Archive - August 2015

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The older I get, the better I was
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Are you my mentor?
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Tailor – made

The older I get, the better I was

A friend’s t- shirt, back in the university, had that scrawled across it (beginning at the front and ending at the back). I wondered about the statement every time I saw it. I mentally compared my vainer, younger self with my ever – growing, worldly – wise older self. Cuter? Yeah. More hair? Yep. Easier life? Definitely. Carefree? Uh hu. Eager to please everyone? Oh yes. More organized? Yes. More selfish than a cat? Check. Quite shallow? Oh yes. So superficial? You got it. Prim & proper? Yes, yes, yes. Large helpings of impatience? Yeaaaaaaah. Bashfully shy? Loads. Read voraciously? Uh hu. The more I compared, the less I liked the outcome. The statement didn’t hold true for me. Scratch that. I didn’t like that it didn’t ring true for me. I wanted it to. So badly. Almost two decades later, this thought has gone through a total transformation. I think of that inscription today like I do every year on my birthday as I begin to compare last year’s me to this year’s. Today, yet another birthday of mine, is no different.               On becoming a vulture. I prefer the woman I currently am who can deliberately manage her impatience and reign it in when she feels her grip on it is slipping. A decade or so ago, I was incapable of this or even the willingness to try. My goal is to be almost like a vulture waiting to devour a carcass. Grey matter. In my life now, there is a grey shade that is ever – widening. Before, black or white was good, very good, enough for me. Unless, of course, it was the rainbow or colour spectrum being talked about, don’t you go telling me about grey or its varying shades. Miss Prim & Proper. That was my middle name for as long as I can remember. In my speech, habits, writing, the way things ought to be done… Today, I am not quite so rigid. Yes, there are correct and formal ways of doing things but the times have”more

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Are you my mentor?

Are you my mentor?                 Apparently, Sheryl Sandberg doesn’t like anyone asking that question of someone else. Yes, I’m still on about her book Lean In. Go read it if you haven’t. She encourages her readers to ‘excel and you’ll get a mentor’. As I read that line, I bit my lip knowingly. I plead guilty to asking that question because I once had a mentor more than a decade ago. My first job was at an NGO geared towards encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship amongst youths and adults. To facilitate its numerous programmes – classes, workshops, mentorship, trainings, etc – it recruited volunteers from all works of life in their professional capacities to share their expertise, to teach, to mentor, to consult. And whenever there was a workshop taking place, most staff pitched in to assist the department responsible for organizing it. Often, I’d offer to register participants or write up mini – bios for all the speakers. That day I chose to write. His resume was the second amongst the small sheaf of papers given to me. As I put his qualifications and experiences together, unconsciously my mind wandered a bit. Blame it on the work environment then and all that talk about the importance of a mentor. I knew him vaguely. I knew what he looked like and had formed an impression already. However, it had been his written words on paper that had made me sit up and take notice. (He had helped the organization conduct interviews and some of his thoughts were blunt, abrupt, harsh…). Later on, I walked down the corridor towards a colleague’s office and saw him being interviewed by the press, just before he was billed to speak. My mind wandered again. This time deliberately. By the end of the workshop, I had wrangled out an introduction from a friend of his who was also a colleague of mine (one of the workshop organizers), and he had invited me to dinner with them. I still remember the moment I asked him: ‘Would you be my mentor?’ as”more

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Tailor – made

Few people I know have good, all round stories about the individuals who make their clothes. From ‘He’s so good at it’ ‘It fits perfectly’ ‘She’s a genius’ to ‘It’s too tight!’ ‘It’s too big!’ ‘This is not the style I wanted’ ‘What nonsense! How am I supposed to wear this?!’ I have heard it all. I have been there too. And at some point, I have told myself: ‘No more tailors! I’d only buy my clothes and save myself the headache of an unreliable dressmaker.’ But how do you deal with asoebi matters for that special event? In addition, there are just some outfits that need to be made and not bought off the rack. The first (wrong) cut is the deepest Back in school, a classmate introduced me to her ‘fab’ tailor. And to test him out, I asked he reproduced a quite complicated, long – sleeved top with pockets and slits. The result? A perfectly executed job, right down to the finishing. He was ‘fab’ all right. Thrilled that I had a tailor I could trust, his next job was a simple, black, knee – length skirt with a slit at the back. Disaster! The front of the skirt was longer than the back; it was a little too wide at the hips and there were three buttons on one of the slit’s flaps! How did that happen? What was he thinking? Where did the ‘fab’ go? A Ghanaian was my first seamstress in Lagos. Large shop. Countless assistants. Even more countless customers. Would she have time for me and my little business of one outfit in three months? The white lace ensemble she made was complaint – free. She got my statistics and style down pat. She also got the feeling I like to have when wearing a well – made, well – fitted attire. I sang her praises to whoever listened. So when a cousin was getting married, a few months later, who else did we give the family’s asoebi to work her magic with? No contest there, it had to be the Ghanaian. The”more

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