June 29, 2007

And the week ends on this note...

Just a short note...

Surprise surprise, I saw an e-mail from admin sayin there's an urgent meeting for staff at X-restaurant, from 1pm, prompt. So I was wondering what could be so urgent that we can't talk about in the office? Hmmm, this oga is beginning to act suspicious sha.

I'm gonna catch a ride now, so i'd just wrap it up. The boss' urgent meeting the boss arranged was actually a surprise party in the "Exclusive" lounge of that place o, appreciating his staff. How sweet of him! And I got two boxes and some other stuff I didn't bother checking there for being the longest stayed employee in his shebang. I can't wait to get home and give myself a treat.

Yeah, some aproko were already asking me what was in it, even though they all got some "recognition". So anyway, I shook the box and it sounded like some gadget in it! He knows me so well! Everyone also got two tickets free for the movies that'd be valid till July. I'm still trynna figure out when I'm gonna use it...

Oh, btw, someone from the GrapeVine is in Naija and we'd be meeting up later on next week. That should be fun, it'd be the first time we meet. I'm looking forward to that and some other unexpected things that might pop up that week...

The weekend's ended on a good note, so I hope y'all's gonna be fun, too!

Be safe, don't bloat and don't drink too hard on yourself. You could call me for help, as i'm readily available to take on such responsibilities, with all due pleasure!

Love y'all!

June 25, 2007

7 Things you don’t know About Me...UNTIL NOW

I've been trying to dodge all these type of stuff for a long time now, but Jaja got me at a time when I had some spare time.

1. Every time I look at the number plates on cars, I try to do some number sorting with what I see: Ascending to descending, vice-versa. It happens almost every time

2. If I'm going to be using a computer for more than a week, I tend to change the basic settings: Windows theme (Usually Windows Classic with some color scheme; I hate all those darned graphics that eat up "memory"), desktop background; install Mozilla Firefox x.x or Apple's Safari BEFORE I settle down to use.

3. If I get a new book, I like opening it up and smelling it, it's odd, but I do. Sometimes, I do it to the food I'd be eating, too. Mom's scolded me countless times over this, but I almost can't stop. I usually do it when no one is looking.

4. I talk to myself when I'm alone. I basically rehearse scenes or create new scenes. Like what I'd do if I find myself in "A" situation, how I'd react, what I'd say and stuff.
Usually, you see me smiling and you'd think I'm losing it. I just probably remembered a past incident either a physical encounter or some interesting part in a book I read, or movie I saw.

5. You almost always find sweets, gum or some snack in my bag. Open any carry-on I usually go about with and you could just be doing a lucky dip!

6. I'm used to stocking toiletries and stationeries et al. I worry that someday, I might run out of money and I wouldn't be able to afford these things I'm used to, the bare necessities OR that the "system" will collapse, there wouldn't be these things available and it'd be only a matter of time before my stock runs out and then we start eating ourselves.

7. I'm an impulsive buyer. If it catches my eyes AND I've got the means - bam, I go for it!!! Very risky, esp. when I carry these debit cards and ATMs at almost every corner in this town. Thank God say I never upgrade to credit card level, it'd be another story.

One jara no de kill...

8. This is more recent; I find it hard to turn away from book deals and it almost always happens that my type of books are available at those places, so I end buying a lot of them. I have close to 10 I've yet to read and I know very soon, I'll finish the rest of them.


Thank God the strike is over. I knew by Friday things would be back to "normal" latest before Monday (today). People were already tired of the whole thing self. The govt agreed to return the VAT from 10 to 5%, some more indigenous share in the refinery sales stakes (wateva that'd help with), #70 per liter for petrol (the price for petrol they say would not be reviewed for the next 12 months, so after 12 months of holiday, we should expect anything) and then price per liter for Kerosene and diesel will return to what it formerly was. I wouldn't say Labor got a fair deal, but what can one do?! This martial state we find ourselves in in Naija, na God go save us. The "leaders" know they can just squeeze the masses, and when Labor cries foul, they could always reach a settlement, with the rest of the population accepting their fate, no massive protest. Under those circumstances, Nigerians would scream from their living-/bedrooms, with remote control in their hands over how the government is run. No one wants to die for any kind yeye cause. I wouldn't be the first to get slugs out of my body, sha and that's where the problem lies.

I won't go over this, now...gotta get back on the grind. BRB, guys! And y'all have a good week ahead!

June 18, 2007

How It Do?

Hallo [peeps], how unu de? I've been so busy I hadn't enough time to update. Anyways, I'd just drop something haphazard, so I wouldn't be gone for too long:

De Profundis ad te Domine:

I finished reading "The Sixth Sense", small but very weighty book. I did feel bad for Dr. Crowe in the end. All along he never knew he was a goner, but the little boy from the onset saw it all. It had this twist from the "Ghost" movie, though that had s'more lovey-dovey thingy going in it. I want me a sixth sense, too. I want to be able to help people who are trapped in time, in the 'other world'. Nah, actually for more selfish reasons. Even though I'd love to help such spirits (if at all they are there), I'd want to spook people with such powers and do some other interesting things, like "going places", basically benign stuff. By the way, in this part of the world with so much superstition, I wonder how far I can go with that? Dem go say i don turn winch and I could get myself in trouble. Sometime ago I talked about my interest in telepathy, out-of-body projections and psychokinetic manipulations. I'm up for it o! But keeping it on the hush...my alter-ego is far away now, but we do what we can with the distance.

By the way, I can't seem to control my spending habits when it comes to book deals. I do a lot of walking, so when I stumble over all these book stands, I can't seem to turn away from them: Get six books for the price of five. And good titles and genre, at that (Mystery, Espionage, my favorites). The only self-control I have is to stop myself from spending my bus fare home. I'll try to add my own takes on each of them I complete reading as often as I do.


I had a funny incident the other day. I was walking past the bus stop when suddenly that strong aroma filled the air. Nothing more than roast corn o! (It's the rainy season again, so it's the norm, with small pear/coconut to go with it). I stopped short in my steps and started to look around to locate the joint. From a distance, I saw the usual barb where they spread them to roast. The mixture of colors on the corn already leaves me wanting: the original orange and black from where the coal's charred it. I could taste it with my eyes...as it were. I made a dash for it . As i scrambled my pocket for some change, the followin conversation ensued:

Me: Madam, how much be dis one? (pointing at one of the ones on d barb)
Madam: Dem don buy am...
Me: Dis one nko?
Madam: Dem don buy am, too. In short, this "girl" don buy this and that one, and this one...(she was pointing out all the ones paid for)...and that one. See ehn, she just de wait make dis one self done so she go carry am join
Me: Haba! Wetin I come de do here? (Disappointed, I shoved my bills in my pocket and prepared to take my leave)

The "girl" proceeded to say something. I thought she was going to change her mind about some of the purchased corn. Instead, she said:

"Girl": Madam, I no be "girl" o, I be woman! Na my oga say make I de dress like this
Madam: I beg, make u no vex (laughs, then adds), na as u dress cos am

When I looked up to check out the girl, she was wearing this very tight leggings, so tight it gripped her "cheeks" and calves, making a good show. 'Not bad sha', I thought to myself. By the time my survey reached her face, ol boy, I had to control myself from lawl lawl lawl. Dis one na "old mama youngy". She had a petité, all right, but her face's wrinkled and she had eye shadow on, with very strong cheekbones "charred" with mascara, blending with bright colored lip stick/gloss. So I felt her embarrassment: Dressed to kill, trying to be young, but her age says differently. The funny part was when she said "Na my oga say make I de dress like this"...hahahaha, the man obviously still wants to be stunned.

I have a skeleton to dismantle with the corn-stops and the setup sha. I mean, like seriously, what's with the queues? Looking at the crowd from a distance, I thought it's a newspaper stand, but on close inspection, I find out it's just another joint. Not everyone has the patience to wait while madam gets the chaff off the corn (or is it the other way self), and then after the whole drama, I wait for it to be roasted. There should be bigger barbs that can contain larger quantities of corn at the ready, so it's more like a PPW (Pay, Pick and Walk) service.

And what's with the #30-40 per handset charge? As if the chronic price increase for other market items isn't enough headache. You lose customers that way. Since I started spending quality time at these joints, I see a lot of people get angry when they come ask, "How much be this one?" and after they hear "#30/40" they grimace and move on. Man must live. The poor shall survive. With those prices, how'd you intend contributing your quota to feeding the masses? What'd you tell St. Peter @ Heaven's Gate when he asks why you made that man die of hunger that evening by denying him corn? Truth be told, a good number of the working population spend an additional 10-20mins after work hours at these joints. Add that to how long they spend munching at it and waiting for vehicle to take them home. This is a very important "sector" that is sometimes overlooked. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We have an ex-President who owns a huge farm, and when I say huge, I mean huge. We'd petition him to help Nigerians by launching one more of those OFTN (Operation Feed The Nation) programmes; he can get more land that'd be churning out enough corn (and pro'ly other cash/food crops) to stem this rising menace of queues at corn-stops. As if the queues at the gas stations aren't enough. By the way, that's another story...

Gas situation:

Nigeria is Africa's leading oil producer and one of the world's largest BUT we don't have enough of the shege for local consumption. There's always hiccups in supply. Does it have to be so bad? Most other oil producing countries don't have it this bad with their local oil consumption (Not saying they don't have their own domestic issues to deal with like us, but then...). An often made remark is that OBJ met the price of oil at 20-something Naira when he came to power in '99 but he left it at close to a 100 bucks as he left. Again, I'm not saying that I'd rather go back to the military era, but I guess we've established some common ground on something wrong with this picture?

I'd develop a headache talking about the high cost of living in Nigeria since OBJ's handover on May, '29 2007 A.D. Recently, sale of a local refinery, 10% increase in VAT, increase in the price per liter of petrol has created a very tense situation since handover hitherto. The Labor Congress is threatening a strike if its demands to return to the former figures and other issues aren't met (by the way, the LC has been barking for sabre-rattling for some time now without much effect). There's so much elasticity of demand in Naija (Economics students, GCE Nov./Dec. question expo). The price of everything has gone up noticeably. Ashawo will charge more 'cos it cost her more than usual to pay to get to the joint that evening; "Madam" at the corn-stop will add her own "tax" on the corn, so you get to pay an extra 10-20 bucks for a handset; beer gets the usual tax; Not to mention taxi cabs etc. The situation is really bad. At the bus stops, you find a crowd similar to those you find after a good football game at the stadium. Everyone is frowning and wants to get home quick; ready to outdo you when a vehicle comes along, you get elbowed, pinched, kicked and your shirt dirtied just 'cos you want to board a bus to your destination. For the unlucky ones, their cellphones gets pilfered or they lose their cash/wallets in that crowd. Then you pay #200 for a usually #100 trip, an extra 100 bucks. Then there's the chronic, 10-20KM long traffic for those like us traveling to the 'burbs EVERY FRIGGING DAY! A lot of people do not earn enough to ride it through till their next paycheck (or cash). This article from IjebuMan's corner says a lot, too about "Being a Nigerian", though I don't agree with everything it says. People get home frustrated and is there any wonder why some women get a black eye? 'Cos after the man goes through all those shit on the daily, the last thing he wants to meet at home is a nagging midear. I'm not saying that should be a way to vent, but things like this happen and you hear a lot of people blame the system, which again is wrong!

Let me not get us distracted! Bottomline: the fuel issue needs to be resolved soon and fast. It's responsible for a lot of ongoing social difficulties. Hopefully Yar Adua will reach an amicable consensus with Labor before the situation gets any worse than it currently is and we can walk about with less wahala to fume about...

How was your weekend?

Speaking of "walking about", I had a sorta cool weekend. In summary and with some additional info:

*Had a lot of chicken
*Had plenty beer
*Watched "SwordFish", starring John Travolta. This guy is a natural actor.
*Kissed an alsatian puppy. Sorry, couldn't help it but in between all those fun and crawling on the rug, the cutie was sniffing around and while playing with it, he took what's left of the chocolate bar off my mouth. Some people have had it worse, so I won't complain much. Again, if I may add, it's a cutie!
*For the guys: To reduce the effect of a hangover, or to even prevent one: Have your beer with plenty cheese/potato chips (Pringles, Krackas et al), vegetables (salad mixes), chocolate bar, grilled fish/beef/chicken. It goes a long way to help
*Smirnoff Ice is wack drink! Let's get more STAR Lager, Gordon's Sparks et al in the system. I didn't have a good experience with Ice taste, especially. My gripe IS NOT with the aftereffect. Anyone with similar experience?

Well, that's it for now...and before I go, I saw an interesting top I was too broke to buy. It IS Irish 'cos it had a puffy and bearded face on it holding a big jug of beer...It read:

"BEER: Helping ugly people have sex since 1865"

Lol! Classic!

PS: Way-to-go, Blogville Idols ppl

June 5, 2007

Union Bank

I went to Union Bank on Friday to make a cash lodgment for my buddy. But when I got to the entrance, it almost looked like the bank was handing out free #1000 bills cos of the crowd at the bank's entrance. I didn't bother finding out what the fuss was all about, so I walked straight in to the banking hall for serious business.

At the entrance, I noticed this wall plaque that read:

Our Mission:

To be the foremost financial institution with the most satisfied customers

Our Vision

"To be the best of the best to bank on"

OF COURSE! What bank wouldn't want to be ALL that? This was at the Abuja main branch in Garki. As I stepped into the hall proper, the air conditioner couldn't contain the height of CO2 in that place men. It was so humid in there with all sorts of ppl: sweating, pregnant, tired, snoozing, chatting, standing, moping, you name it. I asked for the deposit slip and some guys standing beside the counter started laughing at me. I couldn't tell why. Thinking about it, since it was the end of the month, I felt the crowd I saw were mostly people who came in for withdrawals. So they probably were laughing at me for thinking I could get stuff done and leave asap. It was sort of related, as I eventually found out.

I walked over to the counter and looked at the worn out lady behind the counter:

Me: Good afternoon. Please, I need to make a deposit...
Woman: *sighs* Join that queue...(she lazily threw her arm to my left so I could see for myself)
Me: You mean, all these people are waiting to make some sort of payments? I thought they are only here for withdrawals O

The woman just ignored me. The group of men that were laughing earlier started again after they heard her response. This time, i got sorta furious, but I didn't show it. This is me, leaving some things unattended thinking I could just dash in and out of the bank, but see me o! I managed to speak to some guy with a better countenance who told me he's been coming back and forth the bank for the past four days without being able to get access to his account. Mind you, this was Friday. It was the end of the month, salaries tied in their different accounts and people needed to get some cash baaadly. I now understood why there were so many people loitering outside the bank. Just as we finished talking, one man was shouting at the top of his voice, down the banking hall...

"What rubbish?! This is nonsense. You people make me come here to pay in my money and now it's time to get it out, it's wahala? WHat nonsense! What sort of rubbish is this?"

I left that branch and thought I could be fast and use another branch, but same story. They even referred me back to where I was coming from. WHY ALL THESE? SO yeah, long story short, the bank was upgrading their "systems". That's the mantra the staff kept dishing out that day and I'd bet the previous days.

Human errors, we've got to give them the benefit of the doubt. We can not be sure of 100% up time in business and all that. But why couldn't the server (or whatever they were doing) be migrated over the weekend, say starting late after work hours on Friday and then the I.T. department be made to work in earnest, ensuring everything is up latest Tuesday? This was at a very sensitive period and people are made to suffer like this. Whatever happened to banking with ease, with all the technology available these days? Heck, even some ATM machines are broken and they are usually "temporarily out of service" for weeks if not months. It's really bad and as I speak, Union Bank is still not operating. They even have a message on their web site greeting you with an apology.

As I walked out of the bank, I read another sign on the building...





I'll leave you all with Helga's satire of the current move by the US to be more environmentally responsible. I know it's a weird web site AND post, but humor me!

Warning: Might be insulting, proceed with caution: For those with my weird sense of humor, enjoy! :)

Hallow Noble Savages,

I am Helga Mohammed el-Salami, Liquid Generation’s gas-guzzling (and emitting) uncircumcised, pre-operative transsexual and I am pissed as poo about the greening of America. Now that the celebrities are on the Global Warming kick along with their robotic spokesmodel, all you neophyte environmentalists have replaced your light bulbs, bought Priuses and started turning down your air conditioning. Congratulations. I hope you dislocate your shoulder patting yourselves on the back. Judging by the continued success of Inconvenient Truth, panic sells better than sex.

So after you’ve gotten bark-burn from hugging all those trees, go home, take a shower, shave your armpits, and listen up: you’re all blithering idiots. I can’t wait until the day I don’t have to listen to your preaching any more and whining about my gas-guzzling fleet. Green this, green that. Unless you’re talking about green beer, you can all kiss by big...black...Hummer.

When was the last time you heard any whining about CFCs? DDT? The Ozone hole? Indeed, you will be hard pressed to hear any of the panic mongering from the last century. I know all the pot-smoking really harms the short-term memory but let’s have a refresher.

In 1906, Upton Sinclair waxed tragic about the state of the meatpacking business in the US. So after I cried for Jurgis Rudkus, I went out and fed my sorrow a delicious cheeseburger that likely contained 1x10-5 parts feces rodentia. And you know what? It tasted absolutely the same as the last time when it might have contained 1x10-3. Figure that if you eat a burger 3 times a week for 20 years, you will, at some point, dine on of 1x10-12345 parts Jurgis’ finger (although now it’ll more likely be Juan’s). Yet, despite all the rats and cannibalism and oppression of young immigrants, you’ll still be bitching about your blood sugar at an average 77.85 years of age.

In 1962, Rachel Carson launched a thorough and successful assault on pesticides commonly used in agriculture with her comedy masterpiece: Silent Spring. After nearly 45 years, DDT is no longer used. Every organism on the planet has what was once considered a lethal quantity of it in its cells and the human ones are still alive to bitch about the worms in their raspberries.

My favorite: 1968, Paul Ehrlich prophesized in The Population Bomb that by 2050, there’d be so many of us that we’ll all be living in a 2000 story skyscraper that covered every inch of the earth. Construction challenges facing such a structure would limit socializing to those several floors away. We have some time before 2050 but let’s not pour concrete in our swimming pools quite yet.

And finally, in 2005, the esteemed Jared Diamond, author of one of the most insightful and profound books of the previous decade: Guns Germs and Steel, tried to break the wave of his success on Collapse, a book about the failure of societies due to a laundry-list of (mostly environmental) issues. It’s too soon to render a verdict on the bearded Professor since he wisely chose topics which cannot be gauged within a human lifetime but the book itself was a real steaming pile of environmental compost. I can’t resist quoting Fred L. Smith Jr Competitive Enterprise Institute: "[a] jumble of jigsaw puzzle pieces laid out on the table - no structure, no serious organization." Indeed, I was so pissed after reading this book that I wanted to rip out all 592 pages and use every single one to give the author paper cuts between his toes. Then set him out barefoot on the New Guinea lowlands about which he can’t seem to shut the flock up. But this isn’t a book review and I digress because I’m getting all worked up again so I’m going to end this paragraph prematurely: *SPURT*

Now then, I bet you couldn’t identify a single one of these panic prophets if I held an ozone hole over your head. You can identify Gore because he was once the Secretary of Vice Presidency or something like that. What’s the point of my incessant mockery? That we will survive. We survived before and will again. And if we don’t, if the polar ice caps melt and the oceanic currents stop, and if the ocean washes inland a further 500 miles then at least we’ll prove Paul Ehrlich decisively wrong by dying en masse! And then we’ll prove my real-estate agent decisively right by increasing Chicago property value. Then we’ll have a surviving world with a much higher average IQ without LA or the Middle East to drag it down. Even though the fish that take up residence in the former will be pretty while those in the latter will likely make their females swim behind them.

Print that out and paint it Red # 5.

Helga Mohammed el-Salami

[If you’d like to read more of Helga’s angry ramblings, please go to his/her website right now before he/she finds you, and eats/sheats you for dinner