THIS gave me a good chuckle this morning. You have to wonder at the thought processes that were put into place before this endeavour....
In the relative boredom of my life at the moment I've been scouring through my mate Afrocentric's extensive book shelves...after all what are friends for? Anyhoo, knowing me she recommended Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo since I've never read it, so here's my review....
1. If there are empty seats available anywhere on the bus/ tube/ train, DO NOT SIT NEXT TO ME! You have just given your thanks to God above when you get on a half-empty tube/ train carriage or bus when a leering man decides to park himself right next to you. Never mind the 15 other empty seats available. It's Boris Johnson's law that somebody must sit uncomfortably close to you, stinking of stale cigarettes, whilst trying to rub himself against you. With that goes your 27 minutes of thinking up what excuse you're going to give work about why you're late (again), instead, begins the game of how far away you can edge away from the person whilst they're trying to physically sit on your lap....
2. It is not proper transport etiquette to stare at your fellow passengers during the daily rush hour. Yes we're a city of people watchers but one must be subtle with it. So when the 6"3 man wearing a tartan dress, bovver boots, and sporting acid pink hair steps onto the Northern line at Camden, feel free to stare at him all you like but only via the reflection of the windows! I can't vouch for your safety once the words that strike fear into every Londoner's heart are uttered: "What you looking at?!"
3. One must remember that the South Londoner is a different breed of Londoner, in particular those that hail from the South Eastern region. Eye contact is seen in one of two ways: a declaration of war, or an indication of willingness to marry a person. A personal music player and an engrossing book are your only friends in this part of town.
4. There's no point running for the bus. Really. Most bus drivers take malicious pleasure in watching you frantically waving at them to stop via their side mirrors. 171 bus drivers in particular take great enjoyment in waiting until you're a a mere metre away from the stop and then zooming away into traffic with enough skills to rival Jenson Button. If you're lucky and a driver takes pity on you, by the time you pant and heave your way onto the bus winded by the whole 20 metres you had to run, the hostile stares of your fellow passengers will be enough to ruin your morning. They'll have to wait a whole 36 seconds as you simultaneously hunt for your Oyster card (you probably left it on the kitchen table) whilst trying not to display just how unfit you really are.
These are just some of the few recurring travel observations we made. How's travel different where you live?
This blog post is mainly an extension of Sankofa's post on her own blog, Altius Tendo, entitled 'You have such a pretty face...'. In her post, Sankofa describes the awkward manner in which people approach the issue of her weight and certain individuals' failed attempts to compliment her in spite of her size.
Unfortunately, Sankofa is not the only FAT girl who has had to deal with back handed compliments and snide remarks with regards to her weight. As a child, I grew up with my cousin. (For the purpose of this blog, we'll call her Amina). Amina is only five days older than me and our mothers are very close. We were therefore treated like sisters and often compared to one another. Me and Amina spent the majority playing (and fighting) with each other. We had the same interests, wore the same clothes (sometimes against our will!) and the same dislikes. In fact, there were a lot of similarities between us except:
1. Amina was (and still is) slimmer than me.
2. Amina is shades lighter than me.
3.Amina's hair was longer and not as tough as mine.
Now, in a Ghanaian family, you know exactly what that means. Amina was considered the beautiful one and we often heard comments like this: Amina is soooooo pretty and Oh! Amina is a nice girl. (You know what is intended by the word 'nice'). Whoever was making the comments at the time, would look at Amina with so much adoration in their eyes, then would turn to me with a pitiful look and /or a half smile. (Sometimes, I wouldn't even get a glance!) Now, I may not have been "beautiful", but I was certainly more smart academically. Thus Amina and I neatly fitted the stereotyped 'beauty and the brain'.
I must say, it didn't really bother me while we were really young, but at the age of 12/13, when a girl starts becoming more aware of her physical appearance and her physique, this started to become a problem. I won't comment on the hair and skin tone issue because these were things I eventually learnt to accept, and even love. But as for the weight, well, that is still very much an issue I am still dealing with.
When I started secondary school, I was most definitely the biggest girl in the class. No questions asked. It did not help that my bra size was a 32B. It may not seem like much, but trust me, in 1998, that was big for an 11 year old. (I am well aware that 11 year olds these days look like full grown women). I won't pretend that I spent my all of my secondary school years self loathing, but I was bothered about my size. However, I was very good at covering up my insecurities and acting like the insensitive comments didn't bother me one bit. Covering up my insecurities did somehow turn into fake confidence, and although I don't know exactly when it happened, by the time I started sixth form, I was beginning to feel beautiful. Don't get me wrong, there were knock backs on the way. Let me give you an example: I remember at the age of around 14, I was at my cousin's house one night. My other cousins were there. Altogether there was about seven of us (including Amina). We were in my cousin's room, watching T.V. There were three boys and four of us girls. I can't remember what I did to upset one of my cousins, but all of a sudden he, (let's call him J) started laying into me, verbally. The things spewing out of his mouth were venom. "You need to lay off the donuts you fat bitch" and all sorts were coming out of his mouth like word vomit. I mean, I have never hated any of my cousins, including J, but I was hurt for ages, especially since none of my other cousins stood up for me, but found J's abuse hilarious. I must confess that Amina was the only one mature enough to apologise afterwards.
Anyway let's fastforward eight years, I (sort of) don't have the same beef I have with my weight. Don't get me wrong, I do believe I am attractive, and not ugly by any stretch of the imagination. however, let's not pretend that I am a size zero. Also, I am still having to deal with people's annoying comments. Let me give you an example. Earlier this year, I was with an...acquaintance, (let's hold back from calling her a friend), we had just finished a night of rehearsing a church performance, and by the end of the night, we were all famished, so I started going on about what I wanted to eat. Hear my girl: that is why you are so fat! I was knocked back by those words because it had been ages since I had heard those words. Also, I didn't think grown-ass women made digs at each other like that. Plus, I thought it was below the belt since we had had a discussion earlier where I told her that my weight was the cause of frustration for me because it is one of the only areas in my life that I find hard to control. (That's "friends" for you *sigh*).
I have come to the conclusion that I can't afford to rely on other people to make me feel good about myself. That is something I will have to do by myself. I mean, I do have issues with my weight, but loving myself is something I am learning to do everyday.After going on a countless amount of diets (and gym memberships!), I have come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, God, in His infinite wisdom, created me to be fat. It seems with everyone there is always something about themselves they have an issue with. Which is why like Sankofa, I don't have time for people that go on and on about how much they hate their belly, their big nose, their small boobs etc etc.
Oh yeah, back to Amina - it's funny how a bit of maturity will allow you to see things totally differently. Please don't get me wrong, Amina and I have BOTH grown up to be beautiful women, but I don't feel, AT ALL, that she is the more beautiful one. I look at us, and think wow! I may be a few kilos heavier, but Amina and I are EQUALLY beautiful in our DIFFERENT ways.
Let me leave by telling you this: everyone has body issues, but it is up to YOU to deal with yours. Do not rely on ANYBODY to help you get over them. Also, ranting about what you don't like about yourself is BORING for those who have to listen to you. The chances are your so called 'listener' does not really care about your complaints. Also by ranting, you are only drawing attention to what people would not have noticed in the first place. Most importantly, God must feel so insulted everytime you open your mouth to say you hate something about yourself that He created.
Anyway reader, whtaever your issues are, learn to appreciate what you have.
So, President Obama has won this year's Nobel prize for peace. I must admit that when I saw the headline I thought 'huh?' I couldn't think of any ongoing war he had stopped or any impending war he had avoided, or really anything that showed that he was working towards world peace. You see there's a reason that some people are on the Nobel committee and some (me) are not.
The committee explained his winning is a sign that they want to support what he is aiming for; his efforts in ridding the world of nuclear weapons, the immediate closure of Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay and his push for peace in the Middle East to mention a few of his peaceful pursuits. Now although all these things are true and do represent a goal of 'world peace', critics might well say, "but he hasn't actually done all of it", I mean in winning the prize President Obama is in the company of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, German scientist Albert Schweitzer, Dr. Martin Luther King and Mohamed ElBeradai all of whom were awarded for tireless efforts or lifetime work in the 'field' of peace. Are 10 months as US president and 'good ideas' enough to deserve a place in the often controversial list of Peace Prize Laureates?
I don't know, as I continued to read I agreed with the reasons behind his success, it is very important to encourage and support those who strive for the good, there are too many people giving props to drug dealers - Curtis Warren listed included in the Times Rich List as if he's making an honest living , paedophiles - the furore over Roman Polanski's arrest for drugging and raping a 13 year old, cheats, warmongers and other such unsavoury characters.
Well done Barack, let's just hope that your speeches, good intentions, and awards are not your only legacy.
When we talk about our motherland, we tend to talk about her in the same way we talk about our family. In other words, I love her but she can be so annoying! And, oh yeah...if you're not one of Mother Ghana's children, don't even think about uttering a word against her! I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. In my last post entitled "Welcome to Ghana", I went on a rant on how erm...strange my experience was at Kotoka International. But trust me, now that I'm back, I am missing Ghana like crazy! So here is a list of ten really annoying things I had to endure in Ghana, but (not so secretly) wish I could enjoy in London.
Last night, Afrocentric and I attended our very first Ghanaian Londoners event at the Dust Bar in Farringdon, organised by the lovely Adwoa Agyemang and we had a blast. We were late (gotta work on that GMT) but we still managed to catch some great speakers including Bex Mortty of Quality Network Solutions and the London representative of the NPP whose name unfortunately I didn't manage to catch. There was immeasurable Ghanaian talent in one little room and that included a fellow Ghana blogger Kwabena of Ghana Hype. Kwabena is also the creator of the wonderful Kayobi clothing line and if you haven't checked out his stuff, I suggest you do so asap.
Anyway, when the actual "networking" session began, let's just say that Afrocentric and I took a little while to get into the swing of things. Alright, we were down right wusses! I find networking really hard people! Tell me I'm not alone in this. It feels like the first day of school all over again. We eventually manned up and met a myriad of creative (and analytical) minds. Still I sometimes wonder at the usefulness of these networking beyond meeting new people. How many people really utilise these new contacts when all is said and done? We would still do it all over again a heartbeat because new people are new people, no long. So, what are the thoughts of people out there on "networking"?