I will be going to The Netherlands later this week. I am sure I’ll have somthing interesting from the trip to share with everyone.
Ok, bis später.
I knew that the weekend was going to be boring, and that I was going to be especially lonely, so sometime during the week to visit her family in Berlin. I called her and we made arrangements for me to come over on Saturday morning. Got to her house at a little past 10 in the morning, and we got ready to go to the house of another Nigerian who just had a kid, for the christening ceremony. I went along with her, her husband and their two kids. All who were there were Christians (all except the new father whom I think is a Muslim, cos I saw a Quran and a Muslim praying bead in the house, plus the kid was given an Islamic name). Anyway, it was a regular Nigerian pentecostal ceremony, with a lot of prayer and singing.
After the place we went to the Potsdamer Platz, walked around a bit and went back home. Today we are getting ready to go to church. I haven’t done that for a long time, and I am not particularly keen about going, but to respect the family I will go anyway. And then in the evening I will be off to Halle.
Another week is at an end. I have learnt more German this week, and things are generally going ok. I am even scared of saying that things are going fine, thinking that saying it might somehow jinx things….. Talking about feeling good and happiness brings something else to my mind. I had a strange feeling yesterday morning. I woke up feeling happy, feeling good with myself. Now, I don’t mean to say that I am never happy, but waking up in the morning and feeling really happy is just not my thing. I had to run through my brain to see why I was feeling that good with myself.
The previous day, Thursday, I talked to some of my old friends who are in Nigeria over the phone. I realised how much I missed them, but at the same time I realised how great it is to have friends who are willing to help when one is down. I was typesetting a book and getting it ready for publication, the deadline was the following day (yesterday) and I couldn’t get it together. I was feeling really down, and since I had a call card with me I decided to call some friends. It was great to find out how they were doing, and to hear that despite the social and political problems in Nigeria things could still be fun. The last person I talked to was Pinky. I don’t know if you guys know the cartoon Pinky and the Brain, but I call him Pinky, or whenever it seemed like he was more like Brain I called him Brain. Ok, I called Pinky and Pinky offered to help with the Typesetting. I emailed the stuff to him, and he even called me at home later in the night to tell me that he had got it and he would work on it. Isn’t it just great to have people who would feel happy to do these kinds of things for one?
The little things of life are the things that make us happy. For instance, knowing that when I need to understand something better I have someone to ask, and whenever I have a problem with something there is someone who would be able to help with it, and gladly, makes me feel happy. But then, are these really small things? Are they not the stuffs of great things? Do we have to wait, for instance, until we make our first millions before we feel happy, or until we achieve whatever is our dream? I think that all these are great but the thought that we might actually be able to achieve them, that we might get someone who might assist us to achieve them, is often greater than the achievements themselves. Don’t we all know about the disappointment of finding out that the achievements don’t bring as much pleasure as we thought they would?
Phew! Ha ha… I have finally become what I always was afraid of becoming: a stupid motivational bore! Back to reading on Rational Choice Theory!!
Yea, it is belated but isn’t that better than nothing? That is presumptive me again, thinking that I have an audience. But what is better than positive self-deception, especially when one knows the true picture?What have I been up to apart from generally not blogging? Well, I was in Uppsala for the Christmas. You know that was where I did my masters. I went there to meet old friends and to have a taste, no, a taste of a pinch, of what I had when I was there. It is always nice to go to a place where one used to stay. You know that when a person first gets to a place, if they are observant, they see things that even the natives don’t see; and when they return there they see changes that natives would probably have lived through. I saw some changes, but most interesting of all, I met old friends. It is so funny how places look like they have changed and people just look the same. The same old angers and frustrations, the same old resolutions, old aspirations. But do I love the people! I really missed them. One is now married and another is on the way to getting married. Some have changed jobs and moved/ are planning to move to Stockholm, and others still are now on some university courses. And I said they haven’t changed? To illustrate I’ll use myself. I went to Nigeria, got a job with a company, worked with them for a while, left again and now I am in Germany. Changes, right? Yea, changes, but have those changes really changed the Me? I guess not. I still have the same aspirations as I always did, the same frustrations, the same bitterness. I think there is just something inside us that refuse to change despite the superficial changes. Yea, there have been changes but my friends, the friends that I had, and the things that attracted us to each other, haven’t really changed. Maybe the same thing goes for cities too. Maybe if we know a city well enough we probably would find that it never really changes. Perhaps it always retains its essence – whatever that means – even in the face of what we would consider near-extreme changes. Let us ask our geographers and urban planners.
Yea, to more current things. I now attend a Deutsch language course five days a week. And after I discovered that I had added some weight I have joined a gym. These all are avenues for stories so I should be giving you some sometime soon.
Two days ago, I had some colleagues over to my apartment and made some eba and obe egusi (for those who are not Nigerians this is a Nigerian dish), and suggested that they ate by hand. It was a fun time. It is always great to have people visiting, and it is always good to cook for people. Yea, that is a really, really short summary of what has been happening to me.
I am off to Germany on Tuesday, and for those who have been visiting this site I promise to keep you up to date when I get to Germany.
Phew! Finally, I am in the present!!
This is the part where I tell you how nervous I was about the interview. Yea, quite a bit. I was going to face a panel that I knew would comprise of professors of long standing, and I am just an MA degree holder, hoping to be accepted into the PhD programme of the institute. I couldn’t sleep so well so I spent time going over my proposal, trying to see where I didn’t do very well and trying to prepare a defence. The day of the interview I went into the institute and I was given the direction to the interview venue. I got in, and the one of the directors of the institute, and the director of the department I applied to, Gunther Schlee, was the chair of the interview, and Jacqueline Knörr, Peter Finke, and some people that I cant remember now, were in the panel. I was questioned about the proposal and I answered them. The interview went really well; all I had to do was to answer the questions to the best of my knowledge. At about the close of the interview a member of the panel asked if I knew what I was getting into if I took the offer. I would have to learn German, become an anthropologist in one year since I had never studied Anthropology before, go to the field the next and then return to Germany to write it up the third year. Gunther Schlee said they could actually give me the first six months as months I would spend learning German, not counting it as part of my PhD years, and then I would start counting after then. In my reaction, I asked if there was anyone who had ever done that before. They replied yes. I said that that meant that it was possible then I could do it. I left on a pretty nice note, feeling that if I didn’t get the position it would be because there was someone who was better than me. Funnily, that thought was consoling.
The following day there was a public lecture that I was asked to attend. After the lecture, I met a Kenyan/Dutch couple who came to be interviewed for a post-doctoral position. The two of them were interviewed for the same position. And then Jacqueline Knörr came over and told us that they planned to go to a café that evening. We tagged along and had a pretty nice time at the café. I was asked when my return flight was and I told them that it was 10.05 the following morning. I was advised to leave home as early as 6am so I could get to the train station on time, and then the airport, so I wouldn’t miss my flight. When we left I was reminded of that again. But still I missed my flight. Below I have copied what I wrote at the airport. I don’t think there is any other way to write how I felt at the point than to actually paste what I wrote at the moment.
this is the kind of thing you never think could actually happen to you. I have seen “The Terminal”, it looks really good as a movie. The whole story sounds interesting, but like something that could never happen. Ok, a guy may not be without a country for a while, but a person could actually be caught in the airport, with virtually no money, nowhere to go and nobody to call! Yea, this is practically what is happening to me now. I am here at the Berlin airport, with no money at all. I have used all the money I have to pay the fees I had to pay for changing to another flight. Ok, wait, it is not like I wanted to change a flight. Maybe I should actually tell the whole story so that you can understand it better.
This morning, I woke up a few minutes before seven o’clock and I knew I was in trouble. It is not that there is anything wrong with the number 7, or that I have anything agains it in particular, it is just that that meant that I was going to be late for my flight. Stupid me, when I was setting the alarm last night with my phone (I had not changed the time to German time) I got it all mixed up so that the alarm that I meant to go by five didndt go until a few minutes after I woke up. I cleaned up, tidied the house a bit and ran out for the train station. I was supposed to take the train from Halle to Berlin at 7.07 but I had to take the one that left at 7.57. The train got to the Berlin train station at 9.19, I got to the bus stop and found out that the bus ride to the airport takes about 21 minutes, so instead of waiting for the bus I went and took a taxi. The taxi driver said that she could not accept visa card so I had to run into the airport at about 9.45 to get an ATM machine from which I withdrew 20 euros. I then ran to the gate and found that it was not only closed but there was nobody at the counter. I ran to the KLM point at the airport and I was informed that I would have to get another ticket. There was no flight to Lagos tomorrow and the next flight was on Friday, and I had to pay 132 euros for the transaction. OK. Again, I gave my visa card. The addition of the monies I charged on the visa card was now up to 152, the last time I checked I had about 180 euros on the card. So I decided to call my frind who is in Germany. She didnt pick the phone. I had to find a way of sending an email to them so I went to a T internet machine dropped some coins and it gave me some minutes. I then sent an email to two od my friends, both Germans, one in London the other in the South of Germany. I tried calling Anja (the one in Germany) later and I was able to get through to her. There wasnt much she could do than to tell me that she would contact her friend who lives in Berlin. I was to call her back. At that moment I still didnt feel any panic. Even when I noticed that my visa would expire today, and I had to go to the police to report and get an extension I did not panic. But the panic began when I discovered that I might not be able to call Anja back beccause when I went to get some money again from the ATM machine the machine told me that I had exhausted the amount I could withdraw for the day. Now, that could mean either that I could not withdram any more money today and so would have to wait till tomorrow, or that there was not any money on the card anymore. So here I am, stuck at the airport with no money, no food (havent eaten today and it is now 18.00), and no hope of getting any help, except I beg for some money, and that is an art I have not been able to master. I mean the art of begging. There was a black guy I might have been able to ask for help but I saw the look on his face when I told him that I was a Nigerian, and I have not even seen him since then. Now, I could do without food – I am already doing that now aint I? – but the idea that one is helpless is really challenging!
Now that is what I wrote, unedited. I don’t think I could have written that after the whole stuff. Anyway, you got the whole story as it happened. Let me add the rest of the day, and the following day.
Just after I wrote that, I went out of the main terminal and sat on the bench outside. The airport was getting empty and there were only about three of us out on the bench. One of us stood up and then there were two left. I looked at the other man and asked if he spoke English, he replied yes. I told him that I only wanted to talk, that I hadn’t talked the whole day. We started talking and I told him that I was stuck at the airport. He suggested that I go into the city, described a youth hostel to me and told me that I could get a room there. I then told him about the no-money situation. Oh, he was really sorry I didn’t have money but he was also sorry he didn’t have much either. He said he had gone shopping so he gave me some cashew nuts and banana. That was my first meal of the day, not counting the nicotine and the caffeine, and it was about 20.00. I thanked him and he left. I walked into the small terminal that would be open for the night and prepared to read for a while before the I felt comfortable enough to try to sleep.
21.30 an Asian-looking guy came into the terminal, an obvious back-packer. We got talking and he told me about how through all his travels to European cities in the past ten days he had never slept at a hotel or hostel. He always slept at the airport. Kenji Yamamoto – his name – is Japanese. We shared some of his bread and I offered some of my banana. We slept on the floor that night. The next morning we met a Russian violinist who got to Berlin late and decided to spend the night at the airport, and then a Lithuanian girl who was coming from Portugal and going to Lithuania by bus. Irina, the Russian lady, was going to Moscow by train. We had a lively discussion about a wide range of topics, and then she we took a picture, exchanged addresses and then she left. I also met a Nigerian lady. More about her later. Irina suddenly returned and offered me five euros. Don’t die, she said. I took the money and thanked her. Now, she was gone, and I was again with Kenji. I sighted a beautiful girl who obviously would not mind some company and then we got talking. She is Emilija, from Lithuania. We made jokes about the Terminal movie and decided to form a band, The Terminal Band. Suddenly, things had changed, I was having fun! The Nigerian lady met I earlier, Lola, came back later in the day and took me to her house. At about that same time Emilija had to leave for the bus station. At Lola’s house I was offered food, and I took a shower. She asked if I would like to say over but I said I would love to go back to the airport, sinc Kenji, who had gone into Berlin, would be coming back for the night. It would not be nic if he came back and didn’t find me.
Yea, the day after that was the day I would have to leave. It was nice being at the airport afteralll. I met really nice people and I promised to keep in touch with them.