Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fashion Lost in Translation

Let me begin by stating upfront that the title of this posting is not originally mine. A young friend of mine who is like a little brother lives in the UK and visited home last Christmas and among his description of all that he observed upon arrival depicting that the aircraft landed in the right place - Lagos, Nigeria included this title...fashion lost in transition. It hit home when I read the text although I did not probe to find out what he saw that warranted the expression, it captured the fuzziness and confusion that had engulfed me about certain fashions and trends I have observed in recent times.

A couple of years ago, I recall going through the same confusion and wondered why I could not understand the fashion of boots in Lagos Nigeria. I recall it was about 2004/2005 or earlier, cannot quite remember now but there was a boot craze...work, church every where and some of them quite "out of fashion". In the countries where boot wearing is not just a fashion but a necessity and a tradition, there are boot "no dos" and "boot no go areas"... ankle boots has the stated clothes sytle you are to wear it with and so is knee high boot and all the other styles. When this fashion hit the Nigerian scene, there were no rules... anything went. I asked myself if the boot wearers knew that boot is actually a check for cold but my sister explained it to me as she would explain a lot more things about fashion in Nigeria to me. She said "weather has no part in our fashion here in Nigeria... if the trend is on, we just follow it, we do not ask questions or care about weather".

And so the boot came and went. Maybe it is is still being worn or maybe not but I do not get to see them anymore. Now you can imagine my confusion and apparent fashion ignorance a couple of months ago, I think about mid year 2009 when again my eyes were confronted with another fashion trend that I could not interpret. I am neither a society person nor a fashionista so it takes a while for me to know what is the trend... and I only know when the ordinary person or people have joined the band wagon and this group includes even the young girls selling in the open market.

On this bright sunny Friday of either July or August, I had bounced into the local branch of a bank to make some payments and noticed that every (I mean every...no exception) lady in the bank was wearing a sweater vest on a shirt. This bank is knowm for some strange people policies and because I do not typically go to the bank and have not been for over a year prior, I assumed right away that it was "the bank uniform". I truly concluded that maybe Friday casual was a major issue for them so they arrived at the sweater vest on a shirt worn over a pair of trousers. Such was my ignorance and such was my inability to make sense of the "uniform" especially since the bank was not that cold.

That weekend, I ran my observation by my sister again (she is a lot more fashion forward looking than myself) and I said "you know Bank so and so now have uniform for their employees" I even took offence in relaying this issue because I said it was only the women who had to wear this "uniform". When I was done describing it, she burst out laughing... boy did she laugh? I did not know what the laughter was about so I joined thinking she was thinking what I was thinking which was "how absurd" but nay, alas she was laughing at me and my fashion ignorance. She said it is no uniform but the fashion for a while now. I was lost...believe me, totally lost. I said "I must have been 'gone' too long. A couple weeks later, the church choir showed up with the same uniform... At this point, I gave up.

Now you know why when my young friend sent a text saying he knew he was home when he interpreted what he saw as fashion lost in translation made a whole sense to me and even more.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Whatever happened to new year resolutions

Typically, in January people talk about the new year resolutions that they have made and try to push or strive to live or achieve it. Over the years, people have equated new year resolutions with a change in lifestyle:
* I will eat better... reduce or totally skip junk food
* I will exercise more and lose weight
* I will change for the better, so something differently bla bla
* I will quit smoking, I will go to the gym etc The list is endless. No wonder it is dying a natural death because such resolutions seem to fade or wane in weeks and people are tired of failing and disappointing themselves each year but that is not the gist of this piece. I have noticed that people are no longer announcing their new year resolutions and it can only mean that either people are not making new year resolutions anymore or it is no longer a January affair.

It may also mean that people are a lot more concerned with survival in the face of the global depression to worry about little things like new year resolutions. In my opinion, people should make the decision to be better, to contribute more to the society or community at any point in their life when the conviction hit them and not just at the end of the year. I believe that year end has a natural way of getting us to review and take stock of our lives which is usually why resolutions seem to be the natural end of the review process. But in present times, the magnitude of social and economic change in the world affords no one time to wait to make necessary adjustment for survival. In the past, change in business and social life was incremental and people could even operate on autopilot but not any more.

Consequently, we find ourselves in a time starved and extremely overstressed society today that daily review is probably what is required of us. Undoubtedly, there are new rules in the game of life and the way understand and play by these rules determines where we end up...winner or loser. Imagine then waiting for year end to make resolutions or decisions that are critical for you to survive...

All said, taking inventory of our lives is important, if you can only do it at year end... somethings may be late but it is a start...you are better than the man who does nothing but alas it is not enough. We need to constantly ask ourselves what we can do differently and how we can help others along the way and not wait for year end and the next January.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rare glimpse into genuine love

I just thought that I must write about this event where I had the opportunity to witness what I call “rare declaration of true and genuine feeling”. I have always said that when it comes to public events like parties, weddings and funerals, mostly funerals, people do not hesitate to declare love for the dead person. After all, it is either regret for not telling the person while alive or to impress the living. Whatever the reason, I always take the outpouring of love for the dead with a pinch of salt.

We all have either heard of someone or have witnessed it ourselves where the dead person while alive really suffered and sometimes was so emotionally dealt with or abandoned by the so called loved ones and when the person passes to the great beyond, the eulogy is something else. Read the papers and you will see all sorts of spousal abuse… that is what I am talking about. But this piece is not about the dead; on the contrary it is about the living.

A couple of weekends ago, a friend of mine had a birthday party but the interesting thing is not the party, it is the hubby of this my friend. We are friends because our kids are best friends so they (the kids) forced us into friendship but they are one of the loveliest couples one can encounter and they are ordinary people. (Of course if they are my friends they can only be ordinary people).

My friend, auntie O and Mrs B was also having a thanksgiving because just weeks before, she had a surgery that went awry (in God’s own countryooo) but God was present as ever to show who He has always been …God and what He has always been… faithful. When the complication developed following a “simple surgery” she had to be opened up again and again and go under general anaesthetics three times within two weeks, she asked for her husband.

When she was telling me the story of this procedure, sending for her husband did not hit me like a major bullet but on this party/thanksgiving day when her husband recounted the whole thing, I still did not get it until I got home from the party and was reflecting on the whole event. The husband had to make a speech (as I think spouses do on such occasions) and he said some interesting things. He said he loves his wife, he mentioned actions, events and everyday things that show that he does to show it and how his wife merits everything. This may sound ordinary, but the way he said it, there was a genuineness that I had not seen in a very long time actually I do not think I have ever seen it. There were no flowery words, there were no smart choice of words…everything was real and so very real.

Her sister drove it home for me… my friend sent for her husband because “If he is there, then she is more than likely to pull through”… do you get the picture now? Her strength was failing her… her husband was who she must have around. No surprises, the guy arrived and said, the picture was scary…he just left the theatre to face the wall and plead his case to God.

This couple have renewed my hope in the ability for humans to really love and genuinely too.