Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow & Religion...

Been back in Brick City for 2 weeks now and I sure do miss the fatherland. First of all, it has snowed 3 times since I got back and frankly speaking, I am getting quite tired of the white powder falling from the skies. In Abuja, the weather was perfect, in Lagos it was humid but it was made beautiful by Coco. But here in Brick city, all you see is mound upon mound of snow. Thank God there are people paid to shovel the driveway, else I'd be suffering weather induced arthritic pain by now. Anyway the weather got me thinking...What if it snowed in Nigeria?

Seriously, what if it snowed in Nigeria? Would we be extinct? It is no secret that africans arent big fans of cold weather. Kinda reinforces my belief that Adam and Eve were Africans and that the Garden of Eden was either somewhere in Egypt or Calabar. How else can you explain how Adam and Eve lounged in Eden without clothes till Eve introduced us to haute couture with her designer clothes from leaves after the fall of man. The weather must have been pretty excellent all year round and don't go preaching to me about the possibility of it being summer time! The apple? Adam ate the last one, that's why we import them to Africa nowadays. Okay, I am straying from the subject matter (lol).

What if it snowed in Nigeria? How would we cope? Our meterologist departments can't even predict the weather, they rely on CNN!What would happen to the homeless people? Surely half of them would be wiped out by the weather! Then come to think of it, if there is no power/light (thanks to NEPA/PHCN), those living in houses wouldnt be exempt! How would we heat our houses when we arent even sure of electricity to charge our cell phones? Who would clear the roads after the snowstorms? Trust me, that is a key issue. New York and New Jersey were grounded for almost 2days after the christmas day blizzard last year. But let's not dwell too much on the negativity of the picture. As africans we have been known to survive even in the toughest of climates. On the positive side, if it did snow in 9ja, we'd be looking at thousands of new jobs created! "How?" you may ask? Simple! There would be thousands of jobless folks eager to clear your driveway for less than what the Hispanics charge ( no disrespect to the Hispanic community). And I can definitely assure you that our ingenious Nigerians would find a suitable way either to process the snow and sell it! Also, we wouldnt have to worry about our spoilt food, hot drinks and such. All u gotta do is stick in the snow! Alright, I am beginning to sound really wacko (lol)

The truth is the fact that it doesnt snow in 9ja reinforces my belief in God. You gotta agree that there has to be a Higher Power who understands our inadequacies and spares us the temptation of burdens we cannot bear. So if it did snow in 9ja, NEPA would either be transformed by some divine measure or we'd figure out a way to harness electricity and heat from the snow itself!

On a side note:
Just got back from the cinema after viewing the premiere of Anthony Hopkins' new flick "The Rite". I am a huge Anthony Hopkins fan so I had to give the movie a shot. My reviews? The movie was disappointing! There was nothing new about the script. If you have seen "The Exorcist" or any movie in that trend, then "The Rite" is definitely a below average movie. And can someone please explain to me why people who don't believe in God feel such a need to make movies about religious beliefs? C'mon Anthony Hopkins! I expected alot better! U just cost me $13!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Tata Bubble"

The rules of engagement had always been simple. "Never give more than you receive", that was the golden rule. The room was his legacy to that rule..."La Fruta Prohibida"

"I'm all in...", he said. They all turned and stared at him in surprise, or maybe shock. With that brief statement, he had gone against all the rules of survival. He had always been taught: "Never reveal ur hand", "Never wager everything u've got...U need to have something to fall back on in case it doesnt work out" But this was different. Deep inside him, he just knew it. He had always played by the rules and had never lost, leaving a trail of conquests behind him. They had always whispered his name in admiration, fashioned their approach around his style. "How is this different?", they wondered. "He has lost his edge", a few voices muttered, weakened by her charms. If only they could understand...It didnt matter to him if he lost everything, the outcome wasnt the prize, the journey was all that mattered. Fear and uncertainty knotted his stomach, his mouth had gone dry, they could notice the slight tremor to his lips,you could hear his heart beat, the suspense hung in the air like a veil. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and exhaled. "I'm all in" he repeated, "I'll take my chances with her". This time his voice didnt waver. He turned his back on their voices and walked out of the empty room...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chronicles of the Fatherland...Chapter 4

The Latter Days

"I feel like I am floating through existence..."
"I feel like we are all following shadows...and shadows, they don't know where to go" ....Asa " I feel" from Beautiful Imperfection

The latter days went by like a dream. I toured Abuja to see the new spots and feel the pulse of the city. I did observe that the price of many items had sky rocketed since I left. Cafe 24 is a nice spot to hang out but there drinks are ridiculously over priced. Sometimes I wonder how people living in Abuja afford to hang out at some of these spots, they must be well paid! I didnt mind spending my money cos I have always looked forward to coming home, but I did wonder about the other people who frequented the place. Well, I satisfied my thirst for Nigerian food... For excellent cuisine I recommend Melting Pot and Aunty Ajobi's kitchen ( if u are looking for Nigerian food). City Park is a pleasant place to hang out with friends when you don't want to spend up to 20grand. I visited the Silverbird Galleria but it felt so boring that I left after 30minutes. Someday I'll blog about the western influence in Nigeria and its effect. Sometimes we africans try to copy concepts not suited to our environment and we end up making a fool of ourselves! The Dome was pretty pleasant, the garden was serene and the bowling and billiards wasnt so bad, nice cuisine too. There are many young folks in Abuja now, I observed that the new fashion trend was for guys to rock geek glasses ( everyone is copying the Kanye West look) and it was easy to notice that all the young chaps dressed like musicians on MTV ( hilarious ). I am not an expert on women fashion so i can't really describe their look but it didnt look as outlandish as the guys! The city did feel cosmopolitan, and there was a new found energy I had never seen before. Nigeria is a really beautiful place, sometimes I weep at how we permit our inefficiencies to dominate our beauty. There is so much potential here but years of neglect, mismanagement and negative thinking is holding us hostage. Anyway, I aint a political analyst, so i'll refrain from commenting on our issues. Ah hah, I found the spot with the best barbecued catfish ever! Absolutely sublime and heavenly...

The Wedding
"Have u ever heard of a dreamer in a world so far away"
"Baby Baby, close ur eyes, life's okay"
"I dream of love, will come my way..." Asa "Dreamer Girl"....from Beautiful Imperfection

One of the reasons why I came back was to attend a friend's wedding. I was listed as one of the groom's men so it meant that I had to wear a suit! (lol). Some old friends from Uniport came to Abuja for the wedding so it was a very pleasant reunion. Itz funny how time flies! We traded gossip on who had gotten married and wondered aloud at why they 'rushed' into marriage (typical male gossip), there was always a conspiracy theory somewhere (lol). Over drinks, pepper soup and barbecued fish, different stories were told... The debates and gists ranged from recent marriages, failed relationships, rumoured relationships, sports, work, the state of Nigeria, the past and incoherent and unintelligible alcohol induced gist! Anyway, the wedding was beautiful, the bride was stunning and the groom held his own. Yours sincerely was smoothly navigating the whole occassion and taking notes as well. I do know that one of the reasons why I'll agree to attend a wedding is so I can take notes on how mine will be organized! (lol, selfish!) Though itz still a few years away, I want it to be as perfect as possible ( wink wink). One interesting part of the wedding reception was the bouquet toss! There were so many beautiful ladies eagerly waiting to catch the bouquet, I wondered how it was possible for all of them to be single! But truly, they were all single. Definitely something to blog about. Why are there so many single ladies? Is it that men don't want to get married or that the ladies don't want to marry the men out there? I really do not know. There are different perspectives to it I guess. I am not the best person to answer that question cos I am still single ( for now, wink wink). Anyway, a lucky girl caught the bouquet, you could see the looks of envy cast her way by the unlucky ones, dangerous looks masked by plastic smiles. I really do pray that all the single ladies find their right partner someday. Nobody should be alone. I played my role at the wedding, took pictures, smiled for the camera and went home happy. Confirmed my ticket to Las Gidi, yipee!

Las Gidi
" I woke up this morning, you were the first thing on my mind..." India Arie "Can I walk with u"

" Many days I have longed for you, wanting you, hoping for the chance to get to know you..."
" Love, those who have faith in you sometimes go astray..." Musiqsoulchild "Love"

I have never really figured out how Lagos came to be known as "Las Gidi" by some people in the States. But the name definitely sounds interesting. I came to Lagos on a mission, a secret known only to few people (lol). Actually, I came to do something I should have done many years ago but never had the courage to do. Maybe, back then the time wasnt right, or I wasnt ready or I didnt know what I wanted. Whatever the reason may have been, I do believe in destiny..."Que sera sera". I came to Lagos in search of Eldorado...I'll tell u the tale someday...

Chronicles of the Fatherland...Chapter 5

"Book Review"

"Where are u, where can I find u"
"Oh Lord, I have been very greedy...I need you now, I need u yeah, I need u everyday"....Asa "Preacher Man" from Beautiful Imperfection

Travelled with 3 books for my vacation, the first one was "Secret Supper" by Javier Sierra. I'll launch into the review of the book later on. The second was Chimamanda Adichie's "Half of a Yellow Sun". I had always planned on reading it but for some unknown reason I had never had the chance to do so. I have to admit that I am one of her admirers after reading her profile and watching her presentation on "the Danger of a one-sided story" as shown on TED TV. I was struck by her poise and confidence. Anyway, I did read the book and it was excellent. She definitely has a style similar to Achebe and her portrayal of the characters was sublime. I am fascinated by art and the science of words, the images she painted of life in the 60s was enchanting. I don't want to delve in to the finer details of the book, though one thing I learnt was that the concept of war should never be revisited. Looking back at history, I am more convinced that Nigerians are a unique breed of people. How else can u explain our still being together after all the strife? Absolutely amazing. The third book in my collection was Stephen King's latest offering, "Full Dark, No Stars". Pretty interesting, the grand master never ceases to fascinate me with his work. Someday, I hope to write. I think about it often, and people tell me that I should, but the truth is that I wouldnt be able to write fiction. If I was to write a book, it would be a book about my life, not necessary an autobiography but something similar to Wole Soyinka's "Ake". I believe that our personal lives are more interesting than any work of fiction we can conceive of if we can put it into words. Let me give u an example, I fell in love for the first time when I was 5! You might laugh and call that foolish, but to a 5 yr old, love was the reason why I decided that I wouldnt go to nursery school anymore, instead I stayed at home till my parents realised I was serious and yielded to my demands, which was to join the girl of my dreams in primary school...I broke a girl's heart when I was 8! I never saw her afterwards...Interested? lol...believe me, there are alot more stories and the scary thing is that I can still recall them as vividly as if they happened yesterday, down to the very words that were said! People say that I have a scary power of recollection, I don't know why, but I hold on to memories...they are the pages of life...I still remember the scent of "Yesterday, Today & Forever"...

"Memory Lane"

"Everything changes..." Staind
" The way we are is how itz gonna be, just as long as ur love don't change"... Musiqsoulchild "Dontchange"

Was going through old pictures at home and felt a whole range of emotions. I don't know why, but some made me laugh and some brought tears to my eyes. I looked at my pictures and could barely recognize the boy that stared back at me. Sigh...How time flies...I had a beautiful childhood, filled with pleasant memories. I tell u a little story! When I was about 5 ( I can't remember the exact age), back then we lived in Enugu, my sister told me I was going to get married! You'll probably be laughing by now but I am dead serious. She looked at me sternly and said, " Emeka, you will get married to Ify on friday". I agreed instantly. I worshipped the ground my sister walked on and if she said it was time for me to get married, then I'ld gladly do it. I had no clue what marriage entailed, but I could recall that my brother had gotten "married" to a girl in the estate a few days ago and he grumbled a bit about it but didnt protest. For your info, my sister was about 9 then. She was more or less the ring leader of the girls in the estate and their hobbies had advanced from cooking sand in empty milo and bournvita tins to cooking rice and now marriage! I was her personal assistant, tasked with the chore of hijacking the necessary ingredients for cooking from the kitchen. Espionage was an easy task for me, I looked harmless and angelic, so my mother never suspected that I could sneak maggi and a cup of rice out of the kitchen faster than 007 could blink! Anyway, the "marriage fever" sprung out of the blues, all the girls were in support of the new trend but I doubt the boys were kean on the idea. Since my sister was the ring leader, my brother was the first ox led to the altar. I was next! The wedding day was a sunny and beautiful friday afternoon and I had worn one of my favorite shorts. My bride to be and the other girls were already waiting under the mango tree in the playground and the older boys were busy playing soccer. You may wonder why i wasnt playing soccer with the boys, twas simple, I was too young to appreciate sports then and the older boys didnt want "little kids" disturbing their game, so I was at that heavenly age were I was resigned to play with girls! Anyway, back to the wedding. I was eager to rush to the wedding venue and get married, such was my excitement at the thought of marriage, even though I had no clue what was involved. On my way to the wedding with my brother ( I presume he was my escort or best man), he looked at me mournfully and said, " Don't get married, the boys wouldnt let you play soccer with them afterwards". I stopped in my tracks and for the first time I was scared silly. I had always dreamt about finally playing soccer with the big boys, so the news that my marriage would destroy that opportunity was a huge shock to me. My brother continued walking to the wedding venue, I turned and fled! I ended up hiding somewhere ( I can't recall exactly where) but about 10 minutes later, I heard my sister and the other girls yelling my name in anger! "Emeka! Emeka! Emeka! kedu ebe i no (where are u)?", they called out. Hearing my sister's voice, I was torn in 2, part of me wanted to respond, but a part of me longed for soccer. I remained in my hiding place and cried. I later came out and went to where the boys were playing soccer, my sister did find me later and was reasonably upset that I abandoned my bride at the altar ( I presume she married some other unlucky dude the same day, lol). I cried more, and she consoled me and forgot that she was angry ( yeah, I was a sissy, lol). I learnt 2 lessons that day. The first was "follow your heart", and the second was " tears are an emotional weapon". Well, I didnt learn them that day though (lol), I guess it filtered in years later. I am looking at pictures of my sister, brother and I when we were kids and all those memories are flooding back in...The innocent years...

Chronicles of the Fatherland...Chapter 3

Day 3
"Baby, there's alot of things I want to say..."
"Baby Baby can we take a walk around the park?"...Asa "Be My Man" from Beautiful Imperfection

I woke up with a smile on my face! Guess what the first thing on my mind was...(wink wink), tis a secret I'll reveal later. The weather was heavenly! The dry harmattan feel fused with cool breeze...I slept in my old room and I have to admit that it did feel a little small after 3 yrs. But everything still looked and felt the same, brought back alot of memories...I used to lie awake in bed back then and dream about what the future held for me. My mind is a mini circus and my thoughts would run as far as 10 years into the future. I would wonder about marriage, about leaving the country, about having kids (lol, yeah, I did dream alot!)

Sleeping in my old bed made me feel younger and refreshed. It kinda reawakened old doors, but the difference this time was that my dreams were more organized and focused, the wild roses in my head had blossomed into a well trimmed garden. I spent the first day at home, reigniting old memories and laughing with a few friends who were aware of my arrival. Kyla and her mum came over, so I was reunited with babysitting. Kyla has grown so big and she has the cutest smile ever! That little cherub has definitely melted my heart.

I was also reminded of power outages (NEPA)...The funny part was that I didnt mind the power outage this time around. It felt rather comforting seeing all the lights go off without warning (lol). I do have my reasons of course. I have discovered that whenever there is power ( or light as we'd say in the fatherland), we spend alot of time as a family either watching TV, playing video games or idling away at our computers. The darkness in its ironic way tends to bring everyone together...For the first few minutes, we moan about how the Government has failed us and then the conversation gradually gravitates to how beautiful life was in the past and then everyone gets to spend hours together! So in a way, it does strenghten bonds in an abstract way (lol... not that I am advocating for NEPA to take the light all the time!)

Anyway, when NEPA struck, I mentioned that I didnt need the generator turned on, I wanted to savour the serenity of the night without the interruption of an artificial orchestra of generators. Many years ago, I spent many nights outside whenever NEPA struck, breathing in the cool air and staring up at the sky, watching the stars, whilst my mind floated...With my iPod playing softly nearby, it felt like an Arabian night...only one thing was missing though

Chronicles of the Fatherland...Chapter 2

Day 2
"How do people get so busy, they don't find time to love?..." Asa " Questions" from Beautiful Imperfection

Woke up in Frankfurt, viva Deutschland! The first leg of the flight was pretty smooth, except for my ear drums popping as usual when we began our descent. I quickly got off the plane, expressed my gratitude to the air hostesses and bade them farewell. The Frankfurt terminal was well organized, I found a spot to relax and wait for my connecting flight to the fatherland. Hunger crept in like a long lost lover, so I decided to hunt for some food. I settled on a "frankfurter" in my quest to be cosmopolitan enough to try the local cuisine. How do I describe this, the frankfurter was hogwash, absolute bollocks (as my friends in the UK would say) and the hot chocolate was as tepid and bland as Miami raindrops! And I paid 8 Euro for it, absolutely ridiculous! I swore to myself that I'd endure a temporary period of fasting when next I was in Frankfurt.

In an attempt to pacify my aggrieved tastebuds, I went in search of visionary diversions to appease my senses. My first destination was a jewellery store, my oh my! Swarovski gems, Rolex watches, Bvlgari...It was funny to observe the wishful expressions on the faces of the "window shoppers". You could almost hear the wistful sighs as their hearts sought what their wallets couldnt afford. Someday I will be able to comfortably afford the excesses of Swarovski and Bvlgari for my wife and kids ( Yes honey, I'll labour to get u all u desire!). Personally, I'ld feel uncomfortable to wear something that expensive, maybe itz because my father is an accountant, dunno, I just don't have an affinity for glamour, itz contrasting to my personality, I see myself more as a polished rock not a glittering diamond. Anyway, I nearly missed my connecting flight! Twas close, the terminal was changed and probably announced in German or so, I discovered this at the last minute! I dashed to the proper terminal in full flight and made it just in time. I bade Frankfurt farewell without a backward glance and set sail for the fatherland. With each passing minute, my heart beat faster, 3 long years were being rolled back. When we finally touched down in Abuja, I was giddy with anticipation. The first indication that we were in the fatherland was that while we queued up to get our passports stamped, a few "big men" were escorted to the front of the queue without any consideration for ordinary folks like us. I didnt mind anyway, I was too excited to care.

Made it through the gate and finally saw an entourage waiting for me. How best to describe it? " I was walking on air!" As usual everyone commented on how big I had grown ( I never really noticed it!) and we zoomed off in the car. As I hugged my folks, I didnt want to let go. I had waited 3 years for this, time froze as we hugged and for that brief moment, I was in paradise. What next? Food, gist and more gist till sleep swept us all away..."

Chronicles of the Fatherland...Chapter 1

"Woke up early this morning with a smile on my face..." Asa "Why Can't we" from Beautiful Imperfection

Day 1
I can feel the butterflies fluttering on my insides. I am not normally prone to display of emotions but I had to make an exception in this case. It has been 3 long years! I have dreamt about this moment, fantasized about the idea of waking up in the fatherland. Ah, the things we wish for while we sleep! Anyway, the first task at hand was to figure out how to pack my "load". Considering that I am an efficient professional, my personal items were limited to the things that were deemed necessary for survival: T-shirts, boxer shorts, jeans and cologne in reasonable quantities. Everything else could be purchased easily (Platinum VISA card all the way!). But, you all know the drill! Travelling to the fatherland implies that u turn to a courier for everyone else who has relatives back home. Dealt with the luggage issue at the airport and waited impatiently for the hours of the clock to hurry. Last minute calls to ballerina girl and a quick blast of Asa put me in my state of hallowed serenity cum euphoria and I was set to go. I did spare a glance for the Jersey skyline as the airplane slid smoothly in to the clouds, enroute to the fatherland.

Lufthansa service wasnt so bad, the meals were decent and the leg-room was okay. The in-flight entertainment? A good selection of movies and music. I selected Ben Affleck's "The Town". I had planned to watch it at the movies when it was initially released but kinda got swamped by work ( the travails of a hard-working dude!). Anyway the movie was nice, almost had slight throwbacks to "Heat", but personally I felt they could have done alot of better, felt like they held back on their creativity. My second selection was "Despicable Me". Excellent movie, I personally recommend it, a classic fusion of fun and creativity, kinda cast me back to my dreams of fatherhood. I really believe that I'd make an excellent father someday, I love kids and I will make sacrifices to put a smile on a child's face ( Okay, enuff of the mushy emotions). Flying across the Atlantic Ocean, drifting off to sleep in the clouds whilst listening to Norah Jones..."Come away with me"...