In The Spirit of Love

In the spirit of love, I’m sharing one of my older posts, a crowd favourite, which elicits a smile or laugh from me whenever I reread. I hope you’ll enjoy it (again), as much as I do.

I am Not Looking For Love, I am Going to Work

It began yesterday at the government office, which was saturated with immigrants whose anxious stares alternated between the digital display boards and their tickets, a square piece of paper with a number printed on it. At the sound of the beep, everyone looked at their ticket, and then the display boards. Some sighed. Some continued talking. Others continued sleeping. One person rose to meet an official walled in by glass on the other side of the counter.

My wait was shortened by an acquaintance with whom I chatted until our conversation lulled to a comfortable stop.

“Excuse me, it seems you are from Nigeria.” A tall man sitting a few spaces away from my acquaintance smiled at her.

“No, I am not.”

“Ah, but I thought—”

“I am from Democratic Republic of Congo.”

With her thick Igbo accent, she delivered her last words with a finality that inspired no argument from the man. He fanned himself, and then pretended to read his letter from the belastingdienst.

Because I am slow to change the expression on my face, she saw it. The disbelief. The wonder. The perplexity.

“Don’t mind the idiot. If not for dis yeye tax people, where e for come see me? See as e dey talk as if e be my mate. E nor see im type?” she whispered for my benefit and his.

I nodded like her co-conspirator, as though I had been dissing guys for the last ten years. What else could I do?

Continue here …

 

Flight to Lagos

luggage

A KLM flight to Nigeria begins at the baggage weighing scale at Departure Hall 2. Several passengers drop their luggage on the scale, take note of the weight, nod, and walk away with sure steps. She is surprised that some passengers even weigh their hand luggage.

“What for?” she wonders aloud.

She lugs her first suitcase on the scale. A frown appears. She lugs the second and her frown deepens.

The night before, she had weighed herself, then carried each suitcase and reweighed herself. Then she had repacked and reweighed, repeating this process a few more times, until each suitcase weighed just under 23kg. She had expected a difference between the weight of the suitcases at home and at the airport. But 33kg and 29kg?

She would whistle if she knew how. Instead, she moves her suitcases to the repacking section at the corner and then whips out a folded Ghana bag from her cream handbag. She shakes it lose with one big motion so that the Ghana bag quickly assumes its rectangular shape. She hisses as she kneels on the floor and makes deft work of 16kg, filling up the Ghana bag.

In all her time at Schiphol Airport, she had only ever seen Africans ‘sweating’ at the repacking corner. The problem of course was that expectations—shoes, bags, clothing, and electronics, for family and extended family—carried a lot of weight.

After paying 200 Euros to check in an extra bag, she clears security and passport control before heading for Gate F. At the departure lounge, conversation rises and falls in English, Pidgin, Bini, Yoruba, and Igbo. She could have been at the International Airport in Lagos. Here, she finds comrades with two pieces of cabin luggage, a regular one and another bag which should not qualify as an accessory. In addition, they each have a true accessory, a handbag, a briefcase, a backpack, or something similar.

The cabin crew greet passengers as they stream into the aircraft. No one jostles for room in the overhead baggage compartments. An easy cooperation reigns among passengers as cries of, “don’t worry, there’s space here,” ring out.

Many passengers are already seated and adjusting themselves for the flight, when Mr. and Mrs. X show up. An air hostess reads their boarding passes.

“20E, this way madam, on the left. 16A, sir on the right.”

Mr. and Mrs. X walk down the aisle, stow their hand luggage, and take their places in 20E and 20F. Not long after, the passenger who had been sitting in 20F returns from the toilet.

“Madam, my seat please.”

A small quarrel ensues and an air hostess comes to arbitrate. When she confirms that Mr. X should sit at 16A, chaos occurs.

“You want to separate me from my husband? It is not possible. How can you separate me from my husband?”

“Madam, but your boarding pass—”

“Did you not hear? You cannot separate me from my husband!”

Mr. X coughs, the only sound to escape his lips. The air hostess persuades Mrs. X to vacate the seat. Mr. X accompanies Mrs. X as she follows the air hostess’ lead, dragging their cabin luggage behind him.

Atink you see this people o? They want to separate me from my husband!”

It is a battle the air hostess should win. The boarding pass says so. But her face is red, every blond hair brushed into place. Her blue suit is devoid of creases, and her voice is no match for Mrs. X’s rising decibel.

The wrangle is drawing some interest, but no mediators. Perhaps it is more expedient to use the time before take-off for selfies and goodbyes. Yes, most passengers are lost in their cell phones and tablets.

The air hostess consults with her colleagues and then they whisper to a few passengers. Before long, they escort Mr. and Mrs. X to a row of seats where they can sit side by side.

Mrs. X declares her victory for all to hear. “Ehen, what God has joined together, let no man put asunder. Ah ah.”

Take off to Lagos begins after this display of survival of the loudest.

She remembers the extra 16kg and 200 Euros and shakes her head. She should have shouted, “You cannot separate me from my luggage!”

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Center of My Universe

hosiery

I looked up to find her staring at my leg. Her smile revealed crowfeet, which made her thick dark eyebrows seem relaxed, although in fact, they did not move. I glanced at my leg and smiled in return.

Earlier that afternoon, the zip on my boot snagged my tights. When I stood, my dress rushed down to my knees and swallowed the tear, which was determined to run anyhow. After searching for clear nail varnish around the office, I finally found red nail polish with which to halt the run.

When I sat down in the train, my dress rode inches higher exposing the long gash on my tights. Three red dots, bright as blood, marked the spots where the nail polish had tried in vain to heal the tear. I was tired and my vanity had expired so I adjusted my bag to hide the split. My bag must have slipped because I woke up from my nap to find my torn tights in her line of sight.

I wanted to ask her, haven’t you ever done the same thing too? A smile can be an invitation to talk, but even with eye contact, urban solitude—that unwritten code, which prescribes polite distance in communal spaces—prevailed. Her gaze remained on my tights.

We were four seated in our corner, two sets of seats facing each other with enough distance to keep knees from brushing. Still, feet touched whenever legs were stretched, even a little, resulting in both stretcher and stretchee mumbling, “Oh sorry,” before retreating into urban solitude.

The people crammed in the aisle, shuffled grumpily at each station where more passengers entered the train than exited. A few weeks ago, the Metro ran a story about frustrated passengers who felt cheated because they had to stand their entire journey. The NS had explained that werk aan het spoor meant fewer trains with shorter carriages. I thought it was unfair that passengers suffered discomfort while the NS took the public for a ride and cashed in on full fares.

Complaint can start conversation, but even those standing dulled their inconvenience behind earphones and displayed their perseverance by texting or reading on their handheld devices as the train lurched and swayed, speeding from city to city.

The woman next to me had timed the previous passenger’s exit to perfection and so became the lucky winner of a vacant seat. She was watching a movie on her phone and her eyes didn’t wander from the screen once. Sitting directly opposite me was a girl whose head bobbed at intervals as though she was listening to music but she was sleeping. The white wires of her earphones peeked out from her black hijab. The woman adjacent her, who kept looking at my tights, wore shiny grey tights and black high heels.

This woman broke into a delicate laugh all of a sudden. Could hosiery induce such delight? A faint whimper diverted my attention. I followed the sound and peered down. A red leather collar; how could I have missed it? She had not been smiling at me. All this time, it was the puppy in the raffia tote, which the woman next to me straddled.

Sometimes the best reminders come in small packages—I am not the center of the universe, only mine.

They say before you assume anything, try this crazy method called asking. But I could not have asked her, could I?

 

Don’t acknowledge fellow passengers or sustain eye contact beyond two seconds. Please respect urban solitude. – unknown

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Shifting Gears [1]

shifting gears

 

Human clay finds its moisture in relationships and will evaporate into dust without them  – Beth Moore

 

When I arrive at Tamali’s house, she holds my arm and turns me from side to side, and then she sighs.

“How do you do it?”

She knows how I do it. Her eyes sunken, her voice nasal, her walk without bounce; she coughs as she leads the way. The aroma of sautéed bell peppers and tomatoes hits me. On the gas hob sits a stainless steel pot. Underneath the glass lid, I spy something white; rice, pasta?

“Food?” she gestures towards the pot.

“No thanks, I’m good.”

She opens the fridge and brings out Amaris’ cake. I recognize it from the photo she sent me on WhatsApp. The Barbie doll, which sat atop is gone as is half of Barbie’s pink-layered flowing gown. She gets busy with her knife.

“Too much,” I protest.

She eyes me, “You don’t have to eat it all at once.”

Her neck is lean and last week was tough for her. So, I take the knife from her and halve the portion she set aside.

Back in the living room, she offers me the stubby bananas that Kwame brought from Uganda.

“Very sweet. Not like the ones from Costa Rica in Albert Heijn.”

“I’m full.” I bend and hug my stomach.

“You never eat! I can’t count how many of them I’ve had,” she spreads her arms and looks at her torso; “I’m always eating!”

She is not always eating. It is her frustration speaking.

“How did I get from there to here?” She points at a framed photo by the TV and then digs out more photos from the shelf next to the TV stand.

This is what you do for a friend with flu. You stop by her house after work with a packet of Day & Night Nurse and explain how to take the capsules. You eat cake when you’d rather not. You pull your chair closer to hers and hunch over hundreds of photos. You listen as she reminisces about her days at Makerere University and her time in London, the jauntiness of her late teens and early twenties—that period before we tell ourselves, I’ve got to get serious and settle down. You see a girl you did not know, who helps you understand the woman you now know. 

She appraises each picture by size, interrupting my flow.

“Oh, look at this one, I was slim here.”
“You think I look good there? No way, I resembled an elephant.”
“This one was taken earlier in the year. See me in the same dress later that year; the dress is bursting at the seams! What did I eat?”

And you mourn with her, the loss of youth. Because flu makes you delirious. It makes you want your mother who is 6000km away; although you left home at twenty and you are now in your early thirties. It chains your legs so you miss the gym, stay at home and raid the fridge, and feel fatter than you are.

A pathological nostalgia has seized her and you cure it with kindly indulgence, not once looking at the clock. 

I recently read an article about why female friendships are fraught with infighting. Sitting here with Tamali, I cannot relate. Have my friendships always been this supportive?

There was that time Ada stayed over and borrowed my jewelry while I was at work, leaving me a note to dispel panic in case I looked for it when I returned. I stayed mad for months and ignored her overtures and peace emissaries. My anger was toxic, contaminating anyone who would listen. One day she braved my rage and showed up at my doorstep.

“Yes?” I filled the door space, arms folded across my chest.

“I’m sorry. It broke. I couldn’t return it until I fixed it.”

I blocked her advance, spreading myself wider.

“For crying out loud Timi, it isn’t even 24-karat gold. It’s costume; that’s why nobody could fix it!”

“Beside the point! You shouldn’t have taken it without asking!”

She edged passed me, pushing me against the doorframe. She dropped the broken piece of jewelry on the dining table on her way to the kitchen.

“Do you have any food?” she asked one hand on the door of the fridge.

I sighed and smiled. You cannot poison food if you are going to eat and share it. That was twenty years ago. Ada and I are still smiling.

My girlfriends and I congregate around food. We eat; we do not eat. Thighs and hips feature in our extended conversations. Size is important and relative. Beneath this shallowness is affection, deep and strong, binding us as tomatoes cleave to meat in stew.

When I was younger, I made war. Now I’m older, I make peace. 

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Bluetooth Lottery

Bluetrooth Lottery

As the intercity train from Schiphol arrives at Leiden Central, we shuffle and readjust positions until we are standing on either side of the train doors. The twin doors heave and open with a sigh, letting rush-hour passengers out via the narrow aisle we’ve created. Once the last passenger gets off, we dash for the two cabins on the right. Each passenger holds the swinging glass cabin door for the next to catch as though passing the baton in a relay race, a perfunctory smile or nod in place.

I always sit in the upper deck. After I settle into my seat, my phone beeps. Martijn wants to share a song via Bluetooth. I crane forward and backward, rising from my chair, to catch a view of Martijn. Most people in the thirty-two-seater cabin have their eyes glued to the Metro newspaper, a tablet, or a smart phone. A few chat while one sips coffee from a paper cup. Our eyes meet and he smiles first.

This tall man with close-cut hair wearing blue jeans and brown lace-up shoes is a regular who waits for the train in outlier territory, at the end of Platform 4, way past the Kiosk shop. His glasses add seriousness to his good looks and he always has earplugs on. So, Martijn is his name.

I pair my phone with his and accept the song. Roy Orbison’s Oh Pretty Woman, fills my ears. I contain my laughter, cupping my lips with my hands and sneak another peek at Martijn. He is busy with his phone.

At Den Haag, passengers crowd the stairs leading down the doors. We sway left and right, holding the banister or resting on walls, as the train changes tracks to rest on Platform 8. On the platform and in the main hall, passengers move like a colony of soldier ants defending capitalism. I walk with unhurried steps to give Martijn a chance, but his long strides overtake mine as he rushes to chip out with his card.

On Tuesday, I check my phone several times and my disappointment mounts as we approach Den Haag. Since Martijn is sitting on the left side of the train like me, it is fruitless desperation to peep through the aisle. When we disembark, his long strides overtake mine just like yesterday.

On Wednesday, I arrive Platform 4 early, but he does not. He slips into the train seconds before the doors close and walks past our cabin to the next because it is full. I sigh and continue looking out the window. My phone startles me. Martijn has sent me 3 Doors Down’s, Here Without You. I smile and wonder about the range of Bluetooth technology before losing myself in the lyrics.

 

“Which song today?” my coworkers ask after I arrive at the office.

It is our game. Martijn has been serenading me for six days. The day I wore my red coat, they guessed, Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red. My burgeoning romance story doesn’t impress all.

“Aren’t you afraid of viruses and him stealing your information?”

“If you have the latest Android update, you’re safe,” another colleague counters.

We google the answer and I continue accepting songs from Martijn.

 

Martijn’s ritual is unchanged. He gives a perfunctory nod at the cabin door if I am behind him and hurries away after we disembark.

 

“This is maddening!” a coworker declares.

“What kind of clown doesn’t speak to a girl?” another shakes his head.

“A shy one; a Dutch guy,” I reply.

 

One evening, after I get off the train on my return journey, someone calls my name, “Angela.”

I turn, “Do I know you?”

“I’m Martijn.”

I leave his hand hanging as my mind struggles to do the math. I feel as if all but the last number of my lottery ticket has been called and when the last number is announced, it is a two instead of my three.

“Martijn?”

“Yes.” He smiles, revealing gap teeth. He is a couple of inches taller than I am, a blur on our section of the platform.

“It w . . . was you?” Disappointment makes my voice husky.

“May I buy you coffee?” He points to the Kiosk shop.

It is the least I can do. “Sure,” I say still subtracting, adding, and rewinding the lottery winner announcement.

We sit on a bench outside the shop, letting the paper cups warm our hands and watching people chip out or in. The sum doesn’t make sense.

“But . . . how did you know my name . . . my phone?”

“I checked for discoverable devices, took a stab in the dark, and watched you plug your headphones.”

He laughs. His chest and belly join his face. I do not.

“Life is funny,” he begins.

Yes, and here I am sitting with the real Martijn. I almost won the lottery!

“We spend so much time chasing what’s ahead, when we could just look back.”

I don’t have time for pop psychology. I take a sip of my coffee and calculate the number of sips it will take to finish. Lottery is a game of chance, a thrill-seeker’s fantasy.

“Like you,” he gestures with his cup, “You’re reaching for someone; meanwhile, he’s probably reaching for someone else—”

“Pardon?”

“Tall, handsome guy on the train . . .”

My cheeks burn. I dislike his tone and express it with mine. “Your point being?”

“Turn around and take a chance on who’s pursuing you instead of pursuing elusive happiness.” His eyes dance like flames.

Does he think life is like Lotto? Maybe it is. A search for, which lottery numbers come up the most, fetches 50 million results under one minute.

I sigh. “You shouldn’t send stuff to strangers.”

“But you liked my songs—”

“I was curious . . .” I look at my boots. “You invaded my privacy.”

“No, you let me in; you accepted my songs.”

I watch the sky exchange hues, blue for pale orange and then reddish-orange. Streetlights come on and trains whizz past. On the train platforms, crowds thin out. The probability of picking a single correct number in Lotto depends on how many balls have already been chosen.

“Angela? Angela . . . here’s a free tip, turn off your Bluetooth and people will leave you alone!” He gets up and throws his coffee in the bin. “Ready?”

I look ahead until I hear his footfalls fade.

In the morning, I turn off my Bluetooth and then turn it on just before I enter the train. People play the lottery in the irrational hope of winning something. Nothing suspends logic and inspires hope and dreams like the love lottery.

I look around, but Martijn is not in my cabin. I want to go to the next cabin to check, but I’m afraid of losing my seat.

The first time my phone beeps, it’s an email notification. The second time, it’s a WhatsApp message. The third time, Martijn wants to share a song via Bluetooth. I wonder about the range of Bluetooth technology as strains of Lionel Richie’s, Hello is it me you’re looking for, fill my ears.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heat

Heat

He stared at it for a long time. But when he looked up at the huge round clock, incongruous analogue, mocking the digital revolution below, only seven minutes had elapsed.

Now that the man had finished reading the label on it and his son had stopped pushing his face, chin first towards it, his daughter refused to go. The girl stood in front of it, revelling in the way it made her t-shirt crease and lean into her chest, her short sleeves shaking and sharing her delight.

“Mieke! Kom op!”

She ignored her father and spoke into it. The sound of her voice breaking and quivering cajoled her brother to let go of his father’s hand and join shoulders with his sister. Their voices trembled together, gibberish to others but holding meaning for them both.

And he remembered what it felt like to have someone whose voice rose and fell in cadence with his.  He should not have let her go.

“Dani!” their father called, securing the box in a tighter embrace before turning and walking away.

He measured the angle formed by tracing the son’s head up to the father’s and down to the daughter’s. An obtuse angle, the geometry of his life. He must have looked at their backs for too long, because when he turned around to move closer to it, two girls were already there. Their legs, as yet, insufficiently kissed by the sun, stretched long from the edge of their bum shorts to their ankles. They wore black flip-flops decorated with neon flowers, which would glow in the dark.

The first girl raised her arms and let her mid-riff enjoy it and although it teased her crop top, it could not lift the blouse higher. The second girl used one hand to plunge her neckline so that it could find more places to affect. They giggled. Then they were gone, as quickly as his youth, hobbling as they shared the weight of the box.

The whirring noise coming from it reminded him why he had come.

Pardon. Meneer?”

The boy who addressed him wore a red shirt with a name pin on the front pocket. The boy was leading a man with an open collar and rolled-up sleeves to it. He wanted to say he was not done yet, but moved aside instead.

He watched the boy, nineteen perhaps, summer job maybe, gesturing with his hands as he explained what it could do. The man nodded and rubbed his neck. He imagined that this man wearing a striped shirt sat in an office from nine until five, getting up for coffee every hour, and sending emails every other hour. The man’s torso had made peace with that kind of life.

The man must have asked how much and then asked for a discount because the boy told him 50 Euros. The boy said it was the last one but since it had been on display, the man could have it for 45. The man shook his head as if he could bargain on a day like today. The boy suddenly seemed older as he explained capitalism to the man.

“Tomorrow, we will get more stock and sell them for 70 Euros and people will still buy. We could have sold this one, but we needed a demo.”

He saw an opportunity he had not known existed and fingered the money in his pocket. But the man nodded and pushed his glasses up his nose. Then the boy bent down and got to work.

He watched the boy break it in parts and steady the blades before pushing its head into a rectangular carton. He folded the cord in 4 cm strips, securing it with a string. Then the boy hoisted the box and walked to the counter where the man was taking out his credit card.

He swallowed his anger like saliva that gathers in one’s mouth from inactivity. He recalled his last night with her. She had asked him what his plans were, if he was going to drift forever. Her parting words, the patient dog never eats the fattest bone; can’t you be crazy for once, galvanized him to action now.

He dashed to the counter and snatched the box. He made for the door, pushing languid bodies with the box. The alarm sounded but the heat had humbled the security guard in a navy blazer who possessed neither baton nor gun.

Only when he reached his apartment door did he stop looking back. Inside, the open windows yawned and wished for something to do. Sweat gathered around his neck then slithered to his chest. He opened the box and put the parts together, steadying the blades as he had seen the boy with the red shirt do.

Finished, he admired his work and waited for it. After two minutes, he rechecked the parts and fumbled with the cord. He searched the box, moving his hand from side to side. He let out a deep sigh and banged the wall. Then he dropped on his bed and cursed the heat while his sweat seeped into the hot sheet.

The infrared sensor on its sleek black panel glowed and turned to an eye that grew and grew. Then the boy with the red shirt emerged from the eye. The boy shrugged and gestured with the remote in his hand, “It is the heat; it makes people crazy.”

He blinked and looked away, fear creating tremors in his heart. When he dared to look again, the glow and the boy were gone. He groaned. Was there no more room for analogue in a digital world?

Tomorrow he would return to the shop wearing a baseball cap. Tonight he would wrestle the heat. He picked her wedding invitation from the bed and began to move his hand from side to side, rewarding himself with hot air. He imagined the card was made from steel and black plastic, like the fan on display in the shop.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Last Flight

the last flight

Days after Malaysian flight MH17 exploded in Ukraine, I board a KLM flight at Schiphol. I read during the long meander on the runway and snooze after take-off. I awake to the sound of a flight attendant asking, “What would you like to drink?” My mouth is dry. I spy my options; coffee, tea, or fruit juice, before he turns my way. When he does, his eyes widen, “Ma’am you’re reading that,” he gestures at my book, “here . . .  in this airplane?”

“Yes.”

“In this plane?”

“Um . . . yes?”

The Last Flight?”

I cringe, as I comprehend the irony. While he serves me tea without milk, I explain that it is a book about the civil war in Nigeria, which took place a long time ago.

“Would you like a sweet or salty snack?”

“Sweet please.”

He rolls his service cart up the aisle. Three rows up, I overhear him say to his colleague, “Zij leest het boek, The Last Flight, in dit vliegtuig!”

He motions with his chin. I tuck the book in the seat pocket. The chair cannot swallow me although I shrink my shoulders and slide lower in my seat.

Seat belts clack, clack, clack, and feet shuffle as soon as the plane taxies to a stop. At the door, he and the captain greet passengers goodbye. A huge Manfield bag, my laptop, and a suitcase that I struggled to fit in the overhead luggage compartment, I am Nigerian after all, are not agents of my discomfiture. I recite in my mind, how I will tell him that I do not have a death wish, that the book was a coincidence in poor taste, maybe joke about it. My fellow travellers’ impatience is contained by the queue in the narrow aisle. Will they forgive my small talk? Blond hair and blue eyes is already looking past me to the passenger behind. Does what a stranger think of me matter? I test the steps with my six-inch wedge. I wobble and steady myself. No more drama, I pray.

On my return trip, although I have not finished reading, The Last Flight, I read a Neil Gaiman novel. I crane in all directions searching for blond hair and blue eyes, as if his approval is penance that secures my redemption. He is not on this flight. I read Neil Gaiman’s title again, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I notice how a ‘P’ could have changed things and think about how one decision can alter events. Nevertheless, I still hide the book in the seat pocket just in case I am missing another irony.

 

P.s. remembering those who lost someone in a plane crash: Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them. – George Eliot –

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Race, Ethnicity, Prejudice, and Attitudes

Race

When the first strains of light filter through my curtains, my mind leaves my dreams to form coherent thought. I do not think of race, I rarely do.

I am aware of the colour of my skin. How could I not be? My foundation is a blend of mocha and caramel, my blush dark rose, my lipstick red, because I can pull it off. I am aware of the colour of my skin. How could I not be? I hug “white” people loosely and blow three kisses on either cheek, so I don’t stain them with my brown powder.

But when we get down to work and play and life, beyond enunciating my words with care and observing cultural nuances to accommodate the diversity in my world, I am Timi, a person with much to offer from the height of my intellect to the depth of my experience, and the width of my achievements.

Nigeria has at least 100 ethnic groups. In the state where I grew up, the evening news was broadcasted in four local languages, but I listened to the official English version because I didn’t understand any Nigerian language. My parents hail from two different minority ethnic groups and my friends from the unity school I attended reflect the federal character the federal government emphasized—Amina from the north, Ronke from the west, Chidinma from the east, Asabe from the middle belt, Onome from the mid-west, Ibinabo from the Niger Delta.

So, I did not wonder about race or racism when I moved to The Netherlands. Neither tribalism nor sexism in Nigeria, had clipped the wingspan of my dreams or that of my mother before me. We had defied the boundaries of other “isms” with who we are and what we believe, that excellence would eventually inspire people and remove barriers.

Since language, ethnicity, and race bonds people, and language in particular is like Super Glue, I sometimes find myself on the outside looking in. The English, Moroccans, Surinamese, Dutch, Africans, Turks, Americans, etc, live and socialise within their enclaves. Among the Africans, subdivisions exist for people from south, north, east, or west Africa. More subdivisions based on country, and even more subdivisions based on ethnicity within a country exist. People tend to gravitate to what is familiar and comfortable and inadvertently perhaps, exclude others.

On the other hand, many have moved beyond these confines and discovered that diversity makes for a rich tapestry and the threads of that tapestry are equal in value no matter their colour or ethnicity.

I suppose expat life abroad insulates one from common racism both in the way it is meted out and received. Once I was with a friend who drove a car with diplomatic licence plates when the police stopped us. I watched as she answered the police, with the slight arrogance of one who has options.

I am aware that underneath the bridge that connects me to my better life lie the souls of men and women who died constructing the bridge. I am grateful that although Twelve Years a Slave makes me uncomfortable, after the credits, I can shiver, shrug, and enter my normal life. Racism is real, but it is not my default setting. I choose not to see it in every slight.

Prejudice has lived in human hearts for so long it has become a gene. I remember when I drove my son and his playdate home after school. They stumbled into this conversation after falling in and out of several others.

“My mum says I can play with black people, but I can’t marry them.”

I spied her cute blonde bangs from my rear view mirror. The longer locks framed her oval face and cascaded down her shoulders. I gripped the steering wheel tighter.

“But I don’t want to get married now,” my son replied.

“Oh good,” her giggles light like feathers, carried no malice.

I relaxed my grip as I realised it had never crossed my mind to date a white man. It was the unspoken taboo. Everyone in the town where I grew up knew that only certain types of girls did.

Often when people speak of racial prejudice, they talk as if it is unidirectional, forgetting the prejudice, which also lies in the hearts of its victims so that if power changed hands, new victims would emerge. Is this the real fear that makes one race dominate another—get ‘em before they get us?

Knowledge and courage may be antidotes to prejudice. A desire to investigate the world beyond our nose and the guts to live in peace in it.

 

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

p.s. My blog sister Holistic Wayfarer, who has written several eye-opening posts on Race, inspired this post.

Cellphomania

mobile phone

I have three mobile phones, so what? Of course, I have all my papers. How could I live and work in The Hague otherwise?

These phones, ah, in Nigeria, they felt neither heavy nor out of place when I laid them on the table in a restaurant, side by side, as if to compare their sizes.

Things have changed since I left Nigeria, they tell me. But I can only tell you what I know. That when my conversation with a friend ended because of network wahala, he called back on another network, blaming the earlier bad connection on heavy rainfall. That when I lived in Nigeria, rain was one reason I had three phones.

So that if rain melted one provider’s “wireless” wires, I could turn to another who might not be that unlucky. So that if lightning set one provider’s telecom mast ablaze, I could turn to others who could get their fire extinguishers ready on time. So that if Sango, thundered against South Africa’s MTN, I could turn to Glo, owned by a son of the soil, who might have been spared.

Network problems are rare here. These three phones? It’s a Naija thing. I am yet to meet any Nigerian at home or abroad who has less than two phones.

My first phone is my “official” phone. Friends call me on this number, as well as my boss, the tax office, the gas company, the police, telemarketers, and King Willem-Alexander. This phone from network operators like Vodafone, KPN, and T-Mobile, suffers one major limitation, which my second phone overcomes.

Because I call family and friends in Nigeria and the African continent from my second phone, the SIM card must come from Lyca, Lebara, Vectone, or Delight, providers that offer discount call rates to Africa. Any smart phone that accommodates Viber, WhatsApp, and the almighty BBM, will do because every Nigerian chats on BBM. Moreover, in Nigeria, exchanging BlackBerry PINs follows introductions and handshakes. Your blue eyes are widening; don’t you know what hyperbole is?

My third phone is the cheapest brand in the market. It’s only purpose is to rescue me. Imagine, if you can, that one day, you are in the Open Market, buying oxtail, shaki, cow leg, and real beef, from of all people, that Dutchman who eats vlees  that you cannot eat, but has a stall where Africans troop.

This inability to acculturate, to do something as simple as buying and eating meat from Albert Heijn after twelve years in The Netherlands is your undoing for you bump into your distant cousin in this little corner of Africa.

He calls you by your Nigerian name, daring you to ignore him. You both register your surprise and long-time-no-sees. You dribble the chit-chat past where you live to you will call him. His protest drowns out the sound of the Moroccan fruit vendor calling, “Bananen, vijf voor maar een euro!” How can he expect you to call him when you are his senior—did you not come to Europe before him? His oyibo neva reach dat level, abegi! He will call you.

You give him your third phone number. The number your mother gives to your secondary school friends because she does not require your permission to do so. The phone that you switch on when you need to make obligatory calls to relatives who think you pick gold off European streets for a living.

My dear, the phones on the table are mine and mine alone. I am not a 419, na so life be. If you still don’t understand, I will explain in the morning. Switch off the light and snuggle close to me, I like to hold you when we sleep.

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

Wahala: (Nigerian Pidgin; perhaps of Hausa origin) Trouble or problem.

Sango: Yoruba god of thunder and lightning.

Vlees: (Dutch) Meat. Many African immigrants shun the “flat” meat in supermarkets, preferring the meat sold in Halal shops or the Open Market (oxtail, shaki, cow leg, etc.).

Albert Heijn: Dutch supermarket chain

His oyibo neva reach dat level, abegi: (Nigerian Pidgin) translates roughly to, living abroad has not made him forget his Nigerian roots or culture.

Open Market: Officially De Haagse Markt. It lies between Transvaal and Schilderswijk, districts populated mainly by Moroccan, Turkish, Antillean, Surinamese, and African immigrants. The market reflects the neighbourhood’s diversity.

Na so life be: (Nigerian Pidgin) translates roughly to, that’s just the way it is.

Photo credit: The Reboot / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Original image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/70292973@N07/7197724426/

Title: Mobile Phone Hanging from a Tree

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Another Day in Tolerance

another day in tolerance

Now that winter is almost here, I have ditched the bus, tram, and train in favour of my car. Away from Potential Bestfriend, Regular Joe, and Young Generation, music accompanies my solitude. My heated interior obliterates memories of last year’s winter, of waiting on bus, tram, and train platforms, whipped by the wicked North Sea wind. In spite of this, I am still having another day in tolerance. Let me introduce you to the characters on my way to work.

The Nerds

People who drive 30km/h on a 30km/h road. To drive behind people like this is to simmer with the pressure of wanting to pee with no toilet in sight. They do not realise thirty is the new sixty. However, they know what it is to pay a 320 Euro traffic fine. You cannot meet their slow-motion stare as they crawl past, moments after you sped past them and the police flagged you down. After you calculate how to pay the fine and still lead a normal life, you laugh aloud at the idiot who just zoomed past you.

The Jokers

People who overtake you with zeal, and then slow down, forcing you to overtake them. As if on cue, they overtake you again and then slow down again. For them life is a game of chess, they have captured your pawns, knights, rookies, and queen too. You know how to beat them nonetheless. After a couple of moves, you decide the game is too juvenile to play. You slow down until they lose interest and speed off to court the next player.

The Sadists

People who drive slower than you do, so that you are right to overtake them. The minute you exert pressure on your accelerator, indicate, and switch to the left lane, something in them comes alive. They pick up speed to match your speed. Since you are already on the left lane, you increase your speed to overtake them. In turn, they increase their speed so you cannot overtake. Riding side by side, you sneak a peek. They are a study in casual concentration. You know people like this in real life, people who had a deficiency in childhood. Maybe it was potassium or vitamin K. Their motto: if I cannot get to heaven, then neither will you. You take the high road and follow lamely behind them, shaking your head as you whisper, “Life is too short; life is too short.”

The Non-Conformists

Aka the motorcyclists. They sneak up on you in traffic, stealth is their middle name; they love the strip of asphalt between two cars. You would too, if you have been moving at 10km/h for the last hour. They whiz through the narrow space and nearly take your side mirror with them. Your mirror bends to the limit of its elasticity and returns to its place. Your blood boils and refuses to cool until you remember that lottery-winning numbers are yet to be announced. You let your car roll and slap your ear as if brushing away a zizzing mosquito.

The Bullies

Aka the excursion bus drivers. They do not think the signpost that limits trucks to the slow lane applies to them. Maybe they are right. You passed your driving exam long ago. They obscure your vision, not only of the road and vehicles ahead, but also of the sun, the moon, and the stars. As you drive behind them, you wonder when you will see civilisation again. With nothing to do, you read the bus; you read about all the trips the company offers and commit the website to memory. As soon as the road widens, you change gears, enter the fast lane, and forget all you have read.

The Snakes

People who snake from one lane to another as if they have diarrhoea of the brain. Your head aches from watching their spiral, and it’s no wonder, they remind you of boyfriends that cannot commit. Oh, there they go again, searching for the next best thing. You let out a hiss that is longer than a snake’s, “Hisssss!”

The Lions

The Ferrari-like drivers who would rather be on a German autobahn, but a 70km/h road constrains them. They breathe down on your trusty Toyota, lights menacing, as you overtake a truck. The second you inch back to the right lane, they vroom vroom past you, leaving a trail of imaginary smoke in their wake and drag that causes your car to vibrate. When you catch up with them at the red light, the roar of their engine sounds like the bleat of a frustrated goat. The smug satisfaction on your face says it all. There is a god. No matter how rich and powerful some people are, we still shit the same brown shit. All hail traffic lights, the great equaliser.

Recognise any of my fellow travellers? What’s commuting like for you? I bet not as bad as Lucy Martin’s travails in Dubai.

©Timi Yeseibo 2013

Image credits: all people illustrations, animes, avatars, vectors by Microsoft

Background: lovely pink and gray card design by VisionMates in backgrounds/wallpaper http://www.vecteezy.com/backgrounds-wallpaper/47521-lovely-pink-and-gray-card-design

design: ©Timi Yeseibo 2013

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Third World: Where Culture Meets Culture

Urban development

I am a first-generation immigrant caught in a clash of cultures but I do not wallow in identity crisis. Although I know where I come from, the pieces of the puzzle that spell out where I am going are the hardest to find.

I am from Nigeria and now, I am from The Netherlands. In the Netherlands, people ask me, “Where are you from?” It is not because I speak Dutch with a foreign accent.

Waar komt u vandaan?”

Den Haag.”

Ik bedoel het land van uw herkomst…”

“I’m originally from Nigeria.”

There are layers of meaning in this exchange. For me, it is freeing to imagine that I’ve just been asked, “What’s the time?” and then to reply in the same tone and with the same emotions with which I would say, “Three o’ clock.” Chasing rainbows is for kids, adults know that when sunlight and water droplets kiss at an angle, a rainbow appears, but not for long.

Does racism exist? Does the sun shine in winter? I choose to see myself as a person, not a colour. In this way, perhaps people will also see that I am a person first; my colour is incidental. Niggling debates about the brownness of my skin, the flare of my nostrils, the strange hair plaits I call Ghana braids, and the location of my tail, would cease. Yes? Maybe not.

At the same time, Dutch people are tolerant, forgiving even of foreign traditions. They will accommodate you and help you out by quickly switching to the English language. They broadcast American TV series and movies in English and subtitle in Dutch! But until you speak the language and adopt their customs, you will be the stranger on the street admiring their beautiful homes, the view that they allow you see from their wide front windows with blinds drawn aside.

Say what you will schatje, this is as much my country as it is yours. Home is where the heart is, they say—my heart is in Nigeria and my heart is in The Netherlands. You’d better believe it, my heart is big enough.

untitled

The uppity houses in Archipelbuurt and Willemspark, the Halal shops, Western Union offices, and neon signs blinking, Simlock Verwijderen vanaf €5, in Schilderswijk, and the international organisations in Statenkwartier, reveal the multicultural character of The Hague. I cannot imagine living anywhere else; ik voel me helemaal thuis in Den Haag en ik zal hier wonen blijven.

 

I love-hate the sun worship that is the Scheveningen beach craze in summer and the Unox Nieuwjaarsduik Scheveningen 2013Nieuwjaarsduik in the middle of winter is a feat for the brave only. Cycling past the medieval Binnenhof, home of the Dutch parliament, a sense of national pride overtakes me. They say that God created the world, but the Dutch created The Netherlands. From North to South, we have mastered the sea and our dikes laugh at its waves. This to me is the “silent” pride Dutch people wear on their sleeves.

                                                                                  Binnenhof 

Wherever I am in the world, my ears pick out Dutch from a mix of Chinese, German, French, and Spanish, a comforting sound that makes me feel as if I am wearing a black turtleneck sweater over a pair of jeans and orange clogs, and I am holding a cup of tea, watching the sun light diamonds in the snow.

Riding in the tram in The Hague, my ears make out Yoruba or Igbo or Bini. It is also a comforting sound. I feel as though I am at a party in Nigeria, shaded from the sun’s heat by bright canopies. The food on display can feed the entire street and since our conversation must compete with the music, we shout in one another’s ears.

Many times people ask me to choose. I imagine they are holding up cards, and I am supposed to pick the joker. This then is the joker: it is not that one country is better than the other is, but rather one country is different from the other. I exist in my sub-culture assimilating the best of The Netherlands and Nigeria. It is a third world where many immigrants live.

When in Nigeria, my eight o’clock is my eight o’clock. I may have been born in African time, but I have grown in European time. Time is a fixed resource. My value of your productivity and mine plays out in the premium I place on your time. When in The Netherlands, I will not deny you the pleasure of a spontaneous visit to my home. Although your appointment isn’t pencilled in my agenda, I will not open the door a crack and stare at you as though you are wearing a Martian suit.

Here in The Netherlands, I will not snap the biscuit tin shut after you take one biscuit. But, I will also not smoke fish in my oven until my eyes water and the fumes wear the extractor out, forcing my neighbour to call the housing authority and fire service. When I wake up at 5 a.m., I will hum good morning Jesus, good morning Lord, instead of singing with Pentecostal gusto, so my neighbour does not bang on my door.

It is in the marrying of cultures that I arrive at my destination. They say home is where the heart is. My heart is in Nigeria; my heart is in The Netherlands. You’d better believe it, my heart is big enough.

So, how have you found living in a city where the language, customs, and the way you look, expose you for the familiar stranger that you are?

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

Nieuwjaarsduik (New Year’s Dive):  An annual tradition in The Hague taken by some 10,000 people into the icy cold waters of the North Sea by the Pier at Scheveningen Beach.

Fast Facts about The Netherlands: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/netherlands-facts/

 

Photo Credits

Title: Urban development
Original image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38659937@N06/6887749481/
Photo credit: Frans Persoon / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Untitled
Author: Bas Bogers
Original image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bogers/4790162426/in/photostream/

Title: Unox Nieuwjaarsduik Scheveningen 2013
Author: Maurice / Haags UitburoOriginal image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/haagsuitburo/8334513758/

Description: Panorama of Binnenhof
Page URL: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AThe_Hague_Binenhof.JPG
File URL: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/The_Hague_Binenhof.JPGAttribution: By me (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sacrifice or no Sacrifice?

Dutch Royal Family 30-4-2013

It’s been one humble selfless year of papal resignation and queenly abdication1 with fixed tenures bumped in favour of well-received successions. So what will you give up to the applause of the world around you? What noble act will cause you royal pains for therein lies the definition of sacrifice? Here in The Netherlands, I needed to see first-hand what sacrifices Queen Beatrix’s legacy and King Willem-Alexander’s enthronement had inspired.

Undutchables Recruitment Agency photo

I hit the streets on this last Queen’s Day, to see what my fellow Hagenaars were up to. Mind you, I’m not a journalist, for the official version, watch CNN.

Our national flag stood at attention on masts protruding from the first-floor walls of most houses. The flags caught the wind that brought the change and waved gaily at onlookers and passers-by. Orange buntings completed the look, which stopped short of the madness (oranjegekte) that engulfed the streets during the 2012 UEFA Euro championships. That year, endless lines of orange buntings crisscrossed the streets running from one house to the next.

Street flags courtesy NL Planet

In support of the royal house of Oranje, everyone donned something orange. Orange wigs, orange hats, orange tees, orange skin, orange leg warmers, orange sun glasses, orange scarves, orange pants, orange balloons, orange inflatable crowns, a sea of orange broken by the green bottles of merry revellers. And they were quite a few, staggering, whistling, and taking a very public pee in honour of King Willem-Alexander. Beer flowed in abundance and although it cost around two Euros a bottle, VAT remained 21%. With solidarity so strong, what else could the new king ask for?

Queens Day

Dancers aka modern-day court jesters. Nothing shows the true state of the heart like the carefree, uninhibited movements of hands, hips, and legs wobbling in tipsy land. Beatrix was a good queen; Willem-Alexander will be a good king the gyrations seemed to say. Perhaps because it was late in the evening, after the controversial koningslied had been sung, street parties showcased English music and foreign dance moves.

queens day Voorburg

Echoes of an inebriated crowd singing Sweet Home Alabama faded in the distance as I walked home and pondered what all this portends for the new king. The sun must approve because it shone until it chased the coolness of a 13ºC spring day away and held the rain at bay.

koningswup

Now that we’ve packed our Oranje paraphernalia until next year, pray tell me, whether you live in The Netherlands or not, what are you giving up in honour of a greater good that’ll cause you royal pains?

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2013

1. Quote from Nkwachukwu Ogbuagu, Facebook Timeline photo, 30/4/2013.

2. Image credits:

Royal family photo: http://www.koninklijkhuis.nl

Undutchables Recruitment photo: https://www.undutchables.nl/

Street Flags photo: http://www.nlplanet.com/

Koninginnedag photo: http://www.holland.com/

Unattributed photos: ©Timi Yeseibo 2013

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

A Day in Tolerance

a day in tolerance

It is a sunny Friday; half the working population of The Netherlands has the day off. I board the train with ease. Potential Bestfriend is in the cabin. We nod and smile at each other. We ride the same train every morning. We have come a long way, from eye contact, to nods, and now toothed smiles.

The seats are arranged in clusters of four, two sets of seats facing each other. I choose a cluster diagonally opposite from Potential Bestfriend. I sit by the window so I can look at life along the way, and then I create an island. I toss my coat on the seats opposite me and drop my bag on the seat beside me. I litter my island with my iPad, BlackBerry, earphones, and two books. Sometime on this journey, each will receive my attention.

More people enter the cabin.

Mevrouw?” The man looks at my bag and then me, a universal sign language.

I scan the cabin. There are other seats available, I tell him with my eyes. He waits. I make a big production of putting my iPad, BlackBerry, earphones, and two books in my bag. I flash him an apologetic smile that means, the two seats opposite me are empty, can’t you sit there?  He meets my smile with his—if you want your personal space, go buy your own train.

I keep my cool. These are the people that the preacher talked about, turn the other cheek; turn the other cheek.

The ride from Den Haag to Leiden is twelve minutes. Regular Joe fusses and fumbles, and twists and bends to make himself and his enormous rucksack comfortable. His shoulder grazes mine. His elbow jabs me and His hips brush against mine.

These are the people that the preacher talked about, turn the other cheek; turn the other cheek.

He moves his enormous rucksack several times in an attempt to balance it. Heaven alone knows what’s in it. The rough edge bumps my leg and tugs at my pantyhose. I shift my leg. I open my mouth and then close it.

These are the people that the preacher talked about, turn the other cheek; turn the other cheek.

“Station Leiden,” the announcement comes through the loudspeakers.

The cabin fills up. Young Generation approaches my cluster. He looks at me and I nod. He folds my coat before he takes the window seat directly opposite me. He isolates himself from the world with his Beats by Dr Dre headphones.

Regular Joe digs around in his enormous rucksack. Like a magician on stage, voilà, he produces a banana. He eats it while my empty stomach convulses. The Conjuror aka Regular Joe dips his hands in his rucksack again. Out comes a boiled egg. He cracks the eggshell against the armrest and peels it. He leans over me, brushing against me, to reach the small dustbin under the window. I get ready to push him to outer space, but stop.

These are the people that the preacher talked about, turn the other cheek; turn the other cheek.

The combination of boiled egg and banana is too much for me. A fart escapes before I can hold it in and release it slowly so it will not smell. Regular Joe sniffs like an Alsatian guard dog and wrinkles his nose. I look at Young Generation and speak his language. I roll my eyes the way my son rolled his eyes at the Converse shop after he picked a red pair of All Stars and I suggested a neutral black. Young generation winks at me, and smiles knowingly at Regular Joe. Oh yes, this fart will not be attributed to me.

A belch, a wipe of his mouth with the back of his hands, and then the Conjuror dips his hands in his enormous rucksack yet again. Voilà, strawberry yogurt! He twists the cap open and sucks. It is an angry sound, payback sound. He kicks my left foot. His apology is unconvincing. The last time I slapped someone, my hand hurt for days. I am ready to take another chance.

These are the people that the preacher talked about, turn the other cheek; turn the other cheek.

Dames en heren, over enkele minuten: station Amsterdam-Schiphol.”

I sigh in relief. With a rucksack as big as Texas, Regular Joe must be heading for Outer Mongolia. But, he does not get off the train; rather he takes advantage of the empty seat in front of him and stretches his leg. Hands clasped on stomach, he dozes and snores softly.

These are the people that the preacher talked about, turn the other cheek; turn the other cheek.

We approach Amsterdam Zuid, a busy commercial hub. Most travellers exit here. Does Regular Joe have a job? Maybe at a smoothie factory—think banana, boiled egg, and strawberry yogurt. Before I finish debating whether to wake him up, he opens his eyes, looks at the display monitor, and turns to his left side, brushing my hips, again.

These are the people that the preacher talked about, turn the other cheek; turn the other cheek.

Young Generation waves goodbye.

The cabin is almost empty. In seven minutes, we will arrive at Duivendrecht. Flinging my bag on my shoulder, I consider kicking the rucksack, since Regular Joe is drooling in his sleep. I do not. Instead, I attempt to cross the Himalayas mountain range.

By an act of divine intervention, I find myself on the aisle. Potential Bestfriend smiles as we make our way to the doors. At Duivendrecht, she takes the escalator to the metro stop, while I take the steps to platform eight.

I reflect on the forty-two minute train ride. The selfishness of Regular Joe—how dare he sit next to me and what about the human heads buried in his enormous rucksack? The banana, boiled egg, and strawberry yogurt combo he designed to provoke a fart and embarrass me. His dozing drool, his irritating snore, and his constant attempt to tap current, the nincompoop, he stretched my tolerance level, but I prevailed.

As I congratulate myself, I see a hungry and tired young man who boarded a train seeking food, rest, and relief. I realize with horror, I am the person that the preacher talked about. Quick, turn the other cheek; turn the other cheek!

So, what’s your tolerance meter reading these days? Share, I promise not to judge…

photo

©Timi Yeseibo 2013

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Image credits: all people illustrations, animes, avatars, vectors by Microsoft

Background: lovely pink and gray card design by VisionMates in backgrounds/wallpaper http://www.vecteezy.com/backgrounds-wallpaper/47521-lovely-pink-and-gray-card-design

design: ©Timi Yeseibo 2013