- Are you crazy? Aber-what? What are you doing there? (Their first reaction when I give updates on my new location).
- Do I need a visa to come up to Aberdeen/Is Scotland still part of UK? :O (Seriously? Check the maps! Oh that is when they have finally accepted or believed that I have moved!)
- Its very cold here in London – it must be freezing up north in Aberdeen? (when its freezing cold in London)
- How are you coping with the work-church-home triangle? No social activities? Jeez you must be dead bored now’ (the next day after the ‘the girls-night-outs’/film-shows/comedy shows).
- How long is the flight/train journey (Yay! When they are planning to visit :))
Every time these questions came up in our conversations, I have patiently tried to give a beautiful picture of what’s going on in Aberdeen to friends and families in London/Nigeria. Some are already convinced whilst some are waiting for a visit to even believe that Aberdeen is still in the same United Kingdom :).
There is an African/Nigeria saying that literary means ‘if a woman has not been married to two different men, she might not appreciate which is best’
I am going to try my best to summarise in points what should cover the above questions and others yet ‘un-asked’. Oh well, this is me trying:
LONDON – WHAT I MISS ABOUT IT:
1. OXFORD/BOND STREET!!! Whilst my credit card is finally ‘resurrecting’ from spending and my bank is probably upset at my increased monthly re-payment, I sorely miss the buzz and ‘therapeutic’ shopping trips to London’s busiest and most expensive street (I doubt if it is anything close to therapy – we shop, we spend, we owe – case closed!).
The endless rows of clothing, shoes and accessories to ‘window-shop’, mentally ‘borrow’ ideas for the next few days dress ensemble to work from the shop mannequins, the bumping into other shoppers/friends and exchange of phone numbers or Blackberry Pins who you then go on to briefly catch up on gossip whilst mentally checking when Selfridges’ will be shutting its doors or eyes darting back and forth to check if your companion is waiting at the other side or he/she has moved up on the busy street in a move to ‘punish’ for catching up on gossip whilst they wait – oh its endless!!! Even though you are invisible to about 90% of the shoppers or commuters on Bond Street, there is always a chance you will find someone that you know or want to avoid! I wont bother going into the actual buying process – that’s a case for another post. God helps us (especially ladies).
2. CREATIVE EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES: I missed working with the best of Africa Creatives! There is always something creative happening in London. I have an African inspired wedding blog/website WeddingTrendy that was and is still very popular with couples getting married and to keep this platform fresh, it means I have to be in touch with Photographers, Make Up Artists, DJs, Bridal Couture Professionals, ‘Aso-Oke’ manufacturers/sellers, Caterers, Event Planners/Designers, Wedding Exhibitionists, Luxury Venue owners and a lot more! Running the online magazine means I am regularly meeting on-line and offline with these professionals, or brides – planning, promoting and attending and reporting on these creative events in and around London and they all come (some are still promised) with their benefits *wink*. I miss the buzz. I really do – I loved working or talking to the likes of DJ Abass, Segun Gele, Adebayo Jones, Yemi Osunkoya, Atunbi Adesanmi, Kevin Obosi, Maze Couture, FaceQuizite, Seyi ‘Cedar Events’, Seyi Zooto. Thank GOD for the world now being a global digital village and these professionals are within a ‘Facebook Message’ or Blackberry Ping or Whatsapp Message’ away!.
3. FRESH AFRICAN FOOD SHOPPING: I sure missed the visits to Peckham High! You can buy fresh tomatoes, yam, cocoyam, coconut, vegetables (all sort of varieties not just spinach!), plantain, snails, scotch bonnets, ‘agege or abuja bread’, fresh goat/lamb/beef/chicken, all types of cow/bull offals. And the emphasis is on ‘fresh’ regardless of the day of the week. I missed the banter and *don’t be shocked* the typical Nigerian ‘haggling of prices’ – oh yes! You can get some discounts off your fresh produce if you don’t mind the Pakistani traders to call you ‘Ijebu or Alaroro’ – who cares? As long as I save £10 or more! Its usually fun and you can stock up for weeks or months if you know how to preserve (I cut into pieces and freeze!). Whilst shopping and you want some nibbles, you can be sure you can find the typical Nigerian ‘puff puff or buns’, moin-moin (in leaves o), turkey gizzard-on-stick, fried yam (yes oooo), fried yam, or even AMALA and ewedu (if you are lucky, served with snail, or orisirisi (variety) of meat if that rocks your boat). The only problem you face is when you are done eating the amala and you have a few bags of shopping to carry to the train or your car :).
4. THE SOCIAL AND NIGHT LIFE: I was never a ‘party’ girl but life is too short and I don’t miss on the chance to go out and have a good laugh, eat out, dance, watch films, party or simply have fun with my friends or family – if my schedules allows it. London has a lot to offer in this social aspect and whatever time of day or night, there is a place to go. And if you want to go African/Nigeria style, head towards East, North or South London! There are loads of restaurants or bars to choose from and these are the places you can really appreciate the vibrancy of African/Nigerian lifestyle. The food, the music, the people, the fashion! It isn’t all about ‘jeans and tees’ in London, you dress up ‘proper’ to go for a meal or see ‘Nollywood’ or Comedy shows – and babes (and guys! Yes ooo – the men too) usually check out themselves from the corner of their eyes just to make sure ‘all is well’ in that department – especially with the hairdo and shoes. God help us. It was fun. There is also the Nottinghill Carnival! Lovely, lovely that is if you don’t mind the nudity, some drunk elements and having to walk miles along the most famous street party in London. The Naija Corner co-hosted by DJ Abass is still one of the highlights and you can meet the best of Nigerian best actors/actresses, movie/music producers, musicians, your friends, your frenemies and some really interesting non-Nigerians.
5. CHURCH: In London, church is both the place to be for religious and other socials. Believe it or not, it is not all churchy with London African/Nigerian churches – a whole lot of activities that are educative, social and cultural too. I have attended the non-Nigerian/African churches a few times too – on invitation. The typical African/Nigerian church is ran with both African/Western precisions. Location and Parking? Check. Internal Decor? Check, Air-conditioning/Heating? Check. Smartly dressed Ushers/Choir members? Check. Pastor’s sermon, humour and personality? Check. Timing – erm 50/50 or ‘as the Spirit directs’ but nothing major – it only means the time remaining for ‘fellowship after fellowship’ might just be 10 or 15 minutes less. Now – the Congregation? A complete mix of people across races, occupation – location is never a barrier and this means if a member of the church loves it, he or she can drive one or two hours just to be there.
LONDON – WHAT I DONT’ MISS ABOUT IT!: NEXT POST 🙂