Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ukrepleniye gosudarstva (with) Upravlyayemaya demokratiya

Hola peeps. Este hombre todavía lucha con la pequeña aplicación el pecado

Just got back from my 15th golf lesson and I am getting the hang of it. Man, not as easy as I thought. It gets easier if one practises often, but with the manic schedule at the club that’s easier said than done. Still, I am loving the game, getting used to the blisters, and stacking up on gear like gloves and shoes. Have a golf set in the UK that I’ve been looking to get sent down so if y’all know of any peeps returning soon, hopefully not via British Airways, then holler at ur fav blogger.

If I don’t find a willing courier then yours truly would have to transport it down himself next month when he plans to make a pit stop in the UK on his way to/from the ATL. Psstt, please keep this trip secret. Not ‘cos I don’t want mad fans hounding the body that houses the world’s greatest six-pack at the airport, but, erm, I kinda discovered a reader has a knack of jinxing my plans. Think I am kidding? Peep this: First, I inform her of plans to investigate Warri night life with a mate on Friday. Didn’t happen ‘cos mate got a bit drunk that evening and snoozed off. The next day I update her on plans to get ice-cream after taking Parminder for a check up. Guess what? Spent so many hours at mechanic’s and stuff kept coming up that by the time I was done ice-cream parlour was closed. Still hadn’t learned lesson so told her of plans to watch the NBA Playoffs last night. Wouldn’t u know, it rained cats, dogs, elephants, llamas, u name it. Lightning messed up main dish and now all I have is grainy pictures on TV. Arrggghhh.

Sorry for digressing, where was I? Yup, my golf game. I’m glad recent lesson turned out aiight ‘cos the lesson prior to that was a disaster. So much so that golf coach almost turned into one of those characters on Some Mothers Do Have Them that’s taken a li’l too much buffeting from Frank Spencer’s antics. Man, it was so bad I was planning to take drastic measures to secure a consistent swing. Coach kept advising me to “…feel the club, let it be an extension of the arm”, and ‘cos I couldn’t seem to get mind and body to coordinate plan was to surgically attach a 7 iron to my left hand. Serious. Only thing that stopped me was inability to locate a real life Dr. Nick (from The Simpsons). Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t live in Springfield ‘cos what would I have done when I had mastered the swing and needed to change clubs? Employ Dr. Nick’s services again, I suppose. It woulda been cool to have had the surgery though. I’da been Golfman, Nigeria’s newest only superhero. My costume would consist of boxer shorts and a cape (or a towel when the cape’s at the drycleaners). Joy oh joy.

Speaking of costumes I tagged along to a mate’s nieces’ 10 year old birthday party yesterday where they had a fancy dress theme. The parents went all out; the celebrants wore Wonder Woman and Batgirl costumes, some dude was dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow, a li’l girl as Jasmine (from Aladdin), a guy as Batman, another as a Cowboy. It was pretty colourful.

Felt bad for this kid whose parents decided he’d be the butt of jokes for years to come. It’s one thing to lack a creative bone – dude that came as Spiderman wore just a Spiderman tee shirt – it’s another not to even try. While his friends dressed up as superheroes this dude wore an Urhobo traditional outfit! U what? Ever heard of an Urhobo superhero? U have? Pray tell, what sorta powers does he have?

Look there goes a thief! Urhoboboy, please save us.
‘Not to worry, Urhoboboy is here. Migwo my people!!! First, I shall construct a lasso outta my wrapper, then I shall poke the thief with my walking stick until the police arrive. Not sure what to do with my bowler hat though.’

Other letdown was the crap DJ who didn’t have a clue, and the children’s entertainer, a clown known as Uncle C. What kinda name is that for a clown? Uncle friggin’ C? Never mind the name, dude didn’t go to same lengths as kids – maybe he’s related to parents of Urhoboy – ‘cos his clown costume consisted of ankara pyjamas and a green wig swamped with dandruff, or was it lice? Guess the parents would find out in a few days. Shoulda known Uncle C was no good when instead of entertaining the kids dude was munching on a huge plate of rice. The kids had to entertain themselves with a bouncy mosquito net, yup, u read that right; not bouncy castle, bouncy mosquito net. U’da been there.

Since TV is grained out I best tell y’all about my trip to Lagos.

Lagos news: Surprisingly, there was no need to have a ‘straight talk’ with Chief or mom. Guess parents have their hands full deciding if Ayo’s serious or not about his engagement. Ha.

(Didn’t get to see Ayo for 6 days spent in Lagos as dude was at the NYSC camp. Yup, he’s probably the oldest corper ever, but heard he had a swell time and was egged on to compete for the Mr. Macho title at the camp. As soon as I get feedback from spies shall keep y’all informed on his progress.)

However, when I informed folks of plans to travel to the States soon, and Liberia later this year, they were none too pleased when they discovered Neo wouldn’t be tagging along.

Chief: Is Neo cool with this?
Moi: Yeah. Well, she was initially. Now not too sure ‘cos friends been telling her if I really cared about her I’d ask her to come along.
Chief: U see….
Moi: Nah, it ain’t like that. This travel around Africa thang is what I always wanted to do ON MY OWN. For goodness sake I made the plans b4 I met Neo!
Chief: So, this is another Girlfriend H situation. Ha. U sure know how to create doubts in girls’ minds.
Moi: It’s nothing of the sort.

(Back story: Met Miss H a few years back in the UK and b4 she became Girlfriend H she had made plans to spend two weeks in the summer at her ex’s in the US. Did I mind? Not in the least. The way I saw things she and her ex were still mates, and she had made plans b4 I came into her life. Case closed, right? Nope. Thought folk would name a street after me and salute me for being an understanding boyfriend; instead I got battered by her mates and mine. My mates insisted I take cognizance of Okafor’s Theory, which posits that once a dude’s slept with a girl chances are he always could. Her mates insisted I didn’t care for her ‘cos “no man in his right senses would allow his girlfriend go on holiday and stay with her ex-boyfriend.” As if that wasn’t bad enough, Girlfriend H started to question my feelings for her based on input from her ‘friends’.

The problem’s I may be too much of a realist. Chick had copped plane tix, she had never been to the States and had been looking forward to the holiday for over a year. Now would it be fair for new boyfriend, i.e. moi, to deprive her of plans she made way b4 she met me? I think not.
In the end she did go away for 2 weeks. Was Monsieur Okafor’s theory put to the test? ‘Til this day I can’t say for sure. Would I change a thing? Not in the least.)

Chief: So what u gonna do?
Moi: Neo’s insists since I am in a relationship I’d be willing to share EVERYTHING with her. Told her I understand where she’s coming from, but statements like that only come through in movie land. Of course, one’d share stuff with one’s partner, but there are some things that are private.
Chief: Like what?
Moi: My ‘discover Africa’ bug for instance. U asking me to take Neo along but u sure she wants to come? U sure she can get time off her new job? Oh yeah, she’s keen on the States, but when the subject of Liberia comes up she’s not so keen. Ha. Can’t blame her ‘cos when I suggested same to peeps I went to Ghana with they backed out as well. Some made statements like, “Liberia? Nah, dude. I love wearing short sleeve shirts, don’t want anyone shooting my hand off.” Stereotypes, eh?
Chief: Sure hope u know what u doing.

So what else did I do in Lagos? Chilled with mates, saw a play at Terra Kulture, and gorged on movies as usual. Saw Vantage Point, No Country For Old Men, and Fool’s Gold. The latter was a waste of my time and everybody else’s. For goodness sake, is Matthew McConaughey gonna play the same lame parts ‘til he croaks? Wanna know why he doesn’t have a better career? He spends all his time at the gym instead of honing his craft. That’s why he’s gotta take off his shirt in every movie so theworld can marvel at his abs. If care’s not taken he’d be the new Jean-Claude Van Damme who, when he was huge in the early 90s, musta insisted every movie have scenes in which he does the splits and shows off his derriere. I suspect Wesley Snipes insisted on sex scenes in his moviesas well. And what do Jean and Wesley have in common? They now both box office poison. So Matthew, from one bro with killer abs to another, it’s time to get a new schtick.

Main reason I went to Lagos was for a visa appointment at the US consulate. The positives? If successful in the visa interview one gets a visa in two working days. The negatives? Oh man, dunno where to start. Nah, that’s a lie, I do. I kept a running diary ‘cos was so tired of waiting…and waiting….and waiting some more.

0500 hrs: Got up from bed in Kinzo’s guest bedroom. Slept at his crib ‘cos need to be at US Consulate early for 7am appointment.

0600 hrs: After breakfast of yoghurt and candy – yum, the breakfast of champions – took the elevator to the ground floor and started car. As car idled I plastered on makeup. Made sure to apply blue eye shadow that goes with blue shirt.

0615 hrs: Parked car and observed queue for 7am and 7.30am appointments was already crazy long. Thank goodness I spent the night at Kinzo’s, I shudder to think when I’da left home to arrive here early. Maybe I’da taken up British and American ex-girlfriends’ requests to get hitched. Sure, I’d be unhappy, but at least I won’t have to queue up for no visa.
Apparently, no bags, cell phones, food, drink allowed. Cops here must make a killing holding on to folks’ property while they inside. Hey, some copper just tried to squeeze someone ahead of queue. Trust me to cause a scene. Hey, just thought of something. What if peeps need to use the loo around here?

0710 hrs: Yup, have a 7am appointment and still out here bracing the elements. Thank goodness it ain’t raining. Discovered peeps with kids are allowed to go ahead of the queue. (Reason 1,006 for getting married: Have kids and get ahead of visa queues.) Man, I’da brought along one of my nephews! Hey, could start a business renting out babies to US visa applicants so they’d skip the queue. Hmmm. Tried to convince an older lady to adopt me so we’d play the parent with child card and possibly skip ahead. She didn’t buy the argument.

0720 hours: Yup, still out here. Wondering how folk in wheelchairs cope out here. Or maybe folk on wheelchairs don’t require visas. Need to check that out ‘cos if that’s so I’m sure most Nigerians are not aware of this. Could be a way to get outta the country. Instead of those ‘Study Abroad For Free’ flyers one sees everywhere, we’d have ‘Break Legs For Free.’ Hey, it’d work.
Hold on, some old timer is regaling folks with time he used to buy return tix to the US for 600 Naira.

0733 hours: We’re moving, we’re moving. I feel like Eddie Murphy in Trading Places. The US Consulate ain’t so bad after all…hold on, forget what I just wrote. Just moved from one queue to another. Still outside.

0805 hours: Documents checked and finally let in to the premises. Oh yeah, another queue.

0808 hours: Some chick passes us on way out – yes, the exit is next to the entrance – and think I see tears in her eyes. The Ibo guy in front of me exclaims, “Chai, e be like say dem no give am visa o. Can u just imagine! Sixteen tazon (sic) Naira per person and I hear over one tazon (sic) people come hia (sic) a day. These people dey make money o.”
Lady in front is doing a Flamingo, moving from one heel to another, to ease pain from wearing high heels. Come to think of it visa appointments in Nigeria seem like going to church or going out on a first date ‘cos folk come dressed to impress. I’m sure if Julio were here all he’d have on would be boxer shorts and a shirt. Man, I miss the guy; wonder what he’s up to.

0823 hours: Finally let into the building. Aaah, never knew I’d appreciate an air conditioner so. Yup, another search of documents and still another queue.

0840 hours: These consulate staff sure do scare folk. Some dude was asked to place his thumbs on the scanner and was so anxious he didn’t know what to do. Think he’s about to take shoes off and place toes on scanner instead.

0850 hours: Passport and relevant docs finally submitted, and given a tally number. Still more waiting.

0940 hours: Number called up and told to place fingers on scanner. Luckily, I wore sandals so if I get asked to place toes on scanner it won’t take long. Lol…man, I kill myself.

0948 hours: Called into the inner sanctum where more folk are seated. It’s gonna be a long day.

1016 hours: Lady next to me is called up to face interviewer. Since I have been seated here about four peeps have been interviewed and applications rejected. The lady a few seats back is hyperventilating. Uh oh, make that five peeps rejected. Most of the rejections are coming from the interviewer in Window 2. At this point the interviewer had better save her voice and just play back “I am sorry u don’t qualify at this time to enter the United States of America” from a tape recorder next time. Hold on, interviewer in Window 2 is actually a dude. “Hey, hey, dude looks sounds like a lady. Hey, hey….”
Looks like I am scheduled to see ladyboy in Window 2. Eye of the tiger, Tunde. U can psych this ladyboy out. Hold on, ladyboy’s walking away. Guess I’ll be seeing someone else. Phew. Oh yeah, sixth peep rejected, and that’s not counting children. U’da seen the last lady as she did a Roger Clemens when informed she was denied ‘cos her daughter hadn’t been to the States b4. “Ehen, so why not reject her application and give me mine. She doesn’t have to travel ke.”

1018 hours: Finally called up for my interview. I am facing a blonde with glasses. Hmmm, what tactic do I use to charm her? Should I use my faux ‘just woke up’ baritone voice? Maybe I’d…..huh, that’s it?
Interview lasted all of 5 minutes and was asked the same ol’ crap questions about reason for embarking on journey, etc. Was asked for yearly income and offered to provide a letter from club HR lead as evidence. “I don’t need to see any documents, just tell me how much u earn!” Okey dokey, guess u wouldn’t be so tough if u weren’t standing behind the glass and had the backing of the US government, would ya, Miss four eyes?
Ooops, ladyboy in Window 2 has struck again. I bet his colleagues call him The Denier or some other bland sobriquet when they get together outside work. I’m sure he relishes it too.

1030 hours: About to start car when I notice a flyer on windscreen. It describes ‘pre-interview briefing’ and similar services offered by some company. Maybe they’d sign ladyboy up as a consultant.

Tot ziens and God bless.

Showed up two days later to pick up passport. Was instructed to arrive at 2pm but showed up an hour early and queue was insane as well. Didn’t get done ‘til 2.55pm and almost missed 3.30pm check in time for flight to Warri. Surely the US Consulate can take a page outta the British High Commission’s book and create a more user friendly process to acquiring a visa.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Not everyone with a capital O in their last name is Irish or Nigerian

Hola peeps. Al parecer, estoy en él para ganarlo.

Just got in from PH, making it third weekend in a row where I have been away from Warri. Not ‘cos I didn’t have stuff to do here – to be honest I didn’t exactly need my arm twisted to embark on my journeys – I just had to continue my quest to see more of Africa. Three weekends ago it was Lokoja, then it was PH, and this weekend it was, erm, PH again. In my defense I was in PH for a course on Thursday and Friday so decided on extending stay to take advantage of the tourist activities on offer such as bars, restaurants, and erm, erm, more bars and restaurants.

B4 y’all say anything just wanna put it in the public domain that I still detest most things about PH. The roads are worse than ever, power situation’s even more atrocious – both weekends I visited only flash encountered was from lightning – and the traffic, oh man the traffic. Weekdays, weekends, day, night, it don’t matter, roads are typically gridlocked. Solutions, we badly need solutions. I know it takes ages to construct new roads, but the least the governor can do is to fix those that are degrading. I am sure dude has challenges, I just wish he’d give the people an insight into some of these. Or should we go back to retrieving news reports of how he had corruption charges filed against him b4 the immunity clause took hold? Maybe we’d even expatiate on how tight he and his predecessor, who governed for eight years, were and how the latter is doing everything short of imbibing Erik Weisz’s spirit to avoid facing trial for enriching himself in office. All in due time.

No matter, I still love PH’s vibrancy. That’s hyperbole for saying I miss the familiar. Since I don’t yet have a hangout partner in Warri PH’s the next alternative, and visiting spots I hadn’t come across while residing there was major highlight of the weekends. Oh yeah, mustn’t forget to mention the songs I heard in PH. (Probably didn’t hear them here due Warri radio DJ’s penchant for playing an artiste’s entire catalogue in one go.) One of my new favourites is My Mama where dude croons about calling his mom when life gets too tough. It has an unforgettable beat that forces one to nod one’s head, almost like the Timaya songs. While humming the song at PH airport today I discovered a dude had it as his ringtone. By the magic of Bluetooth I now have it and shall play it for anyone lucky enough to come across me in Lagos this week. Yup, who needs a distribution deal when SuperTunde is around?

On Saturday night I had one of those ‘song so weird u gotta stop what u doing and listen to it’ moments. Y’all would recall this occurred last year with that Pikin song where dude sings about women who visit witch doctors for a chance at getting pregnant – I hear there’s a remix; see what I miss out on by being away from PH? Ha. Well, newest contender for the weirdest song crown had this hook: we dey wiwe like Mbadiwe. To y’all non polyglots ‘wiwe’ translated from Ibo means ‘to get angry’, and as far as I know Mbadiwe is a popular Ibo last name. So song writer has writer’s block, tries to do a Fela by smoking weed for inspiration but nada happens, so he thinks to himself, Hmmm, while in Lagos I heard someone once respond “mo wa bi ewa, I dey like Dele” to an inquiry about his present condition. I’d do the same, only on an Ibo tip. Ibo guys would love it so much I’m sure I can sell enough copies to enable a purchase of five hundred naira airtime on my phone. Only in PH.

Yup, but not only in PH does the club management put me up in less than perfect hotels. That’s why I still think I’m stuck in one of them 24-hour reality shows where yours truly is the protagonist. This hotel was clean, food was aiight, but in trying to appear posh they chose the cheap route. Case in point’s the electronic doors. They decided recently to forego normal keys for electronic access cards, but suspect they musta copped the door locks off the back of a truck ’cos always had issues opening them. Most painful of all I was placed on the third floor and place had no elevators so I’d have to climb and down six flights of stairs whenever the door wouldn’t open; this occurred at least once a day. Went out Friday night and when I returned in the wee hours of the morning discovered the door to my room fully open. Maybe the cleaner decided it’d save everyone trouble if no one bothered with the door.

Come checkout time on Saturday peeps couldn’t find my laundry. Either they incompetent or they’re hoping I’d forget my clothes. Might even be their way of trying to make me stay past noon check out time so I’d have to cough out additional mullah. Tsh tsh tsh.

More PH news: On one of my night time adventures I bumped into a military checkpoint where dude was pissed we didn’t stop on time so we pleaded it was ‘cos we didn’t see his dull flashlight. “What u mean? This my torchlight he are on dey shine for 24 hours!” I couldn’t help myself. “Oga, so u mean say na 24 hours u dey on am? Even for day time u on ur torchlight?” Dude caught on. “I e are mean this my torchlight are on 24 hours for night.”

Apparently I have lost significant weight, at least that’s the opinion of three different people – maybe the director of the reality show told them to say so - and if that wasn’t bad enough I also discovered I may have a negative influence on 3 month-married mate. Both weekends I was in PH we hung out with other mates at night and discovered that prior to my arrival dude hadn’t been out at night since he wedded. His wife musta been shocked at his sudden switcheroo she called to check up on him every 15 minutes. Awww. A certain part of me is happy for the dude, nada better than knowing someone cares for u so much they calling to check up on u. On the other hand due the calls we had to cut the outings short – was particularly peeved about Friday night when I was ‘in the zone’ throwing down my old school dance steps – and confessed to mate the calls made me glad I am unmarried. I reckon that night helped push back my marriage-ready date by at least another year.

Family news: I think I’m downright scared of marriage. Not that I don’t wanna get married, I do, just don’t think I’ll overcome my fears anytime soon…and b4 y’all start to go there Chief ain’t one of those fathers that insist on social endogamy. Now that’d be bad news for Chief. Do u know that dude called the other day and asked when next I’d be in Lagos ‘cos “the family misses u”? Awww. For a guy with such a large family dude sure knows how to make one feel loved. While trying to soak up this warm, fuzzy feeling dude immediately snatched me back to reality with a speech about why I’d make up mind soon about wedding dates ‘cos “one has to secure suitable venues ahead of time” and since he’ll be 70 next year – hence a huge party - he’d not want a clash of events. U what? Really need to have a straight talk with the dude, no joking around this time, ‘cos dude’s subtle hints might soon turn to threats. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few days after the, ahem, ‘straight talk’ I walk into his room to find him frantically scribbling away. “Oh u wondering what I am doing? Nothing important, just adjusting my will to reflect the varying degrees of my love. The married children score highest while the balding, sixpack-having, goatee-wearing, diamond stud-rocking ones shall only inherit my unused Marks and Spencer Y-fronts.”

If y’all think I got it bad how do u think poor Ayo’s coping living under the same roof? Chief is even more eager for Ayo to get hitched ‘cos…psstt, can y’all keep a secret?.....deep down no one in the family really believes he’s engaged. ‘Cos of doubts expressed by the family his fiancée is keen on her family meeting us asap b4 Ayo changes his mind. Hee hee, that boy sure ain’t going nowhere. Still, it ain’t as bad as a colleague who discovered this morning that his dad and uncle, without his say so, visited parents of one of his girlfriends last weekend to express their interest in taking her as his wife. Dude’s gonna clock 38 later this year so the dad’s probably getting antsy.

Called mom today and she said, “Long time no see. So u don’t miss ur mom anymore?” Laughed and told her I’d be in Lagos in a few days. “Yes”, she replied, “ur brother told me.” So she knew I’d be with her soon and still popped that line about not missing her? Ha. Was I right or was I correct when I told y’all she loves being the centre of attention?

That said I have missed Lagos big time. ‘Cos work’s been so intense haven’t been back since I left in early February and it’s definitely the longest I have been away since I moved to the Niger Delta to work on stripping career. Blame it on my high level of inertia. Yup, once I start something I find it difficult to stop and once I stop something the reverse is true; hence, high inertia level. Now I am addicted to jogging again and try to increase the number of laps every time I run. Hey, that’s probably where the aforementioned weight loss has come from!

Guess my fear – okay my other fear apart from u know what – is I don’t wanna get to a point where I just ‘accept’ stuff, u know what I mean? U see some men with huge ass stomachs and wonder how stomachs ever became that huge? They just ‘accepted’ that after a while. Women with chest hair thicker than Eric Estrada’s who ain’t bothered to shave off anymore and instead flaunt it in public? Acceptance. Women with facial hair so thick Barry White’s rolling in his grave? Acceptance. Guys with man boobs so large a hungry calf might mistakenly latch on for sustenance? Acceptance. I know I have ‘accepted’ sweet tooth so make up for it by jogging like crazy and visiting the dentist every six months.

At the moment I am trying not to ‘accept’ the flirting thang and it’s high time I stopped being SuperTunde, trying to take on the problems of the female species. Need a shoulder to cry on? Call SuperTunde. U a Tunde ex needing a pick me up or someone to bash for ur current man troubles? SuperTunde’s on speed dial. Someone to flirt with and make u feel good about urself ‘cos guys don’t seem to be giving u play at the moment? SuperTunde to the rescue. Someone to cheat on ur husband with ‘cos bonehead’s sleeping with every thing in sight? Erm, the number u are trying to reach does not exist, please hang up and never call back. Lol…but u get my drift. I am a friggin’ flirt savant. My pickup line in primary school - after I got over the sweaty palms and irregular heartbeats - was, “So how’s about we get married?” Once sent a Valentine day’s card to a West London cinema attendant ‘cos we struck up a conversation, while waiting on my date to choose a movie, and discovered she didn’t have a boyfriend and had never received a card her whole life.

Sure, SuperTunde’s antics make some folk feel special, but on the other hand some peeps might get the wrong impression. Recently a female colleague remarked that I possibly have “too much love to give”. Huh? What does that even mean? Think I got a clue while talking to this chick in PH traffic Friday night. Noticed she had a frown on her face so peered outta passenger side of mate’s car – yes, I am a scrub - and struck up a conversation. She ignored me at first, but then soon got her smiling and as these things go a spot in front of her car opened up, and quickly signalled to mate who manoeuvred in and we were gone so fast u’d think we stole something. Sure, she was probably hoping we’d exchange numbers, but SuperTunde is now using his powers for good, his good. Besides it wasn’t all bad for the traffic chick, I plan to use her story as the opening anecdote in my yet unfinished book, How To Flirt Ur Way Outta Traffic.

Tot ziens and God bless.

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