Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2014: Week 13

The week started off much quieter than the previous week. I was busy at work on Sunday and Monday – the April issue finally went to press! I’m really pleased with this issue – my editorial was easy to write and I’ve got an article and photo published in the issue too.

On Monday morning I went to the clinic for my blood test. I’d been dreading it because every time I have a blood test I end up being stuck with needles as my veins are difficult to find. My record is eight times, spread over two days (they gave up after a few times on the first day). By the end of the second day, the doctors were looking at my ankles and I told them there was no way they were sticking needles in my ankles. They eventually found a viable vein in my wrist. The pain in my fingers had vanished which was a relief. I was called in to the nurses’ station and a male nurse sat me down and tried to find a vein. He told me he could see one in my right arm and started preparing me for it. I really had my doubts – but he did it the first time. I was so impressed!

On Monday evening I had dinner with NP at Toko Dubai. We went early – I’d booked for 8pm and the place was rather empty. I guess 8pm is early for Dubai! NP had never eaten there so was happy to go along with most of my suggestions: rice chips, nasu dengaku, beef gyoza and Japanese salad to begin with. For our next course we had the soft-shell crab tempura, grilled avocado and seared salmon maki. For dessert we shared the green tea ice cream and coconut sorbet.

I decided to work at home on Tuesday. The doctor called with my blood test results. She said I was severely anaemic – that my iron levels are ‘on the floor’ and my haemoglobin levels are so low that I’m a fraction away from a blood transfusion. Oh great. She said she would prescribe iron tablets which I’d have to take three times a day and have a blood test in another week to see if there was any improvement.

I went to my piano lesson that evening – we went through various patterns you can use with the left hand while playing the melody with the right hand. He also gave me some new music (‘Let It Go’ from Frozen) and a couple of others. I had wanted to walk home after my lesson but it was raining.

When I woke up on Wednesday it was still raining. And by the time I left for work it was pouring. I stopped at the clinic to collect my prescription and tried to get what I needed at the pharmacy in the same complex. They didn’t have ferrous sulfate 200 mg so she offered me ferrous sulfate 80 mg. Well, that’s not what the prescription says, is it? I declined and told her I’d find somewhere else. I went to work (waste of time) and got a lift back to the Dubai Mall from a friend. I rarely go to the mall but I needed something to wear for my birthday drinks on Friday.

He dropped me off at the Waitrose entrance so I went to the pharmacy next to the supermarket – they didn’t have ferrous sulfate. I went to Boots – they didn’t have it. I went to one more pharmacy and they didn’t have it either. I picked up a dress and then on my way home stopped at Life Pharmacy on Al Wasl. The pharmacist told me that they only had ferrous sulfate 80 mg and that’s the highest dose pharmacists are allowed to stock. If I wanted 200 mg I’d have to go to a hospital. Now why couldn’t the first pharmacy have told me that? It would have saved me a lot of time and irritation! In the end I went with the 80 mg but just got double the quantity!

I took the day off on Thursday. I did some work at home and had an early dinner at the Meat Company in Souk Al Bahar with a couple of friends. I was tired and I didn’t want to be hungover the following day. I was home by 10pm – my parents were out and came home shortly afterwards. ‘Are you ill?’ my dad asked (as I knew he would). No, of course not. ‘Why are you home so early?’

On Friday I’d organised drinks at 40 Kong at the H Hotel from 6pm onwards. My birthday wasn’t until Sunday but Sunday is a working day here… I was at 40 Kong with a friend shortly after 6pm just in case anyone did show up at that time! It was a little chilly up on the 40th floor but at least it wasn’t raining! We ordered a bottle of Prosecco and watched the sun set.

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My guests started arriving from about 7pm onwards. It was a fun evening – a very mixed crowd but everyone seemed to get on with everyone else. And then, my surprise cake was brought out. The cake that stole my thunder. Everyone wanted a photo of it – I don’t even know where my two friends got it from and they still won’t tell me! All that was left of it was this:

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At about 1am, most people had gone and a friend and I decided we were hungry and went to Zaatar w Zeit. I was home by 2.15. I’d had a really fun night and I think everyone had a good time.

I woke up on Saturday feeling exhausted. I was home for most of the day and then went to meet a couple of friends at Iris for drinks. I was only there for a couple of hours and had two glasses of red wine and really wished I’d had only one. It started to make me feel sick – and I don’t normally drink red wine any more. I got to Sapore di Bice at CityWalk where I was meeting my parents for dinner and nothing on the menu appealed to me. I thought I’d go with something simple and ordered the penne arrabiata. Yes, it’s boring, but it was a safe choice. When the food arrived I started to feel much better! We were home by 11pm and I watched a couple of episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2014: Week 11

After another crazy weekend, I was exhausted. I had a session with Trevor on Sunday morning and went to work.

That evening two friends and I had signed up for a Restronaut event at Spill the Bean, a coffee shop at the mall. I’d been on the Restronaut mailing list for several months but this was the first time I’d been compelled to attend an event. The email said:

The Outpost is a Beirut-based magazine about possibilities in the Arab world. The magazine was named by the Guardian as the successor to the Economist. The Editor in Chief is in town for the weekend. Join him in this gathering where he’ll talk about how stories can impact societies and cultures and the quest to create a magazine with a mission to change the world. Join this table if you’re interested in creativity, media and culture. If you’re a writer, artist, film-maker or thinker, this gathering’s for you.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? It cost AED 70 to attend which included a coffee and a selection of cakes and muffins. We got there at 7pm and met a few people at our table – we were supposed to be 11 in total but at that time we were only five. There were a few copies of The Outpost being passed around. I have to say it’s a beautifully produced quarterly magazine, the kind you would be proud to display on your coffee table. It’s printed on high quality matt paper and is very text heavy. I would buy it – and it would probably take me three months to get through each issue. The editor in chief told us that it was in its second year of publication and until now had been financed by himself and a few investors. He was looking for fundraising ideas. Or perhaps he was just looking for money – because whenever someone made a suggestion I don’t think he gave any of them much consideration. I can understand that when you’ve worked so hard and someone tells you to change it, it’s difficult – you have your own ideas of how things should be. But then why ‘invite’ people to discuss these issues? I felt a bit bad for the editor in chief – I think he came under attack by a few people who asked why, if the magazine was aimed at change in the Arab world, it was published in English? Wasn’t that considered elitist? I left at about 8:30pm. I was tired and was disappointed by the evening. I think the description of the event was misleading and didn’t think it applied to writers, artists, film-makers or thinkers. But that could just be me.

On my way home I spoke to my parents. They were having dinner at Silver Fox Steakhouse at Citywalk so I joined them. I was tired and hungry and a steak sounded so good. I ordered the 6 oz. petite filet. It was served with mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. It was just perfect. We got home, I got into bed and passed out.

I woke up on Monday with a sore throat and fever and was home until Wednesday.

On Wednesday I decided I had to get back to the office – I had so much to do! I met a friend for lunch at the Urban Bistro. I really like that place. We shared the chicken and avocado wrap and the smoked salmon focaccia sandwich. I had a green juice to drink. I really wanted a Coke but they didn’t have any!

On Thursday night some friends and I went to Toko for dinner. I’d been thinking about the beef gyoza since the last time I’d eaten there!

It had been cloudy all day and by the evening it was drizzling. I was worried because I’d booked a table outdooors. I got there about 20 minutes early as my parents were dropping me off so I decided to have a drink at the bar while I was waiting for the others to arrive. It wasn’t very pleasant – it had that stale bar/cigarette/alcohol smell that you find in cheap bars and it really put me off. Luckily my friends showed up on time and we moved to our table.

I have to say the food was amazing. For starters we had the spicy edamame, crispy rice chips (okowa age), nasu dengaku, the warm French bean salad and the beef gyoza. We ordered one dish at a time so we could enjoy each dish without worrying about the other dishes getting cold!

After our starters we ordered some sushi – prawn tempura rolls and spicy tuna rolls.

By the time we were supposed to order main course we were quite full but we ordered the grilled avocado (excellent) and the grilled scallops.

All the food was incredible and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

For dessert we ordered the chocolate and hazelnut fondant. Once we had demolished that we ordered another. Fantastic! Our bill was a nightmare though – between us we’d had 24 vodkas. It would have been cheaper to buy a bottle!

I was home all day on Friday – I stayed in my pajamas, did some work and caught up on some TV shows.

On Saturday I was home for most of the day and then met up with a friend at Iris. They have a chill-out Saturdays where selected wines and cocktails are half price and you get free food between 5pm and 9pm. We got there at around 7pm, it wasn’t crowded and we got a table. I had the rose wine and my friend had the red wine. We were brought a platter of food to share – crudites and dip, cheese, olives, bresaola, spring rolls. It was quite substantial. We were there way beyond 9pm though and I got home at about 1.30am, already dreading having to wake up the next day.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2014: Week 9

In case you’re wondering – no, you haven’t missed several posts, I just haven’t written them yet! I figured I had to start somewhere so I thought I’d start with my most recent antics and work my way backwards (and forwards).

I had a Sunday morning session with Trevor and then went to work. It was a manic day – the March issue was due to go to press on Monday and I still needed to go through the table of contents and do the contributors page! Once we’d sent everything off to the printer, I could relax. It’s just as well that I don’t have my Arabic class for a while as I had to be in the office early on Monday to go through the proofs and make any changes.

I left home at 9.15 on Monday – the proofs should have been in by 9am – but I encountered the most awful traffic. I didn’t get in until 10am. And I didn’t think that because I was stuck in traffic, the proofs would be too. We waited around for a while and they eventually arrived at 11am. I made a few changes and the proofs were sent off to be printed. My first issue put to bed! I went home for a while and then had a meeting at PAUL in Mercato with Jan who’s running a yoga for teenagers course starting in March. This is the same lady whose meditation course I went to last year. We decided I’d go to their first session to meet them and ask questions and maybe take some photos for the magazine. I’d then go to their fourth and final session and ask them whether they feel any different and whether they’ve found the course beneficial, etc.

I decided not to go to the office on Tuesday as the issue had been wrapped up and my editorial meeting was postponed to Wednesday. I’d have been sitting around with not very much to do when I could be at home getting on with other work. I met up with NP for lunch at Tom & Serg. We’ve both been so busy that we hadn’t met since before Christmas! I had a piano lesson that afternoon (still playing Wonderwall, More than Words, One and Only – I really need to practise!) and then went to Calabar for drinks. I had a friend in town for a few days so a few of us were meeting for drinks during happy hour. Of course we stayed beyond happy hour and had some dinner too. We ordered some tempura rolls, chicken enchiladas and club sandwiches.

On Wednesday I got to work only to find that the issue we’d worked so bloody hard to put together hadn’t gone to press at all. The printer had called that morning to say they hadn’t been paid which was why nothing had been done. That was infuriating. And not my responsibility. We’d done our job – organising payment is not a part of it! I had my editorial meeting with my team and a couple of freelance writers – trying to put the April issue together in good time. After the meeting one of the writers and I went to Urban Bistro for a coffee and quick bite. I’d never been there and loved it. We shared some guacamole (delicious) and I had a flat white. I went back to the office for a bit and then went home.

That evening I was meeting my friend from out of town and some of his friends at Iris. It was happy hour until 8pm (I love happy hour!) but again we stayed after that and had some dinner as well. We ordered the french bean salad, the seared tuna and the beef sliders. The food there is excellent.

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On Thursday I had another session with Trevor and decided to work at home that day – I had a few deadlines to meet and ended up working until 8.30pm. That night six of us went to Toko Dubai for dinner. I’d been there twice before – once for drinks and once to the official launch party – but had never eaten there. The food was incredible and I’m already planning my next dinner there. We had spicy edamame, beef gyoza (I insisted we order another portion of this as it was so good), tempura, sushi, salmon miso, nasu dengaku, chicken skewers, chicken wings, some avocado dish I’d never heard of before, and we shared three desserts – yuzu cheesecake, chocolate fondant and a mousse. We also had two bottles of Chenin Blanc. I’d have been quite happy to stay there and have more wine but a couple of others wanted to go elsewhere. In the end, four of us ended up at Cafe Habana in Souk Al Bahar. After the sophisticated atmosphere of Toko, it was a bit of a letdown! We had one drink and headed home.

I had brunch with some friends on Friday. We went to Story Restaurant at the Holiday Inn Express in Knowledge Village. It wasn’t very crowded and we initially sat indoors as it was too warm outside. The food was Peruvian and quite varied – the starters were great (guacamole, quinoa salad, ceviche nipon) but most of the mains were fried (lamb spring rolls, chicken empanadas, etc). The quinoa salad and ceviche were my favourites and I went back for more! We also had a ton of alcohol – once 4pm came and our free drinks ran out (we were sitting on the terrace by this time) we thought it would be a good idea to order a bottle of vodka and watch the sunset. And we ordered some dudu shots. And once we’d finished the vodka (we were seven people so it was easily done) we ordered a bottle of champagne. And once that bottle had finished, we ordered another. We were at the restaurant until 9:30pm and I was supposed to be at Zuma at 11pm.

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We left at that point but the traffic was so bad I didn’t get home until 10:30 and then quickly got ready to go to Zuma. I got to Zuma at 11:20 only to find that the couple of friends I was meeting there couldn’t get in – and I’d just ordered my drink. Luckily I knew a couple of other people there so hung out with them for a bit. I ended up chatting to one of their friends and the two of us ended up going to Harry Ghatto’s for a drink, but also hoping to sing! It was quite late by the time we got there – and the song queue was too long so we had a drink and called it a night. Don’t ask me how I lasted that long – I have no idea!

I woke up on Saturday wanting to stay in bed all day but had told my cousin from out of town I’d meet her for lunch. We were going to meet at the Dubai Mall so I got there a little after 2pm. She was still shopping so I told her I’d meet her by the fountain when she was done. The weather was beautiful – it had suddenly warmed up in the last week and I enjoyed the fresh air while I waited for her. We eventually had lunch at a Lebanese place in Souk Al Bahar – Zahr El-Laymoun. I’d never been there before but would definitely go back. We had labneh, hummus, Mediterranean salad and grilled halloumi to start with. For our main course we shared the grilled chicken with thyme. I don’t often eat chicken when I go out but this chicken was tender and succulent.

After lunch, she carried on shopping and I met up with some friends for coffee at Carluccio’s. I got home at about 6pm, got into bed and did some work for the rest of the evening. What a week/weekend!

I love my life.

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