Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2015: Week 11

Compared to the previous week, this week was much busier, at least from Tuesday onwards.

I was home all of Sunday, apart from my session with Trevor.

On Monday afternoon I had a massage at the Oberoi. I’d have liked to go to the pool beforehand but it was a windy, sandy day. The last time I’d been there was in January and I asked to have the same therapist but she was away. Instead I had Hazel, who was also very good.

The spa at the Oberoi is different in that there’s no communal changing area with showers and lockers. Each therapy room is its own suite. So if you do use the pool before (or after) your treatment there’s nowhere to change into your swimsuit apart from the small toilet by the pool and there’s nowhere to leave your clothes and other items.

When I was paying for my treatment I decided I’d buy Trevor a gift voucher for a 90-minute massage. I still hadn’t bought him a Christmas present as I just didn’t know what to get! I figured you can’t really go wrong with a day at the pool and a massage. I enquired about couple massages – and the man at the desk told me they do them but it would be a woman giving the woman a massage and a man giving the man a massage. I thought that was weird. If I was having a couple’s massage I wouldn’t want some random guy in the room as well. Would you?? And doesn’t that contravene UAE laws about men/women being undressed in the same room??

I had a really busy Tuesday. I had my regular yoga class at home and then went to the World Trade Centre Club for a networking lunch. While I was at one of the sessions at the Literature Festival last week, I started chatting to the lady sitting next to me. It turned out that she knew a couple of people that I’d been doing some work for here in Dubai – and she told me that she was one of the founders of an organisation in Dubai called the International Business Women’s Group – and that they have a lunch every month for members and prospective members. She asked me to come along and thought I’d find it interesting.

I got there at around 12.15 and found my name tag. I paid for my ticket (AED 190 for non-members) and then had to pick a piece of paper with a number on it out of a glass bowl – that would be my table number. Everyone was very friendly and I met some really interesting women. One of the first women I met was a hypnotherapist – and this stunned me because just the day before I’d been thinking that I should see a hypnotherapist about my issues with stairs/descending. I’m not sure whether I’m over-reacting but I do think it’s getting worse – even stepping onto an empty descending escalator makes my pulse race. I told her what the problem was and she told me I’d need two or three sessions at the most and I’d be OK. Here’s hoping!

I also met a lawyer, a banker, an events coordinator, an explorer (!) and others. I even bumped into a friend of a friend. After about half an hour of mingling and canapes, we were asked to sit at our tables and our food would be brought over. When I reserved my seat for lunch I had to choose between the regular, vegetarian or healthy option meal. The regular option was grilled lamb chops with mint sauce, root vegetables and potatoes. The vegetarian option was open lasagna of Mediterranean vegetables. The healthy option (or Healthy Trendz, as they called it) was chicken breast stuffed with spinach. I went for the healthy choice and it was really delicious – much better than I thought it would be. After we’d finished eating, the guest speaker came on – that day it was Jane Drury, founder of expatwoman.com. She spoke for about 30 minutes – how and why she got started, and what’s in store for her company now. For dessert there was caramel fudge cheese cake and vanilla sauce. I had a few bites but didn’t finish it. I left at around 2.15pm – I was really glad I went and would consider joining the group as a full member.

That evening I met up with a friend for drinks at Calabar. We had a couple of bottles of wine and some food – it was a nice evening and I was home early(ish).

I had my regular session with Trevor on Wednesday and then settled down to do some work for a while. That afternoon I had a doctor’s appointment and then my piano lesson. After my piano lesson I went to Fitness First as one of Trevor’s clients was giving a talk about hormones and weight loss. I was there for about an hour – she talked about a lot of things and I think that if I don’t see results in a month or so, perhaps I should get a few things checked out.

On Thursday I had a friend in town from Mombasa. She was just here for a day in transit from Bombay on her way home. We met at the Dubai Mall for coffee. We ended up going to NOW Cafe on the Lower Ground Floor – she had a sandwich and we both had a cappuccino. Neither were particularly great and we ended up going Tim Horton’s where we shared a French vanilla cappuccino.

After that, my dad joined me at the mall. I’d asked him to come with me to look at laptops – I’d had mine for over three years and wanted to upgrade it. We went to Jacky’s but I didn’t really like anything there. I think the salesman was also a bit irritating which didn’t help. So we went to Jumbo Electronics and I settled on an HP Pavilion. As we stood in the queue to pay, my dad took out his wallet. ‘What are you doing?’ I asked him. ‘I thought you might need me to pay,’ he replied. I told him I was paying for my laptop myself. ‘If I’d known you were paying I’d have gotten something for myself too,’ he said. ‘What did you want?’ I asked. He said he wanted a new iPad – so I told him I’d buy him one. I think he was shocked. He decided on the iPad Air 2 and I paid for it. He was so happy! ‘Nobody buys me things,’ he said when we got home. And thinking about it, I suppose it’s true…

It was after 6pm by the time we got home and I was meeting a friend for sundowners and dinner at the Shangri-La. I freshened up and changed and went over to the Shangri-La. We had a couple of drinks at Ikandy to start with and then went to Don Alfonso for dinner. In Dubai, I usually find that restaurants serve great food but the service can be so terrible it sometimes ruins your meal altogether – but I have to say that at Don Alfonso both the food and service were excellent.

It wasn’t full at all when we got there – only two other tables were occupied. The manager helped us decide what to order as we just couldn’t choose from all the delicious things on there. (I have to admit I pointed out a couple of spelling mistakes to him I’d seen on the menu.) In the end, he suggested we share the lobster skewers for our starters and then each have our own main course. I ordered the John Dory ‘acqua pazza’ and my friend couldn’t decide between the gnocchi with mushrooms or the black squid ink and scallop risotto. She eventually decided on the latter and we also ordered a bottle of wine.

The lobster skewers were amazing. I wish I’d taken a photo. And considering he’d split the portion between the two of us, there was still a good amount on each of our plates. After we’d finished, they cleared our plates and a few minutes later he brought us a portion of the gnocchi with mushrooms split into two bowls – on the house. That was excellent too. And after that we had our main course. I’m glad I had the fish as it wasn’t too heavy – and was so tasty.

It tasted better than it looks - and I didn't eat the bread

It tasted better than it looks – and I didn’t eat the bread

The risotto was presented very colourfully and my friend said it was delicious. I was really full after all that food but we ended up sharing a tiramisu and then the manager brought us a tray of complimentary bite-size desserts. At this rate I would have to be rolled home.

What I liked about the place was that the staff were friendly, we didn’t have to tell them to clear the table after every course (which happens a lot here – waiters will bring more and more stuff to your table without taking away the empties), they didn’t serve each course as soon as the previous one was done so they weren’t trying to rush us through our meal, and the restrooms were at the back of the restaurant (whereas with the other restaurants at the Shangri-La you have to go up or down a level to get to the restrooms).

Which made me wonder why the restaurant was so empty. While we were there, two or three other parties came in for dinner but still more than half the restaurant was empty.

When I asked for the bill, I told the manager that I had an Entertainer voucher. He told me to save the voucher but that they’d still give us one of the main courses on the house. So we had the gnocchi and one of the main courses free! What an unexpected surprise! The manager also brought me an Essence form to fill in – the Essence card gives you 20% off in all the restaurants and bars at the Shangri-La. So I’ll definitely be going back.

On Friday I went to Taste of Dubai with some friends. We decided we’d go during the day as we thought it would be less crowded than going in the evening. This year we bought the VIP tickets – which included access to the VIP bar and lounge, three dishes from any of the participating restaurants and two drinks from the VIP bar.

We got there at about 1.30 and walked around, checking out the restaurants.

2015-03-14 12.06.11

It was already crowded by this time. The selection of restaurants this year was disappointing, I have to say: PF Chang, Katsuya, The Cheesecake Factory, Noodle House, Shang Palace, The Act. I could have just gone to the Dubai Mall or the Shangri-La and eaten there! Where was Nobu? Where was Hakkasan? We had some dynamite shrimp at PF Chang and went to claim our free drinks.

The queue at the VIP bar was ridiculous and unmoving. We eventually realised it was because they weren’t serving alcohol between 12 and 2pm because of Friday prayers. When we were finally served, we each ordered a glass of wine only to be given a glass a little larger than a thimble. I felt like Gulliver in Lilliput. And the wine tasted like sh…ardonnay.

We went out to the VIP garden area trying to find somewhere to sit and ended up standing in the shade under a tree. It was really hot that day – the first hot day after the series of sandstorms we’d had. While standing there, sipping our awful wine we noticed that there was another VIP section right next to us, which was for ‘invitation only’ guests. And then… about 20 feet away from us, UB40 got onto a tiny stage and started performing. What??? I had no idea they were even going to be there. And I’m pretty sure that nobody else outside the VIP area knew they were there or could even hear them. I ran into them in Ibiza last summer while I was staying at The Hard Rock Hotel where they were performing so to see them again here in Dubai was just bizarre!

2015-03-13 14.22.39 cropped

They sang about six songs: Homely Girl, Kingston Town, a few I didn’t recognise, and of course Red Red Wine. I also bumped into some other friends of mine, so we hung out with them for a bit and had our second free drink. After we finished our drinks, we decided to try some other food. We got the spicy tuna with crispy rice and chicken salad from Katsuya and then walked around trying to decide what to have. We had some mini desserts from a new company called Savarin – they were yummy and so refreshing! Now the place was absolutely heaving and I would have been happy to leave.

2015-03-13 16.44.06

We had a couple of dishes from The Act – both of which were excellent: the beef anticucho and the ceviche. We even considered going there for dinner the following weekend. By this time it was 4.30pm, walking anywhere involved fighting your way through a crowd and I’d had enough. We went back to the VIP bar, found a table and had some Prosecco. At 5pm, we called it a day and headed home.

I went home and got into my pajamas. I didn’t realise how tired I was until it was 10pm and I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I’d been working all evening and still hadn’t had a chance to open my new laptop!

I spent all of Saturday at home too – working mostly, eyeing my unopened laptop on my desk. It would just have to wait!

And that was my week!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

4 Comments »

Dubai 2015: Week 5

After my session with Trevor on Sunday morning, I had to get down to some work as I was still swamped. At about 4pm I decided I needed a break so I walked up to Tim Horton’s and sat down with a coffee and my book. I wanted to finish reading Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón so I could move on to something else. It was an easy read, but as I’d predicted it was nowhere near as good as Shadow of the Wind.

I went to yoga at the Shangri-La on Monday morning. I was home by 9.45 and had the whole day to work. I was supposed to have a piano lesson that afternoon but I had so many deadlines that I ended up cancelling it. That evening I went to the Scene Club in Knowledge Village – they were screening ‘Factory Girl’, an Egyptian movie about a girl who works in a garment factory and has a crush on the manager. It was a good movie – but it did make me angry. Angry that things don’t really seem to change for women in the Middle East, and angry that people will believe a rumour about a person which turns that person’s life completely upside down.

I had yoga at home on Tuesday and was home the rest of the day – just working!

I had a friend in town from Lagos – so we met up for an early lunch on Wednesday. We went to Wafi Gourmet at the Dubai Mall and we overate – hummus with pine nuts, grilled halloumi, muhamara, fried aubergine in yoghurt, potato harra. I couldn’t move after that – but we still went to Eataly for dessert where we shared a Nutella crepe!

I got home, did some work and then went to my piano lesson. That night, Dad and I went to Sobahn, a Korean restaurant on Sheikh Zayed Road. I’d been there once before – I didn’t think it was great (nothing is as good as Arirang in London), but it was close by and I knew we’d be home early. I’d booked a table online in the afternoon but when we got there, they said they had no record of the booking. It wasn’t a problem as the restaurant wasn’t crowded, and I had a confirmation email and a text and I wondered whether they just hadn’t bothered to check their messages.

We were shown to a table and sat down. I ordered a small bottle of still water and Dad ordered a small bottle of sparkling water. They brought both but no glasses. Dad asked the waiter for some glasses and he brought us one. Were we supposed to share it? So we asked for another one, obviously. We flicked through the menu – this page amused me:

2015-01-28 21.06.11

What is ‘flap meat’? I didn’t fancy trying it. To start with, we ordered the pah jeon (without seafood) and Dad ordered a kim chi soup. Little dishes of a variety of kim chi were brought to our table and were complimentary. For our main course we ordered a beef bulgogi and spicy prawns. I asked the waiter to bring the starters first and then the main course – and not to bring everything at once. The waiter came back and said they didn’t have any beef bulgogi – so I ordered bee bim bab instead.

So, what did the waiter bring? The pah jeon and the spicy prawns.

2015-01-28 21.28.33

‘I specifically asked you to bring the starters first.’

‘The prawns are a starter.’

‘So when I ordered it as a main course, why didn’t you say so?’

No response.

Then they brought the bee bim bab and the soup. Crazy. The food was average – I’m not sure I would go back.

On Thursday morning, I had to go to Sharjah to collect my passport and I had to be there by 10am. I was in and out in about 5 minutes but there was a lot of traffic on the way back. I got home, did some work, had lunch and then went to get my hair done.

That night I had dinner with some friends at Rivington Grill in Madinat Jumeirah. We hadn’t seen each other since November so we had lots to catch up on. We had a bottle of Shiraz, skipped the starters and went straight to the mains. I had the lamb chop (disappointing), one friend had the rainbow trout, another had the Dover sole and the fourth was still full from lunch so he ordered a starter portion of calamari and a portion of chips. We shared an apple and blackberry crumble for dessert. After dinner we went to The Agency next door for another drink. It was quite a late night and it was 2.45 by the time I got home.

On Friday I had lunch with a couple of friends at Maison Bagatelle. I ordered the beetroot and goat cheese salad with spinach and pine nuts, one of my friends had the full English breakfast and the third had a steak. Every time I’ve been there, the food has been very good – and this time was no exception. We decided to share a blueberry tart for dessert and finished with coffee. After lunch, I walked to the mall and ended up at Kinokuniya. While browsing, guess what I came across? Two Folio copies of Travels with Charley that I’d been looking for the week before! I should have known the man at the information desk had no idea what he was talking about. I wanted to see if he was there, but it was a woman at the desk. How infuriating!

On Friday night, Dad and I went to Y by Yabani at City Walk for dinner. I ordered the starters first and told them I’d order the main course when we were ready. I didn’t want them bringing everything at once like they did at the Korean restaurant! I ordered a sesame seed cucumber salad and some spicy rock shrimp tempura. Dad also ordered a miso soup. When we’d finished that I ordered the salmon and tuna izuzukuri (thin slices of salmon and tuna, coriander, sesame seeds, green chilli, chilli powder, spring onion, izuzukuri sauce). We ordered black cod with miso and nasu miso for our main course with some sushi rolls. There was too much food but it was all so good. We could have definitely done without the aubergine and I think I would have chosen either sushi or black cod – not both. We were home early and I helped Dad pack as he was off the next day.

Dad left on Saturday afternoon and I was home all day. That evening I went to see Zakir Hussain’s Nirvana 2015 at the World Trade Centre. It was an Indo-Celtic fusion concert and it was fantastic. Also on stage with him were: Rakesh Chaurasia (bansuri – Indian bamboo flute), Ganesh Rajgopalan (violin and vocals), Navin Sharma (dol and percussion), Charlie McKerron (fiddle), Patsy Reid (fiddle), Jean-Michel Veillon (flute), Fraser Fifield (bagpipes and whistle), Tony Byrne (guitar) and John Joe Kelly (bodhran).

The musicians were incredible, but the event organisation let them down. The acoustics in the hall we were in were pretty awful, and the lighting was a joke. During the concert, the house lights were switched on and off, and one strip of lights (right above us) was even left on for about 20 minutes right in the middle of the concert.

The concert finished at about 10.30 and my friend and I went to Zuma for a late dinner. We ordered the yellowtail sashimi, tuna tataki, prawn and black cod gyoza, dynamite spider roll and spicy tuna roll. We were till about 1am and then went home.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

2 Comments »

Dubai 2013: Week 13

After the excesses of my birthday weekend, we showed no signs of stopping.

My friends who were staying at the Shangri-La invited us over on Sunday to hang out by the pool. We were there by noon and we took Vinay with us – he thoroughly enjoyed splashing around in the water. The poolside was crowded and my friend managed to convince the pool staff to turn a couple of sofas into a very large sunbed!

20130331_120601

We had pizza and several bottles of wine. At last count, it was four bottles (I think?). At about 4pm I went to The Fairmont to see my other friends who were leaving that evening too – we had a few drinks in the bar. I got home at about 7.30. I chilled out for a while and then met up with my parents, sister and brother-in-law at the Dubai Mall. We had dinner at PF Chang – their hot and sour soup really does hit the spot! By this point my hangover was starting to kick in. That’s the trouble with daytime drinking!

I was home all day on Monday – I was exhausted and was starting to feel jetlagged. That evening I met up with a couple of friends at iKandy for their ladies’ night. We met at 7pm and shared a few bottles of Prosecco – my sister and brother-in-law also joined us as the three of us were going on to have dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at the H Hotel. I’d booked a table but the restaurant was completely empty apart from one couple in a booth. We each had a steak (my cousin joined as too) and shared the dessert and two bottles of red wine. I managed to use a couple of Entertainer vouchers too! My brother-in-law left late that night for Lagos…

By Tuesday I was sure I needed a new liver. The last few days had been mental and it needed to stop. I cancelled my piano lesson and stayed in my pajamas. All day. I was shattered. I did some work but didn’t leave the house. It was also my first day without alcohol in 5 days!

It was my cousin’s birthday on Wednesday and she had organised a girls’ lunch at Apres at the Mall of the Emirates. There were six of us at lunch – we shared a cheese fondue, some pizza, and some other random starters. We also had a bottle of wine between us. After lunch, we had planned to walk around and do some shopping but we walked around for about 20 minutes and quickly lost interest in everything. We headed home instead.

Thursday was busy. I had lunch at Vapiano at the Dubai Mall with my sister and then we did some shopping. She bought me a lovely Ted Baker dress for my birthday and had some of her own things to do! We went home for a while and then decided to go to Safa Park. None of us had been there – and Vinay was very excited. We got there at about 6pm so it wasn’t too hot.

IMG_2564 IMG_2566 IMG_2571

We walked around for a while and then my sister took Vinay and the nanny for a boat ride. It was getting dark by the time they’d finished…

IMG_2578

But Vinay didn’t want to leave!

IMG_2580

That night my sister and I went to iKandy for a drink. We just wanted to get out of the house really – and I hadn’t tipped our waiter from the night of my party as every time I’d been back to iKandy he’d had the day off or was ill. I finally got to meet him on Thursday evening – he told me that there he had kept what was left of the Patron XO Cafe and could pour us a shot now if we wanted one. I looked at him like he was crazy. I’d have to do that another night…

We had lunch with my cousin and her parents and kids on Friday. We went to PF Chang at Mirdif City Centre which was nice for a change. After that everyone went their own separate ways – my dad went home, my mum took Vinay to the kids’ area, my sister and I walked around the shops for a while.

That night we went to see Olympus Has Fallen. I’d heard it was good but had no idea what it was about or who was in it – I thoroughly enjoyed it!

We were back at the mall on Saturday. A sandstorm (or shamaal, I’ve learnt) had blown in and there was sand everywhere. My sister and I went to Tim Horton’s for a coffee but there was nowhere to sit inside so we ended up outside – in about 10 minutes we were covered in dust. It was gross. She ran her errands, I tagged along and then we went home. At about 8pm she realised she had to go back to the mall to change the iPad cover she’d bought. Kaleem, the driver, had already gone home so we had to get a cab. It was windy outside! We were in the mall for about 20 minutes and then took another cab back home. On the way home it started raining. There was lightning every few minutes and it was windy! It was so windy that when we got home I couldn’t push the cab door open – the driver had to turn the car around so that we weren’t against the wind! We had sand everywhere when we got home – our hair, our eyes, our ears. Yuck.

My sister and Vinay left late that night – the house was going to be very quiet after that!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

1 Comment »

Dubai: Week 37

It was quite a busy week and I didn’t get as much work or writing done as I would have liked.

I’d bought a voucher a while ago for a Dermalogica massage and facial at Onyx Fitness and Spa on Jumeirah Beach Road. I made my appointment for Sunday and went along with my voucher. It’s a nice place – I think it’s new. The treatment rooms were spacious and my therapist told me she’d do the massage first and then the facial (which I thought was odd, but she was the expert). Both the massage and facial were OK – what ruined it for me was that the therapist kept coughing. I know that people get coughs and it can’t be helped – but during my facial she kept coughing and I just wanted her to stop! What should she have done? Covered her mouth when she coughed and washed her hands each time before continuing with the facial? Or carried on with the facial while coughing without covering her mouth? I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

On Monday I had an appointment with Randy, my new trainer – as Rama had left Dubai.

That afternoon I had an appointment for a Brazilian keratin treatment. It was another voucher I’d bought before my trip to Bali and it was expiring soon. I went to Hair and Colors Salon at the Four Points by Sheraton on Sheikh Zayed Road. The salon was empty apart from the two Arab men who worked there. In the past, it has always taken at least two hours to do the treatment – by the time my hair was washed, and the chemicals applied followed by the blowdry and ironing, it’s at least 2 hours – depending on the length of my hair.

The younger guy washed my hair, rough dried it with a hairdryer and applied the treatment. It wasn’t the same treatment I’d used in the past – it was a spray called Brazilian 24 Hour Keratin Treatment by Rejuvenol.

Rejuvenol

The hairdresser sprayed it into my damp hair, straightened my hair with hair straighteners and I was done. In just under an hour. He told me to leave the treatment in for 24 hours and then I could wash it. Great!

I picked up a French vanilla cappuccino from Tim Horton’s on my way home and settled down to do some work.

I was home most of Tuesday. That evening I met up with someone I’d met at the last wine club. Her office is at the World Trade Centre so we decided to meet at McGettigan’s at the World Trade Centre. I was half an hour late – it took me ages to find a cab and when I got to the World Trade Centre I couldn’t find the bar! I got there eventually and we had a few drinks and some dinner. Considering there was an exhibition on at the World Trade Centre the bar was quite quiet – apart from the table next to ours who were singing along with the Irish folk band. It was a nice evening and I was home at a reasonable hour.

After my session at the gym on Wednesday I washed my hair, not knowing what it would look like after the Brazilian keratin treatment. I let it air dry and was pleasantly surprised at the results. The frizz had gone and it was slightly wavy rather than poker straight. Perfect – now let’s hope it lasts at least a couple of months!

On Wednesday afternoon I headed to Abu Dhabi (for the first time) to see one of the boys who was there for the day. It took just over 1.5 hours to get there – partly because there had been an accident and traffic was being diverted in different directions. Thank goodness for Google Maps! His meeting was done by lunchtime so I met him at the Beach Rotana where he was staying and we had lunch outdoors at Indigo. We ordered our starters from the Indigo menu but didn’t fancy a heavy Indian meal for lunch – we asked them whether we could order from the Italian restaurant next door and they didn’t have a problem with that (eventually). We ordered the spinach salad with goat’s cheese and artichokes to start, and we shared the grilled salmon and tiger prawns as our main course. The salad was good, the main course was disappointing. We also had a bottle of rosé which went down rather quickly! It was great to see him and catch up – we hadn’t met since I was in London in June. Later that afternoon another friend of his joined us so we ended up ordering another bottle of rosé – and then heading to Trader Vic’s for a drink (totally unnecessary!).

I left Abu Dhabi at about 6.30pm and was home by 8pm. I thought the traffic heading back to Dubai at that time would be worse but it wasn’t too bad.

I was home most of Thursday, apart from a trip to the supermarket and a stop at Tim Horton’s for a French Vanilla cappuccino.

It was a very lazy weekend. Friday was lazy but I managed to drag myself to Karma Kafe for a drink with a friend. I had two drinks and was home soon after midnight. Saturday was also lazy. I suppose that’s what weekends are for!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

1 Comment »

Dubai: Week 36

Sunday was another holiday and I was still recovering from the long weekend for Eid. I was home most of the day. That evening I went to see ‘Skyfall’ at the IMAX Meydan with my cousin and her son. I’d never been to the IMAX and if you asked me to point it out on a map I wouldn’t be able to – I have no idea where it was. The cinema itself was great though – a huge screen – and it was full. It’s much more expensive than the regular cinemas though – standard tickets are AED 60 (compared to AED 35). Even the popcorn is more expensive – I bought a small popcorn, nachos for my nephew and a bottle of water and that came to AED 62. It would have been less than AED 30 anywhere else. Anyway – the movie was great (much better than ‘Quantum of Solace’) and I enjoyed it.

On Monday night my mum left for Jamaica. My dad had been in Kingston for a few weeks and hadn’t been very well for the last 10 days or so. She’d wanted to leave sooner but Hurricane Sandy was wreaking havoc in the Caribbean and we didn’t want her to be stranded somewhere mid-journey. It was the first time I was home alone since I left London in December last year. My parents didn’t want me to be on my own – how would I manage? Er – I was alone in London for so many years, I told them – and I managed just fine!

I was home most of Tuesday – in the morning I met my cousin at the Dubai Mall for a coffee at Tim Horton’s and that night I went to an InterNations event at Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Lounge in JBR. I went with a friend, we met a few people we knew, and we had too much wine.

Wednesday was uneventful – I had my last session with Rama (although I didn’t know it would be my last session with him!). I was home the rest of the day. I don’t know whether it was boredom or determination but I signed up to take part in NaNoWriMo – I have the time, I have the peace at home, I just didn’t have a plot.

Thursday was busy. I’d been wanting to get my hair cut for a while and a friend recommended Pastels salon in Jumeirah. I made an appointment for a hair cut, colour and blowdry. The two women who did my hair were a South African woman called Shakira and a Filipina woman called Girly (yes, really). I have to say they did a great job – I paid more than I would have at the Fairmont but it was worth it. The colour was better, the blowdry was better.

After getting my hair done I went to the Fairmont to get my nails done – the place was packed and I had to wait a while. By the time I got home it was after 5pm.

That night a friend of mine was in town for one night on his way back to Lagos. I hadn’t seen him since January so we had lots to catch up on. We went to Hakkasan for dinner (we’d been on the waiting list for Zuma and La Petite Maison for days without any luck) and when we were done we were so full. I ordered the prawns on toast with foie gras and left the rest of the ordering to my friend (who is vegetarian). We had the vegetarian dumplings and the lettuce wrap. We also shared two dishes for our main course and a couple of cocktails. It was too much – I could have done without the prawns on toast (I had to eat all four). We skipped dessert. It was lovely to see him and I was home by midnight.

I went to a friend’s engagement brunch on Friday. It was at the H Hotel (formerly the Monarch), at Mizaan restaurant. I knew a handful of people there, and met some of the people I’d met in Phuket over the summer too. I got home at around 5pm and relaxed for a while.

That night a friend made me dinner – it was an early night.

I was home most of Saturday – day 3 of NaNoWriMo and I was already behind. That evening I went to the Dubai Writers’ Group at the Pavilion. Unfortunately the organiser couldn’t make it in the end so people were just focusing on their own work. Several of the people there were also taking part in NaNoWriMo so it was interesting to hear how people approached their writing – I asked whether anyone actually had a plan of what they were going to write about (I never do and usually just go with the flow – wherever that may be). I was relieved to find I’m not the only one who does that. The downside to that is because I never know where my characters are going to end up, I have several beginnings of stories but no endings.

I decided to stay on at the Pavilion and have a bite to eat after we were done – I had the smoke salmon on gluten-free bread (yummy) and then headed home.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

1 Comment »

Dubai: Week 34

The first half of the week was unpleasant, for reasons I won’t go into – and I was irritable and unmotivated. Aside from work and sessions at the gym, it was quite uneventful.

I woke up on Sunday not having slept well at all, Rama cancelled our session and I had to go to brunch at someone’s house. My cousin and I got there just before noon. All the girls who were at dinner at Toscana the week before were there, plus a couple more. Conversation revolved around schools (again), Bollywood movies (again), what the kids are going to wear for their Diwali show, and a couple of other things.

I left brunch at 2pm and went over to another friend’s place for a short while – she had been at brunch too and I went to say hi to her mum who was visiting Dubai. I felt brain-dead after brunch and making conversation was an effort. I left after 20 minutes.

While I was at brunch my mum decided to go to the Mall of the Emirates so I joined her on my way home. She was looking at coffee tables – and I didn’t like any of the ones she showed me. We went home and I sat down to do some work.

I didn’t sleep well on Sunday night either. I did manage to get some work done on Monday afternoon though, so that was good.

I slept about 4 hours on Monday night/Tuesday morning – I kept waking up and at about 6.30, I was up. I stayed in bed, hoping to go back to sleep for a while but it didn’t happen. I had too many thoughts rushing through my head. I was supposed to meet a friend for coffee that morning but she couldn’t make it in the end. That afternoon I sat down to do some work only to find that the files I’d worked on the day before were corrupted and I had to do the same work all over again. I wouldn’t even be able to charge for it. What a bloody waste of time.

I had a session with Rama on Wednesday morning. I sat down to do some work after that but at 4pm I decided to walk to Tim Horton’s for a coffee. I just needed to get out of the flat for a bit.

That night my mum, cousin and I went to the Dubai Mall for dinner and to a movie as it was my parents’ 42nd anniversary and my dad wasn’t in town. We had dinner at PF Chang and then went to see ‘Arbitrage’ (I was disappointed by the abrupt end).

Things started to pick up on Thursday. That evening I went to Wine Club. As usual there were six wines to taste – one sparkling, two white and three red. There was also a lot more food than last time (thank goodness – I dread to think what state I’d have been in if there hadn’t been enough food to go around). There was a lot of mingling at the bar afterwards and it turned out to be quite a heavy late night.

I was a little hungover on Friday but went to meet a friend for lunch. We went to Al Dawaar, the revolving restaurant on top of the Hyatt Regency. It’s a lovely restaurant – there was a variety of food but I went for the hummus, baba ganoush, grilled chicken. And a Bloody Mary, of course.

I was supposed to be out for dinner that evening too, but those plans fell through and I ended up staying home.

Saturday was a very chilled day. I spent the afternoon by the pool, reading my book.

That evening I went to a writers’ group at The Pavilion Downtown. When I decided to move to Dubai I thought I’d have more time to focus on my writing but apart from attending a different writers’ group a few months ago (and just once at that), I’d done f***-all about it. As the time drew nearer I was very tempted to back out but forced myself to go. I’m so glad I did.

I got there on time (no thanks to the idiotic cab driver) and there were just four of us to begin with. The organiser told us there would be two writing exercises, each one lasting 30 minutes, and we were to focus on dialogue. He gave us a line of dialogue, an object and a character and we had to start writing.

In the first exercise, the line of dialogue was ‘I don’t think that’s how it works’, the object was a bicycle and the character was a teenage girl. It took me ages to get started and I didn’t really connect with the first exercise at all.

The line of dialogue in the second exercise was ‘Tomorrow is another day’, the object was a red ball, and one of the characters had to be a grumpy old man. This was much easier for me. In fact, I’m thinking of turning this one into a proper short story.

Several people came in after we’d started the first exercise, including a guy who actually said he wasn’t really into writing so would just read his book while we carried on. I thought that was odd.

What I liked about the group was that we didn’t have to read out our work afterwards. We could ask questions about any issues we may have faced but we didn’t have to critique anyone else’s work.

After the second exercise was finished people hung around chatting to each other. It was a friendly group – 11 of us in the end – and I would definitely go back. They meet every two weeks. The next meeting clashes with a book group I was going to attend but I might cancel that – I think I need to focus on this now.

I also really liked The Pavilion – I can see myself spending more time there and it’s not far from home.

I got home at about 9pm, had dinner, watched a couple of episodes of ‘Revenge’ and read for a while.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

Leave a comment »

Dubai: Week 28

Wow, my last few days in Bali just flew by…

My parents and I left Bali on Sunday morning. We left the villa at 6am, before the sun had risen. It didn’t take long to get to the airport. Harry, his son and his mum met us there to say goodbye to us. He came in with us as we had so much luggage (eight pieces between us) and he had tried to arrange an excess luggage allowance for us. After we had checked in (which took forever) we said goodbye to Harry and went through passport control. Mum went to Gucci and Dad and I went to get coffee and something to eat. We ended up sitting in a cafe and chatting to an Australian couple on the next table. They lived in Bali – he was a Reiki master and she was in property. They were doing their visa run to Singapore and coming back the following day. They had to do this every couple of months. What a drag! Our flight was called then so we rushed off and met Mum at the gate.

The flight to Singapore was uneventful and we were in transit for just over an hour. As we were waiting at the departure gate, I suddenly thought of someone I knew (but not very well at all – we aren’t even in touch). She lives in Lagos but is originally from Singapore – and 5 minutes after her popping into my head, she walked into the departure lounge with her kids. Ha – I should have known! Coincidences like that used to happen to me a lot, but not so much in recent months.

The flight back to Dubai was turbulent. I tried to sleep, but couldn’t. We eventually landed at 4pm and by the time we got home, I was shattered.

We opened the front door and were greeted by really dusty floors in the flat… On closer inspection, what seemed to be little black ‘things’ turned out to be the corpses of tiny flies. They were in every room, and only on the floor. We couldn’t figure out where they’d come in from. Luckily Mum had booked a maid for that evening to clean the rooms and change our sheets so they were all swept up. We were supposed to have dinner at my cousin’s place that evening but my parents went without me – I couldn’t keep my eyes open and had passed out by 9.30.

I woke up almost 12 hours later and couldn’t remember where I was! I unpacked that morning, taking the opportunity to clear out all the clothes that didn’t fit me any more (too big, yay!). I settled down to do some work and didn’t leave the flat until Tuesday night.

We went to Wafi Gourmet at the Dubai Mall for dinner on Tuesday. We hadn’t had Lebanese food in so long! I’d also forgotten how crowded the mall can get in the evening. There were people everywhere.

I had a session with Rama on Wednesday, after almost 2 months. That afternoon I went for a much-needed manicure and pedicure, especially after the trekking in Komodo. When I was done I finally felt human again! I met up with a friend at Zuma that night. We didn’t have a reservation and luckily got a table at the bar. It was packed. It may as well have been the weekend. Perhaps Wednesday is the new Thursday? The music was great, we had a few drinks, a couple of bar snacks and left just before 1am. It was a fun evening…

Thursday was not a fun morning. I could have done without that last vodka cranberry. I’ll have to remember that next time. I did a bit of work on Thursday afternoon and then met a friend for coffee at Tim Horton’s in the Dubai Mall. We hadn’t met since November so it was good to see her. I rushed home after that as I was meeting a couple of friends for drinks and then going on to a party for my friends who got married in Phuket.

I met the girls at Vintage in Wafi – they had a two-for-one offer on bottles of wine so we ordered two bottles of the Chenin Blanc and a cheese fondue. I was having such a laugh with them I really didn’t want to leave and go to the other party, but I’d told my cousin I’d pick her up on the way and really had to go. It was actually fun – and I didn’t get home until 4am.

Friday morning was painful. I stayed home all day and after lunch I started working and continued until midnight. I had so much to catch up on. I made it to the gym on Saturday morning and spent the rest of the day working. It was just what I needed to do – two solid days of focusing on work to get me back on track!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

Leave a comment »

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:

2012

We had the same menu as last time:

2012

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.

2012
2012
2012
2012

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. 

2012

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:

2012
2012
2012

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…

2012

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

2012
2012

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

2012

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.

For more updates, click here.

Leave a comment »

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.

For more updates, click here.

 

Leave a comment »

Dubai: Week 24

Week 23 was a write-off so there’s not much point saying anything about it. I got back, fell ill and spent the week in bed. On Saturday evening I decided I’d had enough and that it was time to get back on track.

I had a Sunday morning session with Rama (it killed me). My parents wanted to go out for lunch so we headed to the Dubai Mall. Considering it was a public holiday it didn’t seem so crowded at first. When we were told we’d have to wait 1.5 hours for a table at one of the restaurants we decided to go elsewhere. We ended up at Red Lobster (I had grilled salmon, broccoli and a baked potato) and then went to Tim Horton’s for coffee. It must have opened while I was away because it definitely wasn’t there before I left. I had the French Vanilla cappuccino – I’d never had it before. Lovely!

After lunch, Dad went home and Mum and I went to get a birthday present for my cousin’s daughter. We went to Times Square Center intending to go to Toys R Us but I got side-tracked by a music store selling pianos.

I’ve been wanting to get a piano since I moved to Dubai (but admittedly haven’t done much about it) so I went in and looked at what they had. I’ve noticed a lot of places selling electric keyboards/pianos here, but very few sell traditional upright pianos. The assistant in the store said they only sell Ritmüller pianos. I’d never heard of them. I was told the pieces (hammers, strings, keys, soundboards) are crafted in Germany and assembled in China. I suppose Yamaha are also assembled in China – so what difference does it make? I’ll have to do some research. 

We eventually made it to Toys R Us, picked up the present, and headed to Oasis Centre. It was dull household stuff – hangers, plastic boxes for the kitchen, and so on. I couldn’t wait to get home. 

On Monday I had yoga after ages. After that I went for a Balinese massage at Dreamworks Spa at Palm Strip Mall. I’d bought the deal (1 hour for AED99) a couple of months ago and forgotten about it. When I found the voucher, I realised that Monday was the last day I could use it and luckily they had a spot available. I went there, really not expecting very much (especially after the massage at Chelsea Tower) but I was pleasantly surprised. 

2012

It was quiet. The rooms were comfortable. And the massage was amazing. I will definitely go back – and they have 25% off massages on weekdays! 

By Monday night I had a slight temperature again and my muscles were aching after my training session the day before.

I woke up on Tuesday at 6am to see the sun rising (I sleep with my curtains open).

2012

I did go back to sleep though, and stayed in all day – working.

On Wednesday I had another session with Rama and then Mum and I went to the Fairmont for a sushi lunch. We over-ordered and ended up taking home a doggy bag. After lunch we both had our nails done. I had a much-needed pedicure – all that walking in London didn’t do much for my feet, and even if I’d wanted to have a mani/pedi while I was there I don’t know when I would have fit it into my busy schedule!

My parents were out that night and I had the place to myself. I caught up on some work and some TV shows. That night a friend suggested I start a food blog. I admitted that I would love to but that I usually remember to take photos of my food after I’ve eaten it (oops). I must try and remember to take more photos. 

Thursday was quite busy. I went to the gym in the morning and then my parents and I went to Vapiano at the Dubai Mall for lunch. I knew their portions were huge from the last time I went, so I ordered a Greek salad to start with.

2012

For my main course, I was supposed to share the tagliatelle funghi with my mum, but it was too much. Next time I’m just going to stick to the salad. Oh, and of course I forgot to take a photo of the pasta! After lunch, I got a takeaway coffee from Tim Horton’s and we headed home. 

An hour later we went over to the Shangri-La as my cousin was having her daughter’s 4th birthday party there. There were kids, mums, babies, nannies, balloons, an entertainer, a bouncy castle, food, cake. The kids looked like they were having a good time. We stayed for just an hour. 

That evening I went to Dubai Wine Club. The last two times I’d been, the venue had been outdoors at the Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel. This time it was at the Radisson Royal, just a few blocks down, at their restaurant Indo Thai. The venue is lovely but I preferred the set-up at Ibn Battuta: you can see everyone, you’re on a round table so you get to talk to most people. At the Radisson we were on long tables of 10 and the layout of the room was such that you couldn’t really see any of the other tables. Because we were on a long table our table was very much divided into two – which wasn’t very conducive to the discussion of wine (or anything else). I sat with one of my friends and the rest were all new people. I met an English/Irish couple and when they asked me what I did and I told them, the husband looked shocked and said ‘My wife wants to be you!’ She also works as a freelance writer/editor and in fact knew my ex boss from Haymarket Publishing. What a small world. 

On to the wines. Six sparkling wines were chosen for the evening – as before they were all blinded. 

2012
2012

E was my favourite, followed by A. I didn’t like B. C and D tasted almost the same and I didn’t like them either. I didn’t really care for F either. So what were they? You will be s
hocked. I know I was. 

  • A: Spanish cava (Castillo Perelada)
  • B: Taittinger
  • C: Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir
  • D: Moët & Chandon – and guess what grapes they use? Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
  • E: Italian prosecco (Prosecco di Valdobbiadene)
  • F: German sekt (Henkell Trocken)

No wonder C and D tasted so similar – they’re the same grapes! And compared to a couple of the other wines, D didn’t taste that good. Surprising.

The choice of food was quite good – chicken satays, beef satays, calamari, spring rolls, fish, steamed dumplings. Again, I forgot to take a photo – but instead of it being a buffet like it was at Ibn Battuta, the food was brought to each table on long platters. 

As people started leaving, a group of people gathered at the bar. I’d met some of them before so I joined them for some drinks. Three glasses of Sauvignon Blanc later, we were the last group to leave the bar. I got home after 2am. 

On Friday the three of us went to Sakura for lunch with my cousin and her parents. The food was good and I overate as usual. As much as I like Sakura, I think the rest of the Crowne Plaze Hotel could do with a makeover. It’s pretty shabby.

We got home from lunch a little before 4pm and I thought about going down to the pool. I looked down at the pool to see if there was anyone there – about 20 kids were splashing around, there were tables and chairs laid out and there was even a blow-up slide leading into the pool. I decided that maybe I could wait until Saturday to lounge around by the pool!

 

My cousin and I were supposed to meet for a casual dinner that night as well – but we both knew our parents were out and both wanted to make the most of the peace and quiet so we decided to postpone it! 

On Saturday I went to the gym quite late and then spent the afternoon at the pool, swimming and reading. There was an English guy there – I’d seen him before but had never spoken to him. I’m terrible with guessing people’s ages but I think he must have been in his mid to late 50s. We started chatting while we were in the pool and he said that there had been so many problems with the pool the year before that he joined the gym at the Shangri-La. He said the pool had become an algae green colour (gross) and nobody was doing anything about it. He also said that the residents in the building should be concerned about their safety in the event of a fire. He said the smoke alarms don’t work and that there aren’t enough sprinklers on each floor. He said the chances of people on the higher floors making it out alive were slim. I have to admit this had crossed my mind already. It’s a long way down from the 23rd floor. Since I moved I’ve read about at least five fires in residential buildings with devastating consequences. We talked for a bit longer and then he left. I did a few lengths, dried off in the sun and finished my book. A great Saturday. And the icing on the cake? I had the place to myself on Saturday night too.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

 

Leave a comment »