Strictly (not) dancing…

I think I have never danced in my entire life – not in church, not on my solitary foray into a night club, not at all the birthday parties I attended as a kid, not ever. I don’t remember if it was a concious decision, or if it was/still is a result of a deep seated phobia even I am unaware of, or if I have always lacked that seemingly natural ability to coordinate the limbs in resonance with external tunes, or if I just plain can’t be bothered.

I have always consoled myself by declaring that I am musing over the words of the songs – dissecting the rhymes, pondering the nuances, or sometimes inserting my own words to see if they rhyme better, or if they mean more for me that way. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I came close; days when I actually shuffled from side to side as though I were part of an invisible choir from antiquity or nodded my head and plucked strings on an imaginary acoustic guitar in tune with the song being belted out.

Today was one of them days, perhaps the huge cup of coffee I drank this morning as I stepped out into 3 degree centigrade temperatures was culpable, or it was a genuine case of shopping therapy after I ogled my latest acquisition for the umpteenth time, or perhaps it was Charlie leading worship at church, and squeezing in one of my favourite Hillsong songs… Bottom line is I almost danced, but I didn’t.. And I’m left still wondering what dancing must feel like…

Guilt tripping

Aside of the occasional foray into the main street to either shop, use the ATM, go to church, get to the Library or some other mundane task, I have spent the last few months indoors. Today I went out to the ATM. Normally there should not have been a queue but today my eyes were assailed by a queue, stretching into the distance. There must have been at least twenty people on the queue occasioned by the demise of one of the two machines. These are the only two machines in walking distance of my house, which is shocking considering we are just off the city centre.

I joined the end of the queue, arms folded around myself, even though I was clad in quite a heavy coat to deflate the force of the icy wind. Around me, everyone was heavily clad, quite a few were swaying, maybe trying to generate some heat from the muscular motion. One or two youngish looking chaps had cigarettes which they were puffing on, exhaling with careless abandon in our general direction. The woman in front of me seemed especially cold. She had only a flimsy looking wind breaker on for protection and I could almost swear I heard her bones rattling as she shivered. The person behind me seemed to take pity on her, and handed her his coat, which she seemed to appreciate.
I felt a twinge of guilt for not offering her my jacket. I rationalized it away by telling myself that I needed it as much as she did, and that I’d have had to get it back when I left the queue. As I left, money in my wallet, I headed straight to the nearest KFC. This called for something warm ASAP.

Right Girl, Right Time, Wrong Context… Or Not?

The following is an attempt to be coherent at 3.45am. If the logic is fuzzy, the imagery abstruse and the conclusions bother on the insane, blame it on reading Malcolm Gladwell into the wee hours of the morning!

In response to my rant/ sobfest in March about losing my friend Di, LoloBloggs pointed me to a post in which she argued that the right girl, wrong time argument was merely an excuse to prime women up for the inevitable future break up. Whilst that may be true in some situations, in one of those not-so random brain waves, it crossed my mind that the rightness or wrongness of the argument was peripheral to the fact that it fit the observed data for a reason – it is pragmatic!  A further thought was a what-if, what if there exists a third dimension that when coupled with the right person and the right time serves as a useful predictor of how likely a person-connection is likely to proceed beyond the realms of casual acquaintance-ship? I would like to suggest that that third dimension is that of context.

Consider context as the sum total of the extraneous – if sometimes subtle – influences of the where and the how of the first meet-up on how we relate to the people in our social network in the future. This sounds like a fuzzy definition, but unfortunately the real world isn’t quite as pristine as that of Newtonian physics; as such we will have to make do with that definition for context.

In general people associate certain places with certain things and these perceptions colour how seriously we consider the people we meet there.  For instance, brothels are associated with quick and easy no explanations transactions, places of worship with ‘seriously’ religious people,  libraries –  and to a lesser extent these days classrooms with people of significant academic interests, the person who regularly listens to Opera and stage plays as possessing a certain refinement, the workplace with career focused people and the like.  The how of a meet-up is also of importance – I for one would be less likely to trust someone I know routinely fails to deliver on project deliverables than one who does – even if it has no bearing whatsoever on their personal lives. Thus I think context is critical.

There is a problem though with context and the associations that feed it. These associations are typically person specific – some blokes might be more likely to be close friends with someone they meet at a weed selling joint than one they met at church, fluid and ultimately subjective, and I doubt it is possible to accurately characterize these associations for the general population. Context whilst thus critical is thus coloured by our perceptions, which are in turn largely an acquired taste.

Perhaps, people connections are designed to be fuzzy and mysterious. After all the question of what constitutes the right girl or man is open to a myriad of definitions and counter definitions. Some would even argue that is an abstraction, spawned by the endless bombardment of our hearts and minds from childhood with the drivel served up by the likes of Hans Christian Anderson, Enid Blyton, the Brothers Grimm, the Pacesetters for our African children and in our latter years by the wide range of chic flicks portending to convince us that there is The ONE out there. Thankfully, the question of the right timing is a little less convoluted, but that does not in any way make the entire problem less of a probabilistic nightmare.

Context then is of utmost criticality and is subjective – neither right nor wrong- just different. The critical question then would be could we as individuals know our own ideal context, or is it locked in the deep recesses of our subconscious minds? Gladwell quotes various experiments in Blink that seem to suggest that there is both a conscious and a subconscious dimension to the dilemma. The most poignant one would be the speed-dating example.  Bottom line is when we meet people, we thin slice them and ‘what speed-daters say they want and what they are actually attracted to in a moment don’t match’. Perhaps there is a reason I patently distrust  e-harmony after all and why I junked my spreadsheet after all those years.

In conclusion, Context is critical, but subjective and part concious, part unconscious! My advice? Get your love on anyway!

Waiting (Part 2)

I think I’ll get the job. Our discussions went very well, the interviewers were very friendly, and only just stopped short of saying they didn’t see why an offer could not be made ASAP. I had scaled through the technical bits of the interview a few weeks ago before meeting up with the HR folks this time. Fingers crossed though. And there is an option to remain in my city! Now that’s some good news, first bits of decent news in a while too.


I finally went shopping, with a few friends from around the neighbourhood. Meat, tomatoes, onions, and a stop over at the African shop for some real rice meant my long running addiction to KFC is definitely in for a serious beating! Slowly getting used to this town, I cringe at the upheaval another relocation might cause if I get the job I am currently interviewing for..

Twiddling Thumbs…

She popped up on my IM window today – the first time in months that she has. In an oddly unsettling way, it seems odd that she appeared. Odd becuase a mere few months ago, we were seemingly inseparable. I was caught in two minds – to buzz her or not… Truth is there was never any closure. All we had was a slow drifting apart as we each sought to focus more on our own things…. In theory, we are still normal – still friends, still confidants – the only difference from the days of a somewhat burgeoning friendship being the fact that life has happened, and squeezed the ‘thing’ I thought could grow into a dry lifeless crust.

It’s life though… As the French say C’est La Vie…

Life’s Like That..

In retrospect…. Life happens.. With or without our consents…. And in its wake often comes change.. which we by default detest. Over time, we develop safe routines, coping mechanisms and default positions to deal with life – ultimately acquiring some semblance of balance.

Sometimes change is subtle; imperceptibly modifying the place where we are on the continuum of life, instigating minor perturbations – little oscillations if you like – around our equilibrium positions. The pragmatic thing to do then is to try to hold the fort, to resist change and maintain the status quo.

At other times though, change is radical – make that destructive – ripping to shreds the semblance of normalcy that we have settled into and forcing us to ask the ‘why me’ question. This change is frightening, and it can often feel as though all we have laboured for has been washed away in a flash flood.

The good thing though is that life is like a non-conservative vector field for which the closed line integral is not zero. Even when we seem to have come full circle, work has been done in moving us around the field. We have been changed and improved, and can face the daunting challenge of re-starting life with the confidence of the experience garnered the first time out.

Perhaps then calamitous change is good – new wine cannot co-exist with old wine skins – and old structures need to be removed from the state of play for the new to be built.

In many ways, I am seemingly back to Square One… The view from here though is that it is time to go back to the drawing board and retool a leaner, meaner machine!

Bring on the New Life….

Money matters.

It is times like this that I am ‘happy’ that I still am unmarried. My flatmate has this ongoing conversation with his wife. I swear I can tell the whole tale, blow by blow, word by word. They have been married for nearly 15 years, his Nigerian employers passed him over a couple of times for a promotion – piquing him enough to make him quit – with a hefty pay off – and head back to school after relocating his family to Europe.

Now with the MSc in hand, he’s chasing a job. Nothing quite clear cut yet, and Madam is on his case. Nagging him about the various financial commitments she has to meet, for which his funds are not forthcoming.

I cannot tell one way or the other – but perhaps now is the time for them to pull together and see what the extraneous expenses which can be trimmed off are. But what do I know? I am still very unmarried!

‘Rethinking’ Social Networks….

Perhaps, this is definitive proof that Social Networks like  Facebook and Twitter can be good for you after all. First one bloke has his alibi corroborated by a Facebook timestamp (possibly saving him from up to 25 years in jail), then an attempted suicide was averted and  Freddy Adu is finding life on the bench less stressful thanks to support from his peers via Twitter.

What say you? What is the most unconventional use you have put Social Networks to?


The bad part of waiting is the uncertainty – the vacillation between extreme positions, the rehashing of the entire sequence of events in the mind seeking clues as to how it went – and the undoubted clarity that hindsight often brings along with all the could-haves and should-haves that tag along.

I am waiting, have been waiting since a couple of days ago, for a response from the chaps I spoke to. I thought we had fruitful discussions, answered all the questions they asked, and chipped in with a few myself to ensure their expectations for the proposed role matched mine. Now, its time for the wait, while they decide if we are a match enough to progress to the next stage. Fingers crossed, done my bit now, all I can do is wait…… and hope……