Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2015: Week 10

I was shattered on Sunday. The week before had caught up with me and I just wanted to sleep but I had a ton of work to do.

I worked all of Sunday and then my dad arrived that evening from Bombay.

I was home for most of Monday too. I went to the Shangri-La for a massage in the afternoon – I’d bought four vouchers back in November and this was the last one I had.

On Tuesday I met up with my cousins who were visiting from Bombay. They were staying at The Address Dubai Mall so we met there for coffee. I wasn’t with them for long as I had to get back and meet some deadlines for work, but it was nice to see them.

Dad and I went out for lunch on Wednesday – we went to Sumo Sushi at Jumeirah Town Centre. The food was average – I’m not sure I’d go back in any rush. I prefer Yabani at City Walk and would rather go there! That evening I had a piano lesson and then it was back to work.

My weekend was very quiet – I was in on Thursday and Friday nights. I spent all of Friday at the Literature Festival – I was there from 11am until 8pm… It was the highlight of my weekend!

I was home all day on Saturday too. In the evening, Dad and I went to see ‘Kingsman’ at The Dubai Mall. It was surprisingly crowded considering the movie was out a few weeks ago. By the time it finished it was 10pm and we ended up at Noodle House for dinner. I ordered the Singapore noodles (yum) and Dad had the vegetarian Thai green curry.

And that was my week!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 33

Mum and I had an early lunch at Automatic in Jumeirah Beach Centre on Sunday. We ordered hummus, kibbeh, fatoush, shish taouk, and Mum had a lamb shawarma sandwich. There was some fatoush, kibbeh and shish taouk left over so I took it home for dinner.

That afternoon I went to the Emirates Grand Spa for a waxing appointment as my regular lady is away. I decided to go there because there was a half-price voucher in the Entertainer Body book! On my way in, it wasn’t as crowded as it was the week before but still looked shabby. I was taken to a dimly-lit room which also had no air conditioning. Not impressed at all. Luckily I was done in an hour and was out of there. Leaving the Spa was something else – I waited 10 minutes for the lift to come up to the 45th floor. It stopped about six times on the way down and by the time we got to the lobby there was no space to move and I had three kids stepping all over my feet. I’d have been really cross if I’d just had a pedicure! I could not wait to get out of there. I had second thoughts about going for a massage later in the week.

On Tuesday morning, the Emirates Grand Spa called to confirm my appointment for that afternoon. I had a voucher for a body scrub and full body massage. Both treatments together should have taken 90 minutes. What happened was this:

  • I got there 5 minutes before my appointment (which should have been at 4.30pm)
  • I waited in the waiting area for 20 minutes (during which time a receptionist asked me whether I’d enjoyed my treatment)
  • I had my lavender body scrub – it lasted about 10 minutes – and then while I showered the therapist disappeared for about 15 minutes
  • I had my massage – which finished at 5.45pm

There was no way that was a 90-minute treatment or even a 1-hour massage, unless they count the 20 minutes in the waiting area as part of the treatment. I didn’t complain because there would have been no point. While the masseuse is great, I’ve decided I won’t be going back there. The rest of the experience is a real let-down – everything from the elevator system to the crowded lobby to the annoying receptionists. I’d rather go back to the Radisson Royal which is a bit more civilised!

That night Mum and I went out for an early dinner. We went to Puranmal on Jumeirah Beach Road – an Indian vegetarian restaurant. Apart from one other table, the place was empty. I had a beetroot, carrot and ginger juice. Then I had one idli, half a dosa, and some paneer tikka. I ate far too much!

After my session with Randy, I spent all of Wednesday at home, working.

On Thursday I met up with a friend and some of her girlfriends for dinner at the Jazz Pizza Express at the Movenpick Hotel in JLT. It was the first time I’d been to JLT. Pizza Express was pretty standard as far as Pizza Expresses go – I had an American Hot leggera pizza (the thin crust with salad in the middle). I hadn’t had a good pizza in ages. We also had some rose wine – it was a fun dinner, and good to meet some new people.

After dinner my friend and I got a cab to the Murooj Rotana – it was the opening of The White Room, a Beirut club/lounge. I’d called ahead on Tuesday to find out how we could get on the guest list – the guy I spoke to said there was no guest list, and we could just show up at 11pm and we’d have no trouble getting in. I should have known better – I should have called back on Thursday and double-checked. We got there shortly after 11, and it was heaving at the door. We were told guest list entrance was on one side and tables on the other. But then 5 minutes later, everyone was told the opposite. I spoke to the woman at the door – I told her it was just the two of us and that the guy I’d spoken to said we wouldn’t have any problems. She said it was guest list and tables only that night. WTF. Standing outside The White Room for half an hour reminded me of standing outside Cafe de Paris in Leicester Square in the 90s – but instead of freezing your ass off the February cold, we were sweltering in the August heat. People were pushing and shoving – even people with tables were having trouble getting in. At about 11.45 I told my friend that I was too old for this shit and that I would rather go somewhere where they’d be happy for me to spend my money.

We headed to my favourite Dubai bar – Zuma. We got there and their main lift was out of order. We had to walk through the hot car park to another lift which opens next to Gaucho, just across from Zuma. We both looked like we’d been in a Bikram yoga class (or at least half of one) and were in dire need of a drink. We found some space at the bar and ordered a couple of passion fruit and chilli martinis. Fantastic. We ended up chatting to a Lebanese lawyer who said he was supposed to meet some friends at The White Room and asked if we wanted to join him – my friend and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. We told him what we’d been through and he decided he’d rather stay at Zuma – funnily enough a couple of his friends who had been to White Room (and had actually gotten in) came to Zuma because ‘it was shit’ (their words). We had a few more drinks and a couple of shots – I think we managed to salvage the night!

I got home shortly after 2am. Dad had arrived that night from Jamaica so I sat with my parents for a little while before they went to bed. I was up until about 5am though – watching ‘Homeland’ (stupid, I know).

I had lunch with my cousin, her parents and her kids on Friday. They’d all been away over the summer so it was nice to catch up with them. We went to Sumo Sushi at Town Centre – I quite like that place. Their avocado maguro is yummy (and fairly healthy, I’d imagine) and we had a selection of sushi too.

I didn’t do much the rest of the weekend – did some work, went to the gym, sat by the pool on Saturday. It was lovely.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 26

I woke up on Sunday feeling ill again. I felt a little feverish and I’d been up half the night coughing. I apologised to Randy and told him I wouldn’t be able to have my session with him.

I felt OK to go to Sumo Sushi for lunch – it was just my dad, my uncle, my nephew and me. I came home after lunch and got into my pajamas. I thought about having a nap because I was struggling to stay awake, but then I thought I might not be able to sleep in the night. I stayed awake but had an early night in the end.

I woke up on Monday, still coughing. I went to my Arabic class. We covered:

  • Telling time – revison
  • Verbs – to do/make, to write, to read, to finish, to return, to start
  • Random vocabulary – restaurant, homework
  • Sun and moon letters
  • Nunation – double strokes (I still need to get my head around this)

That afternoon I met up with a friend at the Westin Hotel in Marina. We’d booked a couple of massages and I didn’t want to cancel our appointments. I thought it might make me feel better. And it did for a little while. The massage was good, but I think Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal is better. After our massages we went to Oeno, the wine bar at the hotel, for a drink. It was almost 6pm and the place was quite empty. We had some wine and then headed home.

I went to see the doctor on Tuesday. She took my blood pressure (slightly high), temperature (normal), and listened to my breathing. She came to the conclusion that I had mild bronchitis and put me on a 3-day course of antibiotics. She also thought I might have allergies (I don’t know where she got this from) and told me to take Zyrtek at night. And she also prescribed a different cough syrup. I didn’t agree with her diagnoses of bronchitis or allergies, but she’s the doctor, I suppose.

I had my last Arabic class of the term on Wednesday. We covered:

  • Revision of most things we had learned and any questions we had
  • Random vocabulary – birthday, Christmas

We also had to give a short presentation using all the vocabulary we had learned: my name is ______. I am from ______. I’ve been in Dubai for ______. I am a ______ and I work in ______. I am married/not married. I live in Dubai with my husband/children/parents.

You get the idea.

After my class I met a friend for lunch at the Dubai Mall. We went to Cafe Bateel, next to the Waterfall. I’d never been there before. I had the pasta with smoked salmon but thought the food was better at Vapiano.

That evening I went to run some errands with my dad. We ended up at the Jumeirah Centre and I was starting to feel peckish. We saw a new(ish) place called Russo’s where they sell pizza by the slice and decided to try it. I thought it was OK – I didn’t like the way they put the toppings on but it hit the spot. The slice we ordered was big enough for both of us to share too.

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I met up with NP for lunch on Thursday. We went to our usual Jones the Grocer and we both ordered the Wagyu burger. We both wanted the truffle-infused brie but the waiter said he’d have to check whether they had any. And then he just stood there, waiting for us to change our minds. ‘OK, go check and let us know,’ we said (not in unison). He came back a few minutes later to say that they were out of truffle-infused brie. Could we have the truffle mayo instead then? ‘So now you want the truffle mayo?’ Good grief – what was his problem? Maybe he was trying to tell us (and by that I mean me) that we could do without truffle mayo. Our burgers arrived with truffle mayo and they were so good.

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That night I met up with a friend for Dupper at the Fairmont. It’s supposed to be like brunch – unlimited food and drinks from 8-11pm (‘dupper’ is a portmanteau of ‘dinner’ and supper’ but I think it sounds rather dumb). We got there at 7.30pm and were treated to a mixology class by the head bartender. The first drink was gin-based and the second was rum-based, neither of which I would drink over an extended period of time. So I switched to white wine. They had a good selection of food – a huge sushi section, an Asian section (Chinese and Thai), an Indian section and of course an Arabic section. They also had a separate dessert area where they were making fresh crepes. By the bar area they had a separate chilled room full of cheese. I ate mostly sushi and dim sum. For dessert I had a variety of cheeses and then unnecessarily had a Nutella crepe. I was so full after that! The service was excellent. Once Dupper was over we went to the bar and had a drink or two. It wasn’t a late night – I was home by midnight.

I spent the rest of the weekend at home. My brother had introduced me to ‘House of Cards’ and I ended up watching the entire season 1 over the weekend!

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 12

What a busy week!

I had a killer session with Rama on Sunday morning, followed by a trip to Lulu for our weekly shop. I decided mornings would be the best time to go – the last time I went was on a Saturday afternoon and there was no way I was doing that again. After bringing everything home, Dad and I decided to go to Burjuman for a late lunch. He’d been to Zone Lounge before and wanted to go back. It’s an Italian/Lebanese restaurant and I ordered the houmous and shish taouk. I was famished by the time the food arrived – it was 3.30 and I hadn’t eaten all day – so I ate the houmous with bread (gasp!). Dad ordered the seafood soup because the photo looked good in the menu. Unfortunately it didn’t look anything like it did in the photo and he was disappointed. The shish taouk was OK – the chips that came with it were good though. So I basically had a carb-loaded lunch. I don’t think I’d go back there again though. I’d seen a Gloria Jean’s Coffee place on our way to the restaurant and we went there when we were done.

We had a couple of errands to run in Deira after our late lunch so off we went. I always thought it was so far (because that’s what I’d been told) but it really wasn’t. It looked like an interesting area of Dubai – you could see the dhows and shipping boats being loaded in Dubai Creek – and I’d have liked to walk around but Dad didn’t want to and I’d been out of the house most of the day so I didn’t mind too much. It was also quite chilly by the waterfront and I didn’t have a shawl.

On Monday evening I went to an InterNations event at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC. I’d kept in touch with a couple of people from the British Expat drinks I went to in January and they were going to the InterNations get-together. I got there at about 8.45 and there must have been at least 300 people there – and all from different countries. I registered/paid at the door, was given a token for a free drink and a sticker with your name on it, and then I was let loose with the others. While waiting at the bar I started chatting to a couple of people (mostly about how slow the bar staff were). After being served I went outside to look for the people I knew – it took me ages to find them in that crowd – and just by walking around I ended up chatting to people I didn’t know who have since been in touch. It wasn’t a late night, or a heavy one, but I will definitely go to more events like that. 

On Wednesday I met a new friend for lunch at More Cafe at MoE. I’d never met her before but we’d been chatting on Twitter for the last few weeks. We do have one friend in common but keeping track of her was proving difficult so we decided to meet without her. It was a lovely lunch and I’m looking forward to more of them! After lunch I met up with another friend for coffee at Columbus Cafe – she’d just been to London so it was nice to hear about her trip and catch up. Yes, I was rather jealous but time is flying and May will be here before I know it. 

I’ve decided I need to re-think my ‘no work in the morning’ policy for the next few weeks if I’m going to get all my projects done by their various deadlines. The main deadline at the moment is 30th March so until then my mornings aren’t going to be as relaxed as they are now. 

On Thursday morning, I was up early. I was at the gym by 9am only to find that it was closed as it was being repainted. Damn! I got ready and was at my desk by 10am – and I was there pretty much all day (apart from meals). 

That night I had dinner with some friends at Zuma. Our table was booked for 10pm but by the time we sat down it was after 10.30. I have never seen such scantily-clad women in my life. There was a woman who came up in the lift with us and I wondered why she bothered wearing a top at all! I guess the mall dress code doesn’t apply to Dubai after dark.

On Friday Dad and I went to Sumo Sushi & Bento at Jumeirah Town Centre for lunch. It’s a small mall right next to Mercato.


We decided to have the set meal for two – it included miso soup, a sushi platter (there was a choice of three), prawn tempura (again, a choice of three starters), chicken katsu and barbecued beef (there was a choice of four main courses). It was a lot of food – and an hour after that I went to Taste of Dubai.

Taste of Dubai was held at the amphitheatre in Media City. It’s similar to Taste of London – all the restaurants have stalls, you can buy any of their signature dishes, there’s live music, cooking demonstrations, chefs doing signings. Some of the restarants with stalls were Nobu, Ronda Locatelli, Gaucho, ToroToro, Rhodes Twenty10, Rivington Grill and PF Chang’s. The dishes served at Nobu were black cod, nasu miso, sashimi tacos, tuna sashimi salad and mochi ice cream. I had the black cod and tuna sashimi salad – each portion is about two bites’ worth of food which was perfect after the lunch I had! A few of my friends had signed up for a session at the Miele Cookery School.


There were 12 cooking stations and the chef from Rivington Grill showed them how to make seared salmon salad. It smelled and looked pretty good…

We wandered around for a while after that, looking at all the foods on display.


At about 7pm we went back to the main area and tried to find somewhere to sit. It wasn’t easy.


We eventually found somewhere, sent the kids to get us some food and got ourselves some beers. When I see certain things on a menu, I have to have them – such as truffles, artichokes, wine… The Ronda Locatelli stall had a truffle ravioli on their menu (I’d spotted it earlier and had been thinking about little else) and when the kids brought it back I could smell the truffles from across the table. I had to have it. Just one bite. It was divine. We relaxed for an hour or so and then a few of us had to leave as we had tickets to see a play at the Madinat Theatre.

‘August: Osage County’ was the winner of the 2007 Pullitzer Prize and seven Tony Awards. The play wa
s written by Tracy Letts and the original version is set in Oklahoma. The production we saw was adapted and directed by Lilette Dubey, and set in Goa. Before the play started, an English woman came up on stage to announce members of the cast and who the sponsors were. The woman could barely read. The main sponsor was Petrochem – and she pronounced the ‘chem’ exactly as it’s spelled. It didn’t bode well for the rest of the play. 

Fortunately, she was soon forgotten once the play started. It was brilliant. It was about a dysfunctional family who come together for their father’s funeral. It reminded me a bit of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom – or a long episode of ‘Brothers and Sisters’ (but well written). I stopped watching ‘Brothers and Sisters’ somewhere in season 2. I figured if I wanted to listen to a family arguing I could just go to my living room and sit with mine. Anyway, the play was funny, dark, sad – thoroughly enjoyable.


The only criticisms I will make (and that have nothing to do with the production) was that the sound system wasn’t very good, and that for the first half of the play the theatre was freezing, even with my shawl wrapped tightly around me. The play ended after midnight so it was almost 1am by the time I got home.

On Saturday I went to the gym and then decided I was going to do nothing all day. I didn’t even switch on my computer. Armed with factor 20 sunscreen, I took The Hunger Games down to the pool and sat there for a couple of hours.


It was the first time I’d been to the pool since I moved to Dubai. It had been too cold and/or windy before that to sit down there. When I got home I got into bed and continued reading until I’d finished the book. A perfect Saturday… 

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