Monday, December 31, 2012

9JA Part 2

Port Harcourt
Port Harcourt hasn't changed since I last saw it, the roads were still as bumpy as hell and all the regular landmarks were there. The traffic however has worsened a million times over to the point of serious frustration. I shared driving responsibilities with Coco, I did end up scratching the car on an eventful day. Not that it was completely my fault, the other fella cut into my lane and apparently I was supposed to be 'aggressive'. My mind was still processing 'road rules' et al. The truth is simple, to survive on Nigerian roads, you must throw all rules out of the window. I won't reveal all the highlights of the PH trip here, let's just say I came single and didn't leave the same way, lol.

However I'll drop a few other highlights.

Coco was bemused by my 'habit' of tipping people for 'doing their jobs', lol. The hotel I stayed in was pretty nice, except that it took 5minutes to open the door with a key. It was a funny cycle that transpired through out my stay at the hotel. I would complain that I couldn't open my door, the concierge would beam a smile at me and send a porter to assist in opening the door, then the porter would wrestle with the door knob and keys for 5minutes, sweating profusely in the process, eventually the stubborn door would open and I'ld gladly tip him for his efforts, the porter's face would light up with a big smile and after firing off several "thank you Oga" greetings to my embarrasment, I finally gain entrance to my room.

I went to watch the new Twilight flick with Coco. Now you have to understand that I'm not a Twilight fan, and I haven't even watched any of the previous Twilight movies but a man's gotta stick his by his wifey, lol. The movie wasn't all that bad, I wasn't in Team Edward or Jacob, but I was amazed at how excited people were in the cinema. As in, people were so 'involved' in the movie that some clapped during the action scenes and even yelled encouragement to the actors, "Kill am well well, he go die today o". It was hilarious to observe but I did enjoy the experience. I remember watching movies/soap operas in 9ja as a kid and believing that the villains were really wicked people, lol. There was no seperation between the character and the real person, so I could identify with "he go die today o".

After 4 nights in PH, our next stop was Las Gidi. We turned quite a few heads at the airport (permit me to brag small, we are a beautiful couple, thanks to wifey) and the flight was uneventful. No stress, till we got to Lagos...

Las Gidi
How do I begin? The flight from PH to Lagos took 45 minutes, but it took us over 2 hours to drive from the airport to Lekki. Bear in mind that our taxi driver was a seasoned professional who could navigate all the backroads to avoid traffic and it wasn't rush hour, yet it was crazy. Las Gidi keeps transforming every hour, tis pretty hard to recognize the city I grew up and schooled in. There are still alot of landmarks from the past but there are a thousand new buildings I could barely recognize. I still recall the days when Lekki was like the wastelands, just sand and no buildings, back in 1996 when Abacha-stove was popular and baggy jeans were still in fashion.

We drove by LOP (Land of Plenty) and memories of secondary school and boarding house came flooding back. Even Bar Beach looks transformed, as if it has received a super anointing to deliver it from the evils of the red light district (if you lived in VI back in the late 90s then you would understand what I mean). "The Palms" in Lekki seems to be the rendezvous point for oppressing thy neighbor. We ran into an overdressed young woman who was happily 'posing' and taking pictures in front of different stores at the mall, oblivious to the people walking by. I exchanged a hidden glance/smile with Coco, "fresh from the village" we thought, lol (biko, don't judge). A few minutes later, the young chic walked by us again and as she passed we heard her say "chai, my leg dey pain me". Las Gidi effizi is on a different level o, I must admit that I was impressed by the 'style' on display, as in color blocking and color combination toh badt! Sunday service was at TPH, and the choir/singing was fantastic, best I've heard in years.

We eventually bid Las Gidi goodbye and prepared for the last leg of our journey to Abuja. That was when the kasala started. First of all, our cab ride from Lekki to the airport wasn't so comfortable. Considering the heat in Gidi, having a car with a functional AC is a necessity, so we didn't mind paying good money for a cab with a decent working AC. We never waka reach 5 minutes before traffic hook us, the AC wey bin dey blow cold before o begin blow very hot air. At first we suffered in silence for over 20 minutes, then Coco asked the cab driver if he was sure his AC was working and his response nearly scrambled my brain cells: "When the sun dey shine, the AC dey normally blow hot, na because of the sun". I won't lie, I did a mental review of thermodynamics and heat flow in my head just to be sure that I heard him right, my final conclusion was that either our driver was suffering from heat induced dementia or that the laws of thermodynamics were different in Nigeria! We got to the airport and the drama still wasn't over...

Our flight was delayed by a few hours and when we finally boarded, the plane was filled to capacity. The flight was pretty smooth and everything was peaches and cream till we landed in Abj. First of all, this idea of getting off the plane straight onto the tarmac is not ideal, coupled with the fact that you have to identify your luggage before you board the plane. Anyway, we stood by the luggage conveyor belt inside the arrival area of the airport, waiting for our bags to show and 45 minutes later we still never see am. By then 3 other airlines had landed and the passengers picked up their bags and left while none of the passengers on the flight I arrived with had received their bags. Till today, I still don't understand why I stood patiently staring at the conveyor belt, maybe because I was lost in the fragrance of Coco's perfume or because I had faith in our airline system since our plane didn't crash, but we did stand there for 45 minutes sha staring at the belt repeat its 360 degrees cycle. Finally my eye cleared (or I think Coco moved, so I was released from the spell of the daydream), and I noticed that all the passengers on our flight were still standing and waiting for their luggage. Could it be that...? Nah, impossible! How could that happen, u follow what I'm thinking ba?

Anyway, we went looking for an Aero contractor official to find our luggage and ran into a very angry yoruba man clad in native wear, accompanied by a tall, dark and serene looking Igbo gentleman (he looked like a Chinedu, don't ask me why, I just know). The Igbo guy looked so peaceful and calm (I almost thought he was high on bitterleaf or ugu) while the other man kept yelling at him with rage. I moved a little closer to Coco to shield her (as a knight, I no want make anybody kolo near my wifey biko, I never pay) as we approached the pair and the scene below played out:

Warning: The dialogue below is written as it transpired, with the grammatical inflections used by the speakers

Angry Yoruba man (yelling): Can you imagine! Can you imagine! You must be mad!

Calm Igbo saint: Silence...staring into space.

Me to St Igbo (who apparently had a tag identifying him as an Airport rep): Excuse me sir, but we've been waiting for our bags for a long time and they still havent showed up.(2 things to point out: I used my pseudo yankee accent, apparently if you want to get things done quickly with maximum respect, the yankee accent helps. Secondly, I used the word 'bags', big grammar confuses alot of people. I once asked for my 'baggage' and the person thought I was asking for 'garbage')

Angry Yoruba man (still yelling and trying to get Coco's attention): Can you imagine! He left it behind!

St Igbo(with that same peaceful look): Well, I am the Aero official here and I'm responsible for your safety. First of all, I just want to thank the Lord that you arrived safely...

Coco cuts in quickly..."what happened to our bags?"
I'm listening attentively and wondering why St Igbo is so thankful that we arrived safely, was the plane supposed to have crashed?

St Igbo (continuing without looking ruffled): Yes, the plane was filled to maximum capacity and because of safety we left the bags in Lagos.

Me: I'm sorry, I don't understand.

Angry Yoruba man: Can you imagine! You are not serious o, what do you mean by that!!!

St Igbo (still in that same calm voice, it was hypnotic, wallahi): I'm responsible for your safety (this dude wasn't even on the plane), and they just filled the plane with full tank of fuel, so it would have been overweight if we carried the bags. Your bags will arrive on the next flight.

Coco (her beautiful eyes wide open in surprise): Isn't the plane designed to fly with full capacity? So how are you sure that our bags will arrive on the next flight? What if the next plane has a full tank as well?

St Igbo: It is simple arithmethic.
Till today I don't understand how that answered the question, there has to be something to the arithmetic that only he understood.

Angry Yoruba man: Can you imagine!!! Nonsense, where is your manager!
By this time, a crowd of angry passengers had gathered round and as the information spread that our bags were still chilling in Lagos while we were in Abuja, the anger level rose rapidly and voices climbed to the ceiling.

St Igbo (still as unruffled as ever): First of all, I want to thank the Lord that you arrived safely...(dude was repeating his soundtrack all over again, and he finished with..."It is simple arithmetic")

Me (as naive as the white man in Things fall Apart): So what about compensation? We'll get some form of compensation, right?

A number of faces in the crowd turned and looked at me, some with the "eeeiyaaa, poor ignorant foreigner" look, others with the "what is compensation?" look...

St Igbo(calmly repeating his arithmetic soundtrack over and over)...

Me: What about compensation? Some one has to compensate us, that's the procedure right?

Finally someone in the crowd responded: "Ol boi, na 9ja you dey o, here no be America o"

My accent changed immediately and I joined the angry crowd..."Can you imgine!!!"

NB: This will probably be my last post for the year. 2012 was wonderful, and 2013 promises to be even better. I'm thankful for my family and friends, life and every little blessing it brings. Big shout out to my blog followers/readers, y'all rock. Most important, I'm thankful for my fiancee, Coco, 2012 was special just because of you, te amor! To everyone, my parting words for 2012 are: Count your blessings, be thankful for everything and show a little more love in 2013, be a shining light for love, hope and joy in your own little sphere of influence. See you all in 2013...

As for the Mayans, "una no well o, film no dey finish till actor kill the bad guy". Una prediction don enter "To be continued"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Street Credibility...

I was watching an AY comedy skit yesterday night and couldn't stop laughing. Our 9ja people are really creative and they deserve alot of kudos for the progress in the entertainment industry. I must admit that I'm not a fan of Nigerian movies. I rarely watch them, maybe once in 5 years, but I'm a big fan of naija music, yes o! Anyway, I was watching a few flicks on Youtube and in one of them, people were asked to say the proper English translations for some phrases in pidgin English. For example, what is the proper English translation for "which kain mago mago be this?"

It was hilarious to watch people stumbling over synonyms for "mago mago". In most cases the first synonyms that came to mind were other pidgin English phrases like "wuru wuru", "wayo", "corner corner". After running through a couple of them, a few smart fellas were able to stumble on the proper translation: "what kind of trickery/fraudulent behavior is this?". Prior to my sojourn in the Garden City (PH! stand up!), my pidgin English was pretty much suspect and non-existent. I have to confess that Las Gidi pidgin is a bit too polished compared to the south side pidgin, lol. Ever listened to a fluid pidgin English conversation between 2 Warri fellas? Two words to describe it, Auto-tune! The natural voice inflexions and exclamations run the gamut from outrageous to sheer magic. Shooooo!!!

It got me thinking though, Nigerians are really smart people. Our brains process both English and pidgin so smoothly that the transition is almost imperceptible. For instance, I'll translate the first paragraph of this blog in to pidgin without pausing to think:

"I bin dey watch one AY comedy like that for nite and laff bin wan kpai me. Our 9ja people too sharp and dem suppose to dey collect better award bcos our show too make sense. I no go lie you, I no too dey send Naija film sha, I no dey even look am, kpata kpata once in 5yrs, but I dey feel naija jams, confam! Anyway sha, I bin dey watch some shows like that for Internet and dem bin ask some people make dem talk the oyibo word for some pidgin yarns. Okay make I ask you, wetin this word "what kind of foolery is this" mean?

That barely took 3 minutes, phew! I don't think I got all the words right, but you do get my drift abi? So let's see if I can put the street credibility of my blog readers to the test, lol. This isn't an IQ test, but you can gauge how advanced your pidgin is by taking the test below. I'll throw out a few pidgin words and you can try to translate it to proper (Queen's not Brooklyn Queens o!) English. In the spirit of Christmas, the first person to correctly translate everything/(or the most) will get a $50/25 gift card of their choice. For those outside the US, I guess we can monetize the award as well.

Season's greetings everyone!

A lil tip, some of the words are phrases/slangs/proverbs. Translating them to Queen's English implies a literal translation as well as an explanation. Give it your best shot, trust me, it aint easy at all, lol.

1. Nah today winsh begin fly?
2. You fat no mean say you dey enjoi.
3. No be the mouth wey pesin dey take price pepper dem dey use price tomato.
4. Na from clap party dey take enter dance.
5. Bros, I bow for you o! Unto which level?
6. Why you dey provoke, dem dey worry you?
7. Bros abeg park well, you too dey show yourself!
8. Guy free me, I no fit shout!
9. My liver bin wan fail me, wetin I for tell Press?
10. Abeg, no dey shout give me!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Adam & Eve series: Random observations

Okay, I could not settle on an apt description for many reasons. I am not a psychologist, so I can't offer advice and tell you exactly how men or women think. I'm not married (yet), so I can't offer you marriage tips or relationship advice either. I try to learn as much as I can to get better, sometimes it gets a little blurry trying to filter through all the info. However, I've observed a few traits over the years and I'm trying to reconcile it with my behavior (I'm not your 'regular' dude, lol. I can be unconventional most of the time). Feel free to offer your perspective/critique to any points raised.

Random observations:
1. Most men are logical thinkers, most women are emotional thinkers

Note the emphasis on 'most', there are always exceptions to every rule. In order not to sound repetitive, when I say 'men/women', I'm actually referring to 'most men/women'

The way men and women are wired is different, I don't think you need a shrink to tell you that. When I say 'logical', I don't mean Socrates or Plato. Simply put, a man's thinking is ruled by figures, facts and numbers. There is barely any room for romanticism in thought, emotions are sacrificed on the altar of practicality and feasibility. Women on the other hand often yield to the allure of dreams. The funny thing I've observed however is that beneath all the emotions, women are equally logical, they explore the figures, numbers and facts but sprinkle in a little measure of dreams and extra imagination.

Let me paint a little picture for you, when a man thinks/plans his wedding, all he visualizes is the budget and logistics involved and sometimes life afterwards. There's no room for anything else. A woman 'dreams' about her wedding years before it approaches, so when she eventually starts planning for it, she considers the logical aspect, but she just doesn't abandon years of dreaming overnight, so dreams and logic/practicality merge till she tries to find a balance.

Why is this important? Simple, it can lead to a misunderstanding. The man thinks his wife isn't being practical and basically 'ignores' her dreams. The woman thinks her husband isn't being understanding, after all, refusing to even consider what she wants (no matter how illogical it may sound) indicates that he doesn't care about her opinion. Which raises one question, does it mean men are not emotional? Let's tackle observation number 2a and 2b.

2a. Men have short memories, women don't
2b. Women like to discuss issues, men don't.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that women like to talk and men are meek gentle creatures, lol. So a man and his wife have a simple misunderstanding, maybe a heated argument or just a difference in opinion or unresolved topic. Egos may have been bruised, voices raised, emotions and feelings hurt by careless words thrown around in the heat of the argument. Hours later, the man asks the woman if everything is okay and she says those golden words "I'm fine, there's no problem". The man in his naivety (lol) goes about life, oblivious to the storm (or in some cases, he chooses not to push). The truth is simple, when a woman's feelings have been hurt, she doesn't just forget it, she needs to 'discuss' it. Maybe it is because women are emotional, who knows? A man's mind is structured in compartments, men box up their emotions pretty quickly and forget about it, 30 minutes after the argument, the man barely remembers. Now don't get it twisted, men feel hurt too but it lasts for the duration of the argument. That's why you probably don't hear that 2 men have been quarreling for days, it is normally settled immediately. But when a woman's emotions are hurt, she bleeds slowly.

Then it gets worse, the man observes that the woman is acting different, and just because she says "I'm fine", he doesn't say a word. Don't blame the man sha, most men take words very literally, if you tell a man you are fine, then you are fine, that's logical, go back to point number 1. So the man notices that the woman isn't smiling or happy, but because her words imply that she is ok, he ignores his emotional heart and follows his logical head (lol, ego and pride). So when the woman eventually tells the man, "we have to talk", and raises the issue all over again, the man gets defensive, the woman feels unheard, the man feels misunderstood and the story continues...

"Tony and Cynthia just had a misunderstanding while discussing their future wedding. Tony feels Cynthia is not being practical with her expectations, Cynthia feels Tony isn't listening to her opinions.

2 hours later:
Tony: Is everthing alright?
Cynthia: I'm fine.

6 hours later:
Cynthia: We need to talk about this wedding
Tony: Shebi, you said you were okay?
Cynthia: Do I look like I'm happy?
Tony: How am I supposed to know?
Cynthia: If you need to be told all the time, then I'm not going to tell you, sometimes you need to push
Tony: Do I look like a mind reader?
The saga continues...(Why does "Sorry" seem to be the hardest word?)

One of the key ingredients of a healthy relationship is excellent communication. I don't subscribe to the "Think like a man" mentality ( no disrespect to Steve Harvey), not all men think the same way. Sometimes all you need to do is to change your approach based on the person you are talking to. When you talk to a child, you normally show alot of patience and understanding, why does it have to be different when you are talking to your spouse? The key word is 'understanding' before communication, understand that people think differently, that's what makes us unique.

Sadly, the reason why most relationships collapse is because of poor/zero communication, eventually the love goes cold. Communication is a 2-way street, you speak and then you listen, there's never a quick-fire solution or perfect script. I have to admit that men don't communicate as well as women (hides face) and women are more romantic than men, I really don't know why, lol.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents for today. Let me know what you think.

To my teacher and partner
Te amor, Olivia Bubble

9JA Part 1


Boarding the plane was the easy part, sitting down for the long flight was the tricky section of the trip. I braced myself for the recurring session of vertigo during the flight, then navigated through the flight entertainment section (my choice was a japanese flick, it perfectly suited my current craze with Asian art and culture), managed to wolf down the food while counting down the hours till touchdown in Abuja. There's nothing as good as coming back home, in my head I was whispering a P.Diddy tune as my eyes scanned the Abuja skyline during our descent. The heat welcomed me with a warm embrace, the air dry with a hint of dust...Good ol Abj, how I've missed thee...One of the customs officials beamed with pleasure as I approached, "Welcome oga! I hope your flight was okay sirOga you are looking very healthy o!" I couldn't help but tip him generously, imagine a small boy like me being hailed as "Oga", lol.

So much has changed! I held on tight to my seat as Ragfella navigated through the mild traffic with the ease of a Formula 1 driver. I just could'nt figure out why the roads did'nt have any lanes, all the cars switched and cut in like it was a video game! When I voiced my surprise at the blatant disregard of driving rules, Ragfella laughed and reminded me that I was back in Naija, "no be Yankee you dey o", he jokingly reminded me. Considering the fact that I had only been away from the country for 5years, I still felt out of synch with the status quo. "Surely, I'll blend in within a few hours", I muttered to myself...

The welcome entourage at home was wonderful. Kyla peered at me from behind her mother's legs, while Robyn smiled and beamed like an angel. After exchanging hugs with Wiggy, El-dee and Boi-O, we all lapsed into our favorite past-time, "gisting". As expected, there was no light from NEPA, but the little generator hummed happily in the background providing all the illumination we needed. A few hours later, I was in bed, happy and content after chatting with Coco, and dreaming of the days to come. I had a pretty tight schedule with stops in Port Harcourt, Lagos and a return to Abuja before the final departure to Jersey, so there wasn't any time to be wasted...

Port Harcourt

The flight to PH was pretty smooth, nevertheless I was bemused by the phony accents of the flight attendants. I simply can't understand why we have to fake an accent to feel polished/classy, what is wrong with our natural accent? I could barely understand a word of what the flight attendant was saying, I couldnt tell if she was talking with her nose pinched tight or if she was suffering from constipation, but the final effect was hilarious.

The PH airport looks like something out of an 80's movie set in Brazil, definitely not classy, lol. The bland look of the airport was quickly forgotten when I saw Coco approaching...You know that feeling when your heart skips a beat, and everything around you grinds to a halt, when it feels like you are floating in a dream and the only thing you can see is the beautiful woman walking towards you in slow motion...Chai! I've run out of words to paint how beautiful Coco is, a few people gaped, scoped and stared as she made her way towards the arrival area, her eyes scanning the crowd for a familiar face, oblivious to her own beauty...We finally locked eyes, a warm smile lit up her face, my heart flipped over a few times in excitement and when she walked into my arms, I knew I was finally home...

To be continued...

NB: To all my blog readers, abeg no vex, just like D'Banj said, "love is a beautiful thing", listen to P-Square's "Asamkpokoto" and you'll understand that when a man is ready to trek to Sokoto or PH to see a woman, then she is priceless! Meanwhile, when I was hugging Coco, you need to have seen the looks of envy some guys were passing my way (I feel their pain sha, if I was in their shoes I would have felt the same way), while some other people had this "abeg, comot for road jare" look on their face (awon haters, lol). I'll talk about the "hidden anger/bad belle/frustration" shown by some Nigerians in a future blog