Sunday, 31 December 2006

Happy New Year.

Believe. Believe. Believe.

The Great beyond.

I stand on the precipice
Palms all sweaty
Buffeted by the winds of change
Staring into the abyss
Swirling below me
Wondering if I am ready
To step into the unknown
Look behind me
How did I get here?
Did I leave a mark ?
Or just a trail?

I turn again
To face the darkness
Can I make out a light?
Or is it just an illusion?
What is in store for me
In that foggy greyness?
I wonder yet again.
Will I be a better Father? Husband?
Son? Brother? Friend? Uncle?
Will I plant seeds
That will feed generations to come?
Will I deliver
On my promise? All my promises?

There is only one way to find out
There is only one way
I shake my arms
To relax myself
And to stop myself
From shaking
Stand on my toes
Take some deep breaths
Say a quick prayer
And take a giant step
A giant leap of faith

Into 2007.

Wish me well.

Random musings as the year ebbs out!

Oh no he didn't .

Last night I was on the computer jeje jeje reading up on the Saddam fiasco when I was summoned upstairs by Iyawo and FD (first daughter). They were watching a film called Doom, starring the Rock and one Naija guy like this ( I forget his name). Anyways they had come across a particular scene that they just had to share with me. Now in this film the Niaja guy was naturally the loud mouth, flash one (surprise?) and in this scene the Rock was standing on the stairs calling them to action. One by one they all filed past him up the stairs. As all of them were going they were showing their faces however when it came to my homie they focused on his feet on which he had? You guessed it -White loafers!! Not as funky as mine but ever so cool. But this is not why my beloveds had called me. Oh no. It was to show me the Rock's reaction as the guy went past him. He looked at the shoes and rolled his eyes. See even the Rock is jealous. I now rest my case on this topic for 2006.

Social gladfly.

I have spent the last couple of days being a social gladfly. I have been mixing with the creme de la creme of Naija society at the engagement (on Thursday) and wedding (yesterday) of Kemi - daughter of Chief Shonekan- ex Head of State of Nigeria. It was a very posh affair. The engagement was held at the Chelsea town hall and the wedding at St. Paul's with a reception at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mayfair. We arrived fashionably late for the engagement - 8pm. It started at 2pm. I admit this was taking African time to an extreme but childcare problems etc. Anyways there was a band in full swing when we arrived. The lovely couple did the dances and were sprayed quite naturally in dollars (they are American based). You can take the Naijas out of Naija but....

On to the wedding at St Paul's. What a fantastic edifice (the church, not the wedding - which is a sacred union between two people till death do them part. Which for some people is not soon enough. Not me oh. Iyawo will be reading this later and I don't want any New year palaver. For me, death will be too soon and I can only pray that she follows me into eternity. On the other hand if she truly loves me she can always go ahead and pave the way. Darling over to you.). Lived in London all this time and never been there. Very nice ceremony. Funniest bit was watching all the posing and vogueing going on. All sorts of techno camera and phones on display. We Naijas sef. You just know that there were phones ringing all throughout the ceremony. You would think that after the first "accidental" ring that everyone else would turn off their mobiles but oh no.

Another thing happened which really warms my heart. There was a chap there with his family. Wife, daughter and two sons. Now I am not au fait with the Catholic way of things but during one of the prayers a few people stood up. You should have seen the way one of the boys was looking at his dad when he stood up for this prayer. It is hard to describe but very much akin to seeing his father in a whole new light. Like maybe they never go to church together and this was the first time he had seen his dad in a religious setting. The mixture of surprise, embarrassment, shock, respect, pride on his face. Priceless. Funny how we always see our parents as one dimensional whereas we of course are fully rounded (as if).

At the wedding reception which was packed I overheard the following - bear in mind that a lot of the guests had jetted in from the US which is where the couple are based. "So how many more cousins do we have that I don't know about?" This from a babe that had just been introduced to another one of her extended family. I had to laugh.

I also met one of my "heroes" - Major General Yakubu Gowon. He was the Chairman. There with his beautiful wife (is not the true measure of a man the fact that he has a loving wife to support him through thick and thin whom he equally supports, of course. Darling) Gave a very short and entertaining speech. The Mc introduced him thus, "he came to power through a military coup and was removed from power via a military coup". Personally, not sure if that is the most appropriate introduction at a wedding?
All in all though a great evening. So sha, just keep an eye out for me in Ovation magazine. I am not the one in the white shoes. I left them at home. Out of consideration. For the bride. I would only have distracted people from her radiant beauty.

Out of the mouths of babes.

My four year old daughter has a routine when she goes to the loo. She must have the door fully shut and likes to be left in peace. The problem being that the minute she finishes her business she creates all sorts of havoc with loo rolls , magazines etc. So my routine is to always give her a lecture before she locks herself in. "Don't touch anything. Call me when you finish" etc. So two days ago she goes through her routine, I go through mine and then I realise she has been silent for a while (never a good sign) so I decide to go and check up on her. This is what I find. She is covered in hand washing liquid, she has emptied out a packet of baby wipes. The walls and floor are covered with soap and she is actually washing the tiolet seat with what is left of the toilet roll (most of which is in the loo (another £90 for a plumber)) when I walk in the door. " I thought I told you not to touch anything" I shout. " But dad I am not doing anything" she says, hands upheld and eyes wide in fake innocence. And then she smacks me for daring to suggest otherwise. Kids heh? If only you could leave them on the curb (but apparently you can't as patiently explained to me by the cops that brought her back home the last time). Just kidding.

Saddam Execution.

So do two wrongs make a right? Yes Saddam was an evil bastard but I still do not get how the West have any moral judgements left to determine right and wrong. And then to execute him on an Islamic Holy day? By hanging? how barbaric is that? As a Muslim it is a slap in the face (another one). I am sure there are those who will come back to say it was the Iraqis that executed Saddam and that they are Muslims so what is the problem? The problem is that the people that carried out the execution might bear Iraqi names and call themselves Iraqis but the puppet\pay master is back in DC or on the ranch in Texas.

The whole Iraq war thing has been discussed ad infinitum but I just want to say that it seems to me that if you start off an a shaky foundation, the structure that you try to build on it will never be solid and safe no matter the materials you use. Does anyone really believe that Iraq will be a showpiece of democracy in 10 years time? Look at Afghanistan? Even the American selected \elected President there is complaining about being abandoned now that the US attention is focused elsewhere on the "axis of evil". Actually is that axis not DC, London and Texas?

And so on to 2007. A great year. I can feel it. A year of momentous changes. A year of growth. A year of milestones.

I wish you all a happy new Year. Here's to 2007!

Thursday, 28 December 2006

ABC News 419 report - My vent

I watched this for the first time today and I am not sure why Nigerians are upset about it. It describes Lagos as a filthy, crime ridden s$%^hole - which it is and at the end it also describes the people that fall for the scams as guilty as the scammers themselves - which they are. All in all I thought it was a very well balanced piece. What's the problem? If we are not prepared to face the reality we need to wake up all smell the spilled fuel from the punctured pipelines. If we do not like what is being said about Lagos, Nigeria, Nigerians why don't we do something about it? International exposure, scrutiny and ridicule are a great way to ensure that we do not get too complacent and comfortable wallowing in the filth -physical, commercial, spirtitual etc that surrounds us.

I read a very interesting article whilst I was in Nigeria recently about corruption and how Nigerians generally tend to deal with it. The basic premise is that a family member either through hard work or connections gets a high ranking job. Immediately there is a party in his honour, relatives come out of the woodwork galore, his sub ordinates look on with admiration as he sweeps up every Naira in sight, he donates millions to his church\mosque-no questions asked? after all miracles can happen) within months he is buying a larger house, numerous cars and various girlfriends, taking expensive vacations abroad. He has "landed" and is looked on with envy. That my friends is the problem. It is only when we start asking this person serious questions and shunning them socially that the behaviour and mentality will change.

The chap from the EFCC that was interviewed on the ABC programme was one of the most interesting Nigerians I have ever met. I was at a presentation he did last year and his zeal and commitment was second to none. He was particularly concerned about the image of Nigerian abroad due to these internet scammers so not surprising that EFCC is now raiding these cafes. More grease to their elbows. Whilst it is okay for us to criticise the EFCC as OBJs personal grudge settlers, can anyone tell me when in the history of Nigeria has there been more fear and paranoia amongst our so called rulers. Taking Tafa down alone makes them super heroes in my book. I only pray that within the next year we see more of these clowns - - exposed for what they are.

Until we rid ourselves of these cancers we cannot expect to live in a healthy society or be healthy ourselves.

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

A thought occurred to me today.

Often we go through our lives
And complain about our lot
The hand that we’ve been dealt
The roads we have to plough
Sacrifices we have to make
Burden we have to bear.

And then we raise our heads
Only to find that all around us
Are others who look upon our
So called miserable existence
With a certain sense of envy
Cursing their luck and circumstances
Whilst admiring ours.

I ask Almighty God
To forgive me
My ingratitude
My selfishness
My faithlessness
My fears
My doubts
Despite all that he has done
And continues to do
For me.

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Donald Duke

I feel down
Let down
My arms hang limply
By my side
I ache inside
All over
I try to find things
To block the pain
Not go insane
Think to myself
No! not again
History repeating itself.

My trust was used
Flung in my face
It was my fault
I too, believed
Promises, visions, motives
I should have known
Been more astute
More aware
More reserved
All that glitters
But Aries blood
It’s all or nothing
In or out
Out or in.

So now the deed is done
I cannot even tell you
How I feel
To your face
You shut the door
You barred the gate
You built a fence
You walked away
Or did you run?
Oh never mind
What’s done is done
We’ll meet again
But remember this
You had my trust
My hopes and dreams
You sold them off
To the lowest bidder
For this my friend
Your day will come
Your day will come
Your day will come.

And until then
Because I still believe
I still believe
Oh I do believe
In this great land
In these great people
I will reach inside
And fan my embers
Into flames
Ignore your games
Be whole again
Be strong once more
Ready for the next battle
It’s coming soon
I can feel it
I can feel it
I can feel it
It’s coming soon
And this time

That is my promise

This is my vow.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

For better for worse. No be so?

My people oh see me. Please be careful oh when choosing your significant other. You think you know them. You spend some time together. They seem perfectly normal and rational. No police record(abeg check it oh). No twitching, foaming at mouth or projecting of vomit. So you decide to take the plunge. See that is the first hint. Plunge. Means going down at a very speedy rate. Does not bode well does it? Ah, the big wedding day. You spend money you never even begin to earn. Your children's children will still be paying it off but of course all your close "relatives" and "friends" enjoy themselves yanfu, yanfu whilst giving you bucket with your name and picture on it as wedding gift. What's wrong with Benjamin Franklins picture you wonder? Or the Queen's picture for that matter? She looks especially good on the front of the £50 note. No be so?

Anyway years down the line your dearly beloved is going on holiday to NY and you innocently ask her to help you buy some shoes. Black business shoes. No problem. Slippers. Ditto. White leather, loafers, Giorgio Brutini with gold buckle. You know like they wear on Miami Vice (after all if you look like Ricardo Tubbs why not dress like him? Logical isn't it?). So this is where the palaver starts oh. White shoes? Why do you want white shoes? Where are you planning to wear them? Who is going to be with you when you are wearing them? Aha kilode? Nonsense and ingredient. I explain, patiently, that since I am now spending a lot of time in Naija I intend to wear it there where I will of course be the epitome of coolness in my pink Fubu short sleeves and white straight leg jeans.

I mean can you not see me down at the Eko Hotel getting admiring glances from the working girls. Don't jealous me oh. I'm just you know, down with it.

Anyway sha, she reluctantly arrived back with the white shoes. She then handed them over like they were radioactive or something, wrinkling her nose and what not. I could tell her opinion of me had changed. She was looking at me differently (like hm I better keep my eyes on this one. Next thing now he will be asking to try my pants and bra........ Again). She then called all the children to come and witness the event. Those one are now looking at me like I am Michael Jackson inviting them for a sleepover. They are thinking hmm I wonder if Social Services will put us in a good foster home when they put this yeye man away. I have suspicions sef say Iyawo has phoned our lawyer to ask if this one never pass "for worse".

Men, you should have seen me trying on those shoes. The soft leather, the whiteness, the gold buckle. Heaven oh. I could not wait to hit Naija to display.

Phase 2 - My sister has come to visit me at the hotel. As I am unpacking she notices my white shoes which I carefully unwrapped from their suede protective bag. "White shoes? Why do you want white shoes? Where are you planning to wear them? Who is going to be with you when you are wearing them?" Et tu sista? You know a prophet never gets the props he deserves in his own home but this is too much now. These people are trying to break me. Cast doubt in my mind. But I am a fighter. Me, I am going out in these shoes whether you people want to come or not. By next week I am sure I will be in City People magazine. London Big Boy arrives in white shoes. Believe.

Phase 3- Fast forward to Abuja. I am going out to dinner with two friends. I have already picked one up and then we go and pick up our female dinner partner. She is just finishing dressing so we wait in the sitting room. When she finishes we all head off and I cannot contain myself any longer. Aha. Is the woman blind. Can she not see how I am glowing from head to foot? Why no comment? So I asked her. Aha, what do you think of my shoes now? Can you believe what she says. "Oh I thought I noticed someone wearing white shoes but I thought to myself it could not possibly be. So I did not focus on it". Imagine.

Phase 4.- Back in London. One week now. Iyawo has not asked me any questions about my shoes oh. She has made small talk about business in Naija, parents, friends, schools for the kids, politics and other irrelevant subjects like that. I know she is purposely avoiding asking about the shoes for fear that I tell her that I wore them to her parents place and they are therefore returning the dowry ( and the bucket with our pictures on it) in the hope that we will return their daughter whilst she is still young enough to attract a real man.
I never tell her that the first hint of sun we get in this country my shoes are coming out and we are all going for a walk on the High street. And this time we are going to walk on the same side of the street. I will even hold her hand sef. For better for worse indeed.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

My little brother

Obviously I cannot reveal my true identity but I am sure many of you are curious (with good reason). So I decided instead to post a picture of my younger brother. Please excuse the pose - a bit cheesy I agree. He also seems to be having problems with that rather small towel.

Anyway, I keep telling him that if only he cut down on the chocolates, doughnuts, fast food and actually got himself down to the gym seven days a week like me then one day he would be in as good a shape as me. He is actually starting to listen but is still a way off from catching up with me.

Anyway, you can see his picture here.

I will post details of my bank account later for those that want to make an advance payment on dowry.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

An appeal for help.

Bloggers. Please read this story. If anybody knows where Janet is staying in London or has any way of getting in touch with her then please let me know. She is a long lost old friend.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Conqeuring my fears.

By now I hope that you know that I am God fearing, Muslim , Yoruba boy. Like all such boys I was brought up by my parents to be fearful of many things. Herewith a short sample of a considerably long list :

  • God - Obviously. Because without fear of him I could end up in politics

  • Pool,pond, sea - because I would drown

  • Cars - because invariably there would be a crash and they would get the dreaded phone call

  • Girls- because they would lure me into a life of sin even worse than being a politician

  • Dogs - because they would invariably take a fancy to my soft supple skin, bite me, I would get rabies and invariably die a slow horrible death

  • Horses - because once long ago someone's uncle's, sister's , mother's brother had been kicked and subsequently died

  • Motorbikes - same as cars but with even more guarantee of the dreaded phone call

  • Cats- because for no reason they would gouge my eyes out leaving me permanently blinded for life

  • Smoking - Cigarettes would give me lung cancer. One whiff of the stronger stuff would turn me mad. The give away being the burning red eyes.

  • America - because there was no better place to be exposed to all the above dangers so it was inevitable that I would end up dead there.
Needless to say I grew up with a few rational and some might say irrational fears. However, things have been changing. I have become a man. I have started to overcome my fears. The catalyst for this turnaround - Iyawo. Let me explain.

Iyawo is half Nigerian, half English. The Nigerian bit is Ibo and Christian. This combination apparently affords her protection from and insulates her against all the things that are meant to drive me to an early grave. She is fearless and as you know man has to be a man especially when his woman is more man than he. If you get my meaning.

I remember in the early days of our courting how I would gaze longingly at her as she whirled above my head in some funfair contraption or other. I can tell you that is not a good look for a man. Standing on the pavement and shouting up to his woman to be careful. Oh I saw the looks, the finger pointing and the muttering but I took it all in my stride. But slowly it started to get to me. After all am I fish or fowl?

So it was that we found ourselves in Dubai for some business do about 8 years ago. This is when I decided to take the bull by the horns. Not a real bull obviously because it would only gore me to death leading to an excuse for all our Yoruba relatives to come around and utter the dreaded words - "ki lon wanbe? Ta lo ron she? Ati so fun won pe ayo lon payon. Ehn. Bull. Oti o. (What the hell was he doing messing with a bull. Did we not tell his parents that it is this reckless joy that kills. See now. Who sent him message to the bull. I beg pass me some more small chops and the non alcoholic champagne so I can drown my sorrow".

Now on this trip the company was sparing no expense- actually they were, but that is why they just call it extras when it is itemised on your bill. We had access to the works. Massage, camel rides, 4X4 racing, swimming, diving etc. Obviously taking part in any of these activities would result in my demise but I felt it was now or never. After all if I failed and died in Dubai the people back home would only get sketchy details thereby preserving some of my macho visage. It was time to be a man so when Iyawo teased me about my lack of spine I decided to show her the caliber of man she had married. I decided to go jet skiing.

To put it in context. Jet skiing is a great sport. In my humble opinion the Best way to take part in it is to watch it on TV or worst case from the shore. Being strapped to a jet ski and set adrift in the ocean was well, suicidal. And so it was that after a brief introduction along the lines of "this is a jet ski, this is a life vest, this is the emergency cutout button" " I will be right over there on the shore if you need me" that I found myself conquering one of my greatest fears. I mean I don't even take baths for fear of passing out and drowning (as you do). I mean I take showers but make sure that the water pressure is not so great that I would lose my footing, cracking my head on the taps and you know dying. Again.

The thing is once you are strapped in it is hardly manly to then say "oh sorry mate. Big mistake. I just realised that I am a yellow bellied, lily livered coward". Especially with half naked women on the beach already admiring your manliness and all. No there was no turning back. It had to be done. So off I went but it soon became apparent that the jet ski functioned better when actually submerged in water. I therefore forced myself further out to sea. I must have gone a good ten or twenty feet out. (Don't judge me oh. Come try yourself and see). The feeling was exhilarating. I was on top of the world. I had finally conquered my fear of the sea. My fear of water. Nothing could hold me back. Except, it would seem, the rope that was used to keep the jet ski from floating away. Realising my error, the jet ski man (or bastard as I came to call him) calmly undid the rope allowing both the jet ski and I to travel much farther afield. He did reinforce the fact that he realised I was a novice and would therefore be keeping a close eye on me. Which was a comfort of sorts. I would have preferred both eyes but beggars.....

People, for a good fifteen minutes I threw caution to the wind and skied up and down the coastline. At one point I was so far out I thought I could see the Rock of Gibraltar but it turned out to be the hotel next to ours. But so what. I had finally conquered my fear. I was free. Half naked women shot me admiring glances as I made my way back to shore. Iyawo shot me warning glances as I made my way back to shore. One wave to them and you die.

Never one to let sleeping dogs lie (they will only get fleas which will work their way into my bloodstream and poison me) I decided to share another one of my phobias with Iyawo. See i have this great fear of being smothered between Pamela Anderson's breasts, whilst Beyonce is pinning me down and Mariah Carey is in the background in a bikini begging me to rub baby oil into her back. Iyawo, remain strangely silent on ways to conquer this one. She somehow thinks I need help. As if.

Friday, 15 December 2006

From little acorns....

Just when you start to wonder what the hell is going on in this country something comes along to revive your spirits. Last week whilst i was in NY with my sister I was gisting her about the fact that once I get back to Naija I have to do something to raise the awareness of autism in the country as I believe there are a lot of children that are probably being misdiagnosed and are therefore not getting any proper help at all.

I can also imagine that there are many frustrated (and tired) parents as well as one of the sub plots of autism is a very bad sleeping pattern. Some autistic children wake every hour on the hour and not just when they are babies either. We know of one lady with an eight year old son who will only eat white foods, that is the food has to be white and it must be served on a white plate, and to top it off he wakes up about 8 times a night. Imagine the stress of coping with that? (Count your blessings.)

Anyway as I was telling my sister this she mentioned that she had recently heard that one of her friend's sister had opened an autism school in Ikeja. Autism school? In Lagos. Not possible. I finally went over there today and I was gobsmacked. This lady has really created something great. The house is huge, with reasonable grounds (even a garden with grass!) and she has really laid out the rooms to cater for all their needs. Currently she has a music room, computer room, massage room, play room, several classrooms and so much more. In the garden is a trampoline and a series of raised walkways to help with their coordination ( a lack of being another one of the side effects).

I spent an hour chatting with her about what led her to this and it turns out her son is autistic and she just decided to grab the bull by the horns. She has studied, attended various seminars, workshops conferences etc and then put together a business plan which GT Bank has gladly financed. As a matter of fact the bank gave her three times the amount she was asking for in order to ensure that it was done properly and I can tell you the place certainly looks the business.

She currently has three pupils and three teachers so the kids are getting real one on one however she is expecting more students next year. She is planning to be in the UK next week and I will ask her permission to be more open about her and her school. Finally we discussed the setting up of the Nigerian Autistic Society in January of next year. Progress. Progress. Progress.

It is truly amazing what one person with the right will and spirit can accomplish. There is plenty of room for others like her. I wish her all the best and I hope to bring you more later.

My brain hurts (but not as much as ...)

This was a draft so a bit out of date as I am now ensconced safely back in VI.

I have grabbed an hour of internet time in the lovely Sheraton Abuja (yes I am being facetious) at the small price of N3k in order to do mails and a quick blog. I need to unload some of the stuff from the past 24 hours otherwise they might need to call a doctor and the men in the white vans for me (or leave me wandering the streets pushing a cart, foaming at the mouth, or worse elect me for the Senate). So this morning I woke up after a restless night. My A/c had not worked all night and I was too tired and afraid to phone for maintenance as this would have led to another saga. The first saga being me having the audacity to order room service at 9pm. When the food eventually arrived at 10.20 (no it was not haute cuisine- rice, plantain and fish) I was so boiling over with hunger and anger that I wolved it down only to realise later that it was the most tasteless junk I had shovelled down my gob since the pizza I had in NY last week. How can you make rice and stew tasteless? Make it for the Oyinbo palette. never mind your country man oh.

Anyway, I am an Aries and am one of those annoying people who no matter what mood I go to bed I wake up with a spring in my step and a song on my tongue (much to the annoyance of you know who as she claims she can never actually recognise the song. As if. If not for my 9-9 job I would give Luther a run for his money. Obviously he can't run at the moment. What with being dead and all). This morning, having taken a good fifteen minutes to straigthen my joints due to the hardness of the mattress, I did something I do not normally do for reasons of maintaining my sanity. I switched on the local news. I flicked between NTA and AIT. Most of it was of such bad quality it was difficult to tell what the report was on. Sometimes two reports merged into one with the reporter sitting there like a rabbit in headlights. Hmm, still no progress after 30 years? Have they not heard of teleprompter?

However when the reporter somberly faced announced that they were going to show some distressing scenes my ears perked up. I thought they were already showing the distressing scenes but if these were extra special that they had to announce a warning beforehand then count me in.

I then watched something that you rarely see in Western TV. Acts of violence so pure and savage that friends even balked when I told them the story. Basically there were two pieces. One showing some area boys loyal to some chap in Ibadan who took to the streets with cutlasses slashing everyone in sight. The bizarre thing about the film was it focussed on one particularly large chap walking down the middle of a busy road which cleared rapidly just slashing people as he went along. I mean really cutting people, arms, shoulders heads down the middle of a major thoroughfare. It was so real as to be unreal. Like when I watched the second jet fly into the WTC.

But there was more to come. The next story was about more troublemakers but this time they were apprehended by the Police on their way to commit some heinous deed. There was dramatic footage of police cars surrounding the suspects car and the occupants being forcefully ejected. The poor driver though bore the brunt of the coppers as he was mercilessly punched and batoned even as he was being dragged away. The thing was you could actually hear the sound (very clearly) of baton on skull. Ouch. I can see the influence of Western living on me now. Whereas before this sort of thing would be like - "so what?", now it actually makes a big impact. Just like how before I was the most enthusiastic when it came to killing the goats for the various Muslim festivals, now I am like "are you sure you are not contravening the goat's aninmal rights?". Which of course makes me very popular with the men about to do the contravening.

Why do they waste money creating programmes like Survivor Africa when all the raw material is already out there on the streets ready to be filmed. My people there is more to come oh. The Lagos primaries for Governor are upon us and as you would expect they went rather smoothly. Er not quite.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

TomKat Pt. 2

Look. Me I like to mind my own business oh. I don't look for anybody's wahala. I just dey go softly softly. But will wahala leave me alone? So on my way back to London from NY I am in the departure area looking fro something to read on the plane. Something for a sophisticated literary palate like mine. World Economics today, International Business Man, Black Leaders of Tomorrow, Conceptual Calculus for Maths genuises. That sort of thing. Unfortunately they were in short supply at this particular shop so I just had to settle for National Enquirer, Us and People. It was on the front of one of these that I saw a headline that made me burst out laughing so loud I gave the attendant enough of a concern to come over and check on my sanity.

See the headline read something like "Katie and Tom arguing after fairy tale wedding". Oh pele oh you poor thing. Which I guess is fair enough. But the sub headline was the killer. It said something like "Katie is upset that Tom has invited his best man to come on their honeymoon". That poor girl. Is it me or is she in for a lot of upset along the way?

From the surplus to the ridiculous to well.....Lagos!

Apologies for the silence (and this long post) but I decided to take some time out for a short break in the Big Apple which was closely followed (i.e next day with a business trip to Lagos). I write this from the safe confines of my hotel room on the island. The lights are working, the football is on and all is well with the world. But first, the Big Apple.

This is my fourth\fifth trip to the Big Apple and it never ceases to amaze me how it has changed (there is hope yet for Lagos I tell you). On my very first trip some 15 years ago I was chased down the street by some boys in da hood who were after my jewellery consisting of a wristwatch and a bracelet. I was only saved by jumping into a taxi and speeding off. I mean the driver sped off. Not me. Because obviously that would be theft. I could hardly complain about being mugged if I then went on to steal a taxi could I?

I then visited with my family not long after 9-11 and was amazed at the transformation. The streets were clean. The people were friendly. We walked around in the middle of the night without fear. It helped that there were heavily armed cops on every street corner but sill even the air smelt fresher. This is when I fell in love with the place. Also the fact that they had been considerate enough to ensure that I did not have to break the MANCODE by having to ask for directions. How difficult is it? Avenues and Streets. They cross each other. Once you get your coordinates. You are there.Brilliant.

So this last weekend with the £ gaining in strength and Virgin waving a return ticket for £235 in my face I decided this was one offer I could not refuse. This time was different though. This time the whole place was flooded with pasty faced tourists from all corners of the United Kingdom loading up on cheap goods. Around every corner it seems was an Irish person, Scouser, Manc., Brummie and my favourites – the East end wide boys having a larf. Half price? Luvly jobbly.

Some stores had queues around the block with security guards announcing how long it would take the humble shopper to get into the promised land. Now this hanging out might be a British speciality and part of the national psyche but it is at times like this that my conk Naija blood rises to the top. Queue ke? In the cold? Olorun maje. Keep your cheap electricals, your half price suits, your giveaway designer perfumes, your 4 carat jewelery. As long as I can have easy access to your Dunkin Donots them home boy is good to go.

To say that America is the land of plenty is to state the obvious. America is the land of plenty sha. My goodness. The malls are packed, the shops are packed, the department stores are packed. The streets are packed. No wonder they need 50 storey hotels and offices. I am surprised the whole place just doesn’t spontaneously combust and explode. I did see some people that are soon going to explode but again in America that is stating the obvious. Who the hell needs to eat a triple burger with everything, fries, onion rings and a half gallon of sugared water? Put your hands down!

My favourite part of the whole trip was walking around the corner of Macy’s to be confronted by about fifty Police cars with their lights blazing. There was me thinking Osama must have heard about the sales. But no. According to the cop I asked they were doing a show of force to ensure that Osama knew who was the boss. I am sure he must have been quaking in his mountain hole in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, California Lagos? – you just never know do you?

Having enjoyed four days of just walking and shopping (amazing how I can do that given the right environment) it was time to depart. And so it was that I left the land of excess with my excess luggage (wetin? No be my money?) to return to good ole blighty.

On to London for a day and now in Lagos which is of course where things go from the ridiculous to the absurd in the blink of an eye. Let’s start at the airport. Firstly, well done to FAAN for a fantastic job at MM Airport. It is not yet world class but you come in, the place is spotless, the AC is blowing you hither and thither ( I always wanted to use that term) and the travelators and escalators whisk you straight into the welcoming arms of the Immigration people. A few questions later, Stamp stamp. Next. Fantastic. I really do enjoy flying into Lagos now.

So anyway off to the loo. My stomach has been worrying me. I know that it has been worrying those of you that know me for a while but that is another discussion. I am sure it has nothing to do with the Burger and chips in Macy’s Tuesday lunchtime, followed by Thai pea soup and then syrup spongecake in the Virgin lounge, followed by pasta chicken meal on the plane, followed by sardine and tomato scrambled eggs with soft white bread Wednesday afternoon at home, then a Mexican meal to celebrate my daughter’s birthday in the evening and topped off with Shepherds pie and cheesecake in the Virgin lounge. I am sure it was propably the glass of water I had sometime in that 48 hour bingefest ( I hate that stuff. It interferes with all the sugar in my system).

Anyway I digress. Off to the toilet following the sign saying you know - Toilets. That was my first mistake. That sign led me to toilets all right. But they were ex toilets. They used to be toilets but they were no longer toilets. Now they were just locked doors still with the Male\ Female logos attached. To the front desk to ask. Pointed into a corridor down which was a light which luckily led to toilet cubicles, Two assistants. One cleaning a urinal, the other not. One empty cubicle. Unflushed. Seat up. Puddle on the floor. Make eye contact with Pot Idol. Can you please clean this. Credit to him he jumps to it. Place is wiped , mopped and clean in a Flash (no pun intended. Obviously they did not use Flash, they used Omo like all good toilet cleaners).

Then I made the classic mistake. Started my business before making sure I had all the necessary requirements for a successful completion. Coat hook. Check, Clean floor. Check. Clean seat. Check. Start procedure. To my side is a devise designed to hold three toilet rolls. I say designed to hold because after some investigative fiddling and fumbling I realised that it contained none. Nada. Zilch. The procedure has already commenced and that programme stops for no one. There is however a kettle of water. This takes me back in the day. But not far enough. This is 2006 dammit.

So I make my distress known and am pleased to hear one of the Pot Idols running off to source my supply. He reappears not too long later with a half roll for which I am very grateful. Unfortunately my good fortune turns out to be bad luck for the lady in the next toilet. She had no option but to resort to the bucket. I know because the boys were discussing her options. Apparently she had two. One of them was Bob Hope and the other………….

An hour later luggage finally delivered we are on the road. To nowhere. The difference between landing at 5am and being on the road and landing at 6am and leaving the airport at am is, well, like night and day. If you leave at 6am you are fully ensconced under your duvet in your flophouse of choice in VI by 7am. If you land at 7am you are fully ensconced in a traffic jam on the way to VI by 9am.

I fall unconscious into bed, or should I say the rock hard rectangular thing with pillows on in the middle of my room. When I wake I decide I might like to actually do some work to repay my company for this jet set lifestyle that I lead. In order to do this I need to leave the hotel to go and see some Clients. This is when the trouble starts.

On my way out of the hotel I decide to grab a bite to eat. Feel some pity for me now. It had been a whole 6 hours since my last meal. Aha come on. I could feel myself wasting away. So off to the restaurant. On my very first stay at this hotel I had informed the restaurant manager that whilst most of their Clientele were Oyinbo and could survive on bland gruel. My sophisticated Naija palate required spice to survive and henceforth all my meals should be prepared accordingly. So when I placed my order with the waitress I informed her of this arrangement . Coincidentally, in walked the restaurant manager and as soon as she spied me she was off to the kitchen to further ensure that my palette was fully catered for. Exactly 20 minutes later I was holding an ice cold glass to my tongue after having devoured possibly the hottest Egusi soup ever. My face was dripping with sweat. My shirt was soaked. Two glasses of Chapman lay empty before me but still no relief. Damn it was good.

So fully fortified, at least for a couple of hours (look I have a high metabolism. Its just the rest of my body that can’t seem to grasp this) I jump into the car for the day’s adventures. What will the day bring I wonder? What drama will unfold before me? What could possibly go wrong today? To be continued.

Monday, 11 December 2006

Been around the world

Writing this from the cold confines of the Sheraton hotel Abuja Business Centre. A lot has happened between my short break in New York last week and my current biz trip in oh so fun Nigeria. Today I left my hotel in Lagos to travel to Nigeria. Ok I made a short detour but still did not get to Abuja till 5pm this evening. Oh what joy. Long posts to follow when I can afford the tab. But for now. Pray for me.