Thursday, November 16, 2017

Articles of interest to moi (2017)

Would Jesus support Roy Moore?
Black Identity Extremists
Poo power
Ice on, ice off
Ain't no shame in mental illness
Nigerian Wonder Woman
How to help kids survive divorce
Nigeria marginal field round
Prayer circle
Oh Luxembourg
Beauty of the human spirit
History lesson on war
A new way of teaching
White privilege
Look Me In The Eye
South Sudan kickboxing
Racism on TV
Writing tips
Goodness in man
Kenya plastic bag ban
Influence of cryptocurrency
Debate over statues
Affirmative Action for White Folk
Stock Market 101
Finding Yourself
Perils of Black Thought
America badly needs healthcare
No excuses
Trying to be a real man
Real Healthcare Reform
Crappy Nigerian banks
Why Fathers Leave Their Children
Not having all the answers
Is your God dead?
Middle East imbroglio
Tired of the #WengerOut brigade. Asbury Park FC is the way to go
A better Uber
The Norway, er, Way
Qatari dilemna
Soul Man: The Reality Show
Failing carbon markets
New York state of waste
How to win at policy
Israel's take
Coach, anyone?
Mitch Landrieu remarks
Radicalizing the NAACP
Nigeria tutorial app
Southern Pride
African Risk Capacity
Can someone do this for African countries?
Steve Ballmer is finally interesting
Carter's take on Christianity
Waste your time
The refugee
Case for re-nationalization?
American double standard on Obamacare
Memory palace
Time for Arsene to work from home
How to win a feminist battle
Pray for us
Trump speech
Logic behind male anger
Know your travel rights
Jamal Edwards
King James
WEB Du Bois
Doing business in Africa
Breaking black stereotypes
Obama's Israel legacy

Comments-[ comments.]

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Trying for world peace so much I now get why I have a thing for beauty pageant contestants

Hola peeps.

On a Kenya Airways (KQ) flight from Nairobi to Lagos and the movie on display? The Blind Side. Really, KQ? This is the best you can do? To make matters worse it is one of those older planes where one must crane their neck to get a glimpse of the central monitor. Boo KQ boo. By the way what is it about airplanes that makes folk sleep with their mouths agape? Weird how I haven’t noticed this on any other means of transportation. You know how they say picture your audience naked if you wanna make a speech, well what other more embarrassing way can there be than to picture them drooling?

Transited through Nairobi from Juba and was put up at the Crowne Plaza hotel which is always good. Problem was had to wait for over an hour at the airport before a taxi was provided. Reason being the cab company KQ have an agreement with had all their cabs stuck in traffic on way back to airport. Excellent planning, huh? Could not rant at lady behind the desk ‘cos I knew it wasn’t her fault plus she was pregnant. Spent my time at airport weighing the cons and cons between KQ and Ethi0pian Airlines until….she walked in.

She in question turned out to be a Latina cougar that took my breath away. Picture an older Salma Hayek but with a mole above the right side of her mouth. So, if you are following me that’s a cross between Salma and Cindy Crawford. Plus, she had a light gravelly tone in her voice a la 80s hottie Kathleen Turner. While picking jaw off the floor I discovered she had come in on a later flight and we’d be sharing a cab to the same hotel. I could not contain my joy. So what if she’s almost old enough to be my mother, she’s Cindy K. Hayek for goodness sake!

Got into the cab, fought the driver off so I could place her tiny carry-on in the trunk of the car. Held open the back door for her and sat in front with the driver so she wouldn’t notice my sweaty palms. Punk driver had his radio tuned to sports radio instead of a station playing slow jams. No way he was getting a tip now. Heard her speak Spanish on the phone and desperately tried to remember something, anything from 12 weeks of Spanish class I took back in 2001. Instead all that came into head was Juba Arabic. Mierda.

Got to hotel, checked into room and went down to restaurant. Ordered a meal and Ms. Hayek was not down yet so decided to go get phone from room while food was being prepared. Got to elevator and Ms. Hayek walks out. She asks if I have eaten already and I mumble something about going up to room and…. anyways I then notice her teeth have the slight smoky brown hue of Salma Hayek’s. Oh, be still my thumping heart.

Return to restaurant and while plotting to find a not-so-obvious path to Ms. Hayek’s table an acquaintance from Juba walks in. Haven’t seen this dude in over 5 months and of all places to see him it’s Nairobi?! In the same hotel with my newest crush?! Aarrrgghh. Tried to avoid eye contact but he caught me and suggested we share a table. No harm done, I could still ask Ms. Hayek to join us and use the dude as an unknowing wing man. Just then his phone rings and he starts speaking Spanish! U what?! The dude is from the DRC and I knew he spoke French, but Spanish too?! No way I am bring MY Latina cougar to the table now. No way she’s gonna be more impressed with him than moi. Turns out she has some mates over for dinner as well. I tried to make eye contact with her across the restaurant. No dice.

Stomped up to room sad until I remembered I had requested the cab driver pick me up an hour later than recommended so I’d be able to ride with Ms. Hayek to the airport – her flight to Sierra Leone is an hour later than mine. It would be cutting my boarding time extremely close, especially if there’s traffic, but despite his protestations I explained to cab driver that it wouldn’t make sense for him to pick me up to airport only to return to hotel again to pick up Ms. Hayek. Was able to convince him I was only suggesting this 2-for-1 pickup for his convenience. He thanked me profusely.  Slick Tunde, always knew you had it in you. Got only 2 hours sleep as pernoctated listening to Despacito hoping to pick up some chat up lines and clicking on Google search results for How to learn enough Spanish to impress an older, sophisticated Latina.

Walked outta room at 440am and heard some noise a few doors from mine. Turns out Ms. Hayek and I were only two rooms apart. Held open the elevator and made sure she checked out first. Arrived at airport and since I had been through JKIA too many times to count I was able to guide her through the initial security check, then a shortcut through the second, and finally, the third. Passed through Duty Free and she stopped to have a look around. Brought out wallet ready to buy out entire store, but she said the perfume she wanted would probably be cheaper on the plane. Sophisticated and prudent, what more could a guy ask for?

As we walked to the lounge she introduced herself and I discovered she’s Cuban. Bueno. She’s going to Sierra Leone for work. Trabajo? Bueno. As we sat at the lounge and told her what I did she sounded impressed and suggested I was a jefe making loadsa dinero. I blushed. Then I enquired more about her and discovered she’s married and…mierda. Stopped listening to anything else she said but kept imagining what our life together coulda been like. A Spanish version of The Notebook, maybe? Sure, in this case she’s much older and I would have to hire someone to tell her the story of how we met ‘cos I’d still be agile and working full time as she was being looked after in a care home, but it would still be romantic either way. Was startled outta daydream when she handed me her What’s App number and suggested we’d only communicate in Spanish. Forgot to mention I had, ahem, sorta slyly mentioned my 12 weeks of Spanish classes and used the word “despacio” – thank you Justin Bieber - when she had some trouble trying to explain something to me in English. Slick Tunde, always knew you had it in you. Left her at the lounge as my flight departed before hers. Requested the flight attendants not bother me and knocked off trying to make up for lack of sleep from last night. Things we do for love, eh?

About an hour left of flight time and went to restroom to wash face. Noticed beard I shaved off exactly nine days ago had fully covered face. I knew my facial hair grew fast, but hadn’t the foggiest I was the Wolverine of facial hair. Wound on right palm’s almost fully healed too. Should aid in HIIT exercises when I get to Lagos. Not gonna slack off like I did during UK vacation in August. By the time I attempted first HIIT session in 5 weeks I thought I was having a heart attack. No mas.

There must be something written across forehead in invisible ink ‘cos at Juba airport yesterday some stranger came up to ask me if I was heading to Cairo ‘cos she wanted to hand me stuff to give to someone, like what happened in Addis Ababa two months ago. Fast forward to this morning, while waiting on Ms. Hayek to get through first screening some Mama Ji in a sari asked me for the location of the restroom in Hindi! How did she know I had spent a vast part of my childhood reared on Bollywood movies? Pointed her in the right direction then she asked me to watch her bags while she went on to do her business. I really wish I was making this up.

Back to Juba, the “things are tough” guy clocked me again and went through his merry song. Tried a different tactic this time by asking if I wanted to use the VIP departure lounge. Declined his offer and gave him what he wanted before he could continue his spiel. Soon as he got the money he walked away and when I saw him later under the tent, aka the non-VIP departure lounge, he blanked me. Come to think of it, he always does that! Once he gets money off me he pretends not to see me anymore and I suppose goes looking for another prey. Obtw I only discovered his name – Abraham – when I walked off a flight in September and he was at the foot of the airplane to pick up a Zol Kabir. Dude pretended as if he didn’t know me while the big kahuna called out his name and handed him his hand luggage to carry. Oh Abraham, this is the last time I fall for your tricks again.

Looking forward to Lagos I won’t lie. Things were so bad I coulda sworn someone was frying plantains in their hotel room last night. Already developed a food rota for week-long stay in Lagos and gonna catch up on movies in the cinema as soon as I drop off bags at home. Gonna miss my Juba apartment, but surely not gonna miss other parts of it. Ever tell you about birds that perch outside window sill of bedroom? Without fail they start screeching at 06:30:14hrs on weekdays. Seems they take weekends off though. They must also work on Daylight Savings Time as since the clocks went back an hour in the UK I haven’t heard a squeal. Strangely, I have noticed for the past two weeks same bird or its spooky cousin trails me to work and chirps at 12:06pm E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y.

Pilot just announced plane is landing in ten minutes so I gotta wrap this up. Plan to see family tomorrow as rest of the week I am gonna be busy with work and medical appointments. As usual the female members of family have requested sheabutter from Juba. Not sure if they really like it as they profess or ‘cos they are getting it gratis. Gonna start treating them like Abraham now. If they want Juba sheabutter they gotta cough up the $6 a tub it cost me. Since they are family I won’t charge them for freight. Oh, almost forgot, I’ll need to schedule a bespoke suit fitting during this week as well. A bro’s gotta look sharp for my trip to Sierra Leone…. once I discover when next Ms. Hayek’s gonna be there. Bueno.

Tot ziens and God bless.

Comments-[ comments.]

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The 41-year-old bed-wetter

Hola peeps.

Man, ana fatran. Dunno why but lately I have been doing what I heard TD Jakes once refer to as “sleeping without getting rest”. For instance, I returned from kickboxing class yesterday at 3pm, avoided calls and planned to fall asleep while completing Season 3 of Better Call Saul – great show by the way. But with eyes were still wide open afterwards, I decided to do some work though I had sworn to keep work stuff at work and not bring it home with me.

Now it’s 9pm and though I purposely bailed on a dinner date I am no nearer to snoozing. This ain’t helping with bags under eyes especially after I shaved off all of beard on Wednesday. Most folk look younger after shaving but it’s the reverse here. Likely due to beard covering up gaunt face. I walked in front of the mirror earlier and must admit I am as skinny as folk say. What is wrong? I just cannot compartmentalize work it seems. End up thinking and re-thinking stuff, mostly to do with a huge presentation I’ve got coming up.

Real looking forward to this presentation after one I gave earlier this month. I am usually loth to speak in public but had no choice this time. I practiced everything I learnt from my crush Bimbo Oloyede – maintained eye contact, paced myself and had a good command on the subject matter. The latter I would suggest is most important when giving a talk ‘cos mind wasn’t darting everywhere hoping I would not get asked any gotcha questions by zetetics in the audience. To get over fear of that I actively welcomed questions during speech to make it interactive. The talk went over like a hot knife through butter. Folk came up afterwards to congratulate me and best of all my message was delivered. So much so that I have random folk still approaching me, over 2 weeks afterwards, talking about the subject and requesting a copy of the presentation. Now you get why I am antsy about impending speech to a much larger audience than the 200 persons I spoke to a fortnight ago. Chances are this address would be broadcast on Juba terrestrial TV to boot. No pressure, eh? Good thing Black Damme aka Full Contact aka Jean Claude van Dammit aka The Nigerian Panther thrives on pressure. What he doesn’t thrive well on is drama.

For the past month I have noticed cleaning lady has been doing laundry at least thrice a week. I am creature of habit; I leave out dirty clothes from weekend to be laundered on Monday and that from rest of the week to be done on Friday. Simple enough, right? You would think cleaning lady would be happy with not having much work to do especially as I wash up dishes after using them and not leave them lying around like neighbours are wont to do. But noooo, she actively searches through wardrobe for clothes and since they aren’t many she’s taken to changing bedsheets every other day. I mean, c’mon, no one is that filthy. If she keeps this up neighbours are gonna think I am a closet bedwetter or something.

Now I am stuck having to play hide and seek laundry with cleaning lady. On Wednesday, while musing over best strategy to concealing dirty clothes, I may have stumbled on a reason for her recent weird behavior. She’s getting hitched in December and feel she may be getting jittery about upcoming nuptials. Before you scoff at my attempt at armchair psychology I need to also reveal that about the same time I began noticing her quest to ensure I only sleep on freshly laundered sheets, I kept returning home to find TV on some Asian soap. One of those shows where a man from a higher caste and his maid from a lower caste sneak glances at each other and…. wait, is cleaning lady trying to re-enact what she’s seen on TV?! Maybe she thinks this clothes concealment thing is my way of wooing her away from her beau? Uh oh. Nah, surely it can’t be. Shall alert you if I ever notice rose petals on bed spelled out in words providing clues for assignations away from the apartment where we would be outta prying eyes. Am I getting paranoid or is the lack of rest making me go all loopy?

One thing that cannot be attributed to insufficient rest is stench of my feet. You know how you fart so bad you wanna run away from your butt? Same is happening with feet. Was at yoga class last month and wondered how someone would come to such a public setting without giving themselves a good scrub? Turns out I was the guilty individual. Have avoided yoga class since. I mean feet smell alright most of the time, but especially notice a funk while stretching in the morning ahead of HIIT cardio exercise. Could this be ‘cos of ankle supports I wear during kickboxing class that clump toes together? Hope to investigate further when I am in Lagos next week. I am going for last stage of root canal treatment and plan to use the opportunity to get a full checkup, especially of lower left side of stomach near crotch. It plays up whenever I attempt abs exercises. Just wanna ensure it ain’t anything to do with the appendix.

What I don’t need a doctor’s opinion on is state of lactose intolerance. I am officially over it now. How do I know? I subjected myself to a series of “tests” during last trip to the UK where I ate ice cream like crazy, had milkshake twice in 2 days, and guzzled down a pint of full cream milk in one sitting. Nada happened. Clearest confirmation yet would be McDonald’s strawberry milkshake. If stomach does not act up following that then I am totally cured. That said, I won’t be able to test out my thesis until Q1 2018 as planned US trip this month was cancelled. Could my anticipation of an “all clear” be why I am overdoing pepper consumption in order to find out if stomach’s also overcome its tendency to “run” after it gets hit by hot sauce? On Friday night I got Mexican takeaway then loaded it with some spicy sauce I got in Uganda. Boy, I went to the loo 3ice on Saturday and on one of those visits I spent 43.2 minutes on the loo, a new record. It was one of those dumps where you gotta take off all pieces of clothing, not even underwear should be around ankles to allow for maximum maneuvering. Returned to bed after that battle and lay in fetal position while dreaming up Rube Goldberg ideas that could pick out towels from closet, dip them in a bucket of icy water, dab my arse gently then repeat every 30 seconds. Man, my arse felt like there was a hot flame lit directly under it with the flame intensity increasing every second.

Loo experience wasn’t improved by crap bog roll I bought last week. In bid to avoid chaffing caused by previous rolls I went around a few supermarkets in Juba pretending to be carrying out market survey on bog rolls for a new manufacturer. After an hour of tasking work, I ended up buying a new, softer bog roll. Problem is one must fold it multiple times to avoid fingers piercing through and getting poop on hands. Never bothered with the term “ply” on bog roll wrappings until I bought this new set. This had no ply rating and suspect it is ½ PLY – if there is such a thing – or less. I friggin’ use one bog roll a day….and this remains true even on days where I do not take a dump! Bog roll is like cotton candy on saliva; exposure to moisture air seems to cause it to shrink. I swear this Snapchat bog roll vanishes into the ether on its own.

While we are on the subject I must say it doesn’t help one’s concentration on a run when one is desperately searching for a bush, a shrub, anything that can provide cover in case doodle pangs get excruciatingly bad. A month ago, I decided to go on a run with neighbours who were training for a marathon. Just 2km in I started having the well-established feeling of knowing poop was about to come out. It took all of God’s grace to hold it in for as long as I did. Trust me there is nothing, save a gun to the head, that can bring any dormant religious feeling to the fore like thought of pooping one’s pants in public. You start recalling previous times when the good Lord saved you from letting go of your bowels in public, you start contemplating worst case scenarios of how you gonna wipe your butt with your underwear if you need to run into a bush to answer nature’s call, you start wondering how those marathoners do it race after race without pooping their pants, you start wondering what the headline in the local newspaper would be should someone take a pic of you taking a dump in public: Foreigner Damaging Juba’s Reputation?

While trying to take mind off poop I tried thinking of different stuff but mind got stuck on Hawaiian pizza for some reason. Like who was responsible for that sacrilege? I mean, like really? I imagined myself as the Terminator going back in time to kill the guy who came up with the recipe. Before I finish him/her off I would want them to take me through their thought process. “I mean why pineapples? You do know that pineapples leave a bitter aftertaste after drinking water, right? So, did you design your pizza not to be consumed with water? Did you try other fruit? Mangoes? Coconuts, maybe?”

It’s at times like these one is glad Juba is pretty small ‘cos when pausing with the race leader at the 20km mark for others to catch up I realized I was a 5-minute jog away from office so made some excuse about needing to go check on stuff and offered to catch up later. As if. Ran to office like those dudes in competitive racewalkers at the Olympics and prayed on way there the security guard would not be out on a ciggie break. Thankfully there was someone at the gate, but not the usual dude that’s there during week days. Told him I worked in the office and before he could enquire further I pushed him aside, scaled the stairs like The Hulk and offloaded in the office toilet while thanking God for not allowing my enemies triumph over me by pooping in public.

All in all, I completed 20km in 2hrs (sans poop break). That was the first time I had gone over 10km and surprisingly I wasn’t gassed or bored. I suppose it helps when you have someone to talk to during the run. Oh yeah, did I mention I went kickboxing afterwards? Yup, the Nigerian Panther is a problem yo. Think I need my own theme song like Rocky does during his training montages. For mine however, the music will start off at a high tempo then ease off when I need to poop or nurse hurt knees and swollen ankles. Yup, after a few mini marathons I now realize my knees have their own internal odometer. Once I hit 10km they start going faulty. At 9.5km no problem, at 9.99km no issues, but once I clock 10km they give up. Reminds me of chick with 50 quid car in Bradford I musta told you about. Yes, 50 GBP! The jalopy was all well and good to drive around Bradford in but soon as it sees the “Goodbye from Bradford” sign it starts spluttering and coughing up smoke. Once driver make a U-turn into the “Welcome to Bradford” sign it miraculously becomes sound. Eerie.

Took about 3 days for knees and ankles to get back to normal and ‘cos I had a noticeable limp during the healing period all sorts of folk suggested varying remedies, but weirdest I heard was oxtail soup. Not chicken or any other meat no, it’s gotta be oxtail. The elderly lady who suggested it was crazy serious too and wasn’t impressed when I asked genuine questions like, Do I have it in a container to drink while running? Must it be drunk pre- or post-race? Do I imbibe it or rub it on knee? If the latter, is this pre- or post-race? Fun times.

Went for a massage to work out knots and y’all will be glad to know I have finally found a non-pervy masseuse in Juba. Problem is I honestly feel she is doing stuff to make me return as she fixes one ache and few days later another appears on a different part of the body. Maybe she has a voodoo doll in my likeness she pricks whenever she runs outta money? Once walked in and dunno what she and colleague whispered in Kikuyu, but swear she ended it with “ATM” while pointing in my direction. Yup, she definitely is the cause of my aches.

I know carrots are supposed to be good for the eyes but had no clue papayas are good for the ears. Since chef, or as she’s been known to refer to herself, Number one lady in Tunde’s life, has purposely been disobeying instructions (again) to avoid buying papaya and kept right on buying papaya, I now have superhuman hearing. How else do you think I was able to hear voodoo priestess masseuse referred to me as an automated teller machine sotto voce? Seems the more my hearing improves the worse chef’s gets ‘cos she followed the papaya debacle with cooking meat even when I clearly told her I wanted to transition from meat to fish-centric meals. If meat was not so tasty I may have flipped. Chef’s behavior – as I overhead my brother’s neighbor once blurt out when their security guard went awol as usual - is “becoming unbecoming”. Ha…becoming unbecoming….one of those quintessentially Nigerian phrases one can’t hear in any other part of the world. You just gotta love us.

I have fallen out with chef so many times I have lost count. Sad thing is as much as I may huff and puff I always go back. Guess it’s ‘cos I know it’s more convenient to have her around ‘cos if she leaves my eating habits would be worse off and I would be even skinnier. Yeah, I tried to blame my weight loss all on work earlier, but workout regime ain’t helping either. Been doing HIIT at least 4 times a week for the past month. Why? I wish I had an answer. Only gonna skip it tomorrow morning ‘cos I developed a blister on right palm from kickboxing session today. Spent Saturday kickboxing classes working on techniques while hour on Sundays is spent on conditioning. Was maneuvering on the monkey bars – made from one of those DIY welded pipes thingamajigs - without gloves when I got a blister from scraping palm on its rough surface. Did not help that earlier I had lifted car tyres without gloves either. Add this blister to knuckle scrapes I endured a fortnight ago while hitting punching bag without proper protection and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that this Nigerian Panther alter ego will be the death of me if I don’t ease off. What am I trying to prove? Who am I trying to impress?

Case in point was decision to go back to the field in September, barely a month after that field trip from hell. Coulda delegated someone else to check on welfare of field staff but had to prove to self I was no sissy, and that last field experience did not scar me. Turned out to be pleasant, having a clean accommodation this time surely helped. Once again, the authorities messed up reservation on departure flight so had to spend an extra night in the field. Unlike other time, I embraced this unplanned scenario and chose to spend the evening catching up on movies. Unfortunately, I wasted 3 hours of my life watching The Deer Hunter. Suckedddddddddddddddddddddd. It’s like the 70s directors never heard of editing. Wonder how Christopher Walken won an Academy award for that movie? It was awful. Only highlight was seeing a young Meryl Streep. No screw that, that movie had no redeeming feature. No wonder I never completed that movie as a kid. Also watched Deliverance. Now I remember seeing that as a kid, but not sure I could decipher the rape scene then. I recall Ned Beatty screaming like a pig, but for the life of me could not quite understand why.

The sheer awfulness of The Deer Hunter musta zapped brain cells ‘cos the next morning I panicked when electric toothbrush ran outta juice just as I was about to clean teeth. I hadn’t brought along charger ‘cos hadn’t expected to spend that much time in the field. While pacing back and forth and debating merits of spreading toothpaste on finger I finally got over my stupid trance and remembered I just had to move hands up and down for powerless electric toothbrush to do same job as a regular toothbrush. Duh. Not my proudest moment.

Went to Kampala weekend after field trip for David’s 40th birthday soiree. Had loadsa pork. Got a pervy massage. Lost more valuable time watching the crap Wonder Woman. Hey, riddle me this, why did all actresses playing Amazon women need to speak in a strange accent? Probably to accommodate Gal Gadot’s accent, no? And they say Hollywood is misogynist. I for one can tell you Caine, Connery, Van Damme, Schwarzenegger and even Stallone never got that treatment.

Once again, David’s mates who I have met a gazillion times before still do not get that I don’t drink alcohol. Being sober when folk are drunk offers a unique perspective. For instance, there was a girl at the party with bleached blonde hair trying desperately to be Amber Rose but looking more like Amber Grass. The next morning while trying to describe this hilarious set up to David he couldn’t remember a thang. Sometimes I wonder why folk still drink knowing they end up acting erratic when drunk. I suppose it is like asking me to give up chocolate. Touché.

Hold on, there’s a knock at the door……Guess what? MY number one lady just walked in with a pot of fish stew. Gonna eat it on bed so other lady in my life at least has stuff to do tomorrow.

Tot ziens and God bless.

Comments-[ comments.]

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Fresh Prince of Juba and the £50 note

Hola peeps.

Just returned from Kampala to find a note from cleaning lady reminding me to buy sugar as “we had run out”. Yup, we. After 6 months of investigating I have now determined she must be the culprit behind my missing fancy biscuits. Opened fridge to discover onions and salt in a bag. I may have been iffy in the past about whether I ate biscuits and forgot about it, but since I don’t cook I am sure stuff in refrigerator ain’t mine. It appears I am sharing biscuits, bottled water and use of fridge with cleaning lady. Wait, discovered cap of miniature shower gel was opened too. Yup, add shower gel nicked from Nairobi hotel as other stuff I’m unknowingly sharing with cleaning lady. People sure do take the piss. Another case in point was dude I got a t-shirt from the UK. Dude sees me after picking it up from his colleague and didn’t say thanks, instead he provided a screed on how tee was not a snug fit and wanted to know if I also bought shoes for him. Gobsmacked does not quite describe my expression.

Can’t say I blame cleaning lady though since I have hardly spent considerable time in my apartment in the past few months. Returned from Lagos-UK-US-UK-Lagos-Addis trip last Monday with emetic feelings at the thought of boarding another flight. If I hadn’t bought plane ticket to Uganda weeks before for David’s 40th birthday soiree I would not have travelled to Kampala three days after my return to Juba. I was beat, man. I know the UK ain’t exactly a “vacation” spot due to family and friends I gotta meet up with but this was the most tired I have ever been from a trip. Most likely had to do with time spent at airports and planes within a brief time span. On one occasion, it was not until the US immigration officer asked why I was visiting the US for only 2 days, well 1.5 days if we are being accurate, that the folly of my actions to seek a break away from the UK dawned on me. Before you cast aspersions on me for tony flights (pun intended) of fancy just know I never intend to do such again. Travel stops being fun when all one sees are airports and run-of-the-mill hotels.

Finally put money where mouth is by taking Ethiopian Airlines on last trip from Lagos to Juba. Could no longer hand money to Kenya Airways in good conscience after previous trip to Juba was delayed for over 15 hours due to staff shortage. The in-flight experience on Ethiopian Airlines was better as evinced by the extra legroom and modern movies on offer. Once I landed at Addis Ababa though I was not impressed by the airport and having to wait 30 minutes for an airport shuttle did not brighten my mood. If I thought the Juba airport “things are tough” guy was a one-off the Hilton Hotel liaison guy at the Bole international airport at Addis proved me wrong. After commenting on my wooden wrist watch, he showed me his watch and overtly mentioned it was provided by a Chinese client of his. Once the interminable wait for the airport shuttle was over he insisted on walking me to the vehicle just so he could remind me to get him a wooden watch on my next trip through Addis.

One thing Addis has going for it was is the lack of traffic from airport to hotel which is usually not the case in Nairobi. However, the hotels and general hospitality in Nairobi are several notches ahead. Got to the Hilton and was surprised to discover one would have to cough out $12 for internet access. You what?! Could be a Hilton thang as I recall not having free Wi-Fi either when I stayed at a Hilton in Las Vegas 6 years ago. Anyways I wasn’t too fussed as I would only be spending a night, but thought to comment about it to the hotel bellboy who insisted of taking me to room even though I had no luggage. Once in room he showed me how the TV remote control worked, then the faucets in the bathroom, then how to draw the curtains. I stopped him just as he was about to demonstrate the proper way to open the complimentary bottle of water and gave him a tip. Bellboy thanked me and proceeded to offer me an internet access code after making me swear I would not reveal this to anyone. After our business was concluded I left room to grab dinner and laughed out loud after I shut the door and spotted room number was 419. What are the odds of that in a 372-room hotel, eh?

The next morning, I got dropped off at wrong airport terminal by Hilton shuttle so had to traipse through construction site, that is set to become new airport extension, to arrive at right terminal. Was asked by security where I was travelling to and as soon as I mentioned Juba an elderly lady grasped my left hand and would not let go despite pleas to her in best sign language that I had no alms to give. She kept muttering stuff that I did not understand and as a security guard tried to shoo her off another explained to me her daughter works in Juba and she wanted to send stuff to her. Lady looked distraught and understanding the prevailing economic situation in Juba I foolishly accepted the package of what I was assured was food.

Passed it through the x-ray machine at Terminal 1 entrance and prayed that if anything was flagged the security guys would attest to what occurred with lady. Nada happened. Same occurred at second x-ray machine before boarding gate. Lady gave me her daughter’s number so before I boarded plane I got someone in Juba to call and ensure she existed; if no one had answered phone I woulda left package at airport. After an uneventful 2-hr flight – well, were offered no hot towels for cleansing hands – I arrived at Juba airport and handed over food to lady’s daughter. Hope she enjoyed it.

Noticed something during stopover at Addis Ababa: I am no longer intrigued by Ethiopian women. If you recall, the first time I spent a night there I went on and on about how gorgeous Ethiopian women were. Fast forward two years of seeing them daily in Juba and I am now meh. Human nature, eh? Or could this new found meh-ness be a side effect of stressful vacation? Also have noticed since my return I have tended to take things easy and leave work stuff at work. I am surprising myself I cannot lie. Long may this continue.

Another facet of my post-vacation life is weird dreams I have. I have always had peculiar dreams as y’all know all too well, but what am I to make of one where I shouted at mom in public and directed a cruel joke at a childhood friend? That ain’t me. Yesterday, I dreamt I was performing a stand-up comedy set while taking a dump in a urinal. Woke up after someone complained about the mountain of bog roll I had heaped in said urinal, thus leaving no space for him to urinate. Now that definitely ain’t me.

Brief US trip wasn’t entirely wasted as got to practice some Arabic with the red wine-swilling Saudi Arabian female dental hygienist seated beside me. Got to watch season finale of Game Of Thrones live and visit the Liberty Bell. However, trip highlight was purchasing kettle corn I described in a previous blog post. Again, I refuse to believe this stuff is not crack disguised as food. I wanted to tell immigration officer I was in the US for two nights primarily to get a fix of that oh lovely goodness, but feared he woulda sent me back to the UK for being unserious.

Never seen as many panhandlers in a major US city as Philadelphia. On the flight back to the UK, I sat beside a Trump-supporting Vietnam vet who explained there was a good chance the beggars were veterans like himself, but lacking a support structure. After the war, he served in the Cleveland police department for 20 years before moving to Florida. Ever since he was diagnosed for PTSD he’s travelled to Ibiza annually for a week-long vacation to get wasted on “medicine” and dance his worries away. Though he lacked MY Saudi Arabian princess’s orphic aura, he was interesting all the same.

Mustn’t forget to mention I got a new phone while in the US to replace the crap Samsung Prime that caused me more headaches than the Juba airport “things are tough” guy and his ilk. Unlike previous times when I would acquire a new piece of technology and let it simmer for 1-2 months before using it, I am glad to say this was not the case with my Samsung S8. So far so good (with this post-vacation behavior).

UK trip was meh except for time spent with my daughter. Man, I miss her so. Gone was the Can I press the red button now diva, here was my little bundle of joy. Was so excited to see her I opened with my fallback trick to get kids’ attention where I flip my eyelids so red underside is displayed. This act repulses most kids, but not the apple of my eye who insisted on practicing it on herself. With each failed attempt her eyes got redder and had to beg her to stop before her mom found out. Geez, you would think I would act like a responsible adult occasionally, right? At her age, and sometimes even now, I would get incredibly shy around adults, but my princess is 5 going on 21 with the confidence she displays. Sure got loads to learn from her.

Noticed some of my childhood traits in her like when she cried because she forgot to bring along the rock she had picked up from her beach holiday and time she could not remember the answer to some random information she had been given earlier in the day. That was me as a kid! I cried when I did not get stuff right, especially school work. This was so repetitive on one of her trips outside Nigeria mom got me a tee with the inscription, Boys Don’t Cry. What she did not know at the time was tee shirt was merchandise for The Cure's ‘80s album. Hadn’t a clue myself until years later when we got MTV.

One trait I am glad she hasn’t picked up is my inability to walk straight. Never noticed it much in Juba ‘cos I drive everywhere, but realized I had not overcome it while walking around with peeps during this holiday. I observed I still tend to veer left so much so if I walk a considerable distance with someone on my left I could force them off the road/path. I remember a mate teasing me about this, insisting my bizarre walking style is ‘cos I was sheltered as a kid and never had to take public transportation to school. Ha.

Mom was in the UK when I got there and planned my arrival date to coincide with her birthday. I am sure she musta caught on to my attempts at ingratiation by now as this is second consecutive year I have done this, but she didn’t let on. Aww bless. Our kumbaya phase lasted all of two days before we fell out. Must credit her with trying to restore the putative mother-son close bond between us, but there just doesn’t seem much we have in common anymore. Her constant hope for a “deeper” relationship where I would divulge secrets to her is not feasible. It breaks my heart as a parent myself and I am sure it hurts her more, but it is what it is.

Saw UK dentist and hoping huge bill from him is last I am gonna receive for a long, long time. One more trip to Nigeria next month to fit permanent crown on tooth then dentists assure me I should have a Rolls Royce mouth. Yup, forget airline selections, this time I am literally putting my money where my mouth is.

Tot ziens and God bless.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Was gonna tell y’all Tiffany Haddish is my new crush but wet wipes seem more important now

Hola peeps.

Field trip from hell! All time spent on R.I.G. in Nigeria was as a “company man” so was treated like royalty. This week I got to experience how mere mortals live. Client did not have accommodation so had to ask a fellow contractor to accommodate me and the team. Now we were thankful for this but did not realize contractor took DIY to the extreme: room occupants had to clean own rooms, do own laundry, etc. Room I was placed in was so rank a new bedsheet was purchased and even at that I slept in a hood so no part of me would touch mattress. Also bought new bedsheet to wrap around pillowcase as seemed pillowcase was handed down by the lowest caste of landfill scroungers.

Day 1: Saw the Juba airport “things are tough” pal, but he failed to ask for anything. Maybe ‘cos he noticed I was on a domestic flight or maybe he’s actually changed his ways? Good on him. Arrived at aforementioned filthy camp site and heard some poor guy’s story of fleeing his Syrian homeland when ISIS took over the oilfields. They offered him an option to work in the oilfields for them, but he refused and so his house and cars were confiscated and his family was banned from leaving town. Took a year to escape with his wife and kids. Now lives in Sudan.

Bathroom was dire…real dire and no hot water so desperately searched for alternative accommodation. Bathroom was one of those toilet bowls-cum-shower combos, but this was extra tiny so one would have to contort self to avoid touching grimy walls or placing feet in toilet bowl in order to take a shower. When I took a dump, I laid 5 layers of bog roll on bowl to avoid catching a non-curable disease.

Day 2: Did not shower before heading to work as had hoped to secure another accommodation before end of day. That did not materialize so returned to what we termed Camp WC (Water Closet) only to find there was no running water. Talk about complaining about not having shoes then seeing someone with no feet.

Moaned bitterly to pals in town and they offered suggestions that ranged from using wet wipes – wish I had some – to MacGyvering a way to shower with a 600ml bottle of water. Now I know how it feels to attend a Ja Rule-organized music festival. Settled for doing a rain dance in the end – did not work - as rained like crazy when I left Juba yesterday but not a drop since we arrived here. My pelvic thrust brings all the girls (and water truck) to the yard and they’re like it’s better than yours and…

Day 3: Water truck arrived in the morning – do not underestimate the power of the thrust - and relished bathing with chilly water. Well, maybe relish is a strong word ‘cos I already told you how rank the bathroom was, right? Still, even though I had not attended yoga class in yonks I am glad I still practiced standing on one foot (tree pose?) before every gym session. It was the only way I could wash bottom of feet without any body part touching grimy bathroom wall. I was told the key to keeping balance during tree pose is keeping eyes fixed on a spot/object in front of you. Some people can do it with eyes closed but I am not there yet so had to concentrate on dirty toilet bowl to keep steady. Memo to self: make an appointment with shrink to hypnotize thought from head.

Highlight of day was going to local market to eat fried fish. Had seen fish when we stopped at market yesterday for colleagues to have tea/coffee/shisha at one of the local establishments. Interestingly, we saw a mad woman sucking milk directly from a cow’s udder yesterday as well. When she was done getting her dairy on she passed by us today and we all avoided eye contact, but she still made an aggressive before huffing away. Well, today after the fish as we got into the car she darted towards the car and accused a colleague of striking her above the eye. We rapidly drove off. My kickboxing lessons have not developed to the point where I engage a mad person.

Returned to camp and noticed a kettle in room with a cello tape around it. Something told me to try it and it worked! Yaaay, hot water at last. After pouring two full kettles of hot water in a bucket I was about to boil a third to surprise colleagues in adjoining room, but kettle would no longer function. I banged it around, nada. Tried my pelvic thrust a few times in direction of kettle, nada. Before I left Juba, my Swiss neighbor had lamented waking up twice one night as her TV appeared to turn itself on. The second time she unplugged it from the mains. Teased her about having a poltergeist in her apartment. Well, it appears the poltergeist musta travelled from Juba as it is now messing with kettle.

Day 4: Been sleeping in fits and starts since I arrived here but last night was particularly bad. Had a weird ass dream that was like a scene from the Jungle Book with an especially massive snake and talking animals. We landed a small plane on a Namibian island with all these creatures with the aim of endorsing a lucrative oil deal. However, we got frightened of being stuck on the island for good after one of the talking animals with a penchant for sniffing human butt – it got agitated after a companion tried to show the white Namibians how to twerk – threatened, in an East African lady’s accent, to bite colleague in the butt if she didn’t read it a bedtime story. Was so freaked out when I woke up I rushed outta room and immediately went to the office.

In the evening as I attempted to throw out the trash in the designated receptacle in a dimly lit area of the camp site I saw a stray dog. Normally this wouldn’t bug me as all dogs I have seen dash at sight of humans, but this dog musta known I had a weird dream about talking animals last night ‘cos it stared at me and stood its ground. After glancing around and noticing other humans were safely ensconced in their rooms I regret to inform you I backed away from stray dog.

By the way kettle ain’t working. Banged it around a few times but nyet as Trump’s Russian pals would say. In one last desperate move I did the pelvic thrust while placing the mirror at an angle so full range of thrust could repair kettle a la the Care Bear Stare. Still did not work.

Day 5: First thing I did when I woke up and realized it was extra bright outside was to take trash to main receptacle. Was really, really hoping the stray dog from last night – did I mention it was as huge as a horse? – would be out so I’d give it the Full Contact treatment, but ah no such luck. That doggy horse was lucky.

Discovery of day was option of different meals served at work site so tried Indian food this afternoon. Loved the pepper. Missed pepper so much.

Received a call from the traffic police in Juba who stopped me last Monday for Driving While Foreign (DWF). Was on way to drop off mate at airport when I was stopped for jumping a red light. My pleas that light was green fell on deaf ears as five guys surrounded me. Knew the score so waited until they went after other cars and one guy remained with me. Gave him documents and told him to hold on to them while I drove to airport so mate wouldn’t miss her flight. He requested for my phone number as documents were copies – learnt never to hand over original car documents from incident in Nigeria - so took his and gave him mine. I coulda fled after airport trip was done but I kept my word and gave him a li’l something for lunch. Since then he calls randomly. Today his lament was, “Baba, this sun is too hot...” Told him I was away from Juba but would holler once I get in. Might drop off a carton of water for him and his traffic pals. Hee Hee.

Juba Arabic classes paying off as it’s helping me communicate with Egyptian colleagues. Naturally, mistakes are made like when one of the guys insinuated that a drug for upset stomach should be taken every 6 years instead of every 6 hours. I am also using them to perpetuate the myth of Full Contact and ensures it goes global. Case in point is my volunteering to ride along with military escorts to a site when they expressed discomfort due to reports of kidnapping in the area. They probably gonna spread stories of how macho I am when I only volunteered ‘cos I knew since escorts began insecurity has generally been curbed. They ain’t privy to this so best keep that between us.

Day 6: Last night dreamt I was approached by Diane Kruger to help save the US Constitution from being stolen a la Nic Cage movie National Treasure. Woke up just after I lunged at the bad guys in best kickboxing leap. Dreams getting better though wish it was a better movie from Nic Cage’s oeuvre. Face/Off perhaps?

Day 7: No spectacular dreams last night though only dreamt of upcoming secondary school reunion that I won’t be able to attend. I know I say this all the time but amazing how folks really don’t change much from high school days…. well, except folk like a close pal who felt it was funny to send us a video of him in his underwear doing his best Nollywood actor’s impression. This 43-year-old man started dating a 22-year-old university student last month and I hate to think that’s the reason ‘cos I have ventured into a similar age dating gap scene before, but something’s def off with him. Really?! You let a gf/lover record you in your tidy whities?! What happens when/if you fall out with her?
(Dude must be bored, and to think what we did on boring days in secondary school when we used to rank which public figure we reckoned had the worst poop stench. I remember the final was between Heavy D and the Queen of England. Cannot recall who won though.)

Speaking of falling out, I recall my mom hammering on about some insensitive stuff I did when I was 4 or 5. She would go on about how I have never truly cared for her and her go-to story was about time she was hospitalized with complications from Kemi’s birth and when I was asked to tag along to see her I told them to say hi to her as I was busy watching TV. Yesterday I tried incessantly to call my daughter on FaceTime ‘cos internet connection was wonky and when I finally got through she said hello and immediately asked, “can I press the red button?” to wrap up the conversation. Her mom had to cajole her to keep talking. Man, it burned and I have tried everything to keep her interested. Other day I cut out one eyepatch of those airplane sleep masks in an attempt to impersonate a pirate. Miss Thang wasn’t interested. Nearly donned on taekwondo outfit last month so I’d demonstrate some moves for her. Are these a result of my actions at mom coming back to bite me in the butt? Hmmmm.

Day 8: For some reason, I assumed I would be going home tomorrow and thus, had just one night left in this place. Felt depressed. Rest of day was a blur. Went to camp early and slept.

Day 9: Woke up happy realizing that yes in fact I have one night left before escaping to Juba. Joy oh joy. Went to market for tea and encountered mad woman – one sucking milk from cow udder – again. Think a particular Egyptian colleague is the jinx ‘cos whenever we are not with him we never see her. Other day like I told you she charged at car and was railing at him. This time she stepped to us and retreated repeatedly. Did this about 5 times. We tried not to make eye contact and tea vendor drove her away eventually. At one point, she picked up a rock then replaced that with a stick. She kept railing on about kawaja (Caucasian) and since Egyptian dude’s real light skinned we were correct that he was the object of her tirade.

In other news Kate Beckinsale has broken up with her boyfriend. Just in time for me to return to Juba and head to the UK to seek her out. Speaking of which I often wonder what actresses like her and Halle Berry do for money. Real pretty and talented but without much of an active career. Oh well.

Day 10: You know that whole not-counting-chicks-before-they-hatch line? Well, I never seem to learn. When the flight manifest was sent yesterday evening it was discovered my name had been left out. Even though I had reservation confirmed 3 days ago the Einsteins at reservation desk left name out. So, spent last night praying and trying not to get depressed. Need to get on that plane man, need to.

Got to the airport real early after contacts in the field got me an “emergency” pass. Guy whose job it is to just issue boarding passes decided he had greater powers and wanted to know why I was leaving on an emergency pass. Normally I woulda raised a fuss and blamed his department for messing up, but I assumed best referential pose and mumbled something about the vagaries of modern technology and our dependence on them and how it wasn’t really his department’s fault and how if he could use his kind office to find me a spot on the plane and…...let’s just say I surprised even myself with how much browner my nose could get. Even more surprising was how high my voice was. It was like I was the reverse Benjamin Button where I was returning to puberty. If that wasn’t bad enough the illiterate punk then blamed me for spelling last name on ID wrongly; he thought it had two Os when first one was just my middle initial. Then cracked a joke at how complicated my name was. I smiled and thanked kind massa for letting me on his flight.

While pacing (read praying for flight to arrive on time and nothing else to jinx flight) back and forth another over-officious parvenu instructed me to seat down. So first I am not allowed to use my laptop at the airport for “security reasons”, say I buy that, and now I am not allowed to walk around because of what exactly? Again, I woulda normally argued and put my point across but backed down and resumed sitting with rest of the passengers. Observed they all did not have their laptops out or walk around. These guys have been truly trained. Cannot say I blame them though. I spend 10 days here and itching to get out while some of these guys have spent up to two months. Now I get why they do not want to cause a ruckus and get outta here asap.

Thank God, the plane arrived on time and I was first one in the queue. Like that airport scene from Argo I could not wait for plane to take off. Soon as it did I breathed a sigh of relief. They could take my hot water but they could not take my FREEDOM!!!!  After channeling William Wallace, I snoozed off. Landed an hour later in Juba and suddenly my chest felt a little bigger, my shoulders broader. Now had a certain swag about me. Driver picked me up, dropped off bag at home and went to get a haircut. Now I’d normally do it myself as barbers do not get head as clean-shaven as I can with a razor, but I needed to get pampered. After the hair cut I got some ice cream and went to the office to finish up workload before trip tomorrow. Got home at 6pm, packed then spent an eternity under a hot shower. Had dinner with neighbours who are leaving South Sudan for good then went to bed.

Day 11: If I thought eighth day in the field was a blur today was blurrier. Before I knew it, it was time to check in at the airport. X-ray machine at Juba airport has been wonky for 3 weeks now so one must open luggage for inspection before it is loaded on plane. Left hand luggage in car and keys to padlock were in it. While trying to contact driver to bring the keys some airport hanger-on who insisted he carry bags even though they were near empty insisted I need not bother. Dude got a ballpoint pen and with the sharp end he stabbed a hole through zip and voila, my bags were opened. Once inspection was dome he ran zipper over hitherto open slot and bag was back to normal. Freaky. Wonder why I bother with padlocks when anyone can nick stuff from bag.

While inspecting bag airport luggage dude wondered why bags were near empty except for tubs of local sheabutter. Told him the tubs were gifts for family and friends in Nigeria and when he enquired where I purchased them and I told him he requested for a receipt. Truthfully told him I wasn’t given one, but big man threatened to detain bag. Laughed and told him he could keep the sheabutter if he wanted. Wasn’t gonna be cowed, son. Now in my territory of Juba not the field anymore. What a difference a hot shower makes, huh? Nah, make that 2 hot showers! Last night I slept under a duvet for the first time in 10 days damn it, no immigration dude is gonna subsume tasks that aren’t his and try to intimidate me. He eventually backed down, asked for my passport and tried to make a joke about the my name. Wasn’t having it today. Took my passport and walked out with swag intact.

Just when I was about to board the “life is tough” dude saw me and questioned if anyone had come between us. “You used to give me a little something for breakfast, what has happened lately?” Turns out he has not changed a bit. What an eventful 2 weeks, eh? Yup, gonna miss being away from this place, but I need the break.

Tot ziens and God bless.

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