Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Revenge of PHCN the sequel: Ar G.F.Y

Hola peeps.

Been a while, huh? Decided since my life’s been crazy busy filled with whoknowswhat I’ll make a conscious effort to update y’all – if there’s anyone left – on the goings-on in my not-too-exciting life in the Niger Delta at least once a quarter. So here I am on the final day of Q1 2013 spending my Easter with y’all….well I had to work so that’s why I am sending this from the office.

As I type this my neck’s throbbing from…well the boring answer’s lifting weights, but let’s pretend I hurt it trying out an Azonto-Gangnam Style combo choreography I have been working on. On second thoughts let’s stick to the honest boring response. ‘Cos I live a Spartan existence – more on that later – in PH I try to fill my time with all sorts of activities. Since the turn of the month I’ve dedicated myself to thrice weekly gym visits where I pump iron and once a week cardio sessions which consists of jogging for an hour. Today I felt extra pumped so I did an hour and a half and now my knees are paying for it. Don’t mind though ‘cos I get to work out my calves while jogging. Used to work on legs in the gym when I had a personal trainer but they hurt like crazy so after my trainer and I parted ways, okay I started avoiding him as he’s a masochist, I have avoided all leg exercises so much so my physique resembles those Roman soldiers in the Asterix and Obelix comic books, ripped upper body with puny legs. Oops, did I go old school on you? My bad.

So my neck started aching yesterday morning after I bench-pressed a higher weight than I had ever attained. Was so chuffed I hit the weight again and again. So much so that even driving became a chore. Felt like one of the extras from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. Sorry, I meant to say The Walking Dead. When I went to bad last night I couldn’t find a sleeping position that didn’t hurt so prayed to God that neck ache wouldn’t prevent me from jogging this morning and it didn’t. Now I am using my direct line to God to ask for the powers-that-be at PHCN to provide power to my, ahem, neck of the woods as it’s been 4 consecutive days without power and the din of generators at night is making me pull out my nose hairs.

It wasn’t always this bad. In between PHCN’s recent brain fart and the one before (where folk in the neighbourhood had to pitch in to fix something or the other with the faulty transformer) I had uninterrupted power supply. Man, it was sheer bliss for those two weeks; it was like living in the UK…only without the freezing weather, 50% tax bracket and random, unexplained deaths of previously wealthy Russian dissidents. But any seasoned victim of PHCN knows to be worried; the gazelle (aka me) knows it’s only a matter of time before the lioness (aka PHCN) strikes from under the cover of the savannah grass. In those calm moments one learns not to talk about PHCN, if one must refer to them one must do so in hushed tones like they are Keyser Soze or the Candyman. Lo siento for going old school again. It’s like I knew what was gonna happen, I kept mentioning whispering to everyone I met, almost as if my life was in danger, “Man, PHCN’s provided power for 2 weeks straight, I am scared what they gonna do when they realize their mistake. It ain’t gonna be pretty I am sure. What do I do? Do I bring it to their knowledge or just shut up and enjoy it while it lasts?” I chose to keep mum and now look’s what happened: 5 days and counting of noise, noise, noise.

I am so used to the noise I am developing a sixth sense about these things. Given a few more nights of this I am sure I can decipher which noise emanates from which generator brand. Given even more time I’ll be able to tell which of my neighbours owns which generator. Maybe I can finally convert my sense of generator noise identification into a money making venture ‘cos goodness knows my Prophet Joe® Baby Gender Prediction Service was a bummer from the get go. Stupid cheap ultrasound machines!

Oh speaking of babies I am proud to tell y’all I became the proud uncle of my fourth nice and thirteenth nephew earlier this year. Happened within the space of a month: Kinzo had his first girl and Kemi had her third boy. That’s 18 grandkids and counting for Chief. Nice one.

Wonder if either of my siblings subscribed to BabyCentre as I’ve found it to be a useful website. Problem now is I wanna unsubscribe but feel it’d be kinda rude you know. I also wanna see how long it’ll take them to stop emailing me. At first it started with weekly countdowns while baby’s in the womb, Your baby can now hear sounds in the womb so sing to the baby so it recognises your voice , then same interlude after baby’s born. Now I get emails monthly telling me what to expect: Your baby’s 14 months old now and is most likely following you everywhere. A part of me wants to know if they’ll continue this for life. Your baby’s 360 months old and has no plans to move out of your house. Here are some tips from other mothers on what to do…

So about my Spartan existence in PH…..all I got in my crib’s a bed, air conditioner, abandoned satellite TV dish, unhooked up TV, fridge, a spoon and, for the thrill junkie in me, various coloured plastic bowls for drinking ijebu garri on hot, sunny days like today. Who am I kidding, I don’t need the excuse of sweltering conditions to drink garri! Hi, my name is Tunde and I am an ijebu garri addict….

I don’t even have curtains! You see when I left Warri for PH I had been promised a move to Lagos within two years so gave out all my stuff. For the same reason I used to wear Arsenal jerseys during their footie games in the hope I could change their luck and I don’t shave on the R.I.G, the weirdo part of me felt if I made life difficult for myself – was an easy decision to make at the time since I was almost always on the R.I.G – in PH I would force the universe to move me to Lagos. Now that I think about it I sound like a cuckoo acolyte of Oprah, don’t I? Anyways it’s been 2 years now and I am tired of my neighbours peeking at me every time I step out of the bathroom so I’ve decided I am gonna play a Jedi mind-trick on the universe by sprucing up my PH crib. Let’s see what happens then.

What’s not gonna change however is my eating habits, or should I make that my eating-out habits. If I didn’t cook in Warri ain’t no way I am gonna cook in PH. No matter how many ‘runs’ I get I’m gonna keep trying different places until my stomach gets used to the food. It ain’t no joke being a human guinea pig though. Two weekends ago I used the white throne at least six times after consuming whoknowswhat. Head began throbbing soon after so booked an appointment with the doctor and dude said all he could find wrong was I had too much blood in my system. U what?! Said it’s normal for folk who are B+ and it’s best I become a blood donor to reduce the amount of blood in my system. Is there some underground vampire club in PH I don’t know about?

My feeding options took a turn for the worse at the start of the year when I visited my local shawarma spot and discovered the lady that made the shawarma was no longer there. When I asked the dude there he said she had left and he now makes the shawarma.

Me: Erm, am I gonna like it? The girl knew how to make it just right and spicy.
Shawarma dude: Just give it a try.

Half an hour later, yup it took the dude half an hour to make a shawarma, he calls me over.

Shawarma dude: I assure you this is nice.

Dude then goes on to give an exposition on the intricacies of shawarma construction.

Shawarma dude: … see a number of people don’t know how to make shawarma…they think it’s just adding salad dressing…there’s vegetable shawarma for vegetarians, there’s even fish shawarma! Shawarma’s just anything with bread really.
Me: (*thinking to myself…whatever you say dude, next thing you know you’ll tell me there’s yam & stew sharwarma…*) Erm, okay. Thanks, I’ll be sure to tell you how good it tastes.

Got home and bit into the worst shawarma ever made. I would have had more value for money if I had shredded the thousand naira note and fed it to an ant colony than spend it on awful, awful food. I asked for chicken shawarma and all I got was a strip of chicken and a bunch of carrots – yes, carrots! – and mayonnaise. This dude adds a gherkin slice and a bunch of carrots and thinks I am gonna thank him for it? He’s lucky I didn’t taste the shawarma in his presence. Used to watch footie at the shawarma spot now I avoid that place like the plague. As fate would have it I bumped into the shawarma lady’s partner at a gas station two weeks ago and when dude asked me where I now got my shawarma from he could tell from my face he had touched a nerve. Then he told me he and the shawarma lady were setting up their own spot and would make home deliveries. Thank God.

In the meantime I have had to drive 30mins away from the crib to get my shawarma fix from some dude called Isaac. Isaac makes the best shawarma in PH, no contest. Problem is the queue outside Isaac’s stall is always crazy long. There’s usually a 45min wait for Isaac’s shawarma but it’s worth it. I sometimes feel for the dude selling suya beside Isaac. He always looks despondent, poor dude’s lost all his clients to Isaac.

On nights when I cannot be bothered to face the crazy PH traffic on route to Isaac’s I settle for the suya merchants around me. The dude ten minutes away is always on point. I’d always wondered why the smoke from his grill had to crazy massive and assumed he was just being stylish by wearing sunglasses while grilling his meat. It wasn’t until last week it finally hit me I was being served by the Houdini of suya men. His portions are always large when I buy them but after taking the ten minute stroll home I open up his packaging and voila, quantity has shrunk by at least 40%. That must be his game. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice….well, keep doing your smoke and sunglasses thang dude, your suya’s better than the guys around and goodness knows beggars can’t be choosers. Darn shawarma dude!

I won’t bore you with hoops I jump through daily to get lunch at work. All I’ll say is the lady acts like the ice cream man in that Eddie Murphy skit from Delirious. Oh the things I do for a hot meal, huh? The tipping point of my universe-to-Lagos u-turn occurred…wait for it… 5 nights ago on my way home from the gym. Woah, that’s same day I stopped getting power. Could it be what altered the arrangement the universe had with PHCN to keep me happy in PH? Whatevs man! Old universe-believing Tunde is gone forever…

Saw some dude selling fruit and stopped by as the lady that sells fruit in the office is in cahoots with the lunch lady, but that’s a story for another day. So after doing my best to haggle with the fruit vendor I settled on a pineapple.

Me: So oga, you go peel the pineapple?
Fruit vendor: Sure master, no problem.
Me: (*now embarrassed*) Erm, you fit help me pieces am?
Fruit vendor: (*thinking to himself…what the @*%I…I wonder what else he is gonna ask me to do…*) Sure master, no problem.
Me: (*now even more embarrassed*) Erm, when you finish put am in this bowl.
Fruit vendor: (*thinking to himself…you have to be kidding me, dude has a bowl at the ready in his car for moments like these? Who does that?!…*) Sure master, no problem.
Me: (*trying to appease the dude not to spit in my bowl of fruit*) Erm, you dey sell orange too abi?
Fruit vendor: (*now on auto-pilot*) Sure master, no problem.
Me : Gimme ten……erm, you go peel am abi?

How embarrassing is it that I don’t even have a knife at the crib with which to peel a frigging fruit? The sooner I move to Lagos the better.

I never did much like Warri, but at least the traffic wasn’t bad. In PH it’s horrendous and the weird thang about it is one cannot predict traffic patterns. In Lagos you are virtually assured of a smooth ride on weekdays if one leaves the Island for the Mainland before 4pm. In PH one can get stuck in traffic at 11pm for no reason. The trips have become manageable though since I discovered Talk Radio. One can get a pulse of the nation from listening to the folks that call in. Lately I’ve been getting my kicks from peeps that call in to bitch about the toll free number not working. At one point three consecutive callers complained about it. YOU PEOPLE ARE 419, WHY SAY YOU HAVE TOLLFREE LINE WHEN YOU DON’T PICK UP? O HO, NOW THAT I CALL THIS ONE WHERE THEY’LL CHARGE ME CREDIT NA IM UNA PICK UP ABI? ANYWAY I JUST WANT TO LET YOU KNOW THAT. MY NAME IS INCORRUPTIBLE DAN. Friggin’ hilarious.

Their sports show is only interesting ‘cos the female host sounds like a man and the male host sounds feminine, so one gets callers referring to the girl as “sir” and she has to keep correcting them. Priceless. I enjoy the show as it takes me back to a time in my childhood when we had a security guard with an undulating voice. The first time I heard the dude I swear I thought he was taking the piss. He’d go from baritone to soprano in the span of a sentence. YOUR MOTHER wants you to stop PLAYING and GO finish YOUR homework. Ha ha ha, good times, good times.

Oh man, you shoulda heard the vitriol on the radio after the president pardoned our good friend Alams. I reckon it’s time I dusted off the tee shirt design I had made after he first became infamous for skipping bail in the UK. The president’s major support base is the Niger Delta, but if what folks here say on the radio is a true measure of the animosity towards him the president stands no chance come the next election. The question one now has to ask is if the opposition is any better. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You know the passage in the bible where we are instructed to pray for our leaders so that we may live peaceably among all men? I remember that passage sometimes and feel guilty for not empathizing with the president as goodness knows his job ain’t easy, but then the punk makes a bone-headed move like the pardon and one just can’t help but flip the switch and join the rest of the callers in cussing him out. It’s like I got coprolalia or something.

Speaking of illnesses, about four years ago I unconsciously started to repeat short sentences. So someone would ask how I was doing and I would respond, “fine, fine”. It wasn’t until a colleague remarked, “woah, for you to say it twice then you really must be fine”, that I started monitoring myself. ‘Til date I still do it. Is this normal or the premature onset of Alzheimer’s? Ha. Hey, you’ve heard of premature balding! Could that be why I have been making old school references throughout this blog entry subconsciously? Hmmmm.

Few months ago I found myself making an overtly conscious effort to remember where I keep stuff. I would go into the kitchen for a glass of water then return to the living room wondering why I left the couch in the first place and missed 30 valuable seconds of PTI. I would spell-check words I already knew the spellings to but temporarily forgot. Peeps, I still believe this could all be one elaborate ploy by the producers of the reality show I don’t yet know I am a part of – shades of The Truman Show - to push up the ratings. I was doing okay until two weeks ago – woah, that was when PHCN supply became constant…coincidence? - when I left for work and gave the security guard a pair of shoes to get polished. Few days later when I tried to wear the shoes I noticed a pair of socks in them that didn’t belong to me. Could my security guard have worn my shoes while I was at work and forgot his socks in them? Could the cobbler be running a promo where his 100th client gets rewarded with a used pair of socks? Or is it more likely that the producers of The Tunde Show are trying to mess with the protagonist once again?

That’d explain why my bosses at the club reneged on a promise to send me to Lagos. They had insisted I’d be moved to Lagos to be closer family if I worked on the final draft of the pIB that would be forwarded to Nigeria’s National Assembly. To the uninitiated among you the pIB stands for the Performance Industry Bill, and should not be confused with the Petroleum Industry Bill PIB which has stagnated in the National Assembly for eons while valuable investment that should have been utilized here is propelling the growth in surrounding countries. The punks!

The pIB is to guard against the influx of “foreign” (read midgets) performers that have crashed the prices the male stripping profession charges clients. Ever since Magic Mike hit the big screen we have seen a bunch of wannabe mini-Tatums set up shop, and though we are confident this novelty will soon go the way of the MC Hammer pants the pIB is meant to restrict any further encroachment. So why are we confident the pIB will get smooth passage when the PIB has not made any headway? Pssttt, we’ve got photos of prominent legislators in somewhat compromising situations.

Need I say more? Well, I could but if I did I’d get run outta this business. Yup, these guys are worse than the KGB. A colleague once did the unforgivable by farting on a client while performing and last time I saw him he was “playing” with an abacus. Well I thought he was playing until I asked him if he had bought the gadget for his kids. “Nah man, you know my kids are all grown. ‘Cos of my li’l, ahem, mix up I got let go today after 25 years of meritorious service and while other organizations give peeps gold watches I was handed an abacus to count my meager severance package.” Yup, these guys ain’t no joke.

I just need a few more years in and then I can quit for good. Who wants to strip until they are aided by zimmer frames anyways? I just need that one killer idea! It was initially gonna be Nigeria’s version of The Daily Show but ever since that Egyptian dude got picked up my cojones have shrunk to the size of chickpeas. Successful peeps always advise one to do what one’s passionate about, what one would do for fun if one didn’t get paid for it. Well, taking the piss outta the vagaries of the ruling class is my passion. It’s just that I’ve worked too hard on my abs to be confined in an all male correctional facility. Even my boarding school was co-ed.

Since the TV show is outta window a less dangerous sideline could be my newest hobby: collecting church fliers and forwarding pics of the ridiculous ones to Nigerians in diaspora to show them what they are missing. The most recent one I came across was titled DISCOVERY!!! Jesus Christ is an Ibo Man VISITS God’s Kingdom Christian Centre Int’l Inc. Wanna tell me a collage of such accoutrements won’t make me the black Damien Hirst? If Tracy Emin can make a killing from listing her conquests then a mural of outlandish church fliers or another of Nollywood movie posters would ensure I am In Like Flint.

Tot ziens and God bless.

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