Monday, February 22, 2010

An unforgettable February weekend!

It's been a while since I shared a 'diary' entry. This last weekend presented the perfect opportunity to do so. It wasn't setting up to be that special a weekend. The Harvard African Business Conference was going on, but I did not attend. While I was there last year, I decided to forgo the HBS ABC this year. I was bent on seeing this through and if I had the littlest inkling about changing my mind, my empty-full-of-potholes pocket hammered the final nail in the 'dont-go-to-the-HBS_ABC coffin. So, I was stuck in the Bay but the Bay interestingly had a few good things to offer. It ended up offering an unforgettable weekend. So I missed out on Naeto C? Kini Big Deal. Missed out on the biggest, brightest, most reputable face-to-face tete-a-tete networking potential African marriage-partner finding event? "Duro", didn't drive me crazy because you should know my P. This weekend's Mighty African adventures were not to be missed. Here's the story.

Friday was the day Vusi Mahlasela was coming to perform at Stanford. Yes, he had been invited by 'Stanford Arts', and not the African Students Association or his niece who's studying Aero-Astro engineering. Just joking about the latter. Vusi's concert was going to cost Stanford students $10 and other adults (over 18+) would pay $35. Gone are the days when I used to hang with 18 year olds who didn't attend my school. My 'adult' friends would not come see Vusi for $35. So if my friend who was visiting had to pay $35 to hang with me for a couple of hours, then I would also not pay $10. I am not a big fan of Vusi's music anyway. Give me some Kwaito, give me some Lira, give me some House. Give me some of this. I'd normally support my Africans, no matter what but this was quite a price to pay. So I skipped the concert, entertained my visitor and looked forward to catching Vusi at the reception being thrown for him later.

I went to the reception as planned, though it started later than advertised. Kai, even Stanford can operate at African time sometimes. Feels good, neh? :-D Stanford's favorite accapella group, Talisman, performed some beautiful South African songs at the reception. Even after performing for two hours, Vusi still found the energy to join them in singing "Ahuna Ya Tswanang Le Jesu". They also sang 'Shosholoza' and another I forget right now. Hey, it's about the only thing I forgot from this weekend ;-) Spoke with Vusi eventually and told him about Museke, etc. No, no time for interviews this time. I've decided to listen to his music more. Check out his songs, River Jordan and Jabula, good stuff. Local is lekker. Had a lot of interesting conversations with a Berkeley student and her German boyfriend. Ended up being one of the last people to leave the reception venue as a result. This always happens. I don't know why I always manage to stay till the very end. Sigh.

My Saturday 'began' when I saw two missed calls from my Nigerian buddy (5:30 & 5:45pm). So I decided to call him back (6:30pm). "Chale, the Angelique Kidjo concert is at 8pm at Berkeley, we are leaving at 7pm". Yikes! I had a little under 30 minutes to transition into Saturday, shower, get dressed UP and go. Funny thing is, I wasn't prepared for this Kidjo show. My Nigerian buddy hadn't mentioned it when I saw him Friday night and no one had talked about it all week. Naww, Impossible. Possible, Africans @ Stanford weren't that giddy about seeing one of Africa's best performers, especially when it was an hour's drive away. Me, I had just missed Vusi's concert, missed Kidjo when she performed in Boston and was made to endure 'taunts' from my friends who went about how they danced with her on stage and how magnificent she was. Wasn't going to miss this one. Eventually, joined my Nigerian buddy on the journey and after we picked up our Ethiopian 'sister', we were concert-bound (7:30).

8:40pm. We've just paid for parking after circling the concert venue in Berkeley and are looking for directions to ZellerBach Hall. We get there and we are greeted by a white lady who tells us they stopped selling tickets for the show 30 minutes after it started. For those of you keeping score at home, that means we are 10 minutes late. We can't even go buy online tix and come back. #AreYouKiddingMe???!!! We drove all the way to Berkeley to see Kidjo 'shekete' and we can't get tickets? The show is at least 2 hours long and we still have 80 minutes to go. I turn around and shout "CAL SUCKS!" Some white dude outside remarked, "the place is probably half-full". And I'm pretty darn sure it was! Seriously, why be so prim and proper? Couldn't they just sell us tickets? What do they lose? I blame Angelique Kidjo. She's so big these days, she's on some 'international record label', we don't have access to her, we have to pay top dollar to see her and there's no flexibility. Imagine if it was some African promoter who had brought 'Samini' to perform at some local spot in Berkeley. Samini would come on stage 2 hours late, so there's no way in 'Sodom and Gomorrah' that we're missing him, tickets would be sold from 'krainkrain' to 'krankran' till the show ends and the price would probably remain the same. I'm done with Angelique Kidjo concerts.

9:15pm. My Ethiopian friend and I are both hungry. She and my Naija paddy want chicken and waffles. I'm like, "We've come all the way to Berkeley, we have to eat at an African restaurant". We've paid for 3 hours of parking so we're not getting the car, we're walking to find this food. Eventually, we realise the African restaurants are not that ubiquitous and we can't spend too much time reaching them. We settle for some 'black' food at 'Louisiana Kitchen'. This is after we've decided to remedy the evening with watching 'Up in the Air' starring George Clooney. Movie shows at 10pm, counting previews, we should be seated by 10:20 at the latest. American restaurants don't operate like chop bars, so we have to wait in line, declare our order, eventually get seated, continue chit-chatting, and wait for the food. This can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. So, by the time the food arrives, it's maybe 9:55.

So I order some chicken fresh from ze kitchen, my Ethiopian friend orders some crawfish dish, and my Nigerian guy orders some Jambalaya from this black buka. Normally, I'd ask to taste some of what my friends ordered, and share some of mine. Sharing is caring. I couldn't eat the Jambalaya because I've given up eating pork and beef for Lent. No lie. So if you thought this was going to be easy, it ain't. I was refusing food (a whole me) because it had some kind of meat. "Asumasi mmɛ hwɛ n'adamfo. Joseph mpo, y'awe!"

We finish eating, get to the cinema to get our 'Up in the Air' tix and the ticket sellers no dey. I look to my Naija friend and we figure we'll just open the doors and go watch the movie anyway. "Syke" The doors are locked. A concessionary seller in the cinema tells us the theater is closed. We see him. We stand there. He sees fit to come toward us and open the doors. He pokes his head out and tells us "the theatre is closed". @#&%^E@I We heard you the first time! Luckily enough, there was a theater right down the road. Berkeley is good for a few things. The ticket seller waits for 10 minutes as the three of us debate what movie to see. My Ethiopian friend doesn't want to see Avatar, and I haven't seen it (#FAIL). She's seen Sherlock Holmes and we haven't. The guys don't want see It's complicated. We end up choosing Denzel Washington in 'Book of Eli', and it's just starting. After watching 3 minutes of Book of Eli, we decide the movie is too slow, nothing is happening and it's not worth watching. Upon reaching the room where AVATAR 3D is showing, we realise the boxes for recycling 3D glasses are empty. WTF? People take the 3D glasses to show off to their friends? They keep them so they can bring them back to watch more 3D movies? The ticket seller won't give us 3D glasses unless we buy tickets to AVATAR 3D, too. We end up watching Sherlock Holmes, at least, it was a good movie.

Going home to Stanford wasn't even easy. We drove a while looking for highway signs. We ended up circling one particular block on Telegraph Avenue (in Oakland now) three times. On one side of the block, a police car was parked. I mentioned, "hmmm, this policeman may think we are picking up drugs or doing a drive-by the way we keep on coming around here". I run into a Nigerian friend who was frolicking with her other girlfriends and thanks to her directions, we headed home.

I woke up on Sunday just in time to go play with FC Palo Alto in our first game this year. Manchester United had lost badly to Everton the day before (Thank God I didn't watch the game) and I was in no mood to wake up early to watch football. I get to the field and it's raining. Nice! I end up not starting the game in defence like I usually do. I had sucked a bit in practices so I understood my coach and captain's decisions. Hey, have to support the team no matter what. Allen Iverson, that's for you! We concede a goal in the 3rd minute and after 10 minutes, we're two down. By the time, I get to play, we have taken three unanswered goals and it's still raining. Horrible football weekend. The Stanford Athletics monster comes to close down the field and put my team out of our misery. We agree to play the second-half at a later date and my captain decides our team should go practice for an hour. It's still raining! I saw this as a punishment. "This team sucks so bad, we're not going home, let's go practice even if it's raining". 1, 2, 3, FCPA!!!!

Fast forward to 6:30pm. I am preparing to go a potluck empty-handed. For whatever reason, I felt I didn't need to cook for this one because the email looked like it was being organized by three namesakes. Feel no more. It may just happen to me next time. I cut a phone conversation with one of my favorite people short to go join my Zimbabwean friend to go to this potluck. We have a little trouble finding my Ghanaian host's place, a place that is on campus. Tscheeeww. I request for some Golden Tree Chocolate to finally celebrate Valentine's Ghanaian Chocolate Day and have a couple glasses of Sangria. I am trying my best not to get drunk or tipsy on a Sunday. My other Ghanaian friend walks in with Naija roommate and asks, "where's the waakye?". Uh huh, here's a potluck, Mighty African is here and there's no waakye. That means, chale didn't cook. Should not happen again.

Anyway, here's the menu. Chicken dish, peanut groundnut soup, grapes, brownies, rice, chocolate, jollof rice, and a cake with blueberries, strawberries and kiwis. I find out the jollof rice is cooked with beef. Taflastse! Why? I have to forgo this jollof too, I am getting more than I bargained for for this Lent thing. After boxing with my conscience, I take out the beef pieces and eat the jollof. Here's our guestlist, Ghanaian PhD in education, his girlfriend from El Salvador, his Aero-Astro roommate from Germany, Zimbabwean PhD in education, Ghanaian PhD in engineering, Nigerian PhD in engineering, and then two Nigerian and Ghanaian law school students. We had some really enjoyable conversations, but the highlight of the night was probably the new information I found out about 'dimples'. See me in chambers if you want to know.

So that was the weekend. I hope I was able to tell you about in an exciting way as it happened. Very memorable. And that's even half of it. Of course I can't tell you everything that happened. I have to stop telling and you have to stop reading at some point ;-)
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