Fiction: 2021 (Pt.2)

I walked into my office and met the usual two early risers: one cleaner employed to vacuum-clean, mop the floors and wash dishes. The other was contracted to neutralize the Corona virus handle detailed cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing of every visible surface in the entire office space. I knew the latter was hard at work from the offensive bleach odours invading my nostrils. No doubt about it – when it came to hygiene my office could go toe to toe with a 5 star hospital.

My colleagues began to troop in one after the other in mask-off mode. We had all gotten quite acquainted to sitting beyond spitting distance from each other. The result – tendency to focus more on the work at hand and less time for idle chit-chat or probable virus transmission. Lunchtime was implicitly observed at one’s desk or in the lunchroom if only one person had a 4-seating table to oneself. Unfortunately one could not exercise proper social distancing in the restroom (at least I can speak for the males). The urinals were not designed for this new era as evident from the distance between them.

Curfews had been extended gradually every fortnight by the state government until midnight but nothing beyond. This was obviously bad news for night crawlers but for old fashioned family men like me (Disclaimer: I have been known to have quite a few doppelgangers on the bar scene) I was happy to close from work and get home as early as I could. On that day in particular my wife and I were not eager to walk into a sea of scattered toys, a gallery of amateur graffiti walls and a solo-performance from our unsigned artiste (no amp required). We heard that a new movie experience was in town – at least new to Lagosians.

The pandemic took its toll on the local movie theatres while Netflix and Cable TV giants were cashing out on both the health-conscious and the care-free couch potatoes. One movie theatre decided to launch a drive-in cinema. You could enjoy your own air space, recline your seat to 180 degrees, mount your feet on the dashboard, binge on whatever picnic basket you prepared. Only thing I’d have to worry about is getting good seats parking space also within pee-holding distance to the restrooms. Movie wasn’t due to start for another half hour so we decided to stroll to a nearby bar to see what anti-COVID enhancements may have been made. We were pleasantly surprised…

Image credits: autojosh.com

The White-Collar Nigerian Wears T.M. Lewin

He wakes up around 4.30am and eventually drags himself out of bed by 5am (after engaging the 5-minute snooze button six times, of course). He does this from Monday to Friday; not because he wants to but because he knows if he doesn’t he’ll risk reporting to the office after 7.30am, by which time his line supervisor would issue him a well deserved query. He does a fast clean – no literally, FAST as in Face, Armpits, Scalp and Teeth. It’s arguably ineffective but fools all his colleagues ,whom may actually be birds of the same feather. He throws on his T.M. Lewin shirt – the shirt that makes a bold statement in the business world, the shirt that is so often used to impress at that desperately awaited job interview, the shirt that shouts to the world, ‘I care about how I look and I know I look damn good. Don’t cha wish your T.M was hot like mine?’ But after all this he complements this pristine shirt badly with his overworked suit before dashing out to hustle for sardine space in an overloaded public bus.

Nasal carbon dioxide exchange is on the high especially on those rainy days where you can’t open the windows too much. The sweat is no match for his Brut antiperspirant but his T.M Lewin collar gets it, and so does the full length of his arm sleeve rubbing against the perspiring brute aka bus conductor. He gets off at the usual bus stop and walks down to his office 10 minutes away. His T.M Lewin isn’t looking as sharp as when you first put it on. The starch-effect is fast fading and as he speeds up the stairs and arrives at his desk with one more accessory than the neck tie and cuff links he left home with – sweat beads. He makes it just in time for his weekly review meeting which is no different from the Spanish inquisition.

Alas, T.M. Lewin can’t impress his boss if his sales figures can’t. In fact, it becomes a source of ridicule; how he can look so good and yet have his figures look so bad. He returns to work after the meeting…dejected and demoralized…he goes to the restroom to have a private moment to reflect. He’s arrested in his tracks as he’s greeted by Mr. T.M Lewin staring right back at him in the mirror. His momentary admiration borders on narcissism but he suddenly leaks a little smile, adjusts his lopsided necktie and tells himself, ‘One day I will rise…I will break away and do my own thing…The world hasn’t seen the best of me…I’m the man’. He rolls up his sleeves then leaves the restroom. He walks back to his table with his head held high with an air of confidence…in his sparkling white (but slightly wrinkled) custom-fitted T.M. Lewin. He looks good so he feels good. He is ready to face the day’s challenges and slave put in some overtime to get back into his master’s good book where the latter was once impressed by the T.M. Lewin look…

How to make a Chapman drink

For as long as I can remember there has been this fascination with the large red cocktail more commonly pronounced by the average Nigerian as ‘Shapman’. It has become synonymous with the popular orders made at our local Chinese restaurants, Recreational Clubs and more recently, weddings (though our wedding planners are notorious for being extremely selective with Chapman distribution – I‘ve never been offered any to date). Its origin is arguably in Nigeria but no one knows for sure. It isn’t necessarily expensive to buy (between N300 and N1000, i.e. $6 max.) nor is it difficult to make. But I think I know why there’s such a fuss over this bitter-sweet refreshment – it just tastes so damn good!

Today I’m running a small Chapman factory in my apartment (okay, not really but I do make them rather frequently) and I want to share the recipe for you to enjoy. Learn how to make Chapman is 6 easy steps!:

CHAPMAN RECIPE FOR 1 PERSON

  1. Get a large tumbler/glass mug (necessary if you want to make your Chapman-experience last a bit)
  2. Fill the glass halfway with ice cubes
  3. Pour a capful of Grenadine or any blackcurrant cordial into the glass (for that red glow)
  4. Pour in 2shots of Bitters – Any bitters you can find but you can also use Campari (In Lagos, Angostura Bitters is available at Goodies for N3,200).
  5. Pour in equal amounts of…believe it or not…Fanta and Sprite then mix it up
  6. Throw in a slice of lemon, garnish with a cucumber slice and dip-in a bendy straw
  7. Sip slowly and try not to hum too much as your taste-buds go into a frenzy.
  8. If you enjoyed this article show your appreciation by leaving a comment, or clicking on @dcrazynigerian and following me or sending a thank you mail to dcrazynigerian@gmail.com  . Thank you for your support!

Well there you have it. Simple, isn’t it? So the next time you’re sitting by your computer and one of your (anti-social) friends sends you a mouth-watering cocktail…via Facebook, make a Chapman to quench that insatiable thirst your ‘friend‘ created (remember to do point 7 ^^)…and then proceed to delete that friend from your Friend list (optional).

CHAPMAN RECIPE FOR 100 people

You’d need the following (if you are serving in small plastic cups):

– 1.5 litres of Ribena/Blacurrant cordial/Grenadine (about 1 big table spoon poured at the base of each cup)
– 50 cans of Sprite (half of each can poured into a cup)
– 50 cans of Fanta (half of each can poured into a cup)
– 10 medium lemons (each sliced in 10, making 100 slices)
– 10 medium cucumbers (each sliced into 20 and served two pieces per cup)
– 4 bottles of Alomo bitters or 3 bottles of Angosturra bitters (a capful poured into each cup)
– Probably 500 ice cubes equivalent (cheaper if you have ice trays at home. 5 cubes per cup)
– 100 bendy straws.
– Mixers (long plastic stirrers) are optional as you can use the straws to mix the drinks

N.B – If you use large mugs instead of plastic cups then use 100 cans of Sprite and 100 cans of Fanta (1 can of Sprite and Fanta per mug). Everything else remains the same.

Four Weddings and a Refusal

At most wedding ceremonies I’ve attended in Lagos I was a mere spectator; marveling at such things as the reprimand of poorly clad bridesmaids by the priest, the sometimes risqué shenanigans of the MC or the conversion of the dance area to a bureau de change for showering the newly weds with. But back in London I got my first taste of participation when I was asked by my good friend (and university classmate) to be his Best Man.
Wedding 1: Role – Best Man (Novice)

  • I substituted the groom’s shadow for the duration of the wedding ceremony
  • I was entrusted with wedding bands which I had no choice of forgetting…or else
  • I served as an eye-witness and co-signatory on the marriage certificate
  • I had to give a (memorable) toast at the reception without shooting myself in the foot

Wedding 2: Role – Best Man (Fairly experienced)

  • I was approached by a colleague at work whom I knew fairly little about
  • My selection was based on: looks, availability, and capacity to afford a new suit
  • I was armed with handkerchiefs to wipe the sweat off the groom’s face
  • I had to pick all the cash thrown at the dancing newly weds for about an hour or so
  • I had to give a best man speech…about a guy whom I knew fairly little about

Wedding 3: Role – MC and Groom’s man (Experienced)

  • I was the impromptu MC at my younger sister’s traditional wedding ceremony
  • I helped usher different veiled women who came to deceive the groom but failed
  • Some months later I was a groom’s man at the follow-up white wedding
  • I bought yet another custom suit
  • As for the entertainment, let’s just say Michael Jackson would have been proud!

Wedding 4: Role – Best Man (Veteran)

  • I had to purchase a plane ticket, charter a taxi which drove me over 6 hours to Oz
  • I bought yet another custom suit and a pair of shoes.
  • Resumed cash collection duties and exchanging small denominations for the large
  • I gave the proverbial toast…to an audience unwilling to raise their glasses *hmm…*

And now for the grand finale – who got a refusal at the fifth wedding; the bride or the groom?

The answer is BOTH. It was I who categorically refused to be their best man just so I don’t I become the butt of some MC’s joke (e.g. ‘Wait a minute, weren’t you the best man at the last wedding I performed at?’). I thought to myself, ‘The next wedding I get actively involved in will be my own so help me God.’

Four years down the line this became my reality! My Crazy Nigerian wedding – that’s a post for another day 🙂

Image credits: Partycity.com

The Set Up of All Set ups

In recent weekends my wife and I have been getting our fix (or should I say ‘flix’) by way of series and movie binging. Thanks to Netflix we have more affordable variety compared to Cable TV; currently useful for only reporting new Covid cases and Khloe Kardashian’s latest meltdown. We’ve so far binged on Ozark, Prison Break and now we’re on Breaking Bad Season 4 (no spoilers in the comment section please). When it comes to movies though we sometimes want to give Nigerian talent a chance. On one of such occasions we decided to watch a Nigerian movie titled ‘The Set Up’. This movie sucked more than a 6-month old baby from a bulimic mother.

Before watching a movie my wife and I do this thing. Everybody has a ‘thing’ like watching movies with subtitles.  But our thing is to watch the first ten minutes and resist pressing the Exit button – once that time has lapsed then it’s more than likely that we would watch the rest of the movie. Sadly this movie did not make the cut after the eighth minute and here’s why.

To begin with the movie opened with three baseless flashbacks back to back spanning from the pre-teen, teenage to adolescent years of the two female childhood friends the story is based on. Fast forward to present day and you can perceive they live a criminal life once law enforcement agents storm their apartment. Just before they scram they get a visit from a recruiter who is need of their skills. All this while I contemplated wedging matchsticks under my eyelids to stay awake. The dialogue was the stuff of bedtime stories; yawn-worthy.

There were rushed scenes of the girls getting trained and executing scores with zero dialogue. I was disappointed at the missed opportunity for character development. I was not attached to a single character and couldn’t care less if any or all of them fell into an abyss. I wasn’t glued or caring to know where this story was going. I was contemplating my existence and wondering when last I called my parents.

Hopefully others who watched it got some entertainment. However, my wife and I have seen better Nigerian movies so this movie lived up to its title – we felt set up.

TCN rating – 2/10

Fiction: 2021 (Pt.1)

I woke up tired. Thought about turning on the TV. But I quickly changed my mind; rather have a strong dose of caffeine than another dose of Covid news. Had a shower and threw some clothes on. Kissed my wife and daughter then grabbed my car keys and face mask. Whispered a prayer and ventured into the unknown. Just a typical start to the new normal.

Hit the highway and got lost in the soundtrack of my life. As I drove through lanes of masked motorists I recalled the last social gathering I attended – a wedding reception. There I was greeted with security detail brandishing digital thermometers. My wife and I had to produce our invitations to gain entry. Once in, it was a stark contrast to my pre-covid wedding reception of close to 1,000 guests. Due to the government restrictions around congregation numbers, there were no more than 50 scantily seated family members, relatives and close friends in attendance. It was still a fun party.

Red light ahead snapped me back into consciousness. The government had taken over many billboards as creating more hygiene awareness superseded the private sector’s objective of driving consumer purchases. Local celebrities were the new face of hygiene and social distancing compliance. Street hawkers became a thing of the past. The cheapest public transportation was by bus as most motorcycles were banned. The combination of these elements made for a reduced journey time of 20 minutes – usually 45 minutes.

Arriving at my office building, I go through the usual protocol with security personnel getting my temperature scanned and hands sanitized – a ritual that somehow was reminiscent of the order enforced in the Equilibrium movie. At the lobby my finger was going nowhere near the elevator button. Instead I used the corner tip of my ID card. 50 per cent capacity was observed once inside. Familiar faces were greeted with gentle nods. Hands tucked away in pockets or arms firmly folded. Soon after silence was golden except for the female elevator voice announcing arrival at my floor. I step out and head to my second home.

Photo credit: Dreamstime

A Risky Sonnet

Like running down a steep staircase or taking a sharp corner at full speed.

Like standing inches from a cliff edge or leaving a slashed wrist to bleed.

Like smoking a pack of cigarettes after being diagnosed with a bad lung.

Like rushing back in for your belongings after a fire alarm has been rung.

Like cheating at an important examination or plagiarizing a school report.

Like walking out of a shop with shoes you tried on but you never bought.

Like investing in the stock market or throwing a set of dice to get a seven.

Like partying on a Thursday night for five hours after working for eleven.

Like setting up your best friend with a date who was previously into you.

Like leaving home at the precise time you need to get to a job interview.

Like swimming against waves at sea in order to save someone drowning.

Like taking a bullet for a stranger, or an expedition on the K-2 Mountain.

Like drinking wine and then driving, or walking in a dark alley all alone.

Like falling in love and hoping the heart that may break is not your own.

Blog Wars

It is the year 2021. Blog world has been riddled with mayhem as there is a never ending battle between the Bloggers and the Spammers. There is one blogger however called Luke Skywriter who is the best there is at blogging and he is the last hope to restore Blog world to a state of useful information circulation. His predecessor, Anakin Skywriter, was supposed to make this possible. The elders had noticed that the Words were strong in him at the tender age of 9. But following his transition to the Dark side he was presumed dead after an epic pen-fight with Obi-Wan Kenotey.

Luke Skywriter, with the guidance of Princess Writea and the Scribe training from 900 yr old Posta, was instrumental in his execution of a well-laid out plan to annihilate the rebels of the Spam armed forces. In a terrible twist of fate, Luke comes face-to-face with his arch enemy, the devious Darth Pager, who later reveals that he is in fact his biological father – Anakin Skywriter. The confrontation leads to lot of ink being shed during the posting battle but Luke rises victorious and the blogs are restored to full circulation in Blog world. He is now married to Princess Writea and has taken over from Posta to train young-lings in Blog academy. There he shows them the way of the Scribe. 

I salute Luke and all that he has done for Blogworld. He is the wordsmith that all bloggers would aspire to be. On that note I’ll sign off saying, ‘May the Words be with you’.

Staying At Home: Side effects

Staying at home side effectsIt’s been 4 weeks since I’ve been staying at home and it’s been a bittersweet experience. Let’s start with my appearance. I look like the result of a Rogaine experiment gone wrong. My abstinence from shaving has given my scalp false hope of a full crown. On the contrary my facial hair is going haywire. With my moustache hell-bent on dating my teeth and my sideburns trespassing into my ear holes.

Per adventure I decide to dust my hair clipper or avoid every mirror in my home, staying at home still has some negative side effects. Missing going out for social gatherings. I want to meet up with my coworkers, friends and family members and share a real drink with them – virtual doesn’t quite work for me. I long for church and partaking in holy communion. I yearn to visit a restaurant with my wife and be served something we cannot pronounce or prepare at home. I want to turn up at a nightclub and dance near 6ft loudspeakers under rotating disco lights with a long island tea in one hand.

Until then I’m learning to appreciate the upside of staying at home. I have more control over my day. There’s time to exercise, meditate and plan my activities. I get to spend quality time with my family. My baby daughter and I are having longer and more serious conversations. I’m getting more office work done though I had to convert my wife’s closet room into my office and conference call room. I get better rest as I don’t have to be up early in the morning to beat rush hour. I’ve saved a total of 2-3 hours being off the road. not to mention the fuel and car maintenance costs.

But I can’t help but think, ‘Am I ready to embrace the new normal?’ I am not exactly planning to throw caution to the wind when the lockdown order is eventually lifted. I’m going to be armed with my face mask and sanitizer. And I’m ready to engage in evasive manoeuvres when confronted with people who spit when they talk 😀

Dodging bullets in The Matrix

The Soundtrack of Our Lives

MJ Earth Song - Pinterest

I decided to compile a list of songs that I believe tell a story of the mood in Nigeria in the early days of the pandemic to date. The soundtrack goes like this:

Earth song by Michael Jackson – This was the turning point when we realized there was a global problem that was spiraling out of control.

New born by Muse – We were seeing other continents waking up to a new world; a new reality which would soon become our own.

Drugs don’t work by Verve – There were rumours fast spreading in Nigeria about Chloroquine and other Malaria drugs being able to cure the corona virus COVID-19. But this led to more (and avoidable) deaths. I need a doctor by Dr. Dre ft Eminem, Skylar – Right now I’m trying to avoid going to hospital unless it is absolutely necessary. There are stories online about people with COVID-19 symptoms visiting regular hospitals instead of calling the NCDC helpline.

Gone too soon by Michael Jackson – The number of reported COVID-19 cases and deaths globally are alarming. My heart goes out to all those who have been hospitalized, the departed and those who have to cope with the loss. Land of Confusion by Genesis – Social media advises one thing and the news stations advise another. Can the Covid-19 virus survive on surfaces for up to 48hrs? Which masks are effective? Can sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol kill the virus? Is drinking alcohol more effective? It was becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish myth from fact.

Locked up by Akon – Lagos state announced a 14-day lock-down on March 29th  which later got extended by another 14 days. I’m currently at home with my family doing my part for society and getting to grips with working from home.

Lazy song by Bruno Mars – It was hard at first but I gradually got into a routine and created a work space with zero interruptions. I can only imagine how many people have bothered to shave, take a shower or change clothes in the last couple of days (don’t ask me).

Something new by Wiz Khalifa ft TY Dollar $ign – During this lock-down I noticed that people online have had more time to perfect their dance moves and partaking in the #somethingnewchallenge (Elbow left, elbow right, shake like a jellyfish then clap, I think). I’ve done mine at home but it will not be aired online.

Don’t rush by Young T and Bugsey ft Headie One – This was yet another song that birthed more creativity among the courageous before-and-after makeover pros across many social media platforms. #dontrushchallenge videos are quite addictive to watch.

Bored in the house by Curtis Roach – With the exception of those breaking the law, everybody who is meant to be observing the lock-down in specific states in Nigeria and states around the world can relate to this song.

They don’t care about us by Michael Jackson – There were reported cases in Lagos where residents complained that the palliative measures were not getting to their households. But the situation seems to have improved as the government is visibly going round to provide essential supplies on a door-to-door basis. Reaching out to over 20 million will be no small feat so a lot of patience from citizens is expected.

In the End by Linkin Park – Some of us are putting our trust in the government and scientists. And some of us are putting our trust in God. In the end we want to come out of this alive – that’s what matters. Staying Alive by BeeGees – With people losing jobs or having their customer base significantly impacted by the lock down order, it’s a struggle to make ends meet. Money makes the world go round. And a hungry man is an angry man. Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins – This has been a time when I have been moved by regular citizens coming out to donate food and drink supplies to communities without requesting government support. Everyone needs to demonstrate love to his or her neighbours and give to those who lack.

Heal the world by Michael Jackson – Spread the love; that’s my appeal to everyone while scientists around the world work towards developing the vaccine to tackle this pandemic. Save me by Remy Zero – We need a saviour now more than ever. Times like this I wish Superman was not a fictional hero. The recent cases reported in Kano state are alarming.

A new dawn by Michael Buble – Hoping for a new dawn very soon for everyone. Do share your thoughts on the soundtrack; what would you change? what would your soundtrack for this crisis period feature? I would love to know 🙂

Image credit: s629photobucket.com