Kaleidoscope/The Guest House

I’ve been a Coldplay fan since my undergrad days, and this evening I’ve been listening to their newest album and getting some UX design work done. [It’s interesting that I was struggling with a particularly knotty problem and getting frustrated, but as soon as I put in earphones and started listening, I solved the problem. Heh. Anyway.]

My first favourite song on the album was Adventure of a Lifetime when I listened in December, but now it’s Hymn for the Weekend, followed very closely by Fun. Those are all nice, upbeat songs, but Kaleidoscope caught my attention this evening. It’s pretty much a voice reading some words to a poem by Rumi (a 13th century Persian poet), and a sampling of Barack Obama singing ‘Amazing Grace’ at the end, but today’s listen made me go look for the original poem. Now I want to frame the words and hang on my wall, but which version?

Here’s Coldplay’s version:

Kaleidoscope

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival

A joy, a depression, a meanness
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor

Welcome and entertain them all!
Be grateful for whoever comes
Because each has been sent as a guide

I like that it’s short and simple, and it appears to be a more eloquent version of “everything happens for a reason” [but does it? Does it really? I’ve never been one to be grateful for ALL my struggles, because I’m yet to see the point in any of the things I’ve suffered through. If I’m grateful for anything, it’s for the fact that my struggles so far have been relatively mild e.g. I haven’t lost a family member or limb].

And here’s Rumi’s version:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi’s original poem goes deeper in the exhortation to accept the good and bad with equal enthusiasm, but as a Nigerian who was brought up pentecostal and has been taught to reject and pray against the possibility of shame and sorrow, I don’t know. I mean, I see the point, and I hope that when I’m faced with unpalatable circumstances, I can carry on gracefully (while frantically praying for relief, because how can I not?) But, based on my upbringing, I somehow feel that if I resolve today to meet any future uninvited guests [of sorrow and shame] at the door with a smile, then I’m inviting them into my life sooner than I’d like.

I’m framing Coldplay’s version then. And countering the arrival of shame and sorrow by telling myself positive things everyday -_-

Today is Carnaval/Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday/Laiskiainen, and I miss Terneuzen and the friends I made there. I remember going to a tiny Belgian village one weekend around this period in 2014, for the end of Carnaval. It was SO colorful and fun, and everything. I miss Finland today too, for the sledging.

I made wonderful pancakes earlier this evening and scarfed them along with creamy custard, while watching Along Came A Spider. Pancakes partly to remember my friends and colleagues in Terneuzen [we used to make lots of crepes and sit around watching TV and chatting shit], and partly because Shrove Tuesday is pancake day. I stuffed my face so much, I couldn’t move for like 30 minutes after. Je ne regrette rien.

Still on the topic, what are you giving up for Lent? This year, I’m working on giving up anger, and perhaps this public declaration will serve as an invitation to annoying situations, but I’m hoping that by the end of Easter, I’d be used to dealing with things without getting angry all the time. Here’s to handling things with grace and a smile.

Doei 🙂

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Settling in a new country: Food, Toiletries and Infrastructure

I moved back to Nigeria in July, and I have not been miserable yet. There have been a few frustrations, but for the most part, I’m okay. I suppose that’s a good thing, and I have to credit the positive changes that occurred in Nigeria during my absence AND my good fortune.

Food: When I lived in Nigeria some years ago, I think I used to eat bread for breakfast. Now, I’m older and try to eat healthier, and white bread makes me almost-nauseous. My new breakfast preference is granola, but apparently you can only find granola bars here, not the cereal version. You can find muesli, though (but ewww). I considered – and even attempted – making my own granola but can’t find maple syrup, honey is too sweet for me and I need a better oven. So, for now, I subsist on Kellogg’s Fruit n’ Fiber. It’s fine.
I’ve also been experimenting with all sorts of Nigerian food recipes, and none has gone wrong yet (except my burned granola, of course), so yay! I snack on yoghurt with fruit chunks, like when I lived in Finland – which makes me miss it more, by the way – and groundnuts (Virtues and Vision). Many times, I find cider (Savanna Dry or Stella Artois) when I go to the store, but when I don’t, I have to make do with beer (Heineken). I tried that thing called Star Radler recently, and, no. Just, no. Unfortunate that there isn’t a great wine store that I know of, but I’ll be happiest when I find one!

Toiletries: I’m detailing all this because I remember writing about how, when I move to a new city or country, my default-meter resets and I have to choose my default food combos, toiletries, etc afresh. I still have some cosmetic stuff left over, but I now use black soap (Dudu Osun) to shower. It’s fine because it’s supposedly all-natural, but it doesn’t leave my skin feeling silky smooth like my old default shower gel. Will try other things. Body lotion is the hardest thing to choose, and I currently use a Nivea lotion that claims to give you even skin tone (but we all know this doesn’t happen, at least not with Nivea). I miss my Sanex range. And I use sunscreen when I remember.
Roll-on was not difficult at all to choose, and if there’s one thing I missed about living in Nigeria, it was my easy access to Old Spice. Glad to say I’m back to using that.
One of the things that makes me want to tear my hair out is panty liners. I mean, you try some stuff before you settle on a variant that makes you happy, but in my trials (abroad), none has ever been as appallingly horrible as the box I bought last week. Goodness.

Infrastructure: The one thing that has improved in Nigeria is electricity. It’s almost-nearly constant, and even when it’s not, I have access to an inverter and a generator, both of which ensure that the fan and router never go off. Yay.
Internet access is 24/7, and it’s super fast, but there’s a data cap. That said, I think there’s something wrong with the way my internet juice runs out every month. With all my streaming in Europe, I doubt that I ever went beyond 20Gb/month, but now, I blink and 50Gb is gone. I don’t stream movies any more, so how on earth? Also, internet access is ridiculously expensive – I pay ~€180 for 50Gb – and sometimes, it gets spotty or even non-existent, supposedly because of some base station problem, then I have to call customer service but it’s almost-okay because calling my ISP is toll-free.
I can do pretty much all transactions without having to leave my house or touch cash now, and that’s very nice because I don’t like going anywhere or touching cash. Except when I try to make a payment and it doesn’t go through but the money leaves my account anyway, and then I have to go to the bank. FFS.
Spotify works for me here, as long as I use it in the browser – or rather, it was working and now it doesn’t work anymore. I currently own an Apple device though, so I can switch to Apple Music; and I think I’d be willing to pay the required €4.99/month when my trial runs out, but let’s see how that goes. Finally, I think Uber is one of the top 5 best things to happen to Lagos, Nigeria. I hope they branch out to Abuja and PH soon.

All in all, apart from the tiny frustrations which can add up to become really annoying and rob me of my peace of mind, I think I’m okay.

Happy end-of-September, good luck with next month!

À tout!

A Collection Of Random Stuff Which, By Themselves, Are Too Brief To Be Considered Blog Posts III

  1. These days, I’ve been going through a … situationship. This situationship is a combination of about 3 different rubbish things. And I only mention it because not only does it suck, but my hands are also tied and I can’t do anything about it. Normally, there are things to be done about things like this, but I have already tried them and they’re not working. So I’m in limbo. Also sad, and apprehensive. I tell myself I should be baseline happy because I’m alive, and perhaps this face I’ve got on is my baseline-happiness-face. It doesn’t look *that* happy, though. I’m not American, but Thanksgiving was two days ago and many people who have appropriated <is that the right word?> this culture took to Twitter to say the things they were thankful for. Well, I’m thankful for life, for the fact that my family is alive and healthy, for constant electricity and for the fact that I currently live in a society where things just work. I will admit that it is a bit hard for me right now, to take my eyes off my problems (if only they’d get out of my face!) and concentrate on what good there is. But I am and will keep trying. You know how they say, that when you’re sad, you should go do what always makes you feel better/happy? I have no such activity or place or person or whatever. I do have lots of nice memories, but I need something to actually do. Meh. (Actually, I have something, but it’s a bit of an expensive activity, so, yeah.)
  2. Am I the only one who tries to read many books at the same time? That’s what I’m doing. I’ve got bookmarks in at least 7 books – one of which I’ve been struggling to finish since the summer of 2013. It’s supposed to be a Finnish classic and everyone knows how much I love Finland, that’s why I’ve been trying – as opposed to just dumping the book, as I did with Catcher in the Rye. It’s not that it’s boring as such, it’s just, it tells the story of people living a normal summer life interspersed with some high points here and there, and seemingly leading nowhere. Much like normal life. But the books I’ve read so far have always had climaxes, they’re never really about ‘normal’ life. I mean, my life is normal enough, and I suppose it’s a bit interesting to see what other people’s ‘normal’ summers look like, but for me, that really only works in real life. Not books. I’ll try again next year.
  3. About my nutrition: One of the best things about living alone and not being responsible for whether another person eats or not, is the fact that if you’re like me, you’re quite content with eating the same thing every day. I eat one mandarin and a bowl of oats for breakfast every single morning; brown bread, ham, cheese and milk for lunch, and then dinner varies. Dinner varies because sometimes I’m in this phase where I eat (baked) fries and chicken and veggies for weeks on end, then maybe I go into the phase where I eat fried rice for a bit. The fried rice phase isn’t sustainable though, because of all the vegetable-chopping involved. Sometimes it’s the spaghetti phase. Recently, it’s been the coconut rice phase. I got invited to a potluck thing and I decided to make coconut rice which turned out awesome, and it wasn’t that hard to make either. Bingo. Earlier this week, I made stew (after not making any in 1-2 years), and it was great. It was supposed to last me till maybe the end of next week, and this was going to be the rice/beans/anything + stew phase. Then this morning, while warming, I forgot it on the cooker, and it burnt. (Why I did not just put the darned thing in the fridge in the first instance, is what I don’t understand.) Anyway, this laziness is why I know I can never go back to living with family again, till I get married. No sir. This life, is *the* life.  An advantage of this sort of thing is, if you do it with enough dishes, you get very good at making them, and after the first two times you don’t have to have your computer with you in the kitchen, for recipes.
  4. About my hair: You can stop reading if your hair doesn’t look like one of these. Living with my kind of hair is, at the very least, an exercise in patience, but I have somehow learned how to get away with doing the least, by making compromises. I know that if I don’t stretch the hair by putting it in twists, braids, etc, then I am going to have knots and balls. I have accepted that. I’m not about to struggle to braid/twist my hair every night. I have also accepted that my hair will never meet my standards of neatness, and to compensate for this, I ensure that I tease it into a nice round shape, rather than let it look flat or otherwise uneven on one or more sides (as can be seen in the 4c photo in the link above). I can’t avoid detangling, because of course, I let my hair ‘roam free’ so there are more knots and balls than I care for. I hope though, that at some point in the future, someone comes up with a healthy product that really detangles your hair without additional need for fingers or a comb. I’ve accepted that I am very unlikely to ever be an experimenter with styles. I could use a bow here or a band there (on special occasions only), but I won’t ever be that person who does ‘30 days of different styles’. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Have a great weekend, à tout!

My Christmas

I’m in the UK on holiday. How’s that going? For starters, I should say I’m very glad my flight wasn’t delayed because of the storms the UK has been experiencing. Then I’ve been fighting a war between being lazy and wanting to try my hand at making new food. Note that ‘new food’ does not include anything fancy, like those exotic salads. I did entertain the thought briefly, but laziness won. By ‘new food’, I mean things I’m sure everyone else knows how to make, which I’ve never tried, like meat pies. Or Egusi soup.
On Christmas day, I went to church. That was really nice, it reminded me of my church in France. It wasn’t as traditional as I expected, but most churches are evolving anyway, and perhaps traditional behavior is now reserved for churches like The Eliza’s Queen’s. Got bad news about a job a couple of days ago. Ugh. I really need a break on that front. Went shopping on Boxing Day, but mostly for the boyfriend. Not much for me, because, low-cost airline baggage restrictions. Oh and a bit of ‘brokeness’ too (remember I went to Berlin last week? That cost money, not tree leaves).
The weather has been really good in my part of the UK, I must say. I mean, UK weather is supposedly always horrible, especially in winter, and I heard/read this winter has been predicted to be the worst in…was it 100 years? Maybe that sort of bad weather behavior will begin in January/February. Oh and in the news this morning, there were reports of a fire on a ferry on its way to Amsterdam, from somewhere in the UK. Tyne, I think it was. They were just 30 miles off the coast though, and they managed to get back to safety on land. However, I’m just remembering all the times I’ve been on ferries this year…what if… Hmm.
My face has been reacting to something, and unfortunately I can’t remedy it till I get home, I think. Maybe I’ll put some milk on it to soothe it in the mean time. (Oh look at me, washing in milk like royalty. LOL.) Well, right now I’m sprawled in front of the TV, nursing an upset stomach and watching Titanic for the first time ever. I’ve just seen the part where the ship hit the iceberg. Oh dear.

Week 3

Monday: No lectures, yay! Well, I have an assignment to submit tomorrow, and a 5-10 page paper to write and submit by Thursday. This place isn’t even half as easy as France was, and France wasn’t easy at all. It’s like I’m studying for a PhD, rather than an MSc. Oh well.

This evening, I have a get together to attend, for Information Systems students in my city. This turns out to be my best night since I got here. I know this doesn’t say much for my social life, but whatever. Basically, it is a house party with nice background music, games, drinks and little bits to nibble on. That’s my definition of fun. I don’t like parties with loud music (that I cannot dance to) and strobe lights and things. Miss me with that, unless you’re a dear friend. Well, I won a game of Kimble, and I got a Max Payne tee, yay!!

Saturday: My room is pretty warm , but the temperature outside, LoL. I have included a screenshot from my phone. Oh and it’s in Celsius/centigrade, not Fahrenheit. I have quite a number of assignments to complete before the weekend runs out, but the internet is too full of more interesting things than what I actually have to do. It’s true what that meme says, that when you’re supposed to b studying, even the wall becomes more interesting than your books. Sigh. I’ve started cooking anyway, and it’s going pretty well! Yay me 🙂

Sunday: The events of today have been quite annoying, if I must say. 1st, I was supposed to either go hiking or sledding, but then due to logistic failures and things, I couldn’t go for anyone. 2nd, the WiFi toggle on my phone has been misbehaving for quite some time; for instance, when I leave my room where I’m connected to the internet, it drops the connection in realtime, but on the phone, it doesn’t show that I have disconnected. That way, by the time I get to, say, school (which is 15 minutes away, so there’s no way my tiny router can reach that far), it doesn’t pick up on the new connection that is there, hence it cannot connect to the hotspot. Such things shouldn’t happen, but when they do, you’re supposed to turn off your WiFi thing and turn it back on. Now, like I mentioned earlier, my WiFi toggle stopped working (probably a new firmware problem, or some sort of bug), so every single time I moved to a new place (again, say, from school to my house), I would have to restart my phone. I got tired and decided to do something about it, so I ‘repaired’ it. There’s a repair option in the console for my phone on my computer. I got a warning that some things would be wiped out, blah blah blah, I backed up the relevant stuff and everything, and then when I was done with the repair, I saw that all my apps had been wiped out, except Whatsapp. Weird, no? Anyway, I went and opened Whatsapp immediately, to see if all was still the same. Nope, it wasn’t. I had to sign in afresh, as if I was using it for the first time. No biggie, I used my Finnish number, and they sent the activation thing and all was fine. I sent my contacts a message explaining stuff, and then all of a sudden, in the middle of one of my chats, I got a message saying Whatsapp needed to re-verify, that I should re-enter my phone number. I did, and they said “your number xxxx is no longer allowed to use our service”. Let’s not burst into expletives, shall we? Good. I calmly tried again, uninstalled and re-installed, to no avail. I put my French SIM into my (now defunct) blackberry, and tried to use that number, but there was no money on the sim, and when you’re roaming, you have to pay to receive texts or calls and things like that. Since I’m attempting to use a French sim in Finland, I am roaming. Eventually, I had to put some credit units into the sim, for Whatsapp to be able to do their verification. Was this annoying? No. It was infuriating. On the bright side, out of 4 papers that I have to write, I’ve completed 2, the 3rd is halfway done, but the 4th, sigh. It will be done though. Still on the bright side, my folks are sending me stuff to cook soup with this week, yay!!!!

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Week 14

Monday: Marketing exam. This one actually went well, I think.*

During the exam, I spent quite some time writing my draft (I have no idea why I have this habit, seeing as it is time wasting. But I can’t imagine writing directly on my answer sheet, without first working out any kinks that may be present in my answers. If I do, my entire sheet would be a hot mess).

After writing the draft, I began transferring the answers to the main answer sheet, and I had only used about 1 of 4 pages when I heard people requesting extra answer sheets. I was shocked, to say the least, and I started doubting myself. Like aix|en, are you sure you’re writing the correct thing? About 5 people had requested extra sheets by this time. Well, I didn’t have time to ponder too much on whether or not I was writing the correct thing(s), because time was running out very fast. At the end of my entire writing, I had used 2.5 of 4 pages. Note that my handwriting is tiny, but I make it large when I’m writing exams.

Anyway, 10 pages or 2 pages, the entire thing is to score an A.

Tuesday: MIS (aka pseudo-programming) exam. I have no idea how this exam went, or if I will have an A. This is one of those courses where it doesn’t matter that your lecturer told you where to read, and how to answer his questions. It really doesn’t. I thought I was the only one in this predicament, but when I heard my unvoiced despair echoed by everyone after the exam, I knew I wasn’t. I will cross my fingers and see what this brings. I’m glad it’s over though, and I’m glad I had such a helpful lecturer.

After the exam, I went to do some light shopping for household items. I have to be careful what I buy these days, because I’m moving soon and I don’t want to have to lug unfinished FMCG-category stuff around. I don’t even think I’m buying food anymore. I forgot to pay for my bus pass though, and I feel guilty. I had proudly said I wouldn’t pay for December, but I would feel too too dishonest if I don’t. Ugh.

I found the French word for that thing I called puff puff in my last post, it’s Croustillon, and here’s a picture

On my way back, I saw the most amazing scene, just there on display, no one attending. I couldn’t capture everything with my camera, but it’s just like something I saw in the museum at Monaco, only that this is more Christmas-y, and alive. Like the mill is moving, and water is actually flowing. It’s basically a village scene, set in medieval (I think) times. Beautiful stuff.

Last week in class, the MIS lecturer reminded me of a French song I learned as a kid, called ‘Dominique’** by the Belgian singing nun, Jeanine Deckers (Soeur Sourire). Listen, you might like it.

Dominique

Wednesday: Nothing other than an evening French class today. I think I will go to Oppidum d’Entremont, if the weather is fine.

I want to go to Strasbourg. It’s a German town in France, and I hear their Christmas markets are lovely. Of course, there are other wonderful Christmas markets around me, but I just want to go to Strasbourg. I also want to go to Parc National des Calanques, in Marseille. That’s a more immediately-achievable wish, so I shall do just that.

There’s a tour trip to Avignon this weekend, I think I’ll go. It appears I just want to visit everywhere in Southern Europe before I leave for the North, LoL. It’s logistically impossible though, so I shall content myself with the towns around me, and Italy.

Thursday: I go to class this morning, but then I leave after I find out that there’s no lecture, it’s just a series of presentations, and my own presentation is supposed to hold tomorrow. May as well get ready for that, plus I’m sleepy. I decide to stop at Oppidum d’Entremont, and well, what I see is quite interesting. I just try to imagine the Romans leaving their land (about 2 hours away by plane), and coming here to settle down. Like how long would it have taken them to ride their horses and/or chariots to somewhere so far, and even then, how did they know where to settle, and where not to? Why there? Yes, the Romans came to this town because of water, but I mean, assuming they didn’t find water here, would they have continued moving until they did? Perhaps they would have gotten to Africa? How come their food and other supplies didn’t run out on the way? Okay they must have killed animals and roasted, and also eaten fruits and stuff. Water nko? What if they hadn’t found water here? Because, I mean, how much water could you possibly carry with you on a journey whose duration you’re not sure of? Too many questions.

Anyway, I go about my business, and then I go back to school at 4pm, for a meeting. This meeting is a dance rehearsal, for tomorrow. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case I haven’t, tomorrow is the second Intercultural Day at my school, and this time the French cook for us, while we sing and/or dance for them, or put on any other show we like. Yes, so the Africans are dancing to Oliver Twist, Kukere, and Kuduro. Nice abi? No, not for me. You see, I have the proverbial ‘two left feet’, and a preponderance of self control. Terrible combination, but I do not want to look like the jerk who doesn’t ever participate in anything, so I will dance. Or move like a robot, whatever.

Friday: I have 2 reports to submit today, and a presentation. I’m happy we’re coming to the end of all these things, but then it will all begin afresh in January. -sigh-

I wake up feeling sick though, like really terrible. I try to go back to bed, to sleep it off, but nothing changes, so I try to go about my normal business, still no change. It suddenly occurs to me that my body might be revolting because I didn’t eat properly yesterday. I mean, I ate 3 times, but apparently I didn’t get enough nutrition or something. So apparently, my body cannot even support me if I decide to go on a fast of any sort. I find myself getting better with every bite of food I take, which is a relief, because I have too many things lined up for today.

The Intercultural Day goes extremely well, the Indians have something to present, the Vietnamese and Indonesians too, a Vietnamese girl dances to the popular ‘Gangnam Style’ (the crowd goes crazy with that), the Chinese sing a song, and EVERYONE loves our dance. Like, at the end, we call people to come and dance with us to the Kuduro, and the response is too amazing (I had imagined that only like 4 people would come, but no. Here we are, fighting for space on the dance floor).

After the show, we eat. The French students have prepared food and drinks from their different regions. Amazing stuff, and now I can say French cuisine isn’t as terrible as what I’ve been eating has led me to conclude. I taste and taste and taste, and drink and drink and drink, till I am way too full (shey my body wants food, let’s stuff it). And then it is time to go home, but the last bus has gone. Of course, we wait a while before we discover this, and then we have to walk back to school, and seeing as I don’t have any friend who has a car, well, I am quite worried. But then, a kind American-French-Chilean soul decides to give us a ride, and other people do the same. This dude is really nice and funny and well travelled, he’s a lecturer at the school (why don’t I have such lecturers abeg?)…and his daughter is too cute and precocious. He actually made jollof rice for the Festival at school, and it tasted good!  They call it another name though, but I didn’t quite catch it. Starts with a ‘j’ as well.

This time around, cheers to the friggin’  -raises glass of punch- weekend!!!

* I say ‘I think’ because with business-related courses, there really is no way of being 100% sure, until you get your results. Not like engineering where you mostly just have to know and apply formulae.

** Apparently, this song was used as a sound track in American Horror Story: Asylum, so it might bring back scary memories if you’ve seen the series. I don’t do horror, so I’m blissfully ignorant 🙂

PS: We hit zero degrees Celsius today. It snowed too. It was more like frozen rain, but whatever. The ground looked like someone poured silica gel all over, and people were just trying to slide on the road. One guy fell though, poor dude. Of course I stopped trying to join and slide after I saw him fall, I’m not looking to break my bones or laptop or watch, thanks.

PPS: Sorry there are no pictures of the food, I was too busy eating, and my hands were too full.

 

Pictures of the scene I talked about earlier

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Pictures of Oppidum
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Saw this tower and wondered why I’ve never come to explore it
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Week 10

Monday: Still on holiday, tomorrow’s supposed to be free too. Until I open the calendar and find that someone has inserted a 6-hour class. Dear Lord, why? I’m not being lazy, I have loads of work to catch up on, and this holiday was just what I needed. Oh well…guess I have to spend the rest of the day catching up for the class tomorrow. Nothing more. Exams are coming, hmm.

I have come to terms with the fact that I’m no longer in CU, where my friends used to download series and movies and pass on to me, neither am I at work, where my boss used to download for us both. Hence, today, I have decided to begin to download by myself, I’m amazed at how easy it is. Awesome stuff.

Err…these guys haven’t collected their internet money for last month, I wonder what’s going on. And they haven’t disconnected me either. Alright then.

Tuesday: Class. I don’t appreciate hauling my laptop to anywhere, but I always have to, for this class. Because it’s a programming class disguised to look like an MIS class…not that my laptop is that heavy, I made sure I bought a lightweight one. I just pity the members of my class who have mini BatMobiles as laptops.

I’m happy that these days, I’m better adjusted. I now eat only fries at the school cafeteria, then I get home and eat awesome meals. Those my old spices were making me doubt my cooking skills, like at some point I had to ask myself; “madam, is it that you don’t know how to make spaghetti anymore?” smh. Thank God for Knorr and Ducros, and Vegetable oil. Speaking of spices, I had to think back, and I now remember that all my terrible spices and oil and rice, were bought on the same day, in the same section of Carrefour. That section is called ‘Bio’. Basically for ‘healthy food’, because one time I had yoghurt with the same label at school, and it tasted yucky. Of course, these days, whenever one sees any product labeled ‘Bio’, one turns and walks in the opposite direction, into the loving arms of pain au chocolat, Rice Krispies, McVities, waffles, etc. Speaking of Rice Krispies, the stores around the city centre don’t have it, but they have all other Kellog’s cereals. One has to travel a long distance to Carrefour, in order to buy simple Rice Krispies. Shame.

Wednesday: Class again, same Programming lecture, but for 3 hours only. I sent a mail to the Finnish Embassy in Paris, asking them if I could come on a certain date, and then I called and they said yes. They actually replied my mail first, I just didn’t check. Anyway, time to book train ticket, wahala. This particular train company has the cheapest tickets, but the prices keep going up. Yesterday, it was 105, now its 113. My card keeps getting declined, and I can’t use my Nigerian bank card because it won’t disburse money to whoever you’re trying to pay, unless a pin is entered. These guys don’t ask for your pin here (very strange, no?)

I have a French class in the afternoon, my French teacher’s name is very funny, because he looks like his name (hint: its Italian). Apparently girls always make remarks about his good looks, I hope he’s married. Obviously, some don’t, but I doubt that they’d be getting the desire of their hearts any time soon. I’m talking too much, let me shut up now.  I learnt during the class, that in France, kissing someone (on the cheek) is normal (as I have already noticed, no doubt), but if you proceed to hug the person, then it becomes more intimate. Apparently hugs are reserved for family, close friends and significant others. I better not hug a guy and plant ideas that I wouldn’t appreciate. So, about my train ticket, I try again during the French class, and the price has gone up to 120 Euros. Who are these people trying to dish heart attack for? Yes, the card gets declined again. I’m too sure there’s money on that card, unless there’s some fraud going on.

After class, I go to the bank and the lady I speak to tells me that my Compte de Cheques accounts is overdrawn, that the money I think I have is in my Livret A account. Please, my people, what the heck does this mean? I opened an account in the bank, only one account oh, so whenever I put money, it shouldn’t be separated into anywhere now, abi am I a bush girl? Anyway, the lady said when I get home, I should log on to my account on the internet, and transfer the money. Fine, I do just that, only that I try to pay for the ticket again, and it still doesn’t work. I leave it and go to bed, I’m tired.

Thursday: No class, but like I mentioned yesterday, train ticket prices are going up, the more we approach the date I’m supposed to travel. I contact Customer Care on chat, and I’ll spare you the details, but my card has been blocked because I transferred money to it without disabling it 1st. I will also likely have to wait till Monday, according to them. Please raise your hands if that makes sense to you. No one? No? Okay then. First, I couldn’t use the card online because it was overdrawn or something (meanwhile, there was CLEARLY money in the account, so I still don’t understand), now I’ve transferred money to it, even though I still don’t understand, yet I still can’t use the card. I’m supposed to contact my Accounts Officer, and she’s the only one who can rectify this issue. I sent her an email (about 6 hours ago), to which she hasn’t responded. I can’t call her, because I tried to recharge my phone online and of course, the card was declined again….and this is not Nigeria where you have people selling such everywhere you turn.

Now, after all this my story, you will agree that I have to have a ‘chat’ with this elusive accounts officer tomorrow, yes? Will let you know how it goes. Oh and in the midst of all this brouhaha, I discovered that my 47 Euros hasn’t actually entered my account. The woman was just punching numbers, it seems. Probably playing solitaire while enthusiastically assuring me that I’m all good.

About CAF, you remember that right? I got letters in the mail containing my number and security code, to access my account. When I tried to do that though, I got a mail saying that I can’t access the account yet, that I need to haul my ass to the CAF office. I went there today and of course, I got lost in the process, not my fault though – they gave the wrong address L. Now, I have this friend who had to go to the CAF office too, and according to her, they kept tossing her up and down, asking for this paper and that paper she had to go 5 times. The 5th time, she went ballistic on them and then they finally relented and did what she wanted. Anyway, so I prayed my case wouldn’t be that way, because I don’t even speak French, how can you rant when the person on the receiving end doesn’t understand you?

When I got there, it turned out there was a form my landlords (CROUS), in this case, are supposed to fill, but haven’t. Of course, they wouldn’t tell me this on the CAF website, because the French love bureaucracy. Anyway, I collected the form and left, I’ll give them to fill on Monday. Hopefully, no one will ask me for any more papers, because that’s what they kept doing to my friend.

Went to buy food afterwards, I’m amazed at the way I consume food. And I wonder how much I will lament when I have kids. Anyway, since it appears one can’t eat Rice Krispies unless one goes on a 30 minute journey to Carrefour, I settle for Nesquik, let’s hope its nice.

I finally used a classmate’s card to pay for my train tickets, and then I gave her cash…can’t wait till Monday.

Friday: Finally got an email from my bank advisor, saying she has reactivated my card. Probably because yesterday, while I was talking to the customer service people, I told them I was going to come today to have a serious ‘conversation’ with them. Scraps. I even talked to some of my classmates (all from different countries) about this system, and they said no, that in their respective countries, you have only one account, nothing is separated. So I’m not delusional afterall.

You guys know Monty Python? No? Well then, did you watch the Olympics Closing Ceremony? I like the ‘Always look on the bright side’ song, I think it’s cute. Or quirky, whatever. If you want to watch, click.

I hope I can get quality work done this weekend, because there’s a lot to do, but the internet is very attractive, if you know what I mean. On that note, cheers to the friggin’ weekend!

 

PS: I am aware that my writing has become haphazard, pardon me. I will do better.