Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 8

Apart from work and the gym, I had a pretty busy week. I was also feeling quite lazy – I didn’t have Arabic as I’d finished the Intermediate 1 course the week before and Intermediate 2 was starting the following week – and I just wanted to sit at home.

On Sunday afternoon I went to Dermalogica at the Dubai Mall for a facial. I usually book with Judy – and she’s excellent. Days later, my skin still felt and looked incredible.

I had a session with Pete on Monday and a piano lesson that afternoon. I spent the rest of the day working – my parents were out for dinner so it was quiet at home.

I went to the gym on Tuesday and also squeezed in a yoga class that afternoon – and apart from that I worked! And apart from my session with Pete on Wednesday, I continued working…

On Thursday I decided to treat myself to a much-needed manicure and pedicure. I took my book with me and spent some time at the salon. I realised that we were already at the end of February and it was time to start planning something for my birthday! Again! It seems to come around so quickly…

On Thursday evening I went to the Dubai Jazz Festival at the Media City Amphitheatre – David Gray, Chris Botti and his band, and Sting were all performing that night. David Gray was good, but apart from the three or four songs I knew (‘Babylon’, ‘Sail Away’, ‘This Year’s Love’) the rest all started to sound the same.

I’d never heard of Chris Botti – but I now realise that I’d seen him perform before with Sting on his Brand New Day tour. He also played on the album (it’s one of my favourites). Chris Botti and his band were quality musicians – versatile and talented. In a way, I feel they were wasted on a Dubai audience who wouldn’t appreciate their skills. Even though I didn’t know any of their music, I still enjoyed listening to them play for an hour or so.

And then Sting came on – man, he looks good. He started with ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith In You’ – I think that’s one of my favourite songs. But each time he started a song I’d think ‘Oh, I love this song.’ He then played ‘Englishman in New York’ and ‘Message in a Bottle’. He also sang ‘Fields of Gold’, ‘Every Little Thing She Does is Magic’ and ‘Roxanne’, and of course ‘Desert Rose’.

He also sang ‘Shape of  My Heart’ and a few other songs I can’t remember right now. It was fantastic.

The first time I saw Sting in concert was in the summer of 2001 in Hyde Park. It was a Sunday evening in July and the weather was perfect. I somehow I managed to get tickets for seats six rows from the front and had no idea until we got there – so we had a great view too. When he started singing ‘Fields of Gold’, I looked to the sky on my right – the sun was setting and the sky was a mixture of reds and oranges and pinks and purples. It was almost as if he’d ordered this sunset to go with his song.

When we’ve been to concerts in Media City, we usually go for drinks afterwards to avoid the crowds and the taxi rush, but that night I wanted to get home as I had work to do and I wasn’t drinking. My friend also wanted to get home and we luckily managed to get into a cab as people were getting out at one of the hotels. I dropped her home and was home by 1am. I ended up working until almost 4am.

I worked on Friday afternoon and that evening went to the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. I went with my cousin – we’d missed the first game (Wawrinka v Kyrgios) but got there in time to watch Lopez v Baghdatis. It wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be – I managed to get our tickets using my Emirates airmiles so I don’t think they were sold out. It was a good match – although Lopez really lost it in the third set.

After the tennis, my cousin and I went to Thai Chi at Wafi for dinner. We ordered a tom yum soup with chicken to share and the papaya salad to start with. The soup was really filling – three or four people could have shared it – so when it was time to order our main course we decided to skip the green curry and just have the grilled tiger prawns topped with hot basil sauce and Thai peppercorns. It was amazing. I’d never had it before but I would definitely order it again. It was really spicy though! I was home by midnight and again ended up working late, this time until 3am.

I was home on Saturday. I was tired as I hadn’t slept much. That evening a friend and I went to the beach for our Saturday evening walk. Neither of us had been the week before, but I could really feel the change in the temperature – it was already much warmer. We managed our 6 km in under an hour and went home in time for dinner.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 4

I was feeling less cranky on Sunday than I had for the previous 2 to 3 days (thank goodness).

I had a session with Randy and then had lunch at the Dubai Mall with my parents. I’d been wanting a steak but knew I was going to have one that night so we ended up at Vapiano instead. I had the penne with salmon (as usual). After lunch Dad went to a movie on his own while Mum and I browsed the shops. I was heading to London soon and needed to take some gifts for all the new babies that had arrived since my last trip!

That night I met up with NP for dinner. The last time we’d met was before Christmas when her son and my nephew had a playdate at the Mall of the Emirates. We went to Ruth’s Chris Steak House at The Address Marina. I walked in and was immediately impressed with the music (George Michael’s ‘Older). It wasn’t very crowded and the service was good. We both ordered the set menu (three courses and a side dish for AED 315 each). We both had the seared ahi tuna to start with (other options were Caesar salad, onion soup au gratin, and mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat); and we both had the 8 oz filet of beef with pepper sauce as our main course (other options were Caribbean lobster tail, stuffed chicken, and caper dill sea bass). We shared creamed spinach and fresh broccoli (the third choice was mashed potatoes) and shared the two dessert options (chocolate sin cake and creme brulee). I think it was pretty good value for money. We also had a nice bottle of red wine (I think it was a Malbec but can’t remember). We enjoyed the wine so much we ended up ordering another glass each after dinner. When the waiter brought our bill we thought it looked surprisingly low and then realised that the waiter hadn’t charged us for the bottle of wine (of course we told him). 

Monday was uneventful but when I woke up on Tuesday morning I couldn’t see out the window. It was a little before 9am but it was like being in thick white cloud. I couldn’t see the Shangri-La just a block away. I could barely see the pool 17 floors below.

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As the day progressed, it got better.

On Tuesday evening a friend and I went to a Lime and Tonic event at Hakkasan. The deal was AED 150 for a selection of dim sum and two cocktails. I was expecting it to be an interactive event like the Secret Gourmet Supper Club the week before so I was mentally ready for that (kind of). We got to Hakkasan and were taken to the separate bar area away from the main restaurant. People were sitting at tables in small groups and we were asked to sit anywhere we wanted. We joined a couple of girls who had also just sat down; they were so engrossed in their conversation so we just caught up on our own. 

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Our dim sum basket arrived with our cocktails. I ordered the Thea martini (vodka, apple juice, ginger juice, lime juice, vanilla/chilli sugar) – it was yummy!

We stayed for an hour and then walked over to The Agency at the Emirates Tower Hotel where we had another drink each. After our drink I went over to Thai Chi at Wafi Pyramids to meet my parents who were having dinner with some cousins who were in town unexpectedly. They were on their way back to Ghana from India and had missed their connecting flight.

The following morning it was foggy again, but not as bad as it had been the day before. On Wednesday night I went over to a friend’s place for dinner. It was a lovely chilled evening – good food, good wine and good music (once we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’) figured out how to create a playlist on the computer)!

Thursday was a public holiday (the Prophet’s birthday) and I didn’t have my piano lesson. That night I went to wine club with a couple of friends. This month it was at the Radisson Royal on Sheikh Zayed Road so quite convenient for me! Sadly there was no wine that I really enjoyed that night – and I noticed the ‘Sula’ on the neck of the bottle as the wines were being poured. I have to say that Indian wine is disgusting.

The wines we had were:

  • Lindeman’s Bin 30 Sparkling Rose (Australia): A fresh, lively, full-flavoured sparkling rose. Strawberry and cherry fruit flavours are complemented by a creamy texture. The finish is soft and dry with lingering flavours. If I had to pick a favourite this time, this would be it…
  • Argento Pinot Grigio (Argentina): Pale straw colour; peach and tropical fruit aromas; extra dry palate with medium body and crisp flavours. Serve as an aperitif or with creamy pasta dishes.
  • Sula Sauvignon Blanc (India): Herbaceous, crisp and dry, with hints of green pepper and a touch of spice at the finish, this wine is well balanced with good acidity. Serve chilled at 8-10C.
  • Mancaro Marche Sangiovese (Italy): Ruby red colour with purple tints, fruited, fragranted bouquet with hints of wild berries. Fresh, delicate taste.
  • Sula Shiraz (India): A smooth, medium-bodied red wine accentuated by ripe cherry  and plum fruit, with attractive aromas of black pepper. Pair with tandoori dishes and mildly spiced curries. Serve lightly chilled. Open and allow to breathe before serving. If it were up to me it would be opened and poured down the drain and never served.
  • Argento Shiraz (Argentina): Dark berry fruit, cedar and smoke on the nose. Palate confirms the nose and has moderate tannin in a house style that is maintained from year to year. Serve with lamb, beef, duck and hard cheeses.

There was a good selection of food – some sushi rolls, and a lot of small sandwiches this time round – no satays or anything. There were also some delicious deep-fried cheese rolls. 

We didn’t feel like lingering that evening – usually we’re the last to leave wine club and hang out on one table at the end, but this evening we decided to leave early and go elsewhere. We ended up at the Blue Bar at the Novotel World Trade Centre. We ordered a round of drinks and listened to the live band (who were actually very good). We stayed till after midnight and then decided to call it a night.

Friday was very chilled as well – I was home until the evening. I went to see Argo with my cousin and a friend. What a fantastic movie! I’m not usually a Ben Affleck fan but he was so good in this. And the last 10 minutes – oh my goodness – my heart was beating so fast! What I couldn’t unders
tand, though, is that over here in Dubai subtitles are in Arabic and French – which is fine – but during the movie, in the parts where the conversation is in Persian/Farsi, there were no English subtitles. Luckily I could understand what was happening by reading the French subtitles but my friend didn’t have a clue! A few days later my parents went to see the movie and came home asking the same question: ‘What happened in that bit with the housekeeper?’

After the movie we had planned to eat at the mall but it was SO crowded. Instead we ended up at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Burj Plaza called Yeldizlar – it was average, I’d say. We ordered a mixed grill, some hummus and some tabouleh. The service wasn’t great either. We did walk over to the Dubai Fountain to watch the Fire and Water show at 10pm. 

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We watched for about 10 minutes and then walked back to our table. I was home by midnight.

I was home all day on Saturday until my writing group at the Pavilion Downtown. I wasn’t in the mood to go but decided that I had to go if I was going to write anything! There were 13 of us and I felt that the group was too big. In theory we just sit and write but that particular day people were talking and it was very distracting. There were a couple of annoying characters there who I hope I never see again. 

I got home at around 8.30pm. I had some dinner and had the place to myself for the rest of the evening.

I love my life.

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Dubai: Week 20

A mixed week, I think. Drama at home with Joy, lots of work to do, spending time with my grandmother…

I had my usual session with Rama on Sunday morning. I had wanted to spend the afternoon at the pool but we’d been invited to my cousin’s place in The Lakes for tea. We left home at 4pm and went to my aunt and uncle’s place in Marina. From there, we followed them to The Lakes where their son and daughter-in-law live. We had tea and snacks and were told that we then had to go to their daughter’s house in Emirates Hills. We got back in the two cars and followed them to Emirates Hills. We were there for about half an hour and then my aunt and uncle said they wanted my grandmother to see their flat in Marina. So we got back into the two cars and followed them to their flat. It was a long afternoon and it was 8pm by the time we got home. 

I had yoga on Monday and settled down to do some work after lunch. My mum and grandmother were out for tea again. They asked if I wanted to join them but I said I’d already been to three teas on Sunday and that was my quota for the week! By 4.30 I decided I’d proofread by the pool for an hour or so. 

On Tuesday afternoon I met a friend for coffee – we went to the Gloria Jean’s on Sheikh Zayed Road. I got home, sat at my desk for about 15 minutes and decided I’d rather work outside by the pool. I feel I should make the most of it before it gets too hot to sit outdoors at all!

I had another session with Rama on Wednesday. After that, my mum, grandmother and I decided we’d go to the Dubai Mall for lunch. We ate at Vapiano – I’d never been there before and the portions were huge. I had the tagliatelle with salmon, my mum and grandmother shared a fusilli with mushrooms and a quatro formaggi pizza, and the three of us shared a Greek salad. I could have eaten just the salad for lunch and that would have been enough for me. We walked around for a while. I tried on a couple of dresses but didn’t buy anything. It’s frustrating that nothing fits even after losing almost 15 kg. It makes no sense to me. We ended up having coffee at Gloria Jean’s and were home by 5pm. As I’d been out all day I settled down to some work and didn’t finish until 2am. 

I was home most of Thursday, apart from going to the gym and down to the pool in the afternoon. That evening we decided we’d go out for dinner. Mum wanted to go to Bikanervala in Karama. I hated it. It really was not my idea of going out for dinner. It was more like going to a crowded staff canteen with screaming children running around. You order your food at the main counter and then collect it from different sections, depending on what you ordered. Never again.

On Friday we went to Thai Chi at Wafi Pyramids for lunch. I’d been there once before, back in February, and the food was really good. What we didn’t know is that they instead of their regular menu for lunch, they have a buffet. It wasn’t bad – there was a large vegetarian selection for my grandmother – but their a la carte menu is much better. 

That evening my parents and I went to an engagement party. I didn’t know the couple who were engaged, just the parents of the groom-to-be, and I didn’t know many people there either. Luckily, a friend and his wife showed up, and we decided to leave a short while later. There were over 100 people at the party so they didn’t notice us slip out. On the way back home, we decided to stop somewhere for dinner and ended up at Japengo Cafe at the Palm Strip Mall. I’d seen one at the Dubai Mall but had never eaten there. It was very casual and we were extremely overdressed, but nobody seemed to bat an eyelid. I couldn’t decide between the Lebanese shish taouk and the Iranian koobideh. My friend and I decided to share one of each and his wife ordered some houmous and fatoush. I was home before midnight.

I went to the gym on Saturday morning and spent the afternoon at the pool with my book. Several people had the same idea – at one point there were 12 kids in the pool playing ‘Marco Polo’. It reminded me of being a kid in Lagos in the early 1980s and spending Sundays at the Ikoyi Club… And just as I was remembering that ‘All Night Long’ started playing on my iPod, which also reminds me of that time. Synchronicity.

And that’s another week gone! I love my life. 

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