A Letter of Appreciation

Dear Mr. Generator Repair Men,

I am ever so grateful to you for coming to my house and fixing my generator- even though it was 9 o’clock at night. It is a huge relief that the generator comes on immediately and it is lovely not to have flickering lights.

Please keep up the excellent work!

Sincerely,
Appreciative
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld from Glo Mobile.

This Week I’m Grateful For… Electricity

Living in Nigeria, a constant supply of electricity is very rare.  There have been times when we’ve had ‘light’ (as they call it here) for two whole days in a row – and this is a big deal!

When we don’t have light, we use a generator.  It is noisy and consumes diesel quickly (but we couldn’t live without it!).  Although we have a generator, when light ‘comes’, everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

 

What Would You Wish For if You Had Three Wishes?

Has anyone ever watched the American legal-comedy Drop Dead Diva?  It’s about Jane – an overweight woman whose body is inhabited by the soul of a fashion model.  And she has a guardian angel called Fred (Thank you Google).

Dropdeaddiva

I don’t watch it.  I quite like crap TV shows, but have never been able to bring myself to watch this one! 

The reason I bring it up is that, although I don’t watch it, there is one little clip in the ad that makes me laugh every time (and they show this ad a LOT).  It goes something like this:

Jane says to Fred: Make me skinny and hot.

To which he replies: I’m an angel not a wizard!

Funny right?  Well, I thought so.

Anywaaaaay…  I started thinking about what three things *I* would wish/ask for if I had a wizard or genie.

My first two wishes were easy.

1. I wish for health, wealth and happiness for my family (I know, it sounds like three different wishes – but actually they all go hand-in-hand).

2. I wish for peace.  World peace and inner peace (for everyone).

The third wish was really difficult to think about…  My first two wishes really mean that my life (and the family’s lives) would be perfect.  So what should I wish for? 

Then suddenly I knew…

3. I wish to be skinny and hot.

Makes sense doesn’t it?

What would you wish for?

Do You Know a Word Beginning With ‘tw’? Children Say the Funniest Things

I was teaching Literacy and our blends for that week were ‘tr’ and ‘tw’.  The children were giving me words that begin with ‘tr’ first.  We wrote the words on the board together and drew a little picture to go with it.  We then moved on to words beginning with ‘tw’.  And I still got suggestions like ‘train’ and ‘tree’ (rolling eyes). 

One particular girl was very excited and was waving her hand in the air and jumping up and down and saying ‘I know!  I know!’  I thought she was going to explode if I didn’t choose her to tell us her ‘tw’ word. 

So I asked her, ‘What’s your word?’

She replied, ‘Twat!’

I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry…  I looked at her for a second and asked, ‘What does that mean?’  And I braced myself.

She said, ‘You know…’  And she made a funny face – similar to the one below.

Funny_face

Symbolising a crazy person?

I responded by saying, ‘I’ve never heard that word.  Sit down.’

I thought I was going to die!

The Gallery – Dads

The relationship between a father and his child is so very special.  While thinking about it, I decided I couldn’t just focus on one father and child bond… So I chose 3.

1. The Hub and Vinay (the day after he was born).  Many of Hub’s male friends had told him he would find fatherhood boring and uninteresting until the baby was old enough to interact with him properly.  I have to admit, I was worried.  But I’m proud to say, my Hub wasn’t like that at all.  He was fascinated from the very beginning and was (is) very hands on.  I love the smile on Vinay’s face when he sees his dad in the morning and when he comes home from work.  And I love the smile on Hub’s face when he sees Vinay!

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2. My dad and I.  He was so much fun when we were children – playing with us in the garden and tickling us to no end.  He was scary when we were teenagers – making sure we weren’t out too late and dressed appropriately (if only he knew!).  He has never refused his children anything and is always there for us.

 

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3. My father-in-law and me.  Living far away from your parents can be very dificult – especially when you need help with something.  My FIL has always given good advice, helped whenever I needed help, provided lots of support and shown lots of love!

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I’m sure everyone will understand that choosing just one dad and child relationship would have been too difficult!

 

Getting Online Shouldn’t Be This Hard!

This is the information age.  Or the computer age or information era.  Whatever you choose to call it, the whole point of the current age is to have instant access to knowledge.  Easy, right?   Then why, why, WHY was (is) it so difficult for me to get (and stay) online? 

Let me explain…

We have wireless internet at home, courtesy of the Hub’s work.  However, it is extremely slow and doesn’t always work.  It was irritating me to no end and I couldn’t take it anymore.  It was ridiculous.  In this day and age, how could I not have internet access?  I had resorted to browsing on my BlackBerry, which isn’t ideal (obviously) and when I decided I was going to set up this blog, I did that on my BB too!  After about 4 – 5 weeks without internet access, I had a meltdown and the Hub said he would get me an MTN F@stlink USB thingy (Technical term?  Anyone?).

Mtn_fstlink

I was SO excited on the day he was bringing it home, I could barely contain myself!  That was short-lived.  He forgot.  Oh well.  What was one more day?

He did bring it home the next day 🙂  I snatched the box from him, opened it and shoved the USB in the port.  I had already bought some credit for it as it’s a pay-as-you-go thing (more on that later!).  It didn’t work.  EH?  WHAT?  WHY?  I really don’t know much about these things, so I didn’t know…  But I needed a SIM card to put in it.  I thought I might cry.  Anyway, what was one more day?

So the next day, he bought me the SIM card and sent it home to me at about 11am.  YIPPEEEE!  Inserted the SIM, put the USB in my laptop.  It STILL didn’t work!  I just couldn’t understand the problem!  Then I was told that all SIM cards have to be registered at their various service centres.  It doesn’t matter what network you’re on, the SIMs have to be registered. Of course they do.  This is Nigeria.  Why would anything be straightforward or simple?

*Swearing while remembering the headaches*

I went immediately to register my SIM – filled in a form, they took a copy of my passport (since I’m a foreigner) and they took a picture of me.  Apparently this is to help reduce fraud.  I still don’t see it…

Right – so, it was all done.  Came home and loaded my N500 (approx £2) credit and I was online.  The relief that flooded through me!  I had Twitter and Facebook open for ages.  Ohhh, how I had missed them.  My N500 was meant to last me 24 hours.  But it didn’t.  I think it lasted about 5 hours in total.  And the next day, the same thing happened!  Eventually I told the Hub that my credit was running out too quickly.  He looked through the ‘Bundle Plans’ and explained…

Bundle_plan

Basically, my N500 was not guaranteed to last me 24 hours, because the download limit on it was 150MB.  I told him that I hadn’t been downloading anything.  That didn’t matter.  If you have sites like Twitter and Facebook open – that are always refreshing and updating, it counts.  *FAINT*.

We looked through the Bundle Plan options again and thought about what was the best option for me.  I told him, ideally, I’d like to just be connected all the time.  It’s very normal to do that!  But from looking at the plans – it wasn’t going to be possible.

So we decided to go for a Time Based Plan, rather than a Volume Based Plan.  100 hours, valid for 30 days for N5000 (£19.42).  Great!  No.  Not so great.  The credit loaded without a problem.  But it wouldn’t let me select that plan!  And we tried and tried and tried.

The next morning, we went to the MTN service centre.  There were lots of people waiting, but they saw us immediately.  The guy checked how much credit I had.  Yes, yes – N5000 – I just told you that.  And then he asked what the problem was…  I explained.

<Ohhhh!  That plan isn’t working?  Ok, I will select another one.  Ohhhh!  None of the time-based plans are working?  Until when?  No one knows?  Wonderful.  Thank you for your help.>

So I have ended up paying N8000 (£31) for the 5GB “24/7” Plan. It’s been 10 days so far.  And I don’t understand how to work out how much time I have left…

So I don’t use Twitter on my laptop.  I open Facebook fleetingly.  I am STILL using my BlackBerry for these!  And if I have to go anywhere or do anything – even for a second, I disconnect first!  The baby’s crying?  Hang on!  I’ll just disconnect first!  What century am I living in, anyway?

Then I started wondering about how much other people over here pay to ‘get connected’.  I was pretty shocked when I heard.

One friend pays N15,950 (£62) a month.  She gets unlimited downloads, but in her words, ‘The speed is shit.’  And by the way, this amount isn’t for wireless connectivity, it’s for the USB thingy.

Another friend pays N30,000 (£116.50) a month (supplied by his apartment block).  It’s wireless and includes (and I didn’t understand this – maybe you will) 256 upload/512 download kbps.  He said it was ‘average speed’.  And there’s a limit!  If you want to download more, you pay extra.

Someone else pays N10,000 (£39) a month.  And her plan is from 9am – 9pm.  Again, not wireless, but the USB.

The prices are beyond belief.  Especially for what we’re getting for it!

But what else are we to do?

Fed-up

 

Try, Try and Try Again

The Hub and I had been married for two years when we decided we’d start trying for a family (January 2008).  This was very exciting!  I already had a list of boys’ and girls’ names to choose from when our baby came (how sad am I?).

After trying and trying and trying, for what seemed like forever, I didn’t know what to do anymore (it had been fourteen months).  I was happy for each of my friends when they announced their pregnancies, but I also always felt envious.  There were so many thoughts that raced through my head all day, every day (It isn’t fair! Why isn’t it me?  They got married after us and they’re having their 2nd baby!  They got married only 6 months before us and they’re having their 2nd baby!  What have I done that’s so wrong?  Aren’t we trying hard enough?).  And of course, as each of my friend’s babies were born, I had to cross their names of *my* list of potential baby names.  That was also upsetting.

I went to London for the Easter holiday to spend some time with my parents.   My sister-in-law had just had a baby two weeks before.  This little baby was the cutest little thing – I held him for the whole day and didn’t really want to let him go!

I came back to Lagos and decided – that’s it.  It was time to go to the doctor and check that everything was ‘working’.  I had a blood test to check hormone levels (everything was fine).  I had an HSG (hysterosalpingography).  This is a radiologic procedure to check that the tubes are clear.  The doctor said it wouldn’t hurt.  He lied.  Only a man could say it wouldn’t hurt!  Anyway – everything was fine.  The Hub was amazing – and came to every test and (almost every) doctor’s appointment with me.  And the poor Hub- I made him have all the ‘man type’ tests too.  He never complained.  Not once.  All clear.  By now it was June, 2009.

So what was the problem?  It didn’t help that people (mostly our parents’ friends and other nosey people) kept asking us when we were going to have a baby, and why didn’t we have a baby, and wasn’t it time and we weren’t getting any younger.

The doctor advised us to try three rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination), and if that didn’t work, then we’d move on to IVF.  We were planning to go away for about three weeks over the summer holiday and decided we’d start treatment when we came back in September.  I had to have shots every day (but can’t remember how long for) and take Clomid.  Again – I can’t remember how long for.  But everything works according to your cycle.  All the shots and pills made me put on weight (which was already piling on since I’d given up smoking the month before) and I felt so bloated and disgusting – but I kept telling myself it was all for a good cause!

The day of the insemination came and I was…  Excited, I think.  Excited and nervous, and I really believed that it was going to happen this time.  I raced to the clinic straight after school (because timing is everything) and checked myself in.  I waited for the doctor for five, yes FIVE, hours.  He was in theater apparently.  And it was an emergency.  I wanted to cry.  Wasn’t this an emergency??  The Hub had travelled for work and wouldn’t be back for another two or three weeks – so I was on my own.  Finally the doctor came and the procedure was done in five minutes.  The doc told me to take a pregnancy test in two weeks time.  Thirty minutes later, I went home.

For the next two weeks I was really careful about everything.  I didn’t drink alcohol, I didn’ t lift anything heavy, I rested as much as I could.  It was going to work!  Two weeks later I didn’t take a pregnancy test because I realised it hadn’t worked.  The Hub still wasn’t back from his trip, and I was devastated.

I decided that I couldn’t go through the same thing month after month.  The pressure was too much!  So we booked ourselves to Las Vegas for Christmas and New Year and said we’d start again in January when we got back.  I honestly felt so… Relieved! 

We went to Vegas and had a blast.  We drank ourselves silly, won (and lost) at BlackJack and Roulette, ate like we would never eat again and renewed our vows at the Graceland Chapel.  It was a fabulous holiday. 

Vegas

We stopped in London for one day before heading back to Lagos, and I realised I was late.  This was probably due to jet lag and travelling, but I thought I’d take a test anyway.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was positive!  I was pregnant while we were in Vegas (oops)!  When I thought about it, I remembered feeling a bit light-headed and dizzy while we were there, but I just thought it was because… Well, because it was Vegas!

God works in mysterious ways.

 

 

How Much Do You Pay for Petits Filous?

I hear people complain about the cost of living these days.  Yep – everything’s become pretty expensive. 

I just finished reading ‘The Checkout Girl’ by Tazeen Ahmad.  She’s a journalist that goes undercover and works in Sainsbury’s for six months.  During her time as a checkout girl, she speaks to her customers about the recession and how it’s affected the way they buy food, how much they buy and what they do to try and save money.  It was an interesting read.  And it got me thinking about the cost of living in Lagos and the amount of money people over here spend on the basics.

Let me first say that *everything* is available here.  Most of the regular vegetables and fruit that we consume on a daily basis are available in the market- apples, bananas, pineapples, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, beans, carrots, etc. Sometimes are imported from a neighbouring country (depending on demand).  A kilo of tomatoes can range from £1.20 to £2, depending on the availability and market prices.  Not so bad.  The fruit and vegetables are not of a bad quality – I buy them.  The lettuce can be a bit limp sometimes, I suppose.  But it’s one of those things you get used to and move on.

There are many expats that live here.  And many of the wives don’t like to buy only ‘local’ produce and often buy imported goods as well.  Some of them buy only the imported stuff.  That’s ok – that’s their choice.  But you won’t believe the prices they’re paying…

There’s a particular supermarket here, Lebanese owned.  Lebanese people that live in France (or so I’m told).  And they bring all their products in mainly from France.  They sell everything: cheeses, fresh fruit and veg, yogurt, cooked ham, sausages, pate, butter, salmon brochettes, chorizo sausages, chocolate and wine.  And a whole load of other stuff as well!

I went to this supermarket for the first time about six or seven weeks ago when I found out that it’s the only place that stocks Petits Filous yogurts.  I was told that I had to go early on a Thursday morning because all their goods come in on a Wednesday evening.  I’ve not witnessed it yet (I usually get there about 10am, and most people have gone by then), but apparently things can get quite nasty with the expat wives – fighting over the fresh fruit and vegetables!

I made the mad dash there yesterday morning – much later than usual because I went to my LBT class first and was relieved to find Petits Filous still there.  I have never bought anything else there – but  decided to have a quick walk around and check out the prices of a few random things.  I wanted to do a bit more research – but because I was late, and the morning rush of mums had passed, the staff weren’t busy.  And they were all looking at me suspiciously, with my notebook, pen and camera!  So I did what I could…

This is what I found…

Tomatoes – N2650/1 kg.  That is: £10.40 or $17.  FOR TOMATOES!  I kg of Sainsbury’s plum tomatoes is £3.

Mushrooms – N3290/1 kg.  £12.95.  In Sainsbury’s, I kg of white closed cup mushrooms costs £2.87

Cauliflower (never touch the stuff – but still) – N1940 each.  £7.60 EACH!

Cherries – N3350/1 kg.  That’s £13.20.

1 kg of Parmesan cheese is N5890, which is £23.20.

Special K cereal is N1230 = £4.84

Crunchy Nut – N1190 = 4.70

Oh – and the Petits Filous works about to just over £1 for each little tub.

I thought I was going to faint! It’s extortionate!

I decided that I would *only* buy the Petits Filous there – unless I need something for a special occasion.

When I think of the families that shop only at this supermarket, a saying pops into my head each time:

‘More money than sense.’

More_money_than_sense

So? Boys Can Do Ballet If They Want!

All the children were sitting on the carpet chatting and waiting for me to come and take the register.  It wasn’t 7.30am just yet – so I was enjoying my last two or three minutes of quiet time when suddenly the class errupted into squeals and giggles.

I went to the carpet and asked them what was so funny.  They replied with shrieks of, ‘Mrs Dadlani! Kevin wants to do ballet!’  I glanced at Kevin, he was looking a little embarassed.

I said to the children, ‘So?  What’s wrong with that?  Boys can do ballet if they want.  Just remember that *all* of you can do ANYTHING you want to do.  You can all be doctors or nurses (yes, even the boys) or vets or popstars!’

Kevin was feeling much more confident about his wish to do ballet and said, ‘I like the skirt.  I want to wear the skirt.  And then I want to jump up, twirl around and land like a cupcake.’

It was suddenly time to do the register!

Cupcake