Sunday, 17 August 2014

30.


On this, the morning of my 30th birthday, I feel the urge to write something on this blog which is after-all a journal of sorts. I want to be able to look back a few years from now, to be able know how I felt, what I was thinking about, dreaming of and hoping for, at this exact moment.

30 is an especially poignant age for me, not least because I never thought I would attain this age due to the many events that happened in my childhood and early adulthood. Still, here I am. Alive, happy, successful, with a future full of possibilities and on the cusp of an exciting change....

To whomever is responsible, I truly am grateful. Thank you.

Eight Months Later


It’s been almost nine months since my last post, and to be honest I thought about abandoning the blog, but the combination of Timi leaving a comment, and it being the auspicious occasion of my 30th...well here I am again.

So what have I been up to since November 2013? Well in no particular order,


  • I chopped off all my hair, going from mid-back (stretched) to close-cropped.
  • I changed jobs. Twice. Once, because I got fed of commuting for over two hours each day, and the second time because I just couldn’t deal with the horrible atmosphere at the first job where I lasted only 3months.
  • I made lots of progress with my Italian. I go to the cinema/watch TV/listen to radio and can largely understand what is being said. I’ve also read my first two books entirely in Italian and have another two waiting to be read (one an early present, from Lulu my dear Italian friend).
  • I went to Brussels, and back to Bruges, with a friend in May. Then about 2weeks ago, went to Belgium for a staycation with the boyfriend, fitting in one day at the zoo (first time at a European zoo!) and one at the beach.
  • The boyfriend, who’s actually neither Kenyan nor called Hussien, ;) moved to Belgium last December for about 8months, which meant A LOT of travelling. Luckily my current job is flexible enough that I was basically able to live/shuffle between the two countries. Now he’s moving again, to Austria, which sadly means more "long-distancing," but more positively also means we can discover at least some of the eight bordering countries. 
  • I signed up for Instagram, in anticipation of all the travelling and new experiences I see in my future :)
  • My sisters decided to leave Paris this summer. The younger one is done with her gap year and will be leaving in 10days to take up her place at uni, while the older one, fed up of the city after about 5years has decided she wants to go home after her masters in September. I’ve decided I don’t want to be left behind, so I too am planning a move to Brussels for work and possibly further studies. Obviously lots of life changes and upheavals going on at the moment, especially since I have to look for a new job/flat/community etcetera. Luckily Belgian nurses’ registration is a relatively simple, if protracted process... Anyway this means that only 4years after graduating from uni, I am now a quadrilingual/tri-nationally registered (British-French-Belgian) nurse!
  • And well I turned 30 today. Happy birthday me ;)

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Travels

The last time I blogged before my long break, I talked about going to Nigeria, Turkey and Belgium.  So anyways this is what I’ve been up to this year, travel-wise…

I basically visited 3 countries over a four week period between April and May, starting with Nigeria where I went for my friend Dayo’s wedding. This was only my second time of attending a Nigerian wedding as an adult, and my first time of being involved in the process (I was the chief bridesmaid). The whole thing took place over three celebration-filled days and it was crazy! There were hundreds of people, tons of food and I discovered/learnt about so many new (to me) Nigerian traditions. The traditional marriage/engagement ceremony took place on the Friday, the church wedding on Saturday and the thanksgiving on the Sunday. Friday was really a hard day for me, because I was so busy that I didn’t have the time to eat, and I felt completely overwhelmed with the crowd of people, the noise and the general ambiance. At one point during the day I even broke down in tears, because in addition to the stress, I was helpfully shouted at a few times, because they felt I was inept as a bridesmaid. At almost 30years old, I had never been to such a ceremony and had certainly never participated, so I had no clue! 

Still, so many great memories were created during that weekend. The traditional marriage/engagement ceremony was particularly interesting for me, because I got to see so many things. The bride, being a child of two cultures, decided to incorporate bits of each side of her into the day. Her mum’s family is from Lokoja (central Nigeria) and her dad is an Ikale from Ondo state (south) and it was nice to see the aspects of both cultures represented, including the beautiful “aso-oke” worn by the bride and groom, the ululating and traditional dances, and of course the wonderful calabash music. I got to eat lots of food that I hadn’t eaten in a long time – agbalumo, kunun, wara, suya, kilishi etc. 

Agbalumo (African star apple)

Kilishi (Spicy, peanut flavoured, sun-dried beef jerky )

Wara (Cottage cheese/curd)

We also travelled quite a bit between Ife, Okiti pupa, Ore, Ogun state, and I went shopping with my friend at the famous Balogun market in Lagos. This market is like Peckham on steroids (I never go to Peckham because I find it overwhelming!), it feels like there are millions of people pushing/shoving you, it's super noisy, crowded and I’m sure you can buy pretty much anything there. I ended up feeling dizzy and almost fainted a few times, but I was really proud of myself for surviving such a bona fide Nigerian experience particularly since I was just recovering from an accident and wearing a neck brace (story for another day!)...

All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Nigeria, especially because I experienced/re-experienced so many things.  

Next pit stop for me was Istanbul where I spent about 16hours. I had decided to fly Turkish airlines to Nigeria, even though it wasn’t the cheapest airline, because I heard that the company provides a free layover service for its clients. If your waiting time in Istanbul is more than 6hours, you get to choose between a hotel room and a tour of the city. I had just seen Argo (the Iranian revolution, Ben Affleck), which had some scenes shot in the Hagia Sophia, and was itching to go see the church. So I deliberately booked my return ticket to allow for a long layover and took full advantage of the almost 100% free trip - lunch, buses, entry fees and everything else was gratos, although I think I had to pay £10 for my visa (3month, multiple-entry for Brits). I made a few new friends, had lovely food and got to see so many wonderful places including the Blue mosque, Hippodrome, German fountain, Serpentine column, Obelisk of Thedosius, Hagia Sophia museum, Basilica cistern, Spice bazaar and New Mosque
Spice bazaar (Site of my "beyoncé-ification")

One really funny (slightly racist??!) thing did happen in Istanbul, and I still shake my head and giggle whenever I think about it. We had just arrived at the Spice bazaar, when there was a bit of commotion and people started shouting Beyoncé’s name. Feeling excited about seeing her (I wondered if she was touring like me haha!), I turned my head in all directions desperately trying to catch a glimpse but then I suddenly realised that all eyes were on me. I “was” Beyoncé!!! Flustered, embarrassed and slightly bemused, I ignored them and just kept walking. It was really weird because I look absolutely nothing like her, but it was such a memorable way to end my time in Istanbul. 

One week after that, I was on my way to Bruges with friends on my first trip to Belgium. Bruges is such a quaint, picturesque, lovely little city, and we spent the first couple of days walking round the city, going to museums and eating delicious Belgian food. On the third day however, we decided to do a bike tour, cycling more than 50km from Bruges all the way into Holland. We took the scenic route along the canal, going through the beautiful villages of Sluis and Damme, where I saw the famous windmill. We stopped only briefly for photos and lunch, and I can tell you that by the end of the trip I could hardly walk.! Still, I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of a cycling holiday.
 Damme and its windmill 

After that month, I felt like I really needed to recover and enjoy Paris. I haven’t really travelled much since then except to London for the unmissable Notting hill carnival in August, Kent to see my parents, and just this week to Utrecht for a friend’s PhD defense/party.

Monday, 11 November 2013

I'm Back and I'm Proud!

It’s been almost exactly 9months since I last blogged. Looking back, I can see that this coincided with my becoming settled in my new relationship and life in Paris, in general. So much has happened since last year when I blogged more regularly, in that time I've made many friends from all around the globe, travelled loads, changed jobs twice and fallen firmly in love.

I recently changed a few things in my life, and this has made me reconsider leaving the blogging community. I felt like I needed to document my new "journey."
So anyway I'm back and hoping to stay for good, this time. 

Monday, 18 February 2013

Nigeria, Turkey, Belgium...

...all countries I will visit over the next couple of weeks. E.X.C.I.T.E.D!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Paris Snowed Under!

It snowed heavily last week, and I as usual, was quick to step outside for some "artsy" pictures with my trusty phone camera. I particularly love how the light changes when it snows, with the skies becoming stormy and slightly foreboding. It gives the city an eerie feeling, and automatically makes all my pictures look black and white or vintage. Anyway, here are a few of my favourite ones... 

Pictures were all taken late morning/early afternoon, with my HTC radar.







Thursday, 17 January 2013

Resolutions 2013 or Annual (try!)To-do List

Increase Exercise
  • Take train to work, and walk (4 x 15 minutes) each day
  • Abandon metro; always cycle within Paris
.
Change Diet
  • Complete ban on caffeine and fizzy drinks. Minimise junk food consumption
  • Increase intake of water, fruit and vegetables. Practise quasi-vegetarianism
.
Improve Health
  • Get rid of acne
  • Increase fitness, heart-rate and muscle tone
.
Relationships
  • Stay in touch; contact at least 4 friends abroad, each week
  • Spend more time making and developing Parisian friendships 
.
"Self Improvement"
  • Gain ability to converse in Italian
  • Start Spanish classes
  • Take a least one course in a subject that interests me; law, philosophy, Yoruba literature, history...
  • Restart violin lessons
.
Miscellaneous
  • Manage money well, save 2000€
  • Use time wisely
  • Blog at least 52 times 
  • Sing with the choir this summer
  • Start process of getting driving license
  • Improve punctuality
  • Read more books by Nigerian/African authors
  • Go dancing, to the opera/cinema, sightseeing etc. Be cheesy, have fun! 
.
I'm not sure, but this is maybe my first proper new year's resolution, and it's 17 days late already... Still, better late than never I say! I'm hoping to do an evaluation of how many of these goals I manage to achieve. I'm really optimistic at the moment, but come December we'll see how well I've done... ;)

Monday, 14 January 2013

Ma Vie Amoureuse a Paris 3

December was a bit bizarre for me, relationship-wise. I had just met someone I really liked, yet I hadn't officially ended things with Fred, and two other "past people" suddenly decided to contact me!

Antoine asked if we could hang out. I agreed to see him because to be honest, I like him as a friend, I was curious about why he was suddenly eager to see me, and he was paying for lunch at a very good sushi place. I obviously couldn't decline the invitation; everyone knows Japanese food is my Waterloo! Anyway, we hung out for a few hours, laughed, had fun etc., but I spent the whole time thinking about someone else. Towards the end of the afternoon he asked me out a couple of times, and spent the weekend texting drunk messages... It was really weird that he (now that I no longer liked him!) tried hard to get us to start seeing each other again, but for me spending the afternoon together was very helpful.  I realised I was completely over him, and that was such a relief.

Ben suddenly emailed from the US updating me about his life and his difficulty in finding a job at home. He then informed me that he might be moving back to Europe. I'm not sure what I was supposed to do with that piece of information, but it was nice to know how he's doing. However, but I'm not sure how or even if to reply...

With Fred I kind of felt the relationship was over, since we hadn't seen each other since early November and were barely staying in touch. Yet, I'm a very tidy person, and as long as we hadn't officially broken up, in my head we were still together. I wasn't really bothered about the weirdness of the situation though, until I met H who I really liked and wanted to be with. Anyway, I sent Fred an email (we weren't going to see each other until the new year!) explaining my side of things, and after a few exchanges with him trying to convince me to at least stay friends, the relationship was officially over. I felt really bad about how this ended, to be honest, but I guess it was doomed from the start...

Anyway, that brings us to Hussein :)

One Friday in the last weekend of November, while helping out at my new church with the Christmas baking, I met three nice guys. I immediately decided that two of them could become good friends, but sort of ignored the third one because I thought he was with one of the girls there. Anyway because I wanted to hang out with J, one of the two guys, I invited myself along to a football match evening which happened to include H. (Un)fortunately the Internet TV channel was a bit rubbish, and we had to entertain ourselves by chatting...that my friends is when I noticed him properly! Cute but a little reserved, I thought, so after some Facebook investigation to determine his "status," ;) I asked him out on a date. Little did I realise how easy it would be to fall under the spell of the wonderful Hussein...

H who is 28 (same age as me!) and Christian; who is tall, dark and very handsome; who has the most beautiful heart-melting dimpled smile. H who allowed me to drag him to the museum for the exhibition on Nigerian/the old Benin Kingdom arts, who listened patiently and asked intelligent questions as I showed off my knowledge about Nigeria. H who teases me because I've started speaking bad French, using slangs and gestures which are very French; who once helped me go to sleep by making up and telling me a beautiful image-rich story; who often texts me using the Yoruba and pidgin English phrases he learns by bugging his friends. H who might be first guy with whom I fall in love...

I have promised to keep him off my blog for the most part, but as I think he'll be around for a while, I have decided to officially christen him on here...just in case I ever need to mention him. So anyway, he will hereafter be known as Hussein my favourite Kenyan, alias HFK :)

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Netherlands 2

Stumbled upon random real life nativity scene, where we agreed to take photos :)
On est tombées sur cette vraie crèche de Noël où ils nous ont persuadé et nous ont pris en photo :)



Bicycles...everywhere!
Les velos...partout!



While walking round the city...
Pendant notre balade dans la ville


It was foggy throughout, making the city seem mysterious, mythical, beautiful
Il faisait du brouillard pendant ma visite, ça a rendu la ville mystérieuse, mythique, magnifique

Netherlands 1

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I spent a few days with my friend E in Utrecht just before Christmas. It's been quite a few years since I last visited the Netherlands, so I was grateful when she decided to take time off from her twenty-five hours a day/six days a week (supposedly part-time!) PhD job to show me round Amsterdam. We went to the Anne Frank house, saw a monument (an old Jewish theatre) dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and spent the rest of the time wandering round the city. I have always been interested in the second world war, and was really wanting to visit the house, but it was really sad for me to imagine what the people went through. Still, it was a lot of fun rediscovering the city with E.
Comme je l'ai dit il y a quelques billets, j'ai eu la chance de passer un peu de temps avec mon amie E à Utrecht, juste avant Noël. Ça fait presque 5 ans depuis ma dernière visite aux Pays-Bas, donc j'ai été contente quand elle a décidé de prendre congé de son vingt-cinq heures par jour/six jours par semaine doctorat (soi disant emploi a mi-temps!) de me faire visiter Amsterdam. On est  allées à la maison d'Anne Frank, a vu un monument (un ancien théâtre juif) dédié à la mémoire des victimes de l'Holocauste, et a passé le reste du temps, en balades dans la ville. J'ai toujours été intéressée par la seconde guerre mondiale, et avais vraiment envie de visiter la maison, mais il était tellement triste pour moi d'imaginer ce que ces gens ont vécu. Mais à part ça, c'était une vraie plaisir de redécouvrir la ville.

Vending machine for junk food, Dutch efficiency at work!
Un distributeur de junk food, l'efficacité néerlandaise en spectacle!


They call it Oliebol, we call it puff-puff. I was able to taste this delicacy again after  many years
Ils l'appellent oliebol, nous l'appelons puff-puff. J'ai pu goûter ce délice à nouveau, après plusieurs années



The requisite Amsterdam photos of "coffee" shops :)
Des clichés obligatoires,  les "coffee-shops" d'Amsterdam :)