Good Manners

Sometimes I am too brusque. I regularly forget the social courtesies knocked into me me by my Igbo brethren in the village. Thank Mother God I returned before I became a complete barbarian in the US.

Americans are such barbarians. Always looking at their watches and hurrying you along. They do not understand Time.

Mark: ‘Hi. How you doing?’ (Do not anwser! This is merely salutatory. They do not want do know how your doing.)

Before you can answer Mark continues;

‘Could you go over these figures and get back to me?’

“Is next week okay?”

“Can I have it later today?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Okay. You should come over for dinner soon.” And Mark walks away.

ALL POC know you need to approach the main subject AFTER some sort of personal exchange to establish trust, rapport and bonding. They’re paranoid. Cant blame them.

Black Man1: Hey brother. What you been up to?
Black man 2: Bro I spent the night down at Benni’s with a fine piece of ass.

JayZ and the black Amercian billionaire brigade would tell us this is why black people are still poor. Maybe that’s true in America and of teenage boys.

And it depends on how you measure wealth and value don’t it?

Igbo Man1: Odogwu! We do not see you again in the village square. (Meaning: You must be too broke to perform in social and civic life.)
Igbo Man2: Ogbu Agu. You know the big masquerades don’t need to come out often. (Meaning: I’m powerful enough not to need frequent displays of power. They are establishing status which is very important to Igbo men and women too.)

Then –

IgboMan1: You are looking very fine. Tell me how you do it?
IgboMan2: (His response will depend on the level of intimacy and trust between the speakers.) We are trying. Or ‘My brother you need to come to Abuja. That is where it is happening.’

Igbo Woman1: Wife of Okorie. (Or Mama Ngozi. Or Teacher. Or even Mummy.) You don wake? How are Ngozi, Emeka, Jide, Amara and Chidundu? (Each new inquiry comes after a report has been given of the preceding one by African woman 2. Unless of course they are the new breed of Igbo woman – the politicians.)

Igbo Woman2: (Ditto)

After 5 or 30 minutes depending they’ll come around to discuss the business. Because time belongs to us and relationships are more important than productivity.

Harvard and Wharton who charge big big money call it breaking the ice. We call it good manners. Just like taking a bottle of liquor and and gifts to a leader before asking a favor is good manners. And breaking the ice. Not much different from flowers or tickets to a Yankees game or Hamilton.

Let’s cut to the chase and not pretend to care. The Illuminati, (which I shall henceforth call the global elite of any nationality because its easier and more fun to do so) – that the super exclusive league of global masquerades – just smash the ice with cash, expensive toys and baubles anyway.

BTW: While new money struts around and shows off, old money consolidates power.

Our ways made us care because it made us have to look at each other and actually ‘see’ each other. Each relationship had specific obligations that maintained it.

I digress.

White people are such barbarians. Always in a hurry. Where are they hurrying to? The grave? They don’t care about anyone but their wife and children. So selfish.

Thank Mother God I returned before I became a complete barbarian!

 

 

 

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The Gospel According To Lesley: Talking About Beauty, SLEEP WELL O

 

Sleep covers a multitude of sins. Take my word for it. Have you ever recovered from an illness and someone says “Ah, you look so well”? Sleep and rest are linked to all sorts of good outcomes. I used to sleep three four hours a night. If I slept a long time I slept 6 hours. And no matter what time I went to bed I couldn’t sleep beyond 9am. My conscience would have me out of bed and running around like a headless chicken after an all night binge that ended at 7am.

“Work hard and play harder.” I famously said once. “Not on two hours of sleep” the Universe replied and hit me with thyrotoxicosis.

Now I get my uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep every night.  If I go to bed late, I wake up late. If I have a sleep deficit I make up for it real quick. Next night where ever possible. And I sleep late on Sundays. Every Sunday. Just lounge around in bed reading, napping and ringing the bell for service.  If god could rest one day out of seven then so can I god damn it. Its my definition of ‘Keeping The Sabbath.’ No other rules apply.

olumide_oresegun
Oil painting by Oresegun Olumide

In Nigeria I can bloody well do that too because everything runs on ‘African Time’ anyway. Even the Mexicans know about it. When we plan events and we want the event to start by 6pm we never put that on the invitation. We put noon on the invitation hoping the guests will start to arrive by 6pm. And start at midnight anyway. Go figure. Anyway its part of our planning process, African Time is. I know all you Nigerians in abroad find it infuriating. Kpele.

Depending on the power dynamics I can arbitrarily reschedule a 9am appointment or even not inform you that its been rescheduled at all if I need a couple hours of extra sleep. You’re probably late anyway. My sleep is more important than your good will.

It wasn’t easy putting my needs first, at first. My ‘oyibo’ conscience would scream at me and burden me to get to the meeting and I would convince myself that 3 hours of sleep was okay because I felt just fine.  Margeret Tatcher famously slept 4 hours a night. She had Alziemers or dementia or something when she died. So did my late mother in law who also had sleep problems.

I don’t play with my sleep o.

My bedroom is the nicest room in the house, airy, comfy and soothing. Music, yes. television, no. No television in bed. Only a couple of books on the night stand. My boudoir. I try to fall asleep and wake up feeling happy to be alive.

I also know how to sleep rough. Catching as many or as few hours as possible in the most uncomfortable conditions. Because  sometimes even where you sleep is determined by power dynamics and you sleep and wake up with uncertainty. And maybe work hard to escape and create a personal sense of security. Or status. Or dignity. Refusing to give in to those forces. Or giving in.

Don’t compromise where you sleep o and – as my friend used to say – who you sleep with it. And why.

Till soon.

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Look Back the Way Which You Have Come

 

With my niece in Moscow Sept 2013
Selfie with my niece in Moscow Sept 2013

I’m still in a nostalgic and reflective mood. I think about the future I want. I think about going back to Nigeria. I think about my year abroad. I go through the souvenirs I squirrelled away this past year. Leaves from Moscow painstakingly dried in between the pages of my aunt’s big fat encyclopaedia. Match books and match boxes from hotels and restaurant in Moscow and St. Pete’s. Post cards from touristy land marks littered across the Sussex country side.

 

A pebble from Salisbury cathedral, a stone from one-thousand year old St. Martins in Westmeston, paper book marks from libraries and summer book fairs, my mother’s old frying pan, set of lead crystal goblets purchased at a farmers market in Ditchling. Coasters from quaint English pubs with names like The Bull, The White Horse and The Lone Hare & Rabbit. Pine cones. Old pictures to fill the gaps in my family album. Lots of new pictures. I feel very rich indeed.

 

I go through the memories and the experiences and I feel even richer.

 

How I walked the wind-blown South Downs and enjoyed the freedom of living without bars on the windows and doors. Cooking with new vegetables whose names I never heard of before – like kolhrabi, salsify and who knew there is such a thing as blue potatoes? I ate a lot of lamb, and salmon and scones filled with strawberry jam and cream. I ate a lot of cheesecake, and black bread, and KFC chicken. I ate lots and lots of blueberries, and I drank lots and lots of ale and Cherry Coke. And I gained 10 kilograms!

 

I went to Stonehenge for the summer solstice and danced all night on the sacred stone till the sun came up with my epiphany. I met some really cool people there. I visited broken down castles and forts in Sussex and heard echoes of lives past. I sang Christmas carols with the natives (I mean locals) at the village pub, volunteered to help the homeless. I enjoyed going out and blending in instead of sticking out like a sore thumb on a white man.

 

In Moscow I plugged into my matrix and visited my mother’s grave so many times she asked me to stay with the living for a while. But I went and visited Peter the Greats palace on the Ural seas, hung out for a bit in his back yard and had lunch with the ghosts that prowl Petergof instead.  My horoscope says I should live in the city of my birth for good health, long life and vitality. I will think about it.

 

I’ve also completed the first draft of the historical family saga I am writing. I visited lots of libraries, read lots of books about 19th century Igbo land. I even read an original 1829 account of an expedition to the Niger. I copied strange old school English names off tomb stones in ancient church cemeteries to populate my story with authenticity.

 

Not bad.

Selfie
Selfie -January 5, 2014