Friday, 8 July 2011

8 July: Goodbye Abuja

Goodbye Abuja !!
 It's Last day here and am excited to meet my family .. It was good 4 weeks here. Overall I enjoyed the stay. People are very welcoming. I loved their hospitality ..Even today our client is coming to meet us and offered farewel drinks ..I am touched.

Thanks for reading my Nigerian experience

Saturday, 2 July 2011

1 July : African dancing in Indian restaurant

We came to know that Spice food, an Indian restaurant has planned for an african dance night. They have arranged an African Folk dance group from Kano state of nigeria to perform in their restaurant.

The restaurant is 5 mins walk from our hotel. We went there by 7 pm and continued till 11:30. It was wonderful experience to see them perfroming. The music was very vibrant and rythem was catchy. The place was full of expats. lots of people started dancing with the rythem along with them.
A wonderful evening !!!

30 June : Curfew in Abuja

If you have read/ heard on BBC about cerfew in Nigeria, let me convey that we are safe.
It was terrible last few weeks in Nigerian peace. Attacks on police head quarter, gun shooting and then Bomb attack in garden restaurant triggered this curfew.Thank God we all are safe here in Abuja.
Since yesterday curfew has been imposed on Nigeria's capital, Abuja, following recent attacks by Islamist militants, meaning nightclubs, beer  parlours and cinemas must close early. They must shut by 2200 local time and public parks that admit children should close by 1800.

Two weeks ago, eight people were killed when the Islamist sect Boko Haram attacked the police HQ in Abuja. On Sunday, its fighters bombed a beer garden in Maiduguri, killing 25.
Details can be read at BBC:

29 June: Our Day

It's our Birthday. Kirty, my wife and I was born on the same date. This is the second occassion after marriage when we are not together on the day. Needless to say I really missed her here. We might not have had a great party but certainly a great time together with family, that's what I am missing.

There was surprised dinner in good restaurant organised by our csc team with special effort by Anick & Niki.  We had great food and good time together. At the end of food my team gave an even pleasant surprise by cup cake with candle.  I was really touched. Thanks CSC team for organising all these.

At the end it was good day with pleasent memories.

28 June : Window Shopping - Shopping through Window

From the day I saw I wanted to mention this little shop near hotel. It has small window opening from where you talk to shopkeeper and buy your stuff. They sell almost everything like cold drink, energy drink, biscuits, candies, imported chocolate, imported cigarette etc. Not Star Beer :(

You always see people around this shop as in photo. Anick and I have visited few times to get stock of our Cigarette.

Some people call it hole in the wall shop. I call it Window shopping : Shopping through the window.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

27 June : Lovely Weather in June

When we hear Nigeria, hot and humid weather comes to our mind. Surprisingly Ididn't feelit was hot on an Indian standard. Weather here is very pleasent at this time of year. Temeprature rarely goes above 30 and below 20. I bet it  is cooler than most of cities in India in June. Even southern part of Europe where temperature is way above 30.
I really enjoying the weather.

Monday, 27 June 2011

26 June : दो बूँद ज़िन्दगी के (Two drops of life)

On Sunday we visited Nasarawa state health department to participate in the Polio eradication Campaign. We observed, participated and even put polio drops in the mouth of kids.
I remember when I participated in similar initiative in India their punch line was " दो बूँद ज़िन्दगी के" exactly translates Two drops of life.

The voluneers from local community were really expert at handling kids. They were doing their job really well. I appreciate those three girls on their patience and commitment to make Nigeria Polio free. Hats off to them.

25 June : Zuma Rock -Symbol of Nigeria

While returing from School of Hope in Niger state, we took a detour to see the Gurara fall. The fall was not great but it reminded me my school days when we used to go to several falls over weekend in Netarhat. I enjoyed walking on the rock.

The Zuma Rock is the symbol of Abuja, or even Nigeria. The big rock is depicted on the country's 100 naira bill (note). It is actually found in the state of Niger north of Abuja, along the highway on which we were travelling.

25 June: School of Hope

People call it school for children with special needs. But I prefer to call this "School of Hope". School which gives hope to hundreds of children in their life.

We started really very early to visit Niger state to visit the school for children with special needs. We had to leave hotel at 6 am. Still not fully awake had cofee and packed food for the day and boarded the bus. After 3 hours of ride we reached the destination. There  is only such a schoolin Nigeria.

In the school everything seems very normal with very little resource. They were communicating and smiling running , playing football.  Principal gave an official welcome speech, which was translated in sign language by a teacher. After speech everyone clapped. It was different clap. They all raised their hand and shake their palm and finger sidewise. I learnt this thing from the school.

Then we started talking to differnt people. Normally We used to write or use some sign to make them understand. I must say kids were more smarter in making me understand what they wanted to say. I must thank to Justin Fletcher and his program  Something Special on CBeebies, which was really handy here.
They played a small drama (Skit kind of ) named " Ability in Disability", so true. I now really understand the meaning of the saying after seeing all kids performing dance, playing very good football, and doing evrything by their own.  

That was amazing to see hopes on these kids. Everyone here was full of hope and ready to take any stride in the future. Suddenly I caught the glimps of this little girl. Whose eyes were so bright and and full of expressions, I couldn't resist to take a snap. I wish I had better camera.

24 June: drink and drink again

It was friday. Since morning I was feeling its weekend. Not getting really kick to work nor had much enthusiasm left. One of our director offered to have a drink with us. Since we already had planned activities in the group, we decided afternoon time to be with him. We left office at 3 pm and was in a near by bar until 5:15pm.  I have observed Nigerian people really enjoy drinking and drink a lot and mainly Beer.

At 6 we left for Shereton where we had our dinner and another bottle of beer. on 25th June we have planned to visit Niger state " School for special need education ".  

23 June: Is Net working ?

Internet is really challange here. We wait for hours to get connected for minutes. It has become one of salutation in team members. Instead of hello/ hi we say/ask "Is net working?". Some people asks it directly others differently e.g Did you get connection from room? But core is the same "Is Net working ?"

22 June: The Chase & Thunder Sotrm

We CSC group decided to have our dinner in continental restaurant named "Chase". This was lebanese restaurant with continental food. Kim and reached very early around 5:30. It was really early dinner time for any standard. Anyway we waitied and talked on various things. Other team memberes started arriving after 6 pm.
I enjoyed Chicken Shawarma. It was really very different way of serving. I was served with shreded
chicken, sauce and bread all separately. I was supposed to make my own Shwarma. I liked the taste. it was really wonderful dinner.

We were about to leave the Chase, it started raining and then pouring. As we came down from lift to get taxi, it has become a storm. We requested one of shop keeper security guy to help us in getting taxi. Finally we got taxi and back to our hotel. This rain fall was one of the heaviest since we are in Nigeria.

Guess what , I got a shop just in the same complex of Chase, who sold Beer. Finally my search is over, I got a crate of Star Beer :)

21 June : Star Beer

These days I started liking Star Beer ( a Nigerian Beer). I am in search of a shop where I  can buy few of this beer to stack in my fridge in my  room. In case I need them :) 

Look the Ad , it says " Share the brighter life". Who doesn't want a brighter life ?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

20 June: Lift with no Close button

In very few first days of my stay in hotel I noticed that there was no door close button in the lift. Today I tried both button to figure out if the button is faulty or really lift does open with both buttons. Now I can confirm that one closes the lift door and another opens. Thank god it just had wrong button. Imagine if  had both Close button and actually functions that way and you got stuck in lift for some reason. It won't be funny !!!

19 June : A day with "A Wholesome Affair"

It was Sunday. No activity was planned. Few of our guys planned to visit near by Church, in which I had no insterest. I thought to spend the daywith book " A wholesome affair". I really enjoyed each moment of reading. This book starts quite differently from any other book I have read. All 15 stories in this book seemed to be totally independant but somehow linked with the main concept of the book. The prologue really does very good job in setting right context and cocept to readers. Don't skip the Prologue.

Each stories depicts one of vital emotion of life in human. These emotions are part of any normal human life, so you may feel connected on one or the other occassion. The back drop of the storyline is very Indian. If you have not understood the Indian way / culture you may get some difficulties on few of citations. As a whole this book confimrs the title of book : A wholesome affair of human life.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

19 June: Work Culture

When I was planning to come here I have read all sorts of things on Nigerian Culture, even had taken tips from others who have visited Nigera earlier. I can say now I was not prepared enough. Some of things I found different.

1) Morning meet and greet is very part of work culture. Morning meet and greet is typically long one. They never forget to ask " How was your night?" different to what we ask "How are you?"
Later I come to know that it is rude to rush the greeting process. You must take the time to ask about the person’s health, the health of their family etc.

2) The Concept of Nigerian Time. You may expect a meeting can start after 2-3 hours from the indicated time. Whatever the meeting is for.
They takes things slow initially and don't seem to be in a hurry especially when meeting people for the first time.

3) Tip is culture of Nigeria, from Taxi driver, live music show or restaurant everywhere it is expected. I get asked for kickbacks all the time. Actually, kickbacks are more like tips. Give kickbacks or tips at your own discretion.

4) Relationship is key to get meeting successful.  It is important to develop good, long-term relationships. If meetings seem a little informal and non-business focussed, do not worry - the more time spent on relationship-building, the better.

5)Patience is always tested. Try to be patient at all times in Nigeria be it waiting for driver, meeting or even in shop. The more you push, the more dificult it will be.

6)Take care at all times and never go anywhere with people you do not know well.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

18 June: Vist to Art and Craft Village

After a good lunch we went to see Art and Craft village. I was really surprised to see the a group of small huts (around 30-40)  in the Federal Capital teritory. I would say government has well planned and protected this area. If I compare, its like Delhi Hat kind of area but much bigger and no eateries.

They had few streets and areas divided on the type of crafts. Some areas were for local dresses,other were for paintings and handicrafts. I went to almost all hust to see whats thye have. They had lovely local paintings. Some shops had really good retiring chair or tea table and chair sets.

 I kind of liked the handcrafted carved masks. I bought 2 of them , tho they were of not the same size. I liked the carving and  woowork..

The shop keeper was "Cynthia". We had some conversation around her name. It appeared that she didn't  like her name.

After sometime we returned, but I am planning to visit there again to get some local dresses for my daughters

17 June Friday : Nothing exciting

We had planned second education session on Friday. To our surprise no one was present in the room. Finally after calling the organiser we didn't find any obvious reason why people were not there. Any way he suggested to do on next wednesday. Lets see what comes on the day

When we reached office we found air conditioning was not working , probably electricity and backup both were down. It was really hot in the room. We decided to leave early and reached hotel around 15:00.
It wasn't a god day on work front, tho it ended good with a few drinks and music at Blake.

16 June: Never judge a restaurant by look:)

It was very happeneing and busy day. I was tired due to lack of sleep last night. Before retiring for the day we wanted a good meal. We have already tried few restaurants near by. Noone seemed good . We all decided to go for a restaurant named "Spicy food" . We have seen the board of restaurant several time .It was just 500 away from our hotel. It always looked dull and sheddy from the outside appearance. I desperation we went to that restaurant. When we went in, it was a surprise, apositive surprise. The restaurant was clean, well kept and pure Indian food. everyone liked the food. After a long time we all had good food.
At last wehad a much needed god food.

Never judge by look :)

16 June: Education Session

We were well prepared for the education session at 10:00. We went to see the hall it was supposed to happen, no one was there till 10:15. After speaking to Dr Gambo we were informed it would be in different place at 11:00. Finally it started at 12:00. With a lunch break we finished around 15:30. We were tired after this session. Kim did good Job. As per Kim I did great.

After session we returned hotel. We had planned with client to go out but as per IBM security guidelines we had to be in hotel. That helpped us to take few extra hours of rest. That was very much needed.

Friday, 17 June 2011

16 June: Abuja Under suicidal Attack

If you follow BBC most likely you have seen news about suicidal bomb attack on the police headquarter in Abuja.First thing I wanted to convey is we are safe. I was at work my mobile said I got a msg. I saw it was from Malabika, informing us about the bomb attack.
 (Pic taken by Glyn while going to work)
Later on the  news we heard  An Islamist group is suspected to be behind Nigeria's first ever suicide bomb attack. The blast happened inside the national police headquarters in Nigeria's capital Abuja. At least six people were killed including a police officer. The finger of blame is being pointed at a radical Islamic group called Boko Haram ( translates to "Western Education is Sin"). A day earlier the group had threatened to step up a campaign of violence that's already seen scores of deadly attacks.Detail can be read at :

We observed high security alerts every where Police force were deployed.  Vehicles were searched on roads. This resultedin high traffic at road. The distance from office to  home which usually takes 10 min took around 40 min. Later on the evening we were briefed about  the situation by IBM security head of Nigeria and Africa and given  cautions to what to to and not to do.

16 June: IBM turned 100

It was 100th Year anniversary of IBM. Glyn one of our CSC team has brought few IBM badges, which was issued by IBM for this celebration. He gave everyone IBM badge (in pic above), we proudly put on and even talked to client about it. This small gesture of Glyn to bring badges was really touching.

On the day IBM globally has spent effort and time to build community through our Global Volunteer Network. Some examples are :
In Madrid, Spain, a team of nearly 70 IBMers and retirees are helping immigrants develop technical, personal and professional skills to improve their chances of finding good jobs.

In Santiago, Chile, IBMers are advising female entrepreneurs on business skills such as sales, purchasing, finance, taxation, marketing and communications.

In the United States, a researcher combines extreme activities—skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel, for example—with science to inspire high
school and college students.

More of IBM volunteer workcan be read at :

15 June : The BLAKE

Day started very good in the work front. We prepared well for the education to the NITDA staff on project management. Kim did a good job in compiling the presentation and putting everything together.

Our Client , Dr. Gambo from NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency) took us to Live Nigerian Band, which is played in BLAKE resort. They started with RAP, some comedy and finally Nigrian Band played Local and Continental music. The first few artists displayed their art of balancing things like rotating plate, chair, table etc. It was really worth appreciation. Lateron I was touched by few songs sung by Visually challanged person. His voice was really good.
After each show the artists goes to diferent table and expect people to give some money.

When the actual live Band started playing everyone was dancing and enjoying the music. The place was full of energy. Specially those one who were dancing on the stage were really very energetic.

My client was dancing too. He gave me a quick lesson on African dance and he also took meto dance. I was just following his steps. I know I wasn't good at all. We returned around 2:30am.

Kim and I really enjoyed the place and ambience.

14 June: An uneventful day

It was very uneventful day. On work front we progressed really good. We had really good discussion on their expectations. We have now better understanding of what client , NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency) is expecting.

After work we all gathered in the Hotel boardroom. We were really struggling to find good place a for dinner. Finally we all went to a near by hotel Bolton. Funny part is we were only guest  in the restaurant. What ever we ordered first time they didn't have. Almost everyone changed order 2-3 times. The waiter looked very confussed, anyway it was better meal than our Hotel restaurant.

More Later .. Good night

Thursday, 16 June 2011

13 June: AUS Plug with UK Socket

It was first working day with client. I wanted a cup of coffee. There was a very good steel kettle in the room. I filled with water and tried to plug in the socket. It didn't go through. I took few futile attempts. Later on I noticed that the Plug was AUS and Socket was UK, which obviously wont fit and didn't fit. Thankfully I had universal travel adapterwhich did the job and I had a coffee. Later I came to know that it wasthe case in all rooms.

Dhara Bati had fever
Later in the day I came to know Bati and Dhara had fever. I really really wanted to talk to Bati but couldn't. They visited doctor and in a day they were back to normal. I was bit tenssed with Dhara as she hasnotyet adjusted to Indian climate and environment. After all she is just 3 months. I love  them a lot.