Thursday, 11 December 2014

Kitchen Renovation in Dubai - Part 1 - Where to Start?

So... I will be doing an "x" part series on our kitchen renovation in our flat in Dubai.The process has been so complex and long winded that I hope my posts will help other expats here who have no clue about any word in this post's title. The "x" is also deliberate as I do not want to commit to a certain number of posts, I prefer to pour my heart out with recommendations for your benefit.

Let us first start with the very basic of questions, do you know what you want?

A lot of us are first time home owners and we might or might not have a defined sense of style. What I find is when I see other people's houses, I generally like a lot of different options but when it comes to my own, I am fairly choosy. I am choosy and unaware of my own sense of style - double whammy.

To hone into this, I went on an extensive web trawling path going through Pinterest and Houzz. As you see more photos, you will start narrowing the options of what you would like to have in your own house.Pin some photos, make a mood board and then narrow these options further. In the end, we found the exact combination of scandinavian + industrial design that was easy to then follow.

Note of caution though: I assume you are fairly interested in interior decor to go through this hassle and this web trawling will suck you in without a warning! Every time you see a beautiful photo on Pinterest, you will be led to a blog post and then another and another - be prepared to devote that time at this stage.

Follow Dubai Doodles on Pinterest

Monday, 24 November 2014

Weight Loss Part 3

Hello Readers,

There has been a long gap since I wrote last and that is because of a combination of factors -

  • A constant barrage of visitors which is very common for us in Dubai
  • Demotivation due to reaching a flat plateau in my weight loss journey - not helped by pressure put by the lovely doctors in Dubai
  • An impending kitchen renovation which is in a constant work in progress state but should end very soon. I will do a separate post on it as I found a big gap in information available online

Bon, I got back to fitness with a vengeance 3 weeks ago and have found two new amazing cost free ways of exercising! Mainly influenced by the lovely Vivianna (I love her blog and youtube channel, makes me want to move back to London absolutely now!)

The first is to just put on my trainers and go for a nice long 'run'. I say 'run' since I am so bad at this that it is more like a walk than a run but I do mix it up with jogging and stretch myself to achieve more every time. I am so new to it that I am still figuring out the best way to train my breath while running. I am looking for a good playlist and armbands etc. I will report back on how I fare in a few weeks.

The second is home fitness and again I am heavily influenced by some bloggers/websites such as BlogilatesFashercise, and Yoga with Adriene. This basically involves mixing up some Cardio HIIT/ Pilates/Yoga exercises. These websites either have a calendar that you can follow or a selection of videos organised by focus area or time. They inspire in general towards a clean, fit lifestyle and I love the way I feel. Also they leave no excuses for not working out or not having enough time.

The way I fit these in my schedule is by waking up an hour earlier than usual and getting about 30-45 minutes in the morning. I follow this up with a short meditation and bam, I am ready for the day!!

Let me know if you guys have more recommendations for fitness inspiration/morning fitness ideas or any other feedback :)

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Weight Loss Part 2

Welcome to Weight Loss update, Week 2.

Last week was both easy and hard in different ways. It was easier from the work angle as most people were still on holiday, it was easier to stick to my own schedule and plan fitness around it. Getting into a routine of everyday fitness was much harder though.

This was followed by a cheat weekend when Friday I needed a break after a heavy week and Saturday just flew by visiting Ikea and the likes. Hopefully, all the walking, standing, even thinking must have contributed to some calorie burn ;)

This week has been hard and hard as my schedule at work had become more hectic and commitment is harder to keep in the second week. Nevertheless I am keeping up.

A short roundup of my fitness exercise/classes last week:

1. Sunday - Cardio and Leg exercises in the building gym

2. Monday - RPM class at Corefit, Dubai Marina (Read the review here)

3. Tuesday - Cardio and Abs exercise in the building gym

4. Wednesday - Zumba at Corefit, Club Mina (Read the review here)

5. Thursday- Cardio Aqua Biking at L'atelier Aqua Fitness (Read the review here)

6. Friday- Rest day

7. Saturday- Cheat day

One of the reasons I am blogging about my journey is so that I document my honest struggles and triumphs which I hope will help many of you out there with the same constraints and a busy lifestyle like me.
Also point 7 above is not something that I am proud to write online at the moment and will strive hard to change following week.

Until then: Stay Determined, Stay Fit!!

Core Fit Group Classes (Review)

If you are a committed professional who likes to give your best to your work (which inevitably leads to spending long hours at office) AND are also lucky enough to have a life outside work in terms of a significant half, close friends and family that you love to spend time with, then you must genuinely face problems with committing to a fitness schedule.

1. Either the timings of the classes won't suit.. (Side note- whats up with all the best fitness classes being scheduled between 9 am and 5 pm in most Dubai gyms?! I would love to meet these Dubai people who are here on a visa and still manage to make it to these classes, mind if you share your secret?! ;)

2. You do may not want to pay the hefty membership fees and get tied into one gym for what seems like eternity in the Dubai timespan.

*drumroll* ENTER - Core Fit. Conveniently located in Dubai Marina and recently having expanded to Le Meridien Mina Seyahi (Barasti for those of you who don't know), it is the perfect solution to your problem.

They have a user-friendly website: for further details about classes, timetables etc.

Without any commitment, you can attend classes for just AED 75 (recently bumped up from AED 50 earlier). I have tried a few of their Yoga, Scuplt, Cycle and Zumba classes at both the venues and really enjoyed them.

My only grouse is the possibility of more morning Cardio workout options, otherwise it is perfect!

If you have tried it already, then let me know your feedback below!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Weight Loss Part 1

Confession: I have really struggled with weight issues since we moved to Dubai in Dec 2012. Last few months have definitely been the heaviest months in my short life. I think moving cities, settling into a new job meant placing myself at the end of the priority list. I anyway gain weight very easily and even though I eat home-cooked meals most of the time, it has still been a struggle to keep it under control.

Part of the struggle has been the disposal of leftovers. Being from India, I am used to having the option of giving clean leftovers to the needy who are always very grateful to receive this help. Since moving out to the UK and then Dubai, this gap is one thing I have had to get used to. I have found a few solutions to this problem though that I will write about soon.

In the process, I have been slowly upping my fitness game.
  • 18 months ago, I started with a 20 min run on the Cross trainer at the gym about four times a week. I struggled to concentrate and had to watch a film on my iPad to keep myself entertained. The maximum speed I could push myself to was only about 8km/hour
  • This routine was frequently interrupted by my travels and visiting guests - leading to eating and staying out till late in the night and having no time or energy for even this soft workout the next day
  • Early 2014, I discovered aqua-biking which is an expensive but a very enjoyable sport that I have written about here. I have been slowly settling into a more comfortable pace of life since then and have tried to keep on top of my fitness. But my limited tries and a long month of holiday in July have led to just that- limited results 
  • I have made big improvements though and can do much more than the first point above now!
From 1st Aug onwards, I have set myself a challenge of 2 months to stick to a weekly plan of gym workouts combined with group classes. I am recording my meals and exercise on Noom health coach app (Pro version), which keeps me focused. I am looking forward to them suggesting a group for me soon, which would give me more motivation. Having a dedicated workout buddy and a supportive husband also helps a lot.

There are really no short-cuts to this and I am determined to make the hard-transition to a healthier, happier ME. My chosen method of keeping fit is attending group classes and I will be doing a separate post on that next.

I will be documenting my journey here and look forward to your feedback :)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


We eat a lot of Indian food at home so when we go out, Indian food is usually not our first option. Hopefully, most of you know that Indian home food is fairly different from the butter laiden, cream heavy restaurant food. So, occasionally we are happy to go to a nice Indian restaurant with visiting relatives, non-Indian friends etc.

Ushna was one such accidental find that we really enjoyed.

We ordered a Paalak chaat, Hara bhara kebabs, Daal Makhani, a Paneer Curry and naan the first time. The second time round we went during Ramadan for birthday celebrations and the set menu was a treat at AED 80 per person.

It is located in Jumeirah Madinat, at the top of the steps as you exit from the Souq towards the restaurants by the water.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Hair Repair Dubai

I am always on the look out for good Hair treatments and even though Dubai has a salon in every building, there are only a few that I am willing to trust. I am always hopeful though that somewhere round the corner, there will be a genuine treatment that is a secret to the Dubai online world. I might have stumbled upon a well kept secret with Hair Repair Salon on Al Wasl Road.

I chose to go for the standard one-time Hair Repair treatment worth AED 350. Honestly, I was very skeptical about the heavy price tag but decided to treat myself.

To begin with, the technicians gave me a nice hair wash and meanwhile showed me the ingredients that go into their home-made hair treatment. It was great to see a plate full of healthy, truly natural ingredients.

They applied the hair mask and then shifted me under a hair-steamer for about 20 mins. The next step was probably the most enjoyable when one lady massaged my scalp with the ingredients while another massaged my feet. I have to say both the massages were extremely relaxing and therapeutic.

In the end, they asked if I wanted to get my hair washed there at the salon or preferred to keep the treatment on and wash it at home. I was feeling extremely conscious of going home with a shower cap packed around my head but bit the bullet to get the most out of my hair investment ;)

I think I made the right decision! I washed it at home after leaving it on for about 2.5 hours and the end result was probably one of the best hair days for my dry, frizzy hair.

I will definitely be going back, make sure you give them a try too. If you pay for four sessions upfront, you will also receive two sessions for free!


P.S: I realised that sometimes it just helps to pretend to not care about what people think in your building lobby and strut out confidently in a shower cap :D

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Doll-house Salon

I am quite a massive follower of Beauty blogs - a lot of them I have carried on following from when I was in the UK. I do base a lot of my beauty buys on these recommendations too. Huda Beauty was one of the first blogs that I started following in Dubai and was very captivated especially by the home remedies that she tried and posted about.

Through other channels like Instagram and Facebook etc, it didn't take me long to figure out that her sister owns a salon in Jumeirah called the Doll House. I assumed it would be one of the usual fancy-pants places which would be way beyond my budget until a friend proposed to check it out together.

I was surprised to find the rates to be fairly reasonable and the service top notch. I got a haircut and a pedicure first. Since then, I have been there for different treatments including waxing and thoroughly enjoyed my experience.

To top it, they have an amazing view stretching out to the beach from the nail area and waxing rooms! It is based in the Dubai Ladies Club, just after the Beach Park (paid beach) in Jumeirah.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Soul Senses

Since we moved to Dubai, life has been quite hectic, making us crave for a good massage every few weeks. We started by surverying the many salons nearly in every building around us. The massage rates were very high though, almost comparable to the UK! We were told we live in an expensive area of Dubai, so we went on a search..

Soul senses is one the unmissable hoardings that you see on Bank Street in Bur Dubai. The service is straight and to the point but the masseuses are usually from Bhutan and very skilled in my experience.

The usual Aromatherapy, Thai, Swedish and Deep Tissue massages are in the range of AED 120-160 and do the job very well.

A definite recommendation for everyone looking for a good massage at a bargain price :)

Monday, 19 May 2014

Best Cookies in the World!

I swear I haven't been paid (in cash or cookies) to say this sadly, but the cookies at Ben's Cookies are the BEST that you will have anywhere in the world. You will agree with me as soon as you try it, especially if you are lucky enough to find them hot from the oven at the counter.

Ben's cookies counter, opposite PF Chang, B1 Level, Dubai Mall
 I know this brand from Covent Garden in London and saw its slow and steady expansion to other locations in London and then to other cities. The first other city I saw it in was Bath and I remember exclaiming with pure glee to see the all-too-familiar Red board and smell the delectable cookies.

It would have definitely been one big food brand I would have missed when I moved to Dubai but alas! I had to look no further than Dubai Mall!

No caption required except SLURPPPPP :p

Monday, 5 May 2014

Eggless Crepes

A first but hopefully recurrent topic on this blog would be about healthy vegetarian cooking. The other day, my husband and I were thinking of all kinds of soft food ideas which were interesting yet low on effort and while looking online, I found this incredibly easy recipe for making Eggless Crepes:

Prep Time: 7 mins

1/2 cup plain flour (maida)

1/2 cup cornflour

1/2 cup milk

a pinch of salt

1 tbsp melted butter for greasing and cooking


1. Whisk all the ingredients together until the correct consistency is achieved

2. Heat a non-stick pan, ladle out the above mix and cook with butter

Voila! Yes thats it.. We tried this with Spinach, Corn and Cheese first and with Hershey's Chocolate and Cinnamon buttons later and were left licking our fingers both times!

A great option for easy yet exciting dinner!

How it started

Pardon the Corelle plates and clearly visible IKEA spoon, I wasn't expecting the crepes to turn out blog-worthy!

Final Result

Monday, 21 April 2014

Rossa Mexicano

This may not be one of the restaurants that are most talked about at Dubai Mall, but just from a desire to try something different we stepped into Rossa Mexicano (opposite PF Changs, B1 level) a few days ago.
The bright interiors of the restaurant
The decor seemed a little too bright and maybe even tacky for our tastes but the food and the service more than made up for it.

So much so that we went to its other branch at Mirdiff City Centre just two days later. 
Wall water fall, replica of the larger version in Dubai Mall
Fresh Guacamole made in front of us.. perfect 'appetizer' to get your mouth salivating 

Perfect starter

Almost finished 2 minutes later ;)

Main course of Chimichanga and Fajita (with sweet potato filling)

Will have to get my Avocado fix after writing this post NOW :)

Monday, 7 April 2014

Dubai World Cup (Review)

WARNING: Picture Heavy post.

Dubai Horse Racing World Cup finale in my opinion is the big daddy of all glamorous events in Dubai. It puts Dubai in the league of big horse racing venues (that I am not fully aware of.. )

Before the day, I wasn't quite sure of what to expect so couldn't offer a run up to the event but I decided to at least present my experience after the event for you to know for next year. In short, it is a full day event from roughly 2 pm to way after midnight. The event included 9 races, a Jennifer Lopez concert and a whole lot of festivities and glamour.

The general view at the Apron Views sections

The main stands by nightfall - we suspect Sheikh Maktoum was seated in the top part

Wild and wonderful head pieces on the ladies
And the men

You have to give it to them for creativity - this hat one the Best Hat competition!

Viewing stands lit up for the night

Closing Ceremony presentation on the screens

To give an idea of the scale of the event

Panorama Picture during the closing ceremony fireworks


And more (Blue) fireworks

Presentation and fireworks :)

X shaped fireworks

Last one on fireworks :)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Dubai World Cup: Races at Meydan

Apologies for the long gap in posting, it was that time of the year when visitors and bugs in the air find their way into our house and we are only just beginning to recover from the onslaught, just kidding.. our doors are wide open for our lovely friends and family :)

A quick one today to mention the upcoming Finale event at Meydan for the ongoing Horse Racing World Cup on the 28th of March 2014. The event looks very promising with performances from the likes of Jennifer Lopez. Tickets are in various categories: AED 50, 350, 1000 etc. Available at:

I haven't been to this event in particular in the past but did get a chance to visit the race course recently while my parents were here. We went in the lower sections where entry is free. The crowd was not the uber stylish, dressed up kind but they all knew their horses!

View from The Grandstand (Left)
When we entered the arena, we were provided with cards to tick on and place our bets through. it is a bizarre system of not paying entry but still having the chance to win a large amount depending on how many guesses you get right.

All in all, a great way to spend a day being out in the open, enjoying good weather, good company and exciting live sport!

View from The Grandstand (Right)

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Fitness and Fun

I think we all identify with the common 'urban legend' associated with moving to Dubai and gaining weight faster than ever before until you have the time to breathe and notice. The reasons are many -
  • Sedentary lifestyle - 
A: "See you soon at Carrefour around the corner in 10 mins?”
B: “Around the corner? But how will I get there.. lets just meet at the one in Barsha, it will take me the same time to take a taxi and I will not have to walk!”
  • Eating out, a lot of us have the kitchen as the least used space in our houses
  • Work pressure, business travel, long work hours, living away from family, amazing choices make up for the rest
Let us try and not use any of the above as excuses for being unfit in Dubai though. While it has amazing food, Dubai also has great ways to keep fit. One of them is L’Atelier Aqua Fitness
The concept is similar to a Spin class but in water, making it harder to work your muscles against the resistance of water while also making it more fun.

To add to this, it is set in a convenient and posh location on Al Wasl road and offers state-of-the-art facilities indoors.

It does seem expensive for starters but the results are meant to be worth it. I have been going since two weeks so haven't been able to test it fully but have certainly enjoyed my experience. The only glitch I can think of is that it is only open to women. They do plan to open separate sessions for men soon though.

It was also very inspiring to meet the French owner,Karima. Way to go! :)

Slick Fitness Area

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Vegan Low Fat Cooking In Dubai

Vegan cooking is taken to be restrictive enough and to add to that you want to go low fat? Also in Dubai- the mecca of temptation? Impossible some would say but I am happy to say that is not true.

In my search for healthy groceries in Dubai and being lost with some non-organic ingredients being sold at so to say "organic" shops, I recently came across this source and found it extremely helpful:

Apart from this, there are a lot of other recipe blogs that I have started to look at like:

I was so excited to share this information that I didn't want to wait until I do more research this time. I will be reporting back though with a more exhaustive post on healthy vegetarian eating in Dubai.

Until then, I am sure this will keep you busy :)

Friday, 7 February 2014

Mussandam Day Trip

Looking for a weekend getaway from Dubai?

Have guests coming over with a day to spare?

Want to take a break from the city in a short time, on a time budget and avoid stressful travelling?

The answer to all these questions may be easier and closer than you imagine in Mussandam.

Endless beauty

The boats in the clear water against the stark background

More juxtaposition for perspective

We travelled to Mussandam in January after I tried researching about the journey, the place, things to do on the internet. I was extremely disappointed by the lack of information available on the internet and hope that this guide will be useful to all those groping in the dark like me.

Mussandam is a peninsula in the Strait of Hormuz and a part of Oman territory, separated from the rest of the country by UAE. It is a straightforward 2-3 hour drive down the Emirates Road from Dubai.

Although there is a lot to do in that area in terms of off-roading, we do not have a 4 x 4 yet so that was out of the question. Instead, we planned to go on a day-long boat cruise in the Mussandam fjords. People may tell you that the trip is not possible within one day but trust me, it absolutely is.

Before the trip:
  1. Check the road maps and know the directions. If possible, try and find Mussandam on the GPS in advance to avoid last minute frustration on the day of the trip
  2. Book a Dhow cruise with, for AED 200 per person. They are quite flexible if you are travelling in a small group of 2-3 persons but will require advance booking for larger groups. If you choose to take their pick-up and dropping services (from convenient landmarks in Dubai), the cost will be AED 500. The boat cruise lasts from 9 am till 4 am.
  3. If you plan to combine the day long boat cruise with more adventures over the next day, it may be a good idea to book a room at which is the probably the most famous (while being affordable affordable) hotel in the area.
For the trip you will need:
  1. Passport with a residence visa
  2. Oman visa will cost around AED 50 per person
  3. Oman insurance for your car
  4. Swim-wear is recommended but not necessary
  5. Sun glasses, sun-screen
  6. Packed lunch, snacks and lots of drinks
  7. Camera
  8. Rucksack/bag with a lock preferably
On the day of the trip:
  • Since we made our trip on a busy weekend, we were asked by the Tour company to leave Dubai around 5 am to keep enough time for the visa formalities and reach the Khasab docks in time for the cruise.
  • We left Dubai and reached the UAE border control where we had to get a stamp on our passports. We had to then take our car and drive through the border on to the Omani side to do the same and pay for the visa. It would be safe to allow 30-45 mins for this process if you leave early morning.
  • Once in Oman, it was quite straightforward apart from a Police check point expecting us to stop without any signs. Lesson: stop when you see any policemen in Oman
  • A beautiful scenic route between the sea and the mountains will soon greet you into Oman, get used to the breathtaking colours and contrasts for the rest of the day.

Road view
More view from the road
  • On entering Khasab though, things get a little more confusing. There are no signs for where the cruise starts from, where the port is etc. We were mis-led by the locals so asking is not an option either. 
  • If joining the dhow cruise, you will cross a police-station like official building at the beginning of Khasab which is actually the entry to the docks, turn in and go towards the parking, you will find your dhow boats parked there.
During the trip:
  • The boats are not exactly luxurious but practical and functional. They are similar to the dhows in Dubai except they have comfortable seating on the floor along the boat. The washroom facilities are shared, small and limited but not abhorrent.
  • We took seats in the centre of the boat expecting possible turbulence in the water leading to spending the day in the tiny toilet bent over the seat but surprise surprise, none of that happened. You can take seats as you prefer. People suffering sea-sickness or motion-sickness should come prepared with relevant medication but should not worry about it too much.
Seating along the boat
  • There will be a local tour-guide with the group on the cruise who will tell you about the fjords and the villages around. We had a lovely guide who was very nice to talk to.
Telegraph Island with history dating back to the colonial period
One of the villages on the banks of the fjord, cut off from any roads and still living the traditional fishermen lifestyle 
  • There will be tea/coffee, fruits and lunch provided on the boat but being vegetarians and not very adventurous when it comes to food from unknown sources, , we were happy to stick to our packed lunches.

  • During the cruise, the first attraction will be the dolphins. The boat captain will be experienced in knowing where to spot them. There are very high chances that you will see them during the day and if you are lucky then you may be in a group of 2-3 boats which may race with the dolphins. You will be told that dolphins get attracted to whistles and claps and it will be quite comical to hear whistles and clapping all around you to call the dolphins to the surface. Seeing the dolphins in their natural habitat was one of the most beautiful experiences we have had.
The photi does not do justice to the feeling :)
  • There will also be two spots in the journey when the guide will inform you about swimming in the fjords and take a 45-60 min break. I am not very confident about swimming in open water and feel especially uncomfortable swimming amongst fish. Though the water was crystal clear down to the soil-bed and there were a lot of fish in sight, I took the plunge with a life jacket and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of just lying there on my back with the beautiful clear water, the rustic mountains and the clear sunny sky. Highly Recommended!
Crystal clear water

I have packed this post with as much information as I know about Mussandam so that you are not stuck without a comprehensive guide as I was. I hope it was helpful, please leave me a comment to let me know J