31 October 2009

Music as the ultimate painkiller?

Songs are the most powerful memory triggers for me and the song "Ex" by little-known UK artist Dele just came on my iPod shuffle. It's slightly spooky because it's almost a year to the day I first heard this song and I will forever associate it with the Musician.

Turn the clock back one year and it's about 3 o'clock in the morning. I'm lying on my bed in floods of tears contemplating whether it'll be stupid to take myself to the hospital. I don't want to call any of my friends because I know they're all fast asleep by now. The toothache I've been ignoring for the last week is now making me feel like jumping out of my (1st floor) window. The trip to the emergency dentist I took earlier that day is looking pointless right about now. All the stupid woman did was tut about how she understood I must be in great pain but I should just take these antibiotics and a couple of ibuprofen and I should be okay in a couple of days. I can't remember the last time I cried because of physical pain and I've reached the end of my tether. I suddenly remember that the guy I met on the bus only 3 weeks before, and who I've been consequently "talking" to, is working late today so maybe he'll still be awake. He lives in the flat next to mine and without any regard for him thinking I'm weird,  I call him and he picks up before the 3rd ring. All my efforts to mask the fact that I've been crying are in vain as I break down as soon as he asks me "what's wrong?" I tell him I haven't slept for the last two days because the pain keeps me awake. I've taken so many painkillers that I'm afraid I might need to get my stomach pumped.

A few minutes later, with me still sobbing on the phone, he tells me to come downstairs because he's standing outside my flat. He gives me a hug and a packet of industrial-strength painkillers he has left over from an operation he had last year. At this point, I'm beyond caring about what I'm ingesting into my body. I'm at the stage where all I want to do is not feel. Blissfully, I manage to sleep for 3 hours before the pain announces itself again. At the break of dawn, I get a call from him telling me to get dressed because he's driving me to A&E. As we make our way to King's College Hospital, he's trying to cheer me up by playing music he knows I like. He lies through his teeth that my face isn't that swollen but I saw him visibly flinch when I first entered his car. Still, I appreciate the sentiment.

Two hours later, I've been given some codeine and other unpronounceable painkillers while I wait so I no longer feel like slamming my hand in a door in order for that pain to distract me from the pain in my tooth. He, of the notoriously short attention span, is getting fidgety but still he waits with me. He gives me his iPod to listen to and says I should listen to this song because the guy is Nigerian and it's rare to find male R&B singers nowadays with some bass in their voice. As the music flows from the earphones, everything suddenly seems just that little bit better.

I have no idea why this song came up on my shuffle today but it made me realise just how easy it is for one terrible act to wipe out dozens of goods. I usually love this song but tonight, it's just succeeded in making me feel sad.

(I ended up having 4 teeth taken out under anaesthetic and stitches put in my mouth, so I wasn't playing about the pain...)

30 October 2009

Of myths and legends

There's a junction in the "37" area of Accra where I heard the most god-awful unholy sound a couple of days ago. I was chilling in the car, craning my neck to catch the faintest whiff of a breeze when I heard a sound like cats being drowned mixed with that horrible "crying" sound London foxes make at night. My head snapped back so quick and when I made the mistake of looking up, I saw horrible, black, winged creatures swooping in and out of some large trees. Bats creep me the hell out. I find them as truly disgusting creatures. A lot of people know that I'm generally not a fan of things that fly but when you add teeth, claws, and fur to winged creatures, you have a living embodiment of my worst nightmare.

While hastily rolling up my window, the woman driving me told me that there are also a lot of bats in Kwahu and according to legend, a Kwahu chief became sick one day and had to be transported to the military hospital in "37". The bats accompanied him on his journey to Accra where he unfortunately died. However, since the bats never saw him leave, still they remain waiting to accompany the chief back to Kwahu. Apparently everything has been done in an attempt to get these bats to leave but alas, to no avail.

I happily believed this until I tried to google some more info on this supposed "fact". I saw that fellow bloggers Abena and Holli had also blogged on this topic substituting the Kwahu chief with chiefs from other regions! Nevertheless, it's a good myth and one I thought I'd share.

Now a few  things I've been ruminating about in the last few days:

1. Why is "37" called "37"? I must have asked about 7 people and nobody's been able to give me an answer. Not even a guess. So can anybody help satisfy my curious mind?

2. I think I've seen enough penises this week to last a lifetime. Seriously the amount of men I've seen flapping in the wind as they relieve their bladders beggars belief. Not everybody will do you the favour of facing a wall even. Oh no. "Check me out!" they seem to scream as you're visually assaulted by tubes of flesh

3. Judging by the strange consistency it seems to be turning, I don't think you're supposed to put milk into Hausa koko....

Currently listening to: Sweet thing- Rufus and Chaka Khan

25 October 2009

Random musings

1. How does one react to unwanted advances from the opposite sex? Seriously this one has been taxing me for the last few days. When I was younger (around 13/14) my friends and I would always do the really cruel "um I don't think so" with the requisite disgusted look spiel. This all changed one summer afternoon outside Peckham library (under the umbrella- you know that was the spot!) when I messed with the wrong guy. I was chilling with my freshly gelled-down hair and baubles when a tall Jamaican dude asks me for my number in a rather forceful and disrespectful manner. Out came the faux-ghetto London slang: "Do I know you doe? Why do you think you can stalk me doe? Do you know how old I am? Watch I don't get my man and his bredren dem to come box you!"  Everyone knows Peckham boys are no joke and this one was no exception. I was quick to change my tune when old boy pulls out a knife! I felt like I had been touched by holy ghost fire and within seconds I was scrambling for a pen to write down whatever number he wanted! Although that experience is funny to me now, it made me re-evaluate the way I responded to men trying to approach me. I went far into the opposite direction and tried to be as nice as I possibly could when I said "no". However, this would often lead to stalkers who refused to take no for an answer. Say what you like about London men but they are persistent! I soon adopted the truthful approach as in "sure you can have my number but I probably won't pick up when you call." This has been working for me but I think it sometimes comes across as mean when that isn't my intention. So again back to the question- how does one react to unwanted advances from the opposite sex?

2. This week, when I've been asked what my name is, at least 3 people have asked me what my "other" name is. Initially I was like "huh"? They would then elaborate that they wished to know what my English name was. Am I missing something here? Is is mandatory for a Ghanaian to have an English name? I'm not English so I don't understand why it's so strange not to have an English name. I'm not throwing any shade at those Ghanaians who do have English names but I'm proud of my name. So there!

3. I went to the hairdresser a few days ago and as the lady was washing my hair, I heard her telling a colleague to look at my ears. (She clearly didn't realise I understood twi and I wasn't inclined to correct her lol!) I have quite a lot of piercings in my ears and now I'm wondering whether piercings in Ghana are a big deal. I wanted to tell her that I've even done well by removing 3 of my 10 piercings.

I have 4 of the ones pictured above, and no, I'm not a punk! Lol!

4. Is it just me or do Ghanaians have no regard for personal space? I've been touched more times than I care to remember this week by complete strangers. For somebody who is the antithesis of a "touchy-feely" person, this is going to take some getting used to....

(I have to give some love to my Liverpool boys. 2-0 to the Liverpool! You'll never walk alone indeed! Sorry to all the Man. U fans out there. Or not! OK, I'm done now lol)

Also, my friend Nsoromma joined the personal blogging brigade so show her some love over at "Baring Testament"

Image source

Currently listening to: The Seed (2.0)- Cody Chesnutt ft. The Roots

22 October 2009

Some first impressions

I'm staying in Airport, a mere stone's throw away from the famous Accra Mall so that's where I decided to venture. Man, I thought I was a pro at crossing the road basa basa but Accra roads have put the fear of God in my heart! I swear I saw cars going in different directions on the same half of the road. I don't think I've quite recovered yet...

As for Accra Mall? It's cool I guess but I really hated feeling like I was on a catwalk due to all the stares up and down I received as I meandered my way around the shops. I really hate being stared at so I don't know how I'm going to cope. I wasn't dressed up or anything, especially compared to all the girls I saw in their raving gear and weavalicious glory, so why the staring? This staring not be small either. Thorough appraisal is the order of the day. From the soles of your feet to the tips of your hair and back again. I felt like asking one woman if I had passed her test! The prices are a serious piss-take though. I saw the newest Dan Brown book in a bookstore there for 50GHC. Are you having a laugh? I really hope there's a cheaper place to buy books somewhere in Accra (somebody help a sister out). My brain must be prevented from turning into mush. I had a pure geeky moment though when I saw my Dad's books and excitedly called to tell him. He was underwhelmed, to say the least :-p

 I must also have a FRESH MEAT sign lit up in neon colours over my head because talk about being a target for the con artists extraordinaire. I may not yet know the ins and outs of Accra but one thing I absolutely detest is being ripped off and for that reason alone, the (little) money I have is staying firmly in my pocket.

It's strange hardly knowing anybody my age)here and oddly ironic since I usually spend my time hiding from people I know (no offence!). I hope to attend my very first Ghana Blogging meeting next week so I'll hopefully begin to remedy this situation. All in all, I've had absolutely no worries so far, although I'm sure that will change, and I'm enjoying my joblessness for the meantime. I'm eager to see the "real" Accra (if there's any such thing) because I'm well aware that I'm being extremely pampered where I am. Not that I mind....

Currently listening to: In the morning- Ledisi

21 October 2009

Welcome to Accra!

Wow I guess I can no longer complain when my friends refer to me as "lastminute.com". I bought a ticket to Accra only 5 days ago and this morning I finally landed at Kotoka International! I've been talking for a good 5 years about how I need to go back to Ghana and since it's been over 10 years since I last set foot on our lovely shores, I think it's long overdue. I left London like a ninja so apologies to all the people I couldn't say a proper goodbye to but you'll see me soon enough. I'm here for at least 3 months and I hope to extend this if I can find a job. I was too busy to be excited in the days leading up to this trip but as soon as I landed this morning, I could barely contain myself. I'm equal parts scared shitless and excited for the possibilities. I'm not 100% sure on what exactly I aim to achieve on this trip but I'm excited to find out.

I don't miss London quite yet but I'm sure it's only a matter of time. I'm itching to go and explore my little corner of Accra on foot, but I'm not sure how wise that is. Oh screw it, I guess there's only one way to find out! Will write a proper post later about first impressions if I make it back in one piece lol.

12 October 2009

Happy birthday to me!

Another year older today and I feel good! I usually have pretty crappy birthdays due to too much self-reflection and general "verklempt-ness" but forget that this year. Some people went to bed last night and never woke up again so I'm going to cherish every moment of this day. I also refuse to feel scared about growing older because as my Dad says "If you don't grow older, you die!" I'm happy to be alive and I thank the Almighty God for reaching another milestone. This past year may have had more downs than ups but I look to the future today. So here's to many more years for me!

Currently listening to: Temperature Rising- Les Nubians

6 October 2009

No sex please, we're Ghanaian!

I was reading fellow blogger Esi's post on 'Why do Ghanaian men lie about sex?' and it got me thinking about the lies we tell about sex in general. I've been exposed to distinctly different groups of people in my lifetime and everybody, apart from Ghanaians, seems to be relatively open about sex. Fair enough you have the people who insist on over-sharing all the minutiae of their sex lives with you, leading you to wish you could clean out your ears with some strong bleach, but this is most definitely not the case in Ghanaian circles. I feel that although Ghanaians outside Ghana claim to be a little more liberal, we're still very much bound by our "Ghanaianess" when it comes to sex. So why do we make it so difficult to talk about sex?

For me, I think this all stems from religion. Ghanaians, in general, are a pretty religious bunch and our good Lord tells us that sex before marriage is wrong. I'm not disputing this but why pretend that we all follow this rule? People will happily put up their hands and admit to other sins but as for sex? We've become amazingly adept at adopting the "What you talking 'bout Willis?" stance whenever the topic comes up.

If it's to be believed, Ghana is the only country that can claim that all her unmarried women are virgins! A "fallen woman" (haaaaaaate that term) is apparently not far removed from robbers, rapists, and others making up the dregs of society. However, is it too much to accept being religious without being a complete hypocrite? We're expected to sit at weddings where everybody (including the pastor) will pretend that he is marrying two virgins who will now go forth and multiply (in a sanctified manner of course!). Everybody can happily know about the time the couple broke up because the groom slept with her (now former) best friend, about the time she got drunk and kissed his brother, etc. etc. but we will still expect her to don the whitest of white gowns and everybody will happily go along with the charade. Now I ask you, what kind of fuckeries is that?!

Aside from the people straight up lying that they're virgins, you get the "everything but" people. These are the ones that will still claim they're virgins when they've done everything in each and every way aside from actual vaginal penetration. Now does that truly qualify one to claim the "virgin" tag? And it always seems to be these very same people that will jump up and claim that so and so has has slept with this and that person. These same ones that judge other people about what they like to pretend they're not doing.

Now I'm a firm believer in the whole "what you do is your business" spiel but why lie about sex and then proceed to judge other people for it? I felt this keenly when reading Nana Darkoa's blog Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women. African (particularly Ghanaian) women are just as interested in sex as anybody else but why don't we seem to talk about it beyond the relative anonymity of the computer screen. I think I can be somewhat guilty of this because even though I can be pretty open with certain friends about sex, I have other close friendships that happily perpetuate the pretense of "No sex please, we're Ghanaian"! Whether or not we're having sex, the topic will be happily glossed over and everybody remains content in the belief that as long as we don't talk about it, we can pretend it doesn't exist. However, this could all just be in my experience but I strongly suspect that this is not the case. So what say you? Why do Ghanaian women pretend that they're not having sex? And if they are, they damn well better not be enjoying it too! The cheek....

Image source

3 October 2009

The NOISEttes

I feel like I've been missing in action for a little bit but will remedy that soon, I promise! In the meantime I thought I'd share some music by The Noisettes. They're an English band headed by my secret girl-crush Shingai Shoniwa (I think I would be willing to consider murder for her hair...). Great singer and equally fantastic bass player. Hope you enjoy!

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