Things To Do This Summer: Go Home

Toyin & I

My cousin and I: It’s been over 10 years since I saw her

I haven’t been home to Nigeria in nearly 6 years. It’s a long time to stay away but I’m glad I got a chance to go home this summer.

I spent a majority of the time with my parents. My children spent lots of quality time with their cousins, uncles, aunties and grandparents. Going home has played a part in grounding me, remembering who I am and where I come from. A busy life makes one forget.

Part of our family and friends as we caught this summer

Part of our family and friends as we caught up this summer

It was a blessing to see how big my family is (in number and in heart), a wide network of people who will be there for me but most importantly for my children.
With most of my time spent in Lagos, I was able to see the progress my country has made. In many ways, certain common practices are ahead of some developed countries. For instance, money transfer is dead easy and can be done with mobile phones using text messaging.

There is contact less payment – nothing like what we have in the UK with debit cards that don’t require pin entry at purchases below £20. Contact less payment in Nigeria makes it possible to make payments of any amount from a mobile phone as you stand right there in a shop. This is possible with 4G wi-fi portable devices that can be carried around in a handbag so internet could literally be everywhere. Indeed, IT/telecommunications are market leading sectors of the Nigerian economy, and perhaps leading in the global economy also.

A sign at a nearby GT bank: Set up a savings account via text

A sign at a nearby GT bank: Set up a savings account via text

We are a long way from where we are going but we are taking significant steps. Infrastructure such as electricity and good roads, customer service and coherent business processes are all part of what is required for the next steps. Seeing Nigeria as a whole grow and develop warms my heart. The people are innovative and have worked long and hard to prosper. A positive outlook and an amazing sense of humour get Nigerians through practically anything. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst. This is how we are able to laugh and build lasting character.

I won’t leave it this long again. Going home is important for us all. Wherever is “home” for you is where you feel loved and at peace. It’s where people you consider to be family reside. I watched my children feel at home too. For them, Nigeria will no longer be an unfamiliar place in Africa. For me, Nigeria will no longer be away from my heart.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Half & Half

My kids are 2 halves of the same coin. They know how to have fun and make even sachets of ketchup amusing.

And all this laughter after a long wait in an airport and visits to 2 very busy Nigerian cities. Not to mention almost 5 hours combined they had to wait in a car with the engine running while I tried to sort out the mess that was my banking. I love them more than anything.
Images by Yekemi Otaru aka The Task Mistress. Copyright All Rights Reserved

I lost my mojo. Then I found it on a plane.

Be yourself, be kind to others and your soul will rejoice

– me

I am on an Aberdeen-Birmingham flight. The plane is small and full. As I sit down on my aisle seat, I do my best to tuck in my limbs so as not to irritate the window-seat passenger. My mindset on flights is that unless the passenger next to me looks particularly friendly and/or initiates a conversation, I’m willing to sit there in silence for the duration of the flight. A little brutal maybe, but it’s the safest option.

reading passenger

I am halfway into a paragraph in my book when I hear the voice of a young lady in the seat across from me. She is talking to the passenger next to her. She laughs a lot. I do not hear the other passenger (a man) speak for the first 15 minutes of the conversation. She talks and talks. I learn that she is 23 and got married about 18 months ago. I learn that her husband is a doctor and a similar age to her. I also gather some information about her 2 siblings – one a brunette and the other blonde (she is a red-head).

Believe me, I try not to listen but I think the whole plane is listening. She isn’t perturbed by the quietness of the passenger she is chatting with. He nods and smiles from time to time. About 30 minutes into the flight, his voice becomes more audible. He laughs. I hear that he has a girlfriend and has been to Aberdeen only a handful of times.

The two talk for the 1-hour flight, with the young lady leading the conversation, asking questions and probing for detailed responses.

I have to be honest. I am half irritated by her. I have a book in my hand and I can’t get through more than a couple of pages due to the distracting conversation. We passengers glare at her periodically, hoping she just ends the conversation. We already know too much.

missing plane

The other half of me greatly admires her. She is bold and confident. At 23, I think she displays tenacity that is uncommon in many young women. I think about my safe option to keep to myself on planes (and in other public places, especially places that ‘move’ e.g. trains).

Then I realise something:

The young lady…that used to be me

I have let the fear of rejection change how I behave in certain situations. Being an extrovert by nature, I have a lot to say, a lot going on in my head that I want to share. But more and more, I don’t. I think it’s not important. Or the slight frown coming across my listener’s forehead becomes my cue to be quiet and withdraw.

As we disembark from the plane, the man thanks the young lady for great company as it helped the time pass quickly. I can’t help smiling. I want to thank her too.

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I’m glad to witness that young lady on the plane. I am on my way to attend a workshop (I wrote about the workshop here). The workshop is an awesome experience in part because of the young lady on the plane. I walk into the venue deciding to be yourself and not to shrink when people don’t take me on as I hope. I smile and talk to complete strangers with no malice even when they appear not to welcome my intrusion. It is liberating and I have fun. My spirit is light. My soul, gratified. I am not holding back.

My extroverted nature has been partially suppressed for years. In fact, I think there are times I lose it. Somehow, I’m finding it and I want to keep it even when I’m gray. I just need to have more faith in who I am. And gentle (and not so gentle) reminders are welcome. Thank you, Red-Headed Young Lady :-).

Images from flickr users: Dreemreeper – reading passenger on plane; Eole Wind – Missing plane; Paula Bailey – Paula Bailey

Lights of the Quay side: Photography on my mind

In the past year, I have visited Newcastle at least once a month. There are breathtaking views to be seen. I have said that I need to be in the city with my camera one day. The day finally came last week. Here are the best shots of the Quay side area where I normally stay.

Amazing view on the Quay side (Newcastle, UK)

I don’t really know what people do in this building but there were many heads moving about….this was around 8pm at night. I hope they weren’t working!

Looks so ancient! Perhaps how the Quay side would have looked to Dracula...

This picture above is grainy but I’m pleased with the 1800s feel to the view. It is perhaps how Dracula would have seen the Quay side back then…

Baltic, Quay side

One of the popular places to go along the Quay side in Newcastle. I love the lights and the “calling” of the sign: BALTIC. Baltic is the biggest gallery of its kind in the world. It is located on the south bank of the River Tyne, where the Quay side faces. https://www.balticmill.com/

Photos taken by Yekemi Otaru (aka the Task Mistress)

Day three: Why Am I Counting the Days?

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Killaloe, Ireland (photo taken by Kemi Otaru Oct 2014)

I’m on holiday in Ireland just now and I have to say my brain has kinda slowed down….in a good way, mostly. I don’t have my work mobile and I didn’t leave any pending projects which could make me hypertensive while I’m away. So I’m asking myself why I’m counting the days on my recent blog posts??! What’s with day one, day two etc. ? Don’t worry I’m not asking You, the Reader. I’m asking Me, the Writer.

Maybe I wanted to see how long I’d go before I stopped writing daily. Well, if it’s that then I’ll fail because I can’t write every day. Why? Well, I’m not on holiday everyday. Duh. I’m not competing this blog thing with anyone. I already did that in 2008.

To be honest, I think misunderstood the Blogging 201 instructions. If anyone actually understands how I get my junk started for real, please write in the comments.

So as a heads up, my next post will probably not be tomorrow but it won’t be long after. Also, I won’t be counting the days. That’s just stupid.

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