Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2013: Week 22

I had another busy week, but thankfully it was nowhere near as busy as the week before or the week before that!

My Sunday was relaxing. After my session with Randy I decided to do some work and then went to the pool with my book in the afternoon.

Monday was a busy day. I had my Arabic class at lunchtime. We learned:

  • How to ask what the date is – and how to respond
  • How to ask how many/how much – and how to respond
  • Two new letters
  • Random vocabulary – appointment, colleague, manager, husband, friend, teacher, lesson

I feel like I’m learning a lot but my writing is no better than a 3-year-old’s!

That afternoon I went to see a friend who had a baby recently. I hadn’t seen her since our lunch at Okku in March and it was nice to see her kids and catch up.

I left her place and went to a concert at The Fridge in Al Serkal Avenue – piano (Viktoriya Zaharieva) and violin (Nadine Artuhanava). These two women were young – and they were amazing. Not all the pieces they played were duets – sometimes it was just piano or just violin. They played the following:

  • Bach – Adagio and Fugue from Sonata in G minor (first two movements)
  • Chopin – Ballade no. 1 in G minor, op. 23 (I absolutely love Chopin)
  • Grieg – Sonata no. 3 in C minor, op. 45
  • Sarasate – Andalusian Romance for violin and piano, op. 22/1
  • Stoyan Stoyanov – Scherzo – picture (this composer currently lives in Dubai and was in the audience)
  • Bartok – Romanian Folk Dances

Whoever complains about there being no culture in Dubai clearly isn’t looking very hard.

My Tuesday was quiet. I didn’t have a piano lesson so I was home working most of the day.

I had another session with Randy on Wednesday followed by an Arabic class. We covered:

  • Some verbs – I am, you are, and so on
  • Four new letters
  • Random vocabulary – big, small, middle, chair (kursi), welcome (i.e. make yourself at home), thirsty

It doesn’t sound like much, but we’ve started putting sentences together: After Arabic class I have a meeting, or I’ve been in Dubai for 1.5 years and I’m happy, or I want tea with milk and sugar. As our teacher would say, ‘Shway shway‘ (slowly).

I started a creative writing course on Wednesday evening. I’d heard about it through Time Out a few weeks before and emailed the lady who runs the course. It was just 4 weeks in June – on Wednesday evenings – at The Pavilion Downtown. There were about seven or eight of us – we went round the table and introduced ourselves.

The first writing exercise we did was to write something (anything) for 30 seconds, just to get us warmed up. The next exercise we did was taking the letters of our name and then revealing something about ourselves beginning with that letter. For example, with ‘E’ I wrote ‘Ex-Londoner now living in Dubai’. It was harder than it sounds!

We talked about creativity and generating ideas. We each had to write three random words on three little pieces of paper (I wrote ‘desk’, ‘mobile’, ‘cigarettes’), fold them up and put them in the middle. We then had to pick three of these pieces of paper and write something which included all three words. The three words I ended up with were: tea, community, cigarettes. I wrote about someone who’s caught smoking by a senior member of her community while she’d popped out of the office for a cup of tea.

We got some useful tips: always use a clear and readable font, break up long paragraphs with dialogue, avoid using too many adjectives, avoid abbreviations and txt spk! We also got a list of writing prompts which might come in handy if I ever decide to write something and don’t know where to start – an example is: ‘He turned the key in the lock and opened the door. To his horror, he saw…’

It was an interesting evening – and it gave me a few things to think about.

I was home most of Thursday – either working or at the pool. I met a friend for dinner at Loca. We had been there in September and I loved the barbecued lamb wrap they did. I also had some Entertainer vouchers so we only paid for one of our two main courses. Halfway through dinner I started feeling a bit sick and I felt a headache coming on. When my friend suggested we go somewhere else I told her I had to go home – it was only 10pm. Normally I would have loved to go out (as you have probably figured out by now) but that night I just couldn’t do it.

I was home all of Friday, catching up on work – and I still wasn’t feeling 100%. I was home most of Saturday too. It was a quiet weekend.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 10

This week was much quieter compared to last week and the week before that. I had my usual gym session on Sunday and then had lunch with my parents at Vapiano.

On Monday evening I went to see Tarek Yamani. He’s a self-taught jazz pianist and he was amazing. I got to The Fridge when the doors open because I like to sit where I can see the keyboard. There’s a really good review of the evening here. He played some Brazilian and Lebanese songs. He did a great version of ‘Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime’ by The Korgis, too. I’d definitely see him perform again.

I had a piano lesson on Tuesday. I’m still working on ‘Solfegietto’ and ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First’ but I think they’re both coming along nicely. We did some work on the Mozart sonata too. My teacher gave me a new piece to work on – ‘Amelie’s Waltz’ – which should be fun.

I met a friend for lunch on Wednesday. We went to Okku – they have a set menu for lunch which is excellent value. They have three options – we went for the middle one – which was 89 dirhams. You get a miso soup, one starter and one main course.

I chose the yellowtail as my starter (my friend chose the calamari) and we both had the black cod as our main course.

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We ordered a few things off the ‘à la carte’ menu as well so our bill was much higher than it would have been had we just stuck to the set menu! But it was still good value for money. I was shocked at how empty the restaurant was – I thought it would have been crowded but there were only three other occupied tables that afternoon. As I was playing with my wooden chopsticks, I got a splinter! I thought I’d managed to remove it but it was only when I got home and was doing some work that I realised the splinter was still in my finger. I managed to remove it but it took almost half an hour to get it out!

I had a quiet weekend. I was home on Thursday but met up with a friend on Friday night for dinner. We went to Karma Kafe in Souk al Bahar for dinner. It was quite chilled – we had some rock shrimp tempura to start with and then shared a black cod and lamb main course. We also had a bottle of rosé wine. I had some Entertainer vouchers and we saved 160 dirhams off our total bill – nice! I was home a little after midnight.

I spent all of Saturday at home in my pajamas. I decided I wasn’t going to do any work or even check my work email. I read my book, practised the piano and caught up on some TV. Perfect!

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 8

What a crazy busy week!

I had a couple of doctor appointments on Sunday afternoon but apart from that it was quiet.

On Monday evening I went to see the Dubai Chamber Orchestra at The Fridge in Alserkal Avenue.

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I didn’t even know Dubai had a chamber orchestra.

Dubai Chamber Orchestra programme - 25 February 2013

Dubai Chamber Orchestra programme – 25 February 2013

I didn’t know any of the music, but the last piece sounded very familiar. I then realised it used to be the music for the advert of a mobile phone company but can’t remember which one. Any ideas?

On Tuesday evening my cousin and I went to see the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre. We went last year too. We watched the whole Djokovic v. Troicki game.

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We also saw the first half of the Tsonga v. Llodra match but left as it was after 9pm and we were getting hungry. We had reservations at Shogun, a Korean/Japanese/Thai restaurant, at the Al Ghurair Centre in Deira. We managed to find the restaurant and were taken to a small room with two tables in it – each table had the built-in barbecue to cook our food. We ordered the pah-jeon, barbecued chicken and beef. We didn’t have to order the kim chee as it was complimentary.

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The portions are huge and we could have done without one of the dishes!

On Wednesday night I went to Art Night at DIFC. I was meeting a friend at 8.45 but decided to go a bit earlier to get out of the house. I walked around for a bit and bumped into a friend of mine who was kind enough to ditch his colleagues to walk around with me for a while. My friend showed up as soon as he left and we went to the rest of the galleries. There were some interesting pieces of work but nothing that I’d want to see every day in my home.

After we were done, we went to Roberto’s for a drink with a couple of her friends. It was too crowded in there and there was nowhere to stand so we had one drink and went to Capital Club. The four of us sat in the sheesha terrace – we were the only people there and it was quiet so we could actually have a conversation.

I had my usual piano lesson on Thursday afternoon. I think we actually had a breakthrough because at 1.20pm I got a text from my teacher saying he was running 20 minutes late. I told him it was fine – and that I’d see him at 2.20. I don’t mind him running late as long as I have enough notice! I had a good lesson – still working on ‘Solfegietto’ and the ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First’. I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere. I’ve been trying to practice at home, but the only time I can really do that is when my parents are out. When they’re home, either the TV is on or they’re sleeping, so it’s not ideal.

That night I met up with a couple of friends – we decided to go to Zuma for some drinks. We had three bottles of wine between the three of us and it was just too much. My parents were still out when I got home (thank goodness) and I went to bed.

I felt like rubbish on Friday but had a work deadline for that afternoon. I spent 4 hours copyediting a paper and had to incorporate equations and all sorts of formulae into it. It was a nightmare.

That night, me and my two friends from the night before went to the 80s Rewind concert at Festival City (where the Jazz Garden had been the week before). We’d been hearing about it for weeks: the line-up included Carol Decker from T’Pau, Heaven 17, ABC, Howard Jones and Rick Astley.

That’s right. Rick Astley.

Carol Decker went on first – she sang only two songs that I could remember (‘China in Your Hand’ and ‘Heart and Soul’). Heaven 17 were on next and I could only remember two of their songs (‘Come Live with Me’ and ‘Temptation’). I actually knew more ABC songs than I thought I did (‘The Look of Love’, ‘When Smokey Sings’, and a couple of others). When Howard Jones came on, I really couldn’t remember anything he sang until he started singing! He played ‘New Song’, ‘What is Love?’, ‘Like to Get to Know You Well’ and some others I sort of recognised. Each band did about 20 minutes on stage.

And then Rick Astley came on. He sounds the same, and he looks almost the same – he has hardly aged! He was on stage for about 40 minutes and interacted with the audience a lot, especially a couple of people at the front. He sang all his hits. Did you know that he holds the record for being the only male solo artist to have his first eight singles reach the Top 10 in the UK?

He sang his usual hits (‘Whenever You Need Somebody’, ‘Together Forever’, ‘It Would Take a Strong Strong Man’, ‘She Wants to Dance With Me’, ‘Cry For Help’ and a few others). He finished with ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.

Brilliant!

After that we ran to the taxi stand and luckily had to wait just 20 minutes in the queue.

On Saturday my parents and I had lunch at Long Yin at the Meridien. When I checked in on Foursquare I was told I’d get a 20% discount off my total bill. Nice! The food was good – we ordered dim sum, which came in little baskets big enough for just two dumplings. We also had some soup, and for our main course we had lamb with rice.

After lunch we went to see Parker at the Dubai Mall. I personally thought it was better than the Die Hard movie we’d seen the week before, although Jennifer Lopez is looking a little ‘tired’.

We went home after the movie and I got into my pajamas. What a week!

I love my life.

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