Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2013: Week 5

My week began with a session with Randy, as usual.

That afternoon I went to Spaces at the Oasis Centre for a Dermalogica facial. I hadn’t had one since November and felt like pampering myself. After that I went to a new salon called Nadia Beauty Style at Sama Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road. I’d bought a Groupon voucher for a keratin treatment and wanted to use it before I went to London. It wasn’t a Brazilian keratin treatment, it was an Argan keratin treatment, and I knew the results would be nowhere near as good as the Brazilian keratin treatment. The stylist put the solution on my hair and left me under a dryer for 40 minutes. My hair felt soft, smooth and shiny – but I think that’s what happens when you suddenly inject Argan oil and keratin into your hair. It was little more than a deep conditioning treatment.

On Monday afternoon I had a piano lesson to make up for the one I’d missed the week before, due to the public holiday. I got to the studio and my teacher wasn’t there. Ten minutes after he should have been there I sent him a text to let him know I was waiting for him. He called me 2 minutes later, claiming to have forgotten about my lesson. Great, I thought. What a waste of time. Luckily the studio isn’t far from where I live so I went home and went back to work.

I went to see Django Unchained on Tuesday evening. I thought it was brilliant! My friend and I went to More Cafe for dinner afterwards. We shared a pasta and a Greek salad. The portions there are huge…

I was home all day on Wednesday. I had some work to do and thought I’d better start packing for my trip to London. I didn’t have much to take as my Dubai wardrobe would have been completely useless in London in February. I took a few dresses for the evenings, some jeans, vests – I’d pick up all my winter clothes from storage when I got there – and the rest of my suitcase consisted of baby clothes and Patchi chocolates for friends.

On Thursday I had a piano lesson at 2pm. At 1.58 my teacher texted to say he was running 5 minutes late. I waited in the corridor outside his studio for 20 minutes and was very tempted to just leave. Did he not want to teach me? If he didn’t I could find a new teacher. Don’t I have better things to do than to wait around? Even if he’d told me at 1.40 that he was running late, I could have left home later and not wasted my time. He showed up at 2.20 – ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so busy, I’m going to Doha tomorrow…’

‘You’re not the only one who has things to do, you know,’ I snapped. Was his time more valuable than mine?

He looked a bit sheepish then and apologised. I had my lesson – he again apologised profusely for being late. I doubt that will change anything in the future though!

After my piano lesson I went for a manicure and pedicure at Amro. I spent the rest of the evening packing and left for London the following morning.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 27

What a hectic week!

I had a session with Rama on Sunday and then had lunch at Karam Cafe with my parents and cousins who were visiting from Ghana. I hadn’t seen them in ages – so it was nice to have a meal and meet their gorgeous twins! By the time we finished lunch it was after 4pm and I wanted to do some shopping before travelling the following weekend.

I was looking for a dress for a friend’s wedding in August. I tried on a light turquoise dress – it was simple but pretty and I thought it would be perfect. When I took it to the till, the assistant noticed a stain on the dress but when I went back to get another one there weren’t any more in my size. So annoying! I ended up buying just a couple of pairs of shorts for my holiday and that was it. I should have browsed in some other shops but I was running late.

That evening I went over to a friend’s place to watch the Wimbledon men’s final and was home by 11.30pm.

After the gym on Monday I went to Spaces at the Oasis Centre for a Dermalogica facial. It was my third time there and all three times I’ve had the same Kenyan lady for my facial. And all three times she has asked me whether I’ve been there before. Perhaps she thinks there’s no point in remembering people because Dubai is such a transient place? Anyway, I didn’t enjoy the facial as much as I had in the past – mainly because she kept banging around with various things while I was trying to relax! After my facial was over I decided to have a blowdry. I was going out that evening and didn’t feel like doing it myself.

I went to an InterNations event at Amika at the H Hotel (formerly the Monarch Hotel – when did it change?? And why is their website so rubbish?) The friend I was supposed to go with couldn’t make it in the end so I decided to go on my own. I just really wanted a glass of wine! I got there at about 8.30pm and the queue to get in went all the way down the corridor to Okku but luckily it was moving pretty fast. I got in, got my glass of Sauvignon Blanc and said hello to some people I recognised from previous events. I then got chatting to three English people I’d never met before and it became quite a fun evening – but I found the venue a bit small for the number of people there. When I went to get a refill the bartender told me they didn’t have any white wine left. How the f*** does a bar run out of white wine? I decided to switch to vodka. Five vodkas later it was almost midnight and the place was starting to empty out so I decided to head home. 

I woke up on Tuesday feeling like hell. I still made it to the gym though – I knew I wouldn’t be doing much on Friday, Saturday or Sunday so thought I’d better just go and get it over with. That afternoon I met a friend at Tim Horton’s for coffee. When we finished I decided to walk home – it’s about a 7-minute walk but at 4.30pm it was sweltering outside. Luckily the side of the street I was walking on was in the shade at that time but it still felt like a sauna. But I still prefer the heat to the relentless London rain! I worked for the rest of the day (and caught up on ‘True Blood’!).

I had my 40th session with Rama on Wednesday morning. It was tough, as always! That afternoon I met up with NP at Jones the Grocer for a late lunch. Well, I had a late lunch, she had two green teas. I know I said that the next time I went I would have the wagyu burger but after my workout that morning I felt like eating something healthy(ish). I ordered the pumpkin and feta salad with grilled chicken. It was very good – and yes, I forgot to take a photo of it. Next time… When we were done we picked up her son from nursery and she dropped me off at Times Square Center so I could get a cab (my parents had the car for the day). It was a fun afternoon with lots of laughs.

Thursday was busy too – I was up early, the piano tuner came, I went to the gym, the sleazy hairdresser did my hair. I worked in the afternoon and then went to wine club in the evening. It was held at the Radisson again, in the Indo-Thai restaurant. I ended up sitting with four people I already knew and I met a couple of new people I will definitely get in touch with when I’m back in September. 

The theme for the evening was rosé:

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We had the same menu as last time:

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I thought I liked rosé but it turns out that apart from the first one I tried, they all taste the same to me and I struggled to find a second choice (I went for ‘C’ in the end – don’t ask me why). Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t finish them. We eventually discovered we had been drinking these wines:

  • A: Chemin des Sables d’Anjou (2010) – from the Loire valley in France; ripe peach and apricot aromas; full of fruit flavour; made from Cabernet Franc grapes
  • B: False Bay Rosé (2011) – from the Stellenbosch-Paarl region of South Africa; a delicately spiced rosé with summer fruit on the palate; produced from Cinsaut and Mourvedre
  • C: Masia Perelada Rosado (2010) – from Catalonia; a bright pink colour; the fragrance contains raspberries and strawberries; 60% Grenache, 40% Tempranillo
  • D: Santa Cristina Rosato Cipresseto (2010) – link pink in colour with cherry tones; complex in aroma with notes of berry fruit, particularly raspberries and strawberries; full and rich in flavour, fruity on the finish; 85% Sangiovese, 15% other complimentary grapes
  • E: Massaya Bekka Valley Rosé (2011) – from Lebanon; strawberry hue with aromatic notes reminiscent of raspberries, summer stone fruit and subtle spices; elegant and round on the palate; graceful acidity with a crisp finish; 40% Cinsault, 30% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • F: Chateau de Marsan Bordeaux Rosé (2010) – pretty pale raspberry in colour; expressive nose of red berries with nice smoky and resinous aromas; full and fruity on the palate with a racy finish; 20% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon

There was some mingling at the bar later on where a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc were consumed. At about 11pm, a few of us decided to go to Cirque du Soir. In the lobby of the Radisson I suggested we walk to the Fairmont as it was just a couple of blocks. It wouldn’t have taken more than 7 minutes. As I walked out of the hotel it was like stepping into a sauna. I could feel my hair start to frizz and knew that if I didn’t get back in the air conditioning in 5 minutes by the time I got to the club I’d be mistaken for Chaka Khan. We got into two cabs, convinced the drivers to take us the short distance and off we went.

I’d heard a lot about Cirque du Soir and was unsure of what to expect. Not surprisingly there was a queue to get in. Whe the woman at the door turned away five semi-naked girls just before us I thought there was no chance we’d get in (I was with three guys as the other cab hadn’t arrived yet). She let us in. 

The place is smaller than I imagine
d – and it was hot, smoky and crowded. And it is disturbing. Contortionists, trapeze artists, painted faces… I felt bad for the little person in the glass cage being gawked at.

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I decided to leave at about 1.30am – it was too crowded and I’d had too much to drink. I’m glad I went, but now that I know what it’s all about, I won’t be rushing back. 

I woke up on Friday feeling rough. Two hangovers in one week – that’s a first for me (in Dubai)!

Once I’d surfaced my parents and I decided to go out for lunch. Our original idea was to go to Sumo Sushi at Jumeirah Town Centre but when we got there I noticed a Persian restaurant on the first floor called Shish Kebab and we thought we’d try it. We had some hummus to start with, my parents both ordered the koobideh for their main course and I ordered one koobideh skewer and one grilled chicken skewer. 

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We walked around the small mall for a while. Next to the restaurant we came across the Hello Kitty Spa, a spa for kids. Mum and I asked if we could have a look around and the lady showed us into the spa. I’ve never seen anything like it – it was even nicer than some adult spas I’ve seen! The photos below are from their Facebook page:

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It was full. A few girls were getting their nails and hair done and there was even one who couldn’t have been older than 6 or 7 who was getting her make-up done. I’m not sure how I feel about that, to be honest. Kids already grow up so fast these days… 

When we went back downstairs I noticed a lingerie shop called TKD (The Knickers Drawer). Just out of curiosity I went in to see what they had and noticed they stocked all my favourite brands. I tried on a couple of (rather overpriced) tankinis and ended up buying them both. A swimsuit had been on my list of things to get but I hadn’t managed to find one I liked so this was great! I’m not sure I would shop there on a regular basis as it is quite expensive but at least I know where to go if I ever have a bra-related emergency!

Afterwards Mum and I went to Lulu to pick up some holiday supplies – sunscreen, insect repellent, shampoo, and so on. Thankfully it didn’t take too long. 

That evening I met my cousin for a drink at Cin Cin at the Fairmont and then had dinner with my parents. They wanted to go to Ravi Restaurant in Satwa. The food is good, but the place is a dump. The tables are covered in clear plastic, you drink from styrofoam cups, there’s a tissue box on each table…

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I noticed ‘brain fry’ on the menu, which Mum subsequently ordered (gross).

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I ordered the chicken tikka – it seemed like the safest option.

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When we got home I decided I’d better start packing. Two Indian outfits, four pairs of shoes, one pair of trainers, four handbags, seven dresses, swimwear, casual wear, gym stuff, pajamas, underwear, toiletries = 30 kg. F***. I was allowed 25 kg. I unpacked – I’d wear my trainers, I didn’t need that dress, swapped pajamas for lighter pajamas, put some gym stuff in Mum’s bag. Still 30 kg. How was that even possible?? I hadn’t even packed any books. I unpacked again, trying to figure out if there was anything I could leave behind. There wasn’t. At 3am I decided I’d just pay the excess weight and be done with it. Had I not been attending a wedding in August I could have left behind the Indian clothes, two pairs of shoes and two handb
ags, but there you go.

I was up early on Saturday as I had a few things to do. On Wednesday my mum suddenly decided she wanted to open a safety deposit box at the bank so I had to find out how to go about it. I didn’t have time to do it on Thursday so it had to be Saturday. My cousin came over with his three girls in the morning. They are all just adorable, and the twins were in matching Hello Kitty outfits! After they left an hour later, Mum and I went to open a safety deposit box at the bank. We had to sign some forms, pay a deposit and then the lady showed us how it all worked. 

The system is automatic. You swipe your debit card to enter the locker area – it’s open 24 hours. You go into one of the rooms, insert your debit card into the machine, punch in your PIN number on the screen, place your hand in the reader and then the screen tells you your box is on its way to you. The table opens up and your box appears. Once the box is open, the door to the room is automatically locked – nobody can enter or leave. When you’ve finished with your box, you lock it, press ‘Deposit’ on the screen and the box is automatically taken away and you’re done. Amazing. Very ‘Mission Impossible’! It makes the safety deposit box area in Selfridges seem so antiquated.

When we got home, I weighed all our luggage hoping I could transfer some of my weight to my parents’ bags. My bag was still 30 kg, Mum’s bag was 30 kg and Dad’s was 26 kg. He was smug until I pointed out that he’d given stuff to both Mum and me to carry. ‘Can you reduce your luggage?’ he asked me. ‘What should I remove? My Indian clothes? My gym clothes? My everyday clothes? It’s not like we’re going for a week, we’re away for almost 2 months.’ He wasn’t happy. Any bloody excuse.

The afternoon was quite chilled. I packed my hand luggage (some books, laptop, camera, iPod, all the wires that go with them!) and did some work. 

I had been dreading travelling with my parents since the beginning of the week. The last time the three of us flew together was in July 2009 from Miami to Kingston and back again. It was like travelling with two 8-year-olds who had never been to an airport. One time my mum and I flew together from Bombay to Bali, she left her boarding pass on the table in the lounge at KL airport. 

Well, what happened this time? We left home, got down to the lobby and Dad realised he’d forgotten something. He went back up. When he came down, Mum realised she’d forgotten something. She went back up and eventually came down. We got to the airport, checked in (luckily they didn’t question the weight of our bags), went through passport control and security, and then Dad asked, ‘Where are the Patchi chocolates??’ Mum and I looked at each other because he insisted on carrying them in his hand rather than packing them. ‘They didn’t come out of the cab,’ I said. ‘In fact, I’m not even sure they went into the cab.’ After a few phone calls we discovered he’d left them in the lobby. Oh dear. What next? 

Thankfully the rest of our journey was uneventful, albeit somewhat turbulent. We stopped off in Singapore for 45 minutes – we were sped away on a buggy to our connecting flight and took off for Bali. I wondered whether our luggage had time to make the connection… 

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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