16 June 2009

10 things I never imagined I would do - Part 1

Living in a new environment requires some form of adaptation to the culture, the people, the lingo and the general way of life.  Listed below are some of the things I now do which were alien to me about a year and half ago. Some of them, I never imagined I would do, not because they are necessarily bad or particularly mind-blowing, but because they were things that just didn’t cross my mind a few months ago. Some of them are choices I now make; others are opportunities I am taking. Some are good, some I am ashamed to admit, and some are simply neutral. The important issue is they are new things happening only because I changed my location from England to the United States of Nigeria.

1. Carrying a mobile phone – I had resisted carrying a mobile phone for over a decade.  It was my way of avoiding the relentless pressure of the different hats I wore in England. My take was that I could be reached at home and at work, I therefore wanted the privilege of the freedom in between both locations.  I must also say that it was easier for me to do this for several reasons, chief of which was that my work was less than a pebble’s throw from home. Those who felt it was ridiculous that I did not own a mobile phone and wanted me to carry one tried all kinds of intrigues including giving it as a present, asking those who are close to me for my private number, adopting psychological tactics etc. They did not realise that the only reason I did not carry one was because I wanted to manage the unnecessary pressure to which we are exposed in this age of technology and unreasoning and I felt that one way of doing so was avoiding a mobile phone.  

However, now that I live in Nigeria, I have found that carrying a mobile phone is a necessity.  I do not only carry one, I occasionally have to carry two because a service provider might decide to take a holiday on you without warning.  Am I feeling the pressure?  Hmmm

2. Storing fuel at home – In the past I used to condemn those who store fuel at home as people who were raving mad. Or how would anyone in their right mind store petrol, a highly inflammable fuel at home given its attendant safety issues? Nowadays, I have eaten my words and I reluctantly have to store petrol and diesel because you need them for generating electricity and also for your vehicle.  I have realised that this is the most convenient way to ensure life goes on without serious disruptions given the epileptic power supply and regular fuel scarcity. 

Although petrol has not contained its uncontrollable and temperamental appetite for catching fire, I must say I no longer think those who store petrol at home are raving mad.  Or is it that I have joined the mad crew? Hmmm. 

3. Taking regular cold showers – What do you expect? Nigeria is a few degrees north of the Equator so it’s summer almost all the year round.  Although I take the odd warm shower, you need a cold shower to be able to have a smooth and relaxed sleep at night, neighbourhood generators permitting.  I must say that this is one of the things I look forward to morning and evening.  In any event, I have always enjoyed standing in the shower as I get a lot of inspiration when I do.  It's interesting that cold showers and England don’t go together even at summer time, at least for me.  Hmmm. 

4. Raising my voice – I have to admit that I now do the occasional raising of my voice for which I am ashamed. Raising my voice at people was not one of the things I thought I was capable of doing. I have no excuse for this and I wouldn’t want to say it’s the people that made me do it.  However, before I am inundated with anger management experts offering their services, Iet me state that I have decided to politely walk away from workmen who deliberately do shoddy work knowing that all they have to do is 'say sorry', never mind the cost of fixing the mess they created.  I also now shut my eyes to people who drive as if they are possessed. I know it is difficult not to be frustrated by the myriad of issues in Nigeria, but it is my intention not to become what I shouldn’t.  Hmmm. 

5. Brushing my teeth with bottled water – This is more of a survival measure rather than an attempt to appear posh.  In my view, the cost of getting bottled water to brush my teeth is cheaper than the potential cost of typhoid. I have also derived a method of using water so judiciously well that a bottle could last for several days.  I did not start this way; I was content with the borehole water until I had a rethink after an incident which I guess I will leave for another time.   Hmmmmmmm! 

Watch out for Part 2!