Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Working and Christmassing at the mall

I'm alive! Sorry, I don't even want to bore you with my excuses...but here goes! The internet broke down, then my mobile broadband stopped working, then my laptop crashed and when I tried my hand at blogging from my mobile, I'd spend ages trying to send a message and then accidentally erase it with the slip of a finger (damn sensitive touchscreens!). So here I am, at the Vodafone cafe at Accra mall. In between work emails I thought I'd send a quick message out.

From now on I'll definitely try harder at the phone blogging, but that means no links, no photos and much, much shorter texts. Hopefully that will mean I'll blog more frequently? Let's see.

By the way, so far I think the mall is the best place to come in Accra for a bit of Christmas spirit. Being here has almost cured my I-can't-believe-I'm-spending-Christmas-in-the-tropics-again depression.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Funeral Politics

It's been a weary two weeks. The shocking news of a friend's death left me out of sorts. I spent the week looking forward to the weekend for some moments of peace and time to deal with the sad news. It seemed I'd forgotten where I'd be for most of the weekend: at a funeral! Yes, three weeks ago that was the shocking news that hit, my uncle died suddenly at the age of 67.

So Friday evening was spent planning for our trip at dawn to the Eastern Region. Now, you only need to spend a few months in Ghana to realise that funerals are the greatest social event. This is where businessmen network, politicians work up their political capital and... single men and women look out for a future partner! Of course, with so much focus on the event, there are rules that go with it too.

1. We sent Em to her (paternal) grandparents for the weekend as children and pregnant women are not meant to go to funerals (the dead person's spirit can enter the child's or foetus' soul).

2. I searched through my funeral clothes for something black - since he was under 70 years old, black is the colour to wear, unless the family selects other colours, e.g. black and red, or brown. If he were above 70, black and white is accepted and if over 80, white is worn to celebrate the long life lived.
This picture refuses to turn upright, sorry!

3. I then made sure I didn't select a sparkly or one of the shinier outfits as that would not be appropriate considering my close relationship to the deceased (my dad's brother). In addition, I picked out a pair of dark pearl earrings, again, solemn enough for the event. Although, once we got out into the sun, my mum complained that they were too bright, but once I had my dad's approval, I kept them on.

4. During the week we also had to make sure my new little family was presented, so Virgo came along, and from my mother's family, my uncle and cousin, to ensure we fully represented the other side of my dad's family.

There are so many other rules that make up the funeral politics of Ghana, how to shake hands, what to eat and drink and who gets buried on which side of the cemetry, but I'll save that for another day. Interestingly, we somehow managed to get into some real politics as my second cousin, an MP in the area, was holding his mother's funeral the same day.

So the sad day ended on a pleasant note after Virgo met his political chums, we all said goodbye to relatives and enjoyed the beautiful green scenery on our way home. Well, that was until we hit Winneba junction. More on that later...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Marie Antoinette lives in all of us.

I think it happens to most of us, well those of us who live a 'privileged life'. At least once in a lifetime there's a moment in which, if you're humble enough, you'll realise the everyday assumptions you make and be grateful for what you've got.
I'll give two examples:

A family friend went to complain at ECG after tehy had turned off the electricity one too many times. Very upset, he explained to them "all my meat, fish and chicken are spoiling due to the lights off!".
To which the ECG man responded " Ey, whilst some of us are struggling to find food to eat, you are complaining about a freezer overflowing with meat!".
Needless to say, he walked away feeling a bit ashamed about his 'frivolous' complaint.

The 2nd example is my own (and I'm still embarrassed by it). Two years ago when we went to Takoradi, just around Cape Coast we first saw a funeral by the roadside, then for several hundred meters afterwards we saw many people in funeral clothes walking towards the funeral. After a while, completely confused, I asked Virgo, "Why did they park so far away from the funeral???".
Virgo, turned to me quite horrified (probably picturing Marie Antoinette in front of him in all her pompidouesqueness) before he answered, "they don't have cars, they're walking from their homes!".

Never before or after has it been so clear to me what a comfortable life I lead. I hope I never have such a moment again as it means I would have lost touch, then again I am grateful for it as it was a reality check and gave me a lot of giggles.

What's your worst Marie Antoinette* moment?

*Marie Antoinette's cry of, "Let them eat cake!" was the straw that broke the camel's back during the French Revolution. The story goes that Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, was informed that her subjects were starving because they had no bread. She was so pampered and out of touch with the reality of life for the poor that she responded, "Let them eat cake," which is what she would have done if she were out of bread. Marie Antoinette was convicted of treason and executed in 1793, months after her husband, King Louis XVI, had suffered the same fate.
Marie Antoinette explanation borrowed from here

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Ted Turner & Co unnoticed in Ghana

Did you know that Ted Turner, Gro Harlem Bruntland, Andrew Young and Kofi Annan were (possibly are) just in Ghana? I wouldn't blame you for not knowing, if you're not following to the news too alertly, you will only hear that 'Kofi Annan and some NGOs visit Old Tafo in Kumasi'.

I think Ghana journalism has hit another low point when our major television networks firstly waste a good ten minutes on a phone conversation with a party footsoldier discussing why he believes a certain political figure should run for president, only to then spend just 30-45 seconds on the report of NGOs and Kofi Annan in Kumasi with the camera filming, and missing to acknowledge or even better, interview these world known figures (who knows which other renowned persons may have been there but not in camera view?).

They were in Kumasi as part of the UN Foundation Board of Directors to raise awareness about the immunization against measles, a national programme that will take place between the 3 and 6th of November. I just hope that message about the measles vaccine was clear and got to the general public. After I realised their blunder, I kind of zoned out...and started blogging!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Immigrants shot in Malmö, Sweden

I read something to day which really depressed me. A young man of foreign descent has been shot in Malmö and it seems this is one of many shootings targeting foreigners in Malmö. This evening two women have been shot (Swedish) through a window to an apartment. This makes the police' advice that foreigners ought to avoid going out after dark completely useless, clearly even in their (our?) own homes they'll be targeted.

This is bringing forth memories of Lasermannen, the man who in the early Nineties targeted, shot and murdered immigrants around Sweden. It is also completely in line with the recent elections and the entry into Parliament by the nationalistic party, the Sweden Democrats. It is typical that the election result would boost some racist's confidence in that he/she can do anything to foreigners in Sweden.

I hate the idea of these innocent persons being targeted for nothing other than their features and ethnic background. Unfortunately, I have no reason to have faith in the Swedish police service, they've disappointed the country on far too many occasions. As foreigners are being cautioned to consider where they go and at what hours, I can't help but agree with Alexandra Pascalidou (Swedish), surely the Police' actions and advice would have been very different if the offenders had been a moslem 'terrorist' group targeting Swedes?

Here's hoping there's some positive news tomorrow. Goodnight.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Life is a soap opera!

This afternoon I've been tuning in and out of CNN to follow the rescue of the Chilean miners. As we are discussing the impressive planning and organisation that Chile has shown the word, suddenly a Facebook friend of mine reveals a side drama that is going on behind the scenes: Apparently the 21st miner, Yonni Barrios Rojas, has both a wife and a mistress who only learnt of each other's existence when both applied for compensation in his name.

Both wife and mistress were expected to be at the mine to meet him, but only one of them turned up. The news networks have been speculating whether it is the wife or the mistress who was there, I followed it through my Facebook friend who said:

"Conflicting news on the identity of the woman who greeted Barrios at the surface. Chilean TV say wife. CNN go with mistress. BBC reckon wife."


According to this website, the wife (of 28 years!) decided not to show up, so he will be met by his mistress.

Never again will I think that the storylines in telenovelas are exaggerated!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Introduction to potty training.

I usually let Em run around without a nappy for a bit every day to air her little botty, it just feels a bit cruel that this little person should have to wear a nappy 24 hours a day. Also, I read somewhere that children who go diaperless are pottytrained faster. This evening, she was running around, no nappy in sight, being a little busybody, when my mum - who had been taking care of her all day whilst Virgo and I were in business meetings - said "She still hasn't pooed today". We continued doing what we were doing, watching TV, on the internet, eating dinner when suddenly I catch something happening. Almost seeing it in slowmotion, I watched in horror as a solid, soft, brown mass fell between Em's legs on to the marble tiles.

"Poo, poo, poo!", I heard mysef yelling as the next few minutes turned into what looked like a well choreographed farce. I threw myself over the newly bought toilet roll, ripping of the plastic as fast as I could, as my mum tried to identify any other defacated areas (there were four in total) and Virgo simultaneously picked Em up, took her to the bathroom and washed her down.

All this took place in a matter of about 90 seconds after which we all got back to normal as if nothing ever happened. Well, it's good to know what to expect in the next few months when potty training begins!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Spare me a drop, please!

Yesterday morning around 6 a.m. my mum luckily caught the radio news where it was reported that the whole of Tema (stretching all the way from Sakumono/Lashibi to Ningo/Prampram) would be without water for 48 hours due to a fault at Kpone. Immediately we gathered all bowls and buckets and fetched as much water as possible before the taps dried up. Somehow, that day we managed our loss of flowing water smoothly.

Today, however, I am fed up. Not only has the last week been so hot that one could use a good 3 power showers a day to survive, I'm sick and tired of having to think through every step of ordinary life. Need to brush my teeth? Ok, the sachet water is somewhere in the kitchen. Want to flush the toilet? Oops, no water left? Guess I'll have to use Em's old bath water to do that.

This evening, because we're all too exhausted (and sweaty) to think of how we'll cook and clean, we've decided against a proper dinner. My mum's got some snacks out, Virgo's munching on Digestives and apple juice and I'm about to have some crackerbread (knackebrod) and treat myself to a Nescafe cappuccino. After that I'll have to open up a good 15 sachets of water into a bucket to have my evening bath. I hate this!

If the water's not flowing by tomorrow, I will need to sue someone. Who's with me?

Monday, 4 October 2010

Sushi lunch in Accra

There's been a rumour going round town (well, my circle of friends) all year. With no real facts to support it, it was beginning to sound like an urban myth. Is there really a place in Osu that serves sushi at lunchtime? If so where? It got to a point where none of us could figure out who actually said it first, where we could find out more and whether there really was any truth to the rumour.

The reason for our desperation? Ever since Noble House stopped serving sushi, as far as I know, the only sushi restaurant in central Accra (not to be confused with Accra Central which incudes Makola and its surrounding areas) is Monsoon. Its sushi restaurant opens at 7pm leaving those of us who can't be in Osu at that time, with no where at all to find sushi.

Anyways, about two weeks ago, Dee told me that she had heard that the lunch sushi joint was above Tantra, and since I'd been sushi starved for months, it only took a few days before I was there, having sushi with La Baselette, before she left Ghana once again.

The restaurant is called 3121, or something similar, for some reason the name has escaped me. It is above Tantra (the eurotechno nightclub), down the side road between Penta Hotel and Barclays on Oxford street. There's a Chinese restaurant in the same yard...but its name also vanished from my memory.

The verdict?
The food was good, tasty, but the rice wasn't as well prepared as Monsoon's. Everything was about 1 or 2 cedis more expensive than Monsoon, but there seemed to be more options available.

The interior was neat although the decor seemed heavily inspired by Memoirs of a Geisha (including actual promotional pictures from the movie), which was a bit weird.

Now, I think I've told you all you need to know, go taste it for yourselves and bon appetit!

By the way, for you other foodians out there, there seems to be a new website coming out that will be of interest to us, Eat out Ghana.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Sitting at the centre of the world

So much to write about but I am oh so tired, so for now I will just mention my quick stop to the centre of the world. After a week that wasn't half bad, with enough time to relax, reflect, exercise and clean, this Saturday made a lovely weekend day. Lunch at the Poetress',scrumptious as always, consisting of jollof with squid, deliciously sauteed mushrooms and quickfried spinach with sundried tomatoes. From there Em and I met up with Virgo and roamed around town for a bit, then headed back to Tema with a necessary takeaway pack of wakye from Katawodieso (see how easily I can describe my whole life with food?!).

(Picture of Ave Maria borrowed from mokocharlie.com)
Then we spontaneously decided to head to Ave Maria (formerly Tema Beach Club, I think). Somehow it was so rejuvenating and energy boosting to look out at the sea and be able to tell Em, "look, we're at the centre of the world!".

After that short trip of about thirty minutes, we headed home and ate our wakye. After putting Em to bed, I sat down to work on an agreement that I ought to have worked on much earlier in the week and couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for myself for working on a Saturday evening when I was so tired. And still, my little visit to Ave Maria reminded me that the world really is my oyster, anything is possible!

With that thought, I am going to read a chapter or two of Eat, Pray, Love, then sleep!

*Ave Maria is not technically the centre of the world, but Ghana and specifically Tema is the closest land to the centrepoint of the world, and since the Meridian grid is just a few metres from Ave Maria, that's our little reminder anytime we Temaites need to feel special.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Sweden votes 2010 (2)

I was really impressed that when I checked the results at 20:00, i.e. 22:00 Swedish time, approximatey 97-98% of the votes had been counted, just two hours after voting!

As I told Virgo, compared to Ghana, that's really impressive. In Ghana, if I remember correcty, after the last election, 90+% of the votes were in by 5:00 the next morning. Still, even Ghana's votecounting is impressive and must considered advanced compared to Afghanistan. Elections took place on Saturday and we can expect results...in a month's time?!?

Eeeeh.... doesn't that leave ample time for just about anyone to have a whole new set of voter cards printed, distributed and sent to replace the original ones in every corner of the country? I'm just saying...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sweden votes 2010

The Swedish elections are over and counting almost done. From not showing much interest a few weeks and months ago, I suddenly found myself growing more and more interested this week and have spent most of my free time today getting updates.

I wasn't surprised the Socialdemocrats lost, but for them to achieve the lowest number of votes since 1914 is quite a shock. Interestingly however is that among first-time voters, the Socialdemocratic party was the most popular party. Perhaps, the future is bright?

The other news that left me feeling nauseous is that of the Sweden Democrats getting 5.8% of the vote, and therefore getting seats in Parliament. Still I agree with my friend HF who said (and here I am loosely translating):

SD in Parliament...*vomiting*... perhaps it is good that Sweden is forced to confront its inner racist. How many Iranian doctors don't we have who are forced to drive taxis because they are not taken seriously by the authorities. One can't place blame elsewhere this time - Sweden has a racism problem, and now we'll get the opportunity to deal with it.

It is true that there is a huge problem with racism that is often disregarded, ignored, or brushed off. Now it will be a very real and present issue in Sweden and it will be interesting to see if the number of people who start sentences by saying "I am not a racist, but..." will increase, or rather they'll say "I am a racist and therefore...".

I think I prefer the latter. At least then we know what we're dealing with.

For more on the Swedish elections see Kajsa's blog.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

A bloggi-blog world

In the past few (mainly internet free) weeks, I have spent some minutes every night mentally writing blogposts which I know will never be published. Each day I feel a slight guilt for again not posting anything. Isn't it strange? To whom am I feeling guilty: you or me? A bit of both, but mainly to the fact that when I'm doing something I like to do it right, and to me 'doing it right' means writing a few times a week at least. I've considered shutting down the blog at least for a few months til things settle down, but I would miss it too much. I think I'd miss it as much as you'd miss an ex even if you initiated the breakup. And as I go through these thoughts, I am amused by how much emotional space blogging has in my life.

Another example is that one of my favourite Swedish bloggers, Alexandra Pascalidou, a well-known journalist, author and presenter has just stopped blogging. Not only did I feel saddened to read that, I felt genuinely upset on her behalf on the news that she had broken up from her child's father (who had the most adorable temporary blog, in Swedish). Just by reading her words and sharing the experiences of this person so far away, who I have never met, I have managed to in some way become a part of her life (whether she knows it or not).

Anyway, this is a bit of a rambling post, just a quick hello to my IRL and blogger friends to let you know I am still around. Life is a bit challenging at the moment, but the future is looking bright, so hopefully sometime towards the end of the year, we'll have settled and there'll be more time for blogging, blogging, blogging!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Back...for now

Hm I made one little comment in support of Tetekai's complaints about Vodafone and suddenly I was cut off for two weeks. Personal vendetta, anyone? Now I'm back, who knows for how long...

If you see short posts from me with no pictures or links, it means I'm attempting to blog from my phone as I don't think I can handle another blog abstinence. It's been frustrating having so much to say and nowhere to write it. Luckily I know better than to attempt going to an internet cafe with a daughter as headstrong, active and loud as my Em (learnt that the hard way at Vodafone in Cantonments), but hopefully the phone will save me when Vodafone tries to shut me down the next time.

For now I am going to enjoy my delicious light supper of German Rye bread (from Evergreen in Tema) with Mozzarella (Maxmart Tema), some slices of tomato, chopped garlic and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. With that, a 'cocktail' of Cranberry juice and tonic water. Mmmmm!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Pakistan needs our help

I feel a bit uneasy when I hear reports of the recent Pakistan floods. Something is missing. At first I couldn’t pinpoint what it was then, as I heard the CNN reporter for the third time mention that Ban Ki-moon calls this the worst disaster he has seen, it hit me: there is no sympathy. It is being reported in the same sensationalist way you’d report a concert with a record number of viewers.

Whilst the reporter sent to China is crying (which cold-hearted Virgo and I both found very unprofessional), the reporter in Pakistan is speaking with an excitement that makes me uncomfortable. It seems I am not the only one who has noticed the unsympathetic reactions to this massive disaster, last night I briefly heard another report that was trying to investigate why we global citizens are not really reacting to these floods. One of the reasons mentioned was that the death toll is reasonably low (if I had stayed, it seemed they were to tell us this isn’t even true). Meanwhile in an article urging us to make donations to Pakistan’s flood victims, the following is stated:

"The U.N. wants to spotlight the enormity of the disaster, which is bigger than the 2004 Asian tsunami, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, and this year's Haiti earthquake, yet has attracted far less in donations."

I think you, like me, might be surprised by this statement, especially considering the amount of support, attention, physical and financial donations and empathy that was given during the tsunami and the Haiti earthquake. It is shocking how little is being done to help this time around. From what I hear, 20% of Pakistan is under water. In a cruel twist of fate, the country being flooded has left many in desperate need of clean drinking water (don’t the powers that be have a twisted sense of humour?).

It’s time to push aside all prejudice about Pakistan as a country of terrorists, suicide bombers, or thoughts like ’they’re so used to suffering anyway’, ‘no whites/blacks/Christians are injured’, whatever it is that is blocking the outpouring of sympathy that would usually flow after a natural disaster. If you can, give, possibly to Save the Children here, or if in Sweden, follow these instructions:
"Barn i Pakistan behöver vatten, medicin och skydd nu! Många dör varje dag. Du kan vara med och rädda liv för en liten slant. Smsa BARN till 72950 och ge 200 kr. Sänd gärna vidare! Mvh Rädda Barnen"


And of course, if cash no dey, a little prayer doesn't cost a thing!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Under lock & key

I've been feeling a bit down for the past few days, so down I haven't been able to write. Why? Since Sunday I've been under house arrest. No, this has nothing to do with my political convictions or profession, but rather I made the mistake of leaving my car key on the sofa. Saturday morning, in the corner of my eye, I caught Em playing with it and when I went to take it from her a few minutes later, it was nowhere to be found. We searched as much as we could that morning, but in order to make it to the Homowo celebrations (more on that later), we gave up. Em's car seat was in my car, but luckily, since one of the doors is a bit shifty, I was able to break my way in, unlock the car doors and get her seat out.

After a lovely Saturday that ended too late for key searching, I went to bed and woke up Sunday morning with new energy to look for the key. Every sofa cushion was turned over, I crawled around the floor looking underneath all the furniture, checked any boxes, bags, pots, ANYTHING, that this 17-month old is tall enough to reach into, including her new favourite toy: the toilet brush (nice). Removed all the shoes from the shoe rack and searched through each shoe, thoroughly. Anywhere I'd pass, I'd think 'could the key be here?'.

This routine (i.e. search the sofa, floor, shoes, boxes, etc.) continued on Monday and Tuesday. By Tuesday afternoon I had opened up and refolded all the laundry, checked unused cassette and VHS compartments, emptied all handbags and changing bag, before I finally gave up.

Then I thought, let me check the night stand one last time. On my way there i glanced at the bed and realised there was a tiny gap between the mattress and the bedframe. Need I say more? Of course, that is where I found the key to my teeny, tiny Tata! I swear, I can't remember the last time I felt so jump-up-and-down, screaming-at-the-top-of-my-voice happy!

Suddenly I could feel the joy I should have felt at noon after completing three agreements long before my deadlines. The key-finding energy lasted all the way til that evening, where I pushed away all tired feelings and headed onto the Tema Motorway for la Baselette's cosy birthday celebrations in Accra.

Although this morning I am still on a slight high, somehow I can't stop myself from looking around, for a key I have already found!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Smollenskys Accra

Yesterday I had lunch at Smollenskys. I hadn't heard of the name until Afua started going on about it a few months ago, but apparently it's a known chain of bar/restaurants in London which has now arrived in our very own Accra. In Accra, you'll find it at the top of the Kosmos/ProCredit building, opposite Silver Star tower.

I went there with the Poetress and had already been told that there was no set menu, you basically request and see whether the kitchen can offer what you want. I had the seafood plate with veg (yes, I have finally banished most carbs so I rejected the potatoes, yam chips and rice that was offered). I got a mix of fish, squid and prawns, unfortunately served in a creamy sauce. Unfortunately, because I think the seafood flavours would have been better presented in a crisp stir fry or grill, but fortunately the creamy sauce was delicious! The Poetress also seemed to enjoy her tuna with half a portion of jollof and half yam chips.

It was refreshing to sit in a quiet, breezy rooftop joint, but of course, as soon as I uttered the words "what do they do when it rains?", it started drizzling!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The train has come to town!

The other day I had some errands on the Spintex road. Seeing the traffic heading towards Tetteh Quarshie, I decided to drive all the way down the Spintex home to Tema. I'm glad I did. Not only did I catch that breathtaking view, as you turn the corner at the top of a little hill in Sakumono town, only to see the sea open up in front of you, with sand, palm trees and a bit of Tema harbour featuring on the left side.

I, of course opened my window to catch a few gasps of fresh sea air; all salt, freshness and fish fused into a perfect blend. The biggest surprise was at the end of the beach stretch. Suddenly the few cars in front of me ground to a halt. Just as I was about to get impatient, it came: out of a tiny tunnel ahead of us was a train!

I could have pinched myself for not having a camera (I left it at home, but since it's gone dead it wouldn't have helped me anyway). I tried taking a mental photo, and if I had had pen and paper I could easily have drawn a picture of it for you, at the 'speed' it choo-chooed past us. Luckily I found one online instead (thank you Ghana Business News!). Isn't it a beaut in its red, gold and green? And of course, there's a black star between every window!

Now, where does one go for a testride and how on earth do I stop singing this song every time I think of it?

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A new local delicacy?

In the past few days two things have had me in disgusted shock. First, a blog post written by the Poet. That is, before the shock released and I laughed til I cried (poor Em was consoling her mummy, not realising I wasn't actually sad).

Yesterday, however, I heard something even more shocking. As I was driving in Ringway Estates with Joy playing in the background, the news reader suddenly mentioned that a man had recently found a g-string in his kenkey!

I don't know, my mind is filled with so many questions, how, why, whaaaaat?! But really and truly, I don't think I want an answer to any of my many queries (was the g-string new or old, clean or...worn, why and how were underwear and food so close to each other that they'd get mixed up, etc, etc), because each question just leads me to shudder more than the last.

I just thank my lucky stars most of my food is prepared at home and kenkey happens to be one of the few Ghanaian dishes I don't eat.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Visiting the DVLA

After three weeks of car-sharing, I finally got a new battery for my car and was off to run some errands. Of course before I'd even driven 200 metres, I realised both the road worthy and insurance had expired. Within three minutes I was stopped by a policeman. In the end he let me go after I, in a very bored voice explained that I was on my way to DVLA and the insurance company, but first of all the bank because I wasn't carrying any money, hint, hint (little did he know I actually had a few hundred cedis on me!).

On my way into Accra I tried calling my usual DVLA contacts but with no luck. See, I have to admit that despite driving a car for almost five years in Ghana, I have never done the road worthy myself. After hearing tales of people waiting for hours to get it done, I just didn't see the point of doing that myself. After several failed calls, it became clear that today, I had no way out. After my morning meeting, I headed towards 37, to the DVLA office.

So inexperienced was I that I drove past all the car inspection points, parked, got down and then asked an officer what I do. He looked quite amused, then probably took pity on me with Em in my arms, just in her nappy (she had poured water in her shorts) so he guided us step by step on how to get it done. Can you believe that within 25 minutes I was done? Then, little did I know, all the major insurance companies have agent offices next door, so within another ten minutes I had sorted out my insurance. Never again will I feel the need to call up my own 'agents' to sort me out!

Now, I can't decide whether to put up my new stickers or play the little trick a friend of mine, S, does: he leaves the expired stickers up, let's a policeman stop him (the policeman juicing at the idea of the hefty bribe he'll be able to take home). Then, just as the police man starts "Good morning, sir...", my friend slides his hand into the glove compartment and flashes him the valid insurance and road worthy! The most entertaining part is that the police officer is so unable to conceal his disappointment, he'll actually kiss his teeth before angrily waving him off!

I think I may have to try that for a few days...

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Fimbles & Flu

Days, weeks, months are flying by and I don't know if it's me, old age or 2010 that really is racing by? So many things happening at once but somehow in their own time. Last week started out filled with meetings, work, appointments and crisscrossing all over Accra. Of course the reward for that was getting stuck in the mother of all traffic at the end of the week, just making it in time to the doctor's before closing, only to be diagnosed with a respiratory infection (is that a fancy word for the flu?)

Spent the weekend resting, recovering and socialising. Halfway through recovery I managed another day of work, appointments and meetings yesterday. I was close to completing some very important work when I realised Em had a fever. So that meant pushing aside any feverish, drowsy feelings of my own, working hard last night and this morning, to finally be able to send of the important document by 10am. That way, I've been able to spend all day nursing my little darling who only wants to drink water, be carried by her mama and watch the Fimbles.

(Image borrowed from here)

As I walk her up and down the corridor, hoping she'll fall asleep and sleep off her flu, I don't know whether it's my own flu or thoughts that are making me dizzy, trying to figure out how we are almost in August.

And when do mothers go on holiday???

Thursday, 15 July 2010

My Tema

For almost three weeks we've been staying in Tema, and will probably be there for another couple of months whilst some issues are sorted out on our house. Of course the days before we were moving here, I continuously told Virgo of the virtues of living in Tema (as I have told you guys many times in this blog): The lack of traffic, constantly flowing water, good internet access and general organisation of the city.

Naturally, the forces that be decided to mess with me as soon as we got here. On the Sunday, whilst we were packing, I called the caretaker of the house and asked whether there have been power or water shortages since he moved in (six months ago). 'No, nothing' was his answer which I smugly conveyed to Virgo, then ordered for our water tanks and generator to go to storage.

We arrived Monday night around 7pm. I thought the water pressure seemed low and laughed, 'this means that they've turned off the water in some other community, don't worry, this is as bad as it gets'. An hour later the taps were dry. Bone dry. And we didn't have water for another 25 hours!

Friday night, the electricity went out and was off for four hours. In between that, we suffered with traffic sometimes almost half an hour just to get to the Ashiaman interchange toll booth. Needless to say, Virgo was enjoying mocking me, 'My Tema, my Tema' he'd squeak in a falsetto voice (it sounds nothing like me) any time we'd spend more time in traffic here than in Accra.

Still, all that was probably just to put me in my place for being so smug, because for the past week there's been no traffic any time we're heading out, water, internet and electricity are constantly working and this morning the mocker himself turned to me and said:
'You know what? Tema is actually a great place to live in. Once you pass Tetteh Quarshie, you just zoom down the motorway and you're home to everything you need'.

What can I say? Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Angelina Jolie in Ghana

So after a month of fun and excitement and only one topic of conversation, it seems we're back to reality. Goodbye to this:




And hello work deadlines, temporary move to Tema, cluelessly selecting nurseries for Em (aaahhh, my girl's all grown up already!) and lots of planning and strategising.

Well, at least we can entertain ourselves with the news that a certain celeb is coming to town. Yes, if rumours are to be believed, Angelina Jolie lands in Accra tomorrow! Want a celebrity spotting? My best bet is to ignore Joy's tips on where she'll go, just hang around Osu Children's Home long enough, surely she's not planning to leave Africa without another kid, lol!

Friday, 2 July 2010

The Black Stars are out

So it seems we've been kicked out of the big game. I have to say, I wouldn't have had us lose any other way, we fought til the last second of the game and we all know there's no way of telling which way penalties will go.

Directly afte the game Virgo spoke to an acquaintance who pointed out the only silver lining of losing - the streets will be safe. He'd driven out between extra time and penalties and had seen people standing on the top of moving vehicles ready to party away. If there's one thing Ghanaians are not, it is good winners. When we win, rejoicing (and drinking) takes over completely, cars can stop in the middle of fast moving traffic for the driver and passengers to get out and dance (believe me, I got stuck behind such a car during CAN 2008, and no, it's not as fun as it sounds).

Luckily, unlike our European counterparts, we are excellent losers. We take about thirty minutes to recover from shock and those are the thirty minutes within which we solemly make our way home. Once home, we realise, hey, life is still good, we had a good run and yes, it is good to be Ghanaian, and alas, the party can begin!

That's what I'm reading and hearing now, a facebook wall full of positive messages congratulating our Black Stars for a good tournament and outside the window, the closest drinking spot blasting music on the loudest volume. Usually I'd complain, but today I agree with the DJ as he just said "the party is just beginning!".

THANK YOU BLACK STARS!!!

Here we go, go, go Ghana!!!

Already there's a lot of nailbiting and fidgeting going on before the Uruguay-Ghana game this evening. Luckily, Ghana has not only the whole of Africa backing the Black Stars, Anjali Rau just said "Ghana it is", endorsing CNN's support for Ghana. Everyone wants to see an African side win, right?! I've got my flag ready (I swear, it has magic powers, last time Gyan scored just after I hang it up on the wall), the Ghana decorated vuvuzela has been dusted off and I'll be playing this song (another quality Omanye production) for most of the day.

Gooooo Ghana!!!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Introducing: Omanye

Sorry, it seems grief stole my blogging mojo, otherwise I'd have talked about the football, vuvuzelas, crown princess Victoria's wedding and many other things. It doesn't help that so many things are going on right now, with a lot of uncertainties and no time to rest my head. I just thought I'd share a bit of what I've been working on and am very proud of. Hope you enjoy (and please let me have your comments, whether you like it or not)!



And here's hoping there'll be more time to blog in July.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Umoja

Well, what can I say? It was fantastic! Graham I can understand why you've seen it several times, hope you got the opportuniy this time too!

I hope these pictures describe it better than my words can.




Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Grief

My heart is shocked and saddened by the news that a friend and former colleague has died.
I'll be back soon.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Hey Vodafone, what's my number?

A few weeks ago, I was dialling my good old friend (well, if you see my phone bill that's what you'd think) ECG when I was informed that instead of dialling 021-611611 I ought to dial 0302-611611. Until then I hadn't heard about the fact that Vodafone was in the process of changing all local dialling codes, apparently to conform with international standards, despite the fact that they claim to have advertised it.

Why am I suddenly thinking of this? Well, this is the eve of the Vodafone-020-whatever party, which I am reminded of every second by a certain facebook friend/event organiser who keeps bombarding the news feed with updates on the party.

Rather than feel "oh, I wish I could make it to the party", my thoughts are wandering off to the impact of this number change. (If you haven't heard yet, Accra's dial code is now 030-2 and Tema's is 030-3 instead of the old 021 and 022 respectively, and it seems every code in Ghana has changed except Takoradi's(well, from 031 to 031-20). Here's the full list of new numbers). Imagine all the million business cards, websites, office stationery, adverts, company-branded vehicles, etc, etc that will have to be changed now that these numbers have been introduced! From what I hear (not confirmed by any authority) this number change is taking place over a three month period! I would have expected at least a year-long transition, especially considering the abovementioned expenses and the time it may take to pass on this news to personal and corporate relations abroad.

So, my dear Vodafone, I'm seeing right through your 30/30 promotion and fancy party and instead worry more about the enormous cost to Ghanaian businesses if (this is Gh after all) they decide to refresh their contact information.

What's your take on this?

Friday, 21 May 2010

Virgin in Ghana

Have you heard of the newcomer in town? Yes, Virgin Atlantic will begin to fly between Accra and London (Heathrow) on Monday! I am very excited about this as I've never flown Virgin before but only heard good things about its service. Apparently starting offers were as low as £451 for a return economy flight and later these will cost about £850. Unfortunately I don't seem able to check from Accra on the Virgin Atlantic website, but I'm sure they're office will be able to handle any queries.

After passing the building (which is kind of opposite the Woolworths/British Airways building) and curiously watching the development it was nice to finally see the sign and realise which company was moving into Airport Residential Area.


(Aren't you impressed by my driving and photographing skills?)

Monday, 17 May 2010

Rain, finally!

I've been in a somewhat delirious state all week. Why? Because rain and the cool air that comes with it has finally arrived. Just as I was dropping Virgo off (we've been car-sharing for the past two weeks) I said, "It looks like it's about to rain". Two minutes later, heavy rains poured all over Accra. Of course, it was only at this point I realised that I didn't know how to turn on the wipers of the petite Tata Indica I've been driving for most of this year!

Don't worry, it only took about thirty seconds until I found the wipes. Soon after, I pulled into Shell on Oxford Street as I had just remembered the air pressure in one tyre was low. Immediately, I was reminded of the Ghanaian's fear of rain as the air guys waved me off as if to say they couldn't serve me. Determined not to drive around in the rain with an almost flat tyre, I decided to shame them. I got down, (this was at the heaviest point of rainfall, within five seconds I was completely soaked) walked across the muddy patch slowly and confidently in lovely heels, then exclaimed "You have no air, not even for one tyre?!"

Of course I knew that once they had seen a well-dressed woman walk through the showers there was no way five men would be able to blame the rain for not being able to work, and as expected I left with a nicely pumped up tyre.

Since then, nothing major has happened, but puzzle pieces of both work and private life seem to slowly be falling into place. And it is with a smile that I am now going to bed, because for the first time in two years (note: I wasn't here last summer) I have chosen not to turn on the AC at night (usually ECG makes that choice for me) and I am actually...freezing! Is there any greater luxury in Ghana than that?!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Tired, sweet and salty

This whole week I've been extremely tired (as in lose-my-balance-and-almost-fall-over tired) and have had a pressure headache for the past 6 (!) days. Is it because of the change of season? If it means more rain and cooler temperatures, I swear, I'll happily walk around with this headache!

Of course, my fatigue wasn't helped by the fact that I went to see Date Night at Silverbird Cinemas yesterday (their movie times are not 'mummy friendly'), but I don't regret it one bit. Don't remember the last time I laughed so much and I enjoyed my mixed (sweet & salty) popcorn even more than I usually do, so it was worth it.

Today I was reminded of two things I really enjoy:
Whilst doing some business rounds, I went inside African Regent for the first time in ages. Suddenly all my great memories of sitting in there a few times a week with Ruby West who worked round the corner at the time, came back. It is still such a cosy environment with great interior, I may have to start hanging out there again.

Also, a blog I'm loving is Ghana Rising. For many reasons I don't manage to read it very often, but whenever I do I find interesting pieces on there, like now, loads of fantastic pictures capturing Ghana's history. Otherwise, the blogger, Paulina, usually features Ghanaians who are making their mark on the world. What a great initiative, and a great way for the rest of us, Ghanaians, Ghana lovers or other interested parties, to find out up this talented persons. Have a peek yourself!

With that, I bid you goodnight!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Umoja comes to Accra


During my years in London there was one show I always wanted to see and somehow always missed. And now I hear the good news, it's coming to Ghana! That's right, Umoja - the spirit of togetherness will be showing at the National Theatre on the 29th and 30th of May at 3pm and 7pm on each day. I have only heard the most passionate reviews from those who've seen the show so I'll be doing my best to find a babysitter on the day (hm, it might be a perfect time for Em and Virgo to have some father/daughter time, don't you think?) so that I'll finally be able to see it.

So now that I've done my humanitarian duty of informing you well ahead of time, let me get back to trying to sort out my hotmail account...

Monday, 3 May 2010

Hacked!

I was going to write about the lovely long weekend and all the things I could have done but chose not to do. Then I was going to entertain you with the drama of my latest househelp who left yesterday. But all that will have to wait because this evening a friend informed me that someone's gotten into my email and is sending the most random mail! I tried to login, but can't access it myself, clearly the password has been changed. Quickly I sought to protect my other email accounts (and of course this blog!) by changing their passwords before I lose them too.

Now I just hope there's someway of getting back into my hotmail account sooner or later, because after fifteen years together, I am kind of emotionally attached to my first ever email account with that funny username that I always have to explain to people. Also, I am really not ready to lose so many wonderful emails that have been sent to me by dear friends over the years, so please if you have any tips on how I can re-access my account, let me know.

All this has worsened the headache I've had today, I think I'm best off going straight to bed. I feel violated.
:(

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Save Ghana's textile industry!

A Facebook friend asked us how much of our warderobe is locally produced and linked to this BBC story about the African cotton industry's decline. After thinking about it, I guess my warderobe contains about 15% Ghanaian made clothes, but it is slowly on the increase. My latest project has been finding a good dressmaker (finally!) and having the traditional materials I received for my engagement sewn into beautiful clothes. In addition it is always fun to brighten up the warderobe with items from exciting lines like MAKSI clothing, Renee Q or good old MKOGH.
Two new additions to my warderobe


I love our traditional wear, the textures, colours and the way it drapes our shapes manage to make every woman look her best even on a regular day. So if we're being asked to invest more in our own textiles, count me in! It sounds like one of the most entertaining ways in which we can help Ghanaian industry and support the growing number of talented designers around.

Every girl needs a MAKSI dress!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Heading back out on the Accra scene

Some time ago a friend and I were discussing how our social activities seemed to have dwindled. We wondered whether this was because our friends suddenly considered us married and with children and as such not able to make it out. Well, if that's the case, friends, ask before you assume! Let me decide whether I'll be heading out or not, being married or a parent does not necessarily make you housebound.

As a result of my friends' unfortunate assumptions, I find myself making new friends and it seems I am slowly beginning to fill out my social calendar and discovering lovely new and old places around town. In the past few weeks, this has meant movie nigths at Silverbird Cinemas, dinner for la Baselette who was about to leave town at Il Cavaliere Pazzo at the Polo Club, which with it's beautiful interior and delicious food helped make the evening great (along with the fabulous company of course). If you go, do try the pain perdu, scrumptious dessert!
A few days later I was off to the Ghana Goes 2010 event at African Regent, arranged by fellow blogger Nana Darkoa and ended the evening with a light snack at Rhapsody's.
Dinner at Mama Mia:

In addition there's been trips to Till's Beach, my beloved Tema and evenings at Bella Roma and Mama Mia. Hm, could this, rather than Em, be the reason why I'm so tired?

So, my dear friends, it's not me, it's you! Whether you call me to come out or not, I'll make sure I'm having my own fun, one way or another!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Twisted

The world really is a twisted place. For example, could any of us have imagined a month ago that a volcano in Iceland would affect so many people's lives? I am surprised by how many people I know closely, who have been directly affected, either stranded on another continent (like our current house guest who's doing nothing but wishing and hoping he can get back to his daughter in London soon), stuck at home when they were meant to be on holiday, or having to cab it across Europe (you can imagine the cost of that!) to make it home to loved ones.

As I read one of my favourite bloggers', Alexandra Pascalidou, experience (Swedish), of being stuck in Bali whilst her partner and two-year old daughter are in Sweden, I feel the pain of all those who are being separated from their families. Is there anything more unsettling than not knowing when and how you're going to get home?

It is at times like these that people reach out and show kindness to strangers, whether it be offering a lift as Yngvild writes about or providing shelter for those stranded without money to pay for accommodation. For a more organised way of getting and providing help, check out Volcanohelp.

Luckily for me, the only thing twisted in my life at the moment, is my new hairstyle.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Driving in Ghana

A piture says more than a thousand words, right? Well, have a look at this one (which I snatched from a friend's friend's Facebook album), I'm sure you'll agree with me that indeed it does tell us more about the driving situation in Ghana, than a few sentences would.



The lack of functioning traffic lights, therefore policemen guiding traffic? Check!
Drivers' blatant disrespect of traffic lights/policemen/rules? Check!
A general disregard of policemen's authority (which can often be bought for a few Cedis? Check!
Our kokonsa (gossipy) nature, (look at the men moving in to see what exatly is happening)? Check!
Complete denial and refusal to accept being caught in the act (Because surely it's not me, the guy is atually attempting to reverse, no?)? Check!

However, I do feel we ought to commend the polie officer for his persistence in trying to force the driver to obey the law.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Crap, Cookie crash!

The heading may look like jibberish but it is exactly what it says. Last week I got myself a new yummie Cookie and after I attempted to copy some music onto it from my laptop, the damn thing caused my laptop to crash! Any time I turn it on, after starting up, a small pop up window will tell me "Windows will shut down in less than one minute". This has been rather amusing in the three business meetings we had this weekend where all the designs we were to display were, of course, on my laptop. There's been a lot of "Are you ready? Quick, here's the picture, you have about thirty seconds to watc...oh damn, there it goes again!".

Weirdest thing of all? I seem to have fixed the problem all by myself! I couldn't be prouder, nothing will top this until the day I learn to change a tyre. Anyways, I've got lots to catch up on, you'll hopefully hear from me again tomorrow.

Adios!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Ghana Easter

The Easter break has begun. How did I notice that? Traffic hell all day yesterday, of course! Unlike Christmas when everybody comes to Accra, for Easter they all leave the big city for their home villages or to the mountains. Yes, in the mountains about midway between Accra and Kumasi, in the Nkawkaw area, the Kwahus have their massive Easter celebration. To the Kwahu, Easter is bigger than Christmas, so big that now other tribes and nationals also travel there to take part in the festivities (which now include a paragliding festival!)

So what are the Easter plans for those of us left in Accra? Chilling with a big C! My sample of traffic today tells me what I already knew, it's going to be a smooth weekend, after all half of the cars have left town.

(picture borrowed from here)


I love Easter, ok I probably love all the holidays, but what makes Easter so exquisite is the lack of pressure. After a usually dreary January, February and March (although this year it's rather been hectic), Easter comes as a rewarding break before we head towards brighter and better days. Before, Easter would signify when the year turned brighter, spring and soon summer on the way. Now it is more of a reminder that despite feeling like we're in hell (well it's hot enough, isn't it?), rainy season is on it's way and with it, cooler temperatures!

So as is my general tradition for Easter, no plans are made, we chill, eat whatever comes our way, socialise with whoever comes our way and hopefully catch up on sleep (but that is every new parent's dream, always!). Today that means leftovers, watching movies (I'm hoping to make Virgo watch It's complicated with me even though I saw it about ten days ago) and looking forward to any friend or family member passing by.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Power and marketing

Remember about eighteen months ago when I was all excited about going to Agbobloshie and then never did? Well, today I finally made it there! Went with my 7-month pregnant friend N and headed onto Graphic Road. We were completely excited (tourists as we are) when we got there, and completed the market experience with some wagashi (fried cheese which was quite similar to Asian paneer) and sachet water. All our 'marketing' (shopping (will show pictures tomorrow)), which will probably last for more than two weeks, cost just around GHc50. Quite a difference from what you'd get for GHc50 on a trip to Koala!

(N of course found it very embarassing that I took pictures, but how else would I have captured the occasion?)



Today (now, actually) it is Earth Hour day, when electricity is turned off for an hour all over the world to remind us to conserve our energy. Like Kajsa pointed out, in Ghana whether we like it or not, we have are own Earth Hour ever so often. Of course, ECG took care of us today too, switching the lights off at 18:30 but thankfully, they got us back on within 10 minutes.

I do however remember last year's Earth Hour, which occurred whilst Em and I were still in hospital. While she slept, I looked out onto Mölndals town center, only lit up by streetlights, and as I sipped a cup of nyponsoppa (rosehip soup) and a glass of milk, I remember thinking that I'd have to take this picture (below) of the milk carton, to show Maya the unusual milk carton that was in the shops when she was born.

Now, off to bed to get enough rest and find the energy to prepare Bissap and aim to roast a perfect lamb steak tomorrow!

Monday, 22 March 2010

World Water Day: Water, water everywhere and not a drop to spare...

The saying above pretty much sums up Ghana. With an ocean edging the entire southern border o the country, a lake so vast it provides us all with electricity (well, sometimes) and rivers and waterfalls all over our land, it is amazing that we struggle for water each day.

Any given morning, on our street in Labone, you'll find school children carrying an orange gallon of water back home for the morning's preparations, before heading off to school. Some of us are lucky to have polytanks collecting the water as it runs, because like many water-lacking areas, we only get water about three times a week. Yet on one of those mornings that I catch a small boy walking a looong way for water, I happen to pass the Osu road that leads from Ebeneezer Presbyterian Church to Kingdom Books, and what do I see on my right? Through a crack in a wall, water is gushing, gushing out of a broken pipe into nowhere and everywhere.

(This beautiful picture borrowed from Anderson Cooper's blog)
The unfair, unnecessary waste hits my stomach with pain. What are we doing? How is it that this most precious item that we cannot live without is allowed to escape freely, when just around the corner there are people in dire need of it? With so many water efficient ways of living, it is time this issue moves up on the list of our land's priorities and we see a change in the water situation in Ghana today. I hope to mention a few water efficient ways later in the week if ECG and Vodafone permit me to.

Today is World Water Day. (As if on cue, the water in our bathroom decided to stop running despite the fact that it is running everywhere else and the tanks are full!). Appreciate every drop of water that passes your way. There are those who don't have that privilege.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Good hair

The hairstyle? Of course I had it done at Auntie Alice Salon and these days there seems to be less of a queue. I waited about 10-15 minutes before they started on my hair. Got there at 11:15 and was out by 14:20.

This time round I missed the morning devotion, but among the hens and dogs getting stuck in clumps of hair extensions, I managed to also catch a goat, aponkye!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Frustrations

Dear friends, there's so many things I have wanted to write about but I have had a really frustrating week. If it's not Vodafone destroying my online social life, it's ECG doing the same to the real life, hospital appointments not coming on on time because they double booked patients (!), meetings being delayed by three hours, business partners taking us back to square one or staff not performing and then getting the company into trouble for it.

I wanted to do a whole countdown to the very special day that my daughter Em turned one (Hooray!) but for now I'll simply leave you with a picture from last Friday's celebrations.

Today has been a very testing day. I got back from the hospital apointment which was postponed (and of course I only found out after two hours of waiting), to find the phone line still cut off, the internet still not working (despite both being paid up), and half an hour later... (oh come on, you know the only thing that could top this off) of course... lights off!

After 36 hours off lights off this weekend, I couldn't take another minute and we quickly headed out to visit an aunty in Airport Residential. This evening, when half of our lights had come on, I decided to have a look at my photos and organise the ones I wanted to print at the Accra Mall. Turns out the last time I went to the photo shop at the mall, they erased my entire memory card, meaning I've lost at least a month of photos! As you can imagine, I am still feeling extremely sad about that and tomorrow I intend to go there, see what can be done and give them a piece of my mind.

Still, as always trying to be positive, I'm focusing on the delicious dinner I had this evening (prepared by moi) of lobster with garlic butter, potato puree with basil and a dessert of apple cinnamon cake (yes, I baked too, there wasn't much else to do with no electricity) and vanilla ice cream. I bought the lobster from one of those guys on Oxford street, in Koala's yard, and I'm surprised to say it was yummier and cheaper than the ones I usually by at Tema European Market! Now, after a quick shower, I'm going to watch some new episodes of Gossip Girl or Desperate Housewives, also bought in Koala's car park and hopefully by tomorrow, the loss of my photos will be a faded memory.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Who Wants to be Rich?


(Picture from Who wants to be rich Ghana)

…I just remembered what I actually wanted to write about yesterday. A TV moment that had me laughing really hard. On Who Wants to be Rich (we can’t afford to make people millionaires quite yet) this question pops up:
Which two primary colours make the colour green:
A. Red and yellow
B. Blue and yellow
C. Red and blue
D. Purple and red
(ok, I admit I don’t exactly remember the four options, but continue reading and you’ll see it doesn’t really matter). The TEACHER and UNIVERSITY STUDENT who is asked the question doesn’t know the answer. Hm, let me not even pass judgement but leave you to make your own comments. So instead he chooses to phone a friend. He calls his friend and this is how the conversation goes:

“Which two primary colours make the colour green:
A. Red and yellow”
“YES!”
"B. Blue and yellow"
“Yes!”
"C. Red and blue"
“Yes!”
"D. Purple and red"
“Yes!”
Ok, I’m guessing the friend doesn’t get the format of the game, but watching it and seeing the contestant get more and more confused made my Sunday night! That is…until my laptop made me cry…

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Laptop abuse

This evening my laptop made me cry. Yes, you read right, my LAPTOP made me cry. After trying to send of a work report for about an hour, somewhere between the internet connection flashing on and off and my laptop freezing for the fourth time, I slammed my hands on to the dining table in despair and when Virgo asked what was wrong, I suddenly felt tears running down my face as I tried to explain my frustration. Granted, I know it is a complete overreaction to a ridiculously temperamental internet connection and a failing laptop (which has otherwise worked wonderfully for its whole first year of life, although sorry Acer, I’m a Toshiba girl and they usually work well for two or three years before slowing down.), probably caused by lack of sleep, stress of all the wahala that’s been going on lately and the pressure of trying to get this report sent in by the end of 7th March.

It just made me realise the power technology has on us these days, I’ve felt completely powerless all evening and that has certainly not been helped by the fact that I now know my computer has the power to make me cry!
(Of course all this was written in Word as the network timed out about three times whilst I tried to write.) Anyhoo, the report finally got sent and thankfully tomorrow we have an extra weekend day to continue what has otherwise been a lovely Independence Day weekend.

How have you spent the weekend?

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Just another day in Ghana

When I decided I was moving to Ghana, some 4,5 years ago, my mum, though very happy about my decision, asked me:
Why are you moving to Ghana when you hate heat, loathe and fear insects and get really irritated when people are not punctual?
I couldn't really answer her, but somehow thought, maybe everything else about Ghana will make it worth the cons.

Tuesday, and I'm in a 5 hour meeting, which of course started late because people did not show up on time. I can't put Em in her high chair as some hundreds of ants are feasting on leftover foodcrumbs in there (left the chair out on the porch, oops!).

Towards the end of the meeting I step out to call Vodafone, who still haven't fixed our broadband (oh yes, it is the same problem). After dilly dallying me for a bit and realising I am not going to give in until I get someone over to sort out the problem, the technician says, "Madam, someone can come over...if you don't mind coming to pick them up."
I know, unbelievable. However at that point, it is so darn hot, with sweat running down my face and I am so desperate to get back online that I agree.

Whilst driving to Vodafone, I am reminded of my mum's question. At times it is pretty frustrating living here. Still, as I drive back home chatting happily with the technician in the car, AC and radio on, and reminded of the sweet fresh mango waiting for me at home, I realise my optimistic thought is still the same: despite the heat, the tardiness and the awful insect and geckos, life in Ghana is so sweet, at the end of the day you still manage to go to bed with a smile on your face.

Of course, functioning AC and broadband make the experience that little bit easier!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Breathe and Stop

Sometimes it feels as if life is running ahead of you, as if you can't quite catch up with what's going on around you. It reminds me of childhood, when you'd cycle down a hill and suddenly be going faster than you could really control. All you do at such a time is hope that your feet will somehow reach the ground to slow down the motion that you're unable to manage.

That's how I felt about two weeks ago. And what to do at such a moment in life? Though it seems impossible at the time, the best thing to do is to stop and breathe, breathe and stop. That's exactly what I did. In the midst of too much going on, I took my favourite gals (my mother and daughter) out for lunch at Tribe, Afia Beach Hotel. The lunch was great, but the best part was the walk on the beach that followed:

The Beach (aren't we lucky to have this in the centre of Accra?)



The Daughter


The Chalets, neatly hidden by palmtrees

And suddenly, after inhaling the beautiful sea air, I could smile again and life was back to being good.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Rawlings drama... as usual.

Here's another nasty surprise. A man, Nana Darkwa, who in a radio interview claimed that Rawlings set his own house on fire has been remanded in custody, denied bail and will spend the next two weeks at Nsawam prison (Nsawam = a horrid, horrid prison just outside Accra). At the moment I am too tired to even go into detail and lay out what a disgusting breach of human rights and freedom of speech this is. For me, the past two weeks have been exhausting, emotional, tiring and scary, but it looks like things are turning around and there will be a brighter future, fingers crossed.

So instead of me trying to make sense of my sleep-deprived thoughts, please do let me know what you think, is there any way of justifying the imprisonment of Nana Darkwa?

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Nasty surprises

I'm having a bit of a rough week. Too many things are happening at once and I could really use a moment of peace to enjoy the fresh sea air around me, but no such luck. Please excuse me for already failing to uphold my new year's resolutions.

In the mean time, I'll leave you with two horrid experiences I had this weekend in my beloved Tema. I went with my mum and Em to Usave (a Shoprite affiliate) in Community 1. On the way there I kept raving that this is the life - a nice breezy drive, good music blasting and Tema's organised (but potholed) roads. As we went through what was my local supermarket when Evergreen was to pricey and before Maxmart made it to Tema, I suddenly heard my mum yelp, then scream: a rat! Since I have a severe rat phobia, I lost all calm and started running through the shop, wheezing "excuse me, excuse me!" as I tried to make my way out as soon as possible, suddenly feeling very hot with a racing heart.

Once out and able to breathe again, my mum informed me it was actually a mouse, running over some tins just where she was about to reach out and take something. (Imagine that, reaching out for a tin of sweetcorn and landing a mouse in your hand. *shudder*).

It took a while to recover but by the next morning, I was better and started to prepare my lovely scrambled egg Sunday breakfast. As I cracked a second egg into a bowl, a smell filled our kitchen, and as I looked down I saw flaky, runny egg white and, wait for it, a b-l-a-c-k egg yolk!!! (I really do wish I had taken a picture but I was too shocked, instead, I'm thinking happy thoughts and give you a picture of sunset over East Legon).


Lesson learnt, be observant of where you shop and what you eat. Have a wonderful week, keep me in your happy thoughts.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Ramblings of a Procrastinator (yes, I stole your title, Abena!).

Procrastination is the thief of time they say. If you ask me, procrastination is the thief of everything. Let me tell you why:

Early last year, I felt a slight chill in one of my teeth. Every now and then it'd hurt but I'd ignore it. Then I left for Sweden and things happened very quickly. Suddenly I had a daughter who needed my care almost all the time. One day when she was about three weeks old, I couldn't ignore the pain anymore. Because of the pain, I could barely see, think, sleep and I stopped producing milk. I left my little one at the hospital and went off to the emergency dental clinic (which charged me double as I put off going there until a Friday evening and was as such charged the weekend rate).

The dentist put in a temporary filling and sternly told me to have it permanently sorted out within a month, which I promised I'd do, knowing I'd most certainly not. Three weeks later, whilst having breakfast, the filling and one third of the tooth came out. Did I go to the dentist? Nope. Instead, for the past nine months, I've gotten used to eating on the left side of my mouth and after each meal, taking a toothpick to dig out any food which may have ended up in my little grotto!

Yesterday, I finally had the first step of my root canal done. This took three hours, cost me countless cedis (although I know it was cheaper than if I'd done it abroad) and left me with a jaw so sore, I couldn't open it for more than to insert a straw, which means I spent 24 hours living on smoothies (thank goodness for Smoothy's! Goodbye BoneShaker, my new favourite is Piccolo Mondo).

So let's see what procrastinating dental care in general and fixing this cavity in particular has cost me:
Money, lots of money (emergency care, follow up care, transport, smoothies,it all adds up).
Enjoyment of life before Christmas when the pain was at its worst.
Loss of sight (well, only temporarily but still)
Eating in a sane and reasonable manner (what normal person needs to dig for food in her teeth after each meal?)
Milk Production - for about a day, my darling daughter did not get much in her.
Use of the teeth on the right side of my mouth.
And of course, TIME!

So do you agree with me that procrastinating thieves a lot more than time???

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Ghana Loves Haiti concert.

I did promise to update you on how to help the Haiti victims from Ghana. A concert was held about ten days ago at Alliance Francaise with a fantastic lineup. Unfortunately I missed it because someone decided 21:00 was a more fun bedtime than 19:30, but read about Kajsa's rather exciting experience here.

The Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund Ghana informs me that there's a Ghana Loves Haiti relief concert being held this Saturday at the International Conference Centre from 19:30. For further information check their facebook page where there is also information on how to donate money by texting.

Of course after hearing how long it is taking to get help to the victims and after reading Holli's criticisms of the corruption that goes on where disaster strikes, some of my inital enthusiasm at giving money to those in need is now lost.

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