21 May 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

A healthy, altruistic Sunday evening walk turned dangerous in Onike Yaba Lagos

I feel lucky to be back home this Sunday evening with no harm done to me and with all my possessions intact. And I'm starting to seriously consider enrolling in some self-defense training because I know I might not be as lucky as I was today in future.

Whenever someone in my network gets attacked by robbers, I always feel fortunate about the fact that I've never been assaulted in all my time in Lagos, let alone robbed. The worst nuisance I had experienced on Lagos roads was obstinate beggars and maybe, nasty bus conductors. Other than that, I've been okay. Alas, fate decided that today was to be the end of my lucky streak.

Around 6 pm, I stepped out of the house where I'd been all day to have my first meal of the day. My destination was White House buka at Sabo, Yaba. I boarded an Okada whose route to Sabo went through the Onike area of Yaba. During this Okada journey, I made brief eye contact with one peculiar character. He's a raggedy old man who hawks mopsticks around the Onike-Sabo-Alagomeji area of Yaba.

The first time I noticed him in the area was some two years ago when I lived and worked in Yaba. Seeing him every single day on the way to/back from work, doing the same apparently fruitless activity in his old age touched me deeply. So deeply that I actually considered eking out some living space for him in my then en-suite room. In the end, though, my kindness did not make it beyond my heart. Despite the persistent urge to do so, I failed to reach out to the man until I moved out of Yaba after quitting my job.

Today, over two years later, he's still in the same 'trade'; same apparently unrewarding trade. From the look of things, the trade has not improved his life to any degree. Quite poignant, if you ask me (watch this video on my favourite YouTube channel to learn how to pronounce the word, "poignant").

We made eye contact in the brief moment that my Okada stopped just in front of him for traffic. I fumbled through the right pocket of my shorts for the 100 Naira notes the Okada man had given me for change. But before I found them, it was time to move. However, I made up my mind that I was going to have my first interaction with this old man today.


Approaching the old mopstick selling man after lunch at White House
Approaching the old mopstick selling man after lunch at White House

After downing my jollof rice, meat and water at White House, I retraced my steps back to the Birrel avenue junction where the old man sat behind the barracks fence (blue dot in above image). I walked up to him and as soon as I was close enough, I asked him how many mopsticks he had sold today. He sprung up excitedly from his seating position, regarding me as Oga (or something of the sort).

I guess he didn't get my question even after I repeated it two more times. Because he went on to tell me the price of the two categories of mopsticks he carries: 500 Naira for the small one and 700 Naira for the big one. I asked him to show me the small one and the big one for conversation's sake. He pointed them out to me in his stack of about a dozen mopsticks + broomsticks. I failed to see any significant difference though; maybe because I wasn't paying attention. I handed him two of the three 100 Naira notes I had on me and continued on my way towards my house. Of course, the old man was very thankful for my kindness.

Setting out of White House, I had planned to join a bus going to Abule Ijesha (nearest bus-stop to my house) once I was done with the old man. But it required me to walk backwards again to get to Sabo, the bus park. Since I had ample energy in me and a bit of free time on my hands, I took on the task of completing the approximately 2-kilometre distance back home on foot.

I was midway on Barikisu Iyede street when this scrawny looking young man with dreads called me from the other side of the road. He seemed to be greeting me like someone I knew. After a quick scan, however, I concluded that I had never met him. Nonetheless, I responded and waved back at him. This seemed to have excited him, judging from his body language, as he beckoned me to wait for him while he prepared to cross the road over to my side. I kept walking.

Before long, he was beside me on the edge of the road. He stopped me with a call and I obliged; I turned to face him, not wary of any danger. I thought worst case, he wants to share a pity story and ride on the back to ask for alms. As soon as we were face-to-face, I said, "How may I help you"? The rest of the conversation between us ensued as follows:

Him: "Bros, I'm just greeting you now".

Me: "Ok, that's fine. I already answered you now. Is there anything else I can do for you"?

He moves closer, touches my bare shoulder (I was wearing a tank top) a couple of times in an overly friendly gesture. This makes me feel very uncomfortable so I take two steps back, telling him with a straight face and stern voice: "Hey! Don't touch me. You don't know me"!

Him: "Bros. You be my guy o. Na why I say make I tell you say next time, make you no wear this kind colour again".

For a second, I look down at my tank top to confirm it wasn't camo or any other conspicuous colour associated with some occult group. It wasn't, so I was really confused at this point. Just when I was going to reply him, perhaps to ask for clarification, I saw in my peripheral vision, another young man cross over from the other side of the road to join us.

As soon as he was on our side of the road, the first thing he said was, ""Bros. How far! Do you know who I am"? At this point, I was sure this pair of guys were hoodlums and were up to no good. They'd had my attention for an entire minute and not said anything of import. Without as much as another word, I made an about turn and continued on my way home, in my regular brisk but confident pace. I definitely was not going to let this little threat rid me of my confidence. A quick look over my right shoulder a few seconds after let me know that I was being followed.

A map of Barikisu Iyede street, adjoining University road
A map of Barikisu Iyede street, adjoining University road

I'd say the malicious pair followed me for about 4 minutes before branching off the long stretch of road that Barikisu Iyede is. My hope was in getting to the police truck which is usually stationed on University road, just by the end of this street. During my walk, I was busy imagining how painful a stab wound could be and wondering if I'd still be able to defend myself after such an injury.

I was close to the NSPRI guest house (see the green spot in above map) when I looked back over my shoulders after about two minutes of ignoring the guys. I noticed the pair had disappeared from behind me. A second later, I saw them in the distance (see two red dots in above image), just as they were disappearing into Adesina street. Fantastic I thought, I got them off my back. A wave of relief hit me.

Any recommendations for effective self-defense training, so my heart rate won't go as high as it did yesterday due to my biology preparing me for the worst outcome? I'd be happy to hear from you.
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Hafiz Adewuyi

Lagos Nigeria to Salt Lake City Utah travel series

This is a list of all the posts in the subject series. Each post details one interesting bit of my one week trip to Salt Lake City in May 2017.

Salt Lake City, Utah, US seal
Salt Lake City, Utah, US seal

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Getting set for the Salt Lake City trip one day before take off (Friday)

Takeoff from Lagos to first layover, Doha Qatar with Qatar Airways (Saturday)

Arrival in the US and in Salt Lake City at almost midnight (Sunday)

First full day in Salt Lake City; this is gonna be awesome (Monday)

Lunch at Pat's Barbeque; too much meat! (Monday)

Discovering Salt Lake City BCycle Chapter - GreenBike (Tuesday)

Lunch at Lucky 13 Bar and Grill; Utah's best hamburger (Tuesday)

Shopping on Amazon (Tuesday)

An adventurous, almost tragic evening at City Creek, Salt Lake City, Utah (Tuesday)

Best Lunch Ever: Endless meat galore at Rodizio Brazilian grill (Wednesday)

Google Fiber office in Salt Lake City; super-speed internet, virtual reality (Wednesday)

Shopping day: Park City outlet stores, Walmart embarrassment (Thursday)

Snowy mountains at Snowbird Ski Resort, TGIF night out at Gracies (Friday)

How to beg: Charismatic homeless people in Salt Lake City (Saturday)

Desperate journey to a faraway club and my first/only Uber ride back (Saturday)

Time to say goodbye (Sunday)

The 14-hour layover at Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar ( Monday)

Welcome back; Murtala Muhammed International Airport! (Tuesday)

Lagos to Salt Lake City; grand summary
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Hafiz Adewuyi

An adventurous, almost tragic evening at City Creek, Salt Lake City, Utah

This article is part of my Lagos, Nigeria to Salt Lake City (SLC after this point), Utah, US series. Here's a list of all articles in my Lagos to Salt Lake City series. I promise you'll love every bit of it.

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Choreographing fountain at City Creek mall, Salt Lake City
Choreographing fountain at City Creek mall, Salt Lake City

After the day's activities on my second full day in SLC, I and my group headed for the Temple square and City creek mall. We hopped on the train at the Ballpark train (UTA Trax) station for free, even though we later found out that we were not in the free-zone and were expected to pay for the ride.

Oh well. Somehow, that knowledge didn't prompt me to stop my illicit free rides in SLC. I mean, they hardly ever check tickets. You're somehow expected for respect yourself and pay your fare before hopping on. Cute. Before you judge me, a train ticket in one direction, irrespective of your stop is $2.50. Oya, multiply it by 400 and go ahead to judge me for fare evasion. Meanwhile, that's like the cheapest means of transport.

Temple Square
Our first stop once we alighted the train was the Mormon (Church of the Latter Day Saints) Temple square. Here, after looking around for what was a little too long for me, a pair of Mormon sisters (each from a country where English is not widely spoken) took us on a tour around the magnificent temple square. We visited three different places one of which is the temple and another, the Tabernacle. The temple is the most sacred building in the complex.

We were taken into the tabernacle in which everything is allegedly made of wood because the builders were very poor. Getting admitted into the Mormon temple, however, requires a bit of an elaborate process, the most important step of which requires you to answer the question: "Do you think you're worthy to go into this temple"?

Lest I forget, I must mention a couple of notable thing about the Temple square. The attendants at the facility are all young ladies. Second, all the ladies were extremely friendly. Virtually all of the attendants whom I passed by approached me with a smile, introduced themselves and followed with the question: "Where are you from"? It was truly heart-warming to be treated so well by so many people. God bless the sisters at the Mormon temple square, Salt Lake City.


City Creek
Once out of the temple square, we all proceeded to the City Creek mall, which as the name implies is a shopping mall which is built over a naturally occurring creek. Creeks are naturally occurring, right?

Customer service island at City Creek mall, Salt Lake City
Customer service island at City Creek mall, Salt Lake City

The stores in this mall are high-class labels like Nordstrom and Macy's. Google, Microsoft and Apple are also well represented in the store. After a few minutes zombieing around with the group, I got weary of window shopping. Lucky enough, while we were all trudging along the first floor of the mall, I spotted a green bike stand very close to the mall. My heart leapt with joy. I knew at this point that I was gonna part from the group.


Parting from the group
It was not long before I dropped the bomb on my group about my desire to go off on my own. We quickly decided it was wise if we all agreed on a time to re-convene after splitting. I remember the group leader asking if I was sure that 30 minutes would do me for my bikexploration. "Definitely", I replied! Little did I know what fate had in store for me.

Feeling free as a bird, I traced my steps away from the group towards the ground floor. After about five minutes of stumbling around (I suck at navigation) the large mall, I found my way to the GreenBike station. Yaas!


Meeting Rusty And Megan
I brought out my Fidelity debit card from my grey fabric postman bag and used it to check out my choice bike from the station. While dragging the bike out of its lock, a young man and lady reached the station and before long, I could tell they were here to check out bikes as well. I waited for the guy to check out bikes for each of himself and the lady. Then from a safe distance, I said hello. The lady responded first; she was closer to me.

I went ahead to ask if they were biking for transport or for leisure and to my delight, it was for leisure. I told them I would like to tag along and after a few knowing glances at each other, they welcomed me to join them with an "ok". Yaas! Here I was, about to tick off the, "Explore Salt Lake City with locals on a bicycle" box, even though it never existed.

Off we went. The guy, Rusty led the way while we discussed a lot of things first of which was me answering the question, "where are you from"? I went on to find out the basic things about both Rusty and his lady friend, Megan (I never asked if they're in a relationship). Rusty is a final year Computer Engineering student at the nearby University of Utah and is a true local of Salt Lake City, having been there for most of his life. Megan, on the other hand, is not from Salt Lake City. She had come there for school and now, also works there.

I was loving this, you know, this unexpected date with two oyinbo people with whom I could relate easily. It was really exciting and just then, I remembered I had only thirty minutes to do this. I decided at that point not to let that cut my time with Rusty and Megan short. My plan was to make it back in time to the mall to inform my group of my intention to be away for a little longer than we'd agreed. I made this plan known to my new friends and they agreed to come with me. Cool!


Then tragedy struck
Our trio's bicycle ride came to a stop at one intersection where we were approached by a homeless girl. She offered to draw a portrait of Rusty and Megan using a pen on a paper, for some bucks. "It won't take more than ten minutes", she said. My new friends agreed and went on to take their positions on the sidewalk while the girl artist went to work. I took the time out to go check in my bicycle at the nearby GreenBike station (my subscription required a check-in every thirty minutes).

Once checked-in, I decided to check it out immediately so we could continue our trip once the artist was done with my friends. That was when I realised (after searching profusely through all of my clothing and bag) that my debit card (which had over $500 in it) was lost. To get a sense of how terrified I felt upon realising this, you should know that all you need do to use a payment card in the US is swipe it through a POS. No PIN authentication on most machines! Worse still, the only way for me to check out any bicycle on the GreenBike network was to use my card, which I had used to buy the subscription (online).


Finding it
I rushed back to the corner where my new friends sat on their bikes, being sketched in all of their youthful glory. With a forced smile on my face, I broke the news, eliciting an expression of sympathy from them. Then Rusty asked when I last saw the card. I told him I'd used it to check out the bike from the bike station by the City Creek mall. He then suggested that we retrace our steps through the same path we rode through to get here. "Awesome", I said, even though I had very little hope of ever seeing my loaded card again.

I waited a couple more minutes for the transaction between them and the artist to be completed. Rusty collected the paper with both sketches and after a momentary observation, he mentioned to Megan how he thought the sketches were nice. I was too flustered to take a careful look at the drawing but it looked tacky to me from my vantage. Trust me not to have mentioned that.

All three of us set off back in the direction from which we came. I let them know I was terrible with navigation and that I was fully reliant on them to take me back through the exact path we'd come. I offered to jug with them while they each slow-rode their bikes so they wouldn't have to drag their bikes all the way. After about 5 minutes of doing this and no luck, I got the idea to hotlist (block) my card. Worst case scenario, I don't find it and whoever lays their hands on it cannot use it for anything. Best case, I find it and call my team back in Lagos to help unblock it quickly.

My Fidelity Bank Dollar Debit Mastercard Card
My Fidelity Bank Dollar Debit Mastercard Card

Fortunately enough, Fidelity USSD banking *770# (my baby) works for free anywhere in the world with no internet connection (no roaming charges). So I dialled that card hotlisting short-code (*770*911#). I was not so sure it would list my dollar card, so I was excited when I saw the card number in the list of cards I could block. I quickly selected the card and entered my PIN to authenticate.

To my utter dismay, the status message was the very familiar "Service Provider Failure" which I had constructed with my own hands. I knew immediately why this happened because the causative bug came to my notice just a few days before I left Lagos.

No sooner had I seen this message than I heard in Rusty's voice, "there it is". That snapped me right out of my thoughts of how I was having a taste of my own bad medicine. I looked up from my phone and lying right ahead of me, near the top of the only flight of stairs which we'd gone through was my Fidelity dollar debit card in all its glorious colors. Rusty had asked earlier what the colour of the card was, probably why he was able to spot it first while I was distracted.

I totally wanted to give someone a hug at this moment. And I was touched at the core of my heart by the kindness and support that Rusty and Megan had given to me, a stranger who they'd known for less than an hour. Without them, there was an infinitesimal chance that I'd have ever found my lost debit card.


The Adventurous Radical

I picked it up, placed it securely in my postman bag and continued towards the mall with my friends (they opted to continue with me), full of thanks for how kind they had been. It occurred to me how it already was almost an hour after I first split-off from my group. I mentioned to my new friends how everyone is probably furious with me right now for keeping them waiting. To make matters worse, one member of the group kept her wallet in my bag and so, was pretty much shopping-handicapped while I was away.

Five minutes later, I reunited with my group. As I'd anticipated, they were all furious with me for keeping them waiting for so long. I apologised repeatedly; though I was careful to keep the story of the temporal loss of my card from them. No. I could not show any signs of not being able to take care of myself with what I was about to say.

I'm sure they could not see it coming before I dropped the bomb on them. "I want to stay back and do some more cycling around with my new friends", I said. I quickly followed with an, "I'll be okay", feigning a reassuring smile. No one argued with me, even though their unanimous dissent with my decision to stay out late alone in a city I had been in for only two days was palpable. Almost 8 pm.

It didn't help that earlier in the day, the group leader had shared a story of how a Congolese (African) guy had been shot dead by cops in the area, the last time he (group leader) was in Salt Lake City. He had mentioned though, that it was a drug-trafficking issue, so I was not really bothered, knowing it was not a purely racist shooting.


Finding my way back home
I reunited with Rusty and Megan and we went on to cycle the City Creek mall environs for the next 45 minutes before calling it a day. During this phase of cycling, we stopped by a TV studio with see-through walls on the ground floor of a building. A small group of people had gathered to watch a TV news recording in real life through the transparent glass. It was something being behind the camera of a live news session and seeing the text stream along the teleprompter.

I wasn't sure how I was going to get back to my hotel but I wasn't that bothered. After saying our goodbyes, Rusty pointed me to the nearby train station, seeing as I was headed in the wrong direction. I walked onto the waiting platform and noticed there were only thirty minutes left for the trains to halt operation for the day.

There are 3 train lines that run through the Salt Lake city: Red, Green and Blue. I remember we had taken the blue line from our hotel area to the Mormon temple area. So, I waited for the blue train going in the opposite direction (as my group came in) to arrive at the station. That took about ten minutes. Next, I had to determine where to stop. To do this, I had to remember the number of stops done by the train which had brought us in earlier in the day. I settled at 3.

When I alighted at the third stop, I looked around and nothing looked familiar. The area was totally residential, with low lights and no one in sight. After wandering for a few minutes, I figured I must have counted the stops wrong. So I walked back to the nearby train station and waited for the next train that was going back in the opposite direction. I allowed this train take me two stops backwards. Still, nothing in the area looked familiar.

Night temperature was about five degrees below day temperature (which is quite cool). Hence, at this point, my palm needed a bit of warming love. Also, I was tired both in body and spirit as my despair was growing. I walked somberly to the seat on the station platform. There were about four other people in the station area at this time and I was starting to fear for my safety. I took a seat nonetheless.


The Fallen Angels
The closest to me were a homeless-looking man and another young lady that didn't look too healthy to me. After a minute or so, I summoned up the courage to ask the man for directions. I mentioned the name of the hotel and mentioned that it's very close to the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel (I hear Obama once stayed at this Sheraton).

Turns out he wasn't very sure how to get there, so he beckoned to the lady. The lady turned out to be my heaven-sent angel because as soon as the man briefed her, she turned to me and asked: "close to Mig (that's how they say Mac) Donalds, right"? "Yeah, yeah", I said excitedly. There's a McDonalds outlet right beside the Crystal Inn Hotel where I stayed during my time in Salt Lake City.

She then went ahead to tell me the closest station (Courthouse) to the hotel was just one stop away in the forward direction. I thanked both of them briefly and hopped on the next train as soon as it arrived. After a smooth one minute ride in a near-empty train cabin, I arrived at CourtHouse, as announced by the female computer voice. With a silent prayer in my heart that I would be able to find my way back 'home' from here, I alighted the train.

Turns out the lady was right. After walking for less than ten minutes, I could see my hotel straight ahead. I was thankful that I didn't have to sleep in the cold streets that night because of course, the thought had crossed my mind. It was not until almost midnight before I stepped foot in my hotel room for the last time that day.
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27 April 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

DSTV packages and channels in Nigeria

My end goal is to make it easy to select a new DSTV package based on your preference of channels via an online tool. Creating this post is the first step in that direction. I got the data from a page on DSTV website. I'm not sure how accurate the data is since the page was created way back in 2015. But that's the best source I was able to find online and I saw an indication that it was updated in March 2017.

The extra value added by this post versus the one on the DSTV website is that here, you can search for the channel name. Let me keep quiet on the selfish reasons why I'm doing this. But trust me, I can't wait for those results to manifest.

If you've ever asked yourself the question, "Does DSTV <packagename e.g. Premium> package contain <DSTV channel e.g. Nat Geo Wild channel 182>?", then this post definitely contains the answer to your question.


DSTV logo

Using this data, I will eventually create a web page on which users can select some channels and get in return, a ranking of packages containing all or most of the choice channels. Users will be able to rank the package results by search relevance (number of matched channels) and price.

DSTV NIGERIA PACKAGES AND CHANNELS

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8 April 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

Caught watching porn in a Lagos office

Adams Oshiomole (A Nigerian politician), purportedly receiving a blowjob from a woman in bikinis

That up there (the uncensored version) is the picture which hit me the moment I opened my office Whatsapp group last Friday afternoon. I just could not believe my eyes. This has got to be the most eventful occurrence around me this year. The poster of the picture (let's call him Staff) is not in my address book. So, the first thing I did was click the number on the post which led me to his Whatsapp profile and fortunately, he had a DP. Yahoo!

It took a while after this before anyone else posted anything on the group. I guess that like me, everyone else was shocked and just decided to pretend that nothing had happened. In fact, as soon as I confirmed the identity of this hapless staff, I deleted the picture from my Whatsapp thread. A colleague also reached me ( a group admin) to see if I could delete the picture centrally, so as to limit the spread. Unfortunately, Whatsapp does not have that feature.

The next post in the group was that of my second-line manager who is functionally the most senior staff on the Whatsapp group. The post said: "Staff, you will be sanctioned for this". Then addressing Staff's first-line supervisor, "Manager, write him a query immediately".  When I saw this, I combusted in fury from right where I was seated.

My thoughts

I get it, manager. You're shocked. I know how you feel.

  • But Staff did not ask to be in this group in the first place. He's in this group because company authority mandates him to be in the name of god-knows-what-bullshit
  • Obviously, this was an accident. He was clearly not trying to delight us with a shocking photoshopped picture of Oshiomole receiving a blowjob
  • Isn't the embarrassment and social ridicule from 100+ colleagues whom he will have to deal with on a daily basis already enough punishment for him?
  • When you sanction him, what exactly would you be punishing him for? Having an obscene picture on his phone? Do you agree with me that this was an accident? If you do and then argue with me that it's because this occurred during office hours when he should have been focused on work, then I would ask you to answer sincerely if your reaction would have been any different had this happened outside of work hours, or even on a weekend
  • He did not opt into this group in the first place! In a more structured environment, I'm sure there would be a T&C guiding the reaction to such a mishap
Let's face it. You're just responding instinctively to shock. I acknowledge your shock. I'm also shocked and you have a right to be shocked and to react to shock. But you're management for a reason. You're expected to be an expert at making good decisions. Take a step back and think about it. What if the victim of this mistake was someone who was more dear to your heart than Staff is? Is this the same way you would have reacted?


P.S.
What do you think? Let me know, especially if you think my tendency towards forgiveness in this scenario is too liberal.
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Hafiz Adewuyi

Buy good quality t-shirts online in Lagos/Nigeria at the right price

TL;DR: Just click here to go to Fasho online t-shirt store and order your #slay t-shirt right away.

"Not every time scold a business in your articles Hafiz. Sometimes, be nice please and commend someone"
 - Anoymous

Well. Since I already rank well for suits in Nigeria, I might as well aim to do the same for t-shirts. So, here we go.

At least, five times within the past six months, I've approached Google with the sole intention of finding a good place to buy t-shirts online. More or less, an e-commerce store that focuses solely on t-shirts. T-shirts are my choice piece of clothing because they're easy to wear, easy to clean and generally need no ironing #lowMaintenance. And I want to show off my lack of a pot belly. Yes, online stores like Jumia and Konga sell t-shirts and everything else on the surface of this satanic earth. But I found that the price of t-shirts on those platforms can be quite varied and are generally on the high side.


#Slaying 😎😎😎 in my Fasho t-shirt at the Geeks and Grills meetup in Lagos #geeksAndGrills

Each of the times I tried, my Google search generally came back void. The closest I found to a niche t-shirt store in Nigeria was T-shirt factory. I was excited when I saw the name but on visiting the website, I found out that they only do custom t-shirts in bulk. T-shirt factory was definitely not the e-commerce store I was looking for.

Early this March was when I happened upon Fasho t-shirt store. They'd been mentioned in the daily Techcabal newsletter which I read almost every day. As soon as I saw it, I rushed off to check the website out. Let me just cut to the chase, I was impressed. Modern, simple and intuitive UI.

The first and only thing you can do on the site's homepage is to select your t-shirt size: Small (S), Medium (M), Large (L) or Extra Large (XL). As soon as you make a choice from the drop-down list of sizes, the site loads up what I would describe as an endless array of t-shirts. T-shirts of different colours, different designs and different styles, with the price of the shirts ranging between 2500 and 3000 Naira.

After a few minutes of scrolling down as far as I could through the photo grid of t-shirts, I finally made two picks, entered my delivery details and opted for POD (pay-on-delivery). Interestingly, delivery fee was 500 Naira only. One thing that often dissuades me from shopping online is the delivery fee which is sometimes quite exploitative. If you buy three different items on Konga, more often than not, you would pay three different delivery charges. The minimum delivery charge per item being 500 Naira and it could be higher depending on what it is you're buying. Well, I understand it's because Konga is only a middleman in such transactions, but then, I don't care. Of course, I chose POD because I didn't want to be stuck in case the shirts did not meet my expectations; quality and fit wise.

I think the same day or so, I got a call from the founder (Rotimi) who had posted about his t-shirt store on Techcabal's Radar. He was calling to confirm that the order was real and I assured him that I wasn't just playing around. The price of my order of 2 t-shirts was 5900 Naira, inclusive of delivery.

My order arrived at my office a couple of days later. I got the chance to try out the t-shirts in front of the restroom mirror while the delivery man waited. It turned out that both shirts fit just right, which was like a first for t-shirts I ordered online. I quickly returned to the delivery man to make my payment so he could carry on with his day. "Today is the last time I would wear a BYC t-shirt as a regular t-shirt from a lack of t-shirts to go around every day of the week", I thought to myself. I always remember the day (a few months back) that I was mocked by my colleagues for wearing a BYC shirt to work.


Affordable online t-shirts from Fasho t-shirts store in Nigeria
My t-shirts from Fasho. No paint-brushing.

I think what Fasho online t-shirt store gets right are as follows:
  • Great user experience in that the website is clutter-free and shows you only what you need to see by default. That stems from the fact that Fasho is a niche fashion store, focused on t-shirts as opposed to fashion in general. Also, the fact that the first thing you're asked to do on the site homepage is select your size means that you won't see any t-shirts which are not your size. Cool right?
  • Right pricing for decent quality t-shirts
  • Also, you can return shirts which do not fit you properly and get a full refund
  • I actually just discovered a killer point which makes all of the sense in the world. See this line from their about page: "Tees on our site are usually available in only one piece and in only one size. But we do have a big collection, so we are sure you'll find something you like". So, I just went to check the store now and true to that claim, this shirt and this shirt which I bought are marked "Sold Out". I like that because it means that the chance that I'll run into another bro with the same shirt in Lagos is tiny.

There you have it. If you hate the hustle of fashion shopping in the Lagos Island markets: Eko Idumota, Balogun market and CMS or even Yaba market, you should definitely try this out. A few days after I received my t-shirts, Rotimi called for feedback on my order. Needless to day, my feedback was positive. I also told him how much I'd love to patronise a niche store which carries other casual clothes like shorts and jeans at the right price, just like his t-shirt store. He told me his warehouse is in Lagos island and that for now, they only deal in t-shirts but are looking at dabbling into other areas in the near future.

I can't wait till they do because if I had my way, I would never step foot in any Lagos market again. The traders waste your time, are out to cheat you, leave you completely knackered and in the end, you find out that your choices were not necessarily the best and unfortunately, there is no option for return. Honestly, Fasho online t-shirt store's win over the traditional offline method of shopping for tees is just too obvious.

P.S.




Hey. Even though my reasons for writing this piece are mostly altruistic, it won't hurt if when you decide to try out Fasho, you use the links in this article (http://rwrd.io/xwb555g). If you do, I will get a free t-shirt for your first order. Let's make it a win-win :). #willBlogForTShirts
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25 March 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

The worst purchase decision I made in 2016 or in my life

After work yesterday, I was hanging out with Victor, my friend who is one of the few people who encourage me to keep blogging. At some point, he suggested that I build a mobile app version of the Yoruba tone marking tool. So, after telling him I was no good at building mobile apps (despite my numerous false-starts of learning it), I went further to reveal how I had invested $19 into an online Android programming course in January. The kicker? The last time I visited the course was the same boring Sunday afternoon when I purchased it. I bought the course, watched the first 12-minute video via the online classroom with the intention of returning the next day. It is now almost two months since then, but that next day is yet to show up.  


Victor mocked me lightly, mentioning how I could have gotten those same videos for free on YouTube and saying in Yoruba, how those "sharp guys" have nabbed me. Victor is an Igbo boy but if we're both placed side-by-side to speak Yoruba, he would thrash me in terms of accentuation. He went on to share his thoughts on how if he's financially motivated enough, he would consider joining those sharp guys by hiring a brilliant software developer and setting up an online coaching offering. "I would just put up a page with videos copied from somewhere else and state that I'm available for consultation within the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Saturday", he said.

Since I had shared my stupid decision to buy this Android course and I survived his mockery, it occurred to me, later on, to share a similar goof (but on a much larger scale) with him. I told him to promise not to mock me if I shared this mighty goof with him or else, I might be the next to jump into the lagoon out of the stigma. Once I said this, he told me he would rather I didn't share it because he wouldn't want my blood to be on his neck :D

At that point, the intention to share my big goof left my mind for a while. But I guess my subconscious dwelt on it, because not too long after, I resolved to share it. I wanted to face my fear which had made me keep it to myself until now, head on. The fear of being called a buffoon, or worse still, to be seen as someone who cannot improve their life to save their life.

Now that leads us to the Koko of this story. Enjoy laughing at me for the rest of this piece. It's your lucky day!

I PAID $299 dollars for an online course!!!

That was in one of the -ember months of 2016. And the very first time I revisited the course after the purchase was two weeks ago (March 2017) when I was feeling a little motivated. I completed what was more or less the introduction of the course over a course of three nights (probably at 5% progress now). And since then, I've not gone back to it. I want my money back!

The title of the course is How to Market yourself as a Software developer (H2MYSD). I can remember like it was yesterday how enthusiastic and ecstatic I was just before I purchased the course. I was absolutely sure this was what I needed to change my story from "developer who is always frustrated from being underpaid" to "Nigerian rockstar millionaire developer". At least, that's what the course promised.

What spurred me on to take the final step in this investment were the two following things:
  • The author promises a 100% money back guarantee if I am not satisfied with the course, but on the conditions that I must have gone through the course, applied the principles therein and have evidence that it did not work for me, within a year of the purchase date (I still have time)
  • I was sure that motivation to complete the course would not be a problem as is often the case when I try to learn new stuff via free MOOC platforms. For one, I needed to change my life as a matter of urgency. Secondly, I thought it was beyond my bounds of laziness to shell out so much money for a course and then fail to get the best of it through dutiful study and application
Alas. Over the next following months, I got to learn more about myself; about the truly boundless nature of my laziness. The only reminders I had of the H2MYSD course were the calls I received from my younger sister, each time the monthly $99 debit hit her GTB Naira MasterCard which I had used to make the initial payment.

I want to insert a wise lesson to end this article. But there's none. Except that I should not buy any other online course until I exhaust my current decaying 'stash'.

My friend Victor is a nice guy. He truly did not want me to jump into the lagoon on my way from Victoria Island back home through the Third Mainland bridge to Yaba that night. So he regaled me with the story of how he had paid about 50000 Naira for an offline CCNA training a few years ago and failed to actually engage with the training until it was over. Now, he regrets the fact that he lost that opportunity because he can imagine a parallel universe where he has better career opportunities from taking advantage of his investment in the CCNA course.

Have you got a similar goof to share? Use the comments section below. Thanks for reading. 

P.S.

Please, don't share. My next employer must not see this. After all, my CV says I'm a fast and self-motivated learner.
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19 March 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

My successful US non-immigrant (DS-160) visa interview in Lagos Nigeria

TL;DR

  • I had Eba and Egusi for breakfast
  • The DS-160 interview took place at the US consulate (embassy) at 2, Walter Carrington, Victoria Island, Lagos
  • I forgot my International passport (of all things) at home and had to travel back from Victoria Island to Yaba to get it. Luckily I found out early enough to be able to make that trip in good time. I think I was just too relaxed about the whole thing, and thank goodness it was not a Monday morning #lagosTraffic
  • I was turned back at the US consulate check-in point because I did not have the following documents:
    • GTBank VISA fee payment receipt print-out
    • Visa interview appointment confirmation print-out
  • I was given a one-hour window to go back and get all of my missing documentation
  • Cumulative time spent on check-in and actually getting interviewed was about ten minutes only. No queues at all
  • Actual interview took less than 5 minutes. A few questions which were basically just fact-checking what I had filled in the application
  • The only required documents are as follows. Don't let any tout on the way to the consulate tell you otherwise (and they will try really hard):
    • Your International Passport (no need for photocopies, even though you can make a couple to boost your confidence)
    • Your visa fee payment receipt print-out from GTB
    • Your DS-160 visa application confirmation print-out
    • A print-out of your visa interview appointment confirmation
    • One copy of standard passport photograph (click to see US visa passport photo specifications). I paid 1500 for only 4 copies of this somewhere in V.I. because I did not want any stories and someone had referred them. In the end, none of the passport photographs was withheld after the interview. I went home with all of them. It's just for sighting. But hey, make sure you have a few copies.
  • In the end, you go back home with all of the documents, except your International passport, which will (hopefully) be withheld for the affixment of the visa
  • Drop all electronic devices at home/office. Go with your clothing and the required documents ONLY. If you can't avoid having electronics e.g. your phone, the security people outside the consulate can 'help' you hold it for the duration of your interview
  • I produced one litre of sweat to drench my TM shirt walking back and forth Kofo Abayomi and Walter Carrington under the hot Wednesday morning Lagos sun. When I finally returned to my office, my soul thanked the inventor of air-conditioning as usual
At this point, you're free to confidently walk away because the rest of the article is more or less a rant. Don't say I didn't warn you.

LONG STORY

Scheduling my interview

Last Monday, I finally got information that the long-anticipated US trip would come up in April 2017 and that I should go ahead to schedule my visa interview. I had concluded my DS-160 B1 non-immigrant visa application since September 2016 because the trip was meant to be in October 2016. However, the trip was postponed till 2017 due to logistics reasons. 

I quickly rallied around and got all the information I needed to schedule an interview. The simple procedure is as follows:
  • Pay your visa fee at any GTBank branch. This took me less than ten minutes. Very quick service at the Adeola Odeku branch of GTBank
  • Next day or four hours after paying (depending on how early you paid), proceed to the US visa interview portal to schedule your interview. Very seamless process.  Towards the end of the process, you will have to enter the receipt number on the GTBank fee payment printout
The earliest date available for interviewing was on Wednesday of the next week. I picked 10 a.m. for my appointment. Thank goodness I picked 10 a.m. God surely had my back here. At the end of the process, a copy of the appointment confirmation was sent to my email. I noticed a number (138) was in bracket beside my time slot and I was wondering if that number indicated the order in which I would be attended to. It turns out the number was not referenced at all on the interview date. But I think that might be because we interviewees were very few at the consulate that day.


US Visa Lagos embassy interview appointment details
US Visa Lagos consulate (embassy) interview appointment details

Forgetting my international passport at home

When I realised this about three hours to the interview on my office seat, even I asked myself: "Of all things"? Fortunately, I realised early enough to make a return trip between work and home and still have some time left.

It took me less than a thirty-minute drive to get back home. The first thing I did was to bring out the passport from my file and put it in my bag. No devil would make me forget this thing again. Then I took off my office clothes and settled to a morsel of Eba and Egusi with goat meat since I apparently still had enough time on my hands. Life is good and ain't no US visa interview gonna ruin it. To be honest, I was actually waiting for the morning rush-hour traffic to subside. So what better thing to do than to kick back and relax with a plate of Eba and goat meat Egusi soup.

By the time I was ready to leave again, it was almost 9 a.m. From my Google maps, I could still see a few patches of dense traffic here and there. And I didn't want to risk being stuck in traffic when all I had was an hour to get from Yaba to V.I. So, I ordered an Uber which arrived a few minutes after 9.

By 9:30, I was back at the office. I rushed in, picked out the documents I needed from my bag and headed out for the consulate which is a ten-minute trek away from my office. Yes, I trekked.


I did not bring my GTBank visa fee payment receipt and appointment confirmation print-out

On my way to the visa interview, one of the 'business men' on the road mentioned the need for these documents it but I ignored. I had followed the instruction on my DS-160 application to the letter. The instruction said to come along with the following documents:
  • DS-160 application confirmation
  • International passport
Well, I also took my passport photographs, because of course, I didn't pay 1500 naira to get 4 passport photos for nothing.

I finally realised I was in trouble when the consulate attendant came out (just before ushering us in), to announce that we should put the following documents inside our passports:
  • GTB visa fee payment receipt
  • DS-160 application confirmation
  • Visa interview appointment confirmation
  • One passport photograph
I had only two of four documents and I knew I was done for. But I kept my cool and did not say anything. I walked in through the gates and security check with the rest of the people who seemed to have all the requirements. 

When I got to the table with the check-in attendants (whom at first glance, I thought were actually the interviewers), I presented my documents to one of them. He soon found out the deficiency in my papers and when he asked, I explained that I didn't come with them because I followed the DS-160 instructions. 

US visa DS-160 Lagos interview; documents to bring
US visa DS-160 Lagos interview; documents to bring

I had hoped I would be able to get away with not having those documents since:
  • I would not have been able to schedule an appointment in the first place if I had not paid my visa fee, or don't they trust their systems?
  • My name would not be on the appointments list if I had not booked an appointment in the first place. Like duh! You just want to 'konk' the person who invented some protocols, because I can understand these ones were just doing their job. 
Another reason I can think of for these apparently unnecessary document checks is the bad reputation that Nigerians have for being fraudulent.

Anyway, the attendant and US Lagos visa consulate authorities were graceful enough to grant me one hour to sort myself out. My appointment was at 10 a.m., so I got a slip which advised me to be back by 11 a.m. with all the missing documents. 

Fortunately, the documents were all in my bag at my office at Kofo Abayomi. The journey back was not easy, though. I had to trek the 10-minute distance between the US consulate and my office once again. Of course, there were cabs all around, with the drivers inviting me in. But come on, I had already spent 2000 Naira on an Uber to work that day. That alone is more than my daily allowance. 

Avoid falling victim to the touts on the way to the Lagos US consulate

On my first trip to the US consulate, I saw my colleague returning from his own interview which was two hours earlier. The only thing he told me was this: "Please, ignore all those boys on the road o"! As a result, I made sure to pay deaf ears to their warnings on my first trip to the US consulate general.

However, on my second trip (after I went back to the office to get the missing documents), my immunity to their prodding was understandably lower. Also, there was this guy who was really persistent and kept on warning me about all the things I was missing for over thirty seconds. Of course, since I'd already been to the consulate once, I knew it was unlikely that I was still missing anything which the check-in attendant did not already tell me about. Nevertheless, I decided to grant the guy audience for all his trouble under the hot sun.

I handed him my documents. He looked through them and the first thing he said was I needed to staple them together, then staple two passport photographs to the documents. He went ahead to staple the documents and I handed him a 100 Naira note in exchange for my neatly stapled documents. Alas, that would not be enough as this crafty guy was bent on milking me further.

Next thing was that I was missing a photocopy of the data page of my international passport. Can you imagine? At this point, my immunity to bullshit kicked back into full gear and I just told him, "I'm already late". To try to persuade me, he said it would take only two minutes but I wasn't having it. He dropped off my back after another ten seconds of following me, trying to convince me that I needed to make that photocopy.

You won't guess the first thing the check-in attendant at the consulate did when I handed him my stapled documents. He ripped them apart, while I stood there, just smiling to myself. Anyway, when I was giving the 100 Naira to the tout, I already told myself it was charity. Needless to say, no one at the consulate asked for the data page of my international passport.

Back at the office after my interview,  one colleague told me that photocopies cost 1000 Naira per copy around the consulate. He also told me that the first time he ever went for a US visa interview at the Walter Carrington consulate, the touts had made him spend almost 20,000 Naira on unnecessary photocopies (and services) for him and his family.

The takeaway? These touts are there to make a livelihood out of the scarcity of complete information on visa interview requirements. I don't want others to suffer the same fate as my colleague did in their hands and that's the major reason I'm writing this article.

I've mentioned it earlier but to reiterate, all the documents which I needed for the DS-160 interview are as follows:
  • My International Passport (no need for photocopies, even though you can make a couple to boost your confidence)
  • My visa fee payment receipt print-out from GTB
  • My DS-160 visa application confirmation print-out
  • A print-out of my visa interview appointment confirmation

Required documentation for US visa interview Lagos consulate
Required documentation for US visa interview Lagos consulate

It is more or less all the documents that have to do with your entire application process (pretty logical, innit). I would say it doesn't hurt though to have a few photocopies of your international passport data page at hand. Who knows if there's a scenario where they might ask for that or if they might start asking for it in the future.

DISCLAIMER: Note that my US travel is for business purposes only. I understand that some additional supporting documents might be required in other scenarios.

The US visa interview proper

There was hardly anyone waiting at the check-in point when I got back to the US consulate the second time. After being scanned thoroughly by the security to be devoid of any electronics, I approached an attendant and handed him all of my documents. Once he confirmed all ok, he directed me to another set of security men who then led me out and into the building on the other side of the road as the check-in centre.

In this building, I underwent another couple of security checks, even to the point of having to remove my belt, before I finally reached the interview room. The interview room is a square hall with the interviewers behind glassed-off stalls which surround the large open space in the centre. The open space in the centre is organised using an array of queue stands.

As I made my way through the queue stands, one interviewee caught my attention. He was an old man who was apparently seeking a visa to visit his family member abroad. It appeared as though, the interviewer was grilling him on questions to determine how truly cordial the relationship between him and his prospective host in the US is.

Before getting to the senior white lady who actually interviewed me, I went through two other consulate staff. The first one (a black lady) took my passport and posted something behind it. The next person (a black man) scanned the sticker behind my passport and recorded my fingerprints using an electronic scanner.

The interview proper which came next was pretty short and went very well. I answered most of the questions without any difficulty and without mincing words. The reason for my travel is simple enough anyway. There was almost a glitch, though, but thank God things did not escalate and I was able to explain myself.

When the interviewer asked me how long my stay in the US was going to be, I said 1 to 2 weeks. Her brows quickly furrowed as she looked intently at me from behind the glass separating us. She told me I had to be specific; it's either one week or two weeks. I really can't remember what I said in response, but after I answered, she asked why I had said "one to two weeks" earlier. I just told her it was a mistake and that the stay duration was not at the top of my mind when she first asked me.

After the interview, I thought a better explanation (which is actually the truth) would have been as follows. "The actual reason I'm travelling to the US would engage me for a full week. But then, one would need to have settled in for one or two days before going about the actual business which brought one to the US. Hence, my mentioning two weeks to cater for the arrival and departure schedules".

Honestly, I was scared that things were going to go south from the point of this mistake because the woman appeared to be upset. Thankfully, I scaled through. The last words which she spoke to me were, "I have issued your visa. You can pick it up from your elected delivery centre in another four days".

Happy frogs from MemeSuper
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11 March 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

GTBank 737 USSD simple banking's recently introduced PIN authentication is misleading

From inception, the sole means of authenticating your transactions on GTBank's USSD banking (popularly known as Bank 737 or Simple banking) has been the last 4-digits of your debit card number (PAN). Over time, this has gotten a lot of criticism from security analysts as well as security savvy customers, on the basis that the 'PIN' was not a private number which by worldwide standards, is expected to live solely in the owner's memory.

Well, many years after, the almighty GTBank finally decided to respond to these concerns this February. A few weeks back, GTBank introduced actual PIN authentication to their 737. The publicity for the new feature reads:
"Simple Banking just got more SECURE. You now require a 4-digit PIN to complete your 737 transactions"
Read on to find out why I highlighted "require" in the above phrase.
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7 March 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

A chance encounter with the Stutern twins at the Palms Lekki

Good morning! It's Monday Tuesday, and if there's one thing I would like to tell you, it would be that last weekend was awesome for several reasons, one of which is the subject of this post.

On Saturday morning, I decided to stop by Shoprite at the Palms shopping mall, Lekki before heading to the office (no I don't work on weekends). Just as I made to leave the parking lot for the mall, I noticed the Stutern twins heading in my direction and towards the mall. I was trying to remove my debit card from my bag which I was going to leave behind in the car. I recognized them from the days when I used to visit CCHub regularly. But somehow, I managed to decide that I was not gonna say hello, just to avoid any social awkwardness. 


Hafiz and the Stutern twins, Taiwo and Kehinde
From L-R: Kehinde, Hafiz, a family of photobombing smileys and Taiwo

Alas! My evil anti-social plans would not survive the bigheartedness of the Stutern twins. As soon as they were within earshot of me, they stopped. Then one of them said something along the lines of, "it seems like I know you from somewhere". He was straining to remember where it was that he knew me from but I quickly came to the rescue. I told him of the days when I used to frequent ccHub, Yaba and how I have known them since their early days of starting Stutern. 

He was clearly surprised that I knew them in association with Stutern. So, I aptly went on to increase the surprise factor by mentioning how I knew about their partnership with Jobberman, as well as the recently launched JobPalava, a job review site for Nigerian employees. When I mentioned how cool I thought it was that they came up with JobPalava within a few weeks from when the idea was born on Twitter, I was told that one of them works on the back-end while the other does front-end development. The twins were beaming with smiles at this point. And I myself was grinning like a teenage groupie who ran into her number one pop-star crush.

We soon ran out out of small talk fodder and it was time to part ways. But just before we did, one twin gracefully asked for my name and what I do. I hope it didn't show in the way I said, "I work at ** check LinkedIn **; I'm a programmer there" that I'm not that excited about or proud of my work. Anyway, I think his response was: "wow, that's great", and he said it in a way that left me with no doubt about his sincerity.

Minutes later, as I walked into Shoprite, it occurred to me that writing about this encounter was a good blogging idea for the weekend. And in that instant, I regretted having not asked for a photo with the Stutern twins. I prayed in my heart that by a stroke of luck, I would run into them again before leaving the mall. Apparently, God was listening because as I walked towards the checkout aisle after buying mostly things that were not on my imaginary shopping list, I saw the Stutern twins standing side-by-side just ahead, with their backs at me. Yippee!

I walked quietly towards them and being the weirdo that I am, I stopped just behind them without as much as a sound to announce my presence. The twins were discussing with a friend whose birthday I later discovered was on that day. After like 7 seconds of being in stealth mode, perhaps due to some gesture from their friend who could see me all along, one twin finally turned around and blew my cover.

Without much ado, I told them of how seeing them again that day was a dream come true. The birthday girl was quickly recruited to be our photographer, even though she was meant to be the celeb of the day. I gave her my phone to take the pics but after a few seconds of trying to adjust for quality, she quickly found out how shitty the phone camera is. Thankfully, she announced this in the most polite way possible to the three men standing behind the camera with picture-perfect smiles. I agreed.

Fortunately, Kehinde quickly came to the rescue and offered to have the photos taken with his phone instead. Click, click, click and that was it. I was glad that I now had the most essential ingredient for a blog post about a random encounter with these admirable creators of Stutern. Now, there was no excuse for not writing it. Bitter-sweet stuff. 

Just before we finally parted ways, Kehinde collected my number so he could send me the pictures on Whatsapp. About thirty minutes later, when I had settled in the office, I picked up my phone and was happy to see that the pictures (3 or 4 of them) had been delivered to my phone. I thanked him for the pictures and used the opportunity to ask:  "is this Taiwo or Kehinde"? And the fact that Kehinde answered that question, dear reader, is the only reason why instead of 'Kehinde' in all the places where it occurs in this article, we don't have: "the twin in the grey polo".

Thanks for reading!
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