Monday, December 31, 2012

Tabula Rasa

It’s that time of the year when resolutions are being written and rewritten and the air is filled with so much hope and dreams of new beginnings. Yes, it is New Year’s Eve again, and depending on where you are you may have rung in the New Year, so Happy New Year to you!

As it’s the last day of the year, I've been pondering all day what my last blog entry for the year should be, and since I’m not a fan of resolutions, I knew I wasn't going to be writing those down. In my world, there’s no point waiting for a new year to roll around before making a commitment. Plus, I must confess, I never get around to keeping them anyway. So after much thought and self-reflection, I've decided to pen a little note that is part prayer, part advice and part wish.

My wish for 2013 is that we all have an open mind to new experiences and the unconventional, and maybe, just maybe accept that our perceptions or ways of thinking may have been wrong all along. As the saying goes, “minds are like parachutes and only function when they’re open”, so open those minds up and experience life in all its splendor and mysteries.

From the plains of the Serengeti to the peak of the Himalayas, I pray that there will be an end to the ongoing conflicts and brutality exacted by man. In addition, I pray Mother Nature will be kinder to us earthlings in 2013. Enough with the theatrics with the floods and extreme weather please! That being said, I’m pretty certain my prayer fell on deaf ears because we humans are still bent on desecrating Nature. Still, I figured it wouldn't hurt throwing in a plea for mankind.

Let’s all show a little more gratitude and kindness this coming year. Life really is short, so as long as you can still draw a breath thank God. Be grateful for what you have, and remember to show thankful recognition to a friend, the doorman, a neighbor, or family member when they do something nice for you. Again, I repeat, life really is short.

Please learn to forgive yourself. Yes, you committed the unimaginable. Yes, you said the most horrible of things the other day, but who hasn't? You’ll be kinder to yourself and to the world if you accepted that it’s only human to screw up one too many times. So make the necessary restitution and let it go. After all, making a mistake is all part of living life. And still on the subject of forgiveness, let’s drop the grudges we have with one another, shall we? I promise we’ll all be a pound lighter and much happier if we put all that righteous indignation behind us and moved on.

Lastly, it’s my hope that in 2013, we will all strive to accomplish our goals and dreams for our lives or at least be on the path to accomplishing them. Let’s summon the courage to fight the inertia of fear that has long prevented us from being fulfilled in life. Let’s say to Courage, “Here I am.”

Happy 2013!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Two Years Later...

Returned to Nigeria 11 months ago after two years in absentia, and not much has changed – not that I expected it to, although a part of me hoped for some improvement.

My first Nigerian experience after so long was on the plane from Dubai. The young lady sitting next to me found it so taxing to say ‘thank you’ after being served by the air hostesses, even though she’d heard me say ‘thank you and yes, please’ on several occasions. I suppose she thought, ‘Hey, it’s their job so why should I say thanks?’ Well, how about a little courtesy and a show of gratitude? It wouldn’t hurt now, would it?

Meanwhile, somewhere in the next aisle was a truculent man who had been asked nicely by the air hostess to pull his seat to the upright position before take-off. He attempted to do so half-heartedly and proceeded to go back to sleep. After she had asked him to pull up his seat a second time, she went on to get it done herself because he’d ignored her.

Someone needs to inform Mr. Anonymous that there are safety procedures that need to be followed especially during take-off and landing, so when an air hostess/host asks him to pull up his seat, they aren't doing so just for kicks.

Another trait I noticed Nigerians have stubbornly refused to shake off is their inability to obey instructions. Shortly before landing in Lagos, the pilot announced passengers shouldn’t stand until the plane had come to a final stop and the seat belt signs were turned off.

Strangely enough, the announcement was forgotten instantly, because two minutes later, as soon as the plane touched down, people started getting up and opening the over-head lockers!! Was there something in the recycled cabin air that made virtually everyone forget the instructions? It was mind-boggling and embarrassing to watch Nigerians being impatient and overly excited about nothing. Needless to say, a flight attendant had to reiterate the pilot’s instruction before everyone came back to their senses and sat down - so much for re-branding Nigeria.

Upon deplaning, I was hit by the warm, muggy air as I proceeded through endless, long corridors to customs. As a fairly active person, I'm not one to seek out escalators, however on this particular day I made an exception as I was sweating, in pain, and irritable from the oppressive heat. However, there were none in sight, and to make matters worse, I had to climb down the crowded stairs at a snail’s pace to get to immigration.

Need I say that Murtala Muhammed Airport is in dire need of revamping and updating; it is a shameful eye sore. 

If the airport and the ride home weren’t enough to convince me I was back in Nigeria, coming back home to no power did it for me. For reasons unknown to me, Nigeria has not found a solution for the epileptic power supply, which I suspect isn’t difficult to resolve. Evidently, the powers that be, short-sighted as they are, have decided to remain oblivious to the benefits of constant power supply to the economy and lives of ordinary Nigerians.

Am I glad to be home after being away for two years? Yes, I am. Am I disappointed that in the two years I've been gone there has been no significant progress made? Double yes.

Re-branding Nigeria is more than saying those words. It requires us shaking off our old ways of acting and doing thing. If we don’t change our bad habits, re-branding Nigeria is going to remain as real a notion as the cow jumping over the moon.

PS: As for the excruciatingly slow internet connection I am trying to come to grips with, only Heaven can bestow the patience I need to stop me from pulling my hair out.