I must have been filled with a little too much adrenaline on Friday when I sped out of my apartment, pedalling with all strength and style as I hurried towards the University. A few blocks away from my building, I began a little display of daredevilry and found myself in the grass, a few feet away from the depth of the lake. I didn’t fall in, and it was a relief – not because I won’t be able to get out (I can swim), but because I had my back-pack and it had my laptop and other important documents. I would be a shame to lose all of them in such moment of playfulness.
I can only blame adrenaline because there was no reason why I should have been speeding so much at the time, or standing up on the bike while riding, or – as I discovered while laying flat out on the grass – stretching one hand instinctively and without need to touch an overhead tree branch as I rode under it. By the time I brought my hand back on the bike handles, I had lost total control and was doing a 360 degree tumble from the bike track/road onto the nearby grass – luckily. The lake was still a few feet away, and I had a helmet on. There were no cuts or broken bones, but there was a little bruise, and a dirty spot on my cream chino’s trousers. It was some relief to find that there were no passers-by at all - male or worse female students – who could have had no choice but to laugh or giggle at me as I tried vainly to pretend that all was fine and I didn’t have grass slivers somewhere in my mouth. The supernatural almost always kicks in to save me from undeserved embarrassment. I’m grateful.
I laid there for a while, staring up at the clear sky, then stood up, dusted my shirt, and rode on to the University in style. I did tell you I lead an interesting life, didn’t I?
A while ago in Ibadan Nigeria, before I began my Fulbright programme, I’d shared my fascination with the ìyeyè with friends on Facebook, and the response was enlightening. A few of them hadn’t seen it before nor enjoyed it’s delicious taste. I was discovering for the first time that the fruit which looked like a juicy berry that as little children we enjoyed picking up from under its tree as it falls down ripe during the summer was not as popular in all of Yorubaland as I had previously thought. There were some people who grew up in parts of the country without even ever having heard of it.
I’ve now developed a similar fascination in the United States when I discovered the fact that not as many people as I thought know what plantain is or what it tastes like. Interestingly, even Reham the Egyptian has displayed a similar kind of ignorance which is understandable when I put it in mind that Egypt is in Africa’s Sahara region, perhaps not a place conducive to growing such food crops. At the get-together we had at Rudy’s house on Tuesday for my birthday, we inevitably got around to discussing food, and I made another startling discovery that America has no such food as yam. What they called yam here is actually Irish potato, which I’ve had the pleasure of having as a good meal of potato salad.
American Red Grapes
Now grapes. It has been a good pleasure first to discover that one could buy and enjoy a bunch of red table grapes here for a far, far less amount than one pays for it back home. The first (and inevitably last) time that I asked how much a bunch of grapes cost in Lagos Nigeria, I believe it was between $10 and $40, which is only understandable when I know that we neither plant nor “produce” it there. They are imported. And secondly that no matter how hard I try to shake the thought, I can’t but conclude that the American grapes are a sort of distant family to my Nigerian ìyeyè even though they taste a little differently, and the ìyeyè has a seed in its core which the grapes don’t. They look much alike, and they both are berries with a juicy inside and a soft covering. I don’t know much of Agriculture, but I won’t bet against the fact of this similarity. Help anyone?