This has been a week of holidays and holidays there will be until next Thursday, first Sallah and now Christmas is about to come. Hence, the university is more or less closed though a number of final year students still work in their final projects and the required accompanying write-up. Anyway, I guess that’s not really what interests you right now, my research work I mean. Rather what I’m up to with regard to Christmas. Well, don’t you dare mention it!!! I absolutely hate that I won’t be able to spend this particular holiday with my family!!! And the worst: This town doesn’t even have those little phone boots I’ve seen in the thousands in Kano and Abuja where you pay the guy a certain amount of money and you can call abroad. Hence, the choice is between spending ridiculous amounts on calling abroad – and inland calls are already outrageously expensive, I mean, before you even realise it three or four pound of your pay-as-you-go credit are gone and you have barely managed to say “Hello!,” no, honestly I spend more on text messages and phone calls here then in London taking my mobile phone and the landline together!

Anyway, so the choice for Christmas Eve is between spending ridiculous amounts to call home from my mobile phone or not even talk to my parents at all on this most family-oriented of all holidays! Not happy. Will have to lock myself up in my room with a book and lot’s of tissue to dry my tears of loneliness! And the worst: Nobody here really understands this. My host family will be scattered between the homes of different relatives and friends for Christmas and Andrew considers this pretty normal. He takes care of them all year round so rather let them go to their grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends to collect their Christmas presents. And, also, he sees this as their chance to renew their relations with all those who at the end of the day will have to be there to assist them when he’s not around anymore. Well, different countries, different customs. Isn’t it? However, this doesn’t make me feel much better about not being with my parents and brother for Christmas. … And not getting my Christmas goose/duck and New Year’s carp.

Though talking about food: I visited Abakura’s place for the second day of the Sallah festivities and have to say: I loved this meat. I mean, the combination of cake, sweet drinks and enormous amounts of this deliciously fried meat in the virtual absence of vegetables is lethal – I was feeling so sick for the day as if I went out and got wasted the night before, which this having been a Muslim holiday I obviously didn’t – but its worth it!!! …

But unfortunately, that doesn’t change a thing about Christmas still coming up and me being here in Nigeria, all on my own – no, local friends who promised to pay me visits don’t count here, its family in the close sense of the word that matters!!! So, if you enjoy your Christmas meal together will all your loved ones, the very moment you feel like pushing a turkey leg all the way down the throat of granny to shut her up because she can’t stop nagging about the fact that at your age you’re still single or dad complains that your accountant boyfriend still hasn’t checked his tax bill or simply grandpa grumbles because the beer’s not cold enough - hold on for a second, think of me and be grateful to have these buggers around to spoil your Christmas! Andrew might be right that most of us complain about their relatives after Christmas but I still want mine to be around, even if they sometimes get on my nerves …


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