Even though my bag was tampered with on the flight, and only one padlock made it with me to the States, on checking my luggage two days ago, I found that nothing was missing there. I wasn’t expecting anything to miss. Maybe they just opened it to see if I was carrying any bad stuff. My garri is intact, so is my ground pepper, but now, I am beginning to question why I brought them at all. Considering that food is almost the cheapest thing to find over here, it looks like garri may have to suffice only as an exhibit for my food/cultural class when I get to Illinois. Or not. We shall find out pretty soon. Right now, I have not been able to imagine how easy it is going to be to soak garri into cold water during winter and actually eat it, or recommend it to others. Thanks Mum.

Looking back, there are several things I should have brought instead.

1. Specs. While walking through the aisle of the “Colgate” supermarket yesterday, I saw a stand of dark shade spectacles which we in Nigeria would ordinary buy off an aboki vendor for a price starting from 300naira. I couldn’t literally believe my eyes when the price tag on one of those read about $22.70 or so. Okay. 300naira (usually written as N300) is equal only to about $2, and $22.70 is equal to like N3632 at the rate of N160 to the dollar. And that is not the most expensive one.

2. Umbrella. If I had known that the raining season in Nigeria was a sensible pointer to the season in the United States as well, I would have saved myself the trouble of a few wet outings. This is the United States after all, and we can not call on the Sango priest to “hold the hand of the rain” preventing it from falling on one part of town. On the bright side, it’s raining only water. Not snow, yet.

3. Toothpaste. Well, if you read my earlier post on buying Close-up, this one shouldn’t be hard for you to fathom. In spite of all the signs: “Bigger size, better value”, “Anticavity flouride toothpaste”, “cleans, whitens and freshens”, “with mouthwash”, “Freshening red gel” among many others competing for my attention on it’s packaging, I can’t help but feel that a product that goes all the way to try to appeal to me must have something intrinsically lacking in character. I could be wrong.

4. A digital camera. Yea, I know. Dumb of me, right? My earlier bought cannon camera had miraculously walked out of my room a few days before I left home. Those things sometimes have a mind of their own. But now that I have my Nokia phone fully charged, I take it along with me as my digital camera. At least until Saturday when I get to go to the mall for a little shopping. Watch out for some great photos. Plus, lucky us, there is a commisioned photographer (the director’s son) who has been taking so many shots. He has promised to upload them all online and provide us links.

5. A table clock. Not for anything fancy, but if I knew I’d have so much space as I now have in the lodging at Brown University, I’d have brought that to put on my table. And I would have set the time to Nigerian time so that I know immediately what time it is at home when my phone rings. Right now, I have to check my mobile phone’s world time, or check my laptop for the world clock. Not so bad.

And speaking of time and time zones, I have found it rather convenient that when it is 7.30pm here, it is 12.30 over in Nigeria, when MTN’s Extra Cool begins. How nice to find that people could actually call me from Lagos or Ibadan at night without having to pay a dime. And I get to receive it at 7.30pm and not at 12.30am when I should be having deserved sleep. Yea, I can now receive your Extra Cool calls, but when it’s 10pm here, I gorra go to bed, and you be thinking of doing same. But I’m always glad that we can share the jetlags together. You stay up all night to call me while I still struggle with the six hours of my biological time clock still struggling to get even from all the traveling with the sun.

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