Tuesday, 29 November 2011

day 9 in nigeria - buying bread

I took three of my favourite pictures today - the first two were of each of the little boys, Uthman & Sultan, who rent the house next door to my grandma's.  Our family owns the house, which seems to be a common thing - for houses/bungalows to be built as semi-detached, as it were, and then for one of those to be rented out, while the family uses the other one.  I was sat outside, using the last of the daylight to type example questions, when Sultan, the littlest (about 2), walked past, and me and my cousin (another one) noticed that he seemed to be wearing make-up.  His aunt had made him and his little brother up - I always find it quite hilarious how older siblings and parents do that to little boys, make them up and dress them in girls' clothes, but would probably not think it so cute if he turned up dressed like that in about 15 years' time (though perhaps I underestimate them).  Uthman, the older brother (about 7 or 8) approached us with his hands over his face, but eventually agreed to let me take his picture two.  I love both their expressions, and how they contrast with the makeup and how little they both are.

The third photo is one of my cousin, sat reading exam questions by torchlight, as the electricity had just gone off (for about the fourth time - it's been pretty messed up today).  I like the light and shadows in that one.

This afternoon has been mainly spent typing (sigh), whilst listening to another of the Field Negro Guide to the Arts & Cultiure podcasts, and later Mashrou' Leila, Silence 4 and Manic Street Preachers.  But earlier in the day, I actually escaped the house, and went to a local market with my mum and aunt.  We bought a load of random stuff, pako (chewing sticks), barra (no idea what it is - some kind of bitter vegetable with medicinal properties), ori (shea butter - a whole massive lump (about ⅔ the size of a football) for N1,300 (about £4.50) and some ankara (a type of printed material) for headties.  It was really haggle-central, with my mum and aunt both really going to town - with some of the traders it was like good-humoured sparring, but there were some people who were clearly just like 'this is the price - take it or leave it', which is fair enough - I can't deal with the intricacies of bartering - offer too low a price, they think you're taking the mick, too high, and you show you've no idea what you're doing.  So basically, I just leave it to the experts, and only get involved when they're about to walk away from something I really want to buy.
I really wish I could have taken some photos in the market, but it wasn't a very relaxed visit, and by the time we were through, I was too loaded down with stuff to even think about getting my camera out.

I was left home alone (again) for the afternoon, so decided to strike out on my own to buy bread.  There are places in the market places where you can buy bread, but generally, the best (freshest) loaves are from the women who carry them around on giant wooden trays with legs.  I thought I saw a bread-woman out of the window, grabbed my money, and ran out - it actually turned out to be wishful thinking.  But then I spotted a woman further up the road - and set out after her.  To avoid looking like a total freak running after her in the street, I had to just stride purposefully, and hope she'd be slowed down by what she had on her head.  It worked, and I bought a loaf of bread, quite probably grinning inanely the whole time.  Bread and stew for lunch, and bread and Bournvita ('tea') for dinner (it's pretty much been carb city since I've been here) - hmmm.

Anyways, the lights have just all gone out for about the 5th time today (apparently the workers of NEPA are on strike - personally, I think they're just mucking about with the switches), so I'll take that as a hint to call it a night (though this is doing wonders for my touch-typing…).  Until the light returns.

ps - discovery that has most tickled me today: there is a bus-stop in Lagos called 'Tom Jones. Brilliant.

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