Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Innocent Gift or Friendly Persuasion (a.k.a. Bribe)

This has been a weird week so far. It's been long and uneventful which isn't necessarily bad. So I have decided to go through a few things from last week and the weekend.

I am not sure how my friends and family see me but I fancy myself as somewhat of a pragmatist. Well, not philosophically per se but well, pragmatically.

Sorry about that. Basically, I see myself as more of a practical person and a realist.

So when I received a bottle of Lebanese wine called "Myst de Ch√Ęteau Kefraya" and a Digital LED Photo frame from a potential vendor as a "Christmas" gift, my instincts went straight to, "am I being toasted?".

Now, I should mention that toasting occurs when a man (or woman, I guess) flirts with another person for "insert whatever reason". Now, I've been toasted verbally by all kinds of individuals, police officers, security personnel, fellow staff for multiple reasons mostly for egunje (money in Yoruba) or a gift. However, this is the first time by a vendor.

Apparently this vendor thinks I have more power than I actually do to get what they want. I understand that it isn't uncommon here. In fact one of the biggest tools of corruption from the Federal Government down to staff of private companies is "kick-backs". So what do you think? Was this just an innocent gift?

I have since been told that it is okay and it was just a gift with no strings attached. Well, in that case, thank you. Amy likes the digital photo frame and we have already put it to use. The wine? Well, it looks good in the fridge.

Other things that happened over the weekend...

We visited our favorite Mexican restaurant with a coworker who like me, moved back after over a decade overseas. He had been hesitant to try "Bottles Restaurant" because the outside looked unlike a restaurant should. He enjoyed it.

My half eaten plate of burritos and enchiladas

We also (for the first time) patronized the local movie theater or cinema as it's more popularly referred to here. It is the cinema located at the Palms Mall in Lekki. I have to be honest, we really didn't know what to expect. However, other than the pungent smell of urea (which we sadly got used to after a few whiffs), we were pleasantly surprised.

We saw Safe House staring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. The surround sound was great! Again exceeded my expectations. What met my expectation however was the poor cell phone etiquette. Also, due to the issue of piracy I half expected to see this guy sitting beside me...

Is this what a movie pirate looks like?
 ...fortunately I didn't. We will go back again. Ticket prices were certainly very reasonable. Had I know the experience (sans the smell of urine) would have been that good, I would have been there already.

One our way out, I spotted this - "40% off 100% Human Hair" displayed by a Mall Merchant. I am not sure why I thought it was funny but it was. It still is. To be me anyway.

Now, I did consider asking if I could use it on my bald head. I didn't.

So about 60% human hair?

I feel like I am having a weird out of body...I wonder if I am coming down with something. I sure hope not.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

All Aboard!

Even though I am an accountant (I just lost about 80% of the 10 readers), I still work at quite a unique and interesting place. It's an oil Terminal so we received oil vessels (daughter vessels) and then supply product via trucks to the petrol stations. Since we've been here, Amy has asked several times to board one of those vessels to check it out. I think she basically just wanted her Titanic moment. You know...the part where Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio spread their arms and...well, you know the rest.

Well, today was her lucky day because a vessel had just come in and I was discussing with a colleague in the Shipping Department and we decided we'd do it today. I called Amy and while she was working on an exciting excel spreadsheet (just lost another 10% of the initial readers), she jumped at the chance. Here's what ensued (in pictures) 
MT. Breeze docked at the Jetty
MT. Breeze up close

Amy was quite giddy

Now for those of you who don't know, Amy is a minor celebrity here. Who am I kidding? Amy is a major celebrity here and several deck hands begged to take a picture with her including one who wanted it for his Facebook account. I said no.
A view of parts of Lagos from the very top of the Vessel

One of the control rooms

One of the many hallways.

One of the many rooms on board
As you can see from the pictures of the interior i.e. the room and the hallway, it was significantly cleaner and neater than I was expecting. The crew size is 24 so you can imagine just how 24 guys can really mess up a place but not this. They were cooking while we were there. We weren't invited to join them. Yes, it smelled really good.


The cockpit
Our Tour Guide

Steering Wheel

Amy is having a good day
As you can see, there's no "Titanic Moment" or was there? Well, Amy did get her moment and there are pictures. I won't add them because, well, I participated and it is rather embarrassing. But I won't post them mostly because I don't want to encourage bad behavior.

The vessel is as tall about a 6 or 7 story building and if you think that's large, keep in mind that these are only daughter vessels that can handle the shallow dept of these waters. Imagine how much more massive the mother vessels are.

Now to the remaining 10% that kept reading to the end, I hope the little insight into a little bit of our world here was worth it....hello? You left too? Darn.

Update! Due to some off blog coercion, I will post the picture. Enjoy. 

The Humanity

Monday, February 20, 2012

My So Called Life

I have to admit something to you all...I have a pretty boring life. Sure you might think, wait, you once hung out with Cuba Gooding Jr. No, I didn't. I stalked him at a hotel in Albuquerque, NM and told him we were related. He took a picture with me and said scram.
Me and Cuba before the cops came to restrain me
Sure, I moved back to Nigerian with Amy and promised her all sorts of adventures. Unfortunately, the most excitement we have occurs when we discover something we miss from the States at the local grocery store. Our typical day involves going to work (by land or sea), working (as accountants, mind you) and coming home (again, land or sea), dinner (whatever we can bring ourselves to make), Seinfeld on DVD and then bedtime. Lately, I have joined Amy in the mornings to start working off the ever increasing waistline.

My view every morning before I hope on the boat to work
On Saturday, we took a break from our regular Saturday activities and went to the beach (just the second time since we've been here) with friends of ours. It rained. Can't win. I will say this though, we had good food and good company and I fear I am losing Amy to a 3 year old (my childhood friend's first son, Kamsie) who insists she's the only one he can hang out with. Trying to pry Kamsie from Amy (part due to jealousy), I engaged him in conversation. "Kamsie, what do you want to be when you grow up?" I asked. Honestly, I expected the, scientist, firefighter, even superman! "King," he responded. He wasn't laughing/ What a kid?! I guess we should be expecting a coup d'etat in about 20+ years or sooner depending on his mood. If that happens, I won't be returning with Amy before he decides he wants her to carry him around like he practically demanded on Saturday.

At the beach, Amy was a minor celebrity with all the local beach goers wanting to take pictures with her. It was a little chilly so she was still in a sundress. I am sure if she'd switched to swim wear, they would have had to shut down the beach. I maintained my cool and warned the boys that if they were taking pictures with her, they couldn't touch her. I meant it.
Eleko Beach

Wale cooking lunch

The highlight of my day
See what I mean about my boring life?

In the movie, "The Italian Job (Remake)", when all the thieves were deciding what to do with their loot, Edward Norton's character suggested he wanted one of everything each of them wanted. When he executed his plan, he did just that and was criticized for his lack of imagination. And that is one thing we have in common...a lack of imagination.   

That's all I have. I need to write more often but I fear alienating more people if I do. I wish Amy would write instead of me but she doesn't have as much patience for mindless blabber like I do. Well, my phone just rang...a coworker wants me to join him at the canteen. I will let you know if anything exciting happens on my way there.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Simple Things

I am awful at keeping a blog. So I want to apologize for the few people that read this to keep tabs on how Amy and I are doing. I have no excuse other than a mixture of laziness and busyness. So here goes a brief updates on the going on in the last little bit.

Firstly a bit of sad news (for those who don't already know). A part of chaos theory suggests that "something as small as the flutter of a butterfly's wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world." That notion is known as the Butterfly Effect. Over 20 years ago, a young professor would take a job at a small college in the southeast part of Kansas, Pittsburg State University. Over the course of the next several years, half a dozen of his nephews and niece would follow his lead and attend that University. All my siblings are included in that list and the man is now the late Dr. Chris Ibeh who passed away sadly last week.

I only mention all that because without God using him the way He did, I won't be in the position I am today, married to a great woman (whom I met in Pittsburg). In addition, I am Uncle to some wonderful kids and a member of a great church family as well as an awesome family by marriage. If I could say one more thing to him, it'll be, "Thank You for having the foresight to recommend that I and the rest of my siblings join you in Pittsburg. All our lives have been positively affected and that of future generations."

Hard to pivot to anything else but I will try to...

Last Monday was a Public holiday (awesome, right) but I was awaken to a phone from the Company to join several of my colleagues in the nations capital, Abuja for some top secret activities. Now, it's been so long since I've been in the city and I must say, I am always pleasantly surprised about how more organized it is. This was supposed to be an overnight trip but thanks to Amy who packed my bags, I was prepared to stay 3 nights which ended being the duration of the trip. Unfortunately, I left her in this crazy city. She did very well I must say. I would say the trip went well except for the sleeping situation. One night was spent at what I can only describe as a -5 Star Hotel (yes, negative).

I won't mention the name of the Hotel but I won't be going back. I would rather sleep in the back of a flat bed truck. It was so bad that I slept in my day clothes wishing I had a piece in case someone broke into the paper lock.

The only lock that worked was the Dead bolt which even Henry's Shoulders would have knocked down

On to more simpler matters . We have a colleague (I'll call him Charles to protect his identity) who is also a repatriate like me...i.e. he spent most of the last decade and a half schooling and working in the US and UK. He's been back for just a little while and like us miss the simple things like basked biscuits. Well, Stephanie Lee, our dear friend who now lives in Korea inspired us to make ours from scratch. I'll let the pictures do the talking.  

Rolling the Dough prepping it to be cut out

Our roller is a tube of cling wrap - Necessity, the mother of Inventions

Baking...and waiting

The Finished Product
Both Amy and Charles graded the finished product with high praise. I have since adjusted the recipes twice and the 3rd time has received rave reviews from my guinea pigs! I can't seem to make enough (3 batches since Friday are all gone) so I have to get baking some more today. One more thing...I got my first traffic citation on Sunday. Not worth going into.