Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bag Lady


The yet unseen but beautiful-souled Naija Mum in London tagged me in this meme. I am torn between hugging her and pinching her blue for making me up-end my bag's content.The good news is I found a two pound coin during the spring cleaning. The bad - I found mouldy crumbly bits of weeks old chocolate...i kid.

Bag lady - 'a homeless woman who carries all her possessions with her in shopping bags'
I am not homeless... but I do believe in preparing for unforseen exigencies - hence the reason for the big bag. It was a gift from my Sister over a year ago. I finally put it to good use this year.

Pile of textbooks - My days of lugging these heavy textbooks will soon be over. but for today, they shall have their 15 mins of fame. msheew.
Umbrella – For the unpredictable British weather..
Bus Schedule- I always have some transport schedule or map with me. don’t ask me why!!
Pens – I go out with 3 pens in the morning. At the end of the day, sometimes I come back with none. Sometimes I come back with 7. Yay!!
My School ID pouch – takes care of other cards too – debit card, Tesco club card, railcard, oyster card (for that trip to good ole London).
My rosary – I am a good Catholic I am. When I have a long walk ahead of me, I whip it out and have me some God-time.
Single key chain – The same key lets me into my house and my room. I have never misplaced it. Amazing!
Oil stained paper bag from Dunelm stores – Was the former custodian of the best blueberry muffin in Durham. I’m an addict.
Black diary – Note it is 2011. This is the first time that I started the year with a diary of same year. Thanks Prof.
Orange cover notebook – almost full and looking tatty but I remain loyal.
Nacet blade pack-  I think its a habit from Vet days that I always carry blades. Good for quick surgeries – cloth surgery, nail surgery, hair surgery. I had to wait till a friend visited from Naija to replace my old pack. I didn’t know they don’t sell blades in the UK. Whyever??
Tesco glue stick – have you ever been at the post office with a letter or card to post and the envelope flap refuses to stick? Happened to me a number of times. So I got me this stick.
Lip gloss, Revlon eye pencil, mascara, eye liner – Believe me people, I do my make-up on the go - without a mirror – and it looks good if I might say so.
p.s. Missing from the pix is a bottle of water and my lap top (Yes I carry my good old 12" HP DV6000 laptop around with me most times).
............If my shoulder could talk, it would curse me out for the stress I put it through.
Who to tag?? YOU!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Never been kissed by a girl

Looking through my news feed today, I came across some news article about the Billboard awards and how Rihanna and Britney kissed on stage (heterosexual female stars kissing in public is soo old and silly). I yawned after the fact, but 7 hours after as I sit reading for my last paper, I stop when the words start muddling up and look out of my window and wonder what it would be like to have a female significant other.

 The kids are alright’ gave me an inkling of what a lesbian couple’s life could be like that. My first thought was ‘not worse than living together with my best girlfriend’ except that we also have sex. Well, something that looks like sex. I must admit that right now in my head and mind there is no comparison between a dildos and a warm live penis but let’s not digress..
What do I want in a relationship-
Someone to share the daily-ness of living with
A companion,
Someone to pray with,
Witty conversations,
Honesty,
Children,
Merged income,
Merged families,
Shared interests,
A warm body to sleep next to (very essential to me cos I really. hate. sleeping. alone)

From my list above there’s really nothing a fellow woman can’t give me. Heck there are even Pluses –
I don’t have to go to Mars to understand her cause we speak the same language (alluding to men are from Mars, women are from Venus)
I can watch my chick flicks with her and I won’t think less of her if she cries nor she me
Witty conversations? Of course yes and spiced with gossip to boot!
We can share clothes
You all can attest to the power of a woman's prayer
No shopping alone
She understands my neediness cause she will be as needy too
We share the chores and cooking in the house
I am assured of getting great presents cause she knows just what to buy
She wont forget anniversaries and birthdays
We share the baby minding happily
Merged income is really merged income cause unlike men, women don’t hide money from each other
A warmer and softer pillow to sleep next to..

Anyone who has ever had a great female best friend can understand what I am talking about…
  
 Sigh. The only reason I can’t pursue this most attractive thought to its wonderful conclusion is, I really do love men. The warm hard male body. The male psyche, even if it is the cause of my numerous heartbreaks and headaches.
And really, it’s not like finding the great female partner is that easy. I mean it still involves dating plenty Miss Piggys before you find Ms Right right?.

I guess I’ll just have to keep waiting…………..

 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

This is Oyibo land - Where Time is Money

Jobs in Oyiboland may be salaried i.e. you are paid a fixed sum weekly/fortnightly/monthly or you are paid by the hour.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Getting paid by the hour is mainly for unspecialised jobs i.e marketing, sales. (medical professionals get paid by the hour though).
It also means that you are more expendable to the company than someone that receives a salary.
The job is pretty flexible – you may choose what time you start, how much you get paid (work more hours, more pay; less hours, less pay).

On the other hand, salaried positions are usually for corporate employees. You are guaranteed that you'll make XYZ amount each fortnight or each month and you have that cushion to fall back on. But it also means, you are often called upon to work extra hours for which there is no compensation.

Many of us are used to touting the phrase – my time is money. Well, I finally grasped the true meaning during the Easter vacation when I did a job which paid by the hour.
You see, I have worked for the ‘best’ Employer in Nigeria - the banking industry - where your employment status is determined by the whims and caprices of your branch manager. My job offer read ‘work hours: 7.30-5.30. that’s a fourteen hour work day (2hrs more than in the UK) but on starting, I found out that 
1. Staff loyalty and dedication was measured by your attendance of communal office prayers which starts at 7.00am. 
2. Being a marketer (aka sales advisor) networking is expected to go-on round the clock. At weddings, parties, gym..it's a 24/7 job.
3. Closing time isn't 5.30pm. If a high net worth customer of the bank decides to stroll into the premises with a bag full of cash at 5.35pm and tedious shipping forms to fill, YOU DO NOT TURN HIM BACK. You welcome him prettily and all hands will be on deck to give him a 5* hospitality. It comes short of giving him a massage...with a happy ending.
Furthermore, it is the norm to leave the office after your boss. The rationale being - if your boss still has so much to do, how come you have so little? Sadly, your boss may just be waiting for the traffic to ease up before he starts his long drive home, or he doesn’t like his home and finds the office soothing. Needless to say, we underlings all sit back and keep him company till he decides to go.
4. You are expected to use your own resources when the office doesn't provide.
5. You will do your own job, and that of every other incompetent* team member if that is what is required to get a job done (*incompetent staff hired not for their gray matter but because they are related to Chief XYZ). 
No excuses. No reprimands, no overtime. Just do it.

So I took this extremely stressful outlook to the UK job. 
Well, they do things differently it seemed. I got a package containing everything I could ever need for the job including pencil, eraser. 
There were instructions for every situation I could meet on the job. Health and safety manuals. Trainings.
The job was flexible. I could pick my hours but I had 15 hrs per week to accomplish –as much as I could – a set task. 
This was were I experienced a work culture mismatch.
I understood ‘as much as I could’ in the Nigerian way. JUST DO IT. 15 hrs became 20 hrs as I tried to be an over-achiever. I knew the extra hrs weren’t going to be paid for but I was eager to make my mark.
Well, I had a lesson to learn in the last week of the job when I had a Brit as a partner. She worked by her elegant Timex watch which was pretty disconcerting for me. We had made a plan of how many hours to do per day. Cool. ‘I was already doing’ that. The difference was, she followed it with military precision.
E.g. Our first day...
Hi Ginger, it is now 3.30pm. I reckon we are leaving here at 7.30pm. That’s the 4 hours agreed for today right?
Yep.
At 7.00pm, I looked at the list and thought...if we finish with these 5 households in this district, we could move on to a new set of clients tomorrow. It would just take 30 more minutes. 
Brittany tugged at my shirt, “Hey, it’s time up”. We said 4 hours didn’t we? I can’t do more than that today”.
Note that for Brittany, part of her 15 hrs per week includes:
1)     -  One hour of commuting for each day she works (30mins to and fro).
2)     -  15-20 minutes allocated to form filling for each day she works.
 So assuming she worked 4 days in a week, she had actually done the actual work for less than 10 hrs whereas for me, the 20 hrs I mentioned above did not include the 1.5 hrs I spent commuting each day I worked. Or time allocated to filling forms when I get home.

In our last 3 days of employment, our boss Peter offloaded a whole a new list of household questionnaires to get filled. A work-schedule that normally would have taken 20 hrs to go through. Meanwhile we owed him only 5 more hours of work.
If I had been on my own, I would have gone the ‘EXTRA’ mile to complete that 20 hr task without thinking to ask for recompense. But my dear Brittany after 5 hours of dedicated work, called our boss. ‘Pete, we have completed 5 hrs worth of work. But the task isn’t done. Should I return the remaining forms to you like that or are you willing to pay for the extra time needed to finish it?

He was.

Did I learn a lesson? You bet ya – My Time is Money.

Do you have any job culture shock to share?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Smoke detecting Wives

There was this guy I met while working as a Vet half a decade ago. He became our client at the clinic cos of his dogs. Nice soft spoken guy. I could see he liked me but hey I felt he was too old for me. Moreover he had mentioned that he was divorced..nay, not for me! (My boss was grilling him one of them day. She had noticed the unusual number of visits to the clinic..lol).

He had my number and used to send me almost daily texts which read something like – ‘darling how are you today. God bless you. have a nice day’. The ‘darling’ used to irk me but since the texts were fairly innocuous I didn’t bother complaining. My responses were limited to asking after he and his dogs’ health; nothing flirty.

He was also frequent with calls. Short calls to say ‘how are you’, ‘how is your day going’. I didn’t mind. I can gist up a storm anytime, with anyone if you are remotely interesting.
Once, I had to go on a housecall to give a scheduled medication to one of his dogs when he wasn’t around. He had assured my boss and I there will be someone to let me in and assist. I met the someone. A woman. I didn’t think much of it. cousin, sister whatever. She was friendly enough and I did my job and left.

2 months after, I was on my way back from home after a grueling day when I got a call
Lady’s voice - Hi, Is this Dr Ginger?
Me – Yes It is. May I know who I am speaking to?
Lady - My name is Lusty, Jamie’s wife and I want you to leave my husband alone. Do you hear me? leave him alone and go and find a man of your own!
Huh? You won’t believe it I burst into laughter. And was like ‘Is this candid phone? Hahaha. Cool FM will not kill me today.
Lady – This is not a laughing matter and this is not Cool FM, I am Lusty, Jamie’s wife
Me – (still laughing) Gbemi? Com’on cut this joke. You can’t caught me out in phone pranks.
Lady  - (getting hysterical) This is Jamie Omokorede’s wife.
Me – huh. Coin finally drops (gulp twice, thrice).  Then in a firmer voice. So, how can I help you?
Lusty – I just want to warn you to leave my husband alone. Go and find your own. Why are you going around sleeping with other people’s husbands and  wrecking people’s homes. Do you know I am pregnant? 8 months pregnant? And because of you Jamie beat me yesterday. If I lose this pregnancy, you too will never have children etc etc.
Me- Lady, I don’t know what you are talking about.
Lady – You don’t right? Hope you know I am a journalist. When I am through with you, your name will be mud.
Me – (cat finally releases my tongue). Lady I don’t know you or where you came up with these silly ideas. Pls if you have a problem with your husband go talk to him and don’t involve me in your marital problems.
Lady – Well, just remember I know you and I have connections so tracing you isn’t difficult… blah blah
Me – (in my meanest voice) Lady, now listen very carefully I have just had a tough day at work and my head aches, I don’t need you to add to my stress with your marital problems. I don’t have any business with you or your husband. Don’t you ever ever ever call my number again. Cut.

But wait…after I cut the phone, I added two and two together. Could it be the lady I met at the house that day? damn. That lady was one big-ass woman. Like 3 times my size. All I could think was ..if she sits on me, I am a goner!! maybe it’s the DR title that confused her, cause If she realizes I am ‘The Vet’ and does her own calculations, there will be trouble.
I called Jamie to tell him what transpired and ask him to please take care of his home and desist from endangering my life. He denied that she was his wife (she's somebody I live with)... whatever! She’s pregnant for you; that must mean something.

Thankfully that was my last week with the clinic. But it wasn’t a funny week. Anytime a car drove into the clinic, I ran to the back till I was sure of who the client or occupant was. I shouldn’t get beaten over something I’m not guilty of, should I?

Msheeew. 

So what made me remember this 5 year old incident??
A friend of mine/former colleague who is like a jnr brother put up a nice picture on facebook. Friends commented, coincidentally they were all mutual friends from work. I did too. I wrote ‘My Juliano’. His name is Julian and I have always called him Juliano (imagine it being called in a veeeery strong igbotic accent). Maybe the ‘my’ was inappropriate but nobody there would have taken it out of context knowing our history. That has always been my way of teasing him when he’s good.
Maybe I should have put  a smiley to show it was a joke? Or lol? The truth is I didn’t think that far. I wrote as I would have spoken if he were in front of me. Maybe if there was an emoticon for a kick on the shin……

That was 2 days ago. This morning I logged into my yahoomail and saw this FB notification:

Sandra Julian Okoro also commented on Julian Okoro's photo.

Sandra wrote:
"@Ginger, he's my Juliano and nt urs.lol"

It took me 120 seconds to move from mirth to red mist. What arrant nonsense!! I followed the comment thread link only to find that the comment had been deleted. But my vex wasn’t assuaged. I quickly checked and Julian was available on chat.
Ginger - who deleted comment nwunye gi? (who deleted your wife’s comment?)
Juliano - na me
Ginger – good you did
Juliano - haha! i know u.
Ginger - anyway, point taken, I won’t comment on you and your family pictures again
Juliano - Hey babe, its not what she meant trust me. I’ve told her a lot about u and how both of us were real buddies in the Bank. Trust me it was just a friendly comment, no harmful intent (really?? Guys can be so blind)
Ginger - I hear you...but i have earned my grey hairs and shall respect them from now on.

So here I am shaking my head at the absolute fuckery of chics always trying to defend their men. Come on ladies! Stop seeing smoke where there’s no fire. It makes you look insecure. Or worse silly. And you make unnecessary enemies. In fact let me give you some headache saving tips.

Only snoop on your husband’s phone/facebook wall/email, if you’re ready to accept amicably whatever you see. If you are wise, any suspect act should be stored in some memory. dwell on it, pray over it and generally keep cool. Till something happens that looks even more suspect or adds up then ask. Nicely too. Believe me the truth comes out better this way than full attack mode.
If you must pick a fight, let your sparring partner be your husband not the other woman. Unless like Mrs Omokorede you have err bottom power.
Its hard but try to accept that your husband has other friends who are/may not be in your intimate circle yet. If he trusts you not to go gangster on his friends, he will introduce y’all. But if you keep acting like a harridan then the opposite happens……..and that is how he’ll justify keeping secrets from you.

So I know some of you will think what does she know, she isn’t married…well, I have had relationships and I am one jealous woman with a helluva sensitive smoke detector. But I've learnt to pick my battles with my man. Only with my man.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This is Oyiboland - Polly put the kettle on

So, one of the peculiar things I notice about the Brits is the copious amount of liquid they drink. Be it beer, coffee or tea. Especially tea. The only Nigerian I know who drinks tea like a Brit is my Mom. But she lived here for 10 years……. go figure.

I thought the tea habit arose because of the cold weather…....keeping warm and all, but on doing a little research I find that it is in fact an imported culture. The first batch of tea arrived in England along with the Dutch merchant ships in the year 1652. By 1672, tea drinking had become a trend with the English royalty under the influence of tea loving Catherine Braganza the Portuguese princess who married Charles II. The fashion soon spread to the middle and lower classes.
For example, the ordinary people in 18th century England had access to tea at the factories where they worked, because it had been noted that tea helped the workers to concentrate, therefore employers offered their workforce tea breaks at steady intervals.
Sadly, despite its popularity, "frequent tea-drinking was beyond the means of the majority of British people” due to the heavy taxation of tea and its consequent high price.

That was then…Now everybody can and do drink tea. It’s probably one of the cheapest beverages available.

But…it seems there’s a class factor in the drinking of the ubiquitous tea.

Working-class people (mostly males) are said to drink especially with their cooked breakfast (bacon, eggs, sausages, baked beans, fried bread and toast) “industrial quantities of strong, brick-coloured, sweet, milky tea”, which is often PG Tips. In addition, putting the milk into the cup first or stirring the tea noisily or over-vigorously is also considered a lower-class habit.

The lower-middle or the middle-middle class people (stereo)typically drink “a paler, ‘posher’ version” of the working-class tea, and their brand of choice is Twining’s English Breakfast, whereas the upper-middle or upper class members resort to “weak, dishwater-coloured, unsweetened Earl Grey”.

The quantity of sugar put in the tea is also another direct class indicator. According to Kate Fox in her book Watching the English, “Taking sugar in your tea is regarded by many as an infallible lower-class indicator”. To put even one spoonful of sugar in your tea is somewhat suspect, more than one spoonful says that you are lower middle class at best, and more than two spoonfuls screams, that you definitely belong to the working class (do note all ye Prince Harry aspirants!!)

Apart from the class factors, tea plays a central role in almost all social situations in Britain. Whether to make awkward encounters less awkward, if your head hurts, at the beginning of business and club meetings, your husband just left you, in the morning when you wake up at the house of a total stranger and you seem to have little to talk about.. ….tea is all you need to right your world.

How do you like your tea/coffee/beverage?? 

Excerpts from Laura Johansson & Kate Fox


Monday, May 16, 2011

Laughter the best Medicine

If you’ve ever lent someone money or worked in the Credit or Banking industry, you’ll appreciate this one…


Dear Sir/Madam,

I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 7 May 2011 in which for the 3rd time, you request that I pay the monies owed to you. I first want you to know that by no means do I dispute my debt and I intend to pay as soon as possible.
However I would like to bring to your attention that you are not my only creditor. I have many more creditors, quite as honorable and important as you, and whom I wish to pay too. That is why, each month, I throw all the names of my creditors into a hat and draw one randomly. The one drawn is paid immediately.

I hope that yours will come out shortly..

Sincerely Yours,

Sipho

*PS: I regret to inform you that given the harsh and threatening tone of your last letter, you will not be taking part in the next three draws*.

"Laughter is the Best Medicine" blogfest is courtesy of Leigh at That's Write. Thanks Myne.




Friday, May 13, 2011

#Winning

#Winning Meghan McCain
So came across this Skin Cancer PSA video featuring Meghan McCain, Brandy, Ashley Gorse, Tatyana Ali etc. Apart from the fact that these beautiful women were featured nude/semi nude (that got your attention right?), it is also getting more popular cause of Glenn Beck’s vomit attack on Meghan McCain which I felt was totally unjustified and heck, irrational. Meghan’s body size looked very normal to me. What do you think?  
Thankfully she and her Mom are not letting it go without a fight. Obama has indeed shown the way with the Trump. No-one is sacred anymore it seems.

This is an excerpt from her letter to Glenn Beck (click here to read all).
...But the thing is, Glenn, I wasn't really naked and I know the idea of me being naked caused you to vomit on your radio show for 10 minutes….you should really see a doctor because it isn't normal to vomit for that long.
While we're on the subject of you vomiting on air, maybe we should have a little talk. Clearly you have a problem with me, and possibly women in general, but the truth is, it's 2011 and I heard your show on Fox was canceled. Isn't that an indication that the era of the shock jock pundit is over? Don't you think that's a sign you should be pulling it back a little? I mean, if you're too conservative and outrageous for Fox, that should tell you something. There really is no need to make something like my participation in a skin cancer PSA into a sexist rant about my weight and physical appearance, because I'm going to let you in on a little secret, Glenn: you are the only one who looks bad in this scenario, and at the end of the day you have helped me generate publicity for my skin cancer PSA, a cause that I feel quite passionate about. As a person known for his hot body(LOL), you must find it easy to judge the weight fluctuations of others, especially young women.......
#Winning Posh and Beckham
Bad pictures sure travels faster than good. While Princess Beatrice’s Ugly hat is still making the news rounds, the beautifully dressed Posh and David Beckham generally got overlooked. I think they looked tres trendy. Posh’s hat and heels are awesome.
 #Winning toobigforstroller.com
This single childless lady (lol) is getting much flak from mothers for her website  toobigforstroller.com in which she publishes pictures of kids who should be walking but are being pushed around in strollers (as Yorubas will say ‘agbaya’). You can imagine the vitriol she is getting from mothers especially Moms of special needs children. Of course we know there are exceptions to every rule.....like kids who have muscle problems, are autistic etc, but there are also the obvious ones where parents are mollycoddling able kids just because. Those are the ones her blog is showcasing. If it will make a mom think twice about taking her older child out in a stroller then she has done her work!!
#WinningNot
Ashton Kutcher as a replacement for Tiger Blood Sheen. I know Ashley is eye candy and all that…but that’s exactly the problem. Charlie’s role is that of a hedonistic aging bachelor not a young hottie like Ashley who doesn’t even need the accoutrements of wealth for the ladies to come running. Unless they are going to rewrite the show, then they might as well change the name cos really, even young Jake isn’t half-man anymore. They should keep the Mom (Charlie’s Mom) and the Housekeeper though. I loved those two!

So how are you all doing? Kitkat, Northern Chica, Sting, Ope are your exams over yet? Hope you did us proud. Mom, hope you are over your wedding guilt? Tattytiara, got a title for a post yet? Mamuje are you back from holiday? Uncle Mike, I dreamt about you moving to Germany :?  Prism, I have found your music video. Better bribe me before I wikileak it! Niceanon we should beg you to update e kwa? Verastic pantastic, I dey greet o. Myne o mine o miine(sing to the tune of Desi'ree's life oh life oooh life)!, Vyvyka strategizing! Adiya when will you stop tempting me with those lovely goods? BP the Norwegian..what’s up? Le Professeur..I dey greet o. Honey m kee kwanu, NaijaMum update pls. Her Majesty Queen Sandra(deep courtesy), Jayne No more Glenn Beck..#winning! Jaycee thanks for the posts of comfort, Lily J, I am still praying for your own car :) LucidLilith the warrior, how was the dash? OriginalMgbeke, when your romance with twitter ends, blogger will still be waiting 4u lol. Just wanna say I missed you all.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

This is Oyiboland - Let's party

Hi Ginger!!!
It’s my birthday tomorrow :). Please let me know if you’d be interested in dinner after our last class tomorrow @7.30am. It will be at Inshanghai: the new Chinese restaurant at the Gates. I heard the food is really great ;)
Cheers.. Steve
So in those early days, when I get this kinda mail I’d get so excited. Like Yay! Chinese.Yay! Outing for me and my friends. Yay!! On somebody’s bill. Bless your generous heart Steve for wanting to feed me Yay!!!. God bless your parents for giving birth to such a wonderful generous man like you.
Ping!!!
Wake up and Welcome to Oyiboland; where all that glitters is not gold.
Now in Nigeria, If I had gotten that kinda invite from Steve. It means…Steve has hit ‘dirt pay’ and wants to spend part of it with/on his friends. Steve is inviting me to an all expense paid dinner at Inshanghai. All I have to do is wear a pretty dress and get myself there. Maybe buy him a card and/or gift. If the place is far I might even complain and Steve will arrange some sort of transportation to get me there or promise to foot my taxi bills ..cause he really wants me to be there.
In Oyiboland…It means…You are invited to come join my birthday dinner party. It is great opportunity to be in the company of friends. You are expected to foot your own bills and some (like if the table buys bottles of wine the cost is split…love wine or not) so do come with ‘generous’ cash or balance in your debit card. And if the place is far, well get on the bus or get a taxi..duh!
I really don’t know the origin of this culture. Is it for practicality? The ingrained culture of independence? A case of people being reasonable…there’s a recession you know? Or just sheer miserliness. Or are Nigerians the ones doing it wrong by placing so much responsibility on the celebrant?

On the other hand, I have also been part of potluck dinner celebrations, wherein everyone contributes something to the party. I bring a tureen of fried rice. Lee brings pork chops. Brian makes chicken masala, Meg bakes cookies. Lisa makes some pasta dish. The traditional rule is that each dish be large enough to be shared among a good portion (but not necessarily all) of the anticipated guests. The dinner table ends up being filled with loads of amazing food to mix and match. I love those and really think it’s an idea worth borrowing. I have met this community of Nigerian friends who do this most weekends. It makes for a stress-less way of having get-togethers. What do you think?

p.s. Sorry I am a day late. Just couldn’t get into writing mode yesterday!


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