Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cold snap, dining at St John, tourist Nigeria and an Adichie update

The weather has suddenly turned very cold, just when I was about to pack away my gloves and hat and other winter gear and luxuriate in the warming sunshine, the weather flipped again. Yesterday afternoon, walking to a meeting I was nearly caught in a sudden flurry of snow. It appeared and disappeared all within the space of five minutes and as I was suddenly thrust into the glare of winter sunlight I was left wondering if I had dreamt it all up...

A friend sent me a DVD recording of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's appearance on Richard and Judy. It was haunting with music from the war playing in the background and the gorgeous Adichie speaking softly about how she wanted to write a book about human beings and love as black and white pictures from Biafra flashed slowly in the background. I had goosebumps watching it. If only I was techie enough to upload it to youtube or something- but perhaps that would breach copyright.... Molara Wood of wordsbody does have photos here http://wordsbody.blogspot.com/search/label/Half%20of%20a%20Yellow%20Sun

BBC reporter Raageh Omar and actor Brian Cox loved it. If you loved Half of a Yellow Sun, you can vote for it at the Richard and Judy Bookclub here http://www.richardandjudybookclub.co.uk/ It looks like there's a problem with the book club site though as it seems to keep crashing...

Half of a Yellow Sun is longlisted for the Orange Prize for this year together with The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai which won the Booker last year and A Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Lovers which I recently blogged about.... For the full list of nominated books see here http://www.orangeprize.co.uk/opf/news.php4 Also on the longlist are two books I recently read but didn't particularly enjoy- Rachel Cusk's Arlington Park and Rachel Seiffert's Afterwards- they're both well written but somehow failed to grab and keep my attention. Speaking of which Jonathan Raban's Surveillance after finally mid-book getting me interested in the fate of the characters finishes abruptly, inconclusively.

Had an amazing meal to celebrate a friend's birthday at St John, the restaurant famed for its use of unconventional meat cuts, the nose to tail approach to eating. I liked the unpretentious rough hewn, almost Hogarthian feel to it- no fuss- plain stone floors and wooden chairs and the food was stunning- I had pig's head to start (and although I had expected to be presented with a whole head on the plate) it turned out to be slivers of pig's head done in a light sauce and served with butter beans and some miniasparagus like vegetable which I could not identify. For my main course, I resisted the urge to order something conventional like lamb or guineafowl and went instead for the ox heart with chips, a choice I did not regret- the ox heart was presented in thin delicate delicious slivers. The baked egg custard lightly sprinkled with nutmeg was a taste sensation- I left the restaurant tight as a drum...

A fellow diner asked where I was born and when I said Nigeria asked what tourist sights I would recommend. I admit I was slightly caught on the back foot and managed to blurt out Calabar and Obudu cattle ranch and Kano for its old walled city and Abuja if you wanted to play it safe and Lagos if you wanted something edgier. In the end I recommended the Bradt Travel Guide to Nigeria which I've flicked through but wondered if I shouldn't have done a better job of selling my country....

I rang a friend whose grandmother died recently in Nigeria to pass on my condolences. I asked when the funeral was. "Oh we're planning to wait till after the elections in April, who knows what might happen" And so we all continue to wait with bated breath....

Something's come up at work so I have to go to Geneva tonight. I'll see if I can blog from there depending on how busy I am. In any case, I'm back at the weekend

13 comments:

Chameleon said...

first!!!

Chameleon said...

hmmmn, have you been to Fat Duck? s'tin tell me that'll be right up your street....

i'd love to see the R&J interview...

Favoured Girl said...

The weather has been crazy. I was in the same frame of mind last week. I had even gone to buy a Spring/summer jacket only for it to snow again.

RJ said...

The food does sound yummy...
Don't blame you though, if someone asked me where the tourist spots are, I probably would stall a bit and then mention all the ones I've read about on bella naija and naija vixens blogs. Calabar & Lagos would probably be first on the list...

Really have to go read that book, keep hearing things about it. I don't want to get too excited though incase I'm dissapointed

My Talking Beginnings said...

Oh how your friend's comment is insightful! I think you did an alright job of selling Nigeria....in the space of time that you said! Talking about travelling, bring some chocs back will u!!!

Jeremy said...

you can watch the CNA interview here: http://www.britishbookawards.co.uk/pnbb_richardandjudy.asp?

ijeoma obu iheoma said...

i love Chimamanda Adichie.. her success as a writer is inspiring.thanks for visitin my place.

kulutempa said...

my thesis is about the development of the tourism industry in nigeria - go figure. you told them the truth: ain't nothin to see in our country, so what could there be to see? Bradt does a good job, though, i have to say - she's the only one out there who doesn't totally slaughter the place.

culturalmiscellany said...

Try checking out the Nigerian Field Society website for some tourist places. Also, I recommend Afi Mountain drill monkey ranch. I hear that they're recently-ish instaleld the longest Canopy walkway in Africa. I'm going to try and see it in a few weeks but depends if the rain makes the path unto the ranch unpassable.

uknaija said...

@chameleon- Fat Duck is on my to do list :-)
@favoured girl-seems to have settled now
@rj- the food was yummy and do go read the book
@mtb- how do I send the chocs? :-)
@jeremy- thanks for the link
@ijeoma- you're welcome
@kulutempa- Bradt's ok but needs updating
@culturalmiscellany thanks for the NFS link

Ayo Adene said...

I'm an unabashed fan of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie myself after being engrossed in Purple Hibiscus & beginning to be fascinated by Half of a Yellow Sun. I will read anything she writes.By the way it's about time CNA told us what's with her and colors.And the next time your oyinbo or naija friends ask you for a travel guide,refer them to my blog. I'm gonna be putting up all of my travel photos from Calabar toi Gumel...I hope it makes a lotta people wanna do the same.
www.ayoadene.blogspot.com

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Mark Benson said...

I totally agree with him on taking cheap flights to Lagos for an edgier trip. Nigeria is home to a number of mesmerizing places to visit.