Thursday 7 September 2023

Slowly Making My Way Around Myanmar

I moved to Yangon, Myanmar, in May 2023. The Golden Land as it is called, is a country like no other, peculiar in many ways. I've heard some people still refer to the country as Burma which is the former name, but the name was changed to Myanmar in 1989. The people however, are still referred to as Burmese. 

One thing that stands out is how Burmese people are polite, they would not openly get annoyed as it is does not reflect well to openly express anger or irritation. Even when people struggle with something, you'll hardly get an outright NO. Losing face is something people would not do, so they might say okay or beat around the bush. In all that, you are 'not allowed' to lose your cool as it is not taken well :-) If you put too much pressure, they could shut you out. And you'd never hear a thing even if it were killing them. However, they are always eager to help when they can, which I think is sweet.

My arrival was anything but pleasant because of my nationality. I was treated shabbily and told clearly that it was because of my nationality, but I'll save that story for another day!

In speaking with people, I noticed not many people know of this country or where in Asia it is located. So I've put a map below for reference - see the red arrow? The flag is also beneath the map.

Flag below

Thursday 13 July 2023

The Price to Pay

Biola reflected on the recent events that she had had to deal with. Her life had been upended in a way she never imagined would happen. She thought that she had things figured out until that fateful day. She had been so consumed by her career and getting ahead that she neglected everything else and everyone who was dear to her, until her world came crashing down.

She got home, late as usual. I’m home she called out but emptiness came back at her. She went to her bedroom, something was different, but she couldn’t figure it out immediately. Then she went to give her a son a kiss, something she did every night. But he wasn’t there. Then she noticed, a lot was gone from his room. She ran back to her room and opened the wardrobe. A good lot of her husband’s clothes were gone. She called, frantically, but he didn’t answer his phone. She was in a panic, she wondered why. She saw them in the morning before she left for work and all seemed well. Or so she thought.

Her husband was everything she had hoped for; supportive, loving, manly and he held his own. He had things going for him as well, but drew the line when it came to his family. He poured his all. He never missed any event his son was to attend, he showed up for his wife’s events and she was so proud of him. He hinted at her taking him for granted many times but was one who shied away from confrontation, so he would say his piece then move on. As work got more demanding, there were more late nights and she was grateful to him, as he catered to the home front. 

Monday 12 June 2023

Self-Sufficiency And The Trauma We Carry

I've often wondered if the notion of “be a man”, men are not supposed to show weakness should not be seen differently. Boys just like girls are human beings and have feelings. They should be allowed to express their feelings and feel safe to show weakness and vulnerability. Teaching self-sufficiency is great, but I believe there needs to be a balance on when to reach out or speak out.

Over time I have watched this happen and the part of raising men to bottle their feelings or telling them from a young age to be tough/be a man has never sat well with me. Sadly, it leads to boys teasing one another on this subject, and eventually men doing same. Many men feel the need to not be vulnerable or act like it is wrong to cry. This unfortunately, could play out on so many levels with men taking those bottled feelings or frustrations out on the people closest to them or the society at large. They would rather find ways to cope and some of these ways could be negative coping mechanisms. In some instances, young men act out to get attention, which they would hardly ask for. But even that attention could be withheld from them due to bad behaviour. Then it spirals out of control and becomes a point of concern.

Monday 9 January 2023

The Myth Called Closure

Ever found yourself in a position where you were unconsciously chasing after closure? Or so needy of it that you hinged moving on on it? It’s not uncommon, a good lot of us have been there.

Through loss, pain, hurt, break up or whatever situation it might have been, you hope for one more chance to do things differently, to make things right, or simply to talk things overSome people are lucky enough to have that, but sometimes, we do not get second chances no matter how hard we try or wish.

Loss of a loved one is heavy, unanswered questions come with it. Unresolved issues come to the fore, but the finality of death is such that there is no second chance with the person who is no more. No one is ever prepared for loss, and grief manifests in different ways. You might think you are fine one moment then the next you find yourself completely immersed in grief. The pain might never really go away, this is something you don’t get over, but you get past it with time and you learn to live with it.  

Tuesday 27 December 2022

A Summary of my Time in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Article written in French below....Ecrit en français ci-dessous après la version anglaise

Some words that describe the Democratic Republic of Congo for me are: chaotic, colourful, disorderly, vibrant and joie de vivre. Music would wake you up from early hours of the morning and accompany you through the day; be it gospel music or party tunes. And should you ever try to ‘bother’ a person about noise or order, you’d get the retort of “we are in Congo”.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

Visiting Serbia

 I visited Serbia in August 2022 and it was so much fun.

Hello from the streets of Belgrade

My brother and I flew with Air Serbia from London, the flight took about 3hrs and 40 mins. The plane was neat and had enough leg room in economy. Staff were polite and the flights were right on time. Going back to London, we flew in business class. Business class was the same as economy, only difference was we were offered food, while in economy, we were offered water and biscuits. Those in economy who wanted food and drinks had to pay.

For Nigerian passport holders, in case you were wondering, if you have a valid and used UK or Schengen visa, you won't need a Serbian visa.

Thursday 8 September 2022

An era driven by validation

In search of validation by likes, comments?
Ever noticed how when you post something on social media, you instinctively pick up your phone numerous times to check how many likes or comments you might have? Or how we scroll aimlessly through our feeds looking for nothing in particular? I am guilty as well!

I heard a couple talk of  the highs and lows of parenting and how other parents made parenting look so easy with photos on instagram. Although they have come to embrace it, there are things they wish they were warned about or guided on.
Social media has a way of sucking us all in and at the same time deceiving us that everyone's life is so glossy. In many cases, we share our best moments on social media. The ability to distinguish between that and real life is key, especially in an era of such consumerism.

Friday 12 August 2022

What kind of traveller are you?

When it comes to travelling, there are different categories of travellers :

1) those who get to the airport way ahead of their flights, then take all the time to stroll around or just wait at their boarding gates

2) those who wait for last minute, are constantly in a hurry, running or missing flights

3) those who spend their time window shopping or eating

I happen to be in the first category. I get into a bit of a panic when I'm running late, so I would much prefer to get to the airport early, ahead of the long queues. This saved  me once when I was asked to do a covid test by an airline because they had not yet updated their regulations (didn't need a test) from the country I was travelling to. Thankfully, there was a place to do an antigen test at the airport, and I had more than enough time to get the result, check in and wait to board.

I recently had to travel to London via Kigali, Nairobi and Paris. There was a 40 minute delay from Kigali which was not a problem. However, on arrival in Nairobi, there was a 3 hour delay. I watched the time pass and kept consoling myself that I would make the connecting flight in Paris. At times like these, you watch time pass quicker than anything. I spent 40 minutes in Paris and I spent a good amount of that time on ground running. 

As we arrived, we disembarked then got on the bus that took us to the terminal. That took about 15 minutes then I ran from the bus to get through security. Thankfully, there wasn't a long queue but as every minute passed, I was getting more and more apprehensive. I saw some people go right under the security barriers, but I didn't want anything to delay me more than necessary in case someone decided to be difficult with me. 

Anyway, it took me 7 minutes to get through security. I felt my phone vibrate but that was the least of my worries. As soon I got through security, I ran like my life depended on it. I had a family event in London starting at 2pm and I kept saying to myself that I could not miss that flight. I was to arrive around noon. 

As I approached the boarding gate, the counter seemed empty, but I kept running. Right on cue, a lady appeared, then shouted London in that familiar asking tone. Out of breath, I shook my head while running to get to her and she gestured for me to slow down and said it was okay. God knows I was grateful for that. I was the last one to get on the plane, the door closed right as I got on. I sat down, panting, then I spotted a couple that was on the Nairobi flight as well. They were seated just in front of me. I remember seeing them go under the security barriers, I spoke to them. You made it from the Nairobi flight. We all shared the knowing laughter of 'we made it'. As I was about to switch off my phone, I saw a text message from Air France notifying me to go to the boarding gate. That must have been the vibration I felt while waiting to get through security.

Of course my suitcases did not make it onto the plane. As we landed, I got another text message notifying me that my suitcases were in Paris and would arrive on the next flight, which was at 4pm. I found the Air France baggage unit, filled out the forms with my address and my suitcases were delivered the next morning. I have to admit, their service in this regard was great. 

I find Airports very fascinating. It's a place where people 'put aside all dignity' if need be, when it comes down to it. The two times I have had to run like this (with no shame) to catch planes, were between London and Paris. First time was in London in 2010, I was returning to Paris where I lived at the time and this time, in Paris. Fortunately, all ended well for me, I can't imagine how frustrated I might have been if I had missed the flight.

Wednesday 22 June 2022

A Very African Problem

Pilar had been quite stressed at work and was looking forward to getting away from her life in Bangui, Central African Republic. It had increasingly become unsafe with more and more car jackings taking place. The curfew constantly made her feel imprisoned, it was midnight at first, then it moved to 11pm but was recently changed to 9:30pm. What could anyone possibly do before 9:30pm? The only time to socialise was during weekends, people from different organisations organised barbecues and house parties during the day. From 8pm, one by one, everyone would start to jump into their cars, contacting their various radio rooms to announce their return home, not to contravene security rules. The country was known for its constant conflicts. Rock club was always full during the weekend, of those wanting to swim, to play tennis or to just sit out in the sun. Hôtel Ledger was known for their Sunday brunch and also had a nice pool, then hôtel Oubangui, not the fanciest but had good massages. These were some of the things that helped Pilar decompress during weekends.

Thursday 26 May 2022

There Is No One Size Fits All Approach To Stress And Burn Out

Not so long ago, when reference was made to burn out and stress, there was a tendency to think it was something far fetched. Or something that had other forms in which it manifested. However, more people are coming to terms with this and how it is linked to mental health. From my experience, I realised that a good number of people are indeed stressed, burnt out and in dire need of a break. It manifests little by little, our body tells us, then as the signs accumulate, chronic stress manifests and some people never recover from it. At this time, immunity is weakened, which could easily culminate in chronic or terminal illnesses. It creeps on you slowly then spirals out of control.

In the bid to be great at what we do, we sometimes lose ourselves or forget to pay attention to ourselves. Being overworked or stressed these day seems to come with a badge of honour, which makes me wonder why we glorify stress. 

When it gets to the point where we can no longer go on or on those days when it all seems too much, one would like the world to pause for just one minute. But you realise in horror that the world can be cruel and life just seems to go on. One also wonders if some people who are able to stay disconnected from their feelings have a super power. The quick realisation of being dispensable hits differently. From holding it together for so long, it is easy to fall apart. And fall you might, very hard. Through certain kinds of events, you also get to realise which of the people around you you can really rely on.