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 2013: Week 6

Well, half a week, really, as I got back from London on Wednesday morning and spent most of the day either sleeping or unpacking.

On Thursday night my Mum and I went to see Zakir Hussain in concert at the World Trade Centre.

20130214_210553

I’ve seen him in concert many times, the last time was in November 2011 in London. What I love about him is that he always performs with different musicians. For this Nirvana 2013 concert he was performing with Bela Fleck (banjo), Edgar Meyer (upright bass), U Srinivas (mandolin) and Rakesh Chaurasia (flute; and he’s the nephew of Hariprasad Chaurasia). Much of the music they played was created by the musicians in the days just before the concert – because they don’t usually play together! They played a fusion of classical Indian music, jazz and rock. They were brilliant (you can read a good review of the evening here). They played for about 2 hours without a break. Suck on that, Enrique!

On Friday some friends and I had booked brunch at Imperium at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel. The hotel is fabulous!

IMG_20130215_124905

That’s not a great photo, but the entrance is beautiful.

IMG_20130215_125305

Even the chandeliers in the lobby are amazing!

IMG_20130215_125425

We were there a little early so we walked around for a while before going to the restaurant.

IMG_20130217_181822

It was a beautiful day to be outside and our table was in a shaded outdoor area. It was an all-inclusive brunch, so we got a glass of Prosecco on arrival and we had the option of wine or a selection of cocktails for the rest of brunch. We went with the Chablis. It cannot compare to the brunch at Al Qasr (I don’t think anything can!), but there was an impressive variety of food on offer – lots of sushi, salads, some roast meats, fresh grilled lobster, and even a pork section (which was empty). Considering there was so much to eat I actually managed to stay away from carbs the entire meal (apart from a bite of chocolate dessert at the end – which really wasn’t worth it). We stayed till 4pm and then headed back home.

The trouble with afternoon drinking (for me) is that I usually want to carry on into the night – but this particular day I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go out! I ended up sitting at home and doing some work in the end (I did have lots of catch up on after my trip to London).

I was home all of Saturday, working.

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 »

Enrique!

First of all, I need to say that Enrique in concert was fantastic. He has never been someone I thought of as particularly hot, but I have to say that the broad shoulders, toned arms and white V-neck t-shirt did it for me. 

However.

The management company (M4 events, I believe) was a huge disappointment.

The concert had been advertised for weeks and a friend and I decided we would go. Ticket options were platinum, gold and silver. I suggested gold as middle ground – we got tickets at AED 550. 

Usual story – doors open at 7pm, concert starts at 9pm. My friend suggested we meet at 8.30 – I told her that might be too late as the queues tend to get really long (I knew this after my Il Divo experience) and suggested we meet at 8pm. 

My friend and I met at the Fairmont at 8pm and then walked over to the World Trade Centre where the concert was taking place. 

It was chaos. 

There were queues everywhere. Nobody seemed to know which queue was silver, which was gold or which was platinum. 

Img-20121026-00090

My friend and I stayed in one queue for a little while but realised it wasn’t moving. She then walked around trying to figure out whether we were in the right queue – as it turns out, we weren’t! There was no management in sight letting us know where we were supposed to be. Nobody knew what was going on.

I eventually found my friend in a separate ‘Gold’ queue which didn’t seem to move at all. By this time it was after 9pm. I went to Caffe Nero to get us some water (I queued there for almost 30 minutes and got the last two bottles of Evian) and went back to join the queue. It hadn’t moved.

To cut a long story short, we were in the queue until 9.45pm. It was like being in a herd of cattle. The queue didn’t seem to end, people were absolutely shameless about jumping the queue and nobody seemed to know what the f*** was going on.

We eventually got in and realised that all the silver and platinum ticket holders were where they should have been – so we have no idea what happened with the gold section.

And then we queued for another 30 minutes for drinks (f***ing ridiculous – and people still managed to jump the queue there too). 

We found a spot to stand in – and two guys started fighting with each other. To be honest, I’m surprised there weren’t more people fighting because at that moment I would have happily punched someone in the face. I don’t know what they were fighting about.

And then. Finally. At 10.45 the house lights went down. Enrique came on. He was in a black t-shirt. He started with ‘Tonight (I’m Loving’ You). Great song, I have to say.

The next song was ‘I Like How It Feels’ followed by ‘Dirty Dancer’ and ‘Rhythm Divine’.

Jesus, this man has amazing arms. How many tricep dips does he do??

‘Bailamos’ came after that followed by ‘Now That You’re Gone’.

At this point, Enrique scouted the audience and asked who would like to come on stage. He somehow chose a 20-year-old Kuwaiti guy called Abdullah. Would I have chosen him? No. So Abdullah came to Dubai from Kuwait on his own just to see Enrique in concert. He looked nervous. He sat on stage while Enrique sang ‘I Like It’.

Img-20121026-00096

Abdullah then declared his love for his Colombian girlfriend and Enrique sang ‘I’m Not In Love’ (because apparently once you declare you’re in love, it’s all over). Abdullah sang and danced, Enrique disappeared and Abdullah was summoned off stage.

Enrique reappeared in his trademark white t-shirt (wow) and sang ‘Tired of Being Sorry’. I have to admit I’d never heard this song before. He then sang ‘Escape’ which reminds me of someone I no longer speak to for some reason. I say ‘some reason’ because I don’t know what that reason is – and I also don’t know why I no longer speak to this person. I suppose that’s appropriate.

The song after this? I have no idea. I don’t know what it’s called – ‘sometimes I get a feeling’ seemed to be the main lyrics, but I’d never heard it before.

And then.

He sang ‘Hero’.

Enrique came out onto the runway into the middle of the audience, almost to the gold section.

Dubai-20121026-00100

Why did I include a photo of the guy in the white hat? He was shirtless and he was sweaty. It was gross. Keep your shirts on, boys. 

Enrique then picked out a woman in the crowd and sang to her. He hugged her. He kissed her on the lips (illegal in a public place – I must remember this). He hugged her again. 

The music picked up again – he sang ‘I Like It’ and then finished with ‘Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)’. If there was an encore we didn’t hang around to hear it. If the queues getting in were so bad, the queues getting out would be even worse.

Total queuing time: 2:30.

Total performance time: 1:20.

Worth it? NO.

The lack of staff and complete disorganisation of the event resulted in hundreds of people being completely f***ing pissed off. 

Would I do it again? No. 

Unless it’s Prince or George Michael (maybe even Lionel Richie or Simply Red), I’d rather stay at home, thanks.

2 Comments »

Dubai: Week 32

I had a good week – I got lots of work done, had some good sessions at the gym and a fun Friday night out.

I woke up on Monday with a swollen left eyelid. It wasn’t particularly painful, more uncomfortable, and it didn’t look very pretty. After my session with Rama, Mum and I had some lunch and then went to the mall. I needed to go to the chemist for my eye, she needed to get a birthday card, and we needed to go to the Virgin Megastore to pick up tickets to see Il Divo (she was very keen). After the mall, we decided to go to Gitex Shopper (the Gulf IT exhibition) at the World Trade Centre. Monday was its fourth day and I didn’t think it would be crowded.

I was wrong. It was crowded and noisy, and walking down the middle aisle was like being in the line of fire with sellers trying to entice you to their stands. All I wanted was a 1TB hard drive to back up the files on my laptop. I was also tempted to look at a new lens for my camera but I wasn’t in a rush for that and I hadn’t done any research on prices.

I picked up my hard drive from Seagate, we walked around the quieter stalls for a while and Mum picked up a portable steam iron. After an hour or so I wanted to get the hell out of there. I’d had enough.

On Tuesday my eye was worse but I thought I’d give the eye drops some time to start working. I was starting to look like the guy in ‘The Goonies’ (‘Hey, you guys!’). I stayed home all day.

I had a massage at Dreamworks on Wednesday afternoon. It was just average. I think the massage I had at the Emirates Grand Spa a few weeks ago has ruined other massages for me! Later that evening Mum and I went to see my aunt and uncle as they were travelling the following day.

On Thursday afternoon we went for mani/pedis at the Fairmont and for dosas that night. I didn’t make any big plans for Thursday night as I wanted to go to the gym the next day and I knew Friday night would be busy.

By Friday morning my eye was looking normal (more or less). Mum and I went to see Il Divo at the World Trade Centre on Friday evening.

2012

They were good, but I don’t think I’d see them in concert again. Not on a Friday night, anyway.

After the concert I met up with a friend at Zuma. It was almost midnight and it was packed. We had a few vodkas and then decided to move on to Cavalli Club at the Fairmont. I’d never been there – we had no trouble at the door and walked right in. The place is huge and not as crowded as I thought it would be. We got a couple of drinks, walked around, enjoyed the music, chatted to some random people, and left after it closed at 3am.

I got home and for some reason thought it would be a good time to watch an episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. It was 5am by the time I went to sleep and I was awake at 9am.

Saturday was a write-off – I didn’t feel like doing much and spent the day at home.

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

Leave a comment »