Monday, March 30, 2015

Nigeria Decides! Follow the live coverage of the 2015 election votes now!

Good morning Diaspora!

Who is following the collation of results?

 Keep up with the 2015 Presidential elections via Channels TV online:



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Election Day Nigeria 2015 - It's time to Vote!

Good morning diaspora!

Today is Election day and I'm in Lagos!

Below is a photo of the Google Nigeria home page (google.com.ng) featuring an appropriately themed doodle of a spinning ballot box in the green white green Nigerian flag colors:



If you're in the diaspora, and want to follow the coverage live, Channels TV is your best bet. They stream their broadcast live at http://www.channelstv.com/live/

You can also download Channels app to smart devices and follow them on their various social media platforms for up to date and independent reporting on election day voting!

If you're home side and you've got your voter's card, do your part and vote! If you can't, stay engaged and join the conversation online.

It's our Nigeria. Let's own it. Let's shape it!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How did I let this happen?

How? How did I let this happen. I didn't blog in 2013. At all?

Sigh. Okay today is the day of repentance!

But you know the scene has changed so much since a lot of us started blogging back in 2007. Bloggin has so many more competitors or should I say different outlets now that people can microblog on sites like twitter and instagram.

But nonetheless, we shall blog on because there's always time for a good story. Especially one about the extremes of living in Nigeria. I have been in and out of Lagos over the past few months and in true naija style, I've had some pretty interesting encounters.

So if you're still out there, so am I! Would love to read about what you all are up to!



Monday, September 3, 2012

Moving Back to Nigeria for your NYSC?

Guess what I just stumbled upon? A published book for Nigerian graduates overseas who are thinking about returning to register for the NYSC. It's a survival guide called, "The Foreign Otondo," by Kemi Ogunniyi. 

When I was planning my move back to Nigeria in '07, there was absolutely no information in print or online (even the NYSC's website was non functional). So my dearest sweetest mother, bless her heart, had to go down to the NYSC headquarters to get the scoop on the requirements for signing up.

Still I didn't know what to expect at the orientation camp or during the course of the service year. After my ordeal at the orientation camp in October 2007, I wrote a blog post about the Aje Butter's guide to surviving orientation camp to fore warn incoming corpers about those first 3 weeks .

A number of things have definitely changed since I served. For instance, foreign graduates can no longer choose what state they want to serve in. Not good. The option to choose was definitely one of the factors that made my decision to move back easier!

Big kudos to the author for seeing a need and meeting it.  I haven't read it, but the cover looks great! I would definitely have bought a copy if such a guide was available back then - because mmhh....the NYSC experience can be quite the shocker!


Visit www.otondoguide.com for details on how to get your copy.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sweet Baby Boy

I haven't abandoned my blog O. Yes, I still live in Nigeria. I'm still married and...now have a baby. How is everyone out there? I know it's been a couple of months...or more like one dozen.

I don't think I can ever give up my blog. I love to write. I love to share. I like knowing I have a place where I can trade stories.

As I type, my sweet little boy is sitting on my lap. I'm feeding him mashed potatoes, which he will only eat at his pace. A spoonful too soon and he presses his lips together and turns his face away.

When I was single, I always thought I knew the kind of mother I would be. Hehehe...Well I've surprised myself.

I've turned out to be the kind of mother who eats her baby's food. Two spoons for you. One for me. So I never really know how much the boy eats. (Cerelac, mashed potatoes, pureed apples - baby food is surprisingly delicious) or if he's had enough to eat.

I'm the kind of mother who breastfeeds exclusively for six months because the pediatrician recommends it's best for  baby, but then wishes she could continue even past six months because washing and warming baby bottles is a chore I definitely don't want to add to my schedule. Luckily I skipped the bottle step entirely because my son is now on to solid foods, plates and spoons. Yay!!!

As a single gal, I used to tsk tsk and shake my head when I see toddlers drinking fruit juice and sodas instead of water. Mmmm...I happen to be one of those mothers whose son has tasted coke, sprite, fanta, juice. But note, I say tasted not drank. When your baby is fussy, cranky and can't be pacified you try all sorts of distractions just for a few minutes of respite.  Thankfully my son prefers water over sugar drinks.

And lest I forget, he eats paper. Just this morning, my mom told me that he grabbed a paper bag beside him. Before she could retrieve it from him, he bit off a corner and swallowed the piece. I do not understand his affinity for paper. But I've turned out to be one of those mothers who when all else fails, hand her son a piece paper, just for a moment of peace...(it calms him down 90% of the time) then when I've caught my breath, I go after the gooey pieces he refuses to spit out.

Ah the joys of motherhood! 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pick a partner, Choose a career, Raise a child...when you're still clueless?

What does a 20-something year old know about picking a life partner?

How much foresight does an 18-year-old have to choose a life career?

What does a young 25-year-old mother know about raising a newborn?

Where does the 21-year-old recent graduate gain knowledge about how to invest all his disposable income?

By the time the importance of investment dawns on him, he's married with 2 children and his disposable income has become tied down by 16 years of paying school fees.

By the time you gain decades of life experience and wisdom to raise your children, you turn around to find out that your babies are adults -- telling you what their own take on life is.

By the time you're older and wise enough to want more than pretty lips and smooth words in a spouse, the dating pool has shrunk so much you fear that love might have passed you by in the haze of self-centered youthful exuberance.

And just when you pass your exams and receive admission into the Ivy leagues of medical schools, you stumble on your hidden talent and passion for fashion.

Ha ha ha. The joke is on us.

Have you noticed how we have to make the most crucial decisions of our lives during the most inexperienced years of our existence?

To think that I have to sow the seeds that I will reap during the rest of my life during the years when I have the least amount of experience and wisdom to do so!

By the time I'm 40, 50, the fruit of those seeds slowly begin to ripen. The previous 2 decades of work (or sloth) begin to show their results. Joy - if that fruit is sweet and juicy. If it's not? Pain and regret!

So I have come to the scary conclusion that I am clueless. I would be a fool to dive into this life pretending like I know what I'm doing. Pretending like I have the know-how, wisdom and knowledge to make generation shaping decisions. Decisions that are seemingly inconsequentially mine to make, yet they ripple down my bloodline long after my 80 - 90 years on earth.

God has a fantastic sense of humour (and infinite wisdom). Woe unto me if I dive into the beautiful adventure of life without basking in his ways, his word and his wisdom.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

When last did you steal second base?

I think I've shared this quote before:
"You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first base" - Frederick B. Wilcox

At several points in my life, this has been my reality.

In my childhood I was soo timid that someone always had to push me off 1st base.

Take for example, Primary 4 - when my class teacher made me Class Prefect much to my horror. Never in a million years would I have raised my hand to respond to the call for interested Prefects. And for good reason. Even as a 9 year old I was quite self aware and knew that I just wasn't cut out for making enemies.

Me? Prefect? So that they'll be waiting for me in the bushes during break time because I'd written their names on the noise makers list? No thank you.

After 2 weeks, and only 2 names showed up on my noisemakers list, my class teacher impeached me without a fuss and found herself a more fearless leader. I was crushed but definitely more relieved to be relieved of my position.

Another first to second base incidence occurred several years later in secondary school. Once again, a teacher nominated me to become a Prefect -- again to my horror. This time, I couldn't worm my way out. She preached to me about how her mind was made up and how she felt I was up to the task.

And much to my surprise, I had a fantastic year in that role and learned a bit about my abilities, skills and talents.

About 4 years ago, I stood on first base again in a whole different ball game. I was a year out of college. But I was afraid to move because I didn't want to strike out on my way to second base. But time was running out. My student status was about to expire and I had to make a decision. And with the clock ticking loudly in my ear, I was once again pushed to make a run for it. So I did. I ran for second base without looking back.
Clinging to security is our natural instinct. Holding on to the bird in our hand while we look for two more in the bushes conventional wisdom.

But sooner or later, always sticking to conventional wisdom will lead to a conventional, boring life.

A life where "what-ifs" are neatly tucked away in the "later" folder. A life where if one doesn't seize the opportunities presented by transition, threats or tribulation, the "later" folder eventually becomes the "it's too late" folder.

And it's not just for the big things. It's also for the seemingly little things: Trying a new hairdresser, taking a different traffic route, saying 'hi' to an uninteresting stranger. Leaving first base to cleave to second.

I've noticed that some of my best gifts in life have come when I let go and just - hang mid air. Many times I've been pushed over the cliff by someone else. At other times, I don't see, yet discomfort or dissatisfaction cause me to leap because I know there just has to be a better place.

And most times, there has truly been a better place.

"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance" - Psalm 16

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Still in Nigeria - Why?

Lagos cracks me up. Seriously.

For 1 hour this evening I was stuck on Ikorodu road at Ojota. At some point, a kpangolo car behind me squashed my bumper, and the driver kept a straight face and pretended like nothing happened. ("Huh? Squash your car? It wasn't me!" Obviously the latest trick in town - pschew!)

We eventually inch along and next thing you know, a grown, healthy, fully formed area boggar (area boy/beggar) pounces on another go-slow resident and starts aggressively praying for the driver - staring him down with crazy gestures and emphatic facial expressions!

If you want to beg, biko beg, if you want to extort and threaten money out of people, then do that. Which one is this combo approach?

I was so thankful all my windows were up!

Oh and right in front of my car was an okada passenger cradling a live ram in his lap! The poor animal didn't even bother to lift its head or move a limb (on second thought, was that ram alive? It had better be!)

And the shocking thing about all this? No one bats an eyelid. Lagosians take it all in their stride, with stern forward facing faces.

The driver who the area bogger accosted didn't even glance in the guy's direction. Not once. It was his kind-hearted sister in the back who reached through the rear window to give the bogger a N100 note. Mr. bogger took the money (courteously and gratefully ofcourse), hurled a few more blessings at the car occupants and moved down the traffic lane to harass the next SUV with a window wound down.

I guess it's just another day in Las gidi ey?

Yeah. Whatever you say. Can someone tell me why I am still in this country?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Becoming a Mrs.

Can't believe it has been this long since I blogged. Hello is anyone out there? Not sure if anyone is still listening, but I won't stop writing...How are y'all doing?

Lots of great stuff have happened since I moved back to Nigeria. Most recently and significantly I got hitched to my knight in shinning armor! Wohoo!

It' s been a period of learning, loving and laughing. How does it feel to be married? It feels...natural. Like this is how I've always lived, even though we dated for just over a year. Perhaps it's because we've been best friends for several years?

I love waking up beside him everyday. No more agonizing good byes at the end of a fun-filled weekend and no more marathon phone calls. Since the wedding day, we've been asking ourselves "So we're really married?"

I was reading the book Saving your marriage before it starts months before we got married and one statement really stuck out to me: that marriage is a lifestyle - aka a way of living. You remain who you are - you've just chosen a different way of living out your life day-to-day. Where most of us get it wrong is when we expect the marriage to be the almighty solution that will save us or deliver us from all of life's woes.

The authors (Dr. Les and Leslie Parrott) say that the love, bliss and healing that we all look forward to enjoying in marriage comes. But it's a by product of a healthy marriage where two partners invest in each other. Not one where the partners are looking to just receive and receive. I certainly found the authors' advice practical before our wedding and now that I'm living in the lifestyle of marriage I certainly understand.

I bless God the Father and thank Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for leading me into all truth and for the gift of my husband. He is truly a gem. A man of honour. The Lord who knows you and who knows who you will become in the years ahead will only give you the best for a life partner.

Our path to the altar was a real journey which I'd love to share once our year-long honeymoon is over...ha ha ha.

Thanks for stopping by! Now back to the business of leaving, cleaving and loving...(wink wink)!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Marriage Talks 3: Mindset

My attitude towards marriage has slowly evolved through the years. As a bullied teenager, I often dreamed of my future husband and imagined the conversations we would have and the way he would make me feel. Marriage was still at least 10 years away, but I was sure that it would wipe away the pain and loneliness that haunted me back then.

In my late teens to early twenties, those daydreams fell to the background as I threw myself into the depths of books, American college life and…online shopping (well, more like browsing – I was a college student !). I wasn’t looking for Mr. Right; even though I wouldn’t have minded being found by him.  But I was conveniently preoccupied with exploring and spreading my newly-acquired adult wings.

Friends and classmates got engaged and I didn’t feel any stirrings. Once, my best friend called from Lagos to encourage me to take a closer look at the men around me. “ Isn’t there anyone you are interested in?” he asked? 

He had never heard any boyfriend tales from me and had specifically called to discuss my love life.
 
In return I told him that I wanted to focus on the season of life that I was in and assured him that God would send the right man at the right time But the concern in his voice stayed with me. “Did he have a point?” I later wondered. 

Truth was, I liked my single life the way it was. No drama, no pain, no heartbreak.  I was the feature attraction and I knew how to handle me. After all I had been living with myself for 21 years. Ten years before, I couldn’t wait to be married, and now that it was finally within reach, love, relationships and marriage had become an abstract concept.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Something is Lurking in the Dark

I was leaving my house at 6:20 a.m and for some reason, I decided to take the back door. Why? I kept asking myself, what if something happens? What will happen? I shot back at my fear.

As I get to the bottom of the back stairwell, I see a black shadow moving and realize there is a creature standing by the gate near the last step. I summon up courage and forge ahead vaguely thinking it's a cat.

I loop around to get to the last step when I suddenly see, running at top speed, and across my path a HUGE rat! It darts beneath the step I'm standing on.

I don' think.

I immediately long jump from the last step to the ground and begin to run blindly - screaming of course - all the way to the street.

I burst out laughing when I am safe on the street, but fear returns when I realize my phone is missing. Eh? I would rather leave the phone behind than go back and meet cat-rat. I have never seen a rat that big in my life. Isn’t that what they call bush meat?

I eventually talk myself into retrieving the phone from where it was waiting to be rescued (on the last step) and report the rat to all my colleagues in the office.

My boss laughed and asked if I would pass the back door in the pre-dawn morning again. Yes ke! How can a rat terrorize me in my own territory? (I haven’t passed the back stairwell that early in the morning since than sha), but I’ve seen the rat from the corner of my eyes twice when I’m passing the front.

My sweetie finds it all hilarious. He says the rat leaves for its workplace, Ratcom, when I leave for mine, that’s why we’re always jamming on the way, and he said it even has a name - Ojorat.

Can you imagine?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Eating Well in Nigeria

Why do I have to wait until I’m approaching 40 or when I’m pregnant with my first child to start paying attention to what I put into my mouth? We are truly what we eat. The first time I personally witnessed this was in 2003.

I had just moved to America and was a freshman in college. I was feeling a bit off so I decided to take advantage of the medical insurance and run blood tests to make sure I was okay.

Days later, the nurse was reading through my blood tests results and I noticed a particular column indicated red because it was about 200% more than the average level! I panicked and asked about it. She said it was good cholesterol - “you must eat a lot of fish right?” Mmmh, not anymore I told her and went on to explain how when I lived in Nigeria, I ate fish almost every night, and I’m not kidding - 5 out of 7 nights for about 1 year!

At first my sisters and I loved ithe round smoked fish in stew with rice, eba, beans. One whole fish to ourselves, yum! But after a while, we began to beef the fish: fish fish fish all the time. Ahn Ahn!

So you can imagine the irony when I found out that that very fish had kept me healthy and was still present in my blood even 3 months after I had stopped eating it!

We are truly what we eat.

So I’m trying to put quality items into my body now. To teach my body to crave the good stuff. It’s not been easy though because while America over processes its foods, over here we love to overcook and fry ours.

Some weeks ago, friends and colleagues kept telling me I was glowing and wondering what I was doing?! I had no idea what! It wasn’t until I had ended my fast did I realize that it probably had something to do with the lack of food! I had read somewhere that human beings over eat in general and that these days we put more toxins than nutrients into our bodies. But shouldn’t I be looking gaunt and miserable if I was skipping meals? I am still trying to figure that one out. I must glow again oh!

In the past few days, I have instituted 3 healthy to do’s on my list. Here’s a synopsis of how I’ve been faring:

#1: Say no to Coke - I haven’t bought a coke for the last 2 weeks, instead I’ve been drinking other beverages (Lucozade, Swepps heh heh I know it’s cheating) but my colleague gave me an ice chilled canned Coke today. I let it sit on my desk for an hour then… drank half a can before I chided myself and dumped the rest in my abandoned cup of water.

#2: Eat 1 piece of fruit a day – I had two apples for dinner yesterday because I was bored with the alternative: eba and vegetable. But for some reason, my stomach ran all night! Was my body having a reaction to the sudden infusion of healthiness?!

#3: Cut down on fried foods – I just finished eating boiled plantain and stew for dinner. I don’t fancy plantain in general, but I found the boiled taste a refreshing change.

#4: Take top quality supplements – Not the kind that adds more chemicals to your body. When I was fasting, I accompanied my evenings meals with a glass of water and vitamin C – perhaps that’s the secret behind the glow? Because our foods are so altered and overcooked, it often lacks the nutrients that our bodies need. If you’re an inconsistent eater like me (think feasting during the weekends and snacking during the week) supplements can make all the difference.

Am not doing too badly don’t you think? Oh and my cold is gone and the subsequent cough is finally breaking. Thanks for all your concern!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Nigerian Wedding Planning

My people, besides eloping, what do you think is the best way to pull of a small wedding reception in a culture that calls for large, loud and lavish weddings ?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dirty hands, Dirty girls and Dirty boys!

When I lived in Israel, for some reason I always caught colds in the summer. Regularly. Does the flu spread faster in hot weather…?

I’d be miserable because Israeli summers and freezing air conditioners go hand-in-hand. Every mall, bus, office, classroom greets you with a blast of ice-cold air. For a chick with a sniffling nuisance of a cold – it meant blocked noses, nasal voice and congested sinuses whenever I stepped into a public building. And the tissue! My trademark was wads and wads of used tissue everywhere. Shout out to my mum for being so tolerant when I left them on her dining table! My misery blocked out all sense of propriety. Ahh, those were the days.

I still dislike having a cold in hot weather. Fortunately for me, it hasn’t happened much since I moved back to naija. I wash my hands and keep them away from my face. Works for me. (It’s either that or my immunity is looking up).

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen ladies jump out of the loo without washing their hands. (Don’t even get me started on this topic!)

Unfortunately, those of us who do wash our hands still have to use the same door handles and we have to shake their hands and share the germs…. Kai. Ladies, ladies, ladies! How many times did I call you? Wash your hands whenever you are using a shared loo! Ahn ahn.

By the way, MEN, just because you can, does not mean you should stop and pee out in the open! Nobody wants to see it. Put it away! Lagos walls and gutters have seen wonders!

Apparently…having a cold on a hot Monday in a smoggy city sets loose a cranky blogger. Abeg, let me go and I blow my nose…

Monday, March 22, 2010

Marriage Talks 2

But things are getting more practical and more personal these days mmmhh.... My interest in marriage is at an all time high, and it has extended beyond fairytale considerations. I’m intrigued by certain questions about marriage. Is “love is all we need?” or is it more like “ love is not enough.” What makes 60 marriages years ago longer lasting than marriages of 20 years ago? Or perhaps they weren’t stronger and it just appears that way?

Is physical attraction the main differentiating factor between marriage and friendship? If so, what happens if you lose that attraction once you get into marriage? Do high expectations aid or hinder the success of marriage?

P.S: This once a month posting that I'm doing is not it at all oh!!!!!!!!
P.SS: Check this wedding website out - Na my wedding - Fun and useful info for those planning a wedding in Nigeria...mmmhh!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Marriage Talks


I’ve been thinking about marriage these days, and I’ve observed that my attitude towards it has slowly evolved through the years. As a bullied teenager, I often dreamed of my future husband and imagined the conversations we would have and the way he would make me feel. Marriage was still at least 10 years away, but I was sure that it would wipe away the pain and loneliness that haunted me back then.

In my late teens to early twenties, those daydreams fell to the background as I threw myself into the depths of books, American college life and…online shopping (well, more like browsing – I was a college student !). I wasn’t looking for Mr. Right; even though I wouldn’t have minded being found by him. But I was conveniently preoccupied with exploring and spreading my newly-acquired adult wings.

Friends and classmates got engaged and I didn’t feel any stirrings. Once, my best friend called from Lagos to encourage me to take a closer look at the men around me. “ Isn’t there anyone you are interested in?” he asked?

He had never heard any boyfriend tales from me and had specifically called to discuss my love life.

In return I told him that I wanted to focus on the season of life that I was in and assured him that God would send the right man at the right time But the concern in his voice stayed with me. “Did he have a point?” I later wondered.

Truth was, I liked my single life the way it was. No drama, no pain, no heartbreak. I was the feature attraction and I knew how to handle me. After all I had been living with myself for 21 years. Ten years before, I couldn’t wait to be married, and now that it was finally within reach, love, relationships and marriage had become an abstract concept.

To be continued…

Friday, January 29, 2010

Beyond the Paycheck

Gasp! I’ve just received a pay cut. Yes due to some interesting mathematics my take home pay has decreased by a nice comfty chunk. But it’s all good though, the difference will be paid in bulk sum later.

It’s even better because God is my provider. I don’t have to fret. He’s my chief employer. He owns my talents. The way I see it, if he’s going to direct cockroaches and rats to shelter and food so that they don’t die of starvation then I don’t think I’m going to be starving anytime soon.

But this calls for serious rebudgeting oh…I will have to slow down on impromptu N3,000 Chinese lunch takeaways (oh how I miss my $5 Chinese lunch deals) and my daily box of Lucozade Boost!

You know what? Forget about nixing the Lucozade. That’s my N100 naira guilty pleasure. My simple reward at the end of my 8-5. When I really want to splurge, I also throw in a packet of shortbread. (Yummy!) The wise thing to do is buy a cartoon of Boost at wholesale value and stash it away from the reach of four legged/winged (ewww!) tenants.

But seriously, just sitting down and thinking about money won’t make money appear. Those ideas have to jump onto paper and then into a bunch of heads and a team of hands. Move those legs, share those thoughts and burn that night oil. Everyday is another opportunity to increase the value of my net worth.

I was reading about twitter on wikipedia today and there was a picture of the founder’s earliest thoughts on twitter as scribbled on a lined notepad some 3-4 years ago.

Ideas. That’s where wealth begins. Words and ideas become flesh. Just look: everything you see today - the appliances, technology, clothes, food, cars, they all began in one human being’s head. A human being like you and me who is now sitting on major patent/intellectual property royalties because of an idea that caught like wild fire.

God what about me? Me too, I want to contribute. There must be a winning idea somewhere in those funky movie-like dreams that I dream at night.

Just think: if you could just create and sell N50 brushes to 1 million Lagos residents, you would be a millionaire!

The question is how can I provide a service or meet a need for thousands of people?

* * *


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Rat Disappeared!

It’s been a few days since I laid eyes on the mini rat! No one else has seen it and it hasn’t left any marks behind, thus my fellow housemates are a bit skeptical that I saw one in the first place!

As for me, I’m writing this with both eyes, but at the same time my peripheral vision is very sensitive to any side movements. I remember that it was about this same time in the same mode– quiet, darkened house at dusk - that I first spotted rattie.

I’m not afraid anymore, just determined. In fact, I’m comfortably eating my left over jellof rice and moin moin on the same bed I jumped on when I first spotted rattie more than a week ago. I’m sure I did not imagine it. I’m sure.

During the week, I thought I heard the rat eating grains from the bag of raw rice that was stashed near my headboard. It was 4:40 a.m. and I froze. I didn’t have to get up until 5:30 a.m. I didn’t want to be scared and I wanted more sleep so I turned my ear lobes into my ears to drown out all sounds including the crackle crackle crackle of snapping rice grains. All to no avail. Dawn would not dawn fast enough.

My rice eating theory was however debunked during daylight when my aunt went to get some rice from the bag and didn’t see any evidence of sabotage.

MmmHhh? Okay o!

Well y'all talk theories, I’ve banished the 60kg bag of rice to another room.

Let the rat go and have its full there while there is still time. The exterminator is coming for it this weekend.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

No longer entry-level


This is the view from the top of Mokola Hill, Ibadan as taken from the nostalgic Premier Hotel.
This May, it’ll be four years since I graduated from college. Oh my goodness. It means I’ve left the realm of entry-level. Yikes! And here I am still screaming and jumping and running away from a mini rat that walked into my room. I screamed so hard, I dropped my cell phone while talking to my mother.
Then I remembered she was still on the line and grabbed the phone to put her mind at rest. She was quite sympathetic considering that my mother grew up with all boys on a farmland – things like cockroaches and rats don’t intimidate her. In yesterdays, my scream fest would have warranted a hiss from my mom.
My voice is still a bit tender from the scream. Even the little rat was confused. It twirled 280 degrees before finally deciding to head out of my room. You better!
Of course I had to report the yeye rat to my sweetie. In fact, I would have ordered my knight in shining armor over to my place (yes ke, I was a damsel in distress!) were he not smack in the middle of a meeting when I called. Nonetheless, he has this way of convincing me that the rat and (or any other object of terror) I will not cross paths anymore. And I believed him. At least enough to dash to the kitchen to switch off my burning pot of rice.
Now I’m tiptoeing around my own house. What utter rubbish. In my late 20s! The injustice of oppression! I must overcome this fear.
First thing tomorrow morning, I’m calling the fumigator. I’ve already placed cloth under my door - yes the rat is small enough to crawl under.
But in the meantime, I’m going to sleep my fears away…
Good night.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Your money or your time?

Happy New Year y'all!

2010 is here.

Like play like play - my 20s are passing by oh!

Oooh, which reminds me, I went into a car rental (I'm vacationing in the States) and enthusiastically announced that I'd like a car. The attendant obviously forgetting all the training that was laboriously bestowed on him gives me a side glance and blurts out: "Are you 21?"

What? My sweetheart and my dad both chuckle beside me and I gleefully retort to the attendant that I am in fact several years older. Yes ke!

Now there was a time when I'd be genuinely upset at that slip up, but not this time - does that mean that I am becoming age conscious?! Well even if so, I still don't feel my age at all sha.

On the subject of time, let's continue the very important and juicy gist of my previous post:

My sweetheart says that his greatest gifts in life are time and love. Ofcourse I understand the love part but thought it odd that he would lump ‘time’ in the category of greatest gifts.

But it makes sense because My time is my life. A minute is not just another minute, it’s a fraction of my life passing by. Never to be recalled. Time is a resource but it’s also a gift, because we only have a certain amount of it. We can’t create it. The only people who no longer have time are those who are no longer alive!

So can I say that in cherishing my time, I’m cherishing my life? And when I waste time not doing anything or doing something that isn’t adding value, can I say I’m wasting my life away? Or is this too drastic a statement?

If given a choice, what would you rather part with: your money or your time?

And if so, what would it depend on?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Are You Working for Money?

In my previous post, I started talking about how my money is working for me. To put things in perspective for you and help you understand how far the good Lord has brought me, I’ve been called ijebu by my own family members because I like to keep my own money and spend everyone else’s.

But what’s the harm in that as long as I share some of mine with you when you’ve exhausted your own? Lol. But seriously, I am not one of those people who love the power that comes with buying whatever they want. Instead I feel like I’ve been overpowered or outsmarted when I spend. As if the seller has succeeded in separating me from my money. But because I like good things (who doesn’t?), I will help you spend yours if you like spending!

I don’t like finding myself without money (abeg who does?) so I’m slightly uneasy and grumpy when I’m broke. I like to have a savings, cut my coat according to my size and take zero risks.

But my motives for being prudent could keep me in a stagnant cycle. Why? Because I can fall into the trap of always working for money and not having my money work for me.

I’ve come to understand that having your money work for you is the path to independence and this will mean different things for different people but I think this means spending my money on things that would:

- bring in more money long term

- save me money in the long run

- improve the quality of my life or someone else’s life

But how does this play out practically? Are there any hard and fast rules? For instance, if you received a $20,000 bonus from your employer, would you use it as a down payment on a house, go back to school for your masters or buy a car? This is assuming that you need all three of these things and don’t own any?

What impact would your life circumstances have on making such a decision? For example, if you were…single, married, a mother, a father, due for retirement, an aspiring entrepreneur etc?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My inverter and My money

My inverter is a huge blessing! I am so so so happy that I invested in it. I was initially intimidated by the price of one battery -N60,000 - And I needed to buy two! So like a wise businesswoman I coaxed daddy dearest into footing the bill for one. After all I won’t carry the thing with me when I’m moving into my own house. Heh heh.

But my people, this inverter is more than worth its value! PHCN gives us an average of six or seven hours of electricity during the day. Yes, when most folks are hard at work in the office they fulfill righteousness and bring light and take it just as you’re stepping into your house in the evening! But with the inverter I can ‘save’ all that electricity for use when I get back home.

I could buy a generator at a cheaper price and have it carry hefty appliances like my A/C and iron, but my inverter still beats a generator hands down because: I don’t have to start combing my neighborhood looking for a kind gentleman to pull my generator. I don’t have to sit in the stuffy heat because I’ve shut the windows against the screaming generator noise. I don’t have to keep reminding myself to put the keg in the car so I can buy fuel for the gen. I don’t have to spend thousands on fuel and I don’t have to store fuel in my house!

Plus whenever they bring light, the inverter automatically switches over and begins to charge up again. I don’t have to interrupt my precious sleep to switch over to PHCN.

Now that’s what I call having my money work for me. More on money in my next post ;)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NYSC Orientation Camp - November 2009

This month, two years ago, I was rounding up my three weeks at NYSC orientation camp. Oh, the good times (I'm not being sarcastic...well maybe a bit;)

But if you never went to a Nigerian government boarding house or more broadly have never been to an NYSC orientation camp, please prepare your mind as you go to camp on Tuesday - here is the Aje-butters guide for surviving NYSC camp.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sweet sweet Love

Mmmhhhaahhhh! That's the sound of the big sigh that I'm letting out. I've been away too long! Where do I start from? Life is interesting, exciting, scary - The mere fact that I do not know what will happen in the next year. Oh yes, I might think I know. But who am I? I can just see God chuckling at me. Yes, I concede, who am I? I don't know nada about tomorrow!

Yet I choose to Love. Because love is all I need. When the Bible says that love is the greatest thing of all, it's not playing. Yes it's talking about the mushy, talk all night on the phone, can't live without you, I must-marry-you now kind of love. But it's also talking about the you really hurt me, your family is mean to me, I can't stand you right now but I still love you kind of love. Why? Because "Love covers a multitude of sins."

So how can you say you love but then resent a woman just because she's looking fyne! You give your cousin, your ___the silent treatment, and get jealous and angry when good things happen to your friend. Yes, I know that feeling all to well. The pain and fear of unfulfilled dreams. We've all been there and done that. I find myself there one too many times. Why? Because it's my default, factory, human setting. But you know what? I choose not to live that way. I don't have to love only when I'm feeling loved. Nah,this life is too precious for that. I'd be missing out on the enjoying the depths of the greatest gift of all if I do not free myself to love.

Love is too sweet to limit to one small area of your life. I want it to seep into every conversation, every transaction. I want it to sweeten my entire life. I want to feel its warmth. I want it to bring tears to my eyes. I want more of it. Lots more of it. And you know the best part? I don't have to wait to get it. Because true love...gives. That takes me out of the victim's box and puts me in the driver's seat.

Yesiree! I'm free to love. I am free to give. I am free to live.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why I am still in Nigeria

After my experience at passport control, we drove away from the airport and I was elated. Everything seemed alive! Maybe it’s the dusty roadsides, red soil, lizards or just the people, but everything about Nigeria is engaging. It is only in this country that your okada driver will fight you for not giving him exact change! My people, please hear: I was on my way to the bus stop last week and he asked if I had change, I said yes, afterall N50 is change to me. Apparently, he meant the exact N30 fare. My bad! But he didn’t say exact change, he said change. So, what would have happened if I had given him N200? Of course like a true Nigerian, I didn’t back down when he started flailing his arms and barking at me, saying he didn’t have any change to give me.

An idle onlooker/bus stop agbero saw that neither one of us were budging and interceded by giving me my N20 change. I took it with a scowl on my face but relief in my heart. Honestly, I’m not cut out for confrontation. It took me the rest of the morning to shake the guy’s bleached face and oversized helmet face from my psyche.
Now tell me where else can I find that kind of interaction with a complete stranger? --- Well there was that time during my recent trip; I was in Primark on Oxford street when from my spot on the check out queue, I heard a young lady in the ladies shoe section swearing, shouting, screaming at the top of her lungs to a fellow shopper who had allegedly ( and of course mistakenly) stepped on her.

Some people are just crazy I tell ya!
(The picture was taken from Ebute Metta shoulder of Third Mainland bridge. If you look, far at the right end you'll see the rest of the bridge curving to Oworonshoki)

Monday, August 17, 2009

2 Years later…in Nigeria



It’s been two years since I moved back home to Nigeria. ( My move back date was on my birthday).

I had secured a bargain on http://www.vayama.com/ on a Lufthansa flight out from Washington Dulles, and the layover at Frankfurt left me tired. It wasn’t a long wait; the airport was just unexciting –very minimalist. It lacked the conventional airport design and airport buzz that allows you alternate between people / plane watching. So when we eventually took off for Abuja and reached cruising altitude, I quickly joined the other fatigued passengers who were jostling to make beds out of the empty rows.

I had to make do with 3 unoccupied seats (my 5’9’ comfortably requires a row of 4 seats). And I was so tired I missed the air hostess’s snack cart. An exotic food lover like myself never ever misses food on an international flight. It’s a big no-no in my world. Food is the highlight of my flight. Besides, I paid for it! Yes ke…even if you don’t feel like eating it when they bring it, collect it, my friend. It’s your own. Give it to your neighbor, eat it later or package it for yourself or for your people (How else will you know I’m a Nigerian?)

I’ll be quick to say though that I’m not one of those people who pull down their trays 15 rows before the airhostesses even reaches them. I respect myself.

So I woke up a few hours into the journey and instinctively popped my head over the chair backs to see if lunch had passed my by. It had. As if reading my mind, one of the hostesses walked over to me to find out if I’d be interested in eating. I nodded vigorously and she brought me a steaming square-shaped pizza. Those Lufthansa air hostesses are till date the nicest cabin attendants I have encountered in several years. They were cheerfully patient, and we all know that Nigerian passengers are not the easiest set of passengers to cater to!

I’ll never forget the Belgian airhostess that spoke sharply into her microphone to her mostly Israeli passengers: “Ladies and gentlemen am I speaking English or chinoise?! Please take your seat until the aircraft has come to a complete stop!” I was so shocked but then my classmates and I broke out laughing as we got off the plane. Israelis (and Nigerians if I may add) have a habit of being overzealous on flights so we didn’t fault the hostess for her frustration.

To be continued…

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lagos Spot: Sky Restaurant


Thanks for all the birthday wishes Peeps!The day turned out fabulous. Flowers, a delicious dinner overlooking the Lagos skyline and some good ‘ol loving from friends, family and ofcourse my sweetheart. What else does a girl want ey? The service at Sky Restaurant was fantastic. I can easily say the best customer service I’ve had at any Nigerian restaurant. I can’t say if they’re that good all the time, because it was my first time there, but our waiter was good! Courteous and helpful, not in the annoying yes-ma, yes-sir kind of way, but in the I know my job, I like my job and I’m here to ensure you enjoy your time here kind of way.

So here’s a picture of our plates as we rounded up our appetizers. I got carried away and forgot to take pictures of the entrees that followed. The bill runs high, so budget from N25,000 for two. However, compared to other restaurants in that price range, they’ve got fantastic service and a fantastic view! (Plus a fantastic piano player).

I thought the décor could have been more intimate and cosy, but the service made up for it.
Sky Restaurant is located at the penthouse of Eko Hotels & Suites in Victoria Island.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This is my life and I love it!

For some reason, I get a bit apprehensive around my birthday. When I was 21 I threw a fit and insisted that I didn’t want to celebrate it. I was visiting my folks for the summer and I just wanted the birthday to pass without a fuss. Thank goodness for my mother who ignored my teenage moods and insisted on cooking and calling every one she knew for a mini replica of my 10th year old bash! It was like she was the owner of the birthday, she was sooo happy!

At the end of the day, I look back on pictures and am grateful for the memory that was created. I thoroughly enjoyed myself that day!

Where we would be without the wisdom and the glowing pride of our mothers/elders?!

So now another birthday is around the corner and I can feel a twinge of mixed emotions running through me. God has just been too good to me and any other feeling besides gratitude would just be sheer ingratitude!

My flesh wants to rebel and whine and sulk. WHY? I have no idea! But hey, sorry to disappoint you fleshie. I refuse to be ruled by fleeting feelings.

This is my life and I love it!

Do you all remember singing along with the problem child:

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Cry if I want to! Cry if I want to! You would cry too if it happened to you! Ta na na na!

Naw, no such pity party here. I’m singing…

Go shorty, it’s your birthday.. Ima party like it’s my birthday!

To all the July babies out there….here’s to a fantastic, fulfilled, loving, giving, sharing and explosive new year!

Ha ha ha!

Here, here!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Aggression aside!

This morning I was trying to act like a superwoman on my way to work. I had decided to sleep in and consequently had to take public transport to work. Catching a bus from my usually crowded stop was not a problem, but once seated in the danfo, I kept wondering why we didn’t have a conductor in such a large bus (27 seater instead of the usual 15 seater).

My mind conjured up all sorts of explanations including being driven off third mainland bridge into some underwater kingdom. (As if lack of a conductor would be the prerequisite for entry!)

But as I was saying before I hit that weird tangent, I got to Obalande without any of the usual PT drama except having to split N100 change with another passenger who the driver was owing after we all disembarked. Because I was holding the change, I wandered around wondering who to ask for change. I asked one agbero looking man who gruffly told me he didn’t have. Then a big guy walks up to me and offers to make change for us. He must have overheard me or perhaps was on the same bus, but I was so surprised and touched. I don’t think I looked that lost or distraught, this man was just being kind!

Fastforward to my superwoman move. I find a half empty bus going my route. The driver isn’t stopping and with 20 minutes to get to work, there’s no way I’m gonna miss this bus. So I grab the door and hop on board - only to miss my step! Thinking back now the driver must have stopped or my hands must have held me up because I didn’t fall to the ground. I scraped my left thigh against the iron chairs (with bruises to show even though I was wearing jeans) and just sort of hung on the bus.

Kai! Sorry. Eya! Sorry oh! All the passengers called out in a frenzy as I recovered, stepped into the bus, brushed off my jeans settled into my seat. The young man seated to my left even put his arm around me protectively as if to shield me from additional harm !

I was sooooo embarrassed, but they kept calling out with apologies. It wasn't until I looked up at all of them and said “thank you” then they stop with the eyas!

My ego was seriously smarting, mainly because my attempt to appear an agile chick was exposed! But after I calmed down, I kept thinking: Aggression aside, Nigerians are kind people !
It is on days like this that I’m grateful for my country and optimistic about our future!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The morale of the story

People, people, people, my previous post was not about wanting a new phone. (I don't want one)

I don catch una! With your greedy minds. After all the plenty talk I’ve been talking on this blog. Yes, I was recently delivered from corper-hood and a long-standing affair with miserliness, but sho! definitely not to the point where I’d spend 100k on a phone. Hey, what are daddies and sweethearts for? Heh heh.;)

There’s a deeper message people. Oya, go back and read! ;)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Let me live!

I use a Nokia E series phone. The E71 in particular, and it’s fast becoming pure water phone in Nigeria. Everywhere I turn, someone is sporting one. But I’m not surprised why. I’ve had mine for about a year now and even though I managed to keep it from falling during the first 6 months (you know, the honeymoon period when you cradle your high-end phone like it’s a child), lately I’ve noticed that the phone has been falling to the ground much more! But amazingly, it doesn’t scatter—just sort of bounces around.

My E71 reminds me of a good partner. Dependable, versatile and…stylish.

But you see, now there are all sorts of commercials luring me into buying a Bold. Javelin. Storm or some other funkily-named Blackberry. For sure, the Blackberry is for the fast-tracked, talented, young, techie, financially buoyant (as the Nigerian journalist would say) urban professional!

So I must also own a Blackberry right? After all, I shouldn’t I fit in with my fellow Blackberry-toting yuppies?

The rate at which we Nigerians follow after new phones is amazing. It’s funny, one telecoms provider recently began advertising its latest offering, the Blackberry Javelin and people who already own the Storm (which hit the market just 7 months ago) are already demanding for it, even though the Javelin does not have all the features that Blackberry Storm has!

Even I am beginning to wonder if I’m missing out on something? I love my E71 but now I’ve got my eye on the Blackberry. Am I missing out by not owning a Blackberry? I can get one for 110,000 naira. Chunk change isn’t it? Yeah right.

Isn’t this what we often do in life? We’ve got something good but then because everyone else is treading a certain path, we begin to second guess ourselves and wonder if we shouldn’t follow suit.

Even the more permanent elements of life are not immune from this scrutiny: jobs, cars, partners. All face the uncertainty of being swapped for the seeming upgrade!

My Nokia E71 is one of the best phones I’ve ever used! I use it to get on facebook, gmail, take pictures, write shopping list, save my monthly budgets. Name it, it’s done. It has a GPS and Nokia recently started advertising on Lagos billboards that maps are available at http://www.maps.nokia.com/. What else could a girl want?

Truth is, I might still get a Storm (or more accurately inherit one) if it gives me faster access to the Internet because these days I’m more of a mobile internet user (YES we have internet on our phones in Nigeria! My sister in the States was surprised to learn my phone is my main portal for checking email)

I want a simple life. A life of contentment, not of comparison. I don't want to wake up one day and realize that despite my best intentions, I’ve grown a tail and it’s caught in a high-speed rat race!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

May must not pass me by!

I can't believe I allowed April to pass without posting, just when I was being a good girl and posting more regularly. Now today's the last day of May and I've had about 10 posts swimming in my head but the real owner of my laptop came for it! Yes.

May he or she or whoever it is sold to enjoy it. Boohoo! Now that I've grieved for my baby, I need a new one my people. What's the hottest notebook on the market now? Any recommendations? Usually takes me about a month of serious consumer reading and browsing to settle on a big purchase (car, digital camera, laptop, even my queen sized comforter -- well that took about one year to find the perfect design!) so the sooner I start, the better.

Other stuff that I've got on my mind: How expensive housing can be in Lagos or even in Nigeria in general! Seriously, the cost of living here isn't a joke at all. How do Nigerians earn paychecks in naira but buy goods at the dollar rate?

No wonder there's corruption, greed, materialism...but that's another rant for another day.

How y'all doing?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Big Salon. Bigz Girlz!

I’m not proud of it, but I’m one of those gals who will wear braids, cornrows or weave-on for 3 months if you let her. In the States I used to cite the outrageous price of doing hair as my alibi for carrying ageing hairdos. $55 to relax my hair? Pul-lease. Aren’t relaxer kits supposed to be Do-It-Yourself? I didn’t repent even after I ditched my student earnings of $6.50/hour for a post-graduation paycheck.

Maybe it was the childhood routine of sitting in hot salons between smelly legs, as they wove my hair that causes me to over-exert the freedom that I have now, but I don’t like paying to have my scalp tugged at for hours. I’ve been in Nigeria for almost two years and I’m yet to do braids, even though I can fix braids for a fraction of the price it costs in the States. I’m not ready for that gig, or for the damage it does to my own hair. (weird how I have to say, “my own hair”)

But in Lagos, hair is big business! Trust Nigerian women to turn anything wearable into a status symbol. Imagine my shock when a friend told me her hairdresser, or as y’all would say, stylist, was trying to sell her a N70,000 weave (give or take $500)!

I thought I heard wrong.

I’m used to buying N800 human hair. And I like to buy the type that is very full, so that one pack will reach. In fact, I always warn my hairdresser to manage that pack well, because I’m not going to buy another pack if it finishes before we finish my hair! If ya know what I mean. The stylists used to beg me to remove my hair after two weeks! And when they raised the price of fixing weaves from N400 to N500, I didn’t hide my discontent.

But one Sunday afternoon, God delivered me from the stronghold of miserliness.

It was the weekend before Christmas and I was in a mad rush to do my hair. I was driving through Ikeja GRA area and drove in to a large salon hoping it wouldn’t be too crowded. As I parked I took note of the fancy cars in the lot. Uh oh, I thought nervously, but quickly shrugged it off. How much could it be?

Me, that I’m used to retouching my hair for N300 – pere! By the time I stepped out of their upscale dryers, I was slammed with a bill of N4,500. Embarrassed at my shock, and upset because my hair was poorly done, I gave the stylist a N500 tip to help me stay calm. Later on, I had to stop myself from rattling off the opportunity cost of N5,000 – new shoes, new outfit, fuel for my gen. Hours of GSM talk time. Ok stop.

Two weeks later, seeking to restore the disaster on my hair, I found what looked like a more economical salon, but was served with the same bill. Initially disgruntled, I lightened up when I noticed just how healthy and well cut my hair was. You wouda thought I was wearing a weave! As my American sistas would say, “that girl know how to do hair!” I’ve been able to stay clear of extensions since she started managing my do. With my hair budget up, I feel like I’m being indulgent considering how little I used to spend on my hair.

Now to seal the deal I just need a serious solution to conquer dandruff. Those anti-dandruff shampoos aren’t working. Any suggestions?

So yels, my peoples, do you think I’m shedding the ayetoro mentality and becoming a bigz girlz? Even though I’m not sure I’d buy a $500 Brazilian/Indian/whatever other nationality’s hair—but if you bought for me, I’d wear oh!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Caution - Crazy Drivers!


That’s a picture of one of Abuja’s major highway. In a country where many people buy their driving license, you can see how such freedom can be a hazard!
How do you survive the driving? (my boyfriend visited Nigeria recently and he said the driving there is very risky)When I first moved back home, I was intimidated by the driving, even though before I left Nigeria at 19, I was a crazy Lagos driver. When you leave the shores then return home, it’s like you become a new driver all over again.

Driver’s education is practically non existent in Nigeria, but the driving wouldn’t be such as big issue if people were more courteous on the roads. Here, it is when they see you’re a woman that they want to chance you.

I’ve noticed that Lagos and Abuja driving cultures are different.

Thankfully, the presence of both mobile police and LASTMA has increased in the major cities. In Abuja, they mostly crack down on running red lights, cell phone usage and unfastened seat belts. The sneaky guys will pull up behind you on their law enforcement bikes in slow moving traffic and pull you over. After the stunt I pulled with those police officers, I am careful to abide by traffic laws now!

A major annoyance: There’s no such thing as “right of way” on Abuja roads. If you’re cruising down a street and another car is threatening to merge onto your lane, move over ! They will surely cut in front of you. Lagos drivers don’t do that as much. But the truth is that most of the drivers on Abuja roads are new drivers.

The drivers in Abuja , especially the cab drivers, are more reckless than Lagosians. Economic immigrants from Lagos who are not used to roads that are smooth, wide and free. And boy, do I have stories about those capital city cab drivers!

I remember one particular man who said he’d been driving for just four months, but the confidence with which he owned the road you would have thought he was a veteran!

There’s no courtesy, This commenter puts it aptly when he writes: “They hit you and beg you. They hit you because you are conscious of driving rules and apply it. They, who do not apply simple driving rules, rule the highway in Nigeria. In a society not used to insurance, and where vehicular laws are not implemented, begging has replaced insurance coverage. Even passer bys would chip in to ask the offending reckless driver to beg you and get on with his life. If they beg you, you must accept. That's your only recourse.”

In summary: say your prayers, and then hit the road!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Foreign Shoes on Nigerian Roads

The picture at the top is what my heels looked after I picked it up from the cobbler. What you see on the bottom is what happened the following day! Needless to say I'm going to look for another shoe man!

My hip swinging, shoulders-back strutting, down the streets of Lagos is eating up my heels. I used to wonder why a lot of pretty Lagos ladies wore slippers and suits to work in the morning. Now I understand. They keep their fancy shoes in their handbags. It more than comfort, it’s about preservation.

Thank God for the shoe cobbler in front of my house. I give him N50 and he hammers on new rubber soles for me. But I might have to take the cue and carry my pumps in my handbag like other sensible females.

Nah…I’ll keep clomping down the streets or keep my signature flats. In any color or style, I’d take flats over heels any day. I milk the advantage of not needing the added inches. But I can’t deny there’s nothing like a pair of platforms, stilettos, wedges or the good ‘ol pair of pumps to pump up a gal’s confidence.

In true human fashion, all my neglected shoes that were labeled too high, too big or too un-cool have been dug up from the back of the closet. I also plan on pilfering my mother’s same shoe-size collection. Me, I’m not following them to buy N12, 000 shoes oh. I still can’t get over the prices of goods in Nigeria. More on this later.

Do those of you who live in Chicago, New York, London, experience this shoe chopping effect?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blood, Bills and Buses all in One Day


The picture above is of Reed's (top floor) and the fast food joint, Chicken Republic/St. Elmo's.

I’m sitting on my bed, under my mosquito net and mosquitoes are still biting me but I must finish this post!

Peeps, it looks like my buka days are over. Don’t be fooled by those posh restaurants that I blog about. I love my buka joints! But it turns out that my body doesn’t. Recent blood test results have revealed traces of Typhoid in my blood! Gasp!

When I heard, I thought there must be some mistake. I cannot recall having malaria, talk less typhoid. But it makes sense because every since I resumed work in Lagos I have really become a restaurant hopper. I wonder which one of my "customers" gave me this bacteria or is a virus? What is typhoid anyway? My mother must not hear because I won’t hear the last of it. For years, she has been warning me and my father to stay away from bukas. He complied. I didn’t.

But on the brighter side, like the Doc said, it’s just a trace. So why did he prescribe 4 different drugs? As I sign my hospital bill, I grumble to the nurses that too many pills will make me look like a sick person. I would have called it a money making gimmick but the nurse pointed out that the drugs only cost N2500 out of the N9,500 bill. Come to think of it nine five for what? Yesterday I whined to the doctor about my symptoms, they took my blood and today I picked up my drugs. If not that my insurance was paying I would have made a fuss about that bill!

But I wonder which one of my regular lunch spots is the culprit?

Mosquitoes are still biting me.

I plan on getting an inverter to supply me with light. I no fit pull gen. Neither can I stand up in the middle of the night to turn off the gen when NEPA blinks. The inverter automatically switches itself off when there’s light and on when there isn’t. Smart ey? If I don’t talk about it by next month please ask me. This is the year of Just Do It.

They should bring light jo!

These days I’ve been forfeiting my free ride to work so I can sleep in. But that means that I have to gear up for the morning crazies at the bus stop. You should the folks at my bus stop. A bus going to Obalende arrives. I always wonder how people know where the bus is going because the conductor never calls out the destination yet 6 people will dash for the bus and clamor for one spot. They won’t even allow the person that wants to get off to come out! That can go on for 10 minutes with the same people doing the mad dash. I don’t join them oh. When I do, like I did this morning, I’ve calculated that I will get a seat. How can I get jabbed in my rib and stepped on for nothing?

They still haven’t brought light. Mosquitoes are still in my net, but there’s a cool evening breeze.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

After the work day

There’s no state-powered electricity, but the generator is on—running on its last few litres.

A friend’s driver ventured out to buy N2,000 fuel.

That's my weekly budget for self- generated electricity.

Thank God for kind help. He also re-fueled and pulled the gen.

While I sleep, I hope electricity comes. I won't be surprised if doesn't. I won't notice if it does.

Lagos driving irked me yesterday. Today I read a magazine.

I ’ve washed my dinner plates, ironed my work clothes and taken out my contacts.

I need to talk about my country...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lagos Treats


What is life without little treats? As much as I'm enjoying the Lagos edge, I also enjoy the following spots of respite. Ofcourse food plays a leading role in all my de-stressing activities ;)


Spice Bar




Spice Bar on Adeola Odeku in Victoria Island. Unlike most foreign restaurants, prices here are fair. Servings are large, sizzling hot and pepperish! Just the right atmosphere for Saturday lunch with the gals or guys. And if your acquaintance  isn't a fan of Indian food, just across the aisle under the same roof is the pizzeria, Debonairs.


Reed's


Reed's on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi. They've got fantastic Red Curry if you love Thai food. The small rice bowl was insufficient for the huge bowl of curry (in the distance) and we had to buy additional rice at an extra charge. Way pricier than necessary. Guess you're paying heavily for the ambiance and mood. In case your date doesn't like exotic food, order good 'ol chicken wings and lounge on the couches in the bar section.
MMA2


I like MMA 2: The newer Domestic Terminal. The old one, which is still in use, feels and looks like a bus terminal. This one has 2 food courts, A/C! plus that good 'ol airport vibe and my favorite: a well-stocked bookstore.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wilderness Journey in Lagos

It all began when I dropped a friend off at the Ikeja MMA2 Airport and started heading back towards Lagos Island.  I didn't want to pass through a bumpy strip near Maryland, so I decided to link 3rd mainland bridge via the International Airport road--a route I did not know so well. 

I was driving alone.  I had 30 minutes before darkness would hit Lagos.  I was driving a borrowed Toyota SUV, which the owner had just purchased. But no my strong head convinced me to just follow the road signs. How hard could it be?

Road signs ko, road signs ni! 

I  passed Isolo. Isolo? Mushin! Nope, I'm not driving through there. Ijeshatedo. Family used to live there but I was on the unfamiliar side of the highway. 

Oh no, where is 3rd mainland bridge?

Boo hoo, time to cry. 

But time was not on my side. Night was slowly creeping in, and the courage to stop and ask for directions slipped away. So I stayed on the highway. Yay to traffic-less Sundays. 

That day, I found out how Apapa-Oshodi expressway got its name. 

When I reached Apapa (hey, it was either that or Badagry),  I cornered a dangerous-less looking okada driver (you've got mapquest, we've got bike riders) and asked him to lead me to the bridge that would take me towards my hood. He stopped half way and pointed me the rest of the way, gladly pocketing my N200 gratitude offering. 

I once again reached a crossroad. Where do I go? Mmmh, I didn't put my trust in man O! If it wasn't for God, I'd have showed up in Surulere.

So what is the moral of the story? It's time for me to activate the GPS on my phone! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Don't Wind Down in Lagos Traffic

I have many tales to tell on how this chick is fast becoming a Lagos city trotter oh! Yes, I've packed my bags and moved to Lagos, leaving my beloved capital city behind. I fretted about the move—erratic electricity, pollution and the traffic—not too exciting. But mmh, my people, I've realized that even though you take the girl outta of the hood, you can't take the hood out of the girl!

Last week Monday: My first time driving to work, and my second day driving in Lagos since I returned to Nigeria. I decide to take the Race course, TBS exit instead of the usual Federal Secretariat exit and get stuck in hold up on the exit ramp. I'm five minutes away from my office but in typical Lagos fashion it could take me 30 minutes before I pull into to our office lot. I'm antsy.

My windows are wound down just a tad bit. For some reason the A/C had been fogging up my windows since I left home, so I turned the air off so I could see where I was going. It was either that or risk an early morning head-on with a crazy Lagos motorists on Third Mainland bridge.No thanks, I'll pass.

The car is stuffy and I'm antsy. A young man saunters into view. 5'7', rubbery face, faded short-sleeve with a hardened swagger. My conscious mind says he looks normal enough.

My subconscious and my eyes think otherwise and they follow him. He walks in front of my bumper. Our eyes don't meet. He's studying oncoming traffic as he tries to cross Third Mainland. I draw my attention back to the traffic.

"Cross 3rd mainland to where?" my subconscious asks.

Too late. Mr. man swirls back and locks his eyes on me, hooking his fingers on my wound down window.

Kai! Girl, you're slacking on your Gidi skills, you should have known!

"Anti!" he glues his face to my driver's side window and whispers loudly—a real criminal mastermind!

"Anti, look here. Look here. See wetin I get here!"

Look ko, look ini. I face my front. Just like my teachers taught me. Ahn ahn, is it by force for me to look?

But not to seem too uncooperative, I ask, "What do you want?" I make sure I sound tough and icy, still without looking at him.

Mmmh, but I'm monitoring him with my side eye oh. And my side eye noticed that Mr. Man is reaching into his pocket for his "weapon".

It was in 2002 that this last happened and afternoon I grudgingly parted with my last N40 naira! I was stuck in traffic on Broad street in broad daylight and the guy didn't believe that was all the money I had and on me. After all here I was driving a small Japanese car without A/C. I had to literally open my hand bag and show him.

The real owner was here again for his money or is it cell phones they ask for these days?

"No follow me drive oh."

Nonsense. You get two heads abi?

I start to crush his fingers as I wind up the window. Quick, quick he comots his hand!

The traffic eases up and I move along.

Eko o ni baaje o!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Should I move back to Nigeria?

Question: I'm going back and forth on my moving back decision! I'm trying to decide if I should come back home to Nigeria or if I should go to the States to get my MBA or keep working to process my permanent residency/citizenship?

I think one of the first things you have to do is figure out what is important to YOU. That's what I've realized. Lots of folks were asking why I wanted to come home. I could have forced myself to subscribe to the American dream, but the truth is, at that moment and at that time, it wasn't MY dream.

MBA, NYSC or getting you foreign citizenship, only you can decide. Listen to your talents, hopes and observe which way your thoughts go. In my case in early 2007 I just found myself excited about Nigeria. It was almost obsessive and I couldn't decide if it was a passing phase of homesickness or a call to return home. So I decided to do youth service. Great option because it gave me a one year no-strings attached trial to decide if Nigeria was for me or not while I secured the certificate.

If you're anxious about returning to Nigeria, the best thing is to come for a short holiday--a situational analysis/test run/risk assessment of sorts! Pay attention to your reactions and feelings in the environment. Do you generally feel alive and at peace? Are you happy? Or are you restless, irritated
and uninspired?

Remember that whatever happens, the years will pass anyway. You can spend the next two years getting an MBA, or spend them working and processing your papers to become a citizen or resident of your current country, or you can spend them at home working/getting your NYSC while you explore the options here. All of these are exciting opportunities—they are all productive ways to spend the next few years and can lead to a promising future. But only you can decide which one is for you!

But if you follow your talents, skills and dreams, you can't go wrong. There'll be ups and downs, doubts and joys but because you're true to yourself, you'll find peace.

The only person you should compete with is yourself ;)

Monday, October 20, 2008

How is the crime rate in Nigeria now?

Question: What about the crime rate, do you think its increasing or decreasing?


I try not think about the crime rate in Nigeria because I don’t want to live in fear. Crime is the bane of city life anywhere, but Nigerian cities take it to a different level. I hear the stories of armed robbery in people’s homes, on the streets, in cars and even in the workplace and at restaurants—the tales all make me very afraid!

One particular day we were coming back from a function and driving along airport road around midnight and escaped robbers just by a hair—at least that’s what we believe. A car that was driving in front of us pulled over and the driver abruptly steps out as we approach. My mom tells my dad to step on it! As we get closer, the guy seems to be holding what looks like a pistol. Instinctively my mom yells “gun” and puts her head down. I follow suit. After we were at a safe distance, I look behind and notice that the few cars that were driving hehind us on the highway are no longer there. Too close for comfort. My folks get into a hilarious argument over whether my dad accelerated fast enough or not.

For at least 2 months after that, any time I was on a road at night, my heart would be in my mouth. I couldn't hold conversations in the car because my eyes would be busy scanning other cars or pedestrians for crooks-in-disguise.

One particular night, I was driving home, with my mom in the passenger seat. I saw a car blocking the highway and some wood in the middle of the road. I immediately stepped on my accelerator and veered to my right to avoid the obstructing car and flee what I believed was an armed robbery trap. The cars in front of me were slowing down, but I just thought them foolish drivers who I needed to bypass. It was until my mother cautioned me to slow down and avoid the accident did I come back to my senses. A car had run into one of the trees and spun back onto the highway.

Believe me, the real thief is fear. It will torment you if you don’t kill it. I think you have to decide that if you want to live in Nigeria, you will not be robbed of your peace. I also realize that in terms of personal security, there isn’t much one can do beyond what we’re already doing here. Homes are barricaded in estates, cars have alarms and trackers and we’re down right rude to strangers who are “asking for help.” Most private and public buildings have security personnel watching over the property but these guards are not armed, so they are no match for the armed robber. Sometimes it’s the gateman that even tips off the robbers! The truth is that “except the Lord watches over a house, the watchman watches in vain.”

So in answer to your question, because they say perception is reality, I’d say yes the crime rate is decreasing.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Postings for foreign graduates

Question: I have heard as foreign graduates you get a chance of serving in Lagos, Abuja or Port Harcourt. I don’t know if that’s true or false, please confirm!

When you arrive at NYSC Headquarters in Abuja, you’ll be asked to fill out an NYSC application form for foreign graduates. On that form there’s a slot where you’re asked to fill in your 1st and 2nd choices of the states you would like to serve in. This option is not available on the forms for graduates from Nigerian universities. Foreign graduates receive consideration.

However, when you ask NYSC officials about the postings it seems like they’ve been instructed to say that concession is not given to anyone.All the foreign graduates I know got posted to the states they asked for.

For details on the documents you need to enlist for youth service check out the NYSC Website and this post.

I saw an ad in one of the dailies:
Pre-Registration for the 2008 November Batch C has begun. Obtain an eNYSC Scratch Card from NYSC state secretariats and Afribank Branches Nationwide. Cost: N250.

Visit www.nysc.gov.ng or enigeria.com.ng
Click on eRegistration then check for Pre-Registration.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

When in Abuja...Rooftop Cafe @ the British Council


Hey people! What’s up? I was down south for two weeks but I’m back to my Abuja! People say there isn’t much entertainment in the capital city but I beg to differ. What better way to entertain myself than to eat? Yes, I love me some food. And I especially love eating out. Tell me you’re taking me out to eat and you’ve just gotten a friend for life or did I hear someone say an FFF (friend for food?) Heh heh.

Regardless of the food loving, my weight has refused to get the memo and trust my Naija peeps to comment freely on how I don’t eat and how I’ve lost weight. The former is false, the latter is true. But it’s all good—I expect that child bearing and/or hitting my 30s will take care of that.

So I want to post on some of the nicer places to eat out if you are in Abuja. That's a picture of the jumbo prawn dish that my friend tackled at the Rooftop Café at the British Council in Maitama. At that size, eating the prawn was like work but well worth it. Both our meals and drinks came up to about N6,000—Pricey in my opinion, but most of the continental restaurants in Abuja run at that price range. I recommend the British Council for its laid-back atmosphere and rooftop view of Abuja. You might take caution when ordering the T-bone steak. Mine was tough and chewy and I had to give up on it (normally, I CLEAR my plate). My partner-in-crime insisted I send it back to the kitchen, but it only came back hard and dry. Oh well.