In which I perfect the non-trivial art of eating hot dodo

One of my lesser known ‘life skills’ is eating piping hot dodo – and that fresh from the frying pan. Looking back, this non-trivial skill was honed in the kitchen of #19 Aiguobasinmwin Crescent. It must have been sometime in 1986 – those were the heady days in which Lawrence Anini our very own Robin Hood-lite and his side kick Monday Osunbor reigned supreme in Benin City. Sane, un-jazzed-up people stayed indoors, the not so sane limited their night-time frolicking nonetheless.

At the time my coffee intoxicated PhD chasing father, my barely four year old sister and I shared our three bed flat. Meal times consisted of soups and stews warmed so many times that they had gone stale by mid week with rice or eba – hardly something to look forward to. Mother and the other sister lived about 80 kilometers aways in another town, so the best she could do was make the soups and stew over a weekend, pack them and get them frozen for when we had to make the hour long trip, typically on Sunday evenings. I suspect the dull green colour of the food bowls didn’t help either –  hardly an inspiring choice.

Amidst our food travails, suya on Airport Road and piping hot dodo became the only high points we could look forward to. Like all evolving organisms we adapted our eating processes to maximise the amount of dodo we could get. I for one learned to suck in a huge glob of air at the same time as dropping dodo into my mouth to cool it. Many years later I would learn, that the heat transfer rate was proportional to the mass flow rate of air (ie the more air i sucked in the cooler the dodo would be). Over time, I got so adept at pulling this trick off that my father finally put his foot down and made us all wait for the entire batch of dodo to be fried and shared before eating… So much for my ‘life skill’. Sigh


Hymnals and Memories

Given my decidedly abysmal attendance at church this year, it is somewhat out of character that I arrive early enough to catch the beginning of the opening hymn, the incredibly mellifluous All Things Bright and Beautiful. It is one hymn, in all its variants of tune and stanza, which I have come to associate with growing up all those many years ago on a University campus in Nigeria. For all of ten years, it was a perennial favourite amongst the teachers and prefects who led morning assemblies, and along with my well worn copy of Songs of Praise remains stuck in my head as markers from that phase of life.

The children have the floor today and as I make my way into the church building a scrawny teenager – clearly filling the role of an usher for the first time –  motions for me to approach the front of the building. In the few seconds it takes for me to decide – in general I avoid sitting in the front of buildings – I catch the eye of my friend O, and I sidle up to him, plonking into the empty seat beside him. I smile apologetically at the kid, hopefully there are no hard feelings there.

As children are wont to do, the various events that have been arranged for our worshipping pleasure are performed with much enthusiasm, albeit with a lot of unruliness. There are three year olds crying for their mothers, six year olds waving to their parents in the crowd and more than a few missed beats amidst the songs. My God-daughter Gracie has a starring role in a rendition of the main song. Seated in the crowds seeing her sing the words without missing any of them fills me with some pride.

After its all done and dusted, the one thing that can’t be faulted is the children’s sincerity; in the end the focus is them, and not the performance, the nostalgia that remains with me is a good, if unintended consequence.

Of Nigerian Wives

Based on data extracted from this Nairaland thread.

I was bored at work so I took the liberty of trying to create an infographic from the pros and cons (for women) on the list. I shrunk the pros and cons into twenty one categories and gave each ethnicity a ‘+1’ where it was a pro, a ‘0’ where they were not assessed and a ‘-1’ where that category was marked as a con. The ‘pros’ have been condensed into a fraction measuring the potential returns on investing in a Nigerian woman, whilst the ‘cons’ have similarly been aggregated to give a measure of how ‘high maintenance’ a Nigerian woman can be. The size of the bubble is a measure of the chikability (how likely it is that a bloke’s toastings will gell).

A few things stood out:

  • Ibo women represent a particularly poor choice of mate (high maintenance, low potential return, low probability of success when ‘chiked’)
  • The Efik woman’s extremely low maintenance requirements make her an outstanding choice, if you are willing to share a shaving stick;
  • Edo women offer the best potential return, if you can live with a 98.75% chance of dying before her;
  • The term ‘data’ is used very loosely here;
  • Nothing on here is meant to be taken seriously.


TGIF – The getting grief edition

Friday night just happened.  A flat battery led to two of the guys hitching a ride with a third back to the city centre. The fourth guy happened to be home alone after his wife and kids travelled to Nigeria, and I the perpetually ‘alone’ guy was asked to tag along. All five of us piled into our friend K’s 4-wheeler and we decided to hit the an African spot to unwind.

It might have been the alcohol, or the lads just looking for somewhere to stick it to after a hectic week, but I ended up being the focus of the discussion, one in which my observations were treated which much seriousness as a high school-er amidst quantum physicists. If you listened to them , you would think that being married for a couple of years is all the learning one requires to know all there is about marriage.  I should have suspected the direction the night would go when I realized I was the only single bloke amongst them. Lesson learned though – never allow the lads to catch me off guard.

Thankful… for breathers

The pointlessness of most work is never more obvious than when it is suddenly cut short. Like an unexpected breath of fresh the relentless flow of work in my direction has suddenly stopped, even if only for a day. In it’s stopping it has become clear that a lot of what I had- as a matter of course- sifted through daily was unnecessary.

It is the team day off, and the brilliant sunshine currently bathing the city in its glow makes it seem like a particularly potent rainmaker was contracted to make it a success. Usually by this time, I have been on the phone five or six times to clarify one issue or the other with my offshore counterpart (who I outrank on paper, but earn way much less than), attended a couple of meetings and or have had to respond to a request for information.

Today though its different – every one seems relaxed and even a couple of blokes who turn in in their shirts and ties day in day out have turned in jeans and tees. The day out doesn’t start for another couple of hours, but its effect is already beginning to show.

I for one am sitting at my desk, taking in the things I have missed and being thankful for the opportunity to catch my breath.

First there was MG

My earliest memories of growing up are inextricably bound up with the dirty brown house on 4th street, brick red sand and Di, or MG as we would grow to know her in our adult years. It was the summer rainy season of 1988 and the sun in all its gory beastliness was baking us all, turning our days into long drawn out battles with boredom, exacerbated by excruciatingly boring teachers. Us boys lived for the bell, the harbinger of our short and long breaks, an all too brief salvation from studying. I was barely eight years old, but I was fast making a name for myself as a nerd; complete with very thick lenses, a voracious appetite for non-academic reading and an extreme love for solitude. The only physical activity I engaged in was the odd football kick abut where I was about as useful as a goal post. I often got sentenced to playing the goal keeper, where I was as much likely to play a wanton pass as concede a daft goal. It was an age where competition hadn’t become second nature to us though, so it wasn’t often that a gaffe was punished beyond the pitch.

Amidst the boredom, the quotidian joys of growing up and doing the things little boys do, MG stepped into the picture. After one more religious riot than her father could stomach, her Professor father decided  to call it quits and head back home to our little University town to relaunch his career. We were the beneficiaries.

At first it was a shared love for books – Enid Blytons from the Famous Fives to the St Clare books  – and then it was all the other stuff; Maths, Sunday School, the school’s debating society, quizzes and the like. She ended up being a big-sister figure. She had the calm head to take charge on more than one occasion when things might have gotten out of hand between us lads.

Somehow down the years she and I stayed in touch – even though at some stage it was across an ocean.True to the anecdote about girls maturing faster, she ended up wanting more at a time I was scared to commit.

The rest as they say is history – she fell in love with a bloke, married him and are living their happily ever after.. … In retrospect, she was the one I met too early.

In which I (vaguely) remember the Girls I Never Kissed

There is no better incentive to reassess the landscape of one’s failed loves than watching re-runs of NCIS on TV on a Friday night. Something about being slouched in a lazy boy chair, empty bottles of beer to one side and the TV remote on the other, stands in marked contrast to what typical Friday nights are meant to be – maelstroms of revelry, getting hammered and possibly getting laid.

It might be the beer, or the strange attractiveness that the geeky goth Abby exudes, or a certain feeling of kinship with the stereotypically potrayed super geek McGee, but I seem to remember a lot less women than I expect. From teenage love interests, through cousins I almost dated to the slightly zany types – and a couple of Friend With Benefits, I suspect that my history with them would make interesting reading….

Maybe one of these days, when I am in a better frame of mind, I’ll debrief myself.. And download whatever details I still can remember.

At the insistence of O.

aberdeen beach

I owe my Saturday afternoon out to the persistence of my friend O. It is 3.30pm when his call comes in. Having taken the luxury of a long weekend off, I have rocked my couch well nigh to extinction, subsisting on NCIS and CSI and re-runs of The District on the television. The bright and sunny day out there has not been enough to lure me out of my comfort zone. He has been holed up for a different reason. Finals on his PhD are coming up thick and fast, and he is grateful for the chance to take a breather.

We head to the city’s Beach resort to catch the sun, watch children play and grab some food. The shore line curves as far as the eye can see in both directions- beautiful golden sand – dotted with people catching the sun.

Food is at the Chinese buffet in town – an assortment of meats, rice, and other servings topped off with tall glass of orange juice. It’s difficult to see that life’s boring in this city, with days like these…