Blogs

And I Wait for my Shipment to Arrive

We have been living out of suitcases since Aug 2019. Though we have shifted to our own apartment but it is mostly empty

We have been living out of suitcases since Aug 2019. Though we have shifted to our own apartment but it is mostly empty. Meanwhile, we bought some essentials to get by until our shipment arrives, like a mattress , a three seater sofa and cooking utensils. And to be honest, it still feels like home . Which makes you realize the difference in need and want in its true sense.

So as it seems, the shipment will not reach us for another month. Apparently it is quite a tiresome process here . By the time the vessel docks and reaches you , it takes addition 3 weeks easily!! Things move a bit slow around here.

You know the best part of each relocation, at least for me is setting up the house. Filling each nook and corner with your touch and making it your own. This house is so much more spacious than our previous homes and so much brighter, so this time It will be fun to play around. I have moved three houses with the same furniture and in each house, the same stuff has looked totally different. Like seriously . I think the natural light plays a HUGE (Donald Trump style) part here . So when ever you look for your place, just do not see the layout, also check for the natural light, It does make a world of difference .

Important thing which I have learned while moving around is to keep it light. I don’t know where I will be after 5 years and what my house/apartment will be like . Invest in paintings and wall hangings if you may, at least that can go where you go but with the bulky stuff , keep it light. Not saying that you become a Japanese minimalistic but perhaps somewhere in between .

What is the single most important feature in your house ? Do share.

New Year Calls For New Beginnings

So another year goes by in a jiffy . As soon as the schools ended , all the expats  left Lagos for their  winter break. It almost seemed like a crime not to. People catching the same or next day flights as if their houses were fumigated and they would suffocate if they even spend a second longer.  But that is how expat lives are like.  You wait for these breaks to meet your family and  friends or treat yourself to a holiday.

We visited Dubai. For us it was like going home. Or rather a home away from home.  Not too long ago I had bid farewell to this amazing city and now here I am, returning back as a tourist.  As expected Dubai greeted me with a warm perfume filled hug . Looking immaculate as always. I noticed it had become even more attractive while I was away  but I was not sure whether it was all in my head. After all the distance does make the heart grow fonder.

Lets have a moment of silence for all the fresh and beautiful fruits and vegetables I saw in Dubai, the shops bursting with all  kind of things you possibly want to buy and all  the food you ever wish to eat, because I will not be experiencing that anytime soon while I am here in Lagos.  So it is no surprise I come back with an extra chin and an extra roll of fat .

Can you guess what my new resolutions might be ? Yes, lose weight, get fit and healthy. This has been on my list for a DECADE , but yet I copy paste it every single year . You do have to admire my persistence. Also I REALLY REALLY need to use my time productively. Write, learn and focus. Life was much simpler before Netflix and WhatsApp. You hear and read such brave stories of people and their accomplishments against all odds, and here I am , struggling not to binge on Netflix!  How sad is that, right!

So what  are your resolutions this year and what helps you stick to them? Do let me know.

 

Exploring Life In Nigeria

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Living in a new country brings in new experiences and gives you insight to unique culture and norms. I have been observing things around me and thought I should share it with you .

One thing which you cannot ignore while living in Nigeria is the availability of booze , like everywhere! Be it at any grocery shop big or small, restaurant, coffee shop or even a street side hawker.   I am only grateful that it is not available in school cafeterias. Needless to say, Nigerians like to have a good time! While doing groceries, I have struggled finding brands I am familiar with , but rest assured you will have no problem finding your choice of poison. The liquor aisle will be fully stocked with all possible choices. Here you will find street hawkers selling  small bottles filled with some liquid. Initially I thought it may be some kind of  massage oil , but later got to know otherwise.

Moving on to another interesting topic is how the Africans celebrate deaths The funerals are grand and festive and people wait months to a year to bury their loved ones. Funerals are basically a celebration of life as the spirits transitions from this world to another. It is also believed the soul will not rest in peace and unsettle the family in the household if not sent off properly.  Families pitch in or take loans to perform the funeral rites.  This itself puts a lot of stress financially and emotionally. In some cases, families sell their properties to have a funeral  befitting the deceased. Ironically it can be said more importance is given to the dead than the  living. Families unable to have proper send off are labeled poor and spoken ill of. The rich  have rites which can easily last over a week . Families gather from far and wide and during this week long celebration, there is abundance of food, drinks and music. Regardless of class, a proper funeral is expected and it is not something  which can be taken lightly. It is not surprising that this tradition is being capitalized and has turned into a lucrative industry.

You have not lived in Lagos unless you have experienced its’ crazy traffic. I was told prior moving to Lagos that law & order situation deteriorates during the month of December. As we move closer to Christmas and holidays , robberies tend to increase and generally you are supposed to be more careful of your movements. People come from other towns to shop and  hence you will  experience more traffic all month long. Things tend to improve as the year ends.

Life in Lagos can be as good or bad as you choose to make it . Yes, there are restrictions and frustrations for expats but there is also a silver lining to it like,  professional growth, comfortable housing , domestic help and warm expat community. It is just how you choose to see it. Glass half full or empty.

A Letter To Dua Mangi

On 30th Nov., Dua Mangi was kidnapped while walking on a street in Karachi, Pakistan. She was in an apparently safer, affluent areas and walking by a tea café which she and her friends frequently visited. Out of nowhere, a car came and 4 men tried to shove her in the vehicle. Her friend Haris tried who tried to protect her was shot in the neck and is in a critical condition.  As per police, this is a case of personal enmity and revenge. I am not going to elaborate more on who may be behind it but I am great deeply disturbed by how people reacted to this horrendous crime.

So while there was a national outrage and nationwide protest, there were some internet trolls who did not miss an opportunity to victim shame.  Some of the comments were directed towards her attire. She was wearing jeans, she ASKED for it, Stepping out in the evening with a BOY!!!  She had it coming!  Character assassination and what not!

The same people who would sell their kidneys to live in the westernized society could not stop their vile comments about how a girl could actually walk on a road late evening with a boy wearing a western outfit. How dare a girl enjoy this independence aka moral corruption?

We live in society that has two extremes.  It’s the Islamic way or the highway. There is no in between. and If a person who tends to choose a different approach is condemned and justified to be attacked.

After almost a week, Dua has returned home today. And I hope people are kind and sympathetic to her. She has suffered enough already. Only God knows what she has been through and please don’t ask her about it if you even have an iota of humanity in you. Do not make her relive the trauma unless she is ready to share.

I hope Haris recovers soon and it gives your conscious some peace. Dear Dua, please leave this country soon. Our people are so caught up with internalized misogyny, they will not stop blaming you for what happened.

I wish we lived in a society which was less judgmental and hypocritical. By victim shaming, we are only justifying the acts of the criminal and giving them a free pass. I hope I get to see the day when our society learns to accept each other’s differences without pointing fingers at them. Be the difference be faith or a choice of attire. If ONLY we can live and let live.

 

https://www.dawn.com/news/1520963

https://www.geo.tv/latest/259772-dua-mangi-case-kidnappers-suspected-to-have-used-car-snatched-last-week

 

Depression – Permitted to be Taken Seriously

Finally, depression has a voice. It has earned the privilege of being called an illness. Hence, a great progress from a mere mood swing.  I am no expert on depression, its causes or treatments but I can say that a lot of us go through it at one time or another.  It may be short lived and but if prolonged, it can lead to severe consequences like any major illness.

I feel blessed in many ways, but yes there are unfulfilled dreams which at times does throw me at a deep end and the only shining beacon is when I count and RECOUNT my blessings.  Positivity is a state of mind and one CONSIOUSLY has to make an effort to focus on the positives.

We are living in a world where we are consciously reminded how much more others have and what a fabulous life they are leading, but no one shares their grief or pain. We keep seeing one side of the story and get fixated on that. So next time when you go through your Facebook or Instagram feed, please do not be naïve to assume everyone is living in lala land. Everyone has their own struggles and people generally show themselves in the best filter possible .

Meditate, reflect, distract and If you still do not find peace, please seek help. No one can help you as much as YOU yourself can. Contentment is a state of mind which is hardest to attain.

Welcome to Nigeria

Expat feedback on what to expect when you land in Nigeria

We have recently moved to Lagos recently and everyone we know is interested to know how is it like. Unfortunately, there is not much information on internet as you would like and whatever there is, you are better off not knowing.

I was among the fortunate ones who knew people living there and could be counted on for an honest feedback. So one thing which I was totally prepared for was the airport itself. Yes, this needs to be discussed! You need to be mentally prepared for it. The airport experience would be the worst part of your journey. The airport is dingy and gloomy. We were asked if we were carrying any new clothes??? Like is it a crime to carry them? And then they may ask for a token for their family.  It is NOT a compulsion. You can politely ignore their request or simply say next time.

Once you have left the airport, the worst part of your journey is over. The city, to be honest is cleaner than I expected and there is greenery around, so it is pretty decent. It is a big, thriving city; it took us good 45 minutes to reach hotel with no traffic. The traffic jams are legendary here, so once you come you will know what timings to avoid traffic hour etc.  

The city is expensive. I don’t think one could afford to stay in the island, (where all expats stay) and study in international schools if it is not covered by your company.  Eating at restaurants is also expensive. Just don’t think that since you are in Nigeria, things will be cheaper. Your grocery bill is going to be more because you further add duty and margins to it.

The only thing which will be cheaper and a huge blessing here is domestic help. Be prepared to become Martha Stewart in the kitchen as you will end up eventually making things you crave as they are not easily available or it is just more convenient. You will also be planning your annual shopping in your travels. So you will not only become an expert cook  but also super organized.

Now the silver lining to this, expat community is very welcoming here. These people will become your new family and you will make life long bonds with them.  The weather is pleasant all year round and there are very nice options for housing. So these friends and your home will be where you meet and entertain mostly. Haven’t explored many dining out options, but will definitely share with you when I have tried them some.

The price gap between the rich and poor will sadden you and even more so when you know it is an oil rich country with so much potential. Like any new country, it will take a while to settle. More so, because of security restrictions. But keep an open mind, have a taste of adventure , who knows you might end up liking it.

 

 

 

The Americanah Dream

Some stories are just meant to entertain you, but then there are some that entertain you , educate you and also move you . This novel #Americanah is a complete package. I have recently moved to Lagos, and as an expat this book gave an interesting perspective into the struggles of the black people generally […]

 

Some stories are just meant to entertain you, but then there are some that entertain you , educate you and also move you . This novel #Americanah is a complete package.

I have recently moved to Lagos, and as an expat this book gave an interesting perspective into the struggles of the black people generally and a life in Nigeria. The book touches racism, complexities associated with dark skin and Afro hair , income disparity and harboring the American dream.

The life of a Black living outside Africa comes with its own set of struggles , frustrations , double standards and stereotypes. The grass is greener on the other side, and each Black experiences this while trying to make a living abroad. Each black carries the burden of the entire race. Being from Pakistan , I can understand the obsession with pale skin , but one must wonder how it feels that in order to be regarded beautiful , it is imperative to change oneself, to conform to the idea of beauty which does not come naturally to you. Be it fair skin or straight hair . It doesn’t help much when even the global black superstars such as Rihanna , Beyoncé and Oprah have also conformed to skin bleaching and hair treatments.

I am an expat living in the bustling city of Lagos and I am simply amazed by how crazy expensive this city is . Each item you get elsewhere in the world , is more expensive here. And one wonders that the supermarkets and restaurants that one sees in the island* are only catered for the local elite and expats. If you are wondering which island I am referring to, the Island is simply an island within the city of Lagos connected by a bridge which separates the rich from the commoner. The rentals that one would expect to pay to live in one of the posh compounds within the island is equivalent to living in The Palms in Dubai, yes the same place where Oprah and The Beckhams have a water facing villa. So living in the island is a cocoon within Lagos which shields you from the harsher reality of the city.

This book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a must read and will make you more empathetic to the struggles of the Africans everywhere in the world.