Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mulling over paradoxes, unhugged hoodie and sneaking lunch

Still haunted by the plane crash and asking myself whether it's time to head home, so frustrated by all the ineptitude and madness. And then as I toss and turn and mull over this decision, there's the rational voice saying "Yes, I appreciate your desire to contribute and your frustration but what exactly are you going to do when you get there?" I suppose I could try and get a job with one of the new telecomms companies or the new mega super banks or join the 4X4 driving brigade of NGO employees....or what? Or perhaps I could run for local government chairman- but then I'd need to win the party nomination first and spend lavishly and maybe not even get elected..... or perhaps I should wait a bit more and try and do an Okonjo Iweala- ie build up your international credentials to a point where you can leverage them as bargaining chips into a position where you can actually achieve some change- but even then look how she ended up....

Work is as hectic as ever, interspersed by a visit to Buckingham Palace and the paradoxical pleasure in saying to the taxi driver "Buckingham Palace please" and walking up the red carpeted gilt encrusted hallways and stairways to the drawing room and meeting the Queen- she's small and bustling and grandmotherly with a dazzling warm smile that vaguely reminds me of my own late departed grandmother- even though their lives couldn't have been more different. I suppose that's the essence of the human, or maybe I'm just star-struck. I feel less guilty about this than I did at the time because even some of my more senior tightlipped English colleagues did confess to a frisson of excitement at the prospect of being in the palace and in the presence of Her Majesty.....

The paradox of Anambra State underlines the paradox of Nigeria. The news that the first female governor has been sworn in should ordinarily be a thing of joy until you begin to read of the sordid machinations that led to the "impeachment" of the substantive government and how half the impeachment panel and the Chief Judge all come from the new "governor's" village. I met the impeached governor Peter Obi once in London and was struck by how impressive, human and humble he appeared. I was also impressed by his sticking through for three years with the legal case after he was rigged out in 2003 and finally taking up office only this year. And then this.....

It's cold on the streets of London now, feels like someone turned on a huge airconditioning system- one minute it was warm and we were walking about in thin cotton shirts and then the next it's out with the heavy gear- the scarves, the gloves and the hats and caps. I'm just sticking to my very warm hoodie picked up in Vancouver earlier in the year...it's brilliant- a garment for all seasons.....I haven't had many hugs though in spite of David Cameron's hug-a hoodie exhortations....I live in hope....

Have just finished Aminatta Forna's Ancestor Stones- the story of four women growing up in Sierra Leone. It's beautifully written in lyrical almost poetic language but the chop and change between the lives of the four sisters is sometimes difficult to keep up with......

Have discovered a new place for lunch tucked away in the basement of an office building- the most fantastic Thai food- egg fried rice, vegetables and a meat dish( changing every day) I suspect it should not really be open to the public (is a canteen for workers) but I was taken there by a colleague and have not been accosted yet on my frequent return visits to the venue.... and the food is so delicious that I keep going back each lunchtime. It certainly beats the sandwich man...

Good to hear the news from the US elections. After the elections in 2004 when I stayed up till 12 30 and then went to bed thinking Kerry had won, and then waking up to learn that Dubya had won a second term I promised not to bother this time. At a meeting on Monday I was sitting next to an American who was surreptitiously filling in her postal vote- she voted Democrat I was pleased to notice and I flashed her a smile and a thumbs up....so waking up to the news that the Democrats had taken control of the House was good. At least hopefully the smug arrogance of Dubya and his team cannot continue- they will need to engage and negotiate which is no bad thing for democracy. I'm not sure why I'm so passionate about the US elections but I remember getting into heated arguments with some Nigerian friends and relatives in the US in 2004 who were going to vote for Bush because of his position on "family values" When he won, I couldn't bring myself to speak to some of them for a while.....

Meanwhile on Iraq, the Democrats say a change in policy is needed but stops short of calling for withdrawal. The other side says we must not cut and run with one gentleman saying that there will be scenes reminiscent of Saigon in a few months as a result of the Democratic victory. I was on the anti-war march in London with 99,999 others but I honestly do not know what the way forward is- either way it seems there will continue to be mayhem and bloodshed in the area for a while to come....

3 comments:

Raven said...

"stayed up till 12.30 and then went to bed thinking Kerry had won, and then [woke] up to learn that Dubya had won a second term"

I had an almost identical experience during those elections - falling asleep with a satisfied smile on my face and waking the next morning to face the unbelievable.

I guess the Democratic congresssional victory is a Good Thing - largely because it provides some indication that the American People have finally come to their senses at least with regard to Bush's handling of the whole Iraq affair and his general competence (or lack of it) but I'm not going to break out the bottles of champagne until I see a Democrat in the White House.

Chxta said...

Same experience here. But then after going through this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WMG34cv0zM), I am surprised that the Democrats even did well at all this term...

Nkem said...

Even the most ardent republicans cower before Elizabeth Regina. She's the only reason the monarchy still exist. And of ther children will fritter it away in a heartbeat.

Speaking of US elections, it's the height of what I call "anoraksia". I was lying in bed last night, listening to the radio and calculating the Senate figures (before Virginia came in). 47 for the Democrats, 49 for the Republicans, 2 independents who will vote Democratic in the House. Then Montana was called for the Democrats - 48. I smiled. It was dark in my room, with just the hum of the radio trying to sleep before a night shift, but I was still inexplicably excited...

I've had Ancestor Stones for a few months now, I should read it soon.