Vegas and life after

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Time moves so speedily, I almost cannot fathom that I was in Las Vegas 3 weeks ago.

Vegas was laid-back, which is exactly how we wanted it. We saw JLO’s All I Have show at Planet Hollywood, and kicked off our evenings with glasses of fizz in our penthouse.(we stayed at the Aria). I stocked up on all the luscious smelling things at LUSH and luxuriated in relaxing baths in our jacuzzi tub.Other things I savored were afternoons spent by the pool (a can of corona in hand),or sitting and reading in my little nook in my room, overlooking a dynamic view of the Vegas Strip.

Two restaurants were noteworthy this time around. Andrea’s,Steve Wynn’s latest restaurant had the most mouth watering kumamoto oysters and is evocatively designed with a pop art installation of Wynn’s wife, Andrea’s eyes. Herbs and Rye was quite far off the strip but certainly lived up to its best bar in America accolade. The lobster tail with garlic mash was also a great choice on my part.

I’m back to navigating Lagos life and boy does it have its challenges! I have been feeling low-spirited and in a cul-de-sac. When I get the blues I often guilt trip myself by actively expressing  gratitude but that has so far proven futile.

All has not been bleak to be honest. I’ve been more adept at seeking any kind of cultural stimulation, directly or indirectly. For instance, I’ve finally seen the films Moonlight, Julieta(been so long since I watched a film by Almodóvar),Beasts of No Nation and Captain Fantastic, all of which I thoroughly recommend.

Reading wise, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions is the most intelligent and crucial thing I have read recently.  Alain de Botton’s Art as Therapy,although quite different and somewhat controversial (the discourse is weak and ruminates blindly in parts), comes a close second.

An amazing thing that has happened to me, is meeting a really kind,sweet and interesting man. I don’t know what he will mean to me long term, but last Sunday we had a date, which we spent sitting on a bench in a room at an art gallery chatting, oblivious to time slipping by….finally leaving 6 hours later! I’m almost okay with not quite knowing what the future holds and enjoying the moments we spend in each other’s company.

LONDON TOWN

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I really do cherish the quiet moments in which I find myself here again, sharing simple stories about life and realizing that foremost and selfishly I am writing for myself,just to remember.

A fair chunk of last month was sublimely spent in London town, revisiting old haunts and discovering new ones.  I was happy to spend time drinking chocolatey tasting lattes at Monocle Cafe, be it on a late afternoon accompanied by Cohen’s poetry, or early Sunday mornings with one of my best friends. I find the café atmospheric in a really understated way.

Another new discovery was The Koppel Project, which is a hub space that contains Phaidon’s only UK bookshop. I found a book on collecting art that I had trailed the ends of central London in search of to no avail, so I was pretty pleased about that.

Halfway through the month, my family left the harsh cold of my favourite city for Las Vegas!

The past few weeks (part 2)

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The word nesting harbors imaginings of warmth and coziness, often ascribed to winter. But I wish to paint an alternate picture. One of  late afternoons at Gail’s, spent reading  a book,over freshly brewed iced berry tea with rose and pistachio cake. Sometimes I’ll have the oat,pecan and cranberry cookie,which is one of my favourite things to eat in the world.

Over the course of summer, I read a succession of great literature.While at Daunt Books on Haverstock Hill some weeks ago, I found myself holding pleasant conversation with a well read Canadian man. We found out that we shared a mutual love of James Baldwin and so he fished around the bookshop to find me the last copy of Baldwin’s Another Country,which I purchased in a blink. It was no Giovanni’s Room,but it was uncomfortable and genius.

During my trip to Oxford last month, my sister took me to Blackwell’s where I purchased a hardcover copy of Alain de Botton’s The Course of Love. I had read his somewhat prequel to the book On Love some months back, which I found to be beautifully philosophical, albeit a grim take on first love. The Course of Love felt like a maturation and practical understanding of human interaction. I still find myself picking up the book and feeling absolutely breathless by how this man puts words together.

Two evenings ago I devoured the last pages of Chogozie Obioma’s The Fishermen. Obioma’s strength lies in offering quite a varied narrative of Nigeria, than the international literary world is used to.He also plays this magic trick of conjuring up such strong and beautiful metaphors.

It is how past 5am and I am certain that the morning light will meet me here,if I write some minutes longer .I am however  glad that I have briefly covered the solid few books that will keep on living in my head.

 

 

the past few weeks (part1)

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The past 6 weeks or so have been experienced with eager eyes and embraced with much gusto. There was such an outpouring of goodness,that I have been massively encouraged to soldier on in this crazy marriage with life.

After a potential job opportunity fell through last week(one I had spent weeks working terribly hard at), I retreated to the comfort of my bed,pizza,good friends and chocolate cake. I did not even have the willpower to go outside on a particular day,much less draw my curtains open. But then I had booked to see Naomi Kawase’s Sweet Bean at the ICA the next day and I didn’t want to waste the ticket.Sitting in a dark room alone,with strangers dispersed around me, I began to find myself again. As I walked out into the evening light after the film, I saw a text message relaying some great news(totally unrelated to the job), in the charming way that life often affirms itself.

At that moment, even with strong residual feelings of hurt, I knew that the work opportunity had fallen away from my grasp, not because I wasn’t intelligent enough,but because it was an opportunity that never belonged to me. And I don’t wish to have anything that isn’t truly mine. In the past I have looked at things I once longed for  and arduously manipulated into fruition,with feelings of void and disappointment. That has taught me not to force anything that doesn’t feel right from the depths of my heart.

I thought I would write about this beautiful summer in several short and sweet posts.

One afternoon I visited my sister at Oxford University. We ordered such delish tapas and I had a top notch white sangria at Kaz bar. The sun shone rather luminously…

I have been quite enjoying

My sparse attempts at writing have culminated into months of not writing here at all.It is not that I haven’t had anything to say, it is just that I have mostly been caught up with work,which has been more of a priority than ever before. As a result,things are going quite well and I might be moving soon, to take up a great position,working closely with a CEO I admire a great deal. There is so much I wish to say about the politics of the day for example,but having felt so downcast by the order of things,such as America’s institutional racism alongside the leniency of gun control laws ,I feel it is best to keep the faith in my heart,as opposed to getting upset over and over again.

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For now I have left a rainy Lagos for an even wetter Blighty. The haphazard gallop between the vestiges of colder months and summer, is actually a nice compromise. Lately I feel as partial towards an evening spent in good company, as I am to cosying with a beer and book,on my loveseat by the tall windows. I recently finished E.M Forster’s A Room With A View, which I believe should be one of those rite of passage books for any girl. In a somewhat related vein,I discovered that the singer Ameriie(who also happens to be a writer signed to Bloomsbury) has a YouTube channel that is a sort of book sanctuary for us bibliophiles. She has so much depth and is really smart, so I have been quite enjoying her point of view.

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Something else I have been quite enjoying is Lanka‘s Green Tea with Rose Petals. Lanka has a beautiful little shop just off Finchley road, located in Goldhurst Terrace.It is usually the perfect respite,after seeing my dentist who is located a short distance away.All their teas are purely Ceylonese and I would say that I’m averaging about 5 cups a day!

I’m not one for summer fashion,which often translates to garish and sometimes badly made garments, with a wardrobe life of only a few months, so this summer seemed to be the perfect time to alternatively invest in my mind.I enrolled for a course on collecting art at Central Saint Martins,which I am ridiculously ecstatic about. That being said,the  other day I picked up a pair of Gucci mid-heel horsebit sandals,which were the only pair left,in my size and on sale. As luck would have it, the shop manager was able to knock a further amount off the sale price and I walked away with a classic pair of sandals that will be kissing dancefloors for seasons to come.

DUBAI

In his book The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton writes about how our experience of a new city is often tainted with the dispositions we bring from our home cities.  This is a trait I have tried to counter. So on this trip, I found a way for my home concerns( work, further travel plans,recovering from an acute respiratory infection), to be in communion with the present. Having done that, I have loved this city very much.

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My story of Dubai is not one that involves towering hotels and floors paved with gold. This is because I generally describe myself as a paper bag princess(the kind of woman who is not above a meal of store bought ramen, accompanied by a flute of veuve cliquot,enjoyed whilst leaning against a countertop:) ).That’s just my vibe.I wanted my Dubai to have a soul and so I went looking for it. Upon arrival at the airport, I stopped by Dubai mall,where I headed to the Gucci boutique to pick up a pair of sunglasses from their new collection. The mall was rather overwhelming in the way it tries to be anything and everything.(While I was pleased to try some coffee from Tim Horton’s for example, I would rather have had that experience in Canada).

I went to my apartment which was just across the street from the mall,just off Sheikh Zayed road. A naturally bright dig with a rooftop pool that over the next few days, my best friend and I would spend hours contentedly swimming in and lounging around.

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In the following days, I spent a fair amount exploring Old Dubai.My first visit was one in which we embraced the hustle and bustle of the strictly regulated Gold Souk in Deira. After much haggling, I left with a simple gold bracelet for 1500 dirhams ( £300) and although not pictured, it was such a fun experience. Our next venture to Old Dubai was to the Al Fahidi neighbourhood,which is traditionally beautiful, due to its twisting alley ways and old buildings made of materials like gypsum,stone and sandalwood. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of its silence at times, except for birds casually chirping.

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We stumbled upon the Coffee museum, which was entirely curious,especially for a fairly new lover of coffee. After a peruse we headed to our actual destination, the XVA Art Hotel, a boutique hotel and art destination which has hosted presentations for fashion houses like Chanel,Fendi and Louis Vuitton and boasts three romantic and tranquil courtyards,one of which moonlight’s as the establishment’s vegetarian cafe.

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I can confirm that the cafe’s mint lemonade is just as described,legendary. Between us we shared a veggie thali and a beetroot rosti with sweet potato chips,accompanied by a carrot hummus dip that was delectable.

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When planning my trip, I had contemplated spending a full day in Abu Dhabi,because it is the emirate with the most rapidly evolving art scene. Both the Louvre and Guggenheim,currently have building projects in the works there.However, I was fairly disappointed that their opening dates have been elusive and subject to change,which meant I could not visit. I did however find something of much character at the XVA,which was the Iranian artist Morteza Zahedi’s Toy Story exhibition. An exhibit in which every piece metaphorically alludes to childhood memories.For me personally,it was reminiscent of Walt Disney’s 1940s film Fantasia,which is the most beautiful blend of dark and eerie animation,accompanied by classical music.For this reason I concluded that the exhibition was the perfect ode to the peter-pan disposition in all of us.

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Le couer est belle, qu’est-ce  que tu penses?

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I should mention that this teddy is not a part of the exhibit, but was found at the neighbouring gallery of Make Art Cafe, Al Serkal’s Heritage House.

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When I researched the best destination for coffee in Dubai, Espresso Lab was the synonymous choice, both from hearsay and online.Located on the ground floor of the serene Hundred Wellness Center in Dubai,  a haven of shady trees,where sunshine sneakily kisses one’s skin, it was the ideal environment to be schooled on their coffee and the brand’s integrity. We both had an 8 ounce of Costa Rica, which translates as a latte made from Costa Rican coffee beans,which can be stirred for a softer effect on the palate.

Espresso Lab also has a policy of no milk alternatives and sugar,preferring to guide the customer through a genuine coffee experience.It was by far the best coffee I have ever had. We befriended the barista Freddie, who had such delicious tales about his passion for coffee, spanning from his home of Uganda, coffee fields in Ethiopia and currently Dubai. We were reluctant to leave. Such experience felt like inhaling precious air and holding it in…..not quite wanting to let it go.

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And so there is my Dubai. Patches of serenity in the bustling desert. Many fantastic meals on the patio of Cafe Bateel( two of those instances are simultaneously  pictured above). A late night at the standard hangout Reem Al-Bawadi, red wine and good music at Tribeca, a subpar lunch at Tom & Serg.

Speaking of Tom&Serg(pictured below),I found the Shakashuka delicious,although the accompanying bread was rock hard.That would have been forgivable, if the tacos weren’t also inconsistent due to their finicky assemblage and prawns nestled in a sponge of oily batter.In addition,the industrial space felt too contrived,thus failing to deliver the cool ambience I had hoped for.The addressing system in Dubai is quite a challenge, so leaving your part of town in search of good food should come with an honest word-of-mouth.

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All that being said, I have much to be grateful for. I am pondering just that,as I watch the sunset from my balcony and contemplate walking over to Dubai Mall to watch the fountains (which I find beautiful and emotional in equal measure) and pick up a thing or two from a gallery I spotted. I am lucky and I cannot wait to be back in a few months, for the most beautiful wedding.

london in february

February is in transit to March.

Sunny days deceptively mask the bitter cold here in London.Within a month I have lived so much and here I am to write all that comes to mind.When everyday felt like simultaneously jumping through a furnace, I promised myself that I would still trust life. And even when it felt like my soul had been squeezed of every ounce of faith,I continued to hope on.

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I gave up on a love that wasn’t lovin’. It turns out that a verb is ineffectual without action.

I made several leaps career wise and although I wouldn’t exactly say that they were smooth sailing,I didn’t land on my bum.I cannot wait to try again.

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My curiosity about horology was amplified when I bought an 18 carat yellow gold and steel Cartier Tank Francaise,which felt terribly grown up and deserving.I had previously worn a Gucci timepiece that was aesthetically beautiful and had been a present to myself after my advanced law degree 6 years ago.So it was a move from a purely aesthetic brand,in terms of luxury watches, to one with historical craftsmanship. What I adore most about the concept of time, is that it is a journey through knowledge,the same reason why I love books and story telling.I not only adore the noble luxury of Cartier,but also how the Santos watches were revolutionary,by deviating from pocket-styled timepieces. And how the Tank watches introduced a square look to timepieces,influenced by the Renault Army Tanks of World War I.My experience at Cartier in Selfridges was indulgent and Sylvie who assisted me (and gave me a complimentary jewellery pouch for travel) has become a friend.

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My sister tuned 29 and we celebrated by drinking champagne and shopping at Chanel.We saw The Book of Mormon which was hilarious and a little uncomfortable(I am religious after all). A little group of us had supper at Hakkasan and read amusing Chinese New Years messages that were strung on the walls of the restaurant.We ended the night with coffee patron shots and a lot of dancing to Diana King 🙂

On an afternoon that was deceptively spring like, a darling friend and I had some wine and pizza at a really chic Italian place off Kings Road. A prelude to champagne at Harrods with some boisterous men.

And as persistent faith would have it,I got the last ticket to see the Painting of The Modern Garden exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts last night(what luck! because I leave for Lagos tomorrow night). It was breathtaking. Monet’s work has always been ‘other wordly’, to me.I also discovered artists I wasn’t familiar with,like Santiago Rusinol and Emil Nolde.

What were perpetual daydreams are now within my grasp.