Monday, May 12, 2008

The SHIN Awards

May 17th marks the halfway point of my time in Nigeria. With six months under my belt, it seems like the perfect time to reflect on the significant events and accomplishments of the past half-year. But instead, here are some goofy awards that I dreamt up to commemorate the fact that I’m “Still Here In Nigeria":

Best Alarm Clock: A goat jammed itself in my neighbour’s fence at 1 a.m. and wailed louder than an air raid siren until it received a helpful push from behind by a security guard.
First Runner Up: Same goat, after it realized that it was now trapped in my neighbour’s yard.

Who’s the Boss? Award: I never thought I’d be discussing Bruce Springsteen in Nigeria, but a patron of a local shop specializing in pirated CD’s wanted my opinion of his work. My Canadian pride received a boost when he asked, “Is he like Bryan Adams?” Ouch. Cuts like a knife, doesn’t it, Bruuuuuce?

Posh Spice Award: Next to my windup flashlight and earplugs, the item I’m most grateful that I brought with me from Canada is my jar of garlic salt. Is it a salt? Is it garlic? Who cares? It’s saved me from more bland meals than I care to remember. Take my advice and pack it for all of your desert island trips.

Taxi Driver of the Year: On the road from Abuja to Kafanchan, the driver of the station wagon kept looking at me and declaring repeatedly, “Today, we drive to Canada!!!”

Cereal Thriller Award: Breakfast cereal doesn’t usually get me excited, but a box of Cheerios imported from the US may have been the best birthday present I’ve ever received. A two-week vacation from soggy Corn Flakes and oatmeal. Worth its weight in gold.

Most Disturbing Karaoke Award: One of my male colleagues walked into my office singing to himself, “I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar…”. No, I don’t want you, baby.

Sharp Dressed Man Award: Arriving at the office in a brilliant blue outfit of traditional Nigerian dress, my coworker smiled when I asked him what the special occasion was. “My jeans were in the wash, man”, he replied.

Beat Around the Bush Award: Seated in the front row for a performance of Hausa theatre, Kristel and I couldn’t have been bigger targets if we had painted bulls-eyes on our foreheads. Sure enough, during the last skit, Kristel is pulled from the audience and asked to speak with President Bush on an imaginary telephone. Her berating of the lame duck receives a warm ovation from the crowd. A Nollywood star is born.

Leapin’ Lizards Award: Described in my Nigerian guidebook as “comical and colourful”, the agama lizard that had hidden itself under my towel woke me up faster than any cold shower. Throw in the scorpion and cockroach that crawled up my shower drain, and my bathroom could have been featured on Wild Kingdom.

Things I’ve Learned From Books Award, Part I: I’ve read twelve books in the past six months, anything I can get my hands on. Some came from the VSO library and others were cast-offs from those leaving the country. They’ve covered the spectrum from the very serious (Blindness) to the not so serious (Little Children) to the decidedly bizarre (Vernon God Little). Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything was a favourite, a science book for people who don’t know a test tube from an inner tube. Stocked full of amazing facts, the most memorable for me was the notion that objects don’t actually touch each other. According to the book, I’m currently levitating above my chair at a height of one hundred millionth of a centimetre, thanks to the opposing actions of the electrons in me and my chair. So, I can now take some comfort in knowing that the next roach that crawls over my foot isn’t actually touching me.

Things I’ve Learned From Books Award, Part II: According to Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep, dead men are heavier than broken hearts.

Between A Rock And A Hard-On Award: Hiking in the mountains on the outskirts of Jos, one of our French guides was eager to show Kristel and me a particular rock formation. When I asked him what was so special about this rock, he replied excitedly, “It looks like a giant erect prick!” Time to put the camera away.

So, those are but a few of the memorable moments from the past six months that I thought were worthy of mention (or at least made me laugh). Here’s hoping the next six months are filled with similar moments (but fewer scorpions and lizards)!


Anonymous said...

Greetings from Vancouver as I bounce my way across Canada. Last week it was Old Chelsea, Gatineau, Quebec, just as the black flies were beginning to appear on the scene. This week it was a flight from frost in Toronto [yep, frost] to sunshine in Winnipeg to steamy heat in Vancouver [30 plus to be followed tomorrow by rain of course]. As I read your SHIN awards [liking the dead man heavier than the broken heart reference], and looked at your wonderful pictures of the water falls, I asked myself whether you had seen any wild life in Africa other than scorpions and lizards and roaches. We all have this impression, fantasy, wish to see lions, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, elephants, cheetahs, wilderbeests and so on...but you nary mention one of them....are there none around? or are you simply in a part of Africa where these types of creatures are so well hidden as to not exist? In my apartment in downtown Shanghai, which is located in a Chinese section of town [one would say that's obvious, but it really refers to a section where there are no expats -- I'm the local interest to the locals]....the roaches are so big and bold that they can move furniture....and I strongly think they re-arrange my living room on those hot humid breathless nights. One thing I noticed in Chinese apartments is that people do not use area rugs too often...the floor is left bare, which we Westerners find a bit barren...but I learned quickly that you don't want a pattern on the floor where the roaches can easily be mistaken for something woven into the rug... you want to see the not-so-little suckers as they scuttle under the refrigerator after giving you the middle finger as a parting tell me about lions and such....victor

Glenn said...

Hey, Victor,

Nigeria does have some of the safari favourites, but they are in very limited numbers and most can only be found in the wildlife reserves. I've yet to see any of the animals usually associated with Africa and probably won't, unless I make my way to one of the wildlife parks. Domesticated animals have taken over the range from their untamed cousins, but somehow, the excitement of seeing a cow just isn't the same. If it had been set in Nigeria, I'm sure Disney's biggest hit would have been called "The Goat King".