After an afternoon full of meetings I jumped into my car and headed home for a quick one and then its an episode of pretty little liars before I sleep.
I can’t believe another week has flown by so quickly. Just last week I was finishing dinner at my lagos guesthouse, catching a show on dstv and getting ready to go out for the night with one of my colleagues and kicking myself for not wearing a better attire or at least my heels, when after our planned quick drink ended up being a bachelors party at a club somewhere in Ikeja.
This week it’s pretty boring for a Friday night but I feel boring. Boring and old and tired. I could have gone out tonight, God daddy is back from his farm in Kumasi, but I left the office at nearly 7 and he’s usually dozing off by 8 so I will see him over the weekend. There is also a surprise birthday drink up at Headlines for my cousins good friend who has sort of become a family friend but 1. I only usually go there when I’m being driven and can’t for the life of me remember where it is. 2. I’m too tired to drive into town and back and need to optimize my fuel consumption. 3. It will be the usual boys, boys and I will end up watching them drink because I have reached my maximum capacity very quickly (as well as the tiredness), I just don’t feel for it tonight. Then there is Alaska. Alaska is this guy’s best friend and so is bound to be there. Alaska as you can recall is the guy I got involved with just before he married someone else.
I have reached the point where I have stopped crying over him and wondering what could have been. My heart has stopped aching and when I see him I don’t want to jab him in both eyes with well sharpened pencils. I can actually have a civil conversation with him without bringing up the past. But he also reminds me that I am still very single and no where near getting married and starting a family. He has whatsapped me a few times to tell me he has missed me. I am over him, but loneliness is a very terrible state of mind and don’t want to put myself in a position where I have no business being in because it feels comfortable to be in. I am actually quite glad that mum is around for that reason, and she is a nosey parker who treats me like I’m in high school. I know she just wants me to be treated like a lady, but I do love my room and well you invite a guy like Alaska there it will certainly put you in a corner well serves you right on the consequences. But that’s an aside on any guy not Alaska per se. For him, he wouldn’t make it to my house especially with my bodyguards around, but I don’t want to hear what he has to say, I don’t want him to try and catch my glaze, I don’t want him to ask me if I’m ok every few seconds, and that’s what he would do, so it is best I stay away. Out of harms way and have an early night, alone, it sucks but I’d rather be alone than someone who will pass through like a thief in the night.
So to this evenings topic. It is actually about two talk shows I have listened to in the past week. One was a phone in that discussed what cars a lady likes. The ladies called in and said if they meet a guy who doesn’t drive x car, they wouldn’t give them the time of day. Low and behold the guy didn’t have a car at all, and well mate, don’t even think about it, cut your losses now.
The other one was about people’s perceptions of “abroad”, like it was some kind of heaven. They didn’t want to hear how tough it was, they were thinking of how much those dollars or pound sterling and how much that would convert into the Ghana Cedis.
I wish every one of these people who called in could travel. Just for a year, with the option to come back if they so wish. I am sure at least three quarters would come running back with their tails between their legs, the ones that stayed would be the ones that are just too stubborn to come back and admit that it was a flop.
One of the company drivers took me to the airport (yes Eckankan). He told me that he used to be a taxi driver and with his small money managed to buy himself some land and build a little house. Yet because the 4×4 he’s driving only permits him to pose during working hours and not to take some chick to La Palm on a Friday night but a “rickety” old car, and he hasn’t got a degree, he is in the house alone. (So he says, I live by the rule “seeing is believing” when it comes to Ghanaian men and their marital status).
A guy who often frequents the hotel poolbar at the back of Granada on the other hand gets girls flocking around him even with the wedding band on. Why, because he comes from London. He is friends with the hotel owner who is not often in Ghana so gets free reign of his car and driver. He claims to be a clothing designer, his clients include our current president and the residing president of Nigeria. He goes to Nigeria a lot, but I always see him with the same jeans and shirt and one dirty great laugh and most of the time he buys drink on credit but hey what do I know.
On the other side of the pond there is this lady Tess. Tess used to work for my mum when she had the salon. Tess came from Kumasi and her brother is in London, every time he used to go for a visit she would tell him “next time, if you don’t take me with you I will kill myself”, and one day he did. Now Tess wants to come back home. But how, she doesn’t have her papers, she is working as an illegal for below minimum wage (my mum was actually paying her just above the minimum but she felt she deserved more and left but ended up worse off but that’s another story). She couldn’t even afford her ticket home because after her monthly expenses and money back home she has enough to buy food and maybe one guinness if she wants to go out and chill. Getting deported is not an option because of the stigma attached, even if she were to lie, how would she explain that the UK borders agency has her on file so she can never go back.
So she’s stuck, thinking of what it was like and when is she going to catch a break in a country which is cold just like it’s people. At least here, with a few Ghana cedis you can get some porridge and bo float (its like a plain donught) or some waakye to eat, or even you can knock on a friends door and they can provide you with food to eat.
The deal is. It’s not easy, even for those who were born there or those who have made it. As I said, you are successful, you are still black. The higher you earn, the higher you pay in taxes. It doesn’t matter your qualification, you could well up doing the same job or even in a worse position than someone who barely made it out of high school.
Here, if you manage to get a degree you are bound to get a white collar job. While studying it is hardly that you will find yourself self funding hence finding a menial job to make ends meat. It is usually parental funded or some relative(s) who will help out. There is high employment here I will not deny but it is unlikely that you will go starving. For those who have jobs, there is a high possibility that it is got through a connection somebody known in the company, but there are also those who have took to the streets with their CV or because you excelled during the national service period. The multinationals and top paying companies will not take lower than a first degree, and if the pay isn’t excellent at least you will get access to good medical cover. Once you are in the job, you have the opportunity to go out for long lunches, and even run personal errands without anyone really questioning time. Excuses for lateness such as traffic or because of the rain, do not sound absurd because most likely you will still arrive earlier than your boss. This is especially common in “the one man show” companies or in the government where it is common for the boss to waltz in any time between 10 and midday.
If you disappear from the office for a few hours and someone calls, say your in a meeting and it is regarded as true (Ghanaians do love a meeting). There are other incentives to compensate also such as fuel allowance and some get clothes allowance, clothing allowance, housing allowance and phone allowance.
Now I speak for the UK because I don’t know what it is like for the other countries in the west. You are a graduate that has come in through the back door or even on vacation leave. Nobody looks at your mountain of degrees. The assistant at the KFC that you have been turning your nose up at in Osu, well that’s you. You can’t afford to wait for that white collar job because you have bills to pay. If your staying with relatives after some time they start to hint to you to leave, your an extra mouth to feed that Uncle just cannot afford. If your lucky you can rent an apartment but with your salary it is more like a room in a shared house. So you take on whatever you can get at the time. Don’t even think about the benefits even with papers there are very strict rules and what you get cannot afford the nine west shoes you could actually afford to buy when you were in Ghana because the water, gas, electricity, rent etc…is due.
Don’t look at what car the man is driving, look at Mr Transport for London, because that’s where you will buy your travel card. Even my more affluent friends would buy a bus pass and buy a rail ticket as an when was necessary to save on costs, purely because it is cheaper. You cannot chill the way you can here because the drinks are not so cheap and ladies, unless a guy purposely says “I want to take you out” put money in your purse because chances are, when the bill comes, you will pay your share.
I could go on and on and on, but for those who haven’t travelled, it will just fall on deaf ears. For those who have come back or thinking about it, you know what I mean and that’s why you are seriously considering/considered leaving it all behind.
It aint easy oo…