A sink full of plates

A sink full of plates

I had been eyeing the pile in the kitchen for a number of days. But unfortunately by the time I get home I am too beat to do more than eye it again, take a drink from the fridge, and go lie down on my bed.

But despite the fact that I got home late last night, with my cousin’s visitor in tow, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was tired but I just decided enough was enough.

The title may give you an idea of what I am going on about. When you have three working-class guys in the same apartment, some things are definitely going to slip under the table or remain in the sink until they are well and truly “ripe”.

Once I got on a roll, I couldn’t stop till I had done justice to it. I decided to tackle the plates in the sink and scattered all over the kitchen first. Most of them had little bits of soup, oil and left over food on them. Not too bad, I started throwing stuff in a big black refuse plastic bag: in goes the half-drunk plastic soft drink bottles after emptying their content into the sink. Followed by bits of food scraped off several plates. It was all going relatively well until I got to the bottom of the pile. One plate face-down on another. On opening it, I was faced with a decomposing mixture of cooked yam and fried eggs about 3 or four days old. The smell was something else. I managed and went on. A couple of pots with charcoal in them from someone burning whatever they were used to cook. Those went on the floor with water in them to soften the burnt stuff. Probably half a dozen dirty plastic food containers. Got as much of the content into the waste and stacked on the floor. Washed maybe another half dozen.

Since I had to finish what I had started, I dug around in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator. Electricity is a still a curiosity in Nigeria. I gingerly opened the covered plastic bowl containing what I knew was  catfish pepper-soup. I almost gagged at the smell of rotten fish that had dissolved into something slippery and mushy.

On the gas cooker was a pot I was almost sure had leftover cooked rice in it. I took off the lid and was confronted by a smelly slurry of something – the grains were no longer discernible – just a slowly flowing smelly white mess. Then there was the plastic bowl holding the leftover mixture of garri, milk and groundnut someone had left in the fridge for several days. The milk had of course cuddled, it smelled bad but not as bad as some of the earlier stuff I had encountered. Then there was the egusi soup and a separate bowl of stew that was more or less a waste of money because nobody ate it. They had been OK until the previous day or so when there had been no electricity (as always) and we hadn’t really put on the generator long enough to keep the stuff in the fridge cold. I was loathe to throw them away. I opened the egusi bowl first and sniffed at it. Couldn’t really make out any off smell, but it looked as if some of the fat had congealed unto one side of the bowl and thinking of the fact that it had spent a day or so sitting in a warm fridge, I guess it would be a dodgy affair to eat any of it, so into the waste it went. The soup was next. Still looked OK, but I was almost sure I could perceive from the odour that it was slightly off. So it followed the egusi into the waste as well.

I still cannot understand how people cannot finish a 50CL pure water sachet. That’s the stuff of booby-traps over here. Half sachets litter the whole house and even in the fridge: “keep your laptops and receipts off the tables or they are bound to get a dunking”

I emptied several half sachet of pure water into the pots that needed soaking. Managed to go through the plates, several plastic bowls, practically all the cutlery in the house and most of the cups as well. Well, the kitchen was looking decidedly better. I had offered the cousin’s visitor dinner: “Sorry for keeping you. Work and Lagos traffic. There is egusi soup and maybe you can make eba”. He gratefully agreed (he had been travelling all day and had to then wait for me some ice cream outlet for probably three hours or so). Note that this was freshly made equsi soup (separate from the one I had thrown in the waste) from a nice little homely restaurant in Ikoyi called BC Gardens. In fact, Nneka showed up with who I guess must be the love interest (some other artiste I believe) while I was there with the cousin. The place is in the home of the late Ben Enwonwu (a renowned artist). There is also an arts gallery there that you can peruse before or after your meal. It’s not so large but some interesting artworks were on display. Check out a couple of them below.

IMG_8986 IMG_8987
The picture above reminds me of someone I know very well. Who can guess? 🙂

So now the kitchen was looking somewhat respectable, I thought I had better put some water on to boil for the eba (garri stirred into hot water). Tried all four cooking points a couple of times – nothing. Bent low and sniffed at them with the gas knob turned on, no smell. Hmmn. Went outside and adjusted the control on the top of the gas cylinder thinking OK, maybe just this once, someone had decided to turn it off. Went back in and tried to light the points again. Nothing. Ok. This is getting serious. Went back outside again and lifted the cylinder. It was as light as a feather.

Went back in. To the fellow’s room and told him about my dilemma. “Em. Sorry. There is soup but unfortunately no gas. I have never tried boiling water with a microwave though. Maybe you could soak garri along with the soup?”

The fellow said not to worry. That he would eat the following day. He was almost asleep when I went into the room anyway so I guess he probably was just too tired to bother.

Went back out. Tidied up some more in the kitchen. Went to my room, took a shower, got the last can of malt from the fridge and settled down to watch the last quarter of a movie titled “Coherence.”

Which finally leads me to my encounter with the mouse.

I had almost stepped on the little critter in the dark (note that I had seen him around the house several times). There was some frantic squeaking and so I put on the light in the kitchen.

There he was sitting on his haunches, looking up at me, his mustache quivering violently and his two paws together. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming because he jabbed one finger in my direction and a sequence of squeaks of different length streamed out. Well, I couldn’t help laughing for the life of me. I didn’t speak “mouse” or “rat” but I could picture the thing going on:

“Big bruv. Watch where you place those over-sized feet would ya?”
“How about a little something something for the little fella?”
“Oh? It’s like that eh? It’s like that?”
“There you are throwing good food away and I ask you for just a morsel and you stand there laughing at me huh?”
“You fur-less son of a gun!”
“So that’s how it be? That’s how you wanna play it?”
“You stingy hairless son of a whatever you are!”

After that it turned its back on me, raised up its tail and dropped one solitary scat (dropping). It then turned around again, looked at me balefully and said “Take that you! It’s on bruv! I tell you, it’s really on!”

And since I am not one to back out of a challenge (obviously when size is in my favour), I responded with “Bring it on bruv! Any time, any day!” and with that we both turned our backs and went our different ways.


But I am so gonna get that rat!

16-Oct-2014 (10:34PM)

Is that not poisonous?

Is that not poisonous?

Conan’s lady love asked him once “Do you want to live forever?” (right before she hopped and got herself killed – not entirely her fault, but “we” needed some reason for Conan to go on a quest and show off his swordmanship – or axemanship :-).

Well, probably not in this world. But heaven (most def!).

So I was out and about today (hey! not like the devil). I went to help a colleague pay for some credit on her mobile line (she is not in town and ran out of call credit).

On the way back this lovely “earthy” (equivalent to something roasting 🙂 smell hit me and I couldn’t but help look around for the source. It was a lady and her assistant under a bug umbrella canopy. She had a grill with Plantain and yam roasting on it.

Went up and inquired about the stuff. Had to wait for another customer to be served. She went away with took plastic bowls and a serving in a plastic bag (I suspect the former were for her bosses wherever she worked). In the process the seller opened a couple of other plastic coolers: one contained the stew and “pomo” (cow skin) pieces and the other contained fishes.

Well, I asked for two yam pieces, a plantain. Decided what the … and asked her to add one of the fishes and a couple of the “pomos”.

That right there in the picture above has shortened my lifespan by 6 months (I guess that’s what the dietitians would say). But who wants to live forever in this world right? All the good stuff will kill you 🙁

A friend saw me recently and commented that since I was packing on the pounds now, what would happen when I get married?

It’s temporary though. It was the journey “outside” that caused it. I generally can do with or without food. But once I am em away, it seems food is just everywhere waiting and begging to be eaten – not to talk of other stuff like choccy! I have a simple exercise regime that’s better than nothing but I need to wait a little to get back into that until I fully recover from my recent close encounter with a wooden chair

Well. Let me leave the keyboard and get down to it. The only thing missing is a bottle of fizzy drink to ensure the whole thing congeals nicely in my belly. Well, don’t let’s shock the health-police too much. They might have a heart attack!

NB: 2x yam pieces @100; fish @150; 2x pomo @100; Plantain @150. Total = 450 Naira.

Airport Shenanigans

Airport Shenanigans

The last couple of days (actually several weeks ago) have been pretty interesting. I had a meeting in Abuja for which I had a 9AM flight from Lagos to Abuja on ARIK Airline. I decided I would wake up at 6AM and leave the house at 7AM. It started raining heavily at 5AM or thereabouts, and that was when I should have been smart and drastically changed my plan. But instead, I stayed under the cover sheet and enjoyed the sound of the rain (which I always do) and finally got up at about 6:10AM. The rain had stopped a little when I left the house at about 7:10AM but started again soon afterwards. Getting out of the Island was pretty cool as the traffic was on the opposite side of the highway – but by the time I was approaching Surulere, I knew I was in trouble. The traffic was literally bumper to bumper. I was in traffic more or less all the way from then on. I kept looking at the time on the dashboard and thinking about the fact that I was supposed to check-in at least 45minutes before the flight and there I was at Maryland at about 8AM. On the stretch of road to Ikeja possibly around Sheraton Hotel, some stupid fellow in a beat-up old Mercedes Benz actually bumped into me twice. He was struggling for space with a bigger commercial bus and trying to be sure he got in behind me on the queue. I put the car in park, got out and went to look at the car. His bumper was in contact with mine, but there didn’t seem to be any damage. I looked at the fellow and he raised his hand to indicate he was sorry. I didn’t say anything but just went back into the car. A few stops and starts, and there was a second bump. This time I was angry. I don’t think he heard anything I said, but definitely he saw me pointing to my head to indicate he had some screws loose. I insisted he backed away – his bumper was still resting against mine.

I was rapidly losing time. By the time I was looking at the Ikeja bridge in the distance, the time was about 8:30AM. I tried not to panic but I had heard of the airlines selling people’s seats at the slightest excuse. The traffic was so slow I knew it would be after 9AM before I got to the airport and I was already late. And then I would have to find a place to park the car as well. I started looking at the buildings on the right side of the road for a suitable place I could park but I was passing in front of a couple of car sales company with their compounds full of cars. Then I noticed the NIPOST office. I just drove in there and parked. I put on my suit, took my laptop bag, then went inside the building as if to send a mail. I could hear the staff talking in some backroom but no one was at the counter. I waited a minute or so and made my way back. As I came out and made for the gate, the guard/gateman approached me and asked “May we know you?”

I was caught! I laughed and said “hey! I am a customer now.”
He said I should just have explained to him that I wanted to park my car there. He asked where I was going and I said down the road (God forgive me, though not strictly a lie). He didn’t actually ask for anything but I know it was expected. I told him I may take a little while but made it worth his while as I went out the gates. I started jogging with my bag on my back. Stopped a couple of commercial bikers but they weren’t interested once I mentioned I was going to the airport. Then I saw a biker on the median actually asking “airport?”. I frantically waved at him and I was soon at the old local airport. The short trip cost me N500. Another round of jogging got me to the tent which was serving as the check-in point (the main airport terminal was undergoing renovation). The place looked like a market. The queues wound all over the place. I asked about the flight and one of the official suggested he can help with the boarding pass as they had closed the “counter” on the 9AM flight to Abuja. He said the staff that will assist charge a standard price of N2,850. I tried to haggle but paid up when he returned my ticket to me and said he was only trying to help me (I know I was probably being played, but looking at that queue …). I soon had my boarding pass and was soon in the boarding area – about 8:50AM or thereabouts. I went a couple of times to ask some of the airport staff if the boarding call had not been made – it would be crazy to make it all the way there and then miss the flight because I wasn’t paying attention or it had been announced before I got there.

Well, after 9AM, we were told to proceed to board the plane. Phew! I made it!

* * * * * * * * *

Landed in Abuja about an hour later than planned. The driver and car from my company’s travel agency was waiting already. So I was soon on my way to Abuja town. Went to the hotel of one of my colleagues, then we took off together to meet the rest of our team (they had flown in to Abuja the day before). Had a light lunch of Pizza and Maltina and then it was on to the meeting. We had assumed we were going to make a presentation (actually I was) to the client only to get there and find the place full of friends, foes and competitors from the I.T. industry. It turned out the client (a government parastatal) had invited everybody for more briefing on what they expected from us going into the competition to get a piece of the business on offer. The only refreshment that was served was hot bottled water – I guess the bottles were sitting outside in the sun.

I had dismissed my own driver, since all my other colleagues had cars as well, so I went with a colleague that was staying at the RockView hotel where I had a reservation. I checked in, dropped my bag and we went out again. Some ATM withdrawal, and conversion to Dollars (by my colleague) from one of the men offering bureau de change services by the roadside, then we went hunting for lunch.

Had pounded yam, snail, shaki and cow leg (I always ask for one without bones if I can get away with it) – was basically following the lead of my colleague on the choice of meat – but I was the one that made the decision to eat pounded yam though. Got back to the hotel at about 7PM. Planned to go out on the town at 8PM but it soon started raining heavily. I wasn’t feeling too up to it anyway. And since we didn’t even have a car, I guess that was probably why my colleague didn’t even bother to come around at 8PM. The rain went on for several hours. I think I ordered room service at about 9:30PM. Ate the food at about 11PM or so.

Next day, I checked out at 12:30PM but waited at the hotel lobby. Called the driver to come for me at 3PM but he showed up around 3:30PM. He had to go to the mosque so I didn’t give him any grieve on the issue. Made good time to the airport. Got in just before 5PM and went to get a boarding pass from the Arik desk for my 6:45PM flight. The staff punched my details into her computer and told me they had “closed” the flight. What! Closed a local flight almost 2 hours before the flight take off time! Well, I wasn’t having any of it and let her know immediately. She responded by asking me if I was going to listen to her tell me how I could solve my problem or not – rude – but I let her get in her explanation because I it was looking like I had more problem than just a ticketting officer giving me attitude. She told me to make my way to the back office and ask for the manager who will be able to help me.

I went to the backoffice and at first I thought a free for all was going on. The place was packed full and several voices were raised angrily. All addressing some man in the middle who turned out to be the manager. It immediately dawned on me that things weren’t looking good. If all those people shouting and screaming had issues with their tickets …
I was able to get in a word to ask the man if he was the manager. I think he must have pushed one of the female clients and there was a verbal altercation going on between the client and an elderly woman who was also a member of staff of the airline. I think the client must have abused the manager or strongly demanded to be treated with respect as both a lady and a paying client (because of the push) and the elderly woman must have joined in on the side of the manager (of course!). The older woman made allusions to the client not having home training or no parents to which the client responded that the woman should not address her “anyhow”, that she’s got a child in the University (I was tempted to ask her whether that was actually true later on, because while she was probably older than me, I would have thought only be a few years) and also tagged on a few well-chosen nasty words to put the older woman in her place.
The manager then went to sit down and continued watching the passenger screaming and yelling. Of course his action drew more condemnation as to his lack of respect for paying clients who were all on their feet and having ticket issues through no fault of theirs. Some gentleman who was sitting quietly there supposedly had had all his luggages misplaced by the airline and he must have been there for several hours. A couple of FAAN staff came in and tried to pacify the clients. There was some back and forth between them and the manager. The manager then said we should all go back to the front desk but an elderly lady (a client) blocked the doorway and most of the clients insisted our reservation documents should be collected first as the manager had been dodging them for quite a while – spiriting himself away from place to place when clients are looking for him. Finally, all the documents were collected and we then followed the manager back to one of the agents who was then instructed to handle only the bunch of clients that accompanied the manager. She started issuing tickets to us one by one.

Once we were all checked in, some of the affected clients became impromptu acquaintances – discussing the fracas we just went through.

And while we sat there waiting for our flight (which I think was ultimately about 2 hours later than the time on our tickets), every so often we could hear another hapless client screaming and yelling at the agents’ desks. Most were women, but at some point, some burly young man who had a similar issue took things one step further by grabbing what we though was a bunch of boarding passes off the table of one of the agents. The agent (a lady) tried to retrieve it from him with no luck (the guy just stretched the hand holding up the passes in the air while warding off the lady with the other). The manager joined in as well. Some security operatives were called and came along as well. I was not sure if it was because they were reasonable officers or because of the size of the man, but rather than get physical, they were just attempting to reason with the chap. This went on for quite a while. He finally handed the documents back and we watched as he checked-in, so I guess they must have sorted him out.

Of course in such situations, people were bound to think along other paths. One of the client suggested that not being successful at getting ones boarding-pass may not always be a bad thing – I told her I knew where she was going with what she said – and we all sort of smiled – the idea of course was that it may be providence preventing one from getting on a flight which may be doomed.

Ultimately, what we found out from our back and forth discussions, was that it appears some so-called “VIPs” with no ticket were streaming into the airport earlier in the day, and some touts and their representatives were securing seats (that were already sold to clients) for them.

Since you are reading this, we got to Lagos alright.

I then went to where I had packed my car, walked part of the way, then flagged down a commercial bike rider. Went in and apologized to the man on duty – he said I should just have told the other man that was on duty the previous day that I would be not be coming back that day (but I wasn’t going to risk being told I couldn’t park there when I was already late for my flight). Gave him “something” as well and asked him to pass on part of it to the man from the previous day.

That was some journey!

Forgot to include the following bit 🙂

Arik flight (continued) . . . .

The refreshment tray stopped by my seat and the hostess asked the lady by the window “water or juice”  she said juice. The next gentleman to my right chose water. I chose juice. She looked at me and said “water”. I thought she didn’t hear me first time so I repeated juice, then she said, “sorry only water. Juice has finished.” The airline couldn’t even stock enough juice to serve a planeload of passengers! (I can understand if one type of juice runs out – say maybe Coke is no longer available, but Fanta or Sprite is still available – but to say only water is left? …)


Under the mid day sun, the drums beat
The music – entrancing
The young women – feet floating
Men young and old – admiring
Little girls admire their beads

The pace is exciting
The tune is enchanting
The atmosphere expectant
The old men nod in the shade
Transported to days of their youth

Little streams of water
From foreheads and under armpits
Glinting like glass
Salty taste in the mouth
Smiling faces all around 

The mood – attracting
The movements – intoxicating
All things new from the earth
The smell of wondrous food
Women stirring huge pots to the rhythm of the beat

I look on in awe
Tentative steps on the edge
The smile – inviting
The hand – outstretching
Beckoning one and all

The circle – embracing
The songs – uplifting
Am I really dancing?
Tomorrow – backbreaking
But today, – breathtaking

The sun is retreating
The wind – encircling
The voices – engaging
A celebration of life
The new yam – imposing