating. But what irritated me more was that the hosts should have been dealing with the lack of a table and not me. I got the table sorted and sat down. I asked the waiter for a bottle of water (which never arrived). At about 1.15pm one of the hosts arrived – she’d had errands to run in the mall which was why she was late. Good grief – couldn’t she have done that later? Anyway, people started arriving – we were nine girls in the end – and lunch seemed to go on forever. The service was awful. I would never go back there. At 4pm I made my excuses and left – the others seemed quite happy to sit there for longer but I had s*** to do!

I had a session with Pete on Wednesday and spent the rest of the day working.

On Thursday morning I went back to Eco Yoga Sanctuary for a Hatha Flow class. After that I decided to get my  hair done as I looked like a homeless person after the yoga class. It was also New Year’s Eve and I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do that night. My number one choice was to stay home. I’d been invited to a few places but I couldn’t face the thought of the traffic going Downtown and then getting stuck there until 4am. I could see it building up from the afternoon onwards.

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I ended up staying home. And I’m glad I did because soon after I’d had dinner, I saw a post on Facebook that said the Address Downtown was on fire. What?? I’d been hearing sirens for the last 10 minutes but assumed it was regular New Year’s Eve police controlling the traffic. I thought it was a hoax and then I checked Twitter. I couldn’t believe the pictures I was seeing.

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

I felt sick – there were hundreds of thousands of people in that small area – and I couldn’t imagine how many people would be injured. I kept reading that there were no injuries but I just couldn’t believe that. Eventually, it was reported that there were 14 minor injuries – a bit more realistic, but still unbelievable in a way. I hoped everyone had managed to get out of that building in time. And then I heard that they were planning to go ahead with the fireworks Downtown. Next to a burning building? It seemed ludicrous. And people were still heading Downtown. Friends called from London and other places to see if I was OK – WhatsApp had stopped working!

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At about 10 minutes before midnight I made my way to the pool area of my building to watch the fireworks. The crazy thing I’ve noticed about people on New Year’s Eve is that wherever they are on Sheikh Zayed Road, they’ll abandon their cars and run to where they can see the Burj Khalifa and watch the fireworks. It’s like watching a disaster movie, although instead of running from disaster, they’re running towards the fireworks!

23:55 on New Year's Eve

23:55 on New Year’s Eve

And then it was midnight. The Address Downtown was still on fire (but under control, they said) and the Burj Khalifa lit up.

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It was bizarre. The fireworks went on for about 5 minutes – I brought in the New Year watching the smoke from the fireworks drift off into the night like dancing skeletons, with the smoke from the Address Downtown streaming behind it.

I’m so glad I stayed in.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 49

I spent all of Sunday at home, enjoying the last day of quiet before my parents got back from their trip.

They were home by 8am on Monday morning. I had a session with Pete on Monday morning and a piano lesson that afternoon. I went home after that and carried on with some work.

I had some errands to run at Mercato on Tuesday but apart from that, I was at home.

Wednesday was busy. I had another session with Pete. We had our session outside even though the gym is finally finished! That afternoon I had my hair coloured and cut, which seemed to take forever.

On Wednesday evening I had Christmas dinner at The Scene in Pier 7, behind Marina Mall. There were 12 of us seated at a long table. I think it was the first turkey dinner I’d had since I moved to Dubai almost four years ago. I started with the smoked salmon starter and then had the roast turkey and trimmings for my main course. I didn’t have dessert. After a few more drinks, everyone was planning where to go to next, but I decided to go home as I knew I had a busy day the next day and still had some work to finish off.

I think the concept of having seven different bars and restaurants in one place is great, but it could have been planned better. There are three lifts which stop at all seven floors and waiting for them is just annoying. Leaving Pier 7 is also pretty awful. We waited for a taxi and then eventually decided to walk up to the main road. It must have taken us almost 20 minutes to get a cab – there weren’t many around that evening, and those that were around and available weren’t even stopping.

A friend of mine (R) arrived from London on Thursday morning and was staying at the Fairmont on Sheikh Zayed Road. We’d arranged to meet at the sports bar just off the lobby of the Fairmont at noon, but I was running late and got there at 12.30pm. R had a pint and I had some water. He’d booked a table at Okku for lunch so we walked there from the Fairmont. It was empty – there were only two other tables apart from ours. We ordered some water and a bottle of cold sake (which I can’t believe we finished!). We shared two starters and two main courses: we had the spicy tuna on crispy rice and the beef tataki, and for our main course we had the Chilean sea bass and lamb cutlets with the truffle fried rice. All the food was excellent.

After lunch, R had a meeting and I had some errands to run but we arranged to meet at the sports bar at the Fairmont later on. I did my errands, packed my suitcase and was at the Fairmont by 6pm. A friend of R’s joined us as well and we had a few drinks. We started with a mojito, then switched to a vodka tonic, and then had a shot of whiskey for the road with a beer chaser. I’m so glad I went home after that. I was surprisingly sober and had dinner with my parents and finished off my packing.

I left for the airport at 6.45am on Friday morning. I checked in my bag, picked up a copy of The Economist and a book and went to the gate. Well, the gate consisted of a waiting room where we were then taken by bus to the plane. The journey on the bus took so long I wondered if we were being driven to Bali. I had a window seat and I didn’t think the flight would be crowded. Sure enough when they closed the doors, I had two empty seats next to me. After breakfast was served, I stretched out for the first half of the flight and managed to sleep, and then read and watched two movies for the rest of the flight.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 48

I was a bit of a recluse this week. I had one of my most relaxing weeks ever. I was home all day on Sunday.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning and a piano lesson that afternoon. After my piano lesson, I had a facial at Dermalogica at the Dubai Mall. I’d run out of Entertainer vouchers but they offer 25% off on Mondays – so I always try and book on a Monday! I went home after that and carried on with some work.

My parents left for Tenerife early on Tuesday morning, at about 4am – and I didn’t leave the house until Friday afternoon, apart from to go to the gym. Tuesday and Wednesday were wet and grey, and I felt quite cosy at home.

Seriously though – I would wake up, go to the gym, come home, shower and get back into fresh pajamas. It was amazing. I’d either work or read in bed. The flat was so quiet. I even stayed in on Thursday night!

The weather has definitely cooled down a lot, which means there are clouds almost every day, which means there are amazing sunsets almost every evening.

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On Friday, some friends and I went over to another friend’s place on the Palm. We got there at around 4.30 pm and the four of us sat outside, sipping chilled champagne. There was a beautiful sunset.

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Another couple joined us later on and we ordered some Lebanese food for dinner and then toasted marshmallows on the open fire. It was actually a bit chilly once the sun had gone down. Just before midnight, I thought it was time to go home – my two other friends had left earlier as they had work the next day, and the other couple were leaving too. I booked an Uber, which was 20 minutes away. About 10 minutes later, I checked my Uber app to see where the car was, only to find that the driver had cancelled the journey and that there was now a price surge of 2.8x. The cheek! I didn’t rebook – we decided to have another drink instead. A few minutes later, the Uber driver called me to say he was outside. He asked me if I’d cancelled the journey – I said I hadn’t, and that he had. Anyway, I told him I’d managed to get a lift and didn’t need the car. So my friend and I had another drink and then we thought it would be a good idea to do some karaoke! It was 2.30am by the time I left his place – we were having such a laugh, singing along to old 80s songs.

On Saturday I went to the New Orleans Jazz Brunch at Imperium at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. I’d been to their regular Friday brunch in February 2013, and had been wanting to go back. We had a lovely table outside – and we ordered some drinks to start with. The food was more or less the same as the Friday brunch – although the last time we were there they had fresh lobster and fresh salmon on the outside grill, this time they had fresh prawns. The spread inside consisted of everything: a seafood table, salads, beef Wellington, roast lamb, oysters, mussels, a pork section, scrambled eggs with truffles, cheeses and a huge variety of dessert. The food was fresh and tasty – although the beef Wellington was chewy and a bit disappointing. I skipped dessert and had a variety of cheese instead. I have to say that even though the choice of food is fantastic and the ambiance is lovely, the service is a real letdown. And I remembered that from last time too. But that seems to be a problem in most places in Dubai – first-world prices and third-world service. We had two Entertainer vouchers for brunch, so we each ended up paying AED260. Not bad for all you can eat and drink!

I think the hotel itself is stunning and every time I’ve been there I’m so tempted to check in for a week!

The chandelier in the lobby of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

The chandelier in the lobby of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

It was 6pm by the time I got home as we hit traffic on the way back. I got into my pajamas and chilled for the rest of the evening. Perfect.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 47

I was home all day on Sunday until the evening when I went to a Sculpt Yoga class at Rawr Yoga in Media City. The class is run by Chandra, my friend who organises the Jamaican yoga retreats, so I went along and then the two of us had dinner together afterwards. We went to Circle Cafe in the CNN Building in Media City. The weather was lovely so we sat outside. I ordered a fresh juice (carrot, ginger, orange) and an Asian chicken salad. Chandra ordered the green juice and the goat’s cheese salad. The portions were huge! I’d heard a lot about Circle Cafe and was glad I could finally try it.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning and a piano lesson that afternoon. After my piano lesson, I had a massage at Spa Zen at the Nassima Royal Hotel. I’d booked a 90-minute massage and it was just fantastic. I think I even fell asleep at one point. I didn’t want to get up and go home when it was over!

I was home all day on Tuesday until the evening. I joined a friend at her swing yoga class at Voyoga in Tecom. Oh. My. Goodness. It was really tough!

I didn’t have my session with Pete on Wednesday as the gym in our building is closed while they give it a makeover. That afternoon, I went to a secondhand bookshop called House of Prose in Jumeirah Plaza (shop 5-B). I’d been looking for somewhere to donate some books and a friend told me that they buy books from you. I took about fifteen books and the lady in the shop went through them while I browsed the shelves (dangerous).

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She told me they only buy the books they need – and the ones that they don’t need can be donated to charity. Perfect! She also told me that whatever books I bought from them could be returned and I’d get a 50% refund. Amazing! I did end up buying a book (I just couldn’t help myself).

My parents got back from India on Wednesday evening so I spent the evening at home with them. I was home all day on Thursday too – I went to the gym in the morning but worked the rest of the day.

On Friday I was out for brunch with some new friends at Hanaaya at the Jumeirah Mina A’Salam. What a spread! I stuck to sushi and the Lebanese stuff – I probably should have eaten more as I had a lot of wine. After brunch we walked over to Bahri Bar and had a few more drinks there.

I didn’t know this but they have a little turtle rehabilitation project at the Mina A’Salam and you can watch the turtles at play…

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I got home at around 7.30pm and then had dinner with my parents at Yabani at City Walk.

I spent all of Saturday at home, in my pajamas 🙂

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 46

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Of course, it had cleared up by the afternoon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 44

After the gym on Sunday I came home, got into my pajamas and worked for the rest of the day. I suddenly had about 20 papers to copyedit, all with deadlines for this week!

On Monday morning I had a session with Pete and later that afternoon I had a piano lesson. After my piano lesson I walked over to Spa Zen at the Nassima Royal Hotel (formerly the Radisson Royal) and had a massage. I had one more voucher left which expired at the end of October and I needed to use it. The massage was amazing, as always.

After my yoga class, Ajay (our cook/housekeeper) and I went to Lulu for the weekly shop. Tedious, as usual. I came home and worked the rest of the day. Dad was out playing poker so it was quiet at home and I got a lot done.

I had another session with Pete on Wednesday morning. That afternoon I met up with a friend who was visiting from London with her family. She had a hectic schedule but I knew she was staying at Chelsea Tower Apartments so we managed to meet for a coffee. After that I came home, got into my pajamas and worked until the evening.

On Thursday evening I met up with some friends who were visiting from London. One of their friends who lives in Dubai had suggested meeting at Times of Arabia at Madinat Jumeirah for dinner. I’d never eaten there and thought it was an odd choice for Lebanese food. I met them there at 10pm – which suited me fine as I had so much work to do that day! I was the first to arrive. When I got there I noticed that the whole place smelled like grilled meat. My hair and clothes were going to stink when we walked out of there! I sat at the table and waited for the others. When they arrived, we ordered some food and wine. The food is pretty much the same as what you would get anywhere else. I hadn’t had hummus in ages and had forgotten how good it was! With our main course we ordered a portion of grilled prawns – these were excellent. We skipped dessert and walked around for a while but by this time it was 12.45am and most things were closing. I was happy to go home and carry on with some work.

On Friday I met some friends for brunch at Tesoro at the Taj in Business Bay. We picked this place because I had two Entertainer vouchers for brunch – so we’d get four brunches for the price of two. The place was lovely – very chilled – with a live band and saxophonist in one corner playing jazz. It was really nice. It was also very bright, which was great as the weather had just started to get cooler and it’s nice to be outdoors.

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Tesoro is a Peruvian restaurant so there was a good choice of ceviche and sushi. There was also a pancake station where you could have pancakes topped with guacamole or Peking duck (Peruvian?). I didn’t have much of the main course – just the beef anticuchos which I liked. We weren’t sitting outside but once it was a bit cooler we moved outdoors – the view was stunning.

We sat outdoors with our wine for quite a while and I got home at 7pm. I went home, sat with my dad for a few minutes, got changed and headed off to see Take That in concert! Yes, it was a busy day! I’d been looking forward to Take That for ages. We didn’t get to the Media City Amphitheatre until after 8pm and the place was rammed. I’d never seen it so crowded!

I also took a video of ‘Relight My Fire’ but I can hear someone singing really badly in the background and it may have been me! They sang a lot of their old songs: ‘Never Forget’, ‘A Million Love Songs’, ‘Could It Be Magic’, ‘Love Ain’t Here Anymore’, ‘Pray’, ‘Rule the World’. They were brilliant and were on stage for the whole 90 minutes.

When the concert finished, we headed to the bar at the Radisson Blu because we knew it would take ages to get a cab. We had some more drinks (I’d been drinking all day) and at around 12.30 we left. On my way home I stopped at Zaatar w Zeit because I was famished! Their pepperoni pizza really hit the spot.

I woke up on Saturday feeling… ugh. I spent most of the day in my pajamas but had to go to a condolence meeting at the Oberoi at 6pm. I came home after that and got changed. I met my friends from London for dinner at Bussola at the Westin Mina Seyahi Hotel. I’d never been there but had always heard how amazing it is. We sat outdoors on the terrace – the weather was lovely. I left the ordering to them – I had some burrata (yum), seafood salad (it looked better than it tasted), pizza with salami (real salami) and pizza with mushrooms and truffle oil. I could smell the truffles from my end of the table and my mouth started watering! We also had some wine.

After dinner, we went back to their hotel. They were staying at the Fairmont the Palm and we decided to have some tea/coffee on the terrace. I got home at around 1am. I did no work at all over the weekend!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 43

After the gym on Sunday morning I met up with a friend for an early lunch. We went to Tasha’s and got a table without having to wait – it was about noon by the time we got there. We sat down and decided to share the quinoa salad and the penne with mushrooms. Both were very good but I thought the pasta could have been a little less oily. We were there for a while as we hadn’t seen each other in ages and it was about 2.30pm by the time I got back home. I was home for the rest of the day.

On Monday morning I had a session with Pete and later that afternoon I had a piano lesson. My dad arrived from Bombay that evening – he’d been there since the end of August, when we all went together for his medical treatment. The house had been so quiet for so long – and now it was back to CNN and dodgy Indian channels at full volume!

I went to the gym earlyish on Tuesday morning. On my way home, I was rummaging through my handbag and couldn’t find my keys. I was pretty sure I’d taken them with me and thought I’d have a proper look once I was outside the flat. As I approached our front door I saw my keys hanging there. Crap! I’d locked the door from the outside and then left the keys there. Anyone could have picked them up and walked off with them. And if anything had happened on the inside, they wouldn’t have been able to open the door to get out.

After I’d had a cup of tea and showered, Ajay (our cook/housekeeper) and I went to Lulu for the weekly shop. It’s not the most exciting couple of hours of my week, I can tell you. I’m waiting for the driver to come back from his (ridiculously long) holiday so that I can send the two of them together!

Apart from my session with Pete on Wednesday morning I did nothing but catch up with work.

On Thursday night I met up with a friend from Lagos who was in town. He’d booked a table at La Petite Maison and I’d been looking forward to it all week. He’s vegetarian though, so everything we ordered was vegetarian. To start with we ordered the burrata, the lentil salad and the scrambled eggs with truffles. For our main course we shared the risotto with goats cheese, the gnocchi and the dauphinoise potatoes. I thought the gnocchi was bland, but the risotto and potatoes were fantastic. We shared the cheesecake for dessert.

After dinner, we went to White Dubai at Meydan. My friend had been invited to a party and took me as his ‘plus one’. I’d never been to White Dubai – what a place! The music was so good – and I wish I’d taken a photo of the view of Sheikh Zayed Road and the Burj Khalifa from there. Our hosts had a huge section to themselves which was nice. I even knew a few people there. I got home at around 3am.

I was tired on Friday and spent the day in my pajamas. Well, until 6pm anyway, when I decided I had to get ready if I was going to be on time to meet my friends for drinks and dinner. I met a couple of girlfriends at Fai at the Palace Downtown. We had a drink and then had dinner next door at Thiptara. We ordered a lot of prawns as one of my friends eats only seafood. For our starters we ordered the papaya salad and the deep fried prawns with hot chilli sauce. For our main course, we shared the phad thai, stir fried prawns with basil and chilli, and we ordered a red curry with prawns. We also ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Everything was fine, but when they brought us our main course, they brought us a green curry with prawns. They were very apologetic and eventually brought us what we’d ordered. They also gave us complimentary sorbets for dessert.

While the food was good, the service was terrible. There were only two waiters in the whole restaurant and getting their attention was not easy. It was Friday night and the restaurant was full – so two waiters really didn’t do the job!

After dinner I went to meet some other friends and left my two girlfriends at Fai. They later told me that the staff were still feeling bad about getting our order wrong and gave them a complimentary drink as well!

I was in high heels so luckily my friends picked me up from the Palace lobby and we decided to go to the Nippon Bottle Company at the Dusit Thani. I’d heard a lot about this place and had been wanting to go there. It’s just to the left of the lobby at the Dusit Thani, but the entrance is rather deceiving. Four of us managed to get a table and ordered some drinks. I thought it would be best if I stuck to wine, but the others had Kamikazes (I’ve only ever seen these as shots so it was weird seeing these served in tall glasses).

We each had two drinks and decided to join some of my other friends who were at La Cantine du Faubourg at the Emirates Towers Hotel. It was after midnight and the place was packed! I managed to find my friends and we hung out with them the rest of the night. By 2am I couldn’t take the pain any more and took my shoes off. I knew that putting the back on would be hell but by then I didn’t care! I left at about 2.30 with my neighbours and we came home…

I got out of bed on Saturday at about noon. All I wanted to do was sleep. And have a foot massage. I did neither. But I did spend the day in my pajamas, which was perfect!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 42

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 41

After a very busy few days, I was exhausted on Sunday. All I wanted to do was stay in bed but I had work to do. I had also booked a 90-minute hot stone massage at the Shangri-La Spa for later that afternoon. It was exactly what I needed and I couldn’t wait to get home and get into my pajamas when it was over. Unfortunately, I had accepted an invitation to a friend’s 40th birthday drinks that evening so I had to wait a bit longer for my pajamas!

Her birthday drinks were at Iris – and thankfully indoors because it was still unbelievably humid outside. I hadn’t been to the indoor section of Iris but was pleasantly surprised – a long bar and lots of seating. The outside area was totally empty that night. It was all women at her drinks – and it was my first outing after the summer (with this particular group of women) so it was nice to catch up with everyone. As soon as the birthday girl cut her cake, I left with one of my neighbours who was also at the drinks.

On Monday I had a session with Pete at 10am – by noon I was showered and back in my pajamas. And I intended to stay in my pajamas until Tuesday morning! It had been days since I’d been able to do that and I was looking forward to it.

Apart from yoga on Tuesday morning, I was at home (in pajamas) until the early evening. I met up with a couple of friends at Calabar for happy hour. We got there at 6.15 so we were able to make the most of it! At about 9pm, we ended up going to The Eloquent Elephant where we had a bit more wine (not very wise). I was home by midnight.

I had to be up early on Wednesday as I had to go to Sharjah for some paperwork. Drinking all that wine the night before really wasn’t a good idea. I got back home by 11.20am, had a cup of tea and got ready for my session with Pete. After that was over, and I’d had some lunch, I got back into bed and slept for a couple of hours!

On Thursday I met up with a friend who was in town from Lagos for a couple of days. We went to his favourite – Wafi Gourmet at the Dubai Mall – and ended up overeating as usual! I actually felt a bit ill afterwards. We thought we’d walk around for a while to digest our food but ended up walking to Patchi (and not buying anything) and then walking on to Eataly where we sat down for coffee. I needed to be rolled home after that.

I got home and did some work for a few hours. That evening I met up with some friends for dinner at Catch at the Fairmont on Sheikh Zayed Road. I hadn’t been there and had heard mixed reviews – but I was pleasantly surprised. We were seven people, and a few of them had been before so knew what to order. And because we were so many we were able to order a wider variety of dishes. Some of the starters we had were: crunchy rice cakes (similar to the spicy tuna on crispy rice at Okku), crispy shrimp and the DXB roll (tuna, crab, avocado, wasabi, yuzu). For our main course we had the Korean fried chicken and a whole roasted sea bass (chilli rubbed, cracked olive, artichoke, rocket greens, turmeric silky potatoes). For the sides we had the macaroni & cheese and parmesan truffle fries. I didn’t think I could eat any more after that and had a small bite of dessert when it came (the ‘Hit Me’ chocolate cake). We also had two bottles of wine (which isn’t bad between seven people!). It turned out that I knew the sommelier – she used to be the co-organiser of the wine club but now works at Catch full time.

There was some debate about what to do after dinner, but I was too tired to do much and was home by midnight.

I met up with some friends for lunch at La Serre on Friday afternoon. We met at 1.30pm and surprisingly didn’t have to wait too long for a table for five people on the ground floor. Once we had ordered, however, the food took ages to arrive! We complained about how long it was taking and our waitress was very apologetic.

I couldn’t decide whether to have breakfast (scrambled eggs with truffles) or lunch. In the end I opted for the portobello mushrooms with braised beef. Divine! After we’d ordered our coffees and dessert (lemon cake and some pistachio thing which I didn’t try), the waitress said that our coffees and dessert would be on the house.

On Friday evening I met up with a couple of friends for dinner at Loca. We met early, at 7.30pm, and it wasn’t too crowded at that time. They have several new guacamole options on the menu so we decided to try the guacamole with prawns. We also had the spinach and artichoke dip (of course). For my main course, I ordered the camarones a la diablo (tiger prawns sauteed in jalapeno butter). We skipped dessert as we were all too full. I was home before 11pm which was nice!

I was up early on Saturday as I had a piano lesson (I didn’t go on Monday so had to make up the lessson). After lunch I met up with a couple of friends at Common Grounds at Mall of the Emirates. Common Grounds is the new cafe from the people who opened Tom & Serg and The Sum of Us, and it’s in the new expansion at MoE. We had to wait a while for a table as it was pretty crowded. Once we sat down, we ordered a couple of juices and again I couldn’t decide between breakfast or lunch! In the end, two of us shared the pan-fried salmon and jerk chicken. Both were very good. I’d definitely go back and try something else. We also had some coffee and skipped dessert.

We couldn’t decide what to do after lunch and thought about seeing a movie at the new Vox Cinemas at the mall but there was nothing on for at least another hour. We eventually decided to go back to my friend’s place on the Palm and play Scrabble! He has a great view from his flat:

2015-10-10 16.25.04

We ended up playing a game of Scrabble on the balcony (I won) and making plans for our upcoming road trip to Muscat.

I got home at around 6pm and got straight into my pajamas!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Weeks 37 and 38

I got back from Bombay on Thursday night. It was nice to have the place to myself. I hadn’t made any plans for the weekend and spent most of it catching up with work and reading.

I ventured out on Saturday afternoon to meet a friend for coffee at Eataly in the Dubai Mall. We bumped into a mutual friend of ours who joined us – it was nice to be out and about again.

On Sunday evening a friend and I decided to go for a mani/pedi together. We’d booked at The Nail Spa at Mercato – she had a gift voucher and I had a voucher for a free manicure when I booked my pedicure. It’s a nice place but I still prefer going to the Shangri-La for my nails.

I had a piano lesson on Monday afternoon and on my way home I joined the gym at the Shangri-La. And once I got back home I didn’t leave the house again until Wednesday morning, when I went to the gym.

That evening I met up with a friend for dinner. We went to Teatro at the Towers Rotana. We started with a couple of drinks and then ordered the pandan chicken to start with followed by sushi (we were trying to be healthy). We ordered the Screaming Salmon (sliced salmon with jalapeno and traditional ponzu – this was my favourite dish of the evening), Yuzu Tuna (sliced tuna with cilantro and yuzu vinaigrette) and spicy salmon and tuna rolls. After dinner we went to Novikov for a drink. It is so much nicer than the one in London! We stayed for one drink and then left.

On Thursday I went for a much-needed haircut and colour. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d cut my hair and it was just an inch shy of my waistline. I’ve never had hair that long – but it really needed a cut so I had a few inches taken off. I spent most of my afternoon at the salon!

On Thursday night I met up with a friend at the Novotel’s Blue Bar (at the World Trade Centre) – we were catching a drink and quick bite before going to see Spandau Ballet! Neither of us was particularly hungry so we ordered the calamari and the nachos. I had Entertainer vouchers so we only paid for one dish (and the wine).

We made our way to the arena a little before 9pm and got some drinks. I’d been hesitant about going as I didn’t know that many Spandau Ballet songs – but I’m glad I went because they were so good!

I thought they would finish with ‘True’ as they’d already done a short a cappella version of ‘Gold’ earlier. But they played the whole song again.

And they ended with ‘Through the Barricades’. It was a great concert. Tony Hadley’s voice is incredible, even after 30 years.

We walked back to the Blue Bar after that and had a few more drinks.

I was home all day on Friday. I did a bit of work, watched a few episodes of ‘Transparent’, did some yoga. It was very chilled.

On Saturday night I met a friend for dinner at Prime 68 on the 68th floor of the JW Marriott Marquis. We shared a Caesar’s salad to start and then both had the 7 oz French Charolais filet with peppercorn sauce. We also shared three sides: lobster creamed corn, baby French potatoes (crisped in duck fat) and Mom’s mac and cheese (disappointingly bland). We also had a bottle of Pinot Noir. We were far too full to even contemplate dessert!

I love my life.

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