Friday, December 29, 2006

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Book Readings

Just learnt about new book readings on Molara Woods blog.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be reading from her second novel Half of a Yellow Sun

Quintessence, January 5, 4pm
Jazzhole, January 11, 5pm
Lagos State University (LASU), January 12, 10am
Bookworm, January 12, 5pm

Port Harcourt:
Novotel, January 6, 12.30pm

The British Council, Abuja, January 13

I still haven't finished reading it, although it's really good so far. Well, I have a free week ahead of me with lots of nothing to do. Yipeee!!!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Blogging Personality

I am currently reading through old blog posts and realising how much more open I was back then. I think it stemmed partly from the fact that for the first 4 months or so, I only received 1 or 2 comments, and that led me to believe that no one was reading my blog. Consequently, I wrote with a lot less inhibitions. Although I had sent the link out to so many friends when I left Boston, it seemed that no one was bothering to read it (and at the time, I didn't know how to check who was viewing my blog).

I wrote a lot more about feminism, about my dreams and ambitions, my personality - topics I haven't blogged about it a while. Maybe it's just a reflection of the things going on at the moment or the issues on my mind. I think there's probably a time factor too. I am probably less likely to start a detailed write-up on a subject if I don't have the time to write it as well as I would like. Perhaps there's also the realisation that this stuff is on the Internet, afterall!

Well, it's an interesting thing for me to note, nonetheless. I wonder how my personality comes across through my writing - or if it does. I wonder if other people find themselves increasingly more comfortable with expressing themselves to potentially thousands of people out there or if the gradual realisation of the magnitude of their audience slowly freezes them up?

At least, I'm glad that I'm still blogging. I wasn't sure it would last.

Time Person of the Year is YOU! Yes, You! No, Don't Turn Around ... it's You.

This year Time magazine has chosen us - the bloggers, podcasters, video-bloggers, amateur reviewers, would-be journalists - as its collective person of the year.

Funny, around this time last year or perhaps the start of the year, I posted something that the BBC had written about 2005 being the year of citizen journalism.

Time asks
Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch Lost tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

Well, if you put it like that..... Me, I guess. And hundreds of us out there. And what keeps us going? This is the million naira question. It's true that as soon as I get home (assuming I don't go to the gym after work), almost the first thing I do is to turn on my computer and I'm usually still there until I go to bed. I was actually starting to think that it's a very sad state of affairs and that I need to tear myself away from this damned computer. Well, thanks, Time for making me feel much better about myself.

No, seriously though. I'm not sure that I blog for any particularly 'honourable' reasons like wanting to portray Nigeria in a better light or to share my views on worthy topics like politics or economics. I simply enjoy writing about whatever's on my mind (be it 'worthy' or not). And I enjoy the feeling of community you develop with the people who read your blog and the people who write the blogs you visit.

Sometimes, though, I feel that a lot of these types of articles that you read (especially in publications like Time and Newsweek), which attempt to capture the zeitgeist of the times - in this case being, "I have a point of view and I want to share it with the whole world. And thank God for blogs, Flickr and all these wonderful web 2.0 technologies" can come across as just a tad over-effusive and catching the tail end of the trend. I remember reading some Technorati report a few weeks ago about how the number of new blogs being created daily was slowing down (inevitably) and how this is probably due to the novelty wearing off and the people who are most attracted to blogging already most likely own blogs.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Pipeline Blast Kills Hundreds in Lagos

It felt like it was not too long ago that I blogged about the last one. Now here is another incident. At least 200 people have died in a pipeline explosion in the Abule Egba part of Lagos state today as people siphoned fuel from a pipeline punctured by thieves.

The recent scarcity has seen scores of cars parked outside petrol stations for the last week. Even on Christmas Day, many were found at the petrol station hustling to buy some petrol.

Read more about the explosions on the BBC and MSNBC websites.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Wishes for a Merry Christmas and Phenomenal 2007

The following is is a very popular quote by Theodore Roosevelt, but one that I wanted to share with everyone as we end the year and go into a new one. I hope that 2006 was a year in which you achieved many of your goals. If you didn't quite manage to knock off all the items on your To Do list, I hope that 2007 will bring you many new opportunities to do so.

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again... who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly... (Theodore Roosevelt)

This quote reminds me of many of the reasons I wanted to move back home. I definitely feel that people should be free to decide where they want to live and not derided for it. However, I did not want to be among those people who criticise but are not part of any solution. For me, I felt that my contributions would be more effective from home. For others, it may lie in a different path. So here's to a 2007 where we each discover what and how we can contribute to making Nigeria a better place to live. Oh, and have a merry Christmas too.

Wire Lovefest

I finally finished watching the 3rd season of The Wire. I don't have the time right now to write a full review.

Awards season has started in the States and it looks like it's going to be the same story in 2007 where The Wire and award nominations are concerned. The Golden Globe noms were announced some weeks ago and The Wire was absent again! Well, who cares about awards anyway (asks a thoroughly disgruntled fan)? We know that awards do not a great show make. And there has to be a solid reason why, despite low-ish viewership numbers, the show has four seasons under its belt with plans for a 5th season.

The Dec. 25 issue of Time gave props to the show in its annual Teddy Awards for "people who performed honourably as winners and losers in the public arena." Among the winners was David Simon, creator of The Wire, a show the articles's writer describes as "the finest piece of popular entertainment I've seen this century." High praise indeed. He goes on "Watching the show takes some effort; it's complicated, but every detail is delicious. It is, quite simply, the smartest show I've seen about the drama of public life, the corrosive cynicism of bureaucracies, the creativity and futility of the inner-city poor."

I think part of the appeal of the show is that you can take the plot out of Baltimore and transpose it to a host of other cities. The names would change but many of the issues remain the same: drugs; hopelessness; poverty; desperation; a corrupt and self-serving political class; weary and ill-equipped police; and citizens who think they have no power in fighting any societal ills and no choice than to look the other way.

Chaos at the Pumps

What a weekend it's been! I'm officially on another vacation - for two weeks this time. This time I plan to rest, read, watch movies and generally laze about (all the things I didn't do enough of the last time).

There's been a crazy week-long scramble to buy petrol. Is it fuel scarcity or is just panic buying? From the numbers of people queuing and sleeping at petrol stations, not many people know or care. I spent up to four and a half hours at a petrol station today with my brother. If I wasn't low on fuel and had places to go to over the next few days, I would not have bothered. I would have sat my butt at home and waited until this madness (inevitably) subsides.

Sitting there in the queue, I nearly wept for our country that is so rich in crude oil, but yet has its citizens in short supply of something that should be so readily available. The behaviour of many of the drivers, jumping the line and trying to be 'smarter' than the others was unbecoming, though very 'Nigerian'. As I moved further up the queue, I could see that the cars were being serviced at one pump, while a mass of people scrambled at the other pump to buy petrol in jerry cans. That pump was a mess of jostling bodies and shoving arms. It disturbed my super-organised self to see such unnecessary chaos, so I tried hard to focus more on the other (far more orderly) pump.

Alas, as the fighting got worse the attendants stopped selling petrol to cars and we waited to see if they would resume. Eventually I got tired of waiting and left. I'd already spent way too much of my day sweating profusely into my Sunday clothes and getting bitten by invisible sandflies. I got home to find that my mother had already organised some petrol to be bought for all the cars in the house. My sister who had (sensibly) waited it out at home, had her tank filled without breaking out into as much as a bead of sweat.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Wire Season 3 - Part I

I've started watching the 3rd season of The Wire. It started off a bit slowly, but it's been gradually gaining momentum - kind of like season 2. It's very good so far. I like Cutty aka Dennis so far. Brianna is a mother with a mission. Marlo is another new interesting character. I like seeing the new dynamics between Avon and String. You can see String' slowly going down.

I will blog more about it when I've watched the whole thing through.

The Lows of Winter

Denver residents dig out their carsThe state of Colorado has witnessed one of the worst blizzards in years. This was me two winters ago, digging out my barely visible car from under smooth, never-ending drifts of snow. I know we are not in 100% control of our futures, but I pray that will never be me again. I don't ever want to live in a cold city ever ever again.
Photo from: The NY Times

Christmas in Vegas

The NY Times has this article on Christmas in Las Vegas. There's a photo of the winter display in the Bellagio's conservatory, which my friends and I missed out on seeing when we visited. The little I could see looked incredible; a winter wonderland featuring life-sized polar bears all made out of carnations.

I am realising just how more enjoyable it is for me to read travel stories of places I have already visited.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dear Oh Dear, Essence

I was checking my email a few minutes ago when I came across one from Essence magazine. I'm a long-time reader of Essence, steadfastly buying the magazine even as its quality plummeted and then through their more recent efforts to take the magazine back to what I've heard described as its hey-day in the 1970s (why does it seem like the seventies were the hey-days for everything and everybody?).

Today's "News Alert" though was just hilarious. Essence does not send out alerts very often; these are usually reserved for news stories of significant interest and/or importance to its readers. So when I see them, I know they have something important to report.

Today's read: Diddy’s A Daddy! Kim Porter delivers twin baby girls.
Erm, excuse me?

Sean Combs and Kim Porter"A source close to the family confirms exclusively to Essence that the stork made two deliveries to hip-hop impresario Sean "Diddy" Combs and his long-time girlfriend Kim Porter. Porter, 36, at Mt. Sinai in New York City. The couple reportedly delivered a healthy set of twin baby girls, according to a source close to the couple.
(blah, blah, blah .............. yadda, yadda, yadda .........................)
Read more about the arrival of the twins on and stay with us as this story develops."
Delivered with all the urgency of some momentous piece of breaking news. For a split nanosecond I was bewildered at why I would care enough about P. Diddy to want a special email informing me of the birth of his twins, until I quickly remembered what a pop-culture obsessed world we live in.

BTW, I received another email informing me that the January issue is out and it looks great! Every January Essence features women over the age of 40 who have taken incredible care of themselves and look decades younger than they are. I literally have to pick my jaw off the floor when I read about 90-year old women who could pass for 40. I'm serious!!!!!!!!! This issue more than anything else inspires me to exercise, eat well, relax as much as I can and take good care of myself. I hope I can get my hands on this issue.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Problem with Blogger Beta

Okay, here's one. My Bloglines reader can no longer read new posts. I believe Adefunke and Pilgrimage to Self must have also switched to the beta, because I can't read their updates either. Now I have to take my lazy ass to the actual blog. Has anyone else encountered this problem and have you found a way around it?

PS: Okay, I figured it out. I unsubscribed from the feed and then subscribed again, duh!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

December the 18th

It was my birthday yesterday. I love my birthday. Aside from celebrating having made it to another year older and (ahem...) much, much wiser, I love that I was born in such a festive month like December. I also like that my birthday falls on an even-numbered day (a little idiosyncracy that I have). Now it turns out that there is another reason to celebrate. My cousin and his wife were blessed with a baby girl on my very same birthday. What a very smart girl to have the sense to pop out on her aunt's birthday. LOL!!!

It was a low-key day. I went to work (I personally think you shouldn't have to work on your birthday), got lots of phone calls, text messages and emails. My sister took me out to dinner in the evening. She planned on taking me to Bambudhha (sp?), where she said the food was excellent. However, it turns out that they are closed on Mondays and only open to special bookings (there was a party going on). We drove to Ikoyi towards Reeds, an Asian-fusion restaurant. I felt so out of the loop, btw. I don't think I've heard of this place. The traffic heading towards Awolowo Road was crazy, so we climbed on the bridge and headed back to VI. We eventually ended up at Pearl Garden. Pearl Garden has THE best Chinese food around (it used to be China Restaurant at Ikoyi Hotel, but alas they are no more).

All in all, a wonderful day! Now I'm eagerly awaiting my 2-week break from work. Already a lot of staff have left for their various holiday destinations, so the rest of us are in semi-holiday mood.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Hair

I received calls today from two different women who have done my hair in the past. After the greetings, both wanted to know what I was "doing for Christmas" i.e. what I plan on doing to my hair for Christmas. Co-incidentally, I had been thinking about the same thing over the last week.

Last year, a few months after just moving back home, I was introduced to the idea of Christmas Hair. This year, I wondered "Do I want to do anything to my hair?" I hate sitting for hours to get my hair done into a style that will not last more than a couple of weeks. Kinky twists look best on my natural hair and I have done that twice this year already. I know I spoke about making that my staple style, but now I think that's just boring (okay, probably no less boring than the afro puff I wear the rest of the time).

I know there are relatively few women with natural hair who choose not to wear it in locs or very short. But I'd really be interested in hearing how women with medium-long natural hair wear their hair (aside from extensions and weaves) especially when they are going out to a special event. Maybe I'll post some pics later if I find anything.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Blogging For More than Fun

The Nigerian blogosphere has expanded exponentially in the last year. It's also seen its fair share of blog deaths. I understand. People get tired of blogging, the initial excitement fades away. There's no time. Internet access is costly and the speeds can be excrutiatingly slow. It can also be hard work thinking of topics to blog on regularly. I'll be the first to admit it. I don't have Internet access issues, but sometimes I stymied for things to talk about, or I just can't be bothered.

Most Nigerian blogs that I have seen appear to be for non-professional purposes i.e. individuals' informal or personal journal format. Are there any Nigerian companies that use blogs as a way of sharing information and getting feedback from their employees? Are there any professional development blogs? Any academic blogs? Any schools (private, most likely) where teachers incorporate the use of blogs in their teaching? I'm curious.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Voice For Ella

A Voice for Ella is tagged the Nigerian version of Cinderella. Wait, I just looked at the program and it's actually tagged "A modern adaptation of Cinderella" but it was described to me as a Nigerian version.

When I got to the MUSON, the lobby was filled with parents and their kids.

- Oh no! Please don't tell me this is going to be a kiddies affair.

Well, I needn't have worried. It was a lot of fun. The songs blended effortlessly with the rest of the play. You know when you watch musicals and can't wait for the song and dance routine to be over so that you can get on with the 'real' play? Well, it wasn't the case here. The dancing was also a lot of fun to watch. There were some problems with the sound system but I'm sure these will be resolved for future showings. People with children will especially enjoy this play.

Future showings are scheduled for December 17, 22, 23, 24 at 3pm and 6pm at the Civic Centre, Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue, Victoria Island.

A Tale of (In)Appropriate Email Use

One thing that used to really get my goat when I worked in the US was the frequent and (in my mind) overly-enthusiastic use of email. I must add that I had two different experiences working in two different jobs. In one job, email discussion was an extension of face-to-face and phone conversations. In the other, it was pretty much email all the way. And this was where the problems (for me) arose.

Much to the horror of some of my colleagues, I was in the habit of switching off my email client so that I could actually get some work done. I'd check periodically for urgent emails that required an immediate response and then log off again. I hate being interrupted in the middle of Very Important Work and besides, isn't this one of the top recommendations of time-management experts? I guess not everyone agreed with that particular piece of wisdom, because my phone would ring and a voice bristling with indignation would ask why I had not responded to x,y or z. After checking my email, I would see that they had sent it only ten minutes earlier (GRRRRR!!!!) and it was something that really could have waited (DOUBLE GRRRR!!!!). Why does everyone think that their issues come first with you?

Anyway, my situation these days is much the opposite. It's mostly face-to-face and phone discussions interspersed with emails, thanks to a string of unreliable ISPs and a still growing email culture in Nigeria's workforce. Just when I want to complain, I think back to the times when my colleague in the cubicle next to mine would send me an email asking if I wanted to go to lunch and then I am grateful that Nigerians are somewhat less into the personal space thing than Americans. However, where's that happy medium when you really need it?


Pilates is not at all popular in Nigeria. In my time here, I have searched for a gym that offered classes. Pilates lengthens and strengthens the body. It especially focuses on developing core strength (i.e. in your back and stomach area).

I tried it for the first time in 1999 and absolutely hated it. Infact, I think I fell asleep in the class. It was that boring. Fast-forward 3 or 4 years and I heard of so many celebrities who swore by Pilates. I don't have to do something just because a celebrity is doing it. However, most of them did have fabulous bodies. So, what the hell? I could at least give it a try.

I bought a tape of basic-level Pilates and worked out to it at home. I was intrigued and over the next few months, bought many more. Eventually I found a gym near my job that offered Pilates. By then I was hooked. Pilates does deliver what it offers, but you have to stick with it. It doesn't involve a lot of jumping around like Step or many forms of aerobic exercises, so you might feel like your body isn't really being exercised. Never fear! As you advance and move on to more advanced classes, the pace quickens and a session can leave you as breathless as an aerobic class. You also start to develop a lot of overall tone, especially in the stomach area.

So why this spiel? Well, today I finally found somewhere that does offer Pilates (Bodyworks in Ikoyi). Well, I actually discovered it two months ago, but the procastinator that I am, I only got around to trying it out today. I really enjoy Pilates and am so glad to have it back in my life.

Back to Work

Today was my first day back. All in all, it was pretty good. My desk was not piled celing high with memos, letters, to-do lists as I had feared. Instead, save for 1 or 2 files, it looked pretty much the same way I left it. Amazing!! I eased into the day, working on the less challenging tasks on this week's to-do list (I'm a big List Girl). All my colleagues commented on how well-rested I looked. Yes, I know I do. I only hope that in a few days I don't return to my pre-vac haggard looking self (ok, my situation was not quite so dire, but you know what I mean ..... ).

Well, one thing that gives me some hope is the knowledge that at the end of next week we close for TWO WEEKS for the Christmas and New Years holidays. I hope I'm not coming off as a lazy bum (I'm really quite hard working, I am) but, face it, who doesn't like time off? More time to read all the books I've bought this year and last (despite my determination to do otherwise), think about my life and where it's headed, talk on the phone, spend with family and friends and do something out of the ordinary.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Villa Paradiso, Miami

Miami was, for me, a more picturesque city with a Kodak scene around every corner, but ironically it was where I didn't really take any pictures. I kicked myself on the last day, but it was too late by then. I loved the guesthouse I stayed in - Villa Paradiso - and took loads of pictures of it.

Las Vegas IV

One of the quickie weddings that Las Vegas is known for. This was taken outside the chapel in the MGM Grand Hotel. Although the hotel attendant standing nearby said this was a real couple, the whole thing seemed staged for the benefit of passing tourists. Well, we went ahead and took pictures anyway.

Las Vegas III

The lobby of the Bellagio Hotel. You probably can't make out the mass of colors on the ceiling, but those were glass (or perhaps plastic) flowers in a multitude of colors. I loved it. The lobby also houses a flower conservatory, which is changed each season. The winter arrangement was being done when we were there.

The Luxor. There was a movie showing at there on the Mysteries of the Nile, which we wanted to see but never got around to.

The Mandalay Bay Hotel. One of the prettier hotels on the strip.

Las Vegas II

Las Vegas

This is part of the Las Vegas strip, where many of the hotels are. The strip is the new Vegas, as I was told by a shop attendant. She said old Vegas is more "honky tonk" (okay, I don't really know what that means .....) with a lot of cheap motels. Tourists don't visit old Vegas much.
I didn't visit the hotel in the distance - the Wynn - but it had the most gorgeous lighting arrangement on its grounds, which came on at night.

Gender & IT

Ethan Zuckerman blogs on gender and information technology. Zuckerman recently spoke with Nancy Hafkin (a pioneer in the study of gender and ICTs). Nancy Hafkin co-edited the book "Cinderella or Cyberella: Empowering Women in the Knowledge Society" with Sophia Huyer (also a researcher and speaker on international gender, science and technology issues).

This post makes for interesting reading for anyone who has wondered about women's use of ICTs and why it appears that more women aren't using and developing technology. Zuckerman points out how the issue of gender barriers to technology use has traditionally been neglected by ICT researchers. I have no doubt that this book by Nancy Hafkin (who I had the pleasure of meeting at a conference last year) will be a valuable contribution to the growing body of work in this area. I recently bought the book and can't wait to start reading it.

[NB: Additional reading on the Nancy Hafkin lecture from Zuckerman's colleague, Rebecca MacKinnon]

Friday, December 08, 2006

Take Back the Tech

This is coming so late, but better late than never. There's a wonderful online campaign going on at the moment using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to fight against violence against women (VAW). Take Back the Tech is organised by the Association for Progressive Communications, Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP). For 16 Days (Nov 25 – Dec 10), participants are encouraged to employ ICTs for activism against VAW.

Each of the previous days of the campaign has featured different ways to get involved, from writing a haiku, sharing personal stories, sharing relevant bookmarked websites, to putting the campaign banners and icons on your site or blog and sending text messages to friends and family about VAW.

Read more about Take Back the Tech on their website and see how you can involved in the last few days.

Killing Time

I'm back in Lagos now and this jetlag thing is quite serious. It's 3:20 AM and I cannot sleep. Okay, perhaps that has absolutely nothing to do with jetlag and it's just my body's natural nocturnal habits coming to the fore now that they have the opportunity to do so (I don't start work 'till Monday).

Having nothing better to do, I took this quizz to determine my Dating Persona, which I found on Angela's blog. I had to laugh out loud when I read it. A lot of it is actually true, though I will of-course decline to mention which parts these are.

Free Online Dating

The Priss

Deliberate Brutal Love Dreamer (DBLDf)

Mature. Responsible. Aristocratic. Excuse me. The Priss.

Prisses are the smartest of all female types. You're highly perceptive, and confident in your judgements. You'd take brutal honesty over superficiality any time--your friends always know where they stand with you. You're completely unfake. Don't tell me that's not a word. You're also excellent at redirecting internal negative energy.

These facts indicate people are often intimidated by you. They also fall for you, hard. You have a distant, composed allure that many find irresistible. If only more of them lived up to your standards.

You were probably the last among your friends to have sex. And the first to pretend that you're pregnant. LOL. Though you're inclined to use sex as weapon, at least it's not as one of mass destruction. You're choosier than most about your partners. A supportive relationship is what you're really after. Whether you know it or not, you need something steady & long-term. And soothing.

ALWAYS AVOID: The Playboy, The Loverboy

CONSIDER: The Manchild

Read My Result

Take the Test

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Leaving Boston

Managed to squeeze in one more film before I leave Boston. I saw Casino Royale tonight. I have always been a big James Bond fan, which I know probably doesn't sit well with my feminist beliefs, but hey!

I enjoyed the movie a lot. I like action films with some degree of intelligence and coherence and, like many people, I was curious to see how Daniel Craig would fare as Bond, and I have to say that he did a really good job. Casino Royale was the first book in the James Bond series written by Ian Fleming, I believe. It was also the first televised book (a made-for-TV film shown in the States). In it James Bond falls in love, is betrayed (sorry, spolier for those who haven't seen it yet) and I suppose that betrayal intensifies his existing distrust of people. He remains, as M refers to him, a "blunt instrument" i.e. purpose is to carry out his duties by any means necessary.

The short walk from my friend's car to the cinema was brutal because of the wind. Yesterday we enjoyed a mild winter's day (in the mid 60s). Today the temperatures plummeted about 20 degrees south, but the fierce wind made it feel a lot colder. How did I manage to survive this cold for so many years? I guess it really is time for me to get back to the hot chaotic mess that is Lagos.

Friday, December 01, 2006


I really wanted to use this opportunity to see a lot of films, especially smaller, independent films that Nu Metro Cinemas is unlikely to show. I only saw two: The Queen, starring the divine Helen Mirren, who I was introduced to courtesy of BBC's Prime Suspect (yes, me and my crime shows); and Pedro Almodover's Volver. Funny, I have never been a particular fan of Penelope Cruz, but she was magnetic in this film. Volver explores the relationship between a mother and her daughters.

Hopefully, I can squeeze one more film into this trip.


Miami was fun. I'm back in Boston now, so it's already seeming far away. The difference between the two cities could not be more stark. Where Miami was warm (weather-wise and in terms of the ambience), Boston is cold (though not as cold as I was expecting - just in the mid 60s), dark and drab in comparison.

I stayed in South Beach on Collins Avenue, which is parallel to the famed Ocean Drive. And despite being so close, I did not get to the beach until the evening before I left. I was far from alone on the beach though. There were many people running, playing, walking their dogs (or more likely, carrying them) or just taking a stroll like me.

Like many people know, Miami has a huge Latino population with many people originating from Cuba. Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic minority population in the United States. In many cities, I would guess that Spanish is like a second language. In Boston certainly, many signs are written in both English and Spanish (well, ok on reflection, maybe not that many), so I was used to living in a fairly diverse city. However, Miami felt like a totally different country. I read in a letter written to the Miami Herald today that Miami represents what many American cities will look like in a few years. I know that I really like the city. Whenever I travel to a new place, I always think about whether I could see myself living there or not. Miami is a "yes", though admittedly I still know relatively little about it.

I'll try and post some pics later on, though I didn't take very many and didn't really do any touristy things. I just kind of walked around and shopped a little. I did see Hulk Hogan (apparently he lives there now). I also saw Tony Montana's (?) house from the movie Scarface.

Bebe Moore Campbell Passes On

I just found out that an author I really admire, Bebe Moore Campbell, passed away on Monday from complications of brain cancer.

I blogged about one of her books Sweet Summer: Growing Up With and Without My Dad a few months ago.

I really enjoyed reading her books. She was able to get into the skin of her characters so well that even when you despised a character, you still understood where they were coming from. She was also an extremely funny writer. Brothers and Sisters was the first of her books that I read. Set in LA just after the race riots of the 1990s, it made me think about race in a way that I guess I really had until them and also acknowledge that as much as I despise any sort of discrimination, I (like most other people) had my own prejudices.

Bebe Moore Campbell was also an ardent advocate for the mentally ill, especially among African-Americans. Her most recent book, 72 Hour Hold, focused on this theme. Like in the African-American community, there is also a lot of stigma towards mental illness and depression in Nigeria and I wish this weren't so. Mental illness is not always manifested in the 'crazy', dreadlocked vagabond mumbling to him or herself or threatening violence to passers-by. Many forms of depression are a lot more insidious and sneaky than that. While some people have a genetic pre-disposition to mental illness, in many people, it can be triggered by a devastating event.

I think many of us need to develop more awareness about mental health and learn to show more compassion to people suffering from mental illnesses.