Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Not today: part 2

Exactly five weeks ago, my dad had a heart attack.

The doctors in Dubai told us that Dad would need a valve replacement and a bypass. And soon – within the next few weeks. They kept pushing for a procedure called a TAVI (transcatheter aortic heart valve). Every time the doctors and nurses were checking up on him they would push for this procedure. They kept asking whether he’d set a date. They said they knew an excellent doctor. So when my mum said they wanted to meet the doctor and then decide what to do, she was told that they first had to decide to have the surgery and then they could meet the doctor. What nonsense.

So, Dad was home – I sent his reports to a cardiologist friend in London. He wrote back to me within minutes telling me to get a second opinion. He also said not to let anyone do a TAVI on him!

We eventually decided to go to Bombay (Mumbai, you know what I mean). My grandmother’s family are trustees of one of the hospitals and Dad would have access to the best doctors there. It also meant that we would have somewhere to stay (instead of having to rent a place which is what we’d have had to do if we’d gone to London). We’d sent Dad’s reports ahead and the cardiologist told us to come straight to the hospital once we were out of the airport and not go take him home first.

The three of us flew to Bombay together on Sunday, 30th August. My brother (S) was going to joining us there – but he had a much longer flight: Kingston to Miami to London to Bombay. He left Kingston on Monday morning and got to Bombay on Tuesday night!

So once we’d landed, we went straight to the hospital. I hadn’t been there in years. I was a bit apprehensive – even though Dad was on the 16th floor (the VIP floor) it looked really run down, the room was dark and I wouldn’t have wanted to stay there. My mum decided she was going to stay at the hospital with him so that she could meet the doctors when they did their rounds early the next morning. My grandmother joined us at the hospital and I went home with her when she left, leaving my parents at the hospital.

I went back the following day and had lunch with my parents. Dad was in and out of the room for various tests. I hung around the hospital until the evening when my grandmother came and went home with her. On our way out, we bumped into one of the cardiologists. He said he’d seen my dad earlier that day and had some good news – there was nothing wrong with his valves! What a relief!

I spent all of Tuesday at the hospital and had lunch there again. In the afternoon, the head of cardiology came to see my dad with his proposed course of action. He said that as he had just one artery that was blocked, the best thing to do would be to have an angioplasty and stent. He said that it would still be challenging, given the location of the artery, but it was far less invasive than a bypass and the whole thing would take 45 minutes under a local anaesthetic. I couldn’t believe it. In Dubai they were ready to cut him open and do God-knows-what to him! Unbelievable.

The next morning, S and I went to the hospital before Dad was taken in for his operation. We met the doctor again and he told us we could wait in his office while Dad was in the operating theatre. We sat down, ordered some tea and coffee and about 10 minutes later, a nurse came in. ‘Mrs B____, the doctor’s calling you.’ What was going on? S and I looked at each other as Mum went rushing out; and a minute later she came in to get us. ‘The doctor’s calling us.’ I thought something had gone horribly wrong. We were taken into a room next to the operating theatre and the doctor was there in his scrubs. What had happened??

‘I just want to show you on the screen what I’ve done.’ Jesus Christ! Couldn’t he have told us earlier that he was going to do that? He shows us the guidewire that was in my dad at that moment. He shows us that there was nothing wrong with his valves. He still thought the best treatment for him was an angioplasty and stent and he was going to carry on with that. Excellent.

We went back to the doctor’s office and waited. Ten minutes later, the door opened and my dad walked in. Well, obviously it wasn’t my dad – it was his brother, but S and I both thought it was my dad! About an hour later, the doctor called us back to that small room with the computer and screen. He showed us exactly what he’d done and we were also able to wave to Dad in the next room. He was sent to the recovery room for a while – and Mum, S and I went to Royal China for lunch.

That evening, my grandmother, mum and I went to visit Dad in the ICU. S had passed out so we left him at home. He seemed to be in good spirits – I think he was just glad it was over. As he was spending the night in the ICU, my mum decided to spend the night at home.

Dad was moved back to his room on Thursday and he was discharged on Friday.

Now comes the hard part of controlling his diet and getting him to do some light exercise each day – he knows what he can and cannot eat, but even getting him to walk for 20 minutes a day is proving a challenge.

At least this part is over. For now.

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Bombay 2015: Week 1

My parents and I left for Bombay on Sunday afternoon as my dad was supposed to have surgery. They were travelling in First Class and I was in Business Class (the perk of travelling with my parents!) so we had two Emirates cars take us to the airport. (I think there were two cars because my booking was made separately, but it really wasn’t necessary to have two cars.)

We got to the airport – check-in was easy, security was easy, immigration was easy. Everything was so easy! Dad had requested a wheelchair and we were taken straight to the First Class lounge. We hadn’t had breakfast so we sat in the restaurant. I had a cheese omelette and chicken sausages, and Mum and Dad both wanted smoked salmon. After breakfast, we moved to the lounge area. I read my book with a cup of tea, Mum went to the Duty Free shops and Dad played on his iPad.

We boarded the flight and got to Bombay without any problems. It wasn’t a long flight, but I was pretty tired when we landed. The cabin crew didn’t have any landing cards so we had to fill them in when we landed (what a waste of time) and it was a really long walk from the plane to Immigration! Our luggage was out in a matter of minutes and we got in our Emirates car and took Dad straight to the hospital. Dad was admitted that evening and Mum decided she’d stay there with him so she could meet the doctors when they did their rounds early in the morning. My grandmother also joined us there and I went home with her when she left.

My mum’s two sisters-in-law were also staying at home. I hadn’t seen one in seven years and the other in four years. They’d moved into one room so that there would be space for my brother (S) (when he arrived) and me. One of my aunts was moving into her daughter’s place the next day as she was babysitting her grandchildren while their parents were away. So I had a room to myself for a couple of nights, which was nice!

I hadn’t been to India in five years. It seemed more crowded – more traffic, more people in the streets, more car horns (which drove me nuts).

The first two days were spent going from the house to the hospital. On Monday and Tuesday I had lunch at the hospital with my parents and would go home in the evening with my grandmother when she came to visit my dad.

On Tuesday night, my mum and I went to pick up S from the airport. He’d had a really long journey – Kingston to Miami to London to Bombay. He left Kingston early on Monday morning and got to Bombay late on Tuesday night. We dropped my mum off at the hospital on our way home and were surprised to find my grandmother waiting up for us. It was after 1am but she hadn’t seen S since his wedding. By the time I fell asleep it was after 2.30am.

Dad had his surgery on Wednesday morning and once he was in the recovery room there was no point in us hanging around. Mum, S and I went to Royal China for a late lunch. The food was excellent – we had hot and sour soup, char siu pau, prawn and chive dumplings, har gau, char siu cheung fun and a couple of other things. It was so good. After that I just wanted to take a nap. My mum, grandmother and I went back to the hospital to visit Dad in the ICU. S had passed out and when we tried to wake him he told us go without him. An hour later, while we were at the hospital S sent me a text: ‘Where are you?’ At the hospital, I replied. ‘Why didn’t you wake me??’ Err, we did!

We were at the hospital on Thursday when one of my mum’s cousins invited us to the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) for lunch. We had lunch at their Maharaja restaurant – they do Indian and Chinese food and we ordered a bit of both. The food was really good. After lunch, my cousin took us on a tour of the facilities – the place is huge! Tennis, swimming, squash, table tennis, it’s all there. They also have the largest gym in Mumbai – there were at least fifteen treadmills along one wall. It wasn’t very crowded either – but I guess it was 4pm so not peak time yet. After lunch we went back to the hospital to see Dad for a while.

Dad was discharged from hospital on Friday so while they were getting his paperwork in order, S and I went to Crossword at Kemp’s Corner to do some book shopping. I bought eight books (just what I need!) and S bought a few too. When we were done, we called our parents to see whether they were ready to leave. Mum said Dad was having a nap and that we should have lunch there. Just a few doors away from Crossword we found a restaurant called Pizza Metro Pizza. S ordered the ‘Diavola’ (mozzarella, tomato, salami, basil, mushrooms and chilli) and I had the ‘Capricciosa’ (mozzarella, tomato, ham, salami, black olives and mushrooms). Just as we were finishing our coffees, my mum called to say they would pick us up on the way home. Perfect timing!

We got home and hung around for a while. As both my parents were home, there was no space for all of us so S and I had booked a room at the Trident Hotel at Nariman Point. We checked in on Friday afternoon, unpacked and relaxed for a while. On the 30th floor, you could hardly hear the traffic and car horns. And the view from our room was spectacular.

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On Friday night two of my cousins took me out for dinner. We went to Indigo Deli in Colaba for dinner and had to wait for a table. We eventually got one and ordered some wine and food. We shared a starter – cheese and spinach souffle. For my main course I had the ravioli with salmon and artichokes. One of my cousins had the chicken Sloppy Joe and the other had a steak (I thought beef was banned in Maharashtra??). The food was really good and we were too full for dessert. After dinner, I went to meet S and a friend at Dome, at the top of the Intercontinental Hotel on Marine Drive. We had a bottle of wine and sat there for the longest time. The place was empty, the music was too loud and having a false roof on top of an open air bar just isn’t right (whether or not it’s monsoon season). We didn’t get back to the hotel until 3am.

I woke up on Saturday feeling so tired. S and I went home for lunch and to hang out with the family. That evening S decided to stay in and I went to our friend’s place for drinks. He’d invited a couple of other friends whom I knew so it was nice to catch up with them after a long time. After drinks at his place we went to Aer at the Four Seasons. I’m sure it’s a beautiful place but, again, with the false roof it was hot and muggy (my hair looked like Diana Ross’ hair when I left) and should really be called ‘No Aer’ during the monsoons. It’s also really expensive! One Belvedere with soda and one glass of white wine cost 2400 Indian Rupees (almost £24)! I bumped into a few friends from London who now live in Bombay so it was nice to see them. I didn’t get back to the hotel until 3.30am and I was exhausted.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 15

What a busy week!

I had a session with Trevor on Sunday morning. I still had a headache from my birthday drinks two days before! I was home in the afternoon and managed to get some work done – my mum and sister took the kids to Mirdif City Centre. That evening I went to a barbecue with some friends in JBR. It took forever to get there. The traffic is a nightmare and if I lived in that area, I would move! It was a really nice evening on their balcony – champagne, barbecued meats, what more does a person want? It wasn’t too late a night – I was home by 11pm.

On Monday I did some work and that afternoon my dad and I went to see Fast and Furious 7 at Mercato Mall.

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Everyone in Dubai loves these movies – even the cinema at Mercato was half full which must be a record for them! I thought it was OK, the action is entertaining but it was far too long and the acting was terrible. I did like the tribute to Paul Walker at the end though.

While we were at the movie, my mum, sister and kids had come to Mercato as well so we met up with them for dinner afterwards. Mum was halfway through her pizza, my sister and V1 had finished their McDonald’s and Dad and I ordered from Noon-o-Kabab. As the driver would have to make two trips to get us all back home, the others left while Dad and I finished our dinner.

On Tuesday I told V1 that I would take him to the Aquarium at the Dubai Mall. We got there at around noon and walked through the tunnel. I love seeing the sharks close up. I tried to take some photos but they were moving too fast! After going through the tunnel we went to the Underwater Zoo upstairs. I could have spent much longer at each exhibit but V1 kept dragging me off to see something else. He wouldn’t even let me look at the piranhas! It was my first time seeing ‘King Croc’. I’m pretty sure the life-size replica they have at the Aquarium entrance on the ground level is much smaller than the crocodile in the exhibit upstairs. This crocodile is massive, weighing in at 750 kg and measuring 5 metres in length! You can view it from the level above and stand directly over it, and you can also see it as a regular exhibit, through the glass. There was a short video playing – a documentary about how they got him to Dubai. I’m sure they must have paid a fortune for him.

After we were finished at the Underwater Zoo, we met up with my sister and a couple of her friends for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. It was full of families, children, noisy (fake) animals. My sister and I both ordered the steak (nothing special). She also said the bathroom was really awful – just one stall and really dirty. After we’d ordered our food, the waitress came back with a plastic cup with flashing lights and asked V1 if he’d like to have his milkshake in that. Of course he said yes. The waitress then turned to my sister and said ‘It’s AED 35 and you can take it home with you.’ Cheeky! I think now that we’ve been there, there’s no need to go back. Ever.

The Rainforest Cafe is a restaurant I associate with families, kids, noise. So imagine my surprise when, on our way out, I spot three men in business suits having lunch there. How random!

On Tuesday night, we were out for dinner at Royal China with some friends. I’d just been there the week before but really didn’t mind going back – the food is so good. There were eight of us at the table, and the restaurant was quite crowded for a weeknight. We wanted to order some crispy duck but they’d run out (annoying). We ordered some soup, crispy asparagus and a couple of other things to start with. For our main course we had the chicken in black bean sauce, beef with ginger and spring onions, and Szechuan prawns. Yummy.

I had a gym session with Trevor on Wednesday and a piano lesson in the evening. I finished my recording of Le Onde (by Ludovico Einaudi). It’s a bit long but I quite like it.

My sister and I went to Jumeirah Town Centre for a wander before dinner that evening. We went into a children’s clothing store and I spotted some hair products on a shelf. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m always looking for some miracle straightening, defrizzing hair product (no luck yet). I used to be able to manage my curls, but now that most of it is grey (and coloured) the texture is very different. It’s coarser and frizzier and nothing seems to work on it except a Brazilian keratin treatment and that just makes my hair fall out. I’d rather have frizzy hair than no hair! Anyway, I found a product called Natural Curl Calmer by a company called Organic Sprout.

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It’s 100% vegan and completely organic. I’ve used it twice since I bought it – I’ve noticed that my hair is definitely softer after I’ve used it and let it dry naturally. It’s not cheap though – it was AED 80 for the tube!

On Thursday evening I met up with a couple of friends at Calabar. I had some alcohol left over from my birthday drinks the week before and had two weeks to finish it. There was half a bottle of Belvedere, two bottles of Merlot and one bottle of Pinot Grigio. It was just three of us and we managed to polish off the vodka and the red wine. I’d have to go back for the Pinot Grigio soon! It was a really fun evening and we were out later than we intended (considering we met at 7pm)…

I was home all day on Friday. That evening, my sister, her husband and I went to La Petite Maison for dinner. As usual, the food was excellent. To start with we had: burrata (of course), beef carpaccio, lentil salad and crab and lobster salad. For the main course we had the salt-baked sea bass and the beef entrecote. We also had a lovely bottle of white wine. We shared the cheesecake for dessert and finished with a cocktail. Lovely evening…

On Saturday afternoon, my sister, V1 and I went to the Dubai Mall to do some shopping. We stopped at Tim Horton’s to pick up a coffee to walk around with and went straight to the Shoe District. My sister bought a pair of shoes and we went on to Sephora. I bought a mascara and eye liner from BeneFit (which I didn’t need). We stopped at Mothercare and Waitrose as well. I took V1 home while my sister had a mani/pedi at the mall. I was home that evening – the mall is quite tiring!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 14

I was working all of Sunday and didn’t leave the flat other than to go to the gym.

It was my birthday on Monday so I spent most of the day with the family. I’ve had a ‘no work on my birthday’ policy for the last few years (I would even take the day off when I worked in London) and managed to stick to it this year. At about 10am, the guy from security came up and told us there was going to be a fire drill and we’d have to leave the flat. I was a bit annoyed because I’d seen the signs next to the lift the day before and specifically asked him if we’d have to leave and he said it was just to test the fire alarms. So, instead of waiting for the fire alarm to go off at 10.30 and having to walk down 23 flights of stairs with two kids, I got ready for the gym and made a cup of tea while my mum and sister put V2 in his stroller. We went down in the lift and just waited for everything to kick off. Dad decided he was going to stay in bed (no, I’m not joking). Once the alarm went off, some people came out of the building while others just watched from their balconies (again, I’m not joking). The fire engines came, the paramedics came. V1 was thrilled to see it all in real life but it was a joke. Forty-five minutes after the alarm had gone off, people were still strolling out of the building in no rush whatsoever.

Once everyone was allowed back inside, I went to the gym. Later that day as I told friends about the fire drill, they said ‘Oh, wow. You got to see some real firemen on your birthday. What a treat!’ I had to point out that these weren’t New York firemen, worthy of a calendar page – these were short, stocky men from Kerala and Tamil Nadu!

That afternoon, my sister, V1, my cousin and I went to the Meat Company for lunch. We had steaks all round – so good! V1 had eaten at home and just had some chips. Afterwards we went home and I chilled for a bit. We cut a cake that evening, with V1 helping me to blow out the candles. That night my parents, sister and Vs 1 and 2 went to Sapori di Bice for dinner. It’s very kid-friendly and V1 had brought his scooter to play around on. I also bumped into a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in about a year so that was quite nice. I thought I might go out for a drink after dinner but was feeling really tired and lazy! It was such a chilled birthday – and not even one drink…

On Tuesday afternoon, Vs 1 and 2 had been invited to a friend’s daughter’s second birthday party. The party was at G’s Cafe in JLT and V2 cried all the way there. When we got to the party all the kids were with the entertainer already and the mums were having tea and coffee and finger sandwiches and little pastries. It was really nice. I even met someone that I knew but hadn’t seen in about two years! When it was time to cut the cake, we all went into the cafe – and there were some amazing cakes on display! After having a bite to eat, we headed home. V2 had slept the entire time we were there and woke up just in time to cry all the way home in the car.

I had a gym session with Trevor on Wednesday and a piano lesson in the evening. I tried to do as much work as I could as I knew I wouldn’t get much done at the weekend.

I woke up on Thursday to the most awful sandstorm. Visibility was almost zero and the world had taken on a bizarre natural sepia filter. I couldn’t see the Shangri-La next door or even the street below.

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Someone told me there had been a weather warning and that this was going to last all weekend. I panicked as I’d booked my birthday drinks at Calabar and had reserved an outdoors space. I sent the manager of the bar a neurotic email and he called me back a few hours later to say that it looked like the sandstorm was improving (it was) and that they were opening their outdoor area that evening (phew) and that it would be fine tomorrow (it bloody better be).

I worked most of Thursday. That night I had dinner at Royal China with a friend of mine. We’d booked a table for six people but everyone gradually bailed as the day went on, so we decided to go anyway – and he bought me dinner for my birthday. The food and service were really good. We shared a hot and sour soup with chicken to start and a quarter crispy aromatic duck. For our main course we had the Szechuan prawns and black bean beef with steamed rice and a portion of pak choi. Yum! I was full after all this but we had toffee banana for dessert anyway! It was a quiet evening and I was home by 11pm.

I woke up on Friday to glorious sunshine and clear skies. Thank goodness. However, that afternoon my sister and I walked to the Shangri-La to get our hair done and it was so windy that by the time we got there we were covered in sand. It was disgusting. I could feel it down my back (how??) and up my nose and in my throat. Ugh. Luckily the walk home was nowhere near as bad, and even though there was a breeze at Calabar that night, it wasn’t a gale!

It was a nice evening. I got to Calabar with a friend at about 6pm and my first guest arrived at 6.30. I had 39 people show up, 22 people didn’t. Out of those 22, some had said they couldn’t make it, some had RSVP’d ‘yes’ but never bothered showing up (rude) and some didn’t bother to RSVP at all (also rude). But I think those that showed up had a good time – I know I did! And then when the bill came, I couldn’t find my debit card in my handbag. I knew it was there because I had checked twice before leaving home and I hadn’t opened my bag so it couldn’t have fallen out at any point. I emptied my bag but it was nowhere to be found. In the end, a friend paid the bill for me. After he’d paid, the waiter said he’d ‘found’ my card on the floor somewhere. It was all very suspicious. And for the next two days I thought I must have been going mad every time I mentioned it as people laughed it off and put it down to too much alcohol. And then I thought they might be right until… a friend told me that when she got home she noticed that her credit cards were loose in her handbag instead of in her wallet like they usually are. So, on the plus side – I wasn’t going mad. On the minus side, the only people who had access to our bags were my guests. And that is a real negative. But, if you were going to go through someone’s handbag, wouldn’t you take the cash instead of the cards? I had AED 700 in my bag and it was still there the next day. None of it made any sense.

I had asked everyone not to bring a present, but a few people did get me something. I got: a box of Godiva chocolates, a book of 5-minute crosswords, a spiralbound notebook and two Smythson notebooks – one is black and says ‘Frankly, my dear’ on the front and the other is orange and says ‘Expect the unexpected’ on the front. Lots of notebooks!

It’s probably no surprise that I spent all of Saturday at home. I got out of bed at about 1pm, barely able to move. I had lunch, got back into bed and watched an episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ with my eyes closed. I showered, got into different pajamas and lazed around all day.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alcide

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

Alcide: Where are you from?

Me: London.

Alcide: Originally?

Me: India.

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

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

He started to stroke his chest hair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 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 1

Another busy week! I managed to get loads of work done as well as going out and about!

On Sunday my parents, sister, her husband, son and I went to Wafi Gourmet for lunch. As usual, by the time we get anywhere for lunch it’s almost 3pm. We ordered loads of starters and by the time the main course came, I couldn’t eat any more. We wandered around the Dubai Mall for a while and then I went home.

That evening I met up with a friend from London. We decided we’d meet in the lobby of the Shangri-La and then go to iKandy for a couple of drinks. I got there before she did and while I was waiting in the lobby, a man approached me. He was Middle Eastern and probably in his mid 50s.

‘Are you waiting for someone?’ he asked me.

Obviously, I thought. Why else would I hang around a hotel lobby? Then I thought that perhaps he worked at the hotel.

‘Yes, I am,’ I replied.

‘So am I,’ he said.

I looked at him as if to say ‘Well, what do you want me to do about it?’ and he walked off.

He came back a few minutes later and asked if my name was XYZ.

‘No, it’s not,’ I replied.

Thankfully, my friend walked in at that moment and we went to the bar. But seriously, what a freak.

We had a couple of drinks and I was home by 9pm. My parents were out so my sister, her husband and I just relaxed at home.

Monday wasn’t very busy. I went to get my hair done at the Fairmont and came back home. We’ve stopped using the sleazy hairdresser because he was always late – if he showed up at all! There were a couple of occasions where he’d cancelled at the last minute and that was just annoying. I did some work in the evening but could see the traffic building up on Sheikh Zayed Road from about 6pm onwards. I was glad we were staying close to home!

New Year’s Eve began with a drink at a friend’s place. She hosts a New Year’s Eve party every year and she doesn’t live far from me so I went for a drink. At about 10pm I made my way over to iKandy where my sister and husband had just got to. It was a fun evening – very chilled with unlimited alcohol.

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Four of us got through two bottles of Tattinger, a bottle of Belveder and a bottle of Chivas. There was some food brought to each table but by the time we got round to eating it, it was cold. The highlight was being able to see the fireworks at the Burj Khalifa from where we were.

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What ruined the night though was the DJ who was absolutely rubbish. He was flown in from the UK and played at The Ministry of Sound – and he only played ‘house’ music. However, if you requested a ‘house’ track, he didn’t have it. That would be the only criticism I would make.

We did our traditional dim sum lunch on Tuesday – just the cousins and spouses. We didn’t eat until after 3pm and we were all famished by then. That night, my sister, her husband, son and I went to Nando’s for dinner. It was the first time I’d been to Nando’s since I left London at the end of 2011 and I don’t remember the last time I had it in London either. It’s not something I’ve really craved or thought about at all!

I was home all day on Wednesday until dinner. We had a late table booked at La Petite Maison – at 11pm. It wasn’t very crowded at that time – and the kitchen was going to close soon after we got there. For starters we had the burrata (of course), the goat’s cheese salad, the beef carpaccio, the marinated salmon with pink peppercorns. We shared three main courses between us (although in hindsight we could have done with two): the pasta with black truffle (which was one of their specials that day), the sea bass with artichokes and tomatoes, and the grilled veal chop. We ordered a side of the baked gratinated potatoes. Amazing. We were too full by the end of it to order dessert.

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All I did on Thursday was work and go for my piano lesson. We spent most of the lesson working on different kinds of chords (major, minor, dominant, dorian) and ‘As Time Goes By’. I also got some new music – ‘Autumn Leaves‘ and ‘Comptine d’Un Autre Été‘ (from Amélie) which we looked at briefly.

I stayed in that night – I was tired from being out so much during the week.

My dad hosted a family lunch at Sakura on Friday – six of us plus eight other family members. As we were so many we ended up sitting on two separate Teppanyaki tables, which really defeated the purpose of a family lunch. Dad and I walked home after lunch, stopping at Tim Horton’s for coffee. We stayed in on Friday night but once Vinay was asleep, my sister, her husband and I walked over to iKandy for a drink. It’s so convenient that it’s just next door!

On Saturday my sister, her husband, Vinay and I went to the Dubai Dolphinarium in Creek Park. We aimed to get there in time for the 3pm show and made it with a few minutes to spare. Entrance to the park is AED 5 and then you have to buy tickets to see the show. Tickets were AED 100 for adults (AED 120 for VIP seats) and children under 2 years are free. I can’t remember how much a child’s ticket cost. We sat down and got some popcorn and the show began. There were four dolphins and two seals.

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It was fun to watch but it was a shame the Dolphinarium is indoors – it was perfect weather for an outdoor show. I suppose they have to think of the hot summers here.

After the show we hung around outside while Vinay went on a camel ride and a horse ride.

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By 4.30pm we were famished and ended up at McDonald’s on Sheikh Zayed Road. After we’d eaten we went to Jumeirah Town Centre for a wander and then went home.

We stayed in that night and my brother-in-law left for Lagos.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 44

Another hectic week!

After my training session with Randy on Sunday, my sister, Vinay and I went to The Cheesecake Factory for lunch. We didn’t get there until 3pm and were told we’d have to wait an hour for a table. We decided to finish our errands and then go back for our table. It was 4pm by the time we sat down and I was famished.

We ordered the spinach dip and I had the herb-crusted salmon (as usual). My sister had a cheeseburger and Vinay had the kid-size portion of chicken nuggets and fries. We were too full for cheesecake. I think we’ll have to go back just for cheesecake one of these days.

On Monday I went to meet some friends at the Dubai Mall who were in town from New York on their way to Bombay. We met at Fauchon Cafe and caught up over coffee – with their two kids. It was good to see them. One good thing about Dubai is that people are always passing through here! After we were finished my sister and Vinay came to the mall so we walked around for a while and I bought another dress. That makes five dresses in 1 week. I think I’m done for a while now!

It was my first anniversary in Dubai on Christmas Day! I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone by. It feels more like 3 months rather than a whole year. Christmas Day is a regular working day here in Dubai but that didn’t really affect any of us. We opened our presents before lunch (Samsung Galaxy phones all round) and then went to Shang Palace at the Shangri-La next door for lunch. It was just the six of us and one of Dad’s banker friends. The food was good – but the service was a bit slow.

After lunch Dad and I went to sort out our micro SIM cards for our new phones. We went to Du at Jumeirah Centre on Jumeirah Beach Road. In the past we’ve always been to Du at The Dubai Mall and have always had to wait in line. This store was empty and we got served immediately. We sorted out our phones – I decided to get a pay-as-you-go SIM for my BlackBerry, just for BBM, as I’m not sure I can quit that just yet! And for AED 1.5 per day I can afford to keep both lines! We stopped at Tim Horton’s for coffee and then went home. I spent the rest of the evening playing with my new phone.

On Wednesday afternoon, my sister, her husband, Vinay and I went to Jones the Grocer for lunch. My sister and I had the Wagyu beef burger, her husband had the prawn linguine (which looked very good), Vinay had some French fries, and we ordered a portion of the truffle parmesan fries as well (I know, that’s a lot of fries). Service was slow, but the food was good. After lunch we went to MoE to have a look round. I tried on a few things but didn’t buy anything. Trying on clothes after lunch isn’t a good idea!

That evening one of my cousins came over for dinner. Our parents were out so we hung out at home, opened a bottle of wine and relaxed.

The flat was very quiet on Thursday as Vinay and his parents went to the zoo at Al Ain. I would have loved to stay home but had a busy afternoon! I went to my piano lesson – we worked mainly on ‘As Time Goes By’ and chords. We also did some work on Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ and modulation – where you change keys in the middle of a song. My piano teacher told me that if you can play a song in any key you can do anything you want. I think that if I’d had a teacher like him as a child I’d be a completely different musician now. One of the main differences I’ve noticed is that if I’m sight-reading I’ll hesitate if I can’t find the notes I’m looking for. His opinion is that you should play anything, even if it’s wrong – hesitation is one of the worst things a musician can do. I didn’t tell him that with my old piano teacher I’d be too scared to make a mistake because she would start shouting at me! I need to find my old music theory books and go through them, just to remind myself of a few things.

After my lesson, I rushed to Pastels in Jumeirah – I had an appointment for a colour and blowdry. The salon recently moved and the new one is lovely – bright and airy. The garden is full of beautiful flowers too – I might take my camera the next time I go! I sat down with my book, and was given a cup of tea and a mince pie. I’d forgotten all about mince pies and thoroughly enjoyed it!

I went home after that – it was almost 6pm by then – and stayed home that evening.

We’d been undecided about what to do for New Year’s Eve as my sister is nanny-less this holiday and wasn’t even sure they’d go out at all. We’d heard about a party on the Palm but it wasn’t my first choice at all. It would be a trek to get there and back and it just didn’t appeal to me. I tried to get a ticket for my brother-in-law as he had some friends going but the organisers were being difficult about giving a ticket to one person (rather than a couple – even though they were selling single tickets) and we decided it wasn’t worth it. I found out a few days later that the two organisers had fallen out and that the party had been divided into two. What did this mean for ticket-holders? Basically, if you bought your ticket from one organiser and your friends had bought them from another, you’d be at two separate venues. Good grief. What a disaster! I was so glad we decided against that.

I then got an email from Okku about their New Year’s programme so I spoke to them about booking a table. They had availability but I still wasn’t sure about it. And then on Thursday morning I was going through the paper and iKandy was listed as one of the places to be on New Year’s Eve. It was perfect – we’d be able to walk there and back, sit outdoors, and watch the fireworks at the Burj Khalifa at midnight.

My brother-in-law and I took Vinay to the Shangri-La that evening to find out about their deal. We ended up booking three tickets. I told a friend of mine what our plan was and she subsequently decided to join us and booked her ticket too. It would be a chilled New Year’s Eve – I don’t think any of us were up for anything too crazy.

I was home all day on Friday. That night one of my cousins and I decided to go to Zuma for some drinks and dinner. It wasn’t as crowded as it usually is on a Friday and we got a table in the bar area and started on the martinis – I had the raspberry and passion fruit. Amazing. We ordered some food and more drinks. My brother-in-law joined us. We ordered some more food and drinks. And the green tea and banana cake. Another cousin joined us. We ordered another round of drinks. It was an expensive night.

I didn’t want to wake up on Saturday but had been invited to a girls’ lunch at Royal China. I didn’t know half the people there but sat at one end of the table with my cousin and some friends from Lagos and London. It was a fun afternoon and lunch didn’t finish until almost 4.30pm. I went home to change and then headed to the Fairmont for a much-needed manicure and pedicure. I decided to get my hair done while I was there too! It’s a hard life.

On Saturday night I went to a party at a friend’s place in JBR. Their flat is on the 38th floor and the party was on the terrace. It was a really nice evening – there was a clear sky and I could see so many stars and an almost full moon. It was nice to meet friends from London and Lagos who are in town for the holidays too. At about 1am a few of us decided to go to Boudoir. Unfortunately by the time we got there our table had been given away! We waited outside for about 20 minutes but I decided I’d had enough and my bed was sounding more and more appealing. I think what killed everyone’s mood was the long drive back from JBR! My brother-in-law and I decided we’d go to McDonald’s on the way home. We sat at a table and he realised he knew the people on the next table from Lagos. A few minutes later a couple of friends who had been trying to get into Boudoir with us walked in! I suppose McDonald’s is the place to be at 2.30 on a Saturday night!

We got home at 3am and went straight to bed.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 43

What a busy week!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 26

Sunday was a busy day. I had a session with Rama in the morning which made me want to get back into bed (but I didn’t).

My parents and I went to Texas Roadhouse at the Dubai Mall for lunch. I had the 6-ounce filet steak with a baked potato and house salad. It sounds small but with the two sides it’s the perfect size. And, yes, I forgot to take photos again. I then stopped off at Tim Horton’s to get a French vanilla cappuccino.

I did some work that afternoon and then went to see my cousin who was in town for the day. I hadn’t seen him since February so it was nice to sit down and have a drink together. He left for the airport at about 8pm and I went over to a friend’s place. She’d just moved into a building close by so I went to see her flat. The building is gorgeous – very modern – and the view from the 45th floor is quite something. 

She had invited me to watch the Euro 2012 final with a couple of friends (two Egyptian guys) at Nasimi Beach at the Atlantis so we took a cab to one of their houses near the Mall of the Emirates. Just as we got there, one of the guys got a call to say that we’d lost our table to someone in the royal family. I suppose that’s how things work here! After a few calls we eventually ended up at The Golden Foot Mega Tent in Marina. When someone says ‘tent’ to me, I assume canvas – maybe a marquee. This two-storey air-conditioned ‘tent’ was nothing like I expected. On the outside it looked like a warehouse. And actually on the inside it looked like a warehouse too, but a nice one (even the portaloos outside had marble floors). It was huge. There were three huge screens – so wherever you were sitting you could see one of them. Once the game started, the lights were dimmed but as soon as Spain scored (again and again and again), strobe lights were flashing, whistles were blown – the atmosphere was great because there were so many Spanish supporters:

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When Juan Mata came on, I told the others we were going to see one more goal that night. They were doubtful but a minute later there it was!

Once the game was over, Sasha Lopez came on so we stayed on for some dancing. It was about 2am by the time I got home… 

I had yoga on Monday morning and worked for the rest of the day. 

On Tuesday I went to the gym and then met a friend for lunch at Social House at the Dubai Mall. I worked the rest of the afternoon and then had dinner with two of my cousins at Royal China. When we got there, the air-conditioning didn’t seem to be working very well and the music was far too loud. They told us that they’d called the maintenance people to sort out the temperature and that the music was at its ‘normal’ level. I’m pretty sure they lied about both things. Our waiter kept trying to push the cocktails but we ordered a bottle of wine instead. He also kept hovering over us and I was getting quite annoyed! We ordered some crispy duck to start with, and for mains we had the szechuan prawns and lamb with cumin. I wouldn’t order the lamb again – it was good, but we didn’t realise it was fried without any sauce. Again, I forgot to take photos! 

I had my second session with Rama on Wednesday and worked for the rest of the day. I came across this article on a friend’s Facebook page and just had to post it on my own! The article led to me watching this video:

I couldn’t stop laughing while watching it because it is so true! And then I remembered a conversation I had with my mum the day before. She asked me to ‘order’ a maid from the agency for Wednesday afternoon. ‘And make sure you ask for a Filipina,’ she said. Erm, can you say things like that? I asked. ‘Of course you can,’ she replied. Wow. Only in Dubai!

On Wednesday I had another session with Rama and then settled down to do some work. I didn’t do much apart from the gym and work on Thursday too. 

The weekend was quite uneventful. I went to the gym on Friday and then had lunch with my parents at Jones the Grocer. I’d been wanting to try this place for a while and we finally made it there. We started with some olives – one bowl had olives stuffed with blue cheese and the other had olives stuffed with chillis. 

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I loved the olives with blue cheese. I just love blue cheese.

For main course, Dad and I both ordered the grilled salmon and Mum ordered the halloumi baguette.

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After I’d ordered the salmon I saw a waiter walk past with a wagyu beef burger – it looked bloody amazing. I’m definitely having that next time – without the bread. We also ordered a green salad and some olive oil French fries. For dessert my parents shared a strawberry tart (I had two bites) and I ordered a flat white.

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I would definitely go back.

The rest of the weekend was quiet. I watched the Wimbledon men’s semi-finals after lunch, and after my parents went out for dinner I played the piano for a while. Twenty years after passing my Grade VIII and the only things I can play decently are ‘Careless Whisper’ and ‘Separate Lives’. I’m surprised the neighbours didn’t complain – I was playing till after midnight. They must be away! 

Saturday was quite uneventful. I went down to the pool in the morning, had lunch at home, did some work, and sat at the piano once my parents went out. I went through some old sheet music, trying to figure out what I could remember. I didn’t go near any classical music – I thought it would scare me. Or depress me. I’ve been given the number of a piano teacher so when I get back in September I’ll give him a call.

Quite a quiet week in the end, but next week will be busier. There’s lots to do before I head off for the summer
!

I love my life.

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