Friday, June 30, 2006

Where Art Thou, O PHCN?

This is getting quite ridiculous. The power situation has certainly worsened in recent months. Now, PHCN supplies electricity for maybe about 40 mins a day - if we are lucky. And I know that we are one of the more fortunate ones.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Loving the Gym

I've made a habit of going to the gym now on workday evenings and I have to say that I am loving it. I typically don't like to be out after work, but for the gym, I am willing to rethink this. I get a high from working out and I enjoy the camaraderie borne out of pain that I share with fellow gymmers in Alona's body conditioning class or Elijah's unbelievably high-impact Step classes.

I went to check out the other gym in Eko Hotel with a friend. Very nice and plush but they are currently not accepting any new members. Okaaaay!

Monday, June 26, 2006

I Miss My iPod

How can this be? I didn't even have the thing for that long. I still hadn't finished uploading all my songs onto it (Oh yes, I was a big CD buyer back in the day. These days, I'm hardly moved to buy entire albums of anybodys.)

Time for a Transition?

It's so funny - while most people probably see the start of the calendar year (January) as a time for making changes, resolutions and the end of one phase of your life and the start of another, for me January is almost just another month. For me, the real transition period is around July, August and September. This is partly borne of a lingering being-in-school mentality (the new academic year starts between August and September). Also in the northern hemisphere, this period marks a big transition from hot weather to cold.

Around this time, I start to get fidgety and think about what I have done with the last year of my life and what I intend to do with the one that lies ahead. I start to think about going back to school or changing jobs or moving countries. It was about this time last year that I started to make the move back home from the States (I moved back in August). I am amazed that a year can go by so quickly. It's great that time has flown by - it must mean that I'm having a good time. It's also very scary that so much time can zip by so quickly.

Now, I'm thinking about what lies ahead. I really do want to go back to school. I've been wanting this for a long time and every summer I think seriously about whether this should be the year to do it or not. I know quite a few people going back for graduate degrees and I envy them their new adventure. I don't know. How do you plan for all the things that you want to do in your life and fit them all in? I've done an incredible amount this year and am happy about that, and I know that there's no perfect time for most things. You just have to make the decision and go.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Namesake

Angela blogged about the upcoming movie adaptation of the book The Namesake a while ago, but I just got around to watching the trailer. It's hard to tell from the trailer how true to the book the film will be (trailers always seem to feature the same swelling, melodramatic music and the plot - simple though it might be - is always so stirring). The film appears to be largely set in NYC, though the Ganguli family in the book lived in the Boston area. One change already, though possibly a minor one.

I loved the book and I think (hope) I will really enjoy this film, because it explores feelings of searching for your own identity, even though a cultural and social identity has already been ascribed to you. Can't wait!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Wow, the days have been busy. I got Seasons 3 and 4 of The Shield (one of my new favourite shows) over a month ago and I still haven't finished Season 3. That's quite a sign of busyness. I did have time to discover a new (or maybe not) show called Extras. It's a BBC production, which centers around an actor played by Ricky Gervais (he calls himself an actor, while others snippingly refer to him as an extra).

It's funny as hell! I've heard so much praise for Ricky Gervais and The Office. Never seen The Office and until a few days ago, I could care less. Now, I'm curious. As I watched Extras, I realised how much I LOVE and missed British humour (what with all the American programs I've been watching in recent years). But Extras has a lot of those same butt-clenchingly embarassing but absolutely hilarious situations that Larry of The Larry Sanders Show and Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm (two shows that I really liked) got themselves into. So maybe it's not so much a cultural thing.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

What's with the things that we secretly enjoy, though we feel like we shouldn't (or we really shouldn't)? I have quite a few: spending the large chunk of a day reading when I feel that I should be doing something more 'productive'; eating after 10pm; staying up late when I really should be getting my much needed rest for the next day; watching films at home (again, I feel like I should be doing something more worthwhile); splurging on something nice for myself (my frugal side feels that I should save and spend on needs, not wants). Hmmmm, I think I'm starting to see a pattern here. I feel like I should always be engaged in some productive activity.

Anyway, the latest are books that I read when I was a teenager. I have always been a big reader and have always tended to read what I like, paying no attention to genre. So, maybe I'm merely reading books whose stories capture my interest. I don't know.... A couple of months or so ago, I picked-up some Sweet Dreams books. I thought they were silly and fluffy. But, here I am a few months later reading another one - Rocky Romance about a budding romance set in ...... oh, wait for it ..... the Rockies (Canadian mountain). Well, I guess this phase will soon pass.

My other guilty pleasure has for a while been my iPod. A guilty pleasure because I swore I would never buy into the hype of cool created by some very clever marketing team. Until I tried it out and discovered that the iPod was actually quite a cool gadget. Aside from the fact that it works very well, it has such a sleek design.

The one not-so-cool thing that I had heard about iPods was that they don't have a very long shelf live. And oh, did I find that out the hard way. My iPod is no more! When I try to start it up, it makes this sad, whirring noise like it's desperately trying to come alive but, due to forces stronger than itself, it cannot. I'm sad especially since I hadn't owned it for that long, but at the end of the day it's just a gadget and life can go on without it. But, now I'm wondering if this is the dark side of the iPod. It looks so gorgeous and works so well initially. By the time, you are totally hooked, it goes kaput on you. And like the personal music/video fiend that you have now become, you run out to buy another one. LOL! Maybe that's a better business plan than giving your consumers products that work so well that they have no need to buy another one for years.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I went to Abeokuta yesterday. Ogun state might be right next to Lagos, but it feels like it's worlds apart. Sure it's a much smaller state and Abeokuta also a much smaller city, but it's so peaceful. Driving around the city was very relaxing and almost a surreal experience after Lagos's chaotic traffic and drivers. I used to think of Abeokuta as a small sleepy town and, in many respectives it might be, but after the hustle and bustle of Lagos, I could do with some peace and quiet.

I remember when I used to say that I could not imagine life outside of Lagos. Well, now I can. No, I can't really envisage moving to Abeokuta either (though you never know ....) but sometimes it feels like the cachet of living in Nigeria's most happening city is not sufficient compensation for all the traffic, noise, pollution and general chaos you get in return.


Heard about this blog - AfriGadget, which highlights how various technologies are being used to solve a myriad of problems on the African continent. There are also tutorials should you want to build the tool yourself. Appropriate technology at its best.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Confessions of a Book Addict

Last night my sister pointed out to me that I have said many times that I am not going to buy any more books until I have finished the ones that I already have. And why did she have to remind me of this vow? Yes, you guessed it! I went out and bought two books yesterday. I've pretty much given-up on that vow. In fact, I don't know why I still say it. Maybe in the far reaches of my mind, I actually think that I will be able to hold my book-buying impulses in check and resist the call of new books anytime I step into a bookshop.

I'm quite good whenever I go to Nu Metro at the Silverbird Galleria. Nu Metro, and many other shops, wrap-up their books and magazines in clear cellophane so that you cannot flip through the books leaving your grubby little paw-prints all over it and creasing the covers in the process. I guess from a business person's point of view, this makes good sense afterall who is going to buy a supposedly 'new' book that looks like it's gone through ten different owners? But, from the same business p.o.v, it makes sense to give the buyers a taste of what they'd be getting. Even if they decide to wrap-up most of the books, they might consider leaving one copy unwrapped so that buyers can flip through and decide if it's something that they'd be interested in. Since many bookshops do not tend to stock many copies of each book, perhaps this would not be feasible.

The other fear of booksellers, of course, is that you will read the whole book/magazine in the store and not need to buy it afterwards. Sorry, but isn't this part of the draw of bookshops? I've spent many happy hours in bookshops reading whole books that I had absolutely no intention of buying. However, chances were that the longer I was in the store and encouraged to return, the more I likely I was to buy books from there. So, what's the lesson here? I guess it is that you have to spend money to get money. Okay, perhaps easier said than done from a profit-making p.o.v especially in Nigeria's tough economic climate. But, just my 2 kobo both as a book-lover and someone who has extensive experience working in bookshops.

So yesterday when I visited bookshops (Bookworm and Quintessence) that did not wrap their books up, I of course perused away to my heart's content and ended-up buying books in both shops. Quintessence has a great selection of Nigerian books for children, in case you are interested. So does Nu Metro, in all fairness, and you might even be able to flip through them. Bookworm has expanded it's store area, with fiction in the first room and non-fiction in the adjoining room. There's also a seating area. Very good, Bookworm!

Oh, I didn't mention my new books. They are Sweet Summer: Growing Up With and Without My Dad by Bebe Moore Campbell and Defying the Odds: Case Studies of Nigerian Organisations That Have Survived Generations by the youth and business leadership NGO, LEAP Africa. I have already read most of Defying the Odds and it's a very interesting read and provides very good guidelines for family businesses that tend to wither away after the founder dies or leaves the business. I can't wait to start Sweet Summer. Hmmm, maybe I'll hold off on Great Expectations for now. Oh, I don't know. I'll figure it out.

A Night at the Gym

I decided to go to the gym last night. I never go to the gym during the week. I have a thing about being out late on a work night. I like to come home straight from work and stay in for the rest of the night. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's a left-over from Boston winter nights when it was all I could do to get from the office building to my car in the freezing cold, taking care not to slip on any of the icy patches in my mad dash for warmth.

Or maybe not. Lagos traffic is crazy. On the way to my house, it builds up the later you stay out up till a certain time, after which it starts to subside.

Anyway, so I decided to go the gym. Normally I like to work out to DVDs or tapes at home, but lately I've grown bored of this and so have done nothing. The only time I'd visit the gym was on Saturday mornings. On the urging of one of my fellow gymmers, I decided to go more. She promised me that it would be fun. I'd get my much needed work-out and the traffic home wouldn't be so bad.

So I did. Wow, so many people work out. I had NO IDEA! I feel so ignorant. Well, how was I to know? On Saturday mornings, it's fairly quiet with about 4 to 5 people in my aerobics class. Last night, I could not even count all the people in the Step/Kick-boxing class. The patrons extended all the way to the back of the aerobics area - this does NOT happen on Saturdays. Well, I guess I can see why. These people all work out so faithfully during the week that they need to rest on Saturdays. I felt like such a lazy cow.

Nigerians have always been a very image-conscious people, though we don't tend to suffer from many of the same body image issues as Westerners. In recent years though, it's become increasingly fashionable for women to be slim. However, it's still been okay for men to sport huge, distended bellies (it's a sign of good living and that their wives are taking good care of them). I guess this is changing now? Or maybe not. I don't know. I guess there are people who have always been into fitness and not part of any new fad that might be sweeping the nation - afterall, I've always loved working out even when I was as skinny as a rake.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Zadie Smith Wins Orange Prize

The author Zadie Smith has won this year's Orange Prize for women for her third book On Beauty.

I haven't read this book yet, but heard that it's very good. My brother, who has a copy, believed that I would really enjoy it. I have taken a stab at one of Zadie's books, White Teeth, and for some reason I really couldn't get into it. I look forward to reading this one.

You can read the full coverage and see what books made the short and long lists. The thought of new books to read always gets me excited.

Longing For a Holiday

I'm in the mood for a holiday. I’m not quite sure why now? Well actually, I have a few ideas. When I was in Boston, summer was considered holiday time. Even though technically, you could take your vacations anytime of the year, most people would take at least one break during the summer. The pace of work at the office also slowed down. There was a wonderfully languid mood in the office, as people seemed to talk and walk much slower. Deadlines were pushed back and much of the serious work was postponed till fall when many people would have returned from their various holidays bringing the serious air back with them.

I was entitled to fifteen business days off per year, which amounts to three weeks. This was quite good in the US, where many people (at my level anyway) got two weeks and in some cases one. In Nigeria, it seems that many people I know are entitled to as much as six weeks, which they always never seem to get.

One weird thing I’ve noticed about Nigeria is how when people are lucky enough to get time off, they take all their vacation time at once. I cannot imagine taking six weeks off at once, except I wanted to travel somewhere very far away. I think that it’s too much and I know I’d be bored or tired of it after about two weeks. Maybe that’s another reason why it’s so hard to get employers to approve vacation time – because they know they’ll be losing manpower for about month and a half.

Anyway, back to my desire for a vacation. It’ll probably take a few years before I stop associating this time of year with summer breaks. But in the meantime, I really want to take off somewhere and spend my days eating and reading. I have so many books to catch-up on before I can start buying new books (this is working quite well, btw. I’m steadily working my way through my library). I want to start Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations next or perhaps one of my many and still un-read Doris Lessing Books. I want to save the really thick ones for when I am on vacation. I started The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing in 2001 and I’m still not a quarter of the way through. I gave up and decided that I could not keep going back to see who was who and what their story was anymore. I’ll just wait until I have more time. I’m also going to wait to start Vanity Fair by William Thackeray. I can’t wait! But, when will I get this huge, delicious block of time? It gets harder the older you get. Perhaps I just need to be more disciplined about sneaking in reading into my spare minutes.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Countries I Have Visited

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

Saw this tool in action on tuckergurl’s blog and decided to try it out. I have only visited 6% of the world’s countries, though the map might make it look like more. Cities I have visited might have been more accurate since this map presents a somewhat misleading picture. For instance, in Russia I have only been to St. Petersburg but as you can see a large expanse of land is covered. Same with the US.

My record of African countries visited is truly woeful, but that is only a perfect excuse to travel. And goodness knows that as it is, I really don’t need one.

Try out the tool for yourself.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A-Z Meme

Oh no! Tagged by Pilgrimage to Self. Here are my answers:

Accent – I would say Nigerian
Booze – None really. Alcohol makes me sleepy.
Chore I hate – Ironing
Dogs/Cats – Definitely Devoted, Dutiful, Delightful, Doe-eyed Dogs!!!!!
Essential electronics – Laptop, iPod, Digital Camera
Favourite Perfume – For Her by Narcisso Rodriguez
Gold/Silver – Used to be silver. Now it's gold.
Hometown – Abeokuta really, but feels more like Lagos
Insomnia – Never
Job Title – Training Coordinator
Kids – Always wanted four. Now, I'm not so sure.
Living arrangements – Family home
Most admired trait – Mine??? You better ask people who know me well.
Number of sexual partners – LOL!!! Unimpressive.
Overnight hospital stays – None
Phobia – Peacocks, though I'm not sure that could be classified as a phobia. Unreasonable fear, perhaps.
Quote – "Do not follow where a path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Religion – Christian
Siblings – One brother and one sister
Time I usually awake – 6 am
Unusual talent – Not sure. Let me think about this.
Vegetable I refuse to eat – Pumpkin
Worst habit – Don't know about worst, but compulsively scratching my insect bites till they bleed and leave huge scars is pretty gross.
X-rays – Quite a few for the pre-requisite school medicals. Also had as part of annual physicals.
Yummy foods I make – Haven't cooked in a long while, but used to love to make sponge and rum cakes, fried rice, spicy pork chops, coconut rice and groundnut soup, puff puff, salmon and vegetables.
Zodiac sign – Proud Sagittarius