Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Articles of interest to moi (2018)

Trump right about NAFTA?
Separated at birth
Trade Deficits 101
Nature vs Nurture
Grief
Naija-China currency swap deal
A different perspective on Israel-Hamas conflict
The Home Office still can't get it right
I went to school there! First place I fell in love...and got my heart broken
A lynching memorial
Drenched in blackness
Mitt flip-flopping as ever
The ballad of Iniesta
Inside HR McMaster
Inside Gaza
Dodgy Facebook II
Dodgy Facebook I
Windrushed
Junot Diaz's truth
Honesty is the best policy?
Turns out he is not related to Michael Bolton after all
From the horse's mouth
Turkey hunting
Pray for the Yazidis
Trumponomics 101
White Like Me
Encryption
Stephen Hawking in his own words
The real US-China trade deficit
Color pervades everything it seems
Blockchain applications
Equal Justice Initiative
Africa First!
Changing Nigerian kids' lives
Emma Gonzalez!
Immigration war on California
Life after plastic
Energy disruption technologies
Death by a thousand millenials
Best ever TV show
House of pain
Never get high on your own social media
Rwanda leading the blind
No #MeToo for Polanksi?
Bitcoin 101
Bitcoin silver lining
Satirizing Nigeria's democracy
Is whistleblowing worth it?
Zimbabwe horrors
Rohingya crisis relief

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Field of (popcorn) dreams

Hola peeps.

I know I said I missed my bed in Juba in last blog entry, but nada prepared me for the blood red bedsheet-and-duvet combo that greeted me when I walked in from airport. It was as if cleaning lady, who is now married by the way, missed out on celebrating Valentine’s Day with me and so decided to re-enact it. Was scared to sleep on bed for a minute there. Had to check under pillows for chocolates or a secret love note first. Confirmed with a few neighbours that their beddings were not replaced by the apartment administrators. Why was mine changed then? Did cleaning lady expend her own funds on my beddings? Oh well, cannot be too bothered about this as my trip to Russia has been postponed. Was not informed until I returned from Kampala on Saturday. If I had known I’da spent an extra day there, as it’s always fun hanging with David and his crew.

Thankfully, this time I had the proper documents and was able to obtain Russian visa on same day by paying for express service. I was left with no choice as the Russian embassy in Kampala only operates b/w 10am and 12pm on Tuesdays – day I arrived in Kampala - and Thursdays – day I applied for visa - and I had been erroneously informed our flight to Moscow was to depart from Juba yesterday. Not tripping though as now I get to catch my breath and resume gym and kickboxing regimen until travel. Still not sure when travel date is but the organizers had better hurry before my visa validity ends. I would hate to go back to Kampala to apply for another visa as I am running outta passport pages. With my Kenyan visa and South Sudan residence permit also set to expire, chances are I am gonna need a new passport before the end of the year. Last year, I passed through the Juba airport at least once every month of the year bar October and this year’s looking to be just as busy. Already “things are tough” guy has seen me more times than I’d like and has returned to his pleadings. Nah, “pleadings” is not the right word, more like “demands”. Had to brush him off last Tuesday when he held on to my shirt and rubbed his thumb against his index and middle fingers in the universal sign adopted by immigration staff seeking inducement. Yup, I have been too liberal with my funds causing these folks to take the piss. No more. Tight Fist™ is here to stay.

Cannot wait for the Russia trip even though I dreaded the mawkish traits I developed back in February, from what I am attributing to jetlag. How else does one explain the number of times I almost cried during inflight movies, even dumb action movies? Wait, or maybe it was due to flying in coach as opposed to upper class? Hmmm. Since Russia trip is being paid for by the seminar organizers chances are I’ll be flying coach with the other invitees, and it’d be kinda weird to pay for an upgrade since we are travelling as a group. Drats. Guess my theory on hitherto unknown wussy behavior that comes to the fore above 30,000 feet will be put to the test once more. The main reason I am keen on Russia is a get an opportunity to rock the fly jacket I purchased in the UK. Weather in February was so cold I relented and bought this extra warm, knee-length jacket that makes me look like a member of a late 90s-early oughts boy band shooting a video in the snow. Jacket’s so fly some random dude approached me in New Jersey to ask where I bought it. Yup, the Nigerian Panther™ – wait, you thought I retired that name? You know me so little… - is making waves around the world. On a serious tip, the jacket is so fancy I have been praying for climate change to give Juba a whiff of snow, just so I can show it off.

Just occurred to me I never told y’all about my travels in February. My bad. Had hoped to write about it on return flight from the UK but was crazy tired I slept for most of the 8-hour journey. As expected, crap Kenya Airways’ movie selection wasn’t updated since previous time I flew them; wouldn’t have mattered anyway as my screen wasn’t functional. Flight attendant offered to reset it and it musta flummoxed her ‘cos after a few minutes I noticed she stopped coming down my aisle. Like a football tactician the head attendant musta advised her to switch wings – aisles in this case - to confuse the opposition, i.e. me. Punks. Kenya Airways is lucky I still fly them ‘cos I do not like too many flight layovers….and I have friends in Nairobi…...and the Addis Ababa airport is a joke. The business class lounge in Terminal 1 at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is worse than a Greyhound bus terminal. No joke.

Anyhoo, planned Thailand trip did not fly – pun intended - as was told by the Thailand reps in Kampala one would need to return to Nigeria to apply for a visa. Extended duration of US trip instead. Flew coach for US domestic flights and saw some Caucasian guy on Delta acting as I normally would as he avoided eye contact when the lesser mortals were passing through upper class on their way to the economy class seats. Hee hee. After a week in London, I did San Francisco, California – Burbank, California – San Francisco, California – Minneapolis, Minnesota – Newark, New Jersey - London in 10 days. Was shot by the time I returned to Juba, but what did I expect after experiencing 4 times zones in such a short space of time? Jetlag was so bad I nodded off while shaving head with razor. I have nodded off numerous times while on the loo, but this was a first. I also recall nearly choking when I nodded off while pooping ‘cos I was trying to multi-task by making mouthwash last when I shoulda spit it out after gargling. What an obit I woulda had, huh? Here lies Tunde, who passed away after a short bout of stupidity…...

When not spending time with my daughter in London I hung out with family and friends. This time I did not repair to the cinema as is wont due to tight travel schedule. Caught just two movies, I, Tonya and Black Panther. Prior to the latter’s release I did not understand the whole #BlackPantherChallenge. I figured it was a cynical move by a global corporation to get more people to see their movie under the guise of black upliftment. I am not as cynical after reading this NY Times article and observing the impact of a different superhero story on black folk around the world. While waiting in line to see the movie in London a random black dude came up to me and flashed the Wakanda salute. I kid you not. He musta noticed a lone black face in the sea of Caucasians and Asians and felt a kinship. Then again, I was wearing my fly jacket so maybe that was the real reason for…...hee hee, I’m sorry, I need to grow up. When I told him I hadn’t yet seen the movie, he did not offer any plot details but remarked on how well made movie was, how proud he was to be black after seeing it, and how he hoped black kids in the UK would see it and come out with a positive image of themselves and believe they can achieve greatness.
I saw the movie…twice. Dude was right. When I travelled to the US I compared notes with black folk there, and in addition to their delight they told of unfortunate stories of some Caucasians making up stories of being assaulted during movie screenings or deliberate acts to apportion it less than stellar reviews. Amazes me in 2018 folks still have issues with skin colour. At least black folk are becoming more vigilant: my cousin-in-law said her mate bought Black Panther merchandise from a store, but when she reviewed the receipt and noticed it was rung up as Star Wars she marched back in and ensured it was duly assigned. Bravo.

Due to meetings and visa interviews I have already been to Kampala on three separate occasions this year. There must be something about my cologne ‘cos during each trip I…. let’s just say I seem to be the Pied Piper of drunk women. It’s not exactly my fault, ‘cos kinda like Cairo Kampala’s night life is so unlike Juba’s so I tend to wanna get the most outta it before I have to return here. During my first trip this year, in February, I was out with David and got a bit bored as he was drinking with mates so decided to approach the lone girl at the bar. Thing is I can be a bit charming when I want to, but sometimes I surprise myself. This was one of those instances. Even though girl was waiting for someone, I suggested she join us when we were leaving for another spot. She immediately called off her appointment and that shoulda been a warning sign. We got to the new spot and she ordered a bottle of coconut waragi. Ever seen a 20-year old, 4’ 11” girl down a 750ml bottle of local gin unaided? I have.

I remember when I initially moved to Port Harcourt from Lagos, how PH girls I would meet would always advise me to be wary of “typical” PH girls ‘cos they were money-hungry, and yet would go on to exhibit same behaviour they warned about. Well, Kampala is deja vu all over again. Let’s be clear, I never propositioned Gin Girl. She seemed fun and the fact she went on and on about her new boyfriend made me comfortable around her. People always ask how I can hang until the wee hours of the morning with guys that drink even when I don’t? Well, I tend to alleviate ennui by finding some female to talk to. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong one this time. Two days after, David and some mates came by my hotel to hang and I invited Gin Girl. Noticed she got pissed when David’s mate’s sister-in-law came by and we exchanged numbers. After the girl left Gin Girl called me aside and asked if the girl had been “brought” for me. Huh? She was jealous even though she has a boyfriend?! Explained to her the lady was just David’s mate. That shoulda been my cue to cut ties, right? No siree. It wasn’t until later that night when she met a girl at the bar we all went to and suggested they both return to mine, I decided I had let this go on for a tad too long. Deleted her number after buying her another bottle of local gin – this time she split it with her new girlfriend.

Last month, I took second trip to Kampala and chose to catch a movie with David’s mate’s sister-in-law. Yup, same lady Gin Girl erroneously assumed had been “brought” for me. Ended up not seeing a movie but went for a meal and at end of it she requested some investment for a travel agency she wanted to establish. Serious Tunde requested a business plan when he’da known better. Let’s just say we haven’t been in touch since. That trip was uber eventful ‘cos a few days after the faux investment opportunity I met David’s relative, a demure TV presenter, at a product launch for a bank that doubled as a music concert. Ever seen a demure girl transform into Gangsta B&%ch after three glasses of Long Island ice tea? I have. My goodness! She knew all the lyrics to the most arcane hip-hop songs and would cock her fingers mimicking a gun while dancing. I genuinely feared for my life when I told her I was leaving. How else am I supposed to react when her drunk voice mirrored DMX's? “IS THAT IT? YOU LEAVING NI%GA? GO ON, TAKE MY NUMBER. YOU BEST CALL ME!” I didn’t call her, but just to be safe I moved hotels and chose to walk around Kampala in a rasta hat - with fake dreadlocks and everything – for the rest of that trip.

A friend from Juba, who had flown to Kampala for the Easter weekend with her mates, was staying at new hotel I relocated to. Called her as soon as I checked in and she came over to say hello. What I was not privy to was she and her mates had gone out the night before and gotten so wasted one of them got burnt while smoking shisha. Ever seen someone so drunk they have three distinct burn patches on their right butt cheek that they maintain occurred as a result of another girl at the club being so jealous of them she decided to direct the hot shisha charcoal at their butt? I have…...and my brain still cannot fathom that sequence of events.

Tot ziens and God bless.

Comments-[ comments.]

Monday, April 09, 2018

I just purchased a vibranium bog roll

Hola peeps.

You’ll be glad to know I am not starting this entry like previous two ‘cos I’m pleased to report my poop rhythms have returned to normal. Oh wait, I did spray-fart last week during morning exercise though. Oh well, the laundry lady sure worked for her wages that day.

I am writing this on an Egypt Air flight back to Juba after a week in Cairo for a series of meetings. This trip followed a week in Kampala where I had attempted to secure a Russian visa but did not have proper documents. As a result, I am returning to Kampala tomorrow until Friday, and then it’s looking as if trip to Russia will finally be on Sunday. Yup, I really should get my own plane. Was excited at the thought of flying to places I had not been to, but the proximity of flights has left me longing for my bed in Juba. Never thought I would ever utter the last part of that sentence.

Cairo was a trip, man. I took a day off to do tourist-y stuff and glad I did. Visited the pyramids at Giza while riding a horse. Rode a camel too. As expected, we – my colleague from Juba tagged along - were fleeced on the horse rental and the tourist day itself, but hey, these things happen. Now I know what to do avoid next time I visit there. Highlight of tourist day was guy selling mementoes by the pyramids who adopted accents of his latest mark. It was compelling viewing I tell you. Dude erroneously spoke in a southern US drawl while approaching an African American lady from NY. Hilarity ensued. Was almost tempted to get my South Sudanese colleague to approach him to see what sorta accent he would put on. If he succeeded I woulda Googled various celebs on my phone and offer to buy his wares if he could do canny impressions of them. Alas, the camel ride was a more appealing prospect than choosing to become his manager, relocating to Cairo and securing him a slot on Egypt’s Got Talent.

The trick with being a first-time tourist is not beating yourself up for being a mark. For instance, we got a good deal at accommodation from the tourist agency at the airport, yet we paid badly over the odds for the trips to the Giza pyramids and Egyptian Museum. It’s akin to having a wedding or being a new parent or moving into one’s first crib. From my experience, anyone, especially family, that says they are giving you a good deal on stuff for your wedding “’cos you are family/friend/favorite client…” is at least doubling the price. Everyone knows new parents will buy all sorts of crap offered ‘cos they wanna do best for their child, but by the time the next child comes along parents have learnt from their folly and poor kid is practically left to raise itself. I am glad I travelled with colleague ‘cos we were able to bounce grifters off each other by switching good cop-bad cop roles. Even after coughing up $80 each for a 2-hour horse ride around the pyramids the guide couldn’t hide his, ahem, thirst from the onset. “My job is to make you happy and I am sure you’ll make me happy afterwards ……Other people like you at the end of the trip some give me $100, others give me $150….” Gosh. The last time I met someone that blatant was back in December 2016, during my first ever (attempted) pervy massage in Lagos. That time I paid masseuse double what she “requested” just so she would stop bugging me and stick to a normal, non-pervy massage. For the pyramid guide we gave him about $30 and ignored the rest of his pleadings. See, they get you the first time, but you become wise and checkmate them.

Another case was my first night in Cairo when mate took me around. We ended up at some café where Cairo’s answer to Milli Vanilli – the duo looked alike and dressed alike, though I doubt they were related – moved from table to table with one blowing a horn while the other sang and they expected, nah demanded, a tip at the end of their “performance”. They came by our table, mate gives one of them a tip before they begin and so while performing I decided to entertain the crowd by doing a jig to their melodious ditty. I initially trotted out the original Rob and Fab’s Milli Vanilli’s patented side to side shuffle, but the Egyptians did not grasp my attempt at being cheeky so resorted to my always dependable fallback, the Running Man.
The non-horn playing one was busy asking for more money from me instead of doing his job so told him I did not have any and reminded him mate had already given his partner some dough. While regaling a mate in Nigeria with this tale and comparing Cairo’s Milli Vanilli tribute act to praise singers at Nigerian events, I was chided for being an “tight fist”. Ladies and gentlemen, I think I may have come upon the perfect title for my kickboxing movie to be entirely shot in Juba: TIGHT FIST: THE JUBA CHRONICLES. Not to be confused with that crap Marvel show on Netflix.  

Speaking of kickboxing I have taken to sparring – just boxing - with gym instructor on weekdays to prepare me for full kickboxing sessions with Coach on weekends. Yup, I am such a sucker for punishment it scares me. Problem is gym instructor does not let off. Coach would at least take me through a few moves before he lets loose; not gym instructor no. Dude punches hard from the off and I’ve resorted to playing Natasha Bedingfield's I Bruise Easily in the background to psych him out. Hasn’t worked…yet. Now I am trying to psych myself by watching Rocky IV training montages and considering changing my name to “Rilwan”. Inside joke: Over Christmas, I saw a list of forthcoming televised boxing bouts in Nigeria and, I kid you not, 6 of the 10 contestants were named Rilwan! Sometimes a Rilwan was fighting another Rilwan! It was mind-boggling….to me anyway. Do a Google search for “why are nigerian boxers named Rilwan?” if you have time on your hands. Okay back to Cairo……

Amazed at how Cairo never sleeps. On day of arrival, mate picked me up from hotel at 9pm to Old Cairo and though I did not return until 3am the town was still buzzing. Saw couples with infants hanging out, school-age kids, old folk. So unlike Juba. Even did all my souvenir shopping at 2am after a midnight meal of friend cow brains – yes, you read that right – and liver. Good thang I did not have any plans for the day after ‘cos my stomach did not agree with the cow brains. Of all the local delicacies my favorite was the dessert Om Ali, which literally translates to “Ali’s Mother”. Legend has it that Ali’s mom caught her husband - Ali’s dad I presume, or could as well have been his stepdad, who happened to be a king -cheating with another woman and so she killed him and made this meal of milk and bread pudding that has been attributed to her ever since. Beats the origin story of Eton Mess, no?

Since Sundays are workdays in Egypt I had to wrap up meeting early yesterday to FaceTime with my daughter. There’s been a drastic change since I returned from the UK in February as I cannot seem to keep her engaged in any way. The best I get is ca. 30 seconds after she says hello before she goes back to either watching TV or doing something else. I ask about school? Nada. I inquire about what she did the week before? Zilch. I am seriously considering asking her next week if I upset her or if there’s another reason why she doesn’t talk to me. Few weeks ago, she turned off the call before I was done ‘cos she was “bored”. I called back and scolded her for the infelicitous act. She responded that there’s nada I can do since I am away. When I tried to explain that only reason I am away from her in Juba is ‘cos of work, she said she didn’t believe me. Now, I heard this clearly, but my heart wanted to believe a 6-year old is not capable of understanding the nuance in her statement. When I could no longer ignore the truth, I proceeded to question my hearing, grasping at any way to explain away the fact that my daughter would rather not connect with me when I am not present in the flesh. Efforts at denying the obvious took me back to time in Lagos when a Liberian girl, I initially met a few years prior in Ghana, came visiting. She was staying with her mate and her boyfriend, and while waiting for her to get dressed so we could go out for a meal I noticed a white substance on the coffee table. Now this girl’s always been wild so naturally my first thought was what I had seen was cocaine. Instead, I worked myself up in knots trying to find a way give her the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it’s sugar…nah Tunde, you love sugar, you can identify the structure of sugar from 20km away, this is cocaine. Maybe it’s salt…. really Tunde, SALT?! Pull the other leg bro, it’s got bells on it….  

As the grim nature of FaceTime calls with my daughter has gone on for nigh 2 months if I do go ahead with my plan to ask why she’s upset at me or seek her opinion for improving our FaceTime calls, am I sure I am gonna be ready for the answer? What if she says she no longer wants to talk to me? This is weird ‘cos when we last saw face-to-face back in February we had a pleasant time. Went to a trampoline park one weekend and saw Coco the weekend after. Almost cried myself when I saw her shed a tear during a tender moment in the movie. I lifted her out of her chair, placed her on my lap and quietly tried to reassure her it was just a movie. Thinking about that day still leaves a lump in the throat. As a 6-year-old I probably would never have bothered much if parents were not around if I had a steady diet of TV and chocolate. Amazing how my “steady” diet has not changed much in 36 years. I know it’s not my princess’s fault, the onus is on me to make our FaceTime calls interesting. I need to find a way to pique her interest. I bet Tight Fist™ would know what to do…. or maybe not. You see the other day, while lacking a proper outlet for this subcutaneous feeling of despair and tired of playing Red Robin and Highway 20 Ride on loop, I went for kickboxing training. When that did not ameliorate my mood, I donned on football boots for the first time since 2014 to play in a 5-a-side game I had been invited to join for yonks, but always declined. I hate to say it, but my sole purpose for wanting to play was to kick the life outta any opponent unlucky enough to have the ball. Fortunately for him/her the game was cancelled, else Tight Fist™ mighta maimed someone. On second thoughts, maybe Shikabala would be in a better position to proffer a solution to daughter’s FaceTime ennui.

Yup, I have an Egyptian doppelganger called Shikabala; he’s got the footballing career I was not skilled enough to manage. Throughout 7 days in Egypt I was stopped at least four times by random strangers – it started with immigration officer screening passport – telling me how remarkable our resemblance is. Now, I do not see an iota of likeness, but then again, unlike most Cairo residents, I am clear-eyed from not staying up past 3am on weekdays smoking shisha and lounging around Old Cairo. Too bad Egyptian Arabic is different from Juba Arabic, else I woulda dived into character like my coulda-been protégé from the Giza pyramids and signed autographs as Shikabala. Tales of autograph-signing would surely keep my daughter engrossed, no?

A mate once teased me about Nigerians loving pepper so much we dice it in baby formula. I believe Egyptians do similar but with tobacco instead of pepper. My goodness, it seems everyone smokes in Egypt. In the hotel elevator, with a bold NO SMOKING sign in full view, some dude was smoking. Went to a club on Friday night with excellent music, but for the first three hours folks did not dance. All they did was smoke shisha and bob their heads…. well, apart from Shisha Fierce who amazingly channeled Beyonce’s choreography while seated and with a shisha hose permanently clasped between lips. Now if I could just get her and that Giza pyramid accent dude into a double act we would win Egypt’s Got Talent for sure.
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Tot ziens and God bless.

PS
Obtw, if you are ever in Egypt and after a merchant offers you stuff they mention “Egyptian hospitality” knock down the price at least by 50%.

Comments-[ comments.]

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Procrastinating Perfectionist

Hola peeps.

Hate to start this entry like last one, but it occurred to me yesterday I haven’t had a non-splatter-filled poop since stomach started acting up following return from Zanzibar. What I wouldn’t give for a faux constipated regular doodle now. Must find time to get checked out at the clinic. Oh my, where are my manners? Happy new year, y’all.

While we’re on the gross subject I must confess farts have become increasingly pungent. Even worse, fart today sounded like one of those sirens played at reggae concerts or in Nigerian clubs after a baller orders champagne. For this reason, I have taken to exercising alone until stomach issues return to normal. Miguel suggested I try colonic irrigation and I responded with a newspaper article poopooing - pun intended – the “science” behind such crap – yup, pun intended again. Back in the ATL Miguel was led to believe colonic irrigation works after some chick he fancied kept prodding – hee hee…these puns just keep coming – him to try it. Sherlock Homeboy, i.e. moi, saw through this sophistry and later discovered her mom worked at an establishment that offered such treatments. It took all my persuasive skills to stop him from giving it a go. However, I couldn’t prevent him from getting a tattoo when this Delilah convinced him tattooed guys are the dernier cri. Punk Miguel tagged along with her to a tattoo parlour and ended up getting inked in Arabic lettering for what he was assured stated, I Love Jesus. As if a non-Muslim African American tattooist would have a clue how to spell his own name in Arabic. Things us guys do for women, eh? Oh, forgot to mention, few weeks later we learnt Delilah had been dating the tattooist all along. Punk Miguel got played. Hee hee hee.

It’s first week back in Juba after a two-week stint in Nigeria for the Christmas holidays. As is norm whenever I leave Juba, I fell ill and am just recovering from a bout of cold. Was welcomed into Lagos by petrol scarcity and it cost 2.5 times normal price for a taxi ride from airport to crib. Fuel supply returned intermittently during the holidays, but not before I bought petrol from the black market at 3x recommended retail price. Petrol scarcity in Juba, petrol scarcity in Lagos…one cannot get a break, huh? Last time I experienced petrol scarcity this bad was during the Abacha years when I accidentally imbibed petrol while siphoning the fuel from my brother Tayo’s car into a jerry can. For 3 subsequent days petrol fumes would emanate from my bowels whenever I belched. Notwithstanding, time in Lagos was surprisingly relaxing, maybe ‘cos I didn’t frequent the Lagos office as I am wont to doing and I ate properly. Overdid it on malt drinks, plantain and ice cream ‘cos knew I wouldn’t get ready access to these in Juba. Weighed myself at gym 3 days ago and I had packed on 3kg in just over 2 weeks. Not bad. After first day at gym this week I lost 0.5kg. Uh oh.

Like I used to do with shoes and CDs I went all out on suits. So here I am getting 4, yes f-o-u-r, bespoke suits made to impress Ms. Hayek, yet she didn’t deign to respond to the Feliz Navidad greeting I sent via Whatsapp. Booo Ms. Hayek, booooo. While we are on about extravagant purchases, my crazily expensive, but crap as can be, HP phone’s acting up again. Latest bout of crappiness occurred after OS got upgraded to Windows 10. Now, I don’t see missed calls, cannot delete events from calendar and when phone is within 20 feet of a TV contact list becomes inaccessible if TV is tuned to the BBC News channel. Why BBC specifically? Like I have the foggiest. I would smash the phone, but it cost an arm and a leg, plus it is so heavy if someone tries to mug me I could probably bludgeon their arm or leg with it. On another tip, I fear the HP phone is jinxing my other Samsung phone as I have had to replace screen guard thrice in 2 weeks. Had never dropped Samsung phone until this new Windows 10 OS on HP phone was installed. Must be Windows/HP Big Brother causing folk to bump into me, so I drop Samsung phone. C’mon, what other plausible explanation is there? Speaking of Big Brother, I understand algorithms sending targeted ads based on one’s search history or webpages visited, but how do you explain a targeted ad appearing on web browser following a face-to-face discussion about a novel topic. Are our phones or laptops also activated to eavesdrop on a discussion and then send ads that way?
Maybe I should be more worried about my thumbs ‘cos of new veritable screen protector I bought in Juba 2 days ago. It must be made of transparent steel ‘cos to send a simple message I am having to depress thumb on screen, place a bit between teeth so I wouldn’t scream, and then bang on thumb repeatedly with a hammer. If I keep this up folk at the spa would have to gimme a discount on mani+pedis ‘cos won’t have any thumbs left.

Back in Lagos, I went to normal mani+pedi spot but they had moved, so decided to try a spot 2 shops away. Now I don’t mind folk being innovative so didn’t react much when the pedicurist brought out a cheese grater for treating soles of feet. Started to get worried when she proceeded to dip feet in tomato paste garnished with chunky bits of onion and set an elevated temperature on the thingy used for soaking feet. Is this a pedicurist or a cannibal hoping to Jedi mind trick me into being her next meal? When she got to my hands she asked if I wash clothes manually. U what? Now what does that have to do with anything? I let her finish the poor excuse for a mani+pedi and left for massage appointment.

Like I stated in last blog entry, I find it hard to reject folks, especially females, but I somehow summoned the courage when masseuse attempted to make massage, ahem, pervy. I told her – okay, more like demonstrated to her - in no uncertain terms – okay, more like politely - I wasn’t interested. Dunno if it’s her massaging technique, or ‘cos I declined her offer, but ended up leaving there dripping in massage lotion. It was so bad car headrest felt like that scene from Coming To America where couch had oily head stains after the Soul Glo family got up.

Remember other traits I wrote in last blog entry? Well, God musta read blog too as some dude I lent bucks 3 years ago contacted me while in Lagos and offered to pay what he owed. Woah, just woah. Told ya Lagos wasn’t bad. Even Slovenian neighbor from Juba loved her time in Lagos; her trip coincided with mine as she had travelled down to see her boyfriend. Saw her more times in Lagos than I had in almost a year in Juba.

Aircon in room blew up, but didn’t bother to get it fixed as it occurred on penultimate night in Lagos. Had to fix jalopy though. Even though I get the car serviced just before every trip I make to Lagos it still causes me more and more trouble. First, the front passenger window would not go up so had to buy a new “engine” for it. Ever notice how Nigerian artisans try to make things more complicated than they are so they can fleece you? They tend to use words like “engine” to describe middling gizmos, hence why the rewirer – another quintessentially Nigerian (African?) job description – recommended I replace the “engine” of thingy that causes window to go up and down, and plumber suggested I replace the “thermostat engine” in water heater as if the word “thermostat” is insufficient to explain the gravity of work he needed to do. I half-expected the tailor to complain about the “engine” of the fabric as reason for not having suits ready on day he promised. Punks.
Next, the ball joint of the front tyre would make a rattle so bad I ended up driving at excessive speeds, and with the radio blasted at a high volume, just to drown out the noise. You know you drive a jalopy when you do stuff like that. Ha. Recall another jalopy I was handed down when I first moved back to Nigeria in 2005. You know you drive a jalopy when your dad asks if you know how to drive ‘cos you bug him for money to fix car for the umpteenth time. You know you drive a jalopy when a mate asks if you pay tithes as he cannot get why car keeps breaking down so reckons it must be something spiritual.

All in all, didn’t mind too much driving jalopy around Lagos ‘cos didn’t experience much traffic save for day I went to see parents at Apapa. Dunno when the horrendous traffic situation will be resolved for good as different administrations seem unwilling to fix the road or disperse the glut of articulated lorries that create gridlock. Mom’s driver had to wait on the expressway to direct me on how to maneuver one-way, i.e. drive against traffic, to get to the home I was raised in. Sad. Just for kicks I turned on the voice prompt in Google Maps to see if their algorithm had been fine-tuned to account for Lagosians’ penchant for driving one-way. It hadn’t. Booo Google, booo.

On eve of departure from Lagos, I met up with tighty-whitie mate and three others from boarding school. Confirmed premise from last blog entry on how folks don’t really change, even though we have 8 kids between us. One of the guys, Timmy, has always been a character and that coulda resulted from his being left to his own devices as a kid since there’s at least a ten-year age gap between him and his nearest sibling. Dude still dances like every song is from the New Jack Swing era, so you can imagine his 2018 is already made after Bruno Mars dropped Finesse. Timmy had an acrimonious divorce that left him shattered, but now feels like God’s gift to women since he started dating again. Dude suggested visiting South Sudan to “sample the honeys” even though I told him how conservative the country is. Unlike in Nigeria he would not be able to get away with sowing his wild oats willy nilly and might be forced to marry the woman should he get caught, paying a dowry ranging from tens to hundreds of cows. Timmy’s response? “Cows?! I am such hot stuff the girl’s parents are gonna give her to me gratis. I might throw in a family-size bucket of KFC as dowry, you know, just to fulfil tradition.” Yup, with friends like Timmy I would get beaten up in South Sudan.

We reminisced about school days and folks’ nicknames. There was Feeling K. Collins (aka Funso Aladetoyinbo). Nicest guy you’d ever meet. He stuttered a bit when he spoke, but never had a temper unlike other school mates who had similar speech impediments. This was a guy who was himself from secondary school up until the moment he passed away after uni – no one could remember how he died – and never tried to hang with the in-crowd or pretend to be something other than what he was. A heckuva guy.
We talked about how as students in JSS 1 we would go for socials (aka entertainment) on Saturday nights and dash to where girls were dancing as soon as a song we liked came on. But, instead of asking the girls to dance, we’d turn around and continue dancing with each other and hope our backs bumped into the girls, so they’d turn around and we’d then dance with them. Full disclosure: I asked a girl in my class to dance once and was “nailed” - that was term used when someone was soundly rejected. The rest of the night was a blur. All I remember was a herd of boys in my year chasing me to be the first one to remove the metaphorical nail from my head. For days afterwards, random folk would come up to me to enquire if I was the one that was “nailed” so appallingly. I boycotted socials for a while after that.
We recalled how we would rub soap into hair to save time showering in the morning. I tried to be overly efficient with that stuff and started rubbing soap into hair before bed. Stopped after hair turned orange and folk started questioning if I was an albino.
No doubt I musta told y’all of time in SS3 we decided to get even with a girl that was smelling herself a bit too much by surprising her on Valentine’s Day with a tin of cookies that was filled with poop – my poop – and 3-day old beans.
Then, there were the memorable fights like when Sinclair, puny dude with a hearing aid, whupped a much larger boy soundly. In JSS1, a girl, Oghomwen, beat up a mixed-race boy, and felt invincible enough to attempt it on another boy. Unfortunately, she took on Calabar’s finest, Victor Inyang, and dude didn’t play. Her fighting career ended after that.
There was the girl who we joked that anyone who dated her would have to be equipped with a face mask and an umbrella ‘cos she had halitosis and spat when she talked.
There was Victor Onwubuke who was so hungry he ate kulikuli (snack made from groundnuts) even though he had a groundnut allergy. Perhaps he hoped he would be immune - kinda like folk who say they do not eat pork but choose to eat bacon just ‘cos it doesn’t have “pork” in its name. No such luck. Dude broke out in bumps like a black Hulk and spent 1-2 days away from class recuperating.
Lastly, we couldn’t help remembering our first awkward steps at approaching the fairer sex. Unsurprisingly, Timmy had total recall when it came to these cringe-worthy moments. He seemed to derive a certain concupiscence with each recollection. He would laugh hysterically and then regale us with incident after incident, like when he walked behind a “couple” for 20 minutes without a word being exchanged between them. Good times….

Soooo, less than a week in Juba yet feels longer; already getting a case of wanderlust. With visas for Kenya and Uganda expiring soon, and same for SS residence permit, I fear I’m gonna need a new passport before the year is done. This is not accounting for visit to Thailand I had hoped to squeeze in next month to see mate on a 3-month culinary course in Bangkok. Not sure I can make that anymore ‘cos one of visa requirements is an NDLEA clearance certificate, the acquisition of which is as daunting any task Hercules ever faced. If I end up not making first ever trip to Asia next month at least I can relish the fisherman pants a mate got me from Vietnam. Once I learn to knot them properly I am gonna rock them everywhere, the office, yoga, kickboxing class, church…. I am talking everywhere. Plan to do same with suits as well. Booo Ms. Hayek, booo.

Tot ziens and God bless.

PS

Sorry, forgot to explain Funso’s nom de plume. You see Funso had a thang for this girl Amina Jimoh and we kept egging him on to talk to her. Dude acquiesces and makes the fatal error of telling us not only that she rejected him, but HOW she did so: He went up to Amina and asked if she had feelings for him; chick responded in the negative. At that time, Funso was already nicknamed Kasali - after the security guard from a Nigeria sitcom - ‘cos his bunk was closest to the door. Unfortunately for him, Phil CollinsAnother Day In Paradise was getting massive airplay when he asked if Amina about her feelings, so poor Funso goes from Kalasi to FEELING KALASI COLLINS, better known to his friends as Feeling K. Collins. David S. Pumpkins eat your heart out. RIP bro.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

It’s hard to get by when your arse is the size of a small country

Hola peeps.

Hate to start a blog entry this way but I have been pooping like crazy since morning, and had to take the day off work. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you must realize I am what is known is this here parts as a poop connoisseur. I truly believe the ability to poop without interruptions is one of God’s greatest gifts. I get so comfy I sometimes nap when pooping, though that hasn’t happened in ages for some reason. Since my return from Zanzibar two weeks ago my hitherto metronomic poop sequence has been outta sync. Also had to skip work then due to chronic stomach pains and frequent trips to the loo. Could not help wishing then I could MacGyver a funnel and hose setup from arse to toilet so I wouldn’t bother leaving bed. Bum was so tender – ran outta Snapchat bog roll and was forced to pop to store in between doodles to re-up on bog roll; sadly, they only had the sandpaper-tinged ones in stock – I just dabbed on it after each splatter and then waited 5 or so minutes before going again. As I hate to swallow tablets, only option was to down a concoction of activated charcoal with water in attempt to arrest leaking bum. Didn’t work.

Time not spent craving a bidet was utilized searching online for noise-cancelling headphones to eliminate the wail erupting from (obviously rusted) pipes after each toilet flush. After a rapid splatter sequence where loo was flushed 5 times in 7 minutes, I genuinely feared my apartment would fall apart. Noise emanating from pipes sounded like how one would expect The Hulk to scream in frustration if he was constipated.

Never did find right headphones, but was grateful for the little distraction it afforded. Unfortunately, time online also resulted in buyer’s remorse after discovering dire reviews on earphones I had bought on plane ride from Zanzibar. Speaking of reviews, do they have to apply to everything? Even churches and places of worship have reviews! I mean, c’mon. Always forget service times for church in London and since I’ll be travelling there soon I Googled them just to be sure. Lo and behold, there were reviews of the church and one funny comment was, “What really happened was a lot of time wasted form filling n talking." Hee hee.

Anyway, lemme tell you about Zanzibar trip. Boy, it was ineffably amazing, and…. before I go further I just noticed something about myself: I am a messy eater! Well, I use the word “messy” ‘cos not sure how else to describe it. I first noticed it earlier this year while eating crackers in bed and watching a movie. The next morning, I found crumbs on the head rest and other unlikely places. Since then, I have paid serious attention to this phenomenon and realized, when leaving office at the end of the work day, there are ALWAYS biscuit fragments - or whatever I had munched on earlier - on office chair, right around where bum woulda been. In Zanzibar, after a particularly delicious meal, I noticed a grain of rice on chair as I got up to have seconds. Wait, but I was seated in chair while eating?! How is this possible? Does food go into stomach, come outta arse unprocessed and then diffuses through underwear and then through pants onto the chair? I am genuinely gobsmacked. Okay back to Zanzibar trip.

Always been wary – nah, wary is not the right word – of going on vacation alone, for no justifiable reason, mind you. So, after completing a hectic week of meetings and presentations and more meetings at the end of November, I decided I needed a break from Juba. Good thing David was moving house else Kampala woulda been de rigueur (read lazy) travel destination. Decided to go somewhere I had never been and settled on Zanzibar ‘cos I had always been a cunctator when it came to visiting Tanzania, even though I had intended to for a few years now. I was chuffed at my decision to be spontaneous for once; spent four nights at Diamonds La Gemma but wish it coulda been longer. Definitely going back.

Relaxed like I hadn’t in yonks and had two (non-pervy) massages to boot. Also, completed two books in 4 days when it had taken me 4 months trying to finish one. Surprised myself by going all touristy and signing up for a tour of Stone Town and the Prison Island. The latter is an enclave for tortoises and I got to learn differences between tortoises and turtles. Tortoises have an oval shell and claws while turtles have flat shells and no finger-like separation on appendages. Tortoises dwell mostly on land and turtles principally live in the sea. I hope you now have an idea why the famous cartoon from my teenage years - that is surprisingly still relevant after several iterations - was erroneously titled. If I am being unpedantic I must admit Teenage Mutant Ninja TOR-toi-ses just doesn’t have the same ring to it as TMN TUR-tles.

While feeding a tortoise my tourist guide cautioned against holding fingers too close as tortoise could bite them, compelling one to brace oneself until tortoise chooses to open its mouth; attempts to forcefully pull free one’s fingers would most likely result in greater injuries. I vaguely remember an old wives’ tale as a kid in Nigeria on the folly of sticking one’s finger into a tortoise’s other orifice. The moral of the tortoise colonoscopy story, or why any kid would even seem interested in doing that in the first place, is fuzzy but I think it had something to do with lightning striking twice before the tortoise could release one’s trapped finger from its butt hole. Hmmm.

One thing I def do recall from childhood is being crap at packing. I clearly haven’t mastered this art as I took along my heavy laptop with me to Zanzibar even though I could access work mails on both phone and iPad. A quick digression about laptop….IT IS POSSESSED! Really wish I had a secret camera recording my interactions with this machine. The other day it started typing out words on its own. Last week, returned from the gym at an unusual time and that may have caught laptop by surprise ‘cos a movie was playing I had not even downloaded. Since I have taken to sprinkling it with holy water every morning the “incidents” have been few and far between. Told ya it was possessed.

And before you say anything, I know for sure it ain’t cleaning lady that rigged laptop to play tricks on me ‘cos I am glad to announce to y’all she is now officially married. Yaay me. She did play one trick on me though (or was it the chef?). All I know is someone finished the NICE biscuits I left in fridge. I def know I didn’t finish it before travelling to Zanzibar so either cleaning lady or chef (or both) ate it or threw it out. They/she eats my sugary snacks yet leaves savoury stuff like Jacob’s Crackers untouched. They/she must have a sweet tooth like moi. They/she must have facial hair too ‘cos my aftershave balm is rapidly depleting.
Must confess I was a bit paranoid cleaning lady wasn’t gonna go through with wedding after I gave her a ride last month and asked about the wedding plans. All she said was, “everything is going according to plan”, then gave me a wink. What was that supposed to mean? Is she in cahoots with my voodoo priestess masseuse? Is that what aftershave lotion is being used for? Hey, when did I start giving cleaning lady rides anyway? Damn these women, they are slowly wiggling their way into my life, making me dependent on them. Case in point is hurting right shoulder. Resisted going to voodoo masseuse, and instead tried another masseuse in Juba. Diddly squat. Had two massages in Zanzibar and before that, saw a naturopathic doctor in Lagos. Nada worked. Hate to say it but I might have to go back to voodoo lady once I return from the Xmas break. Nooooooooooo!!!!!

Naturopathic doctor was a unique experience. Had a session of acupuncture and three sessions of cupping therapy. Though shoulder ache wasn’t improved, I think the acupuncture may have resolved pain on left side of stomach near crotch. Doesn’t hurt much anymore.

Week spent in Lagos (principally for dentist appointment) was aiight. Mom was visibly shocked at how gaunt I looked. Hopefully, I have filled out since then. Went to sweet-potato-and-fish-peppersoup spot again, and you know you may have gone there a tad too many times when the waiter from the joint adds you on LinkedIn.
Was supposed to hang with mate from boarding school – dude who recorded himself dancing in his tighty whities – but he got stuck in Abuja. He couldn’t make the secondary school reunion either so we both had to catch up on goings-on via the WhatsApp group. Could not wait for the reunion to end so I could get outta the group, but some interesting exchanges have since cropped up. After the Harvey Weinstein harassment thang first blew up and started taking down everyone from politicians to journalists I kept wondering if same could happen in South Sudan or Nigeria. From stories one hears of male university tutors trading sex for grades or blatant sexual advances at women in the workplace, I couldn’t fathom what women in Africa go through or how they cope. Wondered why with the misogyny in rap lyrics there hadn’t been more prominent hip-hop personalities accused of sexual misconduct. This NY Times article goes some way to offering an explanation.

Had assumed all victims of harassment in Nigeria were female until one of the guys in the WhatsApp group confessed he purposely skipped out on the reunion ‘cos he cannot imagine himself visiting Warri, let alone the school. Said he knew of boys in our year that were sexually assaulted by seniors. U what? I coulda sworn that stuff never occurred. Woah, just woah. I think back to secondary school days and apart from the occasional bullying I really do not have any awful memories. I was always a happy-go-lucky kid who found humour in everything. I still do. A few years ago, I was surprised when a class mate confessed he had had a dreadful time back in secondary school and reckons I probably used humour to swat away any hurts I coulda experienced then.

Does this mean we essentially remain the same through life? I have thought of this, and blogged about it, occasionally. Some things about us change but our core behavior appears not to. For example, I was a real scruffy kid in boarding school, with clothes that ended up dirty no matter how carefully I conducted myself. I had white khaki shorts in my first year and I would complain to all who would listen that shorts were dirty ‘cos they were khaki and thus, tough to wash manually, and not ‘cos I was scruffy. Ha. You laugh, but I remember another dude whose parents thought having a white silk shirt would be appropriate in a boarding house. Anyhoo, I am uber tidy now and get anal about keeping my environment clean. So that’s a change, but it’s superficial, not “core”. I am talking of stuff that seems to be almost inveterate. Some mates who exaggerated a bit when we were kids still do, others who were obsequious still are, those who were obstreperous remain so, even after marriage and kids. I, who didn’t mind if you took advantage of me much as long as you were happy, remain the same. I am more assertive now and less shy, but still hate to upset people or tell them no; instead, I would rather avoid them. Still detest reminding folk to repay monies I lent them; still have no sense of direction; still act immaturely. As earlier mentioned, one thing that hasn’t changed in echt Tunde is his inability to pack light. I vividly remember carrying a massive duffel bag filled with books and toys, in addition to regular backpack, to class back in primary school. My mom was always quick to grab a whip or smack me at any slight annoyance, so I reckon I musta moaned a lot before she acquiesced to my lugging all that junk with me to school. Presently, no matter how many times I try, my work bag somehow finds itself filled with all sorts of crap that ensure bag feels as if it’s housing an overweight midget. A mate who fancies herself as an amateur shrink reckons it could be my eagerness to help others out, i.e. metaphorically carrying the world’s problems on my shoulders, that’s transforming itself in the physical. Bah humbug.

Perhaps any new, non-rigid “core” traits one develops are those that weren’t formed in childhood. For instance, how does one grow up to become a womanizer, since no one obviously could not have had this core trait as an adolescent? This brings to fore the nature versus nurture debate. Thinking back to my serious relationships, I believe I have mostly taken the lady’s feelings into consideration, but yeah, I could be aloof, selfish even. Could that be due to my “core” of never being the jealous type? Is that why I may have evolved in certain aspects, but am becoming more blasé as the years go by?

Three months ago, I received an email from my first real girlfriend, well, first or second as hard to place a precise timeline on these things. While going through her mailbox she came across an email I had written and forwarded it along. In it, I apologized for something I was blameless for, but since she was upset I wrote to her essentially taking on the blame – Akon had nada on me - and apologizing for upsetting her. I would reproduce email here if I didn’t sound like such a wuss back then. Ha. Truthfully, I do not recognize the dude that wrote that stuff. Kinda how I read my old journal entries and feel I am reading the musings of a total stranger. After reading ex’s email, or rather, my email to her, I couldn’t help thinking, “what happened to that sensitive dude from 2001/2?” I miss that dude. Nowadays, if someone feels I hurt them, yet I know I have done my best and am not in the wrong, especially if I have apologized at least once before, I act all meh and try to move on. Yeah, you miss them and get the urge to reach out, but 9.9 times outta 10 I resist the urge. If only I could do same with chocolate. Life, eh? Sadly, when we communicate months/years later, things ain’t the same and relationship eventually fritters away. It’s expected, no? Going from talking weekly, sometimes daily, to complete silence? Naturally, stuff y’all both found funny stops being so, inside jokes become hackneyed, it’s just the way of the world. Man, I hate to be this somber just before Christmas. Need to quickly find something humorous to bat these feelings away. Hmmm, I wonder what Trump’s been up to….

Tot ziens and God bless.


PS
Yup, those earphones I bought on plane were indeed crap. They don’t fit properly when running on treadmill and Bluetooth activation distance is all of 3 feet!

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Articles of interest to moi (2017)

Vending machine for homeless
Plastic roads
Academics for peace
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
Cosby
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
Choices
Breaking black stereotypes
Obama's Israel legacy

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