On Photography

I think photography is a skill everyone should learn.

A selfie a day kills the battery, but taking pictures of a catholic nature can give one a heightened sense of observance.

I took a fair bit of pictures in July. It started when a follower on Twitter spoke about a #PictureADay Challenge. It sounded interesting and as I’ve always been visually inclined, I decided to participate. I took one picture everyday of July.

It started very normally, I took a picture of a house in the rain the first day.

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But then slowly, I started to see patterns and lines. 

And slowly, the interplay between lines and colour (or the lack of it).

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Buildings became interesting, as did other structures.

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Faces too, and the movements people make.

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But then, nothing beats a little bit of luck when you happen to be just in the right place at the right time.

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Very important for me had been realizing that the best moments can not be captured, and even if you see a shot you can’t capture it fast enough. These moments are to be experienced: a father smiling when he sees his child’s appear on his phone, a guy smile because he gets the movie reference on a person’s shirt, or that split second when the top of a truck is parallel with the tunnel it’s driving through.

Closure

I’m in that phase of my life where I’m applying for opportunities, mostly online but some by referral. As anyone who does this fairly-regularly will tell you, I get rejected most of the time. In fact, getting a reply out of an application is a happy event. Most times, these replies are just another one. You get used to rejection pretty quickly.

But there are a few applications that I feel like I should have gotten. I’m not the best in the world but there are times (I’m sure) you feel you should have gotten some opportunities. You prepare a really good pitch/cover letter, apply on time and when the reply returns you can tell that you weren’t chosen from the email title.

Sidebar: on Masters applications, if you see ‘Update on Your MSc Application’ in the subject, you probably didn’t get it.

Now, you should be mad at these events. I get really disappointed sometimes and say I will never apply to the same body. In the moment, I come up with ‘good and terrible’ reasons why I was not selected. Latent racism has been one of these reasons lately. Another of my favorites is that the person advertising the post has little knowledge of the very thing he/she advertised. Quite a reach, isn’t it?

This can affect your moods, I know it affects mine even though I try not to show it. In recent times, I have found that closure is important for these events. I think we enter a kind of relationship with applications that we carefully prepare and when we do not achieve the outcome we prepared for, we should have closure.

For pitch events, closure for me is watching the pitch live. If possible in person and present dressed in good clothes. I find that even though all the final contestants are not as good as I judge myself to be, the eventual best is better. And that is gives me closure.

So, I’ve learnt to only apply to competitions that I trust the process. If you trust the process, I think you’d come to closure much faster/better.

 

Big Brother Concern

I’m concerned that my junior sister is under undue pressure to be like me (academically, at least).

I’m the 4th kid out of 5 and the only guy, so in some way my path was different from my elder sisters. It was okay for me to tank primary and secondary school and then pick it up in university. I graduated well, and my parents were really happy. They had to be, even my SS3 teachers did not think my WAEC result would be good enough to enter university. But to be fair, they were making this judgement based on my grades.

My junior sister looks up to me in that regard (in many other regards too, it’s my fault she’s a Chelsea fan). But I’m concerned because she stays up reading until 3am – even in secondary school. Who does that?! In secondary school, I played football for my school and read for exams in the car on the way to school on the day of the exam. She finished her first year of university last month and was waiting for her result with such apprehension  that I could feel it from here. She did really well, but I’m concerned she’s not discovering other aspects of herself.

I don’t know how to handle this, especially as grades are obviously very important. But is a well-rounded life not important too? How do you handle this?

If you have any advice for me, please comment. Thank you.

Profiling is interesting

For Christmas, I decided to travel by road to Maryland; I have travelled the same way before. At the border into Buffalo, some interesting things happened. 

To give some context, let me explain the border process. On the side to the US, you only meet US Customs; same for the side into Canada, you only meet Canada Customs. This is unlike traveling to Ghana from Nigeria by road where you meet both border country’s protocol at each border. Regular cars can go across the border by driving past the toll and showing their passports. If you have a Canadian or American passport, you collect yours back and drive freely into either country.

If you do not, typically, you will be allowed to drive through but have to park and go into the Customs building for the stamping.

This process is interesting, because you can detect the racism is this otherwise easy process. That, or I’m overanalyzing as always.

I waited in the bus until they were ready for us but in that time a white car was being searched beside where my bus had parked. I wondered what could be wrong. This was my second time going across and I’d never seen that before. The car next to this one in the parking lot had three ladies and two kids pull up there, come out of the car and come back in to drive off in about five minutes. All of them were white.

All this time the white car was still being searched, by three US Border Protection officers. One opened the boot, took out the jackets that were kept there and put them on top of the car and just kept searching. The other two brought out two suitcases in the car and proceeded to search each one, reading the documents that were kept in files or arranged. One of these saw a blue passport in one of the files and kept it back. 

It is important to note here that Canada and the US use blue passports, so the whoever had the passport (and I assume the owner of the car) was a citizen of one of these countries.

I kept watching, it was very interesting to me. After some 5-10 minutes, all three had found nothing and put back everything in the boot and bags (without arranging) and closed the car. A minute or so after, a black man walked up to the car, opened it and drove off.

Maybe I’m over thinking this.

We go into the office building and I’m about last to be checked. The questions are regular, any country would ask the same. I think the worst Customs/Immigration officers I’ve met were in Kenya oddly enough.

Now, here, you go up to an officer, show your visa, there’s a stamp and everyone is happy. Then you carry you big luggage through the scanner and you can go back to your bus.

But not me or some others (one of them actually showed a Canadian passport); we put our belongings on a table and a nice lady searches them. I smile when she asks the same questions the other person just asked me. I smile when she sees my old passport of when I was a year old. She looks at everything, even asks about my Piriton tablets.

The woman next to me is not so lucky. She’s Spanish, but was also traveling with a Colombian passport because that’s where she was born. For this singular fact, she has to be checked like the rest of us. Every item in her bag scrutinized for some effect before being told to go. I also have to pay some fee I had no idea of.

After four months of living in Canada you forget about all these things you read about but then you go to the US and you see why people protest on the streets.

On the moral obligation to create beautiful things

Nature is beautiful, be it vegetation, man, seas or mountains. And we all believe it was created, the Big Bang theory is a little ambiguous as to the things that ‘banged’ together to create all these. The way I think about it, we all believe in God. We all just have different characteristics of who we think he is, but we know he created everything in nature.

But we create too. I’m creating this blog post right now, I’ve written at least one essay for the last 10 weeks, I’ve typed emails, I’ve designed about four product concepts. Tailors create dresses, chefs create food, and the list goes on.

How often do we stop ‘and see that it is good’? Good craft is not only personally rewarding but financially beneficial. At least, Apple has shown so.

It’s about doing quality work at the end of the day, and exercising the God-given creative power we all have. And when you’ve not done your best, take a breather and come back to it. Everyone should see that extra bit of beauty you can create.

For Oge

It’s the Blogger Recognition Award but this felt like a flyer title.

I love positive comments about my blog, it makes me very mushy on the inside. And that’s rare for me, I think. When I think to write something, I rush to type it as fast as I can or it will stay stuck in my brain underdeveloped forever. Oge writes a great blog, and her Igbo nwere weight.

Write a post to acknowledge the award

This is it! *insert drum rolls*

Acknowledge the blogger that nominated you

Oge! You know I’m always late at these things. Ndo 🙂

Give a brief story about how you started blogging

Two years ago I applied to three schools for a Masters degree and I got rejected at all three. It was painful, and I felt my essays were sub-par. So I got the right amount of anger to start writing this blog even though I had registered it about six months before that.

Apart from that, I like reading. One of us has to read all the great stuff that you guys write, I’m a willing volunteer. I’m not really a writing person, but I can hold an argument so I figured why not share my unpopular arguments online and see if I’m really bonkers.

Give two pieces of advice for new bloggers

Most people won’t follow you back, na dem sabi.

You will find really dope people online. Some people who read your post and can tell that you’re sad and because you disallowed comments on the post send you an email to check up with you. (You know yourself, daalu).

 

Another Melange

I’ve been meaning to blog, I promise. But I never did; school got real. Free advice: don’t do a Masters programme.

Cooking is very soothing. You see, growing up I took cooking as a chore. Something on the level as sweeping or watering plants so I avoided it. I never learnt to cook until I had to living alone in Lagos. But even then I punched some numbers and found that eating out was cheaper (sounds crazy in any economy, I know). In Lagos, you can get quality food for any price is you look well; take a take-away pack and get a plate of food on the street corner as soon as they open shop because if you don’t it would be gone in an hour.

Now however, I have to cook for myself. First, my friend Somto sent me recipes. Mostly pasta, and it was dope.I picked it up quite well. Then I moved to pancakes, you should try my pancakes. Seriously. But I’m learning that cooking is as creative a task as sketching or design, some of my other passions. It’s figuring out what amount of this or that makes the taste pop and doing it repeatedly; perfecting your recipe each time you decide to cook.

Also, I’ve being going to a lot of art shows. The range of work and media is a little different from back home but I love it. Last month I saw a smelter who re-purposes metal to form 18th century ornaments and yesterday an exhibition with most of the media being egg tempera on wood. That’s wide. I’m pretty sure I look weird half the time at these things as I go alone and frequently without combing my hair, but I love seeing art alone. All that fake depth that a group feels the need to comprehend when seeing art together is gone.

Ah, and I haven’t combed my hair in a while. Mostly because I lost my afro comb and have not seen any to replace it.

I miss my mum. My birthday was in October and while she was away from home too, we Skyped at midnight and she was dancing for me. Was too beautiful. She dances with her arms and elbows, you should see it. My birthday was spent in class (no one in the class knew, thankfully) until half past 8, and then I went to a bar and played trivia with people I’d never met and probably will not recognize if we met again.

There are a lot of posts on my timeline that I should get to reading, wish me luck.

Thanksgiving

So, it’s Thanksgiving in Canada today.

I’m grateful for the public holiday, mostly. And as my university has it’s reading week this same week, undergraduates are away. Thanks to that, the house is quiet and lovely. It’s getting cold sadly and already snowing in parts of Saskatchewan and in Edmonton.

Yesterday, there was a dinner on my street for ‘left-behind’ students. Or, international students with no family to spend thanksgiving with. I had fun and too much alcohol.

Of all the things I miss, it’s gisting with my mum I miss the most. We FaceTime a lot but it’s not the same thing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mélange

A lot of things have happened in the recent past that I have had thoughts about, this post is a mixture of everything. It’s also in a weird kind of order.

Different cities have a different vibe. In July, I went to Calabar for a week and you can see the cleanliness of the people. Their drains are so wide and their streets are so clean. It’s a city built for pedestrians, one can really walk around. But it rains so much, it pays to have a car to get around. Also, their cabs are confusing. Some are painted in their colours, others are not. Apparently, the former pay a higher monthly fee to the government than their painted counterparts. This setup is good for people who use their cars for personal stuff but still want to make money doing a transport business. The downside is that kidnappers use cars such as these, everyone in Calabar is scared of kidnappers.

Abuja was in August. It’s also a (mostly) clean city but it is not pedestrian-friendly. You need a car for the waka. And it seems you always run into someone working the government. The drawback? Housing costs. It’s crippling to leave in the city. A friend of mine (who works in Abuja now) were discussing over drinks how many of our classmates in Ibadan lived in Abuja, and how it was cost efficient for their parents to send them to boarding school in other cities. One surprising thing: the cabs are so cheap. My money is that this is due to the predominantly Hausa drivers who charge fairly.

Then I finally decided to go to grad school. Well, I had decided a long time ago but I moved away is the thing that happened.

On the day of the trip my junior sister was crying and then it hit me, I was the only other sibling who could come see her in an hour’s notice. Even though she’s in university now, it’s always been hard for her to make friends. And friends are not family. So, she’s in Ibadan with my parents but all her siblings are in different cities one flight or more away. I felt selfish in some way, and it hurts that I can not help her cope. Not directly at least. I’ve had a friend of mine call her up (because I’m on some weird telephone plan) but it’s nothing. I miss her.

Canada is a great country. It’s so heterogenous, there’s no dominant race. And everyone is so welcoming of the other person; everyone has something to bring to the table. It’s normal to hear someone say ‘My parents came here in 1969 and have been here since’ even though he’s as Caucasian as they come. People say ‘thank you’ to the driver when they get off the bus.

Their transit however is confusing. It rewards those who are familiar with the area. Google Maps tries but once in a while, the descriptions are wrong. I got lost my second day here, twice. So, the thing this, different buses come along particular stops. On a road, stop A can be a stop for Bus 12 but not for Bus 15. Also, you have to take a bus that goes to the particular place you are going, because some streets are so long you can’t walk from down the street up. I never thought I would love the transit in Lagos, but comparing both, you get down from a BRT/Bus, take a keke to your street, and then take a bike to your house. This happens one after the other and can be as fast as possible. Contrast that to waiting for Bus 15 that comes every 30 minutes because even though Bus 51 comes every 15 minutes you can not get on it.

It’s puzzling how Chinese kids don’t use their names but pick an English name that has nothing to do with their original name. My housemate is Ning but everyone calls him Frank. I’m just here surprised because Chuma is not even my first name but you bet that everyone calls me that. I don’t have a problem pronouncing it 50 times until you get it.