Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 12

Another busy week!

After the gym on Sunday, Dad and I decided to go out for lunch. I wanted to look at some dresses at the Dubai Mall – I was having my birthday drinks on Friday and wanted to look around. He wanted to look at electronics. So we decided to have lunch at Markette, opposite the Aquarium.

We got there at around 2pm. We both ordered the smoked salmon galette, which was much heavier than I thought it would be. I ordered a mixed salad on the side and Dad had the seafood chowder.

After lunch we walked to Debenhams. I was so full – and perhaps trying on clothes after a heavy meal wasn’t the best idea. There was absolutely nothing that I really liked. I tried on one dress, but it looked awful. In the end, I decided I’d wear something I already had.

We walked to the electronics section and stopped at Samsung. I had a look at the new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, which I’d had my eye on for a while. I decided I’d buy it, and in the end Dad bought it for me as an early birthday present. We went home and I spent the rest of the afternoon setting up my new phone and then worked into the night.

I had a session with Pete on Monday morning. A friend of ours was in town on his way back to Bali so we met him for lunch at the JW Marriott Marquis. I’d been craving Italian food (no idea why) but the Italian restaurant, Positano, was closed for lunch. We ended up at Kitchen 6, the ‘international’ restaurant. There was so much food – I started with some hummus and salad. I then wandered over to the Italian section, but I’d also spotted the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, so I ended up with that instead. The trouble with buffets is I just don’t know what to eat (or when to stop).

After lunch, we went back home. I did a bit of work and then went to Arabic.

After the gym on Tuesday, I got on with some work. That evening, I went to Bahri Bar for a friend’s birthday. It was ladies night so we got three free glasses of Prosecco. We also had some food – and because we had Entertainer vouchers, two of the dishes were free. I was home by 10.30pm and did a bit more work.

After my session with Pete on Wednesday, I worked until the late afternoon. I had a piano lesson and then went straight to Arabic. It took me 20 minutes to get to the Trade Centre from Said Tower 1, which is almost just across the road! Traffic is crazy at that time of day.

I went to yoga on Thursday morning. By the time I got home after running some errands it was time for lunch. I also came home to this box:

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And when I opened it and put the pieces together I had a terrarium for my desk.

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Apparently it needs minimal care (thank God) and it’s very cute.

I got back into my pajamas and worked for the rest of the day. I didn’t want to go out that night as I knew Friday would be busy and I didn’t want to be tired. Clearly, this is a sign of age.

My sister arrived with her friends early on Friday morning. She was staying at the Shangri-La for Easter weekend, but popped in for a while to say hi on Friday morning. After lunch I walked over to the Shangri-La to get my hair and nails done, and she and her friends joined me at the salon. I relaxed for the rest of the day (the three of them went to the Dubai Mall).

That evening I’d invited a few friends to celebrate my birthday at the Ikandy at the Shangri-La poolside. I got there a little before 8pm and was really pleased with the area they’d arranged.

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Two friends arrived at 8pm on the dot as they didn’t want me sitting there by myself. Isn’t that so sweet?? We chatted for a while and opened the vodka – and by 8.30pm a few more people had arrived. I’d asked the manager to serve the food between 9 and 11pm – and there was so much of it! I think everyone had a good time – I know I did. I’d asked friends not to bring presents, but some just couldn’t help themselves. By 2am I’d signed the tab and two friends and I decided to have a drink at the Balcony Bar before they walked me home with my presents.

I spent most of the next day relaxing. I opened my presents (mostly books, alcohol and wine glasses), had some lunch and got back into bed while my sister and her friends traipsed around Mirdif City Centre all day. I met them in the evening at Ikandy for a drink before heading to Zuma for a late dinner. It was a very chilled evening…

I love my life.

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Dubai 2016: Week 11

I had another busy week and a whole lot of work to do. I managed to fit in a few gym and yoga sessions too…

I met a friend for coffee on Sunday afternoon. We went to The Brass at the new Citywalk extension. We sat outdoors – but we didn’t find the chairs particularly comfortable and we also had to keep swatting the flies away! I guess the weather is starting to get warmer, which brings the flies.

I had a busy Monday – with a session with Pete, a piano lesson and Arabic in the evening. I often get no real work done on a Monday (just emails and other random bits and pieces) as I’m in and out of the flat all day. I’d wanted to go to Art Night at DIFC but by the time I was done with Arabic it was late and I was knackered.

I did make it to Art Dubai on Tuesday evening though. I’d been invited to the opening and took a friend (V) with me. We got there at around 8pm (it took us an hour to get to the Madinat because of an accident on Sheikh Zayed Road) and had a look around. It was pretty busy, considering it was the Patron’s Circle opening – and people were more interested in being seen than actually looking at any art. We decided to walk through the two halls and then get some food and drinks, before heading over to the main bar. I bumped into another friend and V and I joined him and his friends for some drinks. We left just before midnight, both of us having early starts on Wednesday.

I was tired on Wednesday, and very tempted to have a nap after my session with Pete! But I had work to do, so I didn’t. I also had to finish off my Arabic homework and go to class!

I thought I’d be able to get a lot of work done on Thursday. I went to yoga in the morning and had lunch with NP at Zuma. I hadn’t seen her in months so it was great to catch up. We both ordered the business lunch – you get a miso soup, two starters and a main course for AED 130. I ordered the beef skewers and prawn gyoza for starters and the seabass for my main course. She ordered the Zuma salad and the gyoza for her starters and had the black cod for her main course. We also ordered a portion of the tuna tataki from the a la carte menu for the table (which mostly I ate).

I got home after lunch, got into my pajamas and settled down to do some work. About 30 minutes later, the doorbell rang. Some friends of ours were in town and popped in to see us before leaving that evening. They stayed until 7pm – so I got no work done. I started working after dinner and didn’t finish until 3.30am.

I was tired on Friday but carried on working for some of the day. I met up with a friend for dinner. We went to Loca at Souk al Bahar. We got a table in the bar area and ordered some drinks while it was still happy hour. She had wine, I had margaritas. We also ordered a portion of the spinach and artichoke dip to share. I later realised that there was no artichoke in it at all, it was just spinach. We both had the jalapeno prawns for our main course.

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It’s definitely my favourite thing on their menu. When we left Souk al Bahar, we got into the cab and I suggested we go to Zuma for a drink. It wasn’t even 10pm yet, but Zuma was pretty empty when we got there. We only stayed for a drink and left. It took me almost 40 minutes to get home from Zuma – there was so much traffic at that time of night!

I took it easy on Saturday and then went for a walk on the beach. We went early and caught the sun setting.

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I was home by 7.15pm. Dad and I had dinner together and another week was over.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2015: Week 17

Another busy week!

I had a session with Trevor on Sunday morning and managed to get some work done that afternoon. My friend from London was still in town so we went to Iris for happy hour. It was lovely – not too hot, not too crowded. We had some red wine and then he was going out for dinner and I went home to have dinner with my parents.

I worked the next day and then met up with a friend for a drink at Zuma. We met early, so it wasn’t too crowded – and we managed to get a table in the bar area. I hadn’t been there in a while – but I really do like that bar.

On Tuesday I had lunch with a friend from my Arabic class. She was in my Beginners I class a couple of years ago – and it wasn’t until our last class that I realised she lives in the same building as me! We went to Yo! Sushi in the Dubai Mall. I’d walked past it hundreds of times but had never eaten there. The food was pretty good and (mostly) healthy.

That evening I had a massage at Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal. I can honestly say it was one of the worst massages I’ve ever had. The therapist’s hands were so rough and bony, it was like being massaged with gravel. I even had bruises on my upper arms the following day. I would still go back to Spa Zen (this was the only bad experience I’ve had there) and now I know who not to ask for.

On Wednesday evening, I had dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House at the Address Marina. A friend of mine’s father had won a voucher for dinner worth AED 1000, so my friend invited me to join her as her dad wasn’t going to use it. The food was great – we shared the calamari and a Caesar’s salad to start. I then had the 8 oz. petite filet (it was the smallest cut they had) with pepper sauce. We also ordered some mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and onion rings. It was far too much food – and we ended up returning the onion rings as they weren’t cooked properly. After all that, we still looked at the dessert menu but didn’t order anything. It was a nice evening and I’d go back – especially as I found out they do two-for-one on Tuesday nights. Buy one steak, get the second free! Bargain.

On Thursday, my friend from London came back to Dubai (he’d been in Abu Dhabi for work since Monday). He was staying at the Palace Hotel for his uncle’s 70th birthday weekend. That afternoon, I went to meet them by the pool and have a couple of drinks: his parents, his uncle, his cousins… it was nice. Eventually it was just the two of us so we ended up ordering a bottle of wine.

That night we’d been invited to our friends’ place in Emirates Hills. It was a small(ish) dinner – under 20 people, but it was a lot of fun. There was drinking, dancing, eating… even some swimming (just the guys). And I fell asleep on their sofa. We eventually got home at 6am. SIX! It was broad daylight when I went to bed and I hadn’t done that in the longest time.

I couldn’t get out of bed on Friday. At about 1.30 my mum asked me if I wanted lunch but I think I mumbled something incoherent and went back to sleep. I got out of bed at 4pm, got ready and went back to the Palace Hotel. I met my friend at the pool, ordered a Coke (my second one this year) and went for a swim. The water wasn’t warm, but it wasn’t freezing – it was just what I needed to wake me up properly. We ordered a bit of food and were joined by another friend who was in town for the 70th birthday celebrations. We sat by the pool long after the sun had gone down and then realised we had to rush to get to our respective dinners on time.

The ladies were meeting at Neo’s at the Address Downtown while the men had been invited to a Bahraini friend’s house for dinner (without alcohol – ha!). The guys did eventually join us at Neo’s at about 11.30pm and just before 1am, my friend from London and I left to go to Pacha where another friend of mine was celebrating his birthday. We didn’t get home until 4.30am.

On Saturday I went back to the Palace Hotel for lunch. We ate by the poolside – it started off as just the two of us, and then we were three, then five, then three, and so on. People came and left, bottles of wine came and left (empty).

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I went back home at about 6.30pm to get ready for the dinner that evening. The dinner was held in the Ballroom at the Palace Hotel. Being a Saturday night I thought it wouldn’t be a late night, but I was wrong. We danced until 2am and it was 2.40am by the time I got home. I got into bed and texted Trevor to say I wouldn’t be able to make my session on Sunday morning!

I love my life.

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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:

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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.

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‘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.

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Dubai 2015: Week 1

Let me try this again. I haven’t updated this much (or at all) over the last year but I should start doing it again!

So, the last week of 2014 and the first week of 2015 were mental. One of my friends was in town from London with three of his friends. I’d met one of them before, both in London and Barcelona, and the other two I’d met very briefly at their home in July. They were all staying at the Conrad and arrived early on Sunday evening. I met my friend at the Conrad before dinner while the others were still getting ready and we had a drink together at Cave, the wine bar on the mezzanine level. I love this place – I’d been there twice before and always enjoy going there. On Sunday evening, however, it was very empty. One by one, the others joined us and we headed to Okku where we had our dinner reservation at 10pm. The food was great – as usual. For starters we had the sashimi salad, yellowtail sashimi, spicy tuna on crispy rice, two kinds of rock shrimp – one with creamy wasabi sauce and the other with spicy sweet soya sauce. For our main course we ordered the black cod with miso, king crab legs and truffle fried rice. We also drank. A lot. We started with a bottle of cold sake, then switched to another (cheaper) one. At midnight we had two bottles of champagne as it was my friend’s birthday and then we switched to vodka after that. We left at about 1.30 – the place was packed though. We went back to the Conrad and ended up at Suga – their ‘private’ members club. It’s always empty. We had a drink at the bar and my friend insisted on dropping me home. We ended up at Zaatar w Zeit which is open 24 hours and ate a lot – again! I didn’t get home until 4am.

I woke up on Monday with a headache. No surprises there! After lunch I joined the others at Puro Beach at the Conrad poolside. It was quite overcast and looked like it might even rain. We had some red wine and some Arabic mezze and at about 6pm I headed back home to get ready for dinner.

I went back to the Conrad before dinner. My friend had two more friends who had arrived in town and I hadn’t met them before – they were staying at the Grand Hyatt. We had a drink in my friend’s hotel room and then seven of us left for dinner. Dinner was at someone’s home in Emirates Hills. I met quite a few people that I already knew which was nice. There was so much food – and the birthday cake (from Coco’s) was fantastic. We were there till about 1.30am as getting a cab in that area isn’t easy and none of us could connect to Uber!

We spent Tuesday afternoon on a yacht. We met at the Marina Yacht Club at noon and were taken to our yacht. My friend and his friends had brought loads of champagne and vodka with them so we were all set for the afternoon. It was a spacious yacht and there were only 10 of us so we had lots of room to relax. The staff on the yacht were very attentive and made sure our glasses were full at all times! There was also finger food and sandwiches, but nobody ate much. We left the Marina and sailed around the Palm. We had an incredible view of the skydivers landing – they come down a lot faster than I thought they would! We stopped in front of the Atlantis for a few minutes for those who wanted to take photos and stopped again in front of the Burj Al Arab. I really wish I’d taken my Canon camera with me! We carried on sailing towards the World Islands and stopped near a private island for a while – those who wanted to went for a swim. We were there for about an hour before we headed back. We got back to the Yacht Club at about 5.30pm and everyone went home. I was exhausted. I got into my pajamas and decided I was going to stay in that evening – regardless of what the others were doing. I was asleep before midnight.

Wednesday. New Year’s Eve. My plan was to be up early and get my hair done before there was a queue at the salon. That didn’t happen – I got there at noon and ended up waiting a long time. It was almost 3pm by the time I left there. I always take a book with me so I’m not wasting time while I’m there. At 6.30 I headed over to the Conrad. We had some champagne in the hotel room and then went to Media City where we were going to a New Year’s Eve ‘MasterJam’ concert. I have to admit I had been dreading it. I was dreading the traffic going there and back and would have rather stayed home with a bottle of vodka than venture that far away. We thought the first act came on at 9pm so we left the Conrad at 7.30 – that would hopefully give us enough time to get there. The traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road had started to build up and was moving slowly (but still moving) until we passed the Burj Khalifa. After that there was hardly any traffic and we were at the Media City Amphitheatre at 8pm. Just as well, because Gloria Gaynor was almost done with her set and finished with ‘I Will Survive’! We found our Platinum Pod area and settled in. Again, there were 10 of us in quite a large space. Unlimited champagne was included in our package and we certainly made the most of it!

After Gloria Gaynor finished, Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge came on. I’d forgotten what great songs they’d had (‘Lost in Music’, ‘He’s the Greatest Dancer’, ‘Frankie’ and of course ‘We Are Family’) and everyone was singing along and dancing. Thirty-five years later, Kathy Sledge still has an amazing voice!

After Kathy Sledge finished her set, Chaka Khan came on. I’d been looking forward to her the most but she was disappointing. She seemed to have forgotten the words to some of her songs (my favourite ones!) so I wasn’t all that thrilled by her. She also sang her two most famous songs first (‘I Feel For You’ and ‘Ain’t Nobody’) and that didn’t make much sense to me.

After that came Nile Rodgers. I’m embarrassed to say I’d never heard of him, but he was in the band CHIC in the 1970s. I had no idea how many hits he’d written/produced – the album Diana by Diana Ross (Upside Down, I’m Coming Out), the album Let’s Dance by David Bowie, ‘The Reflex’ by Duran Duran, Like a Virgin by Madonna, and so many others – Thompson Twins, Mick Jagger, Steve Winwood; he even co-wrote Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’. The man is a genius and he was on stage for a long time as he performed a lot of the songs he’d written and produced.

And then it was midnight!

As you can see, we really made the most of that champagne! After midnight, the Jacksons came on stage.

I think they were having some sound issues. I don’t remember much after that. Oops. We ended up at a party in Emirates Hills until about 4.30am and then three of us went to Zaatar w Zeit (again). I eventually got home at 5.45am.

My parents and I had lunch at home the next day – I’d hardly seen them over the last few days between hectic social schedules! After lunch I went to Puro Beach at the Conrad to sit by the pool with my friends. Our evening plans were up in the air for a while but eventually got sorted thanks to the concierge at the hotel. I went to a friend’s place in the Meadows for early evening drinks and left at about 8.30 to meet my friends from out of town at Sass Cafe. We had a lovely table outside and decided we’d share some starters and a couple of main courses. We started with lentil salad, fried calamari, baked goats cheese, sea bass carpaccio and a couple of other things. We were quite full after that and decided to share just two main courses between five of us: the lamb chops and a whole sea bream. We also ordered a side of mashed potatoes with truffles, some green beans and a portion of French fries. The ‘whole’ sea bream was the size of a sardine and the lamb chops were mostly fat – very disappointing. There were about ten French fries in the portion so that disappeared in about 5 seconds. We ordered another portion of the truffle mash and French fries and asked for the bill. We’d complained about the fish and the lamb and the manager came over to speak to us. He eventually took both main courses off the bill!

Until this point our evening had been quite relaxed. We’d been sitting outside, the music wasn’t too loud, we were all very chilled. I’d booked a table at Pacha for after dinner and we thought we’d go for one drink and then head back home. We got to Pacha at about 11.30 and were shown to our table on the rooftop. What a fun place! Of course we ended up staying until almost closing time – and this time we all ended up at Zaatar w Zeit until 4am!

By Friday, I was shattered. We’d been out almost every day and night and I was actually relieved that Friday night was a dry night! This meant that nowhere would be serving alcohol after 6pm. Our original plan for Friday was to go to Blue Marlin but as it was a dry night they weren’t open at all. We ended up at Iris for brunch. We didn’t get there until 3pm and opted for the brunch option with house wine (instead of the champagne option). We also had Bloody Marys which went down well. There was a salad and sushi bar inside the restaurant, and out on the terrace they had the barbecue – truffle burgers, sausages, steaks. They also had a pasta station where they were making pasta and truffle risotto. You could eat and drink as much as you wanted to. A couple of my friends who live in Dubai ended up joining us as well. We were there until 6pm and then left.

I went home for a couple of hours and then met my friends at Zuma for dinner. It was busier than I thought it would be and we could only get a table upstairs in the lounge area. The food was as good as ever: crispy squid, yellowtail sashimi, rock shrimp, spinach ohitashi, tuna tataki (my absolute favourite), black cod, spicy beef and of course the green tea and banana cake for dessert. It was odd being at dinner and not drinking, but that evening was definitely all about the food – and there was so much of it! It was an early night as my friends had flights in the morning – I was home by 11pm and in bed by 11.15!

I spent all of Saturday at home in my pajamas. It was bliss.

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.

2014-02-26 21.45.43

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.

2014-02-28 16.23.33

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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Dubai 2013: Week 36

What a busy week! I had my usual work and gym sessions but it was also a very social week…

After my session with Randy on Sunday morning I went to the airport to meet a friend from London who was on his way to Riyadh. He’d been in Abu Dhabi for work and his flight to Riyadh was leaving from Dubai. We went to the food court in Terminal 1 and ended up having ice cream rather than coffee. I had a scoop of the Pralines ‘n Cream flavour. I don’t eat ice cream very often and I never know what flavour to have! We spent about an hour together and then he had to go check in for his flight.

By this time it was 2pm and I was getting hungry. I’d been meaning to go to the Dubai Mall to take some photos of the Moon Reflections sculpture so I decided to do that and have some lunch there too. I’d been thinking about the pasta with creamy salmon at Vapiano for a few days so I took my photos and then headed down to the Lower Ground Floor to the restaurant. Being Sunday it was fairly empty – I ordered my food and a Diet Coke and thoroughly enjoyed it when it arrived! I was home by 3.30pm and spent the rest of the day at home.

As I didn’t have yoga on Monday, my cousin and I decided to go to Tim Horton’s for a coffee. She’d been in London for a friend’s wedding and we hadn’t caught up properly. We spent about an hour there and I went home for lunch and to finish off some work. At about 5pm I noticed that it had suddenly gone very dark – I looked out the window and all I could see was… nothing. It was like being in a big white cloud – I felt like Mary Poppins.

Sandstorm!

Sandstorm!

The sandstorm came out of nowhere. Visibility was very limited for about 10-15 minutes but gradually started to improve. As it cleared up I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw people still swimming in the Shangri-La pool. Sandstorms are disgusting – if you happen to find yourself outdoors and in the middle of one you will end up with sand in your hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, nostrils, ears, teeth, throat – it gets everywhere!

That evening I went to Galleries Night in Alserkal Avenue with a friend. It was the first event of the new art season – it’s a sign that summer is definitely over and things are starting to happen again! All the galleries were open and serving refreshments. I was surprised to see some of them serving wine and champagne as I didn’t think they’d have a license there.

We started at Salsali Private Museum which was exhibiting photos by Christian Voigt. I loved them. All of them.

Nocturnes

Nocturnes

Dark Burj

Dark Burj

There was also a fabulous photo of Downtown Dubai (which I never tire of looking at) and one of the Pharaoh’s tomb in Egypt.

At another gallery (I can’t remember which one) we met a young local Emirati photographer who had three photos exhibited – I liked all three photos which depicted life, death and burial with a woman’s hands and jewellery. I also liked some work by Jung Lee at the Green Art Gallery.

JL1

JL2

We walked around a few more galleries but nothing was as good as the Christian Voigt exhibition (for me).

While walking around Galleries Night I realised I’d forgotten how dressed up people get for events like this. It clearly is the place to see and be seen! Heels, make-up, little black dresses (actually little dresses in all colours) – it all seemed a bit much to me. But I suppose this is Dubai. Note to self: don’t wear jeans to events like this ever again.

After I left Alserkal Avenue I met NP for dinner at MJ’s Steakhouse at Al Qasr. I hadn’t been there before but I had Entertainer vouchers so we thought we’d try it. We each had a glass of red wine and we both had the same steak (200 g organic tenderloin) and shared three sides: garden salad, onion rings and the mac and cheese. While we were waiting for our food, our waiter brought over an amuse bouche – unfortunately neither of us could figure out what it was even though we asked him to repeat it three times. We were then told we could choose our own steak knife.

I chose the sixth knife from the left

I chose the sixth knife from the left

The food was really good – I’d definitely go back. For dessert, we decided to share the blueberry cheesecake. With my Entertainer voucher we got one main course free, so we each paid AED250 (we saved AED110 each) – not bad!

On Tuesday afternoon I had my first piano lesson since July. I also hadn’t done any practising since my last piano lesson! At about 2.30 Kaleem (our driver) called me to say that the car wouldn’t start. WTF? I walked over to the car park and another driver had jump start cables attached to our car and was trying to get it started. I had no idea what to do, who to call; I don’t even drive! I called my dad who told me to get in touch with AAA who provide roadside assistance. They said they’d have someone with us in about an hour. We managed to get the car started, Kaleem dropped me off at my lesson and I told him to go back home and wait for them to call.

My lesson was good – it was good to be back at the piano. I must practise more! We went over a couple of things I’d been learning (When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars and Primavera). When I finished I called Kaleem to see if help had arrived. He said they hadn’t called him yet and he came to pick me up. He’d obviously left the engine on the entire hour I was at my lesson because once he switched it off it wouldn’t start again! They called while we were on our way home and had a look at the car. They replaced the battery and everything was fine after that.

That evening I met up with a friend from Lagos who was in town for the night. We went to Loca. We went after dinner so I had a couple of margaritas. One of the guys with us was a stand-up comedian. He was so interesting – and as he was speaking I vaguely remembered reading about him in the paper a few months ago. His father is South Korean and his mother is Vietnamese – he was born and raised in the Middle East and speaks fluent Arabic – in fact, his shows are mostly in Arabic. I asked him what languages he spoke at home with his parents and sisters – they speak Arabic at home, to his mother he speaks Vietnamese, to his father he speaks English, and when the siblings don’t want their parents to know what they’re talking about they speak French which they learned in school. Fascinating! He had us all laughing – it was a great evening.

I was home all of Wednesday until the evening. I went to see a movie called The Hunt (Danish with subtitles) which was being screened at Knowledge Village by The Scene Club. It was absolutely packed and they had to turn away people who had reserved tickets (you sign up online and then collect your tickets at the door – it’s all free). The movie was brilliant but a little disturbing. It’s set in a close-knit community in Denmark. The main character is a teacher who has lost his job and is helping out at the local nursery where he gets falsely accused of exposing himself to his best friend’s daughter. He gets shunned by the community but the ostracism turns to violence when his dog is killed and he gets beaten up while trying to buy food at his local grocery. Eventually everything gets resolved but it just shows you how a person’s life can change overnight. Why would a child lie about something like that? The main character was played by Mads Mikkelsen (Le Chiffre in Casino Royale) and he won the Best Actor Award at Cannes in 2012. It’s definitely worth watching.

On Thursday night a friend and I went to Zuma for drinks. Yes, I go there a lot! We were having a good time – we bumped into the guy from Bahrain we’d met a few weeks before and were chatting with him and some friends until they left. We had just about finished our bottle of wine when the bartender gave us two more glasses telling us they were from the guy standing next to my friend. He was probably in his late 50s, but wouldn’t he have thought that if we were interested in speaking to him, we would have started a conversation? So now we had to talk to him. He was Swiss, born in Ethiopia (he was half Ethiopian but didn’t look it), and spoke German, French, Italian and Ethiopian. His English was terrible. My friend asked him about Haile Selassie and what he thought of him. The Swiss guy then said that he was a descendant of Haile Selassie. I really didn’t want to talk to him so said very little. When the next two glasses of wine came for us (again without him asking us whether we wanted them), we decided it was time for us to leave. When I tried to settle our tab, the Swiss guy told us he would take care of it, and the bartender annoyingly let him and gave my card back to me. So we actually didn’t pay for any drinks at Zuma that night. Did I have a business card for him? Hell, no.

It was only 10pm at this point and my friend and I decided we’d go elsewhere for a drink. We walked into McGettigan’s and decided it was a bit like being in Essex (now that summer is over, everyone is back in town). We ended up back at DIFC at Caramel – much better! We had a couple of drinks there and then decided it was time to go home. We were both hungry by this time and decided to stop at Burger Fuel on Sheikh Zayed Road. We both ordered the Hot Rod (beef, sliced jalapeno peppers, melted Cheddar, salad) and fries. It was the best damn burger I’ve had in a long time!

I spent all of Friday at home in my pajamas.

I had a lot of work come in this week so spent most of Saturday at home working too. A friend and I had booked massages at Spa Zen at the Radisson Royal – I had two vouchers for AED100, one of which was expiring soon and wanted to use up. The massage was great, as always. It was almost 6:30 when we finished so we decided we’d go up to Icho, the bar on the 51st floor. Being a Saturday evening it wasn’t very crowded so we sat at a table near the bar. The waitress told us that it was happy hour until 8pm and they were offering 50% off some of their wines. Excellent! I asked her what time happy hour began – she said they had happy hour every day from noon till 8pm! That’s good to know! We had two glasses of wine and then our friendly waitress convinced us to split one glass between us (I think she just wanted to finish off the bottle) – but when she poured the wine, the ‘half’ glasses were as full as the two previous ones! Our bill came and we paid just AED70 each. I was home by 9pm, had some dinner and did some more work before getting into bed.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 35

I had my usual gym sessions and work all week but managed to squeeze in some fun too!

On Sunday night a friend and I went to Okku for drinks. Neither of us had been in ages. I tend not to go out on Sunday evenings as I usually have yoga the following morning, but this week I didn’t have a class so decided to make the most of it. Even though Sunday is the first day of the week here in Dubai, Sunday night is a big night at several bars and restaurants. In fact, Sunday night is the busiest night for Okku.

We met in the lobby of the H Hotel at 9.45 – it wasn’t too crowded at that time so we managed to find a spot at the bar easily. I decided I was going to stick to vodka soda all evening – my friend started with a Diablo Martini, then she had a dirty vodka martini, and then she joined me with the vodka soda! The bartender also gave us some free shots – which was nice of him! I bumped into three people I knew (which never happens to me in Dubai – because I know all of 10 people here) – including the friend I met for drinks at La Serre the week before. It turned out that the friend I was with knew him too – it’s such a small world. And I think that world is even smaller in Dubai. We decided to leave at about 12:30 and I was home soon after.

What I’ve noticed in Dubai is that people who live here speak at least two languages: English (usually) and something else. My friend met one of her friends at the bar and I asked him how many languages he spoke: English, Arabic, French, Creole (he lived in Haiti for 12 years), Spanish and German. Bloody hell!

On Wednesday night I went to La Serre for dinner with a couple of friends. My friends were already at the bar when I got there and it was nice that the bartender remembered me from the week before. We decided to go to our table but it took us an hour to order our food as we were busy catching up and couldn’t decide what to eat! The menu is almost identical to the one at La Petite Maison. We were told that they didn’t have any burrata (WTF?). One of my friends had eaten at La Petite Maison for lunch that day and he said they didn’t have any either. We came to the conclusion that there must be just one supplier of burrata in Dubai and now that another restaurant was ordering it, each restaurant was getting less than they needed. Eventually a starter dish was brought to our table by mistake – the grilled aubergine with feta and prawns. We pointed out the mistake to the waitress who brought it but were told it was ‘from the chef’ – it was actually pretty good and not something we were considering ordering. We eventually ordered the tartare de boeuf (beef tartare with truffle egg – excellent) and calamars frits enrobés de plaintain (fried calamari coated in plantain – as expected). For our main course we ordered the bar Chilean grille et haricots de Soisson (grilled Chilean seabass with Soisson white beans – bland and disappointing) and the cote de veau grillée (grilled veal chop – yummy). We skipped dessert but had three bottles of rosé between us over the course of the evening. The wine was called Whispering Angel – and I think we chose it because we all loved the name (I don’t think the sommelier was too impressed with us). I really wanted to go out after dinner but my friends weren’t having any of it (although I could tell they were tempted) – it was almost 1.30 when we left the restaurant…

I spent most of Thursday in my pajamas, working. That evening I met up with a friend at Zuma for what was supposed to be early drinks. We got there before 8pm and the bar was already packed. She decided 11pm would be our cut-off point – she had an early start and I didn’t mind as I wanted to go to the gym in the morning. Well, clearly that didn’t happen. A couple of guys started talking to us at the bar – one was English, the other Irish – and we really weren’t interested. The English guy was already trashed – they’d been drinking since 1pm – and he was slurring and going up to random women and annoying the hell out of them. Eventually, he came back to us and told us that he’d been asked to leave and was escorted out by two bouncers. Why was he asked to leave? Aside from being extremely drunk, he went up to a group of women and asked them if they were hookers. Admittedly, sometimes it’s hard to tell in Dubai (I’ve heard of guys playing a game called ‘Pro or No?’) but I imagine these women weren’t too thrilled!

While chatting to the Irish guy, it turned out that he regularly visits Lagos for work. And then it transpired that he knew my entire family – one of my dad’s brothers, my cousins, my mum’s uncles and cousins. It was very weird. He seemed to know more people in my community than I do. My friend decided to leave before 11pm – I think she’d had too much wine. I was happy to stay on with the Irish guy for another drink – that is, until he started hitting on me. And when I told him I was flattered but he really wasn’t my type, he got a bit nasty. So I told him to stop behaving like an asshole and to leave me alone. And he did. Two guys (one English, the other Australian) standing behind us had overheard our conversation and asked if I was OK. I was fine. Irritated, but fine. I ended up hanging out with these two guys for a while and then went home. What a night!

Oh, I also met the DJ properly for the first time. We follow each other on Twitter and send tweets to each other every now and then. When he started playing ‘Never Too Much’ I tweeted him to say I loved Luther Vandross. ‘You’re here! Come and say hi!’ What a nice guy – good DJ too.

I spent all of Friday in my pajamas. Heaven.

My parents left for India on Saturday morning. I went to the gym, pottered around at home and then went to my writing group. I hadn’t been in months. I thought about sitting at home and not doing anything but thought I’d try and be productive. The writing group usually meets at The Pavilion Downtown but that has been closed for renovations since the beginning of Ramadan. Recently the group has been meeting at Book Munch Cafe in Al Wasl Square, near Safa Park. It’s a small cafe/bookshop and it’s so cute:

Book Munch Cafe

Book Munch Cafe

I was the first person to arrive – and they had no other customers. They had a good selection of books too (dangerous for me!). The menu looked interesting (everything from all-day breakfast to burgers and chips) but I didn’t really fancy anything so I just had a decaf cappuccino. A little while after we started, another group of five people came into the cafe and sat down. The food that they ordered looked pretty good and I was starting to get hungry. Just as we were finishing up, the waiter brought over a slice of carrot cake, a slice of chocolate cake and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake. We thought there had been some mistake and that it was for the next table, but it turned out that the next table were the owners and that they recognised one of the people on our table (he’s a principal at one of the schools in Dubai) and sent us some complimentary dessert. The carrot cake was good (but better at Baker & Spice, I thought), the chocolate cake was too rich for me, and I didn’t try the pumpkin cheesecake.

As for the writing itself, I really should have stayed home. I couldn’t focus on anything; none of the topics we talked about really interested me and I didn’t write anything worth mentioning. During the first exercise I switched off in the first two minutes and started writing about something that was on my mind rather than concentrating on the topic we were given. I was very aware that I wasn’t present the whole time I was there and just wanted to go home. We finished at about 8.30 and I headed home, had some dinner, got into my pajamas and got into bed.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 33

Mum and I had an early lunch at Automatic in Jumeirah Beach Centre on Sunday. We ordered hummus, kibbeh, fatoush, shish taouk, and Mum had a lamb shawarma sandwich. There was some fatoush, kibbeh and shish taouk left over so I took it home for dinner.

That afternoon I went to the Emirates Grand Spa for a waxing appointment as my regular lady is away. I decided to go there because there was a half-price voucher in the Entertainer Body book! On my way in, it wasn’t as crowded as it was the week before but still looked shabby. I was taken to a dimly-lit room which also had no air conditioning. Not impressed at all. Luckily I was done in an hour and was out of there. Leaving the Spa was something else – I waited 10 minutes for the lift to come up to the 45th floor. It stopped about six times on the way down and by the time we got to the lobby there was no space to move and I had three kids stepping all over my feet. I’d have been really cross if I’d just had a pedicure! I could not wait to get out of there. I had second thoughts about going for a massage later in the week.

On Tuesday morning, the Emirates Grand Spa called to confirm my appointment for that afternoon. I had a voucher for a body scrub and full body massage. Both treatments together should have taken 90 minutes. What happened was this:

  • I got there 5 minutes before my appointment (which should have been at 4.30pm)
  • I waited in the waiting area for 20 minutes (during which time a receptionist asked me whether I’d enjoyed my treatment)
  • I had my lavender body scrub – it lasted about 10 minutes – and then while I showered the therapist disappeared for about 15 minutes
  • I had my massage – which finished at 5.45pm

There was no way that was a 90-minute treatment or even a 1-hour massage, unless they count the 20 minutes in the waiting area as part of the treatment. I didn’t complain because there would have been no point. While the masseuse is great, I’ve decided I won’t be going back there. The rest of the experience is a real let-down – everything from the elevator system to the crowded lobby to the annoying receptionists. I’d rather go back to the Radisson Royal which is a bit more civilised!

That night Mum and I went out for an early dinner. We went to Puranmal on Jumeirah Beach Road – an Indian vegetarian restaurant. Apart from one other table, the place was empty. I had a beetroot, carrot and ginger juice. Then I had one idli, half a dosa, and some paneer tikka. I ate far too much!

After my session with Randy, I spent all of Wednesday at home, working.

On Thursday I met up with a friend and some of her girlfriends for dinner at the Jazz Pizza Express at the Movenpick Hotel in JLT. It was the first time I’d been to JLT. Pizza Express was pretty standard as far as Pizza Expresses go – I had an American Hot leggera pizza (the thin crust with salad in the middle). I hadn’t had a good pizza in ages. We also had some rose wine – it was a fun dinner, and good to meet some new people.

After dinner my friend and I got a cab to the Murooj Rotana – it was the opening of The White Room, a Beirut club/lounge. I’d called ahead on Tuesday to find out how we could get on the guest list – the guy I spoke to said there was no guest list, and we could just show up at 11pm and we’d have no trouble getting in. I should have known better – I should have called back on Thursday and double-checked. We got there shortly after 11, and it was heaving at the door. We were told guest list entrance was on one side and tables on the other. But then 5 minutes later, everyone was told the opposite. I spoke to the woman at the door – I told her it was just the two of us and that the guy I’d spoken to said we wouldn’t have any problems. She said it was guest list and tables only that night. WTF. Standing outside The White Room for half an hour reminded me of standing outside Cafe de Paris in Leicester Square in the 90s – but instead of freezing your ass off the February cold, we were sweltering in the August heat. People were pushing and shoving – even people with tables were having trouble getting in. At about 11.45 I told my friend that I was too old for this shit and that I would rather go somewhere where they’d be happy for me to spend my money.

We headed to my favourite Dubai bar – Zuma. We got there and their main lift was out of order. We had to walk through the hot car park to another lift which opens next to Gaucho, just across from Zuma. We both looked like we’d been in a Bikram yoga class (or at least half of one) and were in dire need of a drink. We found some space at the bar and ordered a couple of passion fruit and chilli martinis. Fantastic. We ended up chatting to a Lebanese lawyer who said he was supposed to meet some friends at The White Room and asked if we wanted to join him – my friend and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. We told him what we’d been through and he decided he’d rather stay at Zuma – funnily enough a couple of his friends who had been to White Room (and had actually gotten in) came to Zuma because ‘it was shit’ (their words). We had a few more drinks and a couple of shots – I think we managed to salvage the night!

I got home shortly after 2am. Dad had arrived that night from Jamaica so I sat with my parents for a little while before they went to bed. I was up until about 5am though – watching ‘Homeland’ (stupid, I know).

I had lunch with my cousin, her parents and her kids on Friday. They’d all been away over the summer so it was nice to catch up with them. We went to Sumo Sushi at Town Centre – I quite like that place. Their avocado maguro is yummy (and fairly healthy, I’d imagine) and we had a selection of sushi too.

I didn’t do much the rest of the weekend – did some work, went to the gym, sat by the pool on Saturday. It was lovely.

I love my life.

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Dubai 2013: Week 31

I had Arabic every morning from Sunday to Tuesday and then I was done with my Beginners II course! We covered:

  • More vocabulary
  • A very confusing root tree which explains the relationship between nouns and verbs
  • An oral presentation to the rest of the class about where you’re from, what you do in Dubai, where you live, when you’re travelling, and so on
  • A written assessment – in Arabic and English – and a listening comprehension

The Beginners III class starts in September but as I’m planning to be away for most of October I have to wait until November to start again. I’m quite disappointed about that – and I’m also worried I’ll have forgotten everything I’ve learned so far.

After my class I had a session with Randy. I was home for the rest of the day.

After my Arabic class on Tuesday I had lunch with a friend at Noodle House at DIFC. I’d never been there before but would go back just for the sea bass.

2013-08-06 12.28.14

After lunch, we went to Pinkberry for some frozen yoghurt. It was my first time having Pinkberry!

On Tuesday evening I went to see a French/Arabic movie called Le Sac de Farine. It was organised by The Scene Club and was shown at Knowledge Village Conference Centre. It was free – and included free water and popcorn! The director was also there and did a Q&A session afterwards. They show a movie every month and I’ll definitely go to more events like this – I didn’t even know this existed.

On Wednesday night my mum, sister and I went to Lafayette Gourmet for dinner. We all wanted something different so this was perfect. I had a hot and sour soup to start with followed by some sushi; my mum had a lamb shawarma sandwich; my sister had kebabs and a mushroom pasta.

It was Eid on Thursday (hurrah!) and it was a holiday. That night I met a friend for some drinks at Zuma. We got there early enough to get one of the tall tables in the bar area. By 9pm, the place was packed. The music was back on and it was loud! A guy asked us whether he could perch at our table – of course we said yes. We started chatting – he was from Bahrain so I started practising my Arabic with him. He laughed at my accent. I expected that though! He told me he’d been learning Spanish – so we started conversing in Spanish. I love languages! We left at about 10.30pm as my friend had an early flight the next day. I dropped her home and then went to the Marriott Marquis to meet another friend and some of his family who were in town. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let us go up to The Vault as one of the guys was wearing slippers, so we ended up at the bar at the Indian restaurant, Rang Mahal. I’ve noticed that all the restaurants in the hotel are absolutely huge, and they’re mostly empty. After a couple of glasses of wine, we decided to go to Calabar at The Address Downtown for our last round of drinks.

I had a headache on Friday but also had a friend in town who was in Dubai for the weekend. She lives in San Francisco but had been visiting her parents in India and decided she was going to come over for the weekend and take me out as a belated birthday present! We hadn’t met in almost 3 years so we had lots to catch up on. We had lunch at La Petite Maison. We got there at 1.30 and we were there until 6pm. We had the burrata (of course), the lentil salad, the pisaladiere (without the anchovies) and the goat cheese salad. And a glass of champagne. We talked and talked, and decided we’d rather skip the main course and go straight for dessert. We had one warm chocolate mousse and a cheesecake, and coffee. The food and service were both excellent.

That night we had dinner at Karma Kafe with some other friends. The food was good, but it was really warm in the restaurant – they were having some trouble with their air-conditioning and I think that has been going on for some time now. After dinner we went to Sake No Hana for a drink and then went home.

On Saturday we went to Kaleidoscope at The Atlantis for lunch. It was like a zoo – there were people everywhere. The first time I went to The Atlantis was in 2009 and I remember being so impressed with their aquarium. Now, having seen the one at the Dubai Mall, this aquarium seemed tiny in comparison.

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Lunch was fabulous. It was a buffet – and they served all kinds of cuisine. I have to say the sushi didn’t look very appealing and I stuck to the Lebanese/Arabic food for most of it. They also had Indian, Mexican, Chinese and Italian food. The dessert section was impressive:

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I tried the carrot cake and the red velvet cake. The portions are a perfect size – two bites and you’re done.

We walked around a little bit more, looking around the hotel.

The blue room I fell in love with...

The blue room I fell in love with…

The main lobby

The main lobby

By this time it was almost 5pm and we decided to head home. That night some friends invited us over to their place for dinner. I went to pick up my friends from their flat in Burj Residences. It used to take me about 10 minutes but on this occasion it took me over 40 minutes. Previously you would have to make a U-turn on the boulevard but since they’ve installed the new traffic lights you can make a left straight into the road where the Burj Residences are. It took forever. The lights changed so quickly I was stuck in that traffic for almost 30 minutes. I know now to go the other way round! It was 10pm by the time we got to our friends’ place for dinner. It was a chilled evening and we were there until 1am – late for a Saturday night (in Dubai).

I love my life.

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