Settling In

I think I’ve settled into life in Kano, but haven’t fully adjusted yet. I go to work in a (company) carpool, so I don’t have to use the keke napeps and be sweaty when I get to the office, and I come back the same way. I’m friends with a couple of expats (one of whom left this past weekend, and that’s sad because he is a fun person, but the silver lining is he’ll send me Shito very soon so yay) and I’ve taken to hanging out at their house whenever I’m not at mine because theirs has basic amenities (such as a dispenser, a couch and dining table, etc) which mine doesn’t have, and they feed me very often so I don’t have to cook.

We (some 3 expats, 2 Nigerians, and I) have gone on a couple of ‘adventurous’ trips to places in Kano. The first was a place called Tiga lake, which is where Kano State has constructed a dam. There’s a hotel on the premises but it’s closed for renovation – and what this means is that there’s currently no place to buy food around. There’s also a lot of cow/horse shit around. Anyway, we got on a speedboat and went around the lake, found a nice, small, picture-friendly rocky island. Then we went ‘hiking’ to the top of the rocky plateau surrounding the lake, took some more pictures and rowed back to ‘shore’. If this was a more sensible country, Tiga Lake would look nice and be made a bit more attractive to tourists, but here we are. It was fun though, and we bought cheap foodstuff (onions, watermelons, etc) on the way back.

The next weekend, we went to a place called Minjibir Resort, which is quite developed (by a private citizen of course) and colorful. There are rooms to sleep (no unmarried couples can be admitted though, and proof of marriage has to be a certificate, not just the ring on your fingers), play areas for children, fancy vintage trains and cars that you can actually ride in, a golf course, a track, bicycles, animals (ostriches, tortoises, parrots, rabbits, ducks, geese), swimming pool (one for men and children to swim in for free; another for women, but that one has to be paid for. It will be aeons before gender equality becomes a thing here, I think). More importantly, they have FOOD. The food options were either fried rice + chicken or chicken + chips, so we ordered and had to wait a long time (they were peeling and cutting the potatoes by hand), but it was delicious when it arrived and did not make me sick, so yay. After eating, we took more pictures and went to ride bikes. The bikes looked good from afar, but upon closer inspection, we found that many of them had flat tires, seats were useless, etc. This poor maintenance culture thing, sigh. They fixed the bikes though, and we rode around the golf course, twice. My thighs were burning the next day 😦

Nigerians can be hellish to live with. [Aside: When I first moved in, there was some excitement about finally having a girl in the flat, because girls are supposed to cook and this girl will cook for them. LOL. I don’t cook often and when I do, I like to share (sometimes), but you opening your mouth to inform me of your expectations only means that when I do cook, I shan’t offer you any.] So, we have stewards who come everyday (including Saturdays, excluding public holidays) to clean up our rooms and the kitchen. They can do your laundry too, for a small fee. I grew up having housekeepers around the house, but we (children) were also made to clean up after ourselves, so forgive me for thinking that’s how everyone else was raised. My flatmates will warm soup and palm oil from the soup will spill and cover the base of the microwave, and they’ll leave it like that and go their merry way. No consideration for whoever might need to use the microwave after them. When I need to use it (because perhaps I need to warm a croissant* and I don’t care to marinate it in ogbono-flavored palm oil before eating it) and I grumble and clean it, you hear comments like “you’re doing the work of the cleaners”. Excuse me, but if you think cleaning up after yourself and being considerate of others is the work of stewards, you’re a fucking idiot. Oh and, I don’t mind people using my stuff, but please clean it up and return it immediately after use because I might want to use it too. It’s part of being considerate, and that’s what I do on the rare occasion that I use people’s stuff. My flatmates and their visitors don’t seem to have gotten this memo though. I’d want to use my tumbler (I have just one) and it’s either missing or dirty. My fork is missing, and it’s just a fork, but this is annoying. I try to ignore these things and not say anything so that I’m not a pain in the ass, but I also feel like I grew up with one set of rules and these people grew up with another and now I don’t know how to adjust. Sigh. I have my own bathroom though, THANK GOD FOR THAT!



*The store near my house makes the best croissants, seriously! I need to buy their baker a drink. They’re are so expensive though, at N400 per croissant 😦

Quick Update

I got the job in Kano, yay! One of the things I remember from before receiving my offer letter is having to negotiate my salary. So, you go to school where they teach you about negotiations and how the outcome of such things is supposed to be a win-win situation for both parties. Well, Nigeria is a jungle so it doesn’t quite work – in the sense that the other party is (or appears to be) trying to get an outcome that’s only favorable to them. Anyway, I got a job. As a UX Designer, which is what I want. Yay.

[Aside: I seem to have gotten interesting UX Design side projects, but getting a project is only half of it. Getting paid is the other (often more uncertain) half, and as I mentioned earlier, Nigeria is a jungle so one has to be careful with ensuring they get paid. My latest method is to bill per project instead of per hour, break projects into phases and send invoices at the end of every phase. There also has to be a 20-50% down payment to begin with. )

I haven’t been around the city much, but I will say that the move here is the easiest I’ve ever done, because I had the space to leave a lot of stuff behind and only carry the most important ones. I didn’t have to struggle too much to close my suitcases – of which there were only 2 – one big, one small. What I saw on the drive from the Kano airport to my house reminded me of Isale Eko (even though I have never been to Isale Eko :/), but with Hausa names on buildings instead of Yoruba ones. The most common public transport mode is keke napep (tricycles), but I don’t like to ride in them that much because they’re so open, Kano is super hot at about 40 degrees (what wouldn’t I give to be in Finland right now?), and dusty too. Abeg.

I live in one of the company apartments, for which I pay N40,000/month. Not bad, considering this covers furnishing, 24/7 power, and fast internet. I’m not complaining at all (okay I’m complaining small, the furnishing leaves something to be desired but I’ve told myself the theme of my room is ‘rustic’, and the furniture matches that aesthetic). Lunch is a pain in the ass for me, because there’s no cafeteria or provision for food at work, the only places I can go without fearing food poisoning are really far, I don’t have a car, and this trip is just generally unproductive. For the most part, I’ve been eating Indomie (made in the microwave by some women at work) but can’t eat it any more because it’s messing with my body (blood pressure is through the roof, stomach is bloated, all sorts of rubbish).

So yeah, blood pressure is a bit problematic and now I have to cut salt/sodium from my diet. Recently discovered a no salt, no msg seasoning blend called Mrs Dash and I don’t know why things like this aren’t commonly found in Nigeria. I need easy, inexpensive access to good, healthy stuff! This coming week, I’m looking into easy, low sodium recipes I can make to take to work.

That’s it for now, cheers to the long weekend!

A 2015 recap of sorts, and other things II

I chronicled the first half of my 2015 here, and it was too long so I decided to post in 2 bits. Here’s the other bit.

Jul – Sept

I moved back with no job in sight but many entrepreneurial ideas (because what else could I really do?). I have friends though, who sent my CV around and about 4 days after I got back, I got a job and my boss is my type of person, and I’m quite well-paid, so yay! My entrepreneurial ideas are now dusty though, but that’s fine for now.

Because I was broke and wasn’t sure where I was going to live when I got back, I made arrangements to go stay with the bf for a while. Even when I got a job, there were some delays with the project I was supposed to handle and I had to work remotely while that got sorted, so I was still living with the bf. That was good for us in a way, because it’s like suddenly being around each other all the time after years of long-distance. It also meant having to fly to Lagos every time either/both of my parents announced their presence, because of course I couldn’t tell them I was perching with the bf, they thought I lived with a friend in Lagos.

Aside: This friend’s house used to be my default place to stay in Lagos but she had gotten tired of the place because it wasn’t in the best location and then some dynamics in the house itself were annoying, so she  moved to a better location with better ‘dynamics’. The only snag was I couldn’t ‘move’ with her. My folks already knew about this friend but at the time I was coming back, I couldn’t tell them she’d moved because then they’d have been extra curious about where I was supposed to be living.

Oct – Dec

I travelled quite some between July and November, but for reasons too long to get into right now, my project got cancelled. So now I was and am still hanging in the balance (because I don’t have a signed contract, only a verbal, good-faith one) but working and getting paid every month.

I interviewed for a UX Design job in Kano though, and I’m hoping that comes through so that I can have a contract and my own house – even though I’m looking at houses in Lagos in case Kano doesn’t pan out. If it does though, I hope my present boss can keep me on as a remote freelancer (i.e. I want to turn his projects into my side hustle) because somehow I’m sure I’d be able to handle the load, as long as I’m still allowed to define the amount and kind of work I want to do. Fingers crossed 🙂

I’m in a pretty good place now, and I’m thankful that things are going relatively okay. I don’t have much money but I’m not destitute and reliant on my folks to subsidize my life. I had 10 goals this year, and I think I accomplished about 5.5 of them. I’m still very thankful, and hopeful for a better 2016.

I’m thankful for my family, and my boyfriend, and friends, and ALL the patience and support I’ve gotten. I’m thankful for safe travels and smooth plane rides (I really hate turbulence and my stomach drops every time there’s a bump). Thankful for relative financial ease in this last quarter, and my mother’s cooking. For good health all-round, and that there were no deaths in my immediate circle this year. For the great things that happened and are happening in the lives of ‘my people’.

In 2016 I’d like to grow as a UX Designer, by taking on more design projects in a structured environment (and I think the Kano job is the perfect avenue for me but let’s see how that goes), and I’d like to try my hand at a new UX-related blog which I’ll talk about if I do. I also want 2016 to be more fun than 2013 was, so I’d like to travel to new places (but also save money and make investments, and I wonder how I’ll pull that one off), meet interesting people, get a car, implement at least one of my entrepreneurial ideas for passive income, and kick ass at my job. Maybe I can also FINALLY learn to play the violin too.

For some inexplicable reason, the phrase “stay hungry, stay foolish” just popped into my head. I’ve just googled and seen that it’s a quote by Steve Jobs, and also the title of a book. Well, I hope that’s what I do in 2016 but not in the literal sense because it’s a very bad idea for one to literally remain without nourishment and/or wisdom.

Happy Holidays! x