I have been up since 5am well I say up, I don’t think I actually went to sleep. I left the office late at nearly 9pm and got myself a lasagne from the rather overpriced coffee shop, which I will not say is a Starbucks rip-off, but it is called Starbites with a logo not too dissimilar to the franchise, they do coffees and sandwiches as well as cooked meals like pizza, jerk chicken, lasagne and burgers. It’s quite a nice place, the food is good (although the lasagne is not as good as mine) it has a seating area inside and outside, quite a nice atmosphere, you can eat a good meal complimented with a bottle of beer, wine, smoothie or a cocktail. It is expensive by my standard but when you compare it to some other places in Ghana, the price is not so bad and a nice place to sit if you are with a small crowd or even alone if you are the kind of person who can eat dinner alone, my lasagne cost 14ghs, which is not too bad as they do a decent lasagne and they are one of the only places I have found in Accra that does it. If I had gone out for a Chinese meal I could have easily spent 40ghs for rice and a sauce.
In terms of eating alone, I find that the way the culture is here, if you sit in an eatery alone people look at you like you’re crazy but its a matter of whether you’re the type who gives a flip what others think.
I was feeling tired and so I took it home so I could relax and eat. I also wanted to get down the road before the police barriers went up as it does cause a bit of traffic while they stop cars randomly expecting a tip, and having misplaced a 50 note and my receipt to claim back the T&E I took out for the workshop dinner (long story, I don’t know if someone picked my bag or it dropped out when I was pulling out a tissue, I don’t know just know it is not there now and it sucks), but anyway I couldn’t afford to be tipping anyone.
The reason why I even got a take-out yesterday was because 1. It was pay-day and it is the only day I can treat myself before all the expenses come out and 2. I had lunch at the mall, Encha I think it’s called next to the Chicken Inn at the food court in the Accra mall and the food was not very nice, to make matters more disappointing was that I went into Chicken Inn for a strawberry icecream with flake, I was told they only had chocolate or some flavour that had no business being on the menu, so got a strawberry milkshake which was basically milk a straw and a lot of water. My colleague asked for a chocolate ice cream with a sprinkle of peanuts, thinking it was crushed peanuts, they literally put the same salted whole peanuts on top of the icecream. So she had choc, salt and water. This was to redeem a very horrid lunch experience.
It was quite a nice evening though. Spent time with smother, she only complained a bit but it was so minor I can’t remember what it was about and wasn’t so bad that I left the room. She had just come in from playing out with her friends so she was in a good mood. I had my meal and even sat around to let the food digest instead of running back to my room to watch shows on my laptop. She did get the slight dig in about praying I found a good man. I then shared my experiences about some of the guys that I had met (not in too much detail though). It got a bit hairy though when I told her about DJ guy and his 5 kids and his offer to buy me sex toys. She said “what? You’re desperate but not that desperate”, I replied point of correction I’m single but I’m not desperate. I know I go on about the single factor a lot, and it tends to get a bit lonely, but I am not so desperate to jump onto the first guy that smiles at me. But I didn’t get annoyed once she was corrected she was ok about it, not enough for a sorry but corrected and re-phrased.
So I started to feel a bit sleepy at around 11 and went to sleep but for the life of me couldn’t get to sleep, I drifted off at some point around 1.30 and again at 3ish but it wasn’t long and I was up again. At around 5, I went for a walk around the estate. It was a really nice walk, except for the big dog who made jump out of my skin when he pounced at the gate and started barking. The second and third time I got to the dogs house however I made sure I was far away from the house and he realised I wasn’t coming to his house and kept quiet. I did wonder what would happen if he were to jump the wall, could I outrun him. Although I had this energy to power walk and it is something I hope to continue, I am not even at jogging stage let alone out running a dog. Thank the lord he was on the other side of the gate though.
So Independence day is upon us. A parade at Independence square and a speech to the nation from the president, don’t know exactly the contents of his speech, after “my brothers and sisters”, I switch off, he sounds like an 80 year old woman when he speaks and a frail one at that, but hardly surprising, there is a lot of pressure on him and the public are not very convinced of his abilities to go through for a second term. So it is no shock that he sounds so frail.
The radio and TV stations have had debates all day on 55 years, what have we managed to do. Yes we can compare ourselves to other African nations and say we have done well, but when you look at developing countries like India and China, we still have a long way to go, and what seems to be more pathetic is we rely on these same developing nations to fix our roads, build our houses, upgrade our technology. Why, well it is likely we will squander it all and we have this mentality when we are working for our own, that how did he manage to get so far, instead of helping to build him up and thus ourselves, we want to knock him down to our meagre level.
I went to see my uncle at his office the other day and the secretary basically looked me up and down, and in a very nonchalant tone said “yes?”. I asked if my uncle was in she said no. I asked if she knew when he would be back she said no. It is only when I called him and she realised that I was more than just a passer by on the street did she wake up a bit. He runs a car rental business, in his area where he runs this business there are about 3 others. If I was an actual paying customer, I would have gone elsewhere. For her, its about collecting the salary at the end of the month, she doesn’t care. In contrast at my own office speaking to the receptionists make you feel as warm as a sunny day and they make an effort to get to know all 300 people by name. Why, the top brass are not going to tolerate hard faced individuals who feel their face will crack if they smile (there predecessors found this out very quickly, the only time they smiled was at lunchtime, but there really is no such thing as a free lunch).
We cannot complain though, this is home, luckily there are more people like me finding their way into the system and like me come in with the same romantic notion that they are going to change all the negatives around. I pray that by the next milestone anniversary this will happen.
But for me the greatest thing about this day apart from it being the greatest historical moments of our time was that I got time to relax. I spent time with smother and we had a good time. I had a fufu with chicken light soup which is my favourite and something I have not had for a long time, I can’t eat chicken light soup outside because there are only 4 people who can do it exactly the way I like it me, mum, and my two sisters, secondly it has to be made with broiler chicken, I don’t have the heart to go to the market and buy it (the markets here are not as serene as Borough) and the usual roasted chicken just doesn’t cut it the way I would like, today it was good.
Normally what we do is steam the chicken with onions, scotch bonnet pepper (to your strength), garlic and ginger and one chicken maggi to season. When the chicken is part soft remove the raw ingredients leaving a few hole peppers, blend and pour back into the chicken for the chicken to marinade. When the chicken is fully cooked, blends some tomatoes with the pepper and if there is any ginger that did not blend totally the first time, that goes in, usually the equivalent of one tin of tomatoes will do. What we usually do is use a tin of tomatoes and then 3 or 4 fresh tomatoes but you can use all fresh or just one tin depending on the availability of tomatoes where you are. Pour the tomatoes in, then add water about a litre so it is watery and add another chicken maggi to the liquid mix. Boil until the oil from the chicken comes up and the liquid is slightly thick and there you have it.
You can use meat or fish, it can be done in the same way but with fish be careful not to let it go mushy, and use a shrimp maggi instead of chicken.
Fufu. Pounded cassava with plantain or yam, it is better to get someone who knows to do it because I’ve never done it. Or to cheat they have a fufu mix which you can make according to the packet instructions. If you don’t like fufu, it is just as nice with rice or eba (gari and hot water mixed to a thick starch).
By the way, anyone know where I can get groundrice in accra, I have begged family members to bring some over but I guess they are scared it will get confused for cocaine so refuse to bring it over (in the guise that they forgot).
Its the end of the day, well rested, and getting ready for work tomorrow. Meetings, reports and one overdue visit report yipee I just can’t wait *eyes rolling*