Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Vac Continues

I haven't had internet access since last Thursday, but it has felt like forever. Our hotel in Las Vegas did not offer wireless connection. But then I did not have my laptop with me anyway, so same difference I guess. I just stumbled on an internet cafe here in Miami though, which is where I am blogging from now.

My vacation has been a lot of fun. I haven't done much lazing around and instead, I have spent a fair amount of time in airports and on planes. While I used to get really excited by flying when I was younger, now I often wish there were some way to step through a door and be transported to my destination instantaneously. Any journey is usually half the fun and so I try to take that approach and use the time to catch up on my reading. However, I am one of those people who cannot stay awake in a moving vehicle of any sort. On most flights I have taken in my life, I am usually dead to the world before we even take off. So, unfortunately I have not made as much progress with Half of a Yellow Sun as I would have liked.

Las Vegas, for those who haven't visited, is just like it appears on TV - loud, colourful and decadent (though, of course I didn't really experience that side of it). The main draws are the hotels and casinos, and each hotel tries to outshine the others in terms of eye-catching design. The Bellagio is a pretty simple design, but features water fountain shows every half-hour. The lobby is simply breath-taking with glass-cut flowers on the ceiling. The Bellagio also has a conservatory with flower arrangements that change each season. When we were there, staff were working on the winter arrangement. The Bellagio was my favourite and I want to stay there when next I visit.

The Wynn Hotel had a wonderful light display on its grounds - of course you only see this at night. Mandalay Bay and the MGM Grand just look so opulent. The Luxor is a pyramid, I think. We didn't get the chance to visit. The Venetian was where my friends and I saw The Phantom of the Opera and that was incredibly plush. What really took my breath away was the theatre, where we watched the show. I wonder if it was built specially for Phantom, because there is a part of the show when the chandalier comes crashing down almost onto the audience's heads.

Las Vegas was cold though. I was not expecting it to be quite so cold. However, I was just happy to be in the setting of another of my favourite shows, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. I know they shoot most of their scenes in Hollywood, but I was still half-hoping to run into members of the cast. Ah well!

I did see Hulk Hogan at the airport yesterday, while waiting for the shuttle. The lady manning the booth asked me if I saw who just walked past. What? Who? Where?, I thought. Then I saw him walking away and, well, Hulk Hogan is as distinctive from behind as he is from the front.

I'll write more about Miami tomorrow. I'm tired and it's a bit of a walk back to my hotel.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ed Burns on NPR

Oooh, look what I stumbled upon. Ed Burns talks about creating The Wire on the National Public Radio show Fresh Air. Anyone who knows anthing about me will know that this is one of my favourite shows. Now that I am in the land of real DSL, I will enjoy listening to this without any breaks.

Monday's show's guests were mother and daughter writers, Anita and Kiran Desai.

So The Wire is now in its fifth and final (sniff, sniff) season. Well, every good thing must come to an end - unless they want to drag a good tale out a bit too long, lose audience interest and be unceremoniously kicked off the air. Even though The Wire has been lauded by critics since its first season, it's never been a ratings puller but we Wire fans love it to death (and maybe even prefer it that way - we were the astute few who were able to catch onto a good thing).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Back in Boston

It's almost like I never left. Well, sort of and sort of not. I've fallen very easily into going to the places I used to. I've already been all over downtown. Today, I think I will take it easy with the shops and go and see a movie or two (oh, I'm saying "movie" already instead of "film").

The weather is quite cold, though on par for this time of the year. I've been told that the weather was really quite warm until I arrived. So I guess I brought the cold with me from Nigeria?

It's a little bit wierd taking the T instead of driving. There are several places I wanted to go, but which I need to drive to. Boston prides itself on having the first public transport system in the US, but it's really not that extensive. Boston the city is fairly well-served by the T, but if you live in the surrounding cities e.g. Cambridge, Sommerville, Malden, Newton, Watertown, etc you have to use the buses more. It's alright I suppose, though it's a killer waiting for the bus in the cold. Five minutes easily feels like fifteen. And that's when the bus comes when it's supposed to. okay, let's not go there. Happy thoughts only!

I have no idea what is showing in the cinemas here, so I'll check online and pick something to watch.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I'm looking forward to spending the day with friends. The airports will be crazy as people travel for the Thanksgiving holidays. As usual, there's the threat of a storm. My friend said that it's snowed every Thanksgiving that she can remember. I really have no recollection of this. Maybe I kept only the happy memories when I left.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Writer's Image

I attended a book reading yesterday by Abidemi Sanusi, author of Kemi's Journal. It was funny how people kept referring to her (accidentally, of course) as Kemi.

Anyway, an interesting question and answer session followed the reading. If I didn't know before just how difficult a writing profession is, I certainly am aware of it now. No, writing is not just about writing. Who would have thunk? No, you have to identify your target audience and in many cases produce the book your publisher thinks would appeal to them. It sounds like such incredibly hard work, not to mention potentially joy-killing. I suppose that is why it is so important to find a publisher whose vision is very closely aligned with yours, and such a publisher once found becomes tighter than family.

One issue that was much discussed was the role a writer's image plays in the success of their book. Bibi of Cassava Republic talked about how many publishers regard the writer's image as integral to the success of the book. I suppose this is very much a sign of the times. Writers go on book tours to promote their work now. I'm not sure what they did fifty years ago. I do know that growing up I frequently knew nothing about the writers of my favourite books. And it really didn't matter that much to me. Now, I obsessively Google the authors I like to find out every tiny detail about them. I admit that I am very curious about people and their stories, and having the tools with which to feed my curiousity only serves to feed this addiction.

But, if the Internet didn't exist and there was no Google and no celebrity-obsessed media culture such as we have now, I wonder if I would still care about a writer's image? In the long run, probably not that much. I would probably still want to know something about them, but it really wouldn't affect whether I read their books or not.

Years ago, some writers (particularly women) wrote under a pen-name. I suppose they had constructed images to feed to the public and I assume that even their publishers were unaware of their true identities. I know that this could not happen in today's world, where we have to know absolutely everything about the people we choose to invite into our lives. Writing used to be a profession where image didn't matter so much; the proof was in the manuscript, so to speak. Or at least that's what it's always seemed like to me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Registered at Last

Phew, I finally registered to vote. No one I know has, but I really needed to do it this week. Registration closes on November 30 according to all the public service announcements I’ve heard. It’s funny how all the PSAs tell you when the registration is taking place, but not where you can actually register. The INEC website is really no better. I found out the nearest location to my place of residence by asking around. Eventually my parents’ driver told me that he thought he saw some people registering by the Catholic church on Admiralty Way.

The process itself was very simple and straightforward (I was there all of 5 minutes). There was just one lady being registered when I got there. Maybe voting is really not a big deal to a lot of people (with our democratic track record, I could see why). Or, more likely, no one knows where the hell they are supposed to be registering. Okay, Lekki is a residential area, so maybe everyone is planning to do it over the weekend. BTW, you can register on Saturday and Sunday.

Anyway, one of the officials asks for your name, date of birth and occupation. She hands it to her colleague, who keys it into his handheld device. They take your photo. Your info and picture is printed out on a slip of paper. They fold this in two and are supposed to
laminate it for you (this will serve as your voter registration card), but I was told that I had to go and do it myself (Sigh! So nothing’s perfect).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I cannot wait to play around with my hair. This is one of the biggest reasons that I'm looking forward to some time-off work. I am going to try styles I don't know would fly at work. Well, if they look good, I will think about wearing them to the office.

Writer Tayari Jones has some nice photos of her many hairstyles. I really like her twist-outs.

Thank God! It's that Time of the Year!!

Nigerians work VERY hard and take very few vacations, or so it seems to me. You could be entitled to 6 weeks holiday in a year, but only take half of that. Or you could take the entire 6 weeks at one go because it’s easier to get approval once rather than spread your vacation time around (which I think ends up being such a waste because chances are high that you will get bored after the first 10 days). Or you could be that unlucky not to get any time off at all.

Last week we held the last of our youth workshops for the year. The last few months have been particularly tasking, because we have not only had two workshops to organise in as many months, but we still had our regular work to attend to. Right now, I am so tired. I wonder how people keep going for years without taking a break. I know that I couldn’t do it. Nor do I want to find out what it would be like.

I am leaving for a 3-week vacation next week and this week I’m pretty much marking time. Yes, I’m 'working', but it’s not at my usual high-octane level. I’m being very sedate this week and taking things very easy. I feel guilty for not putting in 110%, but guess I should be less selfish and let someone else be this week’s Energiser Bunny. In the meantime, I’ve reverted to my old style of 'working' from Boston. I work for 15 minutes and then surf for 20. It worked quite well then and ensured that my productivity was not adversely affected by the law of diminishing returns. Luckily for me, our internet service at work is working better than it has in a while and I discovered that there are recaps of Project Runway on Television Without Pity. Back to work!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Registering to Vote

I'd like to register as soon as I can and am wondering if anyone in the Lekki-Ajah axis has done this already. I checked the INEC website for a list of places to do this, but this information is not here yet (even though registration has started).

So who has registered?

Weekend Traffic

Work has been busy, busy, busy. We just held our last career workshop for this year, so we can breathe a little easy. Work goes on though and there's all the taking stock, writing of thank you letters that we do after each program.

Our program was held in Abuja and we had a blast! Can I say again just how peaceful Abuja is? The driving often leaves a lot to be desired, but it's nothing a Lagosian can't handle. It is actually possible to correctly estimate your travel times. The contrast was so obvious when I returned to Lagos. Yesterday, parts of two major roads in Victoria Island were blocked off. For people trying to get from VI to the Lekki-Ajah axis, it was a total nightmare because the two roads with closures (Ozumba Mbadiwe and Adetokunbo Ademola) were the most popular routes to get to Lekki Expressway. What bad planning. You would hope (though we know that this will never happen) that there would be some checking in on proposed closures to make sure that traffic choas does not ensue. But, what am I saying? Chaos is the norm here, so who cares, right?

I anticipated that there might be some bad traffic, but I just had to go out and get some yogurt. After getting stuck in total gridlock, I wasn't so sure that they were worth it. Anyway, I got home after spending just an hour and a half in the traffic. And I'm probably one of the luckier ones.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Trip to the Papers

We went on a courtesy call to another newspaper today. This was a paper with a slightly smaller circulation, but with its own niche audience. While we waited for the editors to get ready, we were taken on a mini-tour of the paper. We visited the press where the newspaper is printed. Call me a child, but I was giddy with excitement at seeing the papers roll off the press. The smoke and smell would take some getting used to - well, no actually I don't want to have to breathe in those noxious fumes everyday.

Next, we went to the newsroom. It was still early - about 11am (yes, many reporters work into the wee hours of the morning and so roll into work late the next day). Now, THAT sounds like my kind of job (though I suppose a deep interest and knowledge of current affairs would sort of be a pre-requisiste). Most of the staff in the newsroom appeared to be part of the production team. Some were typing in stories, while others worked on the layout and photos. Even though the room was near empty, I could easily picture the room filled with reporters talking, working on their articles and following unfolding news stories simultaneously. So exciting!!!!