On Lists

Lists appear to have suddenly become the leitmotif of the few blogs I read. From Don Miller sharing his fiancee’s list to Esco imagining the All Nigerian Girl, to AnyaPosh, Miss Enigma, Sting and all the lasses doing that 30 day blogging thing, everyone appears to be sharing bits and pieces of lists.

When I was much younger I was a big fan of lists  – on everything from five year goals and plans, gadgets to buy to what I wanted in a spouse – complete with excel spreadsheets which calculated weighted averages across the various categories. The one thing I didn’t bargain for was that it would become a mechanistic check-the-box-or-check-out exercise – that happened – nor did I question the basis on which the items were identified, or  if indeed I was at a time and place where I could expect those qualities from others.

Carolyn McCulley in her 2006 article at Boundless posits a middle ground – having faith for the man (woman) he (she) will become. For the possessor of the list, this involves making a distinction between what are absolute must-haves from day zero, and what can be subtly influenced over the course of the relationship. For the one who has been handed such a list, it can serve as a deserved kick up the backside to wake up from the years of lethargy and to begin taking tangible steps to grow and mature as an individual. The flip side though is that it can feel like one is being measured against an impossible standard, creating pressure to conform, or to just call it quits and move on. Balance then is key.

On a less self absorbed note though, I shall be trawling all these blogs and more with my pen and paper, taking notes and keeping my eyes open for that All Nigerian Girl. Hopefully, I can finally find out what women want

Life moments

This morning on my commute into work – whilst plugged into my iPod staring out of the window as the city stirs to life –  a little boy and a man I assume is his father catch my attention.

They are seated two rows in front of me. The boy cannot be more than five by my reckoning, especially because he is dressed in the navy blue jumper that the school down the road from my stop uses for a uniform. The man has his arm around the boy who rests his head on his side. From where I am sat, I can hear them conversing in low tones. I am not close enough to make out what they are saying but in that moment I allow my mind roam.

I remember once –  long ago – when I might have been that kid looking up to his father, doing life together in public oblivious of third parties looking on. Sadly, it has been more than a few years now since he and I have shared any form of emotional connections.

At the penultimate stop, the kid and his father alight from the bus. The father carries his son in one hand and lugs his briefcase and a lunch box in the other. I am left with a dull ache – a longing for days that may never return.


Thankful… for unintended meet ups

Amidst the madness – sometimes controlled but largely tottering on the edge of spontaneous combustion – that has marked the last couple of months, it has become increasingly difficult to meet up with what few friends I have left in town. This week has been typical; planning a plant turnaround, updating the 2012 business plan and hosting a couple of blokes from Corporate HQ concurrently have combined to make this another one of those long arduous weeks. Leaving the office late for the umpteenth time, on a whim I decide to make a pit stop at the Nando’s next door. It appears fairly deserted for a Thursday evening. Usually the family friendly spaces are crowded on a Thursday evening – so it is strange that I find a seat without so much as a wait.

I get a seat in an open portion of the building facing outward unto Union Square, grab a glass of coke and proceed to wait for my extra hot peri-peri chicken and fries to arrive. Given the relative emptiness of the floor, I assume it will be routinely quick. Two glasses of coke and twenty-something minutes later I am still waiting – leaving me to inwardly debate the wisdom of my stopping by.

My miserable evening is saved when I catch sight of three blokes I know – two from Grad School and one from church. They get a seat next to mine, and after they place their orders, we swap stories about work, life in general and other random things. Eventually after about forty minutes (by my reckoning), my food arrives. Theirs follows soon after and we all tuck into it with gusto. Like a bunch of happy blokes having a great night out together we make small talk as we wolf down chicken pieces with cokes and orange juice.

The unintended meet up is a silver lining in an otherwise infuriating experience – something to be thankful for after all.

Putting More Men on the job

Amidst the continuing babble of concerned friends, I may have hit upon my very own final solution.  Granted it is decidedly more benign than the Nazi version, but as a strategy to buy myself much needed respite, it has worked like a charm.  When asked awkward questions about being single when hanging out with the lads, my answer goes along the lines of being too busy, but declaring that I am very open to recommendations from so-called ‘knowledgeable others‘.

That statement has a way of shutting them up very quickly. Something about making the ‘search’ a shared responsibility appears to force them to seriously consider their words before speaking the next time.  Perhaps it is the realisation that I appear to trust their judgement enough to want to draw on their network that makes them sober up quickly and ditch the nose-in-the-airbeen-there-seen-it-all pose.

Unexpectedly, it appears that being intentional is bearing dividends. Out of the blue, I get a phone call from a bloke I used to know. Turns out my friend K and he have been in touch and the small matter of my issue has come up. An unintended consequence of it all is that I am scheduled to make a trip down to London at the end of next month. The alumni from my campus fellowship are all going to be there in full swing, and word around town is quite a few of them are in similar shoes to mine.

Nothing major happened just yet, it will be just us old friends meeting up and faffing around over a weekend in a bigger pool. Fingers crossed. After all, when it rains, it pours, or doesn’t it?

Thankful….. for Nando’s

Between working extra hours on a couple of projects at work –  and my natural proclivity to laziness –  honing utilising what precious little cooking skills I have has been relegated to the very back of a fully loaded back burner. It hasn’t helped that the main African shop in town is off my route (and involves an extended walk to and fro the nearest bus stop if I were to use it), or indeed that the final surviving African eatery in town closed shop a couple of years ago.

This week was another one of  those weeks from hell. Thankfully, my Nando’s outlet next door has come to the rescue. Not healthy I know, but I use the stairs not the elevator at work, drink only coke zero and get around by walking as much as I can to counteract the calories, even if these are only token actions. So for a quick fix for staving off hunger, I am thankful for Nando’s.

That Awkward Moment

… when after finally finding a seat on the packed bus, some odd smell hits your nostrils like a Mike Tyson left hook. It is an odd mix of stale sweat, putrid urine and beer. You look around, wondering what the source might be. When the portly gentleman seated right next to you moves, a fresh salvo assaults your nostrils identifying him as the culprit. Unfortunately, the next stop is a full fifteen minutes away, so you are stuck with ‘savouring’ the smells.

You would think that people would take a bath before jumping on a bus early in the morning. One more reason to avoid public transport on a Sunday morning…. Sigh.

About Town


It is the end of May, and spring is finally seguing into summer. You wouldn’t know this if the last few days are all you had to go by. We have been besieged by a procession of colder weather, rains and strong winds –  winds which have caused no small measure of chaos in the highlands so far. Thankfully today the sun is out – almost Lagos-esque in its warmth –  and the dull grey granite walls which define this city by their ubiquity already look better thanks to the dash of colour the sun adds.

I am walking down the street, music streaming into my ears  and sipping from a coke, whilst taking in the sunshine and appreciating the cornucopia of sleeveless tops, bright colours and open toed sandals which the warm weather has encouraged my fellow pedestrians to adorn themselves with. My destination is a coffee shop just down the road, the objective is to share my lunch break with my friend BB who is in town from London.

When I locate the shop, I find it is spread across two floors of an old building, tucked out of the way from the eye of the casual pedestrian. The ground floor is filled with people sipping coffees and having confectionaries of all sorts all having conversations.

BB and I discuss a myriad of things – drilling cut backs at his company thanks to the new oil taxes in the UK, the paucity of Nigerian work alternatives,  the increasing difficulty in getting news about opportunities back there, and his mother. Like me his mother believes he is intent on denying her the grand child she craves; unlike me he’s actually got a Malaysian girl he thinks he’s serious with.

Lunch ends all too soon, it is back to the grind for me, but these city centre lunches are beginning to grow on me.