Sunday, August 29, 2010

The first time

As females, we have been taught from childhood that our virginity is a highly coveted prize that men are very eager to divest us of. It is that which we brandsh as evidence of our being of exemplary behaviour and good repute. It is that which many present to their future spouse as gifts of their fidelity and intended continued loyality and which the intended spouse takes with a sense of entitlement and proof that they were the first to feast of the sumptious delicacy.

If you ask any man, they will tell you that they would prefer to marry a virgin. Why, I have no idea. In any case, it is their second biggest fantasy after a menage a trois with models.

I don't think anyone ever forgets their first time. And you hope it will be as memorable for your partner as it was for you. That is, if it was their first time as well. There is probably nothing as disappointing as finding out that the person does not even remember.

Years ago, one of my very good friends and I sat in bated breath, awaiting her next period after she had sex for the first time. She and I were eighteen and fightened at the prospect of her being pregnant. The responsible party had by then left the country and there was no way we could have tracked him. She was panicked and stressed and I was even more so because I had introduced the two.

The period came, two weeks late and we were both saved.

Flash forward, six years and I run into the guy randomly. We squeal, shriek and throw ourselves into an embrace. We meet up over a cup of tea and we try to catch up on lost time. When I am sure that we have gotten to a comfortable place, I ask if he has spoken to my friend since he left and he has no idea who I am talking about.

I try to refresh his memory. Does he not remember her? He was her first?

He draws blanks.

We both log on to facebook so I can pull up a picture and even then, her face is lost in a haze of many others.

I am saddened and then again, I am not.

It was her first time. Not his. She would remember it for the rest of her life. For him, she did not even register on his radar.

Makes me wonder....

Friday, August 27, 2010

Road Trips and Journey Musings

I have been travelling extensively over the past couple of days, mostly by road. At one point, I was enroute on the road, from about 12.00 am - 5.00 am. I slept most of the way and when I wasn't hitting my head on the glass, I stared out at the night as it swept by.

My one thought was gratitude that I could make the trip in safety. There is probably no how I would travel in the middle of the night within Nigeria and not fear for my life. Armed bandits, a car breakdown in the middle of nowhere with no roadside assistance are just a few of the issues running through one's mind. Fortunately, I went through with no issues.

Anytime, I enjoy the benefit of a service, whether paid or unpaid, I cannot help but compare to my own country. So many things here are interconnected. The economies grow in the west because there is an efficient transfer of goods and services.

Take transportation for example. There are opportunities at all levels for all income opportunities. If you wish to travel, you can walk, ride a bike, drive yourself, take the bus, take the train or fly. And while these services all co-exist, there is no apparent threat of eradication by a new service coming into play.

Someone told me that one reason the train system for goods in Nigeria was not working was because the northerners who tend to transport lots of goods and service wanted their trucking systems to flourish so they have systematically tried to sabotage the rail system. Whether or not this is true, I can still believe it. There have been so many instances where some new business idea has been sabotaged by the pre-existent --and most times not as efficient-- system because they feared a loss of business. What they do not understand is that we can all function because not all customers will like the same things. As much as cell phones have become part of our lives, there are those who don't use it or if they do, they use only the most basic function and so whether or not the phone can change shape or connect with outer space is none of their concern.

Maybe, one day, in my country, we will learn that we can and should work together.

Until then, we live on hope. And I stare out at the silent, calm, passing night.

Friday, August 20, 2010


He had stolen into my heart, infiltrated my dreams and taken residence in my fantasies. I watched him constantly, cautiously, carefully trying to discern any subtle detail that could indicate if ever our coming together would be possible.
I tried not to read too much into the way he said my name; with that unique lilt that comes from not having the specific intonations in his own language but with a softness that let me know he suspected there ought to be something there.
His handshake: firm. His eye contact: solid. His welcoming hug: comforting and warm. His manner: adult. His discourse: purposeful.
I dared to hope.
Then, I step out into the evening's warm air, mentally preparing for the journey back home as midnight appeared around the corner to be greeted by his fine form and those of our colleagues, clustered at the entrance; smoking.
My heart sank to many, many depths and I asked myself, how I could have missed it.
I had never seen him do so. Never smelt it on him, never....
I collect my thoughts....he is speaking to me, they are looking at me, waiting for my answer.
I tell them I would appreciate a ride to the closest metro . They are all headed in my opposite direction and the metro is pretty kind of them.
We share a joke and a laugh, me, from a safe distance from their cloud of smoke.
I watch his pretty smile.
I am sad.
I let him go.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Spin this yarn

Today, I made an ugly scarf. It took me quite a while to complete, starting and stopping the process. The wool came from two rolls; one of which was intended for a hat that never quite took shape and the other for a multicoloured scarf that did not do the same either.

I started crocheting in October last year. I was at the Eckankar World Wide Seminar in Minneapolis and was spending some down time in one of the supply rooms. A volunteer, whose job it was to man the supply room was seated beside me and we tried to make good use of our fifteen minutes spent in each other's company catching up as we saw each other every six months or theareabouts.

As she spoke, she reached into her purse and brought out a roll of yarn and began to crochet a scarf. I watched her for a while, taken back to when I was around 12 years old, in boarding school and a knitting faze swept through the school. Everyone was either crocheting or knitting something. Most girls made blankets or baby clothes. In any case, wool was in. So, I wrote home to my mother asking for knitting wool and pins. I think I must have told her, it was a requirement for home economics class which would have been a partial truth. In any case, the next visiting day, tucked inside the bag of fruits and provisions that my mother lugged with her in public transport on my behalf were half a dozen balls of colorful yarn and two long knitting pins. The kind old ladies used. I was ecstatic.

However, there was one issue. I had no talent for knitting.

By the time, my care package arrived, the fad had died out and something else was the reigning extra curricular activity.

This story, I shared with her inciting laughter. She then decided, she would teach me how to do a basic crochet.

We spent the next twenty minutes with me, battling her soft yarn with a crochet pin. Then she gave me my first crochet pin and the rest of her wool so I could practice on the flight home.

On the flight, while practising, I hit a snag and did not quite know how to continue. My teacher was either in the air herself or thousands of miles away. No means of communication. I looked up and realised that the lady sitting infront of me was also crocheting herself. So I proceeded to nearly scare her out of her seat by tapping her shoulder through the small gap between the chairs and ask for her advice. She put me through my paces and corrected what I had done wrong.

Now, I was ready to start.

I got home, dragged my bemused Aunt to Walmart and purchased three different colours of wool. Bad Idea.

For those who don't know, Walmart prides itself on its LOW PRICES. So, compared to other places, the wool was very cheap and I soon discovered why.

Tasking myself to complete a scarf for my little cousin with a colour he picked for himself. I began on my first scarf. First of all, I could not get the scarf to turn out straight and so the end result was more like a long triangle. Then, unlike the pictures I had seen, this scarf was not falling softly. It was as stiff as a carpet. When it was done, my cousin tried to wrap it round his neck so he could proudly show off his hand made monstrosity in school but the useless thing would not stay. We tied it in a small loop and it looked like something from one of Baba Sala's parodies. My aunt threw it in the washing machine with half a bottle of fabric softner and we barely escaped it becoming like a scouring pad.

I wrestled it free from the poor boy's neck and the last I saw it, I think it was used to wedge something in the laundry room.

I then decided that scarves were too much. I was going to make hats instead.

I have three really ugly, misshapen hats in my closet.

Still I forged on.

And now, I have a new scarf. It is still a misshapen. The rectangle is not quite smooth. And because I recycled some of the yarn from another failed project, it looks a bit off colour in some parts.

But I am happy with it...

So what have you been up to?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hugh Masekela - Fela

Sometimes, i find some hidden gems on Youtube...

Monday, August 09, 2010


What am I going to do?

I don't smoke. I hate the smell and the habit and it makes me choke. Yes, I use the H word because that is how strongly I feel about the whole thing....

I don't drink either; alcohol, that is...That is one of the reasons, I rarely get invited out because I would be the only sober person in the group and I find nothing attractive at being asked for my name and number with fumes of patron coasting on your breath (I am not even sure that is what people drink, so u see the seriousness of the issue)

So you might ask, ehn, so what is the problem? Nobody is forcing you, abi?

Well, that is true but there is something else happening.

I am a filmmaker and have begun to notice something a bit alarming to me. PEOPLE IN FILM AND TELEVISION SMOKE AND DRINK....A LOT!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had to work on a film set and had to deal with senior crew members who smoked. It was difficult for me to negotiate how we were transporting the crew to different locations, the process for sticking to the shot list and what not when I was alternating between holding my breath, breathing with my mouth and talking.

I could say, well since this is not my set and I am not a primary producer, there is nothing I can do but suck it in. Well, what happens when I do control my own set. Apparently, it is unconstitutional to demand that your crew members not take smoke breaks or that there be no smoking on set at all. I would probably have to designate an area for those that smoke and have them in there but that is discriminatory and if I include in the hiring process an exclusion for those who smoke, I would be sued.

The drinking part is much more negligible as no one actually is allowed alcohol consumption on set. However, a common practice with film crews is to meet up after work at a bar. Here, there is networking and if you work on say for instance, a Korean TV show, you might be having your debriefing and production meeting at the bar. If you don't show up, a major script rewrite or production directive can be issued and you will miss it, thereby looking like a big dunce the next morning.

I have put this in serious contemplation. So far, I have been very good at keeping my life clean of certain things. Film is my dream and intended career and not from behind a studio execs desk until sometime in the future.

Yet, this industry comes with all sorts of things.

What am I going to do?

Weekend Review

Friday and Saturday, I was on location from 6am - 6pm on an independent short film entitled Raymond & Lina (Working Title). This time, I was the Assistant Director (AD) which for a very limited budget flick meant that I was a cross between Assistant Director (note not assistant to the director)/ production assistant/ location manager/assistant camera/ art director/ and whatever else was needed. Granted, the very small crew did pitch in and help each other out anyway that was needed.
It was really fun and tasking. The kind of stress that I like because you are constantly having to think and creatively too. For example, for about two weeks, we had been looking for a grocery store to shoot in. Well, in the United States, most grocery stores are part of a huge chain and any and all permissions have to go through their corporate office which means endless calls during which you get rerouted through a series of automated answering machines and office workers who either do not have any comprehension of what you mean when you say that you need a location release to allow a small crew of less than ten to come in and shoot for forty five minutes in the feminine produce aisle. This search and process, the tireless producer and myself had to do for over a week only for us to get responses weeks later from secretaries telling us that their bosses say that they needed a week to have been able to make a decision...the same week that we had given them anyways; but I digress.
So, we find this old store called Sniders in Silver Spring; a small Jewish owned food place and we are given an answer in less than twenty four hours but with the stipulation that we start filming at 7am on Saturday morning before their customers start to arrive at 8 am. We say, "No problem" and set a call time for 6.45 am. We drag the entire crew over to the location, the manager and staff welcome us into the space graciously, we unpack equipment and gear, head inside, ask for the feminine products aisle and are informed with the same gracious smile that unfortunately, there isn't one. There is also no aisle with paper products e.g. coloring books, pencils, crayons, pens etc. For a scene that requires the lead male to go shopping for his granddaughter whom he suddenly has to take custody off, we NEED these two aisles

But, never fear, we have a team of creative people. The DP (Director of Photography) switches to a close up lens. The manager of the store goes to his office and brings out stacks of phone books, we raid all the cars for old magazines, empty a portion of an aisle where cooking utensils are being shot and change the entire shot to a close up. This is for Scene II where the lead picks up coloring materials for his granddaughter. Luckily, we had purchased a coloring book as a prop to be used in a later scene, so we just placed it on the stack of phone books, making it look like there were hundreds of coloring books and went ahead.

For the scene with the feminine products, it was supposed to be that the grandfather would come across two teenage girls trying to buys some pads and tampons serving as a preview of the years to come as his granddaughter is now only eight. He would be a bit freaked out and exit the aisle quickly. We had no feminine products aisle but we had cleaning supplies, like tissues, kleenex and some other products. So the DP, looses focus on the items, tightens the shot on the two teenage girls and their conversation, someone produces us two packs of pads, we decide on close ups of the grandfather's face as opposed to a more wide shot of him fleeing and we are done.

Took us over an hour cos we originally had to figure out a way around the issue. But it was fun. We were all happy and we all helped in one way or the other. I also served as an "extra wrangler" because when we started some people had come into the store to shop and naturally where curious so myself and one of the key grips had to make sure that if they walked past on camera, they did not stop to look in. Or suddenly appear on frame. That way, they would not have had to sign a talent release form, allowing us use of their image.

This was just on one location.

We had ten location changes and more than fifteen scenes and forty different shots.

What did you do this past weekend?

Friday, August 06, 2010

Vacay: like a Bigz Girls

picture from here

I have never liked or admired any one single woman espoused to any of the leaders in my country. Having grown up in an academic household where my earliest memories include parents embroiled in heated debates with their co-academics over the future/demise of their beloved country, I just always viewed our leaders and their wives/women as a bunch of poorly educated, thieving vagabonds who were ruining the possibilities of my country.
The first woman in a leadership position that I truly was fascinated by, besides my mother (ell actually, when i was younger I was more scared of her than anything else) was Winnie Mandela. This chick had to fight by herself for 27 while her husband was locked up for doing nothing more than ask to be treated like a human being on his own land. Yeah, the marriage broke up...bla, bla, bla but this chick was the original freedom/human rights gangsta that I was aware of.
picture from here
The next person was Hilary Clinton. By now, I was in my teens and trying to figure out how I was going to become a powerhouse in a culture extremely hostile to progressive thinking in a woman. This woman had academic credentials to make your head spin; political connections to make you disappear if she wanted and still managed to marry and have a kid. I thought to myself, "I can be either just as good as this woman or even better sef".
Even though, she royally pissed me off when she stood by her husband's side after the Lewinsky debacle ( cos I felt it was endorsing of philandering men and the notion that a woman is always supposed to forgive), I forgave her instantly when i realised her renegade thinking when the man endorsed the sege out of her presidential campaign. I was like, yeah man, that is how it's became clear that with all their yanga, Americans were not ready for a woman to lead them but by the time that was blatantly apparent, her points and impact had been felt to the marrow. That is why some people in the republican party drank too much and thought, ah-ah, if Clinton is there, let's bring out Palin and that one just came and nakeded their yanshes and cost them the election.

Which was not a bad idea because it introduced to u...Aunty Michelle.picture from here

Now, I was like, gen-gen. See person...Educated, self accomplished, articulate, stylish and a very fit physique. Yes, she married the president but she has her own portfolio and two gorgeous little girls. I compared her to the former First Ladies', late Miriam Babangida, Miriam Abacha and the late Stella Obasanjo and could not find one thing I could hold in comparison as aspiring. And when Mrs. Yaradua made her "Obey your husband's ..." comment in 2009, I was done with Nigerian first ladies.

So why did I write this long post? Well, look at the first picture. Aunty Michelle is (or was in Italy; depending on when you read this post) on vacay. People are in arms cos she stayed in a luxury hotel, used the secret service etc on taxpayers money when the country is in a "recession" and looked amazing and luxurious doing it. While, I am a bit fatigued by all the vacations she has been having; I think this summer alone, the family has had four--I feel like, what is a Big Girl to do? She needs to rest her brain between meetings and campaigns and projects where she is trying to get American children off the obesity track. Also, she has two little girls who will not understand why they cannot go to Disney Land with their parents...

So, I say, carry go Aunty Michelle. Next time, abeg, take me with you...

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

picture from here
Though hate is such a strong word, I think I can safely say that I hate the word "whatever". Used inappropriately, it can come across like a flippant dismissal of what has just been said. Wars have been started over less....

Monday, August 02, 2010

Shuo: Kidnapping is the new armed robbery?

Sometimes, I just wonder the new low levels that crime can schlep to in my country. Kidnappings have now infiltrated out of the Niger Delta to other regions...

When will people understand that just because someone is driving a car does not mean that they stole the money to buy it

Just wondering...

picture from here
I have been wondering if African immigrants living in the US are classified as African-American. Most of people, I know, don't classify themselves as such. What is the politically correct term for someone who is first generation African, living in the United States?

Celso Fonseca makes my day so much better

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Soap Carving

Apparently in Thailand, it is not enough for soap to smell good, it should look good as well. Check out these soap carvings...i just want to look at them all day long. They would make a lovely gift basket and no one would even question that it might be LUX or IMPERIAL LEATHER

New food

picture from here
I am an avid observer of things and one of the many issues that has consumed my brain functions over the time I have spent here in the US is why, unlike some other cultures, Nigerian food has not been elevated to the status of public patronage as say other African cuisines (Ethiopian) or Asian (Thai, japanese, korean, chinese, etc).
I came out with a few deductions.

1. Value
We Nigerians don't see the value in eating out, our own dishes. When you have a wife that will slave in the kitchen for hours to make you the food that you want, why would you go and spend $40.00 on the same thing. As a result, whenever anyone asks to sample Nigerian food, there are never any restaurants to take them to; you simply invite them over.
Unlike us, Ethiopian foods are a group effort. Portions are presented on a huge platter and expected to be shared. So also for most Asian cuisine that is built around the same concept. Also, remember in the case with most Asian urban areas, space is limited and for an apartment housing 15 people, cooking might not be a good idea, so they go outside. Hence, public eating. Hence, the growth of their restaurants.

2. Presentation.
Here, I move the Ethiopians out of the way and settle on the Asians. For them, presentation is as much a part of the dish as is the taste. I mean, there are generations of royal chefs whose jobs were to make the royal dining experience as much a visual spectacle as much one for the palate.
Nigerian food, not so much. The portions are bulky. Some move, some don't. We have not yet figured out a way to present our foods in a way that is comparative. Maybe because, we don't care. I have been taught to cook but i was not exactly taught how to arrange jollof rice on a plate to make it look like a mound of yellow surrounded a piece of meat. Part food arrangements are done more out of making sure the plate of food does not topple over.
Take a look at these fruit carvings from Thailand. Each one takes about two hours to complete

Although, the picture at the top does look a bit like a design but you see where I am going with this

This is both a good and bad thing. Because our style of cooking is a bit subjective, the outcome is not the same every single time. We don't employ thermometers, stop clocks and measuring bowls for the ingredients. We use a flick of the wrist and the eye of experience which can sometimes be off. Thus, we cannot guarantee that the dining experience will be the same. But that also means that if we blow your mind once, we can rock your world in another way.

I might be wrong...what says you?