Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

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 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 18

I had hoped that this week would be quieter after the crazy weekend I had, but it was just as busy. In terms of working out, however, I did nothing.

I stayed in my pajamas all day on Sunday. I was supposed to have a session with Trevor (which I cancelled) and a meeting that afternoon (which I also cancelled) and I just stayed home. I hadn’t switched on my laptop in three days and had a lot of work to catch up on.

On Monday evening NP took me to La Petite Maison as a belated birthday treat. Our table was booked for 8.30pm but we decided to go earlier and have a cocktail at the bar. We both ordered tomatinis and had a good catch-up. We sat at our table shortly after 8.30 and ordered a lot of food! We were told that they didn’t have the pissaladière but everything else was available. To start with, we had: burrata (naturally), marinated salmon with pink peppercorns, salt cod croquettes and sea bass carpaccio. For our main course we shared the salt-baked sea bass and the grilled entrecote. We also ordered the dauphinois potatoes. We also had a wonderful bottle of red wine. It was a lot for two people (but we managed), and when the dessert menu came we shared the cheesecake and ordered two more cocktails. It was a lovely evening and a great birthday treat!

On Tuesday night, a friend had invited me and two others to La Serre for dinner. We met at 8.15 and had a drink at the bar. The bartender seemed very happy to see me, leaving the others wondering how often I went there (I hadn’t been in months, promise). We had a drink and then went to our table. For starters we ordered: fried calamari coated in plantain, burrata, tuna carpaccio with citrus dressing and grilled aubergine with feta and prawns. For our main course we shared a pasta dish, the whole sea bream baked in papillote and the 50-hour cooked beef short rib with sweet onion (amazing). We also ordered some sauteed spinach (too salty) and dauphinois potatoes. The restaurant was packed, just as packed as La Petite Maison the day before. We also shared a warm chocolate mousse for dessert and then went back to the bar to bring in my friend’s birthday at midnight.

I was home all day on Wednesday. That evening I met up with a friend and three of his friends at Tolosa Bodega in Souk Al Bahar. I didn’t know any of his other friends but it was an interesting evening. It was also ladies night so I was given three tokens for drinks. I left the ordering to my friend. He ordered: burrata (seriously), pequillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese, prawn croquettes, a seafood sharing platter and dauphinois potatoes. French restaurants three days in a row. Just think of all that butter.

I stayed in on Thursday catching up with work. That evening my parents went to the Dubai Mall for a movie and asked me if I wanted to join them for dinner afterwards. I agreed and met them at Vapiano. I could have (should have?) had a salad after all the heavy meals I’d had during the week but in the end opted for my favourite, penne with salsiccia pomodori (beef pepperoni, olives, pesto sauce and other fattening things). We were home by 9pm.

I got a lot of work done on Friday. That evening I went to Blended, at the Media City Amphitheatre. I went on my own but was meeting a friend who was there with a few other people. I’d bought a regular ticket but he spoke to someone and managed to get me a lounge pass for the concert. Performing that evening were Nico & Vinz, Robin Thicke and Kool & the Gang. I got there at about 7pm, Nico & Vinz were already on stage. I’d never heard of them but recognised their last song (Am I Wrong). Robin Thicke was on next – and again I didn’t know any of his music apart from ‘Blurred Lines’. He was on stage for a long time – and really seemed to love himself. And then came Kool & The Gang. They were awesome – and I knew most of their songs (some of which are as old as I am).

After the concert, I met up with a friend at Ikandy at the Shangri-La where he was staying. He was in town for just 24 hours so we caught up over a couple of drinks and ended up eating at Zaatar w Zeit next door. It was about 3am when I got home.

At noon on Saturday, some friends who were in town from Bombay came over. I was still in my pajamas when they rang the doorbell and wasn’t planning on going sightseeing with them and my mum. I eventually decided to get ready and go with them. Our first stop was Al Qasr – I wanted them to see the lobby and the view because it’s really something. After Al Qasr, we drove to the Palm Jumeirah. We didn’t get off at the Atlantis but did stop at the Anantara for a while, thinking we’d have lunch there. Unfortunately the lunch buffet didn’t look appealing at all – there wasn’t much variety to choose from. After that I insisted that we stop at the Zabeel Saray so they could see it. Honestly, one look at the pool and I just wanted to check in for a week! We went to the One & Only next – and I wanted to check in there too.

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Each hotel is more impressive than the last.

After our hotel tour, we decided to have lunch at the Mall of the Emirates. It was 4pm by this point and I was hungry. We ended up at Al Halabi, a Lebanese restaurant. The food was excellent – even better than Wafi Gourmet, I’d say. We wandered around the shops for a while and then it was time to go. We dropped them off at the Grand Hyatt and came home.

I hadn’t planned to go out that evening but my friend who was staying at the Shangri-La said he was meeting a couple of friends at La Petite Maison and asked if I wanted to join them. We got there at around 8pm. I started with a tomatini. We didn’t have a reservation but they managed to accommodate the four of us without any difficulty. Again, they didn’t have any pissaladière but we managed fine without it. For starters, we had: burrata, marinated salmon with pink peppercorns, warm prawns with olive oil, baked crab (on their new specials menu) and escargots. For our main course, we had: whole sea bream baked in papillote, grilled entrecote, grilled lamb cutlets (excellent) and rigatoni with mushrooms (but I was too full to try it). Guess what sides we ordered? Did you say dauphinois potatoes? Yes, that’s right. And French fries and green beans (I had neither). We also had a couple of bottles of wine (red, and all I can tell you is that the label has a drawing of a locust on it). Everyone wanted a different dessert so we ended up ordering three: the rhubarb and kumquat crumble, the cheesecake and the pain perdu. I had one bite of each. The cheesecake is still my favourite though.

After dinner, we walked over to Roberto’s – the guys fancied some cigars and whiskey. I hadn’t been to Roberto’s in a long time. I had a glass of Rioja while they enjoyed their cigars and Glenfiddich.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 25

I woke up feeling like rubbish on Sunday. I’d felt it coming on the day before but hoped it was just one of those 24-hour bugs. I spent most of the day in bed.

I spent most of Monday in bed too and missed my Arabic class. I felt tired, feverish, and had a slight cough.

On Tuesday I decided that enough was enough and thought I’d try a ‘mind over matter’ approach – if I pretended I was OK, I’d be OK. I had my piano lesson, went for a Dermalogica facial at Spaces Salon in Oasis Centre and in the evening went to see World War Z with my dad. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would but found it quite scary! I got into bed that night feeling much better and thought that my new approach had worked.

I woke up on Wednesday feeling a bit under the weather again. I went to my Arabic class anyway as I didn’t want to fall behind. And I’m so glad I went because we covered:

  • Six more letters
  • Numbers from 1000 upwards
  • How to say you’re at someone’s place (similar to chez in French) or invite someone over
  • New verbs – to be able to/can, to speak, to come, to like/love, to read, to understand, to visit, to drive, to work, to eat
  • Random vocabulary – lunch, dinner, sometimes, always, never, usually
  • Telling the time – I thought this was pointless as nobody in Dubai is ever on time anyway. Telling the time is complicated in Arabic – similar to French and Spanish, when referring to minutes from 1 to 20 you say the hour and the minutes, e.g. 3:10 would be 3 hours and 10. If you were referring to 3:50, however, you would say 4 hours minus 10. As in French and Spanish, you have a word for quarter past/to (similar to quart in French) and half past (like demi in French). You also have a word for 20 minutes past/to (this doesn’t exist in French and Spanish). To make things even more complicated, if you wanted to say 3:25 the literal translation would be 3 hours and a half minus 5. No wonder nobody can tell the time here, it’s so complicated. I’ve decided all my meetings/appointments will be on the hour, just to make it easier!

That evening I had my fourth and last creative writing class. We talked about stepping out of our comfort zone by: switching the point of view (from first person to third person or vice versa), changing our genre, writing about something controversial (religion or incest, etc.), switch story settings, face a fear and write about it.

We also talked about dreams and how the subconscious mind can be a powerful resource when writing fiction. I was asked if I had any recurring dreams and I couldn’t remember a single dream I’ve had since I moved to Dubai. I used to dream a lot in London, but here I just don’t dream. Or I don’t remember my dreams.

We then had to write a letter to our younger selves. I hate doing exercises like this – I never know what to write.

We finished off by talking about planning a novel:

  • Your story chooses you – and you won’t know why until you’ve finished it
  • The narrative – the story, the plot, what happens – these are the spine on which the body of your novel depends
  • Think about the arc of your story
  • Every story is a microcosm of the story of life – a cycle of birth, growth, death, rebirth, and so on

Things to think about:

  • Make readers come back to you
  • Build an alternative universe
  • Be the best – keep practising
  • Amuse and entertain – do not preach
  • Don’t avoid dialogue (dammit, that’s what I’d been planning to do)
  • Be prepared to throw away a lot
  • If it’s boring, leave it out!

And that was the end of my 4-week writing course. I’d done it hoping it would motivate me to do some writing but I have to admit I haven’t written anything since then.

On Thursday I felt much better. I had a piano lesson and then decided it was time for some pampering at the Amro Salon at the Shangri-La. I treated myself to a manicure, pedicure and blowdry. That evening I had a friend in town for the night so we decided to meet at Zuma for some drinks – we had quite a few and then went to La Petite Maison where we had another drink (and a shot of Cafe Patron) and then went to Roberto’s where we were joined by a couple of his friends. It was a really fun evening.

I was home most of Friday in the day. That evening I met up with a couple of friends at Vantage at the Sheraton. Luckily we were seated indoors this time. It was a chilled evening and I was home by midnight.

I caught up on some work on Saturday and that evening went to see White House Down with my dad. Very similar to Olympus Has Fallen but I enjoyed it nonetheless!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 12

This was a crazy busy week!

On Sunday, my cousin and a friend were hosting a lunch at Roberto’s to celebrate my 40th birthday. When they told me they wanted to have a lunch, I told them it really wasn’t necessary but they insisted. And the invite they sent out really made me laugh. It said:

Oh no, say it isn’t so…
Amreeta is going to be the big 4-0!
She said, ‘A lunch? No way!’
But we decided to have one anyway!

I was up early on the Sunday. I thought I’d be able to go to the gym before lunch, but lunch was at 12.30 and I had to get my hair done before that too. I was tempted to show up in jeans but actually made a bit of an effort and wore a dress. Apart from the hosts, I was the first one to show up at lunch. By 1.15 most people had shown up and were seated at one of the two tables. There was wine at my table (naturally). It was a lovely lunch actually. They’d even had menus printed especially for us.

And I got lots of lovely presents! Champagne, perfume, jewellery, shawls, a Harvey Nichols gift voucher. My parents were shocked when I went home with all the gifts.

I met a friend for lunch at Jones the Grocer on Monday. I’d been craving the Wagyu burger and insisted we meet there! It was a grey day and it was raining by the time we left the restaurant.

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That evening I went to iKandy to sort out the alcohol and food for Friday night. I asked the manager what we would do if it rained on Friday? ‘Postpone it,’ she said. That really didn’t help my anxiety about the rain. It was something I hadn’t even considered until that day!

I tried to do as much work as possible on Tuesday because I knew that once my sister and friends arrived I wouldn’t get anything done. My piano teacher cancelled our lesson as well, and I didn’t mind as I hadn’t practised much that week.

A friend of mine from Hong Kong was supposed to arrive on Wednesday evening but just as I got to the gym for my session with Randy she called to say she couldn’t make it due to a family emergency. I was so disappointed – I don’t even remember the last time we met and had been looking forward to her trip. Much later that night, my sister and nephew arrived from Lagos and it was 5am by the time we went to sleep.

One of my friends arrived from London on Thursday morning. I laughed when I got a text from him saying ‘Fancy a pint at 5?’ – that was our standard Friday morning conversation when I lived in London. I met him at The Fairmont sports bar shortly after 5pm.

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While we were there another friend invited us over to his place for a drink so we went to see him at 7pm. My friend had an early dinner to go to but said he would join my sister and me at Caramel when he was done. Our table was booked for 10pm and he joined us by 10.15! We had two bottles of wine, some cocktails and some B52 shots.

I woke up on Friday morning not sure I’d even make it to 40. I didn’t know what day it was to start with. My cousin had arrived from London that morning and was staying at the Shangri-La Hotel so we decided to meet for lunch with a friend who had flown in from Lagos that morning too. We hadn’t booked anywhere but thought we’d try our luck at Zuma. We were there shortly after 12.30.

I spoke to the cow at the front desk:

Me: Do you by any chance have a table for three for lunch today?
Her: We don’t do lunch on Friday, it’s brunch.
Me: Do you have a table for brunch then?
Her: No. People usually book 2 weeks in advance.

She went back to texting on her mobile. I wanted to punch her in the face.

We walked around DIFC and thought we’d try at La Petite Maison. They had a table outdoors and would need it back by 3pm. It was only 1pm and that was perfect.

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All I wanted was the burrata but of course I ate whatever was put on our table! We also had a bottle of wine to go with our food.

That night I had my birthday party at iKandy at the Shangri-La. I’d invited about 25 friends – I wanted to keep it small – but was worried that because my friends are so random, people would find it hard to mingle and have a good time. Most people showed up (including three more friends from London who had arrived that morning and evening). My parents came for a drink in the first hour and then I packed them off to dinner. It was quite a civilised evening – until about 11pm when my brother-in-law bought a bottle of Patron XO Cafe (a tequila-coffee blend) and started handing out shots. It gets hazy after that – I’d started on vodka, had a shot of Patron and switched to champagne a little before midnight. I remember cutting the cake. I vaguely remember what I said in my speech. I don’t remember having many photos taken but there are loads. I don’t remember paying the bill at the end of the night. I remember walking home (just about).

Considering it was after 4am when I went to bed, I was up quite early on Saturday. My phone had been ringing since 10am and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I opened the presents I’d received the night before: books, wine, champagne, Scotch, an encyclopaedia of wine, shawls, a tapas cookbook (clearly someone who doesn’t know me at all), a ‘tree’ pendant, a necklace with my name written in Arabic on the pendant (which I wore to lunch).

I had lunch at Royal China with the family. I was tired but I knew the only way to get through the day would be to have a drink so I ordered a glass of Prosecco. And a Coke. And some water.

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The Chinese food really hit the spot. After lunch I got back into bed, just to chill for a while, and I had the place to myself.

That night, after I cut the cake at home with the family, eight of us went to Sho Cho for dinner. It was mostly my friends who had flown in from abroad and it was a relaxing evening. We had sushi and sake while we tried to piece together the events of the night before!

It was a fantastic birthday – and I was so touched that family and friends flew to Dubai to celebrate with me! I feel so blessed to have them in my life.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 8

What a crazy busy week!

I had a couple of doctor appointments on Sunday afternoon but apart from that it was quiet.

On Monday evening I went to see the Dubai Chamber Orchestra at The Fridge in Alserkal Avenue.

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I didn’t even know Dubai had a chamber orchestra.

Dubai Chamber Orchestra programme - 25 February 2013

Dubai Chamber Orchestra programme – 25 February 2013

I didn’t know any of the music, but the last piece sounded very familiar. I then realised it used to be the music for the advert of a mobile phone company but can’t remember which one. Any ideas?

On Tuesday evening my cousin and I went to see the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre. We went last year too. We watched the whole Djokovic v. Troicki game.

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We also saw the first half of the Tsonga v. Llodra match but left as it was after 9pm and we were getting hungry. We had reservations at Shogun, a Korean/Japanese/Thai restaurant, at the Al Ghurair Centre in Deira. We managed to find the restaurant and were taken to a small room with two tables in it – each table had the built-in barbecue to cook our food. We ordered the pah-jeon, barbecued chicken and beef. We didn’t have to order the kim chee as it was complimentary.

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The portions are huge and we could have done without one of the dishes!

On Wednesday night I went to Art Night at DIFC. I was meeting a friend at 8.45 but decided to go a bit earlier to get out of the house. I walked around for a bit and bumped into a friend of mine who was kind enough to ditch his colleagues to walk around with me for a while. My friend showed up as soon as he left and we went to the rest of the galleries. There were some interesting pieces of work but nothing that I’d want to see every day in my home.

After we were done, we went to Roberto’s for a drink with a couple of her friends. It was too crowded in there and there was nowhere to stand so we had one drink and went to Capital Club. The four of us sat in the sheesha terrace – we were the only people there and it was quiet so we could actually have a conversation.

I had my usual piano lesson on Thursday afternoon. I think we actually had a breakthrough because at 1.20pm I got a text from my teacher saying he was running 20 minutes late. I told him it was fine – and that I’d see him at 2.20. I don’t mind him running late as long as I have enough notice! I had a good lesson – still working on ‘Solfegietto’ and the ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First’. I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere. I’ve been trying to practice at home, but the only time I can really do that is when my parents are out. When they’re home, either the TV is on or they’re sleeping, so it’s not ideal.

That night I met up with a couple of friends – we decided to go to Zuma for some drinks. We had three bottles of wine between the three of us and it was just too much. My parents were still out when I got home (thank goodness) and I went to bed.

I felt like rubbish on Friday but had a work deadline for that afternoon. I spent 4 hours copyediting a paper and had to incorporate equations and all sorts of formulae into it. It was a nightmare.

That night, me and my two friends from the night before went to the 80s Rewind concert at Festival City (where the Jazz Garden had been the week before). We’d been hearing about it for weeks: the line-up included Carol Decker from T’Pau, Heaven 17, ABC, Howard Jones and Rick Astley.

That’s right. Rick Astley.

Carol Decker went on first – she sang only two songs that I could remember (‘China in Your Hand’ and ‘Heart and Soul’). Heaven 17 were on next and I could only remember two of their songs (‘Come Live with Me’ and ‘Temptation’). I actually knew more ABC songs than I thought I did (‘The Look of Love’, ‘When Smokey Sings’, and a couple of others). When Howard Jones came on, I really couldn’t remember anything he sang until he started singing! He played ‘New Song’, ‘What is Love?’, ‘Like to Get to Know You Well’ and some others I sort of recognised. Each band did about 20 minutes on stage.

And then Rick Astley came on. He sounds the same, and he looks almost the same – he has hardly aged! He was on stage for about 40 minutes and interacted with the audience a lot, especially a couple of people at the front. He sang all his hits. Did you know that he holds the record for being the only male solo artist to have his first eight singles reach the Top 10 in the UK?

He sang his usual hits (‘Whenever You Need Somebody’, ‘Together Forever’, ‘It Would Take a Strong Strong Man’, ‘She Wants to Dance With Me’, ‘Cry For Help’ and a few others). He finished with ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.

Brilliant!

After that we ran to the taxi stand and luckily had to wait just 20 minutes in the queue.

On Saturday my parents and I had lunch at Long Yin at the Meridien. When I checked in on Foursquare I was told I’d get a 20% discount off my total bill. Nice! The food was good – we ordered dim sum, which came in little baskets big enough for just two dumplings. We also had some soup, and for our main course we had lamb with rice.

After lunch we went to see Parker at the Dubai Mall. I personally thought it was better than the Die Hard movie we’d seen the week before, although Jennifer Lopez is looking a little ‘tired’.

We went home after the movie and I got into my pajamas. What a week!

I love my life.

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