Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

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:

2012

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. 

2012

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.

2012

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.

2012

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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Dubai: Week 21

A busy week!

After my usual session with Rama, my mum, grandmother and I decided to go to Royal China for lunch.

I’d barely been there 5 minutes and the waitress started to annoy me. She asked us three times whether we wanted virgin mojitos and we told her three times that we didn’t. We ordered some dim sum (prawn and chive dumplings, vegetarian dumplings, spring rolls, crispy asparagus), and after we’d finished that we ordered our main course (noodles with mixed vegetables, tofu and pak choy). She asked us about the virgin mojitos again. Good grief. NO! 

After lunch we went to the Dubai Mall. I had a couple of dresses that needed altering and we’d been told there was a good tailor there. I’d heard about other tailors in Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai but this was much more convenient. I tried on both dresses and they said they’d be ready later that evening. 

That evening, I was supposed to go to an InterNations event at Jambase but by the time we got home it was after 5pm and I was feeling too lazy. I got into bed and decided to do some work.

On Monday I had yoga and was home until the evening. I’d booked a facial at Spaces at Oasis Mall (they offer 50% off on Mondays) for 7pm. I learned that 7pm is really the wrong time to go. There was traffic getting there and back, and the spa was crowded too. Next time I’ll go in the middle of the afternoon. A couple of days later I got a call from the spa telling them the payment on my card hadn’t gone through.

‘Really?’ I asked. ‘Because I paid cash.’ 

‘Oh! So sorry for the inconvenience, mam.’ 

Mental.

I worked all of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but was out those three nights.

On Tuesday evening I met up with NP (formerly known as ‘Twitter friend’). She suggested we meet at Jetty Lounge at the Royal Mirage Hotel. I’d never been there so it was nice to go somewhere new (for me). It’s located on the beach, on a jetty (hence the name), and it was very chilled. We ordered a bottle of rosé and some food (the mezze and Mexican platters). The houmous and guacamole were fantastic. It was a warm night and the rosé went down very smoothly.  

On Wednesday evening I met up with a friend and one of her friends at Blends Bar at The Address Marina. It was Havana Night, which meant women got free mojitos until midnight and there was also a free salsa lesson taught by Aloy Junco. We got there at about 9pm, got a round of drinks and then joined the salsa class. There were about 40 people in the class and once I figured out the instructor’s strong Cuban accent it wasn’t difficult to follow. As the class went on, the room started filling up, and once the class was over the dancefloor was overtaken by the serious salsa lovers. It was fantastic to watch – all that twirling and hip-shaking! By the time we left just after midnight the dancefloor was heaving. We had such a good time we decided to make it a regular event once get back from our various travels. 

On Thursday night I headed to Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel for Dubai Wine Club. As I walked in I prayed that the crazy woman from last time wasn’t there. And my prayers were answered! What a fun evening! Our table consisted of four men and six women (nine singles, one married man): I knew one of the women, and two of the men and two of the women were on my table at the last wine tasting. Again, we were seated outdoors just outside the lobby area, and this time all six wines were red. I thought it was a shame as it was quite warm and a perfect night for chilled white wine! We went through all six wines – talking about them (and other things). The woman on my right said ‘I think they’re all Cabernets from different regions’ (the bottles are covered so you don’t know what you’re drinking). How on earth could anyone possibly know that? One of the guys said ‘I think F is a Malbec.’ I had to disagree because I actually like Malbec and F smelled (and tasted) like burning tyres. At the end of the evening, the organiser unveiled the bottles and, sure enough, they were all Cabernets. Genius. The conversation flowed (sex was the topic of choice) and people on other tables kept looking over at us wondering what the raucous laughter was about. We were by far the best table there. Pretty soon we were the only table left, still sitting down, still talking – and the organiser brought over two bottles of Bordeaux to our table. At about 11.30pm we decided to move into the bar area as it was getting too warm outside. I think Dubai is the only place where it gets hotter as the night goes on rather than cooler – of course the red wine didn’t help. I left soon after midnight – all that red wine had left me feeling dopey.

Friday was relaxing – I had lunch with my parents and grandmother at Sakura at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. We all overate, as usual. Imagine if I’d gone for that awful massage after Sakura?? After lunch I went down to the pool, pleasantly surprised to find nobody there. I stayed in that evening – I think being out three nights in a row is enough for me! Plus I knew Saturday would be an early start as Mum and I were taking Joy to the airport.

After seeing Joy go through passport control, Mum and I left the airport. The Metro station was right there so we decided to go home by train. I hadn’t been on the Metro yet and was in no rush to get home. I already had Mum’s old Nol card which needed topping up. I put it in the machine and decided to top it up with 5 dirhams. As I was fishing around for change in my bag, I noticed that there were some coins in the change box in the ticket machine. Five dirhams exactly! Perfect. 

Because we were close to the beginning of the line we got seats on the train. It was 9am. We got to Financial Centre Metro station by 9.30 and started walking home. We passed Tim Horton’s and decided to get a coffee. Mum bought a croissant which looked and smelled so good. I’ll admit I had two bites of it. It was my first time at Tim Horton’s and was pleasantly surprised by their coffee. We got home by 10am – it’s about a 7-minute walk from Tim Horton’s to our building and I could feel my skin burning, even at that time of the morning.

When we got home I finished my coffee, did the crossword, and sat with my grandmother. Mum went back to sleep. At about 11am I decided to go down to the pool. It was boiling so I sat under an umbrella. After a while I was so hot I thought I’d do a couple of laps in the pool. The metal railings on the ladder getting into the pool were so hot I could barely hold them for more than a couple of seconds at a time. And once I was in the pool I felt like I was in a tepid bath; that’s how warm it was. 

That afternoon I was supposed to go to my writing/book group, but I only went for the book part of it. There were just four of us this time, but I got some good book suggestions which I’ll look into when I’m in London. After book group I went to meet my mum and grandmother at Burjuman. They were having coffee with one of their friends at Hediard Cafe in the mall. After that we walked Saks for a little while and then went home. 

That evening we went to Social House for dinner. Mum had made lunch but didn’t feel like making dinner so we went out. When we got to the mall we passed a watch repair shop so I had a few links removed from my watch so that it finally fit properly. Let’s hope I never have to use them again! The man charged me 10 dirhams. By the time we sat down to eat it was 9.45 and I was famished. I couldn’t see anything on the menu that sounded as appealing as the Wagyu beef burger and fries (I didn’t eat the bread)… and it really hit t
he spot. 

I was shattered by the time we got home and couldn’t wait to get into bed. It was the longest day I’d had in a while!

I love my life.

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The final few: Week 6

I had my 30th session with Rama on Sunday morning. Thirty! Time really does fly… While I was on the cross-trainer, he told me I was going to do some of the fitness tests which I hadn’t done for a while: push-ups, crunches, wall squat, plank and 500m on the cross-trainer. I’ve done burpees in the past as well, but he said the last time I managed to do over 80 in 7 minutes so it wouldn’t be much of a test. Thank goodness, because I hate burpees.

I did the following:

  • 1 minute of push-ups (39 push-ups, 36 last time)
  • 1 minute of crunches (39 crunches, 40 last time)
  • Wall squat (1 minute 8 seconds – an improvement of just 7 seconds)
  • Plank (2 minutes, an improvement of 26 seconds)
  • 500m on the cross-trainer (3 minutes 12 seconds, an improvement of 29 seconds) 

The wall squat was torture and the 500m on the cross-trainer killed me. Rama told me to aim for 500m in 3 minutes and 30 seconds, and even he was surprised at my improved time. I told him there wasn’t a vast improvement with my push-ups or crunches, but he said my technique and range of motion had improved so each push-up/crunch would take a little bit longer. Neither of us could remember what my first results were. I had a rest after that and then did some lower body exercises, wall squats using a Swiss ball, stepping on and off a bench, Swiss ball crunches, and finally a cool-down on the treadmill. 

I woke up on Monday with a sore lower body: abs, hamstrings, thighs, they all ached. I had yoga on Monday morning. It was much better than the week before, and much quieter for most of the class! That evening Rama sent me a message with my first ever results: push-ups 22, crunches 26, wall squat 32 seconds, plank 37 seconds, burpees 11 (pathetic), 500m on the cross-trainer 4 minutes and 53 seconds. And that was four months ago. I was pleased about the improvement, but feel the wall squat could be much better…

I got to the gym quite late on Tuesday morning to find four Lebanese women there. I’d spoken to them all before, but had never encountered them together. They were chatting and cackling, the iPod speakers were on, it was noisy. I felt like I was at a Lebanese hen night. I still managed to do my 5k and left.

My Wednesday session with Rama consisted of target training using free weights and the weights machines. I worked each targeted area for 4-5 minutes, starting with abs, then moving on to legs, then hamstrings, then my upper body, then some cardio (boxing moves holding the 3-kg weights) interspersed with squats and burpees (still holding the 3-kg weights), and then back to abs again. It was tough – and I woke up sore all over on Thursday.

Even though I was sore, and a little hungover from Havana Night at Blends Bar on Wednesday night, I went to the gym intending to do just 3k. Something is better than nothing, after all. 

I planned to go to the spin class at the Shangri-La at 7pm on Friday evening, but I was so full from lunch at Sakura that I didn’t think it was a good idea. Instead I went to the gym: I did 3k on the treadmill, two sets of tricep extensions and two sets of Swiss ball crunches. Of course I could have gone on Saturday morning but I’d decided to take Saturday ‘off’ as I wanted to spend the morning at the pool after taking Joy to the airport… 

On Sunday, Rama asked me what my target weight was, and I told him I wanted to be 23 kg lighter than when I started, so I’ve still got just over 8 kg to go. And actually, even if I make it to 20 kg I’ll be pretty thrilled! It seems to be taking me a month to lose just 1 kg so I should hit my target by the end of the year. And if I do, I’ll be the same weight I was when I was in my early 20s!

Low point of the week? Having a burger (without the bread) and fries on Saturday night. By the time we sat down to dinner it was almost 10pm and I was famished. The only thing that looked good on the menu at Social House was the burger… 

High point of the week? As loud as the Lebanese women in the gym were, when I saw them they told me I looked like I’d lost a lot of weight (I hadn’t seen one of them in a few weeks). They asked about Rama (they’ve all seen him at the gym at some point), they asked whether I was on a diet, they seemed impressed. 

Weight loss? I’ve now lost 15.1 kg (just over 33 lbs), which I was surprised about considering how much I ate and drank this week! 

2012

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Dubai: Week 15

What a busy week!

I had my usual session with Rama on Sunday morning. That afternoon I went for a Dermalogica deep cleansing facial at Spaces Spa at the Oasis Centre on Sheikh Zayed Road. I hadn’t had a facial in about a year and was in dire need of one. It was perfect – my skin felt like it could breathe again after it was over. There was a promotion on so I got a 25% discount and was told that if I booked a facial on any Monday in April and May I’d get 50% off. I must remember to make the most of that.

That night some of my neighbours (who I knew before I moved to Dubai) invited me over for dinner and a game of Monopoly Deal. Her original plan was to order pizza but I told her I didn’t eat bread so we got a takeaway from Lemongrass instead. I’d never played Monopoly Deal – it’s basically like Monopoly but without the board. Instead you have a deck of cards telling you what to do in each turn. It’s like a cross between Monopoly and Uno. 

On Tuesday my cousin had her birthday lunch at Cascades at the Fairmont. It was mostly the same women who were at lunch the previous week and a couple of other women. The food was sushi, prawn tempura, salads and pizza (which I didn’t have). After lunch I went home and did some work.

Over the weekend I received an email from one of the publishers I freelance for asking if I had time to copyedit 10 papers which they needed urgently. I said I did – and then thought I’d better get on with them if I was going to send them all back before the weekend! 

On Wednesday I had another session with Rama and then met a friend for lunch at Social House at the Dubai Mall. I hadn’t had breakfast and I was starving. We both ordered the mie goreng, and I had the fresh carrot, beetroot and ginger juice. The food was excellent – it was just what I needed. It was very hot on Wednesday so when I got home I changed, took some proofs down to the pool and did some work there for a couple of hours. I’m pleased to say I no longer look anaemic. 

Thursday was a long day. Joy and I went to Lulu at 9.15am – she wanted to go early as it would be too hot later on in the day. We were home by 10.45 and I was at the gym by 11. After that I had lunch at Zuma with my Twitter friend on Thursday. We had the set lunch menu – we had miso soup, sashimi, maki rolls and then she had the rib eye and I had the black cod. We shared the green tea/banana cake for dessert – but we didn’t finish it. 

After lunch I went to the International Exhibition Centre as the Bride Show was on and a friend of mine was here from London exhibiting there. He’d been in town for a few days but we hadn’t managed to meet up so I thought I’d pop along to the stand and say hi as I was in the area. It was very quiet but I was sure it would pick up on Friday and Saturday. I was there for about an hour and then went home to do some work.

I stayed home on Thursday night – it had been a busy day and my cousin was arriving the next day from London and I knew the next few days would be busy.

On Friday morning I went to the gym, then Dad and I went to Lemongrass near Lamcy Plaza. We shared the tom yum soup with prawns to start, and then had the panaeng curry with prawns and steamed hammour with lime, ginger and chillies. The food there is very good. I also had a Time Out voucher giving us two main courses for the price of one. 

We went home after that and my cousin arrived just before 6pm. We relaxed and chatted for ages. I’d booked a table at Zuma for 10pm but we decided we’d get there earlier because: (a) we would get too lazy and not want to go out at all; and (b) we could have a drink at the bar before dinner. We got there at 9.30 and had a drink at the bar. It wasn’t too crowded at that time, but it was starting to fill up by the time our table was ready. We had the edamame, ohitashi, tuna tataki, rock shrimp tempura, chicken skewers and beef skewers. And a flask of hot sake.

2012

The food was excellent, and the sake went down smoothly. So smoothly that we ended up ordering another flask. The waitress brought us the dessert menu but we decided to have some spicy tuna rolls first – and then ordered the green tea/banana cake. It was almost midnight by then but we were still talking and people watching, and fancied some more sake, so along came the third flask. We were the last people to leave the restaurant area, just after 1am. I should get loyalty points for Zuma – three times in one week must be a record.

On Saturday we lazed around at home for a while and then went to the Dubai Mall for lunch. My cousin who lives in Dubai joined us and we went to Lafayette Gourmet. I thought it would be a good choice as we could each order whatever cuisine we felt like – we all shared dim sum, sushi and mezze, and it was all very good. The service was better than usual too. We had coffee at Gloria Jean’s afterwards (yay!) and headed home. Our initial plan was to go to Desi Night at Boudoir that evening (I’m not sure why), but by the time evening came we weren’t really up for it so decided to see a movie instead. I booked tickets for the three of us to see ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ – I loved it. I’d been wanting to see it and I knew it wouldn’t be in the cinema for much longer, and I’m so glad we went… 

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Dubai: Week 8

Quite a busy week, I think!

I started off my week with an 8.45am session with Rama on Sunday morning. I was keen to get back on track after the week before where I did almost nothing. Dad and I went to Texas Roadhouse for lunch at the Dubai Mall – I wasn’t all that keen on going, but thought it would be a change from PF Chang! I ordered a filet steak, with a salad and jacket potato on the side. The house salad was disappointing but the steak was actually very good. I was pleasantly surprised – and very full when I was done.

We walked around for a while and sat down for coffee at Gloria Jean’s on the first floor. Just that morning I’d complained to Rama that most places in Dubai had never heard of a flat white coffee – even the staff at Starbucks stared at me blankly when I asked for it. At Gloria Jean’s it was on the menu – and it was one of the best coffees I’ve had in Dubai. Definitely somewhere to go back to! 

Dad had a doctor’s appointment after that, so while he was at the clinic I went to the supermarket next door and picked up whatever we needed for the house. Joy had given me a list of things we’d run out of so I trawled the aisles looking for them. It was so dull. I took my time on purpose as I knew Dad’s doctor was running late, but it was just so boring. I’m sure the security guards looked at me suspiciously as I pottered down the aisles over and over again.

Anyway, we finally got home, I changed into my pajamas and that was Sunday over with.

On Monday I had my yoga class at home and then worked all day. On Tuesday I met a friend for lunch at Social House at the Dubai Mall. The last time I went there we sat inside on bench-type chairs which weren’t conducive to long lunches. I didn’t realise there was a whole separate section on the other side – and a huge outdoor section. It was a nice lunch – I had the spicy tuna roll to start with and then had the spicy wok-fried chicken. The portion was really big and I ended up taking half of it home for Joy. 

On Wednesday I had my 10th session with Rama and then worked the rest of the day. 

My yoga teacher had a cancellation on Thursday so my cousin and I took advantage of that! I then went to PF Chang for lunch at the mall (again). Someone I know had just gotten married and moved to Dubai – she got in touch and we decided to meet for lunch. There were four of us in the end – the two of us, her friend from Singapore who also lives here (who I met for lunch a few weeks before at Social House), and her cousin who lives in Dubai. They decided to wander around the mall after lunch, but I headed home. 

On Thursday night I was supposed to go to one of the British expat meet-ups in Marina, but that afternoon a friend said he was going to Okku for dinner and did I want to join him? I still drool when I think of the truffle fried rice, so I said I would. I met him there at 8pm – we had a table at the bar. He had said two other people were joining us but they were running late. In the meantime we ordered a portion of the wasabi rock shrimp and two types of chicken. I’d forgotten he rarely eats anything but chicken. Oh well, more shrimp for me, and I thought we could order some more food when the others arrived. When they did arrive, one turned out to be vegetarian and the other vegan. Yes, vegan! This did not bode well for the food fest I had planned. So I switched to vodka. After dinner we moved to the bar and a couple of other friends joined us. It wasn’t a late night but it was nice to be out and about!

On Friday, I woke up and looked out the window. I couldn’t see very far and thought it was fog… but it was a sandstorm.

2012

A couple of hours later, it got worse. When I leave my building, the first thing I see is the Burj Khalifa, but on Friday it had disappeared. Apparently visibility was 800m that day (according to the paper). When I think of sandstorms I think of that old Laurel and Hardy movie, Beau Hunks, where they join the Foreign Legion because Hardy has a broken heart – and they then get lost in the desert in a sandstorm!

2012

Dad and I went to Red Lobster for lunch. I’d mentioned in an earlier post that the Dubai Mall has everything you could possibly imagine – and I wasn’t kidding! Dad and I shared the fried calamari and vegetables as a starter. I then ordered the grilled salmon and broccoli as my main course. It was extremely filling. After lunch we went back to Gloria Jean’s for some coffee…

We were only outside for 10 minutes at the most but by the time I got home, there was sand in my hair, my eyes, my throat… it was gross.

That night I had dinner with my cousins at Spectrum on One at the Fairmont. The restaurant was empty – apparently it gets very busy for Friday brunch, but by dinner time the crowd had gone. We had sushi to start with, and then shared the prawn teppanyaki and two portions of the lamb chops. We had ordered the black pepper beef but sent it back as it wasn’t very good. We shared the chocolate fondant for dessert.

Another cousin from Lagos arrived on Saturday morning – and was staying with us. He arrived at about 9.30am and we chatted for a couple of hours until he decided to go nap. I went to the gym. The sandstorm still hadn’t subsided. We later met our other cousins for lunch at Lafayette Gourmet – the service was bad, and I wasn’t sure whether our waiter was a man or a woman. I asked the others what they thought and they weren’t sure either. We had a mixture of food for lunch – sushi, pasta, curry – they do it all there. After that we went to Caffe Nero for coffee. I did try to get them to go to Gloria Jean’s but they said it was too far.

I went home and decided I wasn’t going anywhere else the rest of the day. And by dinner time my throat was hurting… 

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