good-bye nigeria, hello new york

my workday lunch spot

it's been a week since i left nigeria. it all went by so quickly. you wouldn't know it since i haven't posted anything in like forever, oops!!

people keep asking me if experienced "culture shock" in nigeria? honestly, not at all. i'm not sure why? i guess because i lived in the capital city and my travels were to large cities as well. i mean, yeah life was a little different here and i ate different food and listened to different music and saw some of the poorest of the poor. but it's not like i was living in a bedouin tent in the middle of the sahara, going to work on camel back for the past three months.

i bring home many stories with me, some that i will share, some that i will just hold in my visual and mental memory. i might not have experienced culture shock but i definitely understood that my life is very different, and not because of me as a person -- but only because of the sheer circumstance of where i happen to live.

before i left i bought my taxi driver a goodbye gift, we were in the store together and i told him to pick out something for himself. he immediately proceeded to show me an electric hair shaver. i was like umm, ok if that's what you want??!! it cost 2,300 naira (about $18). to me that wasn't expensive but to him (and to anyone of his class), that was a generous gift. but i was thinking -- of all the gifts you want me to buy, you pick out an electric hair shaver??!!

on the car ride home he gave profuse thanks, and appreciated how generous i was and how happy he was. i asked if he had one already but was broken? he said no he doesn't have one, he goes to the barber and his son goes too -- but he worries about HIV/AIDS infection and so he is so grateful that he can now cut his hair and his son's hair at home. and immediately i realized, to me it was just 2,300 naira spent as a gift for a friend here, but to him it meant so much more -- to him, to his wife, to his family.

that's when i realized what the real difference -- the real "shock" -- is between me and everyone i met there. it's not about their culture or what they eat or wear or how they live. it's the fact that i go to the salon and get my haircut and my only worry is i hope it doesn't look like crap. my friend goes to the barber and he worries about being infected with HIV/AIDS.

i tried to anticipate how i might feel when i'm back in new york city. i remember when i came home from a two month stay in geneva. i hated the city, i hated the noise and sidewalk litter. i absolutely hated the MTA (can ya blame me there?!) -- but in about a week i fell back in love again with all the things that's amazing about new york.

this time is a bit different. i've never had to deal with such noise pollution (honk, honk, hooonk, HOOONKKKKK!!) as i've had in the streets of abuja. so now new york city is like an oasis of calm and quiet! but a week later and i still don't feel quite at home. i have less patience for the constant jockeying along the hipness and coolness spectrum that is the circus life of new york -- even if i don't join in on the circus, it's become tiringly annoying to watch. i also don't have my tastebuds back yet -- everything i eat leaves me unsatisfied.

but in my downtime i'm catching up on the (literally) thousands of blog posts i've missed in my google reader and i can't wait to start cooking and baking again -- i promise mimi on the move will be busy again soon!

1 comment:

  1. Mimi, Welcome back. I really enjoyed reading about your experience in Nigeria. The barber story really makes me pause and appreciate all I have here. Thanks for sharing your experience! - mary