Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Geneva notes, recent reading, politics UK and Naija

Got back from Geneva on Saturday but was so exhausted that I haven't really been able to blog. Why does work always pile up whenever you're away, wiping out any benefits of the time away....

Geneva felt a bit like Abuja in the 1990s - pretty soulless, civil service like and expensive. Walking through the city centre and the old town, I searched in vain for residential areas. Later I went to dinner with a colleague based in Geneva- he lives with his family in a pretty little village outside Geneva. I wondered whether most people did that....

I also found out why Swiss cuisine hasn't made it on to the international list of most-desirable national cuisines. I'd wanted to go to a traditional Swiss restaurant and was advised to go to one in the old town where the claim to fame was that the Clintons had once dropped in for lunch there. The guide book said they'd had the sauerkraut but it wasn't on the menu as the rather bossy waitress soon made clear. Switzerland is famed for its fondues so I felt I had to try it out. It basically turned out to be a pot of boiling cheese into which I was provided a long fork with which to dip pieces of bread in. The waitress did not even change the bread basket- it was the leftover from the starters that was offered. In the end I struggled through but as one of my dining companions said what I'd basically had was bread and cheese, forget the fancy name....

Geneva had its high points though- the Flower Clock, the amazing Jet D'eau Fountain and a cruise along the lake, as well as another meal at the Buffet of the Station of Living Waters (Buffet de la Gare Eaux Vives) made up for all of Geneva's shortcomings...

Flying out from London City Airport on Wednesday night, I was struck by how white and male the City still seems. Most of my fellow travellers were obviously business travellers and there was hardly a woman or person of colour to be seen among them...

I've been enjoying Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children which is set in New York just before September 11. I think it's one of the best books I've read since Half of a Yellow Sun- it's meaty, got a good story, muses on interesting ideas and is beautifully written. It featured in many people's best books of 2006 lists and I can see why...

I also enjoyed another sort of New York book- Kamran Nazeer's Send in the Idiots, an account of his trying to trace his classmates from a special programme for autistic children in New York in the 80s. It's well written with fascinating insights...

Meanwhile in Nigeria I stil struggle to make sense of the machinations surrounding the elections- court case and counter court case and all that stuff with the Senate and the PTDF report- what on earth is really going on?

In the Observer on Sunday, Tony Blair flies a kite about David Milliband, the young and affable Minister for the Environment challenging Gordon Brown for the leadership of the Labour Party. I've always thought that he'd be a better match for Cameron than old tired Gordon who is inextricably linked in the public's mind (despite his best efforts) to Bliar...See Milliband's blog here http://www.davidmiliband.defra.gov.uk/blogs/ministerial_blog/default.aspx

On the subject of British politics, the question of the number of Old Etonians in David Cameron's shadow cabinet has come under scrutiny . This old Guardian story focuses on the question http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,,1843008,00.html

Judging from the few Etonians that I've met- it is a cause for concern - they (through no fault of theirs I might add) seemed so far removed from ordinary day to day life that the thought of people like them making all the policy decisions worries me..

8 comments:

Frances Uku said...

man, all this una waka about is the life! when i grow up, i want to be you.

and by the way, have to say i'm 100% with you on those Old Etonians, bless their privileged hearts...

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oo said...

Singing the travel blues too as i struggle to recover from post-travel work overload. I wonder why the world doesn't stop when I go away! Now, in between regretting my last trip, I'm planning the next one to get away from this mess. Maketh no sense (just like the happenings in Naija.)

But chocolate fondue with fresh fruit? Ha! That's the life :)

welcome back.

-oo-

first time father said...

The old Etonians are like the privileged that dominate politics, the economy and the media in fairly much all countries - including our dear old Naija!

PG said...

You came to my city and I didn't know! Geneva does appear to be soulless, true, but it has its good side,and things are pretty racy in the Parquis and Jonction areas, I am telling you. Then there is the Jardin Anglais, where you can get a nice bit of hash from your friendly neighbourhood drug dealer, not that I know anything about that...:):)

Next time you are in Geneva, let us know,and we will show you all the soul, and then some.

JR or MUg said...

Got a question or suggestion. How does one contact you? Read in your post last year that for private questions, use email. No access at the moment.

Chameleon said...

hi, i just thought that i should add that Helen Oyeyemi's stage adaptation of Icarus Girl is on this month (at the Arcola Theatre. I love Arcola, its small and intimate and i'm a member so please support it.

Tickets are just £13.00. even though i'd give the book 6 out of 10, i have great expectations for the play.

www.arcolatheatre.com

17th April - 28th April

uknaija said...

@frances uku- See my Hollywood sister talking
@oo- thanks
@firsttimefather- I like to think that the elite in Naija have it more in your face but then I may be wrong
@pg will do
@jr or mug e mail uknaija@googlemail.com
@Chameleon Thanks for the headsup- see you there?