Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Beach

Hello and a very very good week to everyone out there! Anyone feeling as good as I feel today? Why am I sounding so upbeat? Well maybe because I just got back from a very hearty walk along the Koko beach in Accra, Ghana. Even more interestingly, I walked up to the end of the beach where lots of fishermen and their boats were berthed. It wasn’t that it was the end of the beach but that there was a pool separating a part of the beach from the other. Within that cove was a mass of very colourful boats bearing an array of insignia extolling God’s or Allah’s merciful ways, probably in supplication to avert any impending disaster while fishing out there in the sea. The other side of the cove was bustling with a mob of excited women haggling over the prices and perhaps the availability of fish. The fishermen poured out the slippery silvery fish from baskets into the waiting basins and buckets the eager women were carrying. It’s hard to imagine that I actually came here to work. The part I am not exactly looking forward to is the part where I have to go for training to be a martial arts expert. I’m supposed to be a round house kicking villain who is almost psychopathic in his mercilessness.

It is half past two in the afternoon, about three hours since I began this piece; quite a lot of things have happened. Almost lost my temper with someone on set but I managed to calm myself down and talk civilly to her; just like I promised Frieda I would. When the director called me a few minutes afterwards, saying the lady in question had called him in tears, I told him I felt no remorse for what I said. I have little patience with people who like to take others for fools just because they are pleasant and accommodating. Now it’s afternoon and I’m getting drowsy and lethargic. My problem right now is how I am going to send this post out as there is no internet in the hotel. I did hear there’s a cafĂ© up the road so I’m going to trudge there along the beach hoping to pass by bikini clad ladies in the scorching sun, ask them for directions, fall into chat mode with them, ask them if they know any hot local night spots and if they’ll graciously guide a helpless stranger so he doesn’t get lost and then forget to send this post. The point I’m trying to make is for you guys to pray I don’t meet anyone at all. Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Smuggler's Route

Hello and a good week to everybody. I have just begun to conquer another technological milestone – twitter! Yes my friends, for so long I have wondered what all the fuss was about twitting all over the place with almost ‘nonsensical’ tweets about favourite pets and, just nonsense! Far as I was concerned it was all just a massive gathering of twits until Frieda explained it all to me. I still haven’t comprehended it fully but I have begun to sound like I know what I’m talking about when I tweet. Point is, I can see what a dinosaur I will be when I become a father. Matter of fact I almost weep for myself because of the way those little mites are going to abuse my ignorance of modern technology. My resolve therefore is this. I must marry someone who’s a gadget freak and is up to date with every conceivable contraption that is invented. She will also be a very bad cook on account of my love for good food. Please don’t think I am mad. I have always loved good food, according to my mum, and the way my metabolism has dropped in the past few years has given me serious cause for concern. If I dare eat even half of what I used to eat three years ago, I could almost watch my girth increase, my cheeks billow and my feet much more leaden. Kilo nonsense en? One of my favourite meals, pounded yam and Afang, I can no longer indulge myself in. hence my solution to my problem; marry a terrible cook so I learn to hate to eat and then I stay slim – ish. How’s that for a solution? By the time my daughter gets married they’ll probably have invented some gadget with to cook any meal her hubby desires. I feel much better now after airing my thoughts in this rather long paragraph. I hope they don’t smell too badly. Now to what I really want to talk about; my smuggling trip.

I had been shooting some scenes of a movie project in Ogun state and we were determined to finish it that day which took us into the wee hours of the next day – 2am to be precise. Some of us decided against putting up in a hotel and opted to drive back in a convoy to Lagos. The road however was a route smugglers typically used to smuggle goods to and from the neighbouring Benin Republic country with fierce customs officers lay in wait and desperate smugglers strived to get their commissions through at all costs. I for one was ready to risk driving along that smuggling route at that hour than face the horrendous traffic gridlock that characterized the morning rush hour traffic. ‘Sides my car had been making some funny noises after I’d waded in a mini lake in a crater in the road on one of our trips to location. There was no way I would risk taking Betty though a four hour traffic jam without seeing her doctor.

Our three cars set off into the night. The moon was full and the ghostly shapes of the tall grass swayed to our rushing headlights. The red eyes ahead of me flashed an even brighter red intermittently as they dodged ubiquitous potholes. Okay Kalu, stop it! We drove fast weaving this way and that as we dodged the numerous potholes that were dotted all over the road. Occasionally we would hear and wince at the jarring crash of the shock absorber of the lead vehicle as he went into a hidden pothole and quickly learn from his mistake. I had no mirror to look into but I knew my eyes were bulging from concentrating on the road and its environs. I wondered what we would do if armed robbers waylaid us at some deep gorge we were negotiating. Would I flee into the bush and leave the women among us to fend for themselves? One never knows what one is capable of until the one faces adversity. This adversity was not one I was willing to accommodate, rather I saw it as an adventure and sped on. Surprisingly, the few customs checkpoints we went by didn’t even bother with us. It was as if they knew what they were looking for and didn’t even glance at us as we sped past.

We got to our homes safely, stopping at the married colleague’s first. After honking our horns at her gate incessantly, the gate man opened them to a relieved but very silently furious husband. I watched as she slunk sideways through their front door like a crab as I left for my own home with trepidation in my heart. I’ll explain. My street has about two or three street gates leading to it from all sides. They all shut at the stroke of twelve midnight and once they do, hardly anyone or thing can compel them to be opened before 5am. Getting there at 3am, I began to bang at the street gate before my gate but no one answered. Peeping through the slits I could see three security guards warming themselves round a fire and smoking what wafted to me as weed. I called out loud to them telling them I was a resident in the adjoining street. They stopped, looked in my direction and calmly turned around and began to walk further away leaving me with no choice than to curl into Betty’s back seat. The windows misted over within minutes of shutting the door and made me wonder how much they’d mist if I were to shag in it – kinda like the Titanic love scene. My rucksack served as my pillow and I slept soundly till 4.50am when my alarm clock woke me.

Well folks, that was my experience plying a smuggler’s route at a smuggler’s time. Who knows? Someday when there’s no more work in my profession… Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Rare Touch of Nature Pt. 2

Good week everybody. And so we walked or should I say crept into the grove and took in the dense foliage that surrounded us. It kind of reminded me of the road to my late grandmother’s farm in the village with its sound of dripping leaves, chirping crickets and muddy floors in its dark enclave. We walked round the corner and suddenly came face to face with our prime location, the house.

It far exceeded what we envisioned. It was a lonely, ramshackle, and almost lopsided cemented hut that was truly in the middle of nowhere even though it was still close to the rest of the village. It had two windows and two doors that all hung open giving it a free rather than welcoming look. The tin roof had almost rusted through and scratches from small animals could be heard scurrying across it from where we stood. The hollowness of the sounds they made gave the indication of the absence of any insulating ceiling. It didn’t seem to matter though as the surrounding shrubs and trees ensured a permanent coolness in the area. Its isolation was almost as though its occupiers had been ostracised for some heinous crime they’d committed against their society. Two dwarf cows were tethered to a nearby tree in the bush and were surprisingly lovingly tended to by two veterinary doctors who gave one and then the other injections. A half naked woman stood behind them caressing the bigger cow’s hind quarters concernedly. It was my guess that the cow was female because the woman seemed to stroke it with an empathy only a female can bond with another.

She turned out to be the matron as she welcomed us to her home, asking us what we needed and when she could come back and have her home to herself. Her age was indeterminable because she looked wizened and her face bore the ravages of life’s hard toil. Her ribs showed through her stretched skin and her shrunken breasts showed that she had suckled many - I wondered how many. My mind went to my mum’s seven children feat and whose boobs still looked good even after we, especially the boys, had drunk our fill. Perhaps she’d lost many in infancy. A sixish year old child squatted on a stool on the raised veranda staring at us and I wasn’t sure if it was her son or grandson. I was brought back from my reverie by the costumier who brought my costume – a ‘filthy’ white t-shirt(which effect was achieved with mascara and women’s foundation make up), blue trousers and rubber bathroom slippers. Then the props man handed me the shovels and Sneeze asked me to go and dig my grave.

It had just begun raining and my character was supposed to be in a trance while being compelled to dig a grave in which he’d bury his wife(Chioma) and child by an evil sorceress (Uche). The grave had already been dug halfway leaving me to do the rest so I jumped in, confident the softening rain would make my work much easier – I was much mistaken. My tooth fillings were almost jarred loose from the shock that reverberated through my body. I looked at the spot the shovel struck, uncomfortably near my exposed toes – I shifted them back – hoping to see an exposed root the real diggers had omitted to remove, and saw only red earth. Squinting my eyes, I sneaked a look at the camera hoping it wouldn’t sense my discomfiture and proceeded to cheat by hacking at the much softer sides of the grave. All that mattered, as far as I was concerned, was to seen shovelling red earth from the hole and look authentic on camera. I had to shovel for another ten minutes, carry the corpse of my character’s son lay him in the grave, cut, wait till he climbed out again and, on the roll of the cameras begin shovelling the soil back into the grave to cover it. In revenge, when the director finally shouted “Cut”, I ran over to Sneeze to give him a big hug and it was fun watching him flee for his dear crisp clean clothes!

I still wince with a little when I raise my arms to do little chores but I still smile at the memory of being in that quaint rural village with its simple happy folks, leisurely goats, friendly cast and crew and physical hard work. Till next week then. Have a great week everybody

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Rare Touch of Nature

A very hearty good week to everybody. I don’t know how many times you have to hear my excuses for not putting up posts when I should but things just happen sometimes to upset the cart. Don’t worry, it’s not just you; Nkem’s been on my neck about my posts as well and I say I can’t get a good story sitting in my couch; I have to go out and get it. She’s so anal about me getting things done on time. She should give me some peace! Yeah right. Darn it! This means I have to tell a good enough story if I don’t want you guys eating me raw. Hm, let me see… Okay, here goes… Once upon a time two weeks past, when lizards had multiplied from ones and twos to hordes scurrying about scratching all over tin roofs and bobbying their heads over termite infested faggots for fuel, there was a young(ish) man who dared venture from his concrete hut in his concrete village screaming with mechanised wagons and bicycles to the much more serene and chirpy villages in the very borders of his living memory.

A tad melodramatic I know, so I’ll come down to earth in plain English. We went to shoot the bulk of a movie in the rural parts of Ogun state. It was supposed to be a sort of fantasy horror movie and we were looking for a very lonely derelict hut in the middle of nowhere. The director, Moses Iwang, whom we fondly call Sneeze – don’t ask me why – who, gladly, takes his work seriously, had insisted on a really spooky location to generate the eerie feel and to make the ‘crappy’ actors’ (us) work easier. The bloody nerve of him! This ‘aesthetic’ feel drove us from the comfort of our homes in Lagos to this remote village four hours away in our own cars! The upstart even had the nerve to leave his own car behind – it was too posh to go – and ride in Uche Jombo’s. The good thing is she made him drive for the entire duration of the shoot. Funny how much liberties people take when they know they are loved – and it does irk me to admit that he is good people.

We got there at about four in the evening, disembarked and looked around us. It was a peaceful village. There were no electric poles in sight and it was refreshing to see chickens pecking for food all over the place. I watched in amusement as a hen with her brood of chicks ‘snarled’ at one of the local dogs that ventured too near one of her errant children. It tucked its tail and slunk away and I couldn’t help wondering what the dog was thinking at the time. “Time was when you wouldn’t dare try that with me if not for these meddlesome humans who force this anomaly upon us.” Not too far away a large she-goat butted a much younger he-goat (probably her grandson) that had been amorously sniffing at her rear end. Half naked children played with wild abandon with one another while some older ones of ages nine to twelve herded docile looking cows to juicier pastures on the outskirts of the village. There weren’t many adults to be seen except for the nursing mothers and the aged men and women. It was quite easy to spot the aged women on account of the fact that they walked about topless, stretched triangular folds of skin flapping over their ribcages as they walked with still very sturdy legs. We stared bemused at them wondering why it took them so long to get their kits off. I guess they followed the maxim of exclusivity being the key to increasing demand. Perhaps they chose to bare their spent reserves as a reminder to the much younger ones of what fate had in store for them and for the discerning ones among them to make hay while the sun still shone.

After taking in our fill of the environment and making jokes (the silly Sneeze asked me to take a chance with one of the rare topless beauties and maybe I’d get lucky – idiot!), Chioma Akpotha even twitted about us time travelling back to 1935, we went off into the spooky grove to commence work. Sadly I have run out of the space allotted to me in this post so maybe I’ll talk about the rest next week so until then, do have a great week ahead guys! A bientot!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I am so sorry!

Good week everyone!
I really haven't been keeping to my blog post deadlines and I am so sorry. For the past few weeks things have been crazy but I'll be back.
Hmmm, I guess its time for me to run through the woods... topless (I really need to step up my workout plan) - Pray for me!

Have a wonderful week everybody and stay safe!