So I called the Nigerian embassy yesterday. Funny how I get the feeling of being in Nigeria just talking to them. They didn't even make a small attempt to be friendly, it was straight to business, lol.
Anyway, like I've written earlier, I've been waiting for my passport to get back to me for ages. Not only is the visa crucial for me to travel to Nigeria, but my passport is after all, quite precious to me. A woman with an attitude called me about 3-4 weeks ago asking for more money, and guess what the first think they asked for now was?
Woman picks up after the phone has been ringing for 15 mins: Yes, this is the Nigerian embassy.
Me: May I have the Visa-section please?
Woman: I will transfer you now
* Another 20 rings*
Me: Hello, is this the visa section?
Me: Hi! I applied for my visa a month and a half ago, and I was just wondering if it's going to come my way any time soon, because I am travelling in just a little more than a week.
Man: Well, did you pay then? (With an attitude)
Me: Yes, of course.
Man: What did you pay?
Me: Well, first I paid the original fee you asked for 500 SEK, then a woman called me and asked for more and I paid that too.
Man: Are you sure you did?
Me: Yes. I did for sure.
Man: Well did you send a confirmation.
Me: Yes I did. I faxed it to you immediately after the transaction.
Man: Are you sure you did that?
Me: Well yes? I'm sure I did that.
Man: *Sigh* ok! I will go and see if we have it.
I wait for a while, and the man comes back:
Man: Yes we have your passport here, but you did not send us coupons.
Me: What kind of coupons? I sent you an addressed envelope?
Man: Well you have to send coupons so we can send it back to you.
Me: I thought that was included in all your fees (total 750 SEK). But can't I just transfer more money then you can send it to me?
The man stays quiet for a while.
Man: Well, you call the DHL they can pick it up for you.
Me: Eh.. Ok then.
I was just a little surprised. They were planning to keep my passport without ever letting me know they had no plans sending it back to me. I almost wanted to ask him, well..the idea of calling me and letting me know never struck you? Ah.. Sending stuff with DHL costs a fortune anyway.
After having numerous panic attacks, angry calls and e-mails, it seems like business is finally moving the way it should with our car in Lagos. I must have seemed like a frenetic crazy woman when I called the original shipping company in Canada to force them to call the so called "agent" who didn't want to release the car for us. All along he's made up different excuses. I think they finally talked some sense into him, along with some threats from my husband, and he got off his ass and started doing his job. Thank GOD. I was getting scared I'd never see my car again. The shipping company didn't want to admit it to me, but turns out he actually hadn't paid his taxes to the customs, and of course then nothing will move. I'm happy that was the reason, and nothing more crazy...
>> Tuesday, November 25, 2008
* Randomness: I'm feeling sick. I have this crappy feeling in my throat and I just know what it means. I do not have time for this right now. I have to go to work, I have to go to the gym, I have to arrange every last thing before my trip. I have to bake for everyone in the family before I leave. *Sigh* that's the least I could do for them since I'm leaving them here for christmas. I have no money to give any other gifts. My grandma used to make these delicious date breads for everyone in the family. It's probably one of the only family traditions my family has. Now her hands are too weak since she's 92 years old, and she really loves it when I make them for her. I need to get that done this upcoming weekend.
*Gossip: What's up with men always talking about us women being talkative and gossipy? They're just as bad, if not worse than us. I kid you not. Trust me, they like to talk alright. Just with each other , when there's only men around. When they're around us, they'll claim they don't like to talk. That's a lie. The guys are always updated on who just got a new car and what kind of car it is. Who just ran away from his wife. Who's fighting custody over his kids. Who just started business in his home country, who just stole money from who, pretending to borrow it. Yadda yadda. Maybe that's just the guys I know but I doubt it.
* Messy hair : Alright, this is a useless fact, but I finally bought a new straightening iron yesterday! YAY! It only took me 3 and a half years, the last one I owned got stolen in Nigeria, along with my camera. Ok, people who already have straight, messless hair, don't get the value of this thing. My hair is curly and messy. I like it best in its natural form, but it's a fulltime job maintaining it. Hence, the straightening iron. My rescue on bad days. Suddenly my hair transforms into something that's easy to deal with, and that minimizes my daily stress, which I already have enough of.
* Boredom: I'm about to go crazy not having anything to do while at work. Does it show?I went from a job that was the most stressful, busy business I've ever been involved with. I worked up to 12 hours every day, literally running around from 6:30 in the morning till late in the afternoon - early evening. Now I have to sit on my ass all day in front of the computer, and apparently, this time of the year nothing at all happens. I haven't had the chance to surf on the internet for the long time, so I thought there was plenty to do online. But I've run out of things to do. Or I get tired of doing them. Thank God I discovered the blog universe. If anyone has any suggestions, please pass them on, I'm BORED. And thank goodness I'm going on a holiday in 2 weeks. It's about time.
*Beaurocracy : I don't get the deal with the Nigerian embassy. I applied for my visa more than 1 and a half month ago, I still haven't received it. 3 weeks ago. To my surprise, an angry woman with an attitude from the embassy, called me at work. She said I hadn't paid enough for the visa (which I had, I absolutely paid enough). She demanded 250 SEK from me, and I said well alright, I don't get why, but I will transfer it immediately and fax the confirmation to you. This is 3 weeks ago, and I still haven't seen anything resembling a passport in my mail. What if it doesn't show up in time? And why do they have to be so slow. It doesn't take sooo long to just stick a sticker in my passport with my name on it. I found the whole visa application thing to be ridicilous anyway. They had to know the profession and address of my in-laws in Nigeria. Are you kidding me? So many places, there aren't even proper street names and numbers. This fake beaurocracy thing is making me laugh. I think that this country is beaurocratical and difficult, but it's nothing compared to Nigeria. Everytime I apply for a visa, I've forgotten how tricky it was last time. Same as every time I deal with immigration here. I have to learn it all over again. I'm not slow, so maybe it is because it just simply doesn't make any sense. Anyway, when I got married in Nigeria, I had to provide certificates of blood types (?!). HIV-tests too, which is more understandable I guess.. But I'm wondering how they're keeping track of everyone with HIV when they've never done a proper census in the first place? They also provided me with a big white sheet of paper I had to sign. The headline said "I hereby declare/promise/swear/whatever: -that the person I am marrying is not the following;
My brother, my father, my sister, my mother, my brothers brother, my brothers brothers son or daughter, my sisters or brothers son or daugher, my mothers sisters son or daughter, my uncles brother, my uncles brothers children, my grandmothers brother or sisters childrens children etc etc. It looks like I'm exaggerating here, but really I'm not. It's a little on the edge maybe, but the list was LOOONG. A lot longer than what I just wrote. I signed. Why couldn't they just make me swear that I am not in any way related to the person?
* Apple: I never owned a Mac or anything, allthough I'm considering getting one. But I think Apple are monopolistic, capitalistic greedy scavengers. Ok, a little too brutal phrasing, and sure, Microsoft aren't very good either. But I got myself Apple iPhone. I' m not too much into technological wonders, but my phones were all broken and I needed a new one. Silly excuse as I come to think of it. Anyway, in order to use this item of technological wonder, I have to have iTunes. The phone simply won't turn on if you don't connect it to iTunes first. In order to get the significant update you really need to make the phone running the way it's supposed to, with all its excess functions, you have to sign up to the Apple store and give them your credit card number. And I'm not fond of that. It might be an exaggeration, but most of the functions on the phone are designed for the purpose of the customer spending more money. If you ever need it repaired, or look at the battery or something, don't try it, because the phone is unpenetratable to normal folks. You have to bring it to the special people of Apple. And to protect it's shiny glass exterior, you need a special cover, which costs a fortune. I like the phone anyway though, it's beautiful, and the iPod's great. I'll see how long that love lasts. I know that's superficial, but I'm trying to find a way to justify the moneyspending to myself.
that's it for now.
>> Friday, November 21, 2008
Ok, I must admit I do have problems with the African-time thing. I've always been critical of using that term because I hate generalising. But anyone that has ever been to the continent can confirm there is time issues. When someone shows up late to an event, of course it could be because of the difficult traffic. But here in Europe, you don't have those issues, and people still show up extremely late. 2 years ago I was attending the annual Mr/Miss Africa pageant show. It was supposed to start at 8, but nothing was happening. Wasn't until 12 the show could actually start. I've tried to convince myself that my husband wasn't effected by this time thing for 5 years but I think I'm going to have to admit it. He is very rarily on time and this has been a source of many arguements. Going to work is not a problem, but any other thing is... not always that easy. Whenever we are going out somewhere that demands us to be there at a certain time, he's always chillin until right before, and then finds out he HAS to make sure he looks real good before we go. I keep saying "come on come on" and the response I get is "I'm not going to kill myself just to be on time to this damn thing". Fair enough. What I find the hardest to digest is every time he's out and tells me a time he's going to be home and never ever makes it. That's the rule,not the exception.
I can tell though, he really does try *laugh* but he just can't make it.Looking at a watch just doesn't come natural if he's in the mode of relaxing. He's been living here for 5 years now and I'm hoping he will learn one day...Don't spoil my hopes, I'm not ready yet,lol...
I try to be as..culturally educated as I can be, and I am by no means the kind of person who thinks only one way (or my way) is the right way. Being in a inter-cultural relationship you are sure to have to make compromises, and I have no issues with that. There's many values and customs I think so called "western culture" is missing, so I actually think I'm lucky to have the opportunity of getting the best of both worlds. It's just this time thing I have troubles getting my head around. The way I was raised, constantly being late is just straight up rude. Am I crazy? At least, if you're not going to make it, just let me know? I am trying to come to terms with this reality, but my brain just seems to put up a fight..
>> Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Alright... Warning: This is very personal.
When you grow up, you gradually come to terms with several truths, one of them being that nearly no family is perfect. Most are somewhat dysfunctional, but the love between them all is strong. Others families are more broken and torn apart. Then a few are just nearly perfect. Right? This is what I like to believe anyway. I realised that my own family was no close to perfect when I was very young. But I still realise new things about my family issues all the time.
I am the youngest child of blended family. Both my mother and father had previous marriages and children from their first spouse, and I am the only child between them. They are still together after 20 years, but it's no walk on roses. I know no marriage is, but my mother has been one second away from divorcing for a couple of years now. They both came from very dysfunctional families, allthough my mother grew up in countries all around the world and came from a more prestigeous, wealthy family, while my father grew up with the poorest of the poor with 9 other siblings. My mother made a distance from her family and that lifestyle early on, and moved to the Bronx on her own when she was 16, instead of living with her family on Upper East Side, because she wanted to make other experiences.
Every choice she's made has been in effort to try to make a distance from that lifestyle and set of mind. She has taught me nothing but appreciation for every little thing and doing the very opposite of spoiling me. I grew up with my older brother (from my mother), met my other half sister regularily, but I was told my other brother was my cousin. He was in and out of prison all the time and addicted to drugs. It wasn't an easy home to grow up in, and my brother practically ran away when he was 18. Since that I haven't seen much of him. Not because he's not doing ok or being successful. He's more than alright. But he's never made a single effort to get in touch with me or get to know who I am. I've been wondering WHY for many years. Because I miss having that kind of contact, the kind you can only have with someone who shares your mother/father. There's things they understand that no one else would, and part of you is the same. It's ironic how I've followed in my brothers footsteps without having any idea! However, I always felt like he didn't like me, and it hurt me greatly. Why?
At one point, I reached out to him for help (because he'd told me I could if there was something important/urgent). You know what he did? Just brushed me off. I've never quite gotten over it. Now, the vibe between us is so weird it's just too awkward to be around him. But I still try.
When it comes to my half sister, she also just kind of disappeared from my life when I was around 8 years old. Never knew why, I just assumed she was extremely busy. Now I've found out it was because of my mother. I've also found out my brother ran away because of my father.
They both hold deep grudges against either my mother or father, and they see me as part of one of them, therefore not worthy of their trust and time. It sucks. This is what I feared, but I now have it confirmed. I am the only one in the middle who get to hear both sides of the story and it's impossible for me to not get into defence mode. In addition to all of this, it seems both my brother and sister have some kind of disregard against the parent that "belongs" to them, my brother who is my mother's son don't really care that much about her or stay in touch. Same with my sister and my father. So I am also the one left with the responsibility of trying to make sure they are ok. It makes me sad, but it also feels so unnecessary. They're missing out on something.
I'm not the one who experienced being in their shoes, but for God's sake, give people a chance and stop demanding for them to be flawless superhumans. We only have one set of parents and they all have their flaws but they are who they are. Unique. Why do I have to be the grown up when she's 22 years older than me? I've always appreciated what I got, no matter how dysfunctional/amputated it is, because I know I could lose it tomorrow. But I've come to realise that even more the latest years. My hubby's father, brother and two sisters were killed. He'd do anything to have them back. And he's the one who reacted so strongly to how my brother was treating me, because he said he was so protective and caring with his sisters. Before him pointing that out to me, I had let the situation just be whatever it was and try to believe it was normal.
I had the impression "blended" families functioned better than this at least between the brothers and sisters, but I know that was naive. Seems just a little too hard for some people to let go of old pain and stop judging. So all you people out there who have good relationships with your brothers/sisters, nuture them well!
>> Wednesday, November 5, 2008
He's going to the White House! He did it! I'm SOOOO HAPPY!
That IS a Change we can believe in. I am so impressed and proud of that man. Truth and knowledge is power, and has now proven to last longer. Being truthful, sincere and dignified worked! I watched the election until about 12:30 AM last night, woke up at 4 to continue watching. 5 AM they announced the breaking news. What a historical day and night.
We couldn't help ourselves but jump up and cheer. Our dog started running around playing. My mother called me crying of joy. Everyone knows this is historical, and a special victory. To me it is a symbolic victory, I think of how many people have died to make this happen. How many people who have worked tiredlessly, all their lives, with no result, to make this happen. How many people broke barriers before Barack Obama came, to make this possible. And needless to mention, Barack and his endless, hard work for the past 2 years to make this happen. There's nothing in this world that make me happier than seeing things work the way they should. When the good in people win over the bad. Fair and square. No dirty tricks.
I have been living and believing in those standards all my life, integrity, honesty, knowledge, common sense, and it's not easy, because there are so many opposite forces that can easily pull anyone down. People almost always resort to the dirty tricks instead of just remaining truthful and believing in the truth they know. Obama didn't give up. He knew what he was talking about and he believed in it. He was slapped in the face over and over by all the media. They tried to crush him. But he had stamina, and he was wise enough to not let any of it get to him. He ran the smartest campaign anyone could ever run. It's like the best top athletes. They know perfect timing. They have stamina and they know how to be patient. That's Barack Obama. I don't care about age or color, THAT'S a perfect president. I have always believed that anything is possible, and this has strengthened my belief further. Now I have nothing else to do than to wait for his inauguration and pray for his security. I hope they won't make it too hard for him to do what I know he can.
Today, I think it is fair to say, the world is actually a better place. This is one of the happiest days of my life. Not just because he won, but because of what it truly means. The symbolism of it all. I will never forget this day.
>> Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I remember the first time I heard about Obama, my mother had copied an article from Times magazine about him and given it to me. It was in 2004. Already back then, they said he was president material. I must admit at the time, I was very careful about getting my hopes up. I'm not American, but I know how crazy things are in politics. There's quite a bunch of powerful people who would like to make sure things never change, especially in regards of racial divison.
Anyway, I read an interesting article a couple of weeks ago that pinpointed some of my views of the flaws of the American democracy and how it effects certain groups in society. It might be a little controversial but I thought it was interesting. It talked about the law many states in the US have, stopping ex-cons from voting and how this effects the black vote and other minorities. I think it's crazy to not allow ex-cons to vote in the first place. Democracy is all about the people. People can be thrown in jail for all kinds of things, it doesn't necessarily make them unfit to vote. It's so sad to see how systems are just built to keep people down. Of course, when a countrys political system is ruled by the ideologies of super capitalism and neo liberalism, it's self explanatory that a significant group of the population will "fall out" and end up on the bottom of the social hierarchy. On the bottom of the social hierarchy you're stricken by poverty and therefore the community will be more infected with crime, alcoholism and drug use, therefore more people will be going to prison. I think the people on the bottom of the social hierarchy is exactly the people who needs to have the opportunity to have a say in politics. People should be at least remotely able to have a say in how their kids are going to grow up. I'm not putting all the blame on the rich capitalists here, but I think they deserve their fair share..I can't help but be reminded of slavery, segregation and the repercussions of it all. When I hear ignorant people say there's so many black people in prison I just get so pissed. It's not that simple. There are reasons why so many people end up in prison and they are way more complexed than that. Sure, everyone is ultimately in charge of their life, but it sure as hell isn't easy when society is just looking to give you a hard time all your life.
>> Monday, November 3, 2008
Ok, first entry... I've been contemplating about creating a blog for a long time, but I always ended up putting it off. Lately, I've been having loads of dead time at work with nothing to do. Didn't take me long to discover several blogs that were quite inspirational, and I finally thought why not give it a go.. All my life I've been trying (and wanting) to keep a diary, but I've always sucked at it. I figured maybe since this is on the computer, it won't take me as much time and energy to keep it updated. But then I was all confused about whether I should write in English or Norwegian because I think and write in both..so I decided to copy Yngvilds idea to have one in English and one in Norwegian.
Alright: I'm a very opinionated, stubborn and thoughtful person with a lot of thoughts in my head, so this blog will be a chaotic mix of all that I think :)