Having lived there for 13 years it is always bitter sweet to return to the US of A. I remember all the good times I had there, growing up, my first job (dishwasher), my first real girlfriend (by that I mean genuine not as in plastic vs. real), endless clubbing with my friends, marathon drives from Tennessee to Houston Texas just to party etc. But there were also the downs - lack of funds, lack of family , loneliness etc.
We arrive at Newark to be met by the now accepted unwelcome frowns from our friends at Homeland Security. Ever since 9/11 these guys have lost any sense of humour or politeness that they had. Iyawo having travelled six hours from Nigeria to get on the flight was less than impressed and had to be coerced into not giving too much attitude to the chap behind the counter who was examining us like bacteria in a petri dish. Oga what’s my own? My papers are correct and if you don’t want me in ya country I am very happy to go back to mine. I heard your economy was in distress and Iyawo and I are just here to do our bit to prop it up. If ya don’t want my help just let me know and I will carry my wahala back to Shoprite jare. He must have read my mind as he graciously let us in.
By now it was 1am in the morning so it was straight to the hotel in Manhattan for some R&R to prepare for the work ahead. Being on the 21st floor of a 46 floor hotel you cannot help but be impressed with this town. All around you are surrounded by enormous skyscrapers both Commercial and Residential. What must it be like to work or live on the 60th floor or 100th floor of a building? Does it sway in the wind? Do you get vertigo? What happens if the lift fails? These questions filled my mind all throughout the night along with visions of waffles and pancakes the size of spaceships.
New York is the only place where I can walk for miles without even thinking about it. It is always a joy to be able to throw on the trainers and just go regardless of the time. It is such a safe place now (Manhattan anyway) that we were often to be found heading for Starbucks at 4 am in the morning to satisfy my addiction for Chai Tea Latte and Iyawo’s coffee. In Naija I struggles to walk half a block to the supermarket down the road for fear of okadas, area boys, but most importantly loose pavements. I have this paranoia that one will collapse under me and I will end up in the gutter sucking on green slime and wee.
For the next few days we wandered the streets of Manhattan boosting the economy as we went. However, we were not alone. The place was crawling with Brits and Irish as you can imagine. The exchange rate is just too good and the flight from London only cost £260 return!! In between shopping trips to Jersey and all corners of Manhattan we managed to fit in some culture by going to see The Colour Purple starring Chaka Khan. It was a great show and even more impressive to me was getting the tickets for $25 each for front row seats when I had been expecting to pay upwards of $100!!
I also managed to fulfil my other pastime in life of watching films although all three turned out to be huge disappointments. When I lived in the US I would sometimes watch between 6-10 films over a weekend if I was not working. I would simply enter the cinema complex in the morning and go from film to film over the two days. Those were the days.
First we saw I Am Boring (I mean I Am Legend). I can only assume that Iyawo wanted to see this just so she could watch the 10 second shot of Will Smith doing chin ups half naked. I could have bought myself one of those six pack costumes and done the same for free but there you go. I mean what was the point of this film? The next day - to make up for it - she then dragged me to see another film whose name I cannot even remember ( I think psychologically I am trying to block out the fact that there went another two hours of my life I will never recover). It was somehow akin to the Blair witch project and involved some alien creature taking over Manhattan and this group of people who just happened to have been videoing a birthday party capturing it all on tape. What a yawn. It was meant to be a horror story and trust me it was - a horror.
Finally it was my turn. I had been reading and seeing reviews of the Daniel Day Lewis film “There will be blood” which intimated that it was film of the year, his best performance etc etc. Nearly three hours later we both came out of the cinema saying WTF was that? I mean what was the point? Am I missing something? My recommendation would be to wait for the video if you have to see it at all. Besides some comic moments it was dire. IMHO.
I cannot fail to mention the food. Oh my goodness. It really is difficult to describe American food portions until you experience it yourself. They are just enormous. We mistakenly ordered a standard pizza ( we should have taken the hint as the menu also offered the option of ordering by the slice) and we ended up leaving most of it in the hotel fridge despite doing our best to demolish it. I could only manage two and a half slices despite ravenous hunger (must have been all the walking) which goes to show you how big the thing was. We went to one diner where they were serving ham sandwiches where they might as well have taken a pig, cooked it and then stuck it whole between two slices of bread.! Conversely every other advert on the TV is selling you some product or other telling you how to lose weight. What about cutting down on the portions?
In the meantime I was keeping an eye on the elections on TV. What drama. All the posing, the advisors, the commentators, the candidates, the confused voters. Now this is entertainment. I will blog on US politics and TV next.
And finally I got my hands on the ultimate boy’s toy - an iPhone. And yes it is working in Nigeria. It also worked in the UK and cost me half the price of the UK version and I did not have to sign up for 18 months ripoff subscription. And yes it is a beauty and capped off the trip nicely. And how was your week?