Toddlers & Tiaras

I never get the TV to myself these days. Usually we’re watching Andy and his Dinosaur Adventures or Nina and the Neurons. Actually – anything  on CBeebies is what’s usually on!

Pair that with the fact that LagosDad has been home with a trapped nerve for three days (God help me) – and I’ve had no time to myself.

I don’t know how it happened, but I was lucky enough to be able to choose what I wanted to watch yesterday.

I flicked through the channels and saw that Say Yes To The Dress was on soon. I won’t rave about the show – many think I’m very sad for watching it!

Anyway so before the show started, Toddlers and Tiaras was on.

Have you ever seen it?

I know the show has caused a lot of controversy. I can understand people think it’s an appalling extra-curricular activity for children to partake in. And I think I can see how some parents might enjoy dressing up their daughters every weekend. Like they’re dolls or something. I realise that some mums have other reasons for entering their children in beauty pageants – I just can’t think of any.

So in the episode I watched yesterday there was an eighteen month old who didn’t really know what was going on around her. By the end of the episode her dad was saying, “I think she’s probably a bit tired now. It’s been a long day.”  You think?!

There was a three-year-old who, according to one of the judges, “didn’t make enough eye contact”.

And there was a six-year-old who, according to another judge, “had a fake smile”.

At one point, the three-year-old came on stage for her swimwear bit and got distracted by one of her fake nails which was falling off. It bothered her and she didn’t know what to do about it.  A judge commented saying the toddler would get marked down for ‘personality’ because of that and the eye contact issue.

The child is THREE Ffs!

I was quite horrified by it all. You can think whatever you want about your own child – but to have people on television saying your child has no personality, moves stiffly, has a fake smile, etc has to be an absolute no-no. No?

I think the worst part for me was watching the awards at the end. The categories were things like “prettiest eyes” and “most beautiful”.  Who the f*ck are they to judge on what’s pretty or beautiful?  Aren’t all children beautiful?

Is it any wonder that girls are growing up with major body image issues? If you’re exposing your daughters to being judged from the age of eighteen months, what will happen to them when they’re eighteen? How will they see themselves? Is it fair to do that to them?

I did a little more reading about the show, the contestants and their parents.  I have to say I was quite shocked by some of what I read.

Some of the things that these kids have to endure: spray tanning, hours of hair and make-up application, eyebrow plucking, eyelash tinting and curling, fake teeth and fake nail applications.  And they’re not usually happy about it.

Then I read about one mum who dressed up her toddler as Dolly Parton. Complete with fake boobs and backside.

Another child has a special ‘Go-Go Juice’. It’s part Mountain Dew and part Red Bull.  According to the girl’s mother, ‘everybody on the circuit does it’.  Well that’s ok then, isn’t it?

One mum made her four-year-old smoke a fake cigarette on stage and another dressed her daughter up like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. You know, like a hooker.

There’s also the mum who waxed her five-year-old’s eyebrows. That’s bloody painful for me as an adult. How would a child cope with pain like that .

I wish people would let their children just be children. Aren’t they growing up too fast as it is?

 

Pain

I’m in pain.  And I’ve been in pain since my fourteenth week.

I have pain in my pubic area, the tops of my thighs, the base of my back and my backside.

Getting in and out of bed almost kills me.  Turning over while in bed is worse.  Getting in and out of the car is manageable, but it hurts.  Basically – I have to try and avoid any activity where I have to put more pressure on one leg than another.  Like getting dressed (I have to sit down to do this).  Or going up and down the stairs fifty times a day.

After doing some research online, I gathered that what I have is SPD.  I’d never heard about it before, but vaguely remembered a friend saying she had it during her first pregnancy and has it again now, in her second pregnancy.

I had an appointment with my ob/gyn at sixteen weeks.  He asked how I was doing.  I told him about my aches and pains.

Now he’s not the kind of man who will hold your hand and tell you everything’s going to be ok.  He’s not the most ‘personable’ guy – but I knew this about him.

But when he looked at me and said, ‘Well, it’s your second pregnancy, so it’s to be expected.  Although sixteen weeks is a bit early to have this kind of pain.  You’ll have to just deal with it.’, I was a little disappointed.

No adivce?  No dos and don’ts?  Just deal with it?  No examination or anything?

Now I’m at nineteen weeks.  And the pain is ok – bearable on some days.  But on others, it’s worse.  And I think it will continue to get worse as the baby grows.  I’m hobbling around a lot already!

Should I go to my GP?  Or am I meant to just grin and bear it?

Summer in London

I’m quite stressed out at the moment.  I have all these thoughts going round and round in my head – and I can’t do a lot about some of it.

Sorry – let me start from the beginning!

V was born in London.  There was never any question as to where I would deliver.  I lived in the UK for 15 years before I moved back to Lagos.  My parents had a flat there and there was plenty of space for LagosDad, me and a new baby.  Although, my parents did have to move into the smaller guestroom and we took the larger master bedroom (to fit the crib and changing table, etc.).

This time round, we decided I’d deliver in Dubai.  Because that’s where my parents are now.  I want to be with my mum.

We toyed with the idea of London briefly.  Very briefly.  But decided it might be easier in Dubai.

But, it’s really not that easy!

Here’s why.

1. We’ll be there over the summer – it’s very, very hot.

2. It will be Ramadan.  No eating or drinking in public.  I would have to stay home all day!

3. My parents’ driver is going on leave during Ramadan.  That’s ok.  I figured we’d manage.  I could drop V off at summer camp on the Metro.  Then I realised it would be too damn hot to even walk to the Metro station (17 minutes walk).

4. To enroll him in a nursery, I need proof of residency.  I’m not a resident there, and neither is LagosDad

5. My mum said there won’t be space for all of us in their flat, so we’d have to rent an apartment.  Where do you even start?

6.  I don’t know anything about the process of registering the birth or applying for a baby’s passport in Dubai.  However, from what I’ve read, it’s not a straightforward procedure.  And – ONLY THE FATHER CAN REGISTER THE BIRTH!

7. It is illegal for a single woman to give birth in the UAE.  I know this doesn’t apply to me – but I still find it unsettling.

8. I would probably only get a three-month visa for the nanny – but I’d need her there for four.  I know – it sounds ridiculous – but it was stressing me out.

9. Everything is so expensive there – I didn’t want to buy all my baby clothes there because it’s so expensive.  A pair of pyjamas for V costs about $28 in Mothercare.  ONE PAIR!

10. And lastly… I just found out on Friday that I actually can’t deliver the baby in Dubai because neither LagosDad or myself are residents there.

So my last six weeks of research – summer camps, nurseries, serviced apartments, visa requirements, buying online in the US and delivering to my sister-in-law, etc has all been a waste.

Now we are back to London.

And to be very honest – although I’m finding it stressful to start my research all over again – I am much happier.

1. Fresh air.

2. Taking V to Regent’s Park to play and feed the ducks.

3. Walking on the high street.

4. Selfridges.

I could go on.

I love the thought of summer in London.  But there are a few things I have to do.

1. Apply for the nanny’s visa!

2. Book in with a doctor.  I’ve emailed the one who delivered V – I loved him and would want him to deliver this baby.  I think I may have left it a bit late though.  Last time I booked in with him at 10 weeks.  Now I’m 16 weeks and I’m hoping that he’ll fit me in.

3. Find an apartment to rent for four months.  I’ve been looking – but we may have to make a trip to secure somewhere I think.  Or maybe I’ll ask LagosDad to go.  If you know of any two bed/two bath apartments for rent in St John’s Wood – please let me know!

It’s all very daunting – but I’ve got to do it!

Wish me luck!

Flying Out

You know, Lagos airport never ceases to amaze me.  Even after living there for so many years and flying in and out countless times.

We used Qatar to fly out this time (we’re in Dubai, by the way!).  The last time we flew on Qatar was December last year.

Anyway, the Qatar Airways check-in queue was unbelievable.  It didn’t matter if you had checked-in online.  And it didn’t matter if you were a Qatar Airways cardholder.  There was one LONG line for everybody.  I should have found out actually if First and Business Class passengers could check-in separately.

Once you reach the front of the queue, you don’t go straight to a check-in counter.  Your bags have to be inspected first.  So you go to security.  No – not an x-ray machine.  They are checked manually.  You have to lift each case up onto a table, open it and someone goes through all your stuff.  Then you slide the bag over to the 2nd security officer.  And then to a 3rd.  They usually wish you a ‘happy weekend’, ‘Merry Christmas’ or they just say ‘Anything for me?’

If you’re lucky, they’ll get bored after the first bag and tell you to move on.  By the way, there’s no one to help with the lifting of bags or taking off of bags onto and off the table.  And when they’re done with you, they just start shouting for you to hurry up.  Not only do you have to be super-fast in taking your bags off the table, you have to zip them up and lock them first!

No, no.  It’s not time for check-in yet.  Then you have to stand in another line.  The person behind this desk checks your passports and visas.  They also write your name down on a passenger list.  NOW we move to the check-in desk.  This area is uneventful, but allows you to stand still for a few minutes.

Oh, I forgot to mention – there’s also no air conditioning anywhere.

So next is going through passport control, security and to the gate.

First a guy checks your boarding passes before you can go through to passport control.  You stand in another line and hand over your passports and departure cards.  You don’t wait there to get your passport back.  You go to the NEXT line (which is usually at the same desk).  I don’t know who checks what, who does the stamping or what they do with the departure cards, but it’s seriously annoying.

Annoying.  But not as bad as the check-in process.

Time for security!

You put your stuff through the x-ray machines.  You walk through the metal detectors and then get patted down by a security officer.  No use of a hand-held metal detector.  Is that because the walk-through metal detectors work properly?

When you finally reach the gate, there’s another queue.  It’s usually pretty long, but at least this part of the airport is cooler!  So to get in, a person at a desk checks your passports and visas.  And right behind him/her at another desk they check your boarding cards.  Once you go through, your hand luggage is searched.  You’re again wished a happy weekend of asked ‘Anything for me?’.  Then you’re body searched again.  Aaaand….  we’re in!

Don’t start cheering quite yet.

There isn’t enough seating at the gate (or enough space for all the passengers to even be there).  So many people are standing and all squashed together.  And they pack in more and more people until they’re ready to board the flight.  It gets hotter and hotter and everyone gets more and more agitated.  It’s hardly surprising though, is it?

I think the whole process is absolutely ridiculous.  I also think:

1. At least more people have jobs – you know, since everything is done three times.

2. Because there are more people checking everything, they are more likely to find banned items in carry-on and checked-in luggage.  HOWEVER, if they don’t do their jobs properly, there’s no point.  And they don’t tend to do it properly.  When we left yesterday, security looked in V’s suitcase.  Then they looked into one of my bags.  Both bags had only clothes in them.  They asked, ‘Only clothes inside all the bags?’  I replied, ‘Yes’.  They said, ‘Go.’  While this suited me just fine, I could have had ANYTHING in any of the other bags.

3. With more people checking passports and visas, they are more likely to catch people with fake documents.  Right?  Maybe they’re all more ‘on the ball’ now?

4. It would all work so much better if not everyone was looking for a pay-off of some kind.

That’s it.  Rant over.  And don’t even get me started on Arrivals!

Hairdresser Dilemma

I’ve been meaning to try out a new hairdresser.

I need to have my roots/highlights done quite desperately, but don’t really want to go back to my usual place.  There are many reasons, but I’ve also never been totally happy with the end result.

I thought about waiting until I get to Dubai, but then wondered if I really want to spend three hours sitting in the hairdresser, when I could spend it in the mall…

Anyway, so many people have talked about this lady – I’ll call her….  I’ll call her Tina.  She’s meant to be AMAZING at highlights and colour.  I do always feel a twinge of envy when I look at my friend’s hair.  Also, she’s cheaper than my usual hairdresser.  So I thought I’d try her out.

I asked someone for her number.  She gave me the salon number and Tina’s mobile number.  I decided to call the salon – if she wasn’t in how would she be able to take an appointment, etc.

A Lebanese man answered the phone and this is what transpired…

Me: Hi!  I’d like to make an appointment with Tina for colour and highlights, please.

Him: Madam, you don’t make appointments with Tina, you make them with me.

Me: Ok – sorry.

Him: Tina works for me.

Me: Okaaay.

Him: You must be Indian if you’re asking for Tina.

WTF?

I’m thinking that all the Indians want Tina to do their highlights because she’s good at it, and he’s a bit peeved?

Me: Yes, I am.

Him: That’s why you’re asking for her.  Who gave you this number?

Me: *gives name (of non-Indian) friend*

Him: Who?

Me: *says name again*

Split second of silence

Him: You are welcome, madam

And then he went on to take the appointment.

WTF was all that about?  What a complete twat!

Please correct me if I’m wrong – but when you call a spa or a salon or somewhere for an appointment, if you want a particular person to do your treatment, don’t you make that known?

What crawled up this guy’s backside?  And how long is it going to be stuck there for?

Did he get all twitchy because the lady that works for him is better at doing highlights than him?

When I go there on Tuesday is HE going to do my hair?  Or will he let Tina do it?  And if he does it – is he going to fuck it up on purpose?

Maybe I should cancel my appointment and go back to my usual place?

DRY-CLEANING FAIL! (UPDATE)

So… In case you were wondering which dry-cleaner I use(d), it’s Nathan’s.  Nathan’s on Adetokunbo Ademola Street in VI.

There.  I named and shamed.

I wasn’t going to.  Just as I wasn’t going to write the other post.  But I’m angry.

As I said in the other post, N (Nathan) was meant to get back to me last Friday – and he didn’t.

On Tuesday, LagosDad rang the dad and asked what was going on, etc.  He asked us to go in that afternoon at about 3 pm.

This wasn’t going to be easy as V goes over to Ikoyi Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and in order to get there by 4 pm, he has to leave home at 3pm.  It used to be 3.15 pm, but the traffic has become even more horrific lately!

Anyway, so I decided to take V with me.  We actually couldn’t leave our house because the traffic was so terrible.  I rang N and told him that I wouldn’t be able to make it and would come the following morning at about 11.30.  He said that was fine.

On Wednesday morning I went to Nathan’s on time.  I was kept waiting for a little while.  No problem.  Apparently he was in a meeting with the chairman (his father).

Nathan came downstairs and apologised for keeping me waiting and for all the confusion regarding compensation.  He said his father was ‘around’ and that he’d like me to meet him (I don’t know why as LagosDad already met him the previous week) and could I come back at 3 pm.

I explained that afternoons were absolutely impossible and that I’d come back the next morning.  He said that was fine.

This morning I didn’t make it – my fault.  Or not my fault.  LagosDad had the car.

I texted Nathan and explained and said I’d be there ASAP.

He replied asking me to come in at 3 pm.  What is it with these people and 3 pm???  I replied saying that I’d explained to him yesterday that afternoons were not possible and that I would come at 1 pm or the following morning.

I didn’t hear back but decided I’d just head over there for 1 pm.

When I got there, the manager came down and said that Nathan wasn’t in and wasn’t the meeting at 3 pm?

Jesus Christ.

I told him that I would come back the following morning.  He said to wait.  He was going to ring Nathan again and find out if the morning was suitable.

The manager came back to me and said that the MD was in (Nathan’s mother and the owner) and would see me.

If she had been there all along, why had I been kept waiting for so long???

Anyway, so I met the MD.

She asked me how much compensation I was expecting.  I told her I’d paid $300 for the outfit and only worn it that one time before sending it for dry-cleaning.

She said they couldn’t compensate me for the full amount.  And then went on to say, ‘Anyway, I was reading somewhere that silk really should be hand washed and not dry-cleaned.’  I showed her the ‘Dry-Clean Only’ label on my garment.  She said, ‘Yes, but you know – sometimes they just stick those labels on even if it doesn’t need dry-cleaning.’  I told her that I’d always sent my Indian clothes there and I’d never had any problems before.  Everyone knows you can’t hand wash them unless they’re cotton!

She went on to say that ‘Poor Nathan’ wasn’t even in the dry-cleaning business and that he was just stepping in while she was away.  She also said that she was trying to get hold of her husband to find out what was discussed in his meeting with LagosDad, because ‘whatever he said was final’.  I told her that was funny because no one seemed to be able to make a decision without consulting her first.

I told her that it wasn’t about the money.  If their policy is only to pay X amount, then that is what should have been said to us in the first place.  Whether it was Nathan or her husband.  We should not have been told things like, ‘Ooh, I can see that your clothes are expensive.  You’re definitely entitled to more than that.’  And why was everyone saying something different?

She said she would give me N15000 ($94) as a ‘sorry’.  She then went on about how every business has risks, etc. and I just happened to be unlucky this time.

She said she was sorry and she knew I was disappointed, she knows how she feels about her ‘things’, etc.  Yes.  I’m sure she does.  Sitting across from me in her diamonds.  She asked if that was ok with me.  I said, ‘Does it matter if it’s not ok?’  She said, ‘Of course it matters.  You should say.’  I responded with, ‘Is it going to make a difference?’  She said it wouldn’t.

I told her that although two customers probably wouldn’t make a difference to her business, she had lost us and that I would now look for somewhere else to send my dry-cleaning.  She said it’s always sad to lose customers and that she would think of another way to make it up to me.  How?  I don’t know.  And I don’t want to find out.

I left with my N15000 and told her I wouldn’t be back.

So there you have it.  Our two-week dry-cleaning saga has ended.  Thank God.

I’m not happy with how Nathan’s handled this.  I’m not happy at all.

Who can recommend somewhere else in VI?

DRY-CLEANING FAIL!

I didn’t want to write this post.  And I wasn’t going to – because I thought the matter would be resolved within a few days.  But now that it’s been over a week, I decided I had to.

Last Monday (or maybe Tuesday) we sent a couple of things to our dry-cleaner to be cleaned.  We’ve been using them for years and have been quite happy with the service we’ve received.

Anyway, so as I said, we sent three items last week.  One was the top of an Indian outfit of mine (foundation problem), one was a dress and the third was the top of one of LagosDad’s Indian outfits, which had a stain on the sleeve.

On Wednesday the receptionist from the dry-cleaner rang me to say she was very sorry but while trying to remove the stain from one of the items (I didn’t understand which one she meant at the time), whoever was treating it accidentally put a hole in it.

In addition, the colour from one of the items (the dress with red) ran and there’s nothing they can do about it.

I’d had a terrible afternoon so far and was seriously cross.  I knew the one with the colour which had run was mine.  I’d worn the outfit once and it was expensive.

I told her that this was unacceptable and as a professional, whoever was dry-cleaning it should have realised that the colour may run and they shouldn’t have done it.

She was very apologetic.

I asked her what compensation they would give me.  I realise that in many places they put up signs and notices stating that the dry-cleaners are not responsible for any damage, etc. to any garments.  There are no such signs at this dry-cleaner.

I think the receptionist was surprised that I’d asked.  And she said she’d ask the manager and call me back.  She called back to say I’d get 10% off the next ten things I send in for dry cleaning.

Was she joking?

1. The value of my outfit is more than that.

2. Why would I continue to send my clothes there?

I hung up.

I told LagosDad about it when he got home that evening and he was pretty livid.  He told me I had to go there and ‘make a noise’ about it until I got some form of compensation.  I explained that I’m not like that and that he better come with me!

So on Saturday (9th November) afternoon, that’s where we went.  We got our clothes and I just wanted to cry when I saw what had happened.

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So it was white.  Now it’s not.  All the little threads had come loose.

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And it shrunk.

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And LagosDad’s top…

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While we were waiting and demanding to see someone ‘in charge’, a lady came in to collect her garments.  She said one of her items had been ruined and she was still waiting to see someone in management.  It had been a month.

Anyway, so once we saw the damage, LagosDad asked to see someone in management.  The receptionist said that the owner had travelled.  LagosDad asked her to get her on the phone.  She disappeared to make the phone call and LagosDad received a work call at the same time.  The receptionist came back after him and said, ‘She is on flight.’

LagosDad wanted to know how she answered the phone if she was ‘on flight’.  And they started arguing.  I received a call and went outside to answer it.  When I came back LagosDad had gone into the ‘Employees only’ section.  It was where all the cleaning happens and it can be seen from the reception area as the partition was all glass.

Anyway, he wanted to know who had treated my outfit.  He was convinced it had been put in the washing machine.

Now, because he had ‘made noise’ someone came out of an office and said, ‘What’s going on here?’

LagosDad explained the situation and said he wanted to speak to management and no one would help us and asked who he was.  The man said, ‘I’m the manager.’

Then another person came out and asked the same, ‘What’s going on here?’  He was the owner’s son (I will call him N).  The owner who was ‘on flight’.

He asked us to come up to his office.  LagosDad refused at first.  He wanted to know why he had to argue and make a scene before someone in management came out to see to us.

N apologised and said that the matter had not been brought to his attention.  Instead the employees decided to call his mum who wasn’t in the country?  Errr…  Ok.

So off to his office we went.  We told him what the problem was.  We told him that the compensation offered to us (apparently the ‘management’ who offered the 10% deal was not him or his mum) wasn’t acceptable and that the clothes were worth much more.

He looked at the clothes.  Called a couple of his employees into the office and asked them to explain what had happened to the clothes.

No one could really give us a satisfactory answer apart from, ‘It wasn’t me.’  You know… The usual.

N, by the way was wearing a Rolex.  I would say educated in the US because of his accent and I’m pretty sure the Mercedes 4WD outside in the car park was his.

He was very apologetic and said we were definitely entitled to compensation but that he couldn’t decide how much as he had to consult with his mum who was on her way back from wherever.  He asked us to leave the matter with him until Monday and then he’d call.

Fair enough.  Although, why can’t he make a decision on his own?  He is clearly management.  The business is named after him…

Anyway, on Tuesday N rang LagosDad and asked us to come in for a meeting.

I couldn’t make it – but LagosDad went.  This meeting was with N’s dad.

He was also apologetic.  He said there was no excuse for the damage and that the staff should actually NOT have treated my outfit if they thought the colour might run.  They decided that we would receive compensation.  On the back of the dry cleaning ticket, it says that ‘any unsatisfactory job will be repeated free of charge’  It also says, ‘in the case of loss by fire or any loss or damage to garment whilst in the hands of ourselves or subcontractors for which we accept liability, compensations shall not exceed more than five times the cost of dry-cleaning’.  However, N’s dad said he could see that my clothes were worth more, he said he WOULD GIVE US MORE.  But he would have to discuss the amount with his wife (WTF?).  And he said that they would repair LagosDad’s kurta (top).  He also said he’d call the next day.

By Thursday afternoon we’d still not heard from anyone, so I rang N (because LagosDad said I had to).  He was quite friendly on the phone.  He said he’d make a couple of calls and get back to me.

He did call back a few minutes later.  But you know what he did?  He FLASHED me!  (This means giving someone a missed call so they have to call you back.)  The man wearing a ROLEX and driving a MERC FLASHED ME!

I called him back.  He said he thought that the matter had been closed with his dad because LagosDad had brought my outfit home.

Errr…  No.  I explained what had transpired.  He said his dad had travelled to Abuja and was ‘pretty busy’ and before he called him, he wanted to confirm that LagosDad had agreed to have his kurta repaired by making it into a short-sleeved top.  I didn’t know.  I told him I’d find out and text him.

I found out that this is what had been decided.  I texted N and told him so and added that I hoped the matter could be closed asap as it had been pending almost a week.

I received the delivery message.

I didn’t hear anything back.

On Friday (15th November) afternoon at about 3, I decided I couldn’t put it off any longer and I called N back.

At first he pretended he didn’t know who I was.  Then he sounded irritated that I had the nerve to call him again.  He eventually said he’d call me back at 4 pm with ‘more information’.

It is now 8.30 pm on Saturday, 16th November, and I have not heard back from him.

The thing is, it’s not even the money so much as the principle.  They are running us around and now avoiding us.

If we were not entitled (or if they didn’t want to give us) to any compensation, they should have made that clear at the start.

And what is it with everyone having to ask the mother/wife?  Aren’t they all in the business together?  And why is it such a big deal?  They’re wearing Rolexes and driving Mercs!

So when LagosDad brought my outfit back, he brought it in their carrier bag.  I didnt know if I should laugh or cry!

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Can you see what the small print says?  No?  Hang on a second.

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Paintings

While we were in Bali last year, LagosDad and I bought six new paintings for our home.  I left them rolled up in their containers.  We always said we’d have them stretched and/or framed after we painted our downstairs.

A year later and we still haven’t painted downstairs and the paintings were still rolled up!

A friend told us a few weeks ago that we’d better unroll them as the paint might crack.  As soon as we got home from that dinner we opened them all up and checked them.  They’re all fine, thank God.

Now that they were unrolled, I wanted to get them stretched and/or framed.  I asked several people where they went or who did theirs for them.  All the paintings we’ve had done previously don’t sit properly against the wall as the wood has become warped.

1. People who asked carpenters to make the frames for them weren’t too happy with the job that had been done.  One friend said she even sat there and measured the wood, etc for her carpenter to make sure he got it right.  I can barely tell one end of a tape measure from the other – so this was not going to work for me.

2. Another friend suggested a frame shop – owned by her friend’s family.  This sounded like a plan.  I set off one morning, arrived in the area where the store is and drove around in circles for forty minutes as I couldn’t find it.

3. On the way back from Number 2 (above), I came across an art shop in Ikoyi.  This place was also suggested to me.  I had gone to look for it before, but didn’t find it.

So I stopped and took my paintings inside.

Two ladies work in the store.  Lady 1 (L1) stood immediately and came to help me with the paintings and asked what I wanted to do, etc.  Lady 2 (L2) sat slumped over the desk, head resting on arms.  She made no attempt to move.

L1 told me they couldn’t tell me how much it would cost to stretch the paintings until she knew the size of them all.  She then unrolled them, one-by-one, and measured them.  L2 was still sat at the desk.  Her job was to write the size of each painting on a bit of masking tape and stick it on the back of each painting.

Each time L1 gave L2 a measurement to write down, she wrote down the wrong thing.  Or she didn’t hear her.  Or she couldn’t be arsed.  I don’t know.

This continued for all six paintings.

After the measurements were done, I approached the desk so that L1 could get the calculator out and figure out the cost.  As I stood at the desk, L2 started tearing up bits of paper, rolling them up into little balls and throwing them at L1.

WTF was going on?

I just kept staring at L2.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  If this is how she wants to behave when they’re on their own, that’s just fine.  But when there are customers around?  This was unacceptable.

After receiving the quote, I rolled up my paintings and took them home (I had to clear the cost with LagosDad first).

I went back a few days later to give the paintings in to be stretched.

Thankfully L2 would have nothing to do with the process.  Having said that, she was reasonably professional during my second visit.

On Wednesday I got a phone call.  I couldn’t hear a damn thing the woman was saying because someone was singing (very loudly and very out of tune) in the background.  She kept trying to tell me where she was calling from and that my paintings were ready.  I told her, “I can’t hear you because someone (I bet it was L2) is singing in the background!”  She just talked louder.

On Thursday I went to collect them.  I got there at 10.30am.  L1 was waiting outside.  L2 had the key for the store and was still on her way.  They are meant to open at 9am.  I know that public transport is a problem here.  And getting around isn’t easy – but L2 didn’t arrive until nearly 11am!

Another guy was waiting to buy masking tape and some paper or something.  It took L2 ten minutes to write the invoice!

Anyway, I paid the balance of my bill, took my paintings and left.  They’ve actually done a really good job, as well.  (I have to give credit where it’s due!)

I forgot how beautiful they are.  Two of them are LagosDad’s choice – I wonder if you can work out which ones…?

Painting 1
Painting 1
Painting 2
Painting 2

 

Painting 3
Painting 3
Painting 4
Painting 4
Painting 5
Painting 5
Painting 6
Painting 6

 

AARRGH!

I am so irritated and frustrated!

Seriously, why can’t anything be easy around here?

Beware – this is long and ranty!

Yesterday I had to get some passport pictures for V for his (2015!) school admissions form.  At the place I usually go to, you don’t get the pictures for an hour.  So I went somewhere else – where they ADVERTISE outside that it takes 90 seconds for passport photos.  Great!  This is where I needed to be.

When we went in to pay, I asked the lady how long it would take (just to double-check) and she said ten minutes.  I decided we’d wait.  It wasn’t long.  TWENTY minutes later, I went up to the counter to ask what was going on.  V was, by this time, hanging off my leg demanding to go home and I still had to go to two supermarkets to get a few things.  The lady said it would be another couple of minutes and that there’s a backlog of jobs.  Fine.  I waited five more minutes.  Then I was told there was a network error and they couldn’t print my pictures.  I FREAKED out.  I told them that if there is a delay, that’s fine.  I understand.  These things happen.  But at least f****** tell me.  Then I could have gone to the supermarkets and come back to collect the pictures!

I left and went to the supermarkets.  Got everything I needed in the first.  Apart from one thing – which I knew I’d get in the second.  My mil told me to buy gidamri.  I’ve never bought gidamri before.  I don’t know what it looks like.  And I had no idea what I was looking for.  On the way to the supermarket, I rang a friend and asked her.  She told me they definitely have it at the supermarket and to just ask any of the girls working there – they all know it, and that it looks like black toffee.  I asked her if she knew the English word for it (gidamri is Sindhi).  She said no.

Right.

So in I went.  I looked at the shelves where they have all the spices and seeds.  Nothing was labelled ‘Gidamri’.  So I asked one of the ladies.  She had no idea what I was talking about.  She picked up a packet off the shelf, showed it to me and said, ‘Is it this one?’  It wasn’t.  When I said no, she said, ‘We don’t have it.’  I asked her, ‘You don’t have it?  Or you don’t know what it is?’  She admitted to not knowing what it was.  So I asked her to call somebody who DOES know.  Honestly, the way she sucked her teeth before shuffling off…!  Don’t forget I still had V with me.  And I still had to go back to pick up the pictures.  AND he was whining to go home.  A second lady arrived and had no idea what I was on about.  One of the Indian men came and didn’t know what I was talking about.  I suddenly spotted something – unlabelled – on the top of a shelf that looked like black toffee.  I bought it and hoped it was correct.

It was correct.  And the English word for gidamri is tamarind!  You learn something new every day!

We pulled into our driveway (after collecting the pictures that were finally ready) and I realised I’d forgotten to buy V’s milk.  So off we went again to get that.  As we were getting into the car LagosDad called and said to get his passport and pick him up so we could go get some work done at the bank.

FFS.  All I really wanted to do was have a lie down!

I dropped V off at home first and went to get LagosDad.  One of the problems we have is with our PIN.  Before you can use the card you have to change the PIN from the one they give you.  We’ve tried several times to do this – but it just won’t happen (this has been going on for several years).  Other things we had to do was: transfer some money, register for Internet banking and order a cheque book.

That’s four things, yes?  We had to go to FOUR different counters to do this!  Regarding the PIN, the account manager said there may have been a network error (what the hell is it with this place and network errors??) when I tried changing the PIN last and to go down and try it again.  I went to do that (it didn’t work) while LagosDad went to get forms to order the cheque book and to do the money transfer, etc.

He went downstairs to get the Internet banking sorted while I waited for the money transfer to happen.  He had already given the teller the slip.  This guy sat there, chewing on a toothpick, staring at this slip of paper.  He pressed about two keys on his computer and another guy rocked up.  This second man was filling out a form and needed help.  He stood next to me and he and teller started having a (very loud) conversation about exchange rates or whatever.  I stood there for five minutes waiting.  I cleared my throat.  I drummed my fingers on the counter, I tutted and I sighed loudly.  Both those f****** ignored me.  After ten minutes, I finally said, “Excuse me.  Please can he just finish my work before you continue your conversation?  I’ve been waiting a long time.”  They both just stared at me.  The man filling out the form finally said, “No problem”.  As though HE was doing ME a favour!  Stupid b******.

Today I went to buy V’s birthday present from my in-laws.  Mil and I had already been to the store and chosen  the tricycle.  I only had to go back to pick it up and have it wrapped.

Before I go any further, let me just tell you that there are three ladies working in the store.  And the ‘madam’ (their boss) is away until next week.

Ok, so I asked them if they would gift-wrap it.

Yes.

Is it free to gift-wrap?

Yes.

Did they have the box or a carton to put it in (just to make wrapping easier)?

They didn’t have the box for *that* tricycle, but they’d look for another one.

One of the ladies wandered off to look for a box – and came back (ten minutes later) with one which was about a third of the size of the tricycle.  FFS!  I told her I didn’t think it would fit and let’s just use wrapping paper.

While they ran about the store looking for scissors and sellotape, I spotted a whole lot of bits of wrapping paper.  You know, the off cuts from other presents they’d wrapped.  They were all different patterns and sizes and most of them had sellotape hanging off them.  I wondered if they were planning to use those to wrap my gift, but then figured it wasn’t possible.  They wouldn’t.  Would they?

It turns out…  They would!  I told them that there was no way they could wrap my gift with those papers.  They spent ages choosing different paper and then spent another ten minutes trying to figure out the best way to wrap it.

They tried laying the tricycle on its side.  Then upside down.  I had to intervene and advise them on what I felt was the right way.

The problem is – they used double-sided tape to tape it altogether.  So each time something touched the gift-wrap, it would get stuck.  By the time I got it home, the wrapping paper was all torn to bits.

Now I know I didn’t have to get it wrapped.  And that it probably didn’t make any sense to do it.  But that’s not really the point, is it?

I’ve just tied a ribbon around it now.

I just don’t understand…  You go to any bank in the UK and the tellers aren’t all chewing on toothpicks or yapping away to each other or to their customers.  You also don’t have to go to five different counters to get five different things done!  And, in addition, where else in the world do other people just go up to a counter at the bank while someone is standing there?!

I’ve been here SO many years, and I still can’t get over the way some things are handled.

Why is it like this?  Why can’t some people work efficiently and/or professionally?  Is it because they’re not expected to?  Do they know what’s expected of them?  Are management not keeping on top of it?  Is it the training?  Or lack of training?  Poor pay?

As far as I’m concerned, I’m a client/customer and I expect good customer service.  Is it too much to ask?

Am I looking at the whole situation from the wrong angle?  Am I missing something (apart from a few marbles)?

 

Frazzled

I was looking forward to coming back to Lagos.  I had missed my bed, the dog and of course, LagosDad.

But getting here and being here has left me broken.

Checking-in was a nightmare, as usual.  Our luggage was over our allowance by 7 kilos.  Considering our allowance was 120 kilos, you can imagine how much luggage we had!  It took ages to sort all that out (by sort out, I mean pay for).

I was frazzled before I even got on the flight.

Then Vinay was sick on the plane again.  Just like when we left Lagos for Dubai.  I think I must have been right – it has to be airsickness, even though the doctor said it wasn’t possible.

When we arrived in Lagos, the airport was in complete chaos.  They’re doing some renovations, so all passengers have to walk through departures to get to the arrivals hall.  Is it just me, or isn’t this a huge, HUGE security risk?  The immigration queue was ridiculous – people pushing, shoving and shouting.

Luckily LagosDad arranged for our luggage to be collected and brought home to us.  And thank God he did.  The flight landed at 6 pm and the man called at 9 to say he’d only just collected the last piece.

Of course once we got home I found out that the inverter wasn’t working and that there had barely been any power over the last three weeks.  The batteries on the inverter needed changing, but LagosDad hadn’t sorted it out.  And he still hasn’t.

The generator takes longer and longer to start each time it needs to be switched on, and it makes me so nervous.  If the generator doesn’t work, it’s not like we have the inverter for back up!  The guys are apparently coming to service it tomorrow.

So, basically – we have spend the last four days without power.  No Internet.  No TV.  No music.  Nothing.

The generator comes on at night (after many tries), so that’s ok.  I’m just hoping it lasts the night.

V has been off school from the 25th June.  And he doesn’t go back until 9th September.  Isn’t that a bloody long time?

I put him in summer camp for three weeks (three mornings a week), we spent three weeks in Dubai and now what do I do with him?  The camp he was in is over.  I went to see another playgroup and *hated* it.  The children (about twenty of them) were all in one classroom – ages ranged from eighteen months to four years, and when I went in – they were all doing the same thing!  I was absolutely horrified.

Vinay’s third birthday is in a couple of weeks and his party the week after – I’ve got a lot of organising to do – but haven’t done anything yet.

I’m feeling stressed and wish I’d never come back!