9 December 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

By hook or by crook, you will achieve this goal on your own

Just a minute ago, while folding the clothes from my weekend laundry, I found myself thinking about an upcoming Christmas party being organized by a couple of fellow Digital Explorers who live together in a big Kaunas city center flat, just five minutes drive away from mine.

I received communication from the organizers this evening that each of the 11 (or 12 😪) Digital Explorers currently in Lithuania will be contributing 15 Euros to fund the party. It's not a lot of money, but also I would not call it a pittance. In fact, we had one or two explorers protesting that the price tag for the party was a little steep.

Anyway, my idle mind lapsed into gear F (frugal) mode and its first quest was to justify my parting with 15 Euros for a plate of Jollof rice and fried meat. Not much to my surprise, my mind's answer at the end of that quest was that a secondary reward for me would be to have a granular view into how the funds for the party will be spent. 

Not because I suspect that the funds (which as a whole, cannot solve any significant financial problem for any Digital explorer) will be misappropriated, but because standing in one corner of my living room tonight, my mind had already created a beautiful picture of an article through which I open-source Christmas house-party planning information. I dreamed of how majestic the article would be if I could make it just as juicy (detailed) as this beautiful creation from the stables of Paystack where they shared their journey of setting up billboards in Lagos, Nigeria for the first time.

The next thing I thought was, "yes, before I send my contribution for that party, I will demand that the organizers ensure that they keep all the receipts and take out the time to share all line items with the rest of us once the budget is closed". After a few seconds though, I spotted the folly of this idea. It isn't hard for me to imagine how approaching my goal this way can easily lead to conflict when one or two of the organizers feels disrespected by concluding that the reason for my request is that I suspect that funds might be misappropriated. 

This one time, I feel lucky to be an over-thinker (I was last reminded of this part of my nature last Thursday by my date at the Ten Walls and the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra concert in Zalgiris arena, Kaunas). Apart from feeling insulted, I understand that it can be difficult to remain meticulous when you have a lot to handle, which would definitely be the case for the party's organizers the moment they start to shop for the party. I was not optimistic that any of the organizers would be stoked to take on the 'pointless' responsibility of storing up receipts and extracting line items from each of them. After all, we are all contributing the same amount of money.

Again, without prompting me, my mind switched to gear H (humane) and quickly revealed to me that there is a natural and guaranteed conflict-free way for me to achieve my goal of having bird's eye view of the financial planning of this party. 

"Easy, just let them know you would like to assist with the planning of the party. That way, you can have access to the receipts without ruffling any feathers. Win-win. Also, new experience as you have never planned a party in your life and you definitely need to take more social initiatives in this dreary life of yours".



Finally, my mind went to gear N (nostalgia), taking me back to one hot Lagos afternoon in 2015. At the time, I was a software developer at Fidelity Bank head office and I was having a chat with Nnanna (my manager) in his office. It was about some work milestone which I was struggling to reach because I was having trouble enlisting the necessary help of another team in the bank (probably the really difficult to work with systems administration team).

I was there to have him intervene on the matter as an oga-at-the-top, as I had faced a bit of resistance in trying to get the team to grant me my wish. However, he insisted that the responsibility of getting the systems admin. team to grant me my request falls solely on me this time.

The phrase which stays with me from that interaction with Nnanna and often replays in my head when I ponder how I handle many a difficult situation in my life these days is: 

"Whether it is that you will go and fight with them or whether you want to make friends with them to achieve this goal, it is entirely up to you. All I know is that you must get this done and I will not step in to help you".

For that particular difficult situation at my work, even though I can't remember the specific details or even how the issue was finally resolved, I know instinctively that I chose to take the friendly, rather than aggressive approach in getting the systems admin. team to help me out. Most likely because I was sure that even if by some sheer stroke of luck (I had zero authority over anyone in systems admin. and also did not consider myself capable of intimidating anyone), I had managed to achieve my goal in a violent way, it was not a sustainable way to work. It would poison me as well as the victims (or perhaps, just me the perpetrator) without commensurate reward.

Looking back, I realize how a lot of my philosophy today is built strongly on that foundation of seeking first to solve problems amicably. Of being willing to risk having my plug take advantage of my appearing to be at their mercy, instead of demanding my well-deserved way to a desired goal. Of not coming to the table floating on a cloud of entitlement, even if as a matter of fact, I am entitled to receive a certain favor from a person.
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21 November 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

My favorite feature on Revolut: Request payment

Two Saturdays ago, I and three other fellow Digital Explorers took a Bolt cab together to a 'friend''s birthday party. I was the one who requested the ride, so at the end of the ride, a payment of €6.8 was deducted from my Revolut virtual card (which I now use for all online/in-app payments since I arrived in Lithuania). As we made our way towards the party house, I vocally broadcasted the total ride cost to the other explorers, as well as the per-head cost: €1.7.

Now, refunding me was pretty straightforward for everyone. Upon arrival in Lithuania, we had each opened a Revolut account. This was one of the few viable options for us, as we had found out (shortly before arrival) that to open an account with a Lithuanian bank with our class of visa, we would have to pay upwards of €100 to the bank (as account opening fee, not as account opening balance). On the other hand, it is completely free to open a fully-fledged European bank account with Revolut. Besides, Revolut lets you send money in a few simple steps to any other Revolut user anywhere in the world, as long as you have their phone number or there are somewhere nearby.

Because I really like money, know how easy it is for someone to forget a debt so insignificant and also, how wary I am of reaching out in person to remind someone to repay a debt (especially peanuts like €1.7), I became uneasy when 10 minutes into the event, not one of the explorers had sent me a refund.

By this time, every one else had settled either into playing the PES 2019 soccer game, being an enthusiastic spectator, doing jackshit on their phone or enjoying some of the treats at the birthday party. It was surely a bad time now to remind my micro-debtors to send my money (lest they forget all about it by the end of the day). At some point, I remembered the "Request payment" feature of Revolut which I had noticed many times before while using the "Send payment" feature.

Without further ado, I opened my Revolut app and sent e-invoices of €1.7 to each one of my three debtors, using a simple three-step process (Select contact => Enter amount => Request payment). There are two optional steps also (see picture below): you can add a description (narration) and a GIF!!!

Fancy how my mind won't let go of Bolt's old name: Taxify

The fact that you can add a GIF to a transaction is what I consider the icing on the cake of Revolut's peer-to-peer payment suite. In the case of requesting payment, for me, being able to add a GIF to a repayment request presents an unmatchable opportunity to introduce some humor, which mitigates the tension that can often surround financial exchanges such as the topic one.

While at it, I also requested payment from Abib* who had requested me to help buy him Aboniki balm and a tub of Vaseline petroleum jelly, shortly before leaving Lagos for Kaunas (he left Lagos for Kaunas a week before me). It was at least, 6 hours already since I had delivered the package to Abib and sent him the payment details (my Nigerian bank account) on WhatsApp, yet a quick check at the party revealed that the payment (however insignificant: ₦1100) was yet to be made. I kindly converted the payment to Euros at 400:1 and sent Abib a payment request on Revolut.

By the end of the day, I had received my 4 payments (3 from fellow Bolters, one from Abib), all without saying a single word to any of my debtors. Soft life 💯! There is no parallel universe but I would put a stake on the chance that at least, one of these 4 people would have needed me to remind them about their debt at least once within the next few days to not totally forget about it. I hope you see now, why I am stoked enough by this feature to spend 2 irredeemable hours of my mediocre life writing about it?

Interestingly, after the "Request payment" transactions had been finalized, Revolut automatically reminded me (through an in-app popup) of the "Split bill" feature - which would have significantly shortened the process of requesting refunds from my 3 co-Bolters. The Revolut "Split bill" feature allows me to select a single transaction from my Revolut debit history and split the amount between myself and any number of Revolut users in my address book.

Split a bill with other Revolut users

In recent days, I cannot help but think back home to Nigeria and how this kind of feature is long overdue, at least for the mobile banking app of many of the country's commercial banks. While I am not ignorant of the challenges to adoption that having 23 commercial banks with mobile apps which are for all practical purposes, isolated from one another, a "Request payment" feature would still be really handy for small groups which are by formulation, a cluster of a single bank's customers. Think a group of Access bank staff turned fine-dining/drinking buddies or a nuclear family that is loyal to GTBank.

Writing this story also reminds me of my not-so-long-ago days at Carbon when similar peer-to-peer payments were an almost daily occurrence between me and my colleagues. One of us would make a payment for some product or service on behalf of several others and we would simply have to settle him/her with a refund to his/her Carbon wallet.

Every so often, when I made a payment on behalf of Titi*, I usually would have to remind him in person at least, once and at the worst, up to two times, before I received a refund. In the period in-between two consecutive reminders, I would severally waive the instinct to remind Titi of his debt, telling myself: "Come on! You earn so much more than ₦700 - and probably Titi -, so you can easily waive this change. Abeg, let it go". Unarguably, my life would have been much easier back then if the Carbon app (which is a great app actually) had allowed me to request payment and/or split a bill, just like I can with Revolut. In addition, it would have spared me having to watch Titi vocally beat up himself for being so forgetful, whenever I reminded him of a debt, like 3 weeks after the fact.

* Name was changed for anonymity as I did not inform any of these persons before mentioning them in my story. IOW, be intentional in how you treat a writer, as you never know when you will end up as the subject of a story that the whole world can read. And they needn't be as discreet as I am being here 🦊.
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17 November 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

Kaunas city municipality waste sorting guide - English

Two days ago (Friday), one day to the end of my sixth week in Kaunas, I observed with mild irritation the cluttered nature of my kitchen counter. The feeling was enough to drive me to do something about it this time. I started to pick up the items on the counter, one after the other, putting each one in its designated place. A few of the items on the counter were waste: paper towels, empty milk cartons and the likes.

In the process of deciding what to do with the empty milk cartons, my mind wandered back to my first major grocery shopping trip in Lithuania. A day after I arrived in Lithuania's capital city - Vilnius - Monika (a Lithuanian buddy) had graciously reached out to me and offered to be my grocery shopping guide. The grocery trip happened on my third evening in Kaunas, and the destination was the Maxima XXX store in the Kaunas Akropolis.

During that trip, when it was time to buy waste bags, I got to know that Monika - my human shopping guide - shared my affection for the environment and its conservation. The moment I reached for the default black bag that I am used to, she asked if we had waste recycling bins back at my apartment. As far as I had seen, the biggest trash can in my flat had only one compartment. Besides, it was only my second day in the apartment, so I had yet to walk around my apartment block to know where the garbage bins stood.

Seeing that I was struggling to answer her question, she quickly excused herself, saying it was fine if I got the regular bag for now and came back for the recycling color-coded bags when I was well-settled in. "As a makeshift, you can get the green, bio-degradable plastic bags for now, which are way better for the environment than the black ones", she advised. I agreed.

A roll of green eco-friendly (tautology?) garbage bags

This Friday, while decluttering my kitchen counter, I decided that it's about time I started doing my bit on this recycling thing. A few weeks ago during a walk round the block, I had spotted the regular garbage bins as well as the three large and brightly-colored bins in the area behind my apartment block. "No more obstacles now, apart from getting the color-coded garbage bags".

Kaunas municipality waste recycling bins on Kaunakiemio street, Centras, Kaunas
L-R: Green - Glass, Yellow - Plastics and metals, Blue: Papers and cardboards
Right away, a wrote a new to-do item into my small notepad to get waste recycling bags on my next visit to the grocery store. The next day though, before I could do that, I figured that I could simply use some of the plastic and paper bags which I have accumulated from different shopping trips. Each time any of the bags for the recyclables was full, I would simply transfer its contents into the appropriate municipality recycling bin, and re-use the same bag for as long as it holds.

The next and final step was to be sure I was sorting my waste correctly. The stickers on each of the recycling bins display some textual instructions for what was items are allowed and prohibited. Unfortunately, the text is in Lithuanian and I'm still at the beginning of my journey in learning the basics of the language.

Logically, I went online to find Kaunas waste sorting instructions. My search led me, first, to a webpage belonging to - what I assume is - the biggest waste-management company in Kaunas (Kauno Švara). There, I found 4 nice infographic flyers, with image and text instructions on what does and what doesn't fall into each of the four categories of waste: Glass (Stiklas), Plastics and Metals (Plastmase), Paper and cardboard (Popierius/Kartonas) and General household waste (Mišrios Komunalinės Atliekos).

While the images on the Kauno Švara infographics were useful in helping me realize my culpability for gross-misconduct in my recent waste-sorting activities at the office which has indoor recycling bins (I had been putting used paper towels into the Paper and cardboard section of the bin), the infographic text, again, was not of much use to me as it was also in Lithuanian.

Hence, I continued my search for waste sorting guides in Kaunas which did not take long to lead me to a PDF file containing the same sorting instructions on the Kaunas municipality recycling bins and on the Kauno Švara infographics, again in Lithuanian 😁. This was a huge step forward though, as it is not much of a hassle to copy text from a PDF into Google translate. I decided that after translating the Kaunas waste sorting PDF guide for myself, it would be useful to make the English version public as well. Ergo, here we are!

Here's the link to the English version of the Kaunas city municipality waste sorting guide, which I translated from Lithuanian to English with immense help from Google Translate. Hopefully, in the near future, one or two fellow tree-hugging, English-speaking foreigners in Kaunas find this useful.
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3 November 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

Halloween-themed night out at Lost Escape room, Kaunas

As Halloween approached, Edvinas (the Lithuanian buddy who has earned himself the title of social prefect for the Digital Explorers' buddy group) suggested that we attend a scary escape room in the spirit of the season. In the course of the next few days, I and four other explorers/buddies signed up to join Edvinas at 9pm on the Friday after Halloween on a trip to a Kaunas escape room which he had learned was English-speaker compatible 😁.

There was no reason to say no really, as apart from being new here, I also live alone in my flat. Hence, I'll say yes to almost every opportunity to socialize and spend leisure time with other people. The only cases where I would be prone to saying no are when the event interferes with my night's sleep and the activity is not something I'm sure to find exciting. Also, it was a public holiday - All Saints Day and I did not exactly have other plans for that day.

On Friday evening, after spending some time chit-chatting at Kennedy's place, I and the rest of the crew were ferried in two batches to the rather creepy (isolated and dark) location of Lost Escape, Kaunas in Laura's red salon car. In less than five minutes, I and the other people in the first batch arrived the building; the only light coming out of it being from a window on the topmost floor where a young man stood alone. Earlier at Kennedy's place, we had joked about how many back home might consider us insane for voluntarily inserting ourselves into a horror-movie scene. "After all the Oyinbo horror movies you've watched, you still haven't learned anything"?

We climbed three flights of stairs to the topmost floor of the building where the young man who had been at the window welcomed us from behind the lobby desk where he stood. While going up the stairs, Edvinas showed us the door to the Pjūklas (Saw movie themed) escape room which was the one that we'd selected (it fit the scariness bill).

Source: Lost Escape Kaunas website

As we waited for Laura and the second batch to arrive the comfy reception room, the reception guy asked to know which of the 4 available escape rooms that we'd selected. On hearing "Pjūklas", he went on to ask if any of us had been in an escape room before. Out of the six of us, only Laura and Edvinas (the two Lithuanians in the group) had ever been to one. Solving an escape room was a first time thing for any of us Digital explorers - who comprised the rest of the group.

The attendant went on to advise us to reconsider our choice of Pjūklas as it happens to be the most difficult room. It made sense that as a group which has 4 out of 6 members as escape-room noobs, we do not choose the most difficult room. After a short consultation between each other, we decided to go for the ancient-Egypt themed "Faraono Prakeiksmas" (Pharaoh's curse) room instead.

A few minutes to 21:00, shortly after the arrival of the second batch (and us watching another group celebrate their escape from the most difficult Pjūklas room in only 63 minutes), we were invited to a closed room for a briefing by the attendant. He gave us a few tips and basic information which include:
  • the time limit of 60 minutes
  • not to brute force our way through any obstacle
  • every clue/key that we needed being within eye level 
  • how to identify escape room artefacts that are not to be touched
  • how to opt-out of the challenge
The briefing took less than 5 minutes and then in we went into the Pharaoh's cursed tomb. This is the part where I go into every detail of our progression through the several sections of this room. Except that I am experienced enough to know how easily that can be interpreted as a contemptible move, both by the Lost Escape establishment and for other people looking to buy this experience in the future.

L-R: Defeated Explorer Mofe, Buddy Laura, Buddy Edvinas, Explorer Hafiz, Explorer Kennedy and Explorer Godsman
It is sad to say though that despite our best efforts, my group of 6 lost what was meant to be the easiest escape room of the lot. We managed to finish in 71 minutes (instead of the designated 60). And I doubt that we would have made it out of the room in even twice that amount of time without the - at least 6 - hints we received from an invisible voice in the room. 

Of course, to keep us challenged, these hints came only at the times when it was obvious from our lack of progress for minutes at a time that we had hit a bottleneck. It would be nice to know the percentage of groups that actually manage to escape from the Faraono Prakeiksmas room with absolutely no hints. The hints from the hidden voice ranged from it asking us to direct attention to something in particular, to letting us know that we needed to be accurate with a specific puzzle we had struggled with for like 5 minutes.

As the final exit of the escape room popped open, indicating our losing escape, we were welcomed back to the real world by a young lady who had apparently taken over from the guy who led us in. She led us back into the escape room to take a few questions from us after which she offered to take a group picture of us in the section of the escape room where we were stuck the longest.

With the rest of the group in seemingly high spirits from the adventure we all just mutually experienced, I left the escape room feeling rather incompetent and deflated as I couldn't help but ruminate over how useless I was to my group in the escape room. Looking in, I guess my disappointment stems from me expecting that many of the ideas to decode the puzzles in the room would come from me. Unfortunately, that did not happen as save for one or two minor ideas, my main contribution to the group was as a mere artefact transporter 😔😢😔.

Even in hindsight, I don't see how I could have arrived at the breakthrough ideas in the record time (if ever) that some members of the group did. Reminds me of how getting into university made me realize that I'm not as absolutely smart as previous stages of education had made me believe.

What my visit to the Kaunas Lost Escape room did to my ego

Around 22:30, as Laura drove our group of 6 away from the creepy area that the Lost Escape building calls home, past the nearby cemetery which looked ethereally beautiful in the dark and cold night (the graves had been adorned with thousands of candles by the ones left behind in the spirit of the Lithuanian All Saints Day), we considered taking a walk through the cemetery to wrap up our Friday night. While I and a few other members of the group were up for it, for Laura, this was too much of a creepy thing to do in the dead of night, so she generously drove us right past the cemetery 😭 and on to each of our homes.
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10 October 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

From Lagos to Kaunas

I'm writing this one from a living room, in a one- (or two-) bedroom flat which lies along on Karaliaus Mindaugo avenue, Kaunas Lithuania. I'm sat behind a stark white four-seater dining table that is right below a chandelier whose white light beautifully illuminates the keys of my silver-painted HP laptop. It's been nearly 4 hours since I closed from work today and I'm feeling cheerful, positive, happy, grateful, privileged, blessed. Right now, there are no negative feelings in here.

This living room that I write from is the one which if all goes as planned, will be my abode for the next 11 months. It is hands down the best living space (by multiple indices) that I've ever lived in since I started paying rent in late 2016. And arguably the best overall space I've ever lived in since I was born (definitely top 2 though). I moved in here last weekend: Saturday. Since then, there's been no power outage in my flat.

Digital Explorers advert from the daily TechCabal newsletter

I've come a long way to be here, 7000+ km if you draw a sort-of-straight line between Lagos and Kaunas. It's a journey which all started serendipitously in early March 2019, when I learned about Digital Explorers from the daily TechCabal newsletter. At the time, I was over my then job at Access Bank and was eager for the next thing already. The first time I noticed the Digital explorers advert, I opened the link to the website, read about the program and found my way to the application form. The form looked intimidating though: about 20 questions and on top of that, I had to submit a video of me talking about myself. I can imagine that I started filling the form; with all the basic details about myself and then I must have stopped at the "Why do you want to be a part of the Digital explorers program" question. Difficult question, you'll agree? Looks too much to me like one whose answer is most likely to make or break your application. Nonetheless, I left the Chrome tab open.

Around the same period, even though I didn't complete the Digital explorers application myself, I made sure to inform a few colleagues of mine at the Access Bank head office: budding developers who were looking for opportunities to accelerate their programming skills. As chance would have it, one of them: Bayo actually followed through and completed this application.

April 1, 2019: the day that applications were closing for the first-ever track of the Digital explorers program, I got into an office corridor chat with Bayo. That was when he told me that he had actually completed his application. Remembering that one of the reasons I didn't complete my application was that I had to record a video 🙍‍♂️, I asked Bayo for how he'd crossed that hurdle. He explained that he had not uploaded the video as the application had requested. However, he was ready to send the video when Digital explorers got back to let him know that the video was missing from his application - who's to know if that’s the only reason that he didn't move past the application stage?

Not having much to do at work that day - I'd actually already dropped a resignation notice at Access Bank, I decided to go through with it; if Bayo can do it, why can't I? And so was it that I soon made my way that fateful Monday afternoon to the loo of the staff recreation centre to record myself talking about my career and my motivation for applying to be a Digital explorer. In another one or two hours, I had submitted my application and that came with a tinge of fulfilment.

Less than 24 hours later, I received an email with a link to a Codility coding challenge which I had to complete. If I remember correctly, I had a perfect score and I finished in good time. In other words, the test was not a tough one for me - who knows, maybe it's because I've been programming professionally for almost 7 years now. Within the next two weeks, I had completed a motivation and personality interview over a phone call with a member of the Afriko team (Afriko is the Lithuanian company leading the Digital explorers program). One week after the phone interview, I was invited to the final step of the program: a week-long training and hackathon program in Abuja Nigeria, happening in the second week of May 2019.

Interestingly, when this invite came, I was less than one week away from resuming as a software engineer at Carbon. For that reason, it was impractical for me to request time off to attend the Abuja Digital Explorers event. How would it sound that I was just three weeks into a job, still learning the ropes and then I'm requesting for a whole week off of work? First, I valued the opportunity to work at Carbon quite highly. Also, one of my highest values at this time of my life is honesty (it's actually because it's hard to think up lies and I'm mentally lazy), so going the route of lying about why I could not be at work for a whole week was not an option for me.

My response to the invite from Digital explorers was first of all tentative, then after I had discussed with my manager about me wanting to try out this opportunity to work abroad, I decided not to take time off work to attend the Abuja event. "Abroad work opportunity will come when I become even more adept at what I do through my job at Carbon", I consoled myself. However, the strong, personable and empathetic people of Afriko would not have it and they ensured that I attended the program, even if only for the last day. "The trip from Lagos to Abuja is an all-expense-paid one", they said. I had nothing to lose, so I said yes and flew to Abuja after work on May 10, 2019, for a jolly weekend of mixing with an ambitious crop of Nigerian techies and sleeping two nights in a room that is much nicer than my Lagos one at the time. Since I was aware that my chances of getting a job offer from a Lithuanian company after the program were slightly reduced as I was not able to participate in most of the week-long program, my main mission in Abuja was to chillax big time; mini-vacation if you will.

Just as I had expected, at the end of the hackathon Saturday (May 11, 2019), none of the companies who had representatives in Abuja had offered to interview me. I resigned myself to one more night of blissful sleep in a nice big Abuja hotel room and promised myself to double-down on my new Carbon job so I'd be better prepared to grab the next desirable abroad-work opportunity that I found.

Roughly one month after the Abuja hackathon - when I had absolutely no more hopes of becoming a Digital explorer, I got an email from an Afriko person. Receiving that email made my day. I remember jumping up from my office chair and telling my colleague Precious that I had just received an email that has made my day. This was before 8:00 in Lagos and I felt fulfilled enough to not do any other work for that day. Of course, my employer would have begged to differ, so as you would expect, I stayed back at work.

The email said that I had been invited for an interview for next week Tuesday by a hiring Manager at TransUnion Baltics. I confirmed my availability for the proposed time and went ahead to prepare for the interview. I went to the company website, read enough to get a sense of what they are all about - I was interested. Afterwards, I compiled a few questions that I would like to ask the panel during the interview.

Because the interview was on a weekday morning, I asked a friend to let me use his office for the interview. My plan was to complete the interview - which based on schedule would eat at most, one hour deep into my workday and then head to my office. My interview with three members of the engineering team at TransUnion went well, even though I couldn't place a bet on that I would proceed to the next stage. I made a few oversights in the live coding session and I didn’t even finish the tasks in the allotted time. I considered it a positive sign though that the hiring manager took his time to explain to me what it was like to work at his company and in his team after I had asked one or two of the plenty questions that I had prepared beforehand.

Roughly a week after the interview, I got an offer letter to join the TransUnion Baltics as a Senior Software Engineer 😭😭😭. After a bit of back and forth, I accepted the offer and well, here we are.

Welcome to Lithuania picture - Vilnius Airport

Tomorrow (Friday) marks the start of my second week in Lithuania. I am a pacesetter and I would love it to be that at the end of this journey, my company is happy to hire many more willing people from Nigeria who want to explore their world through working abroad. I am an ambassador for millions of talented humans back home with inadequate opportunities and I will be keeping some doors closed if I mess up this opportunity. Hopefully, I don't get carried away and I am able to keep that active in my subconscious throughout my time in Lithuania. Also, I am in for a year-long adventurous time in this beautiful and cold Baltic country. Care to come along?



Do you have any questions for me related to the subject of this article? Ask quickly, anonymously if you want, by clicking here.
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25 August 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

Why I don't blog as often as I would love to

Can you even imagine that I stepped out of the middle of writing another blog post to write this one? I have problems 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️.

Well, I'm writing this because it just happens that writing this happens to feel more exciting, and easier than the one I was on. And this says a whole lot about why most of my articles end up as drafts that will never get revisited by me or anyone else.

Comment which of these articles (if any) that you're eager to read

A lot of times when I get the idea to write an article, it's because I had something of a light-bulb moment where it feels like the best idea in the world right now is to execute that writing idea. Usually, it's due to a memory I recalled, something I just experienced or any other such trigger that leads to me feeling excited about sharing an idea/experience.

When I get such an urge to write an article, depending on where I am or what I'm doing, I would do one of these things:

  • write a draft
  • synthesize the outline of the article in my head
  • just shelve the idea for the ensuing weekend or 
  • if the universe aligns (which is rarely), actual bang out the article on the spot (like this one).
Except in the last instance where I have the opportunity to write the article at the moment when the article idea was born, the chance of my article idea seeing the light of day is less than 1%. Even in that scenario, a lot of times, before I'm halfway through, I either get bored or distracted by something irrelevant. In either case, I always find a way to tell myself that I would be back to complete the article. One of the greatest lies ever told I wonder how I still manage to believe it, given how many times I've told it to myself.

As you might expect, the next time I get the urge to - or decide to - write, the idea in the spotlight is entirely different and going back to continue an article I was writing even just last weekend feels like utter grunt work. It literally feels like: "who's the idiot that dared to imagine that this was a good thing to write"?

Two weekends ago, I started to write an article about a day in my life at Carbon - my current workplace. I had drafted the article and cranked out at least 500 words. However, I had to leave it at some point because it was looking like a rather long one and I felt deserving of a break for the good work done so far. Since then, I've not even as much as opened it to see how far I've gone. At this moment, I have a little more than zero interest in seeing that article completed, the opposite of how I was feeling when I jumped on it two weeks ago.

All that having been said, I guess one tip that might work for me is to direct energy towards simpler article ideas like this one. I'm an explainer, so that means I tend to spare no words in going into as much detail as I think contributes to the comprehension and readability of my article. That, of course, translates to articles that - for a short-attention-span human like me - are long enough to be challenging to finish in one sitting.

Besides that, since all of my distractions are on the internet, it can be useful to make the first draft on a good offline editor - I tend to prefer writing in the blogger WYSIWYG editor because it feels like it increases the chances that I'll get to publish the article. Editing, which might need some internet research and image-sourcing can then be done online.

Blogger WYSIWYG editor

Another thing that comes to mind as a way to improve my completion rate is to enforce a rule that all new article ideas go into a backlog and will not get executed until I complete articles already in the queue. Now, that might sound straightforward but I fear that it might be a death spell to my writing career because I just might never be able to summon up the will to ramp up on an old draft. I know it's an irrational fear though, since most times, it actually takes just a few minutes of labouring to get into the rhythm and resurrect the emotions that were behind an old draft.

ASIDE: While editing this article, I came upon an incomplete sentence (in the previous paragraph) and I found that hilarious. Every time I'm writing an article, it happens to me that in the middle of constructing a sentence, the content of the next sentence would drop straight into my mind and that would feel so much more compelling at the moment that I have to stop the current sentence midway to pen down the next sentence just so I would not forget. I'm curious as to how common this phenomenon is amongst writers.

The best outcome for this article is that fellow writers who can relate to this completion challenge can read this and share me some tips that I can actually use which will increase my completion rate.

Now, I would go right back to try to complete the now boring article I started writing yesterday morning - before my day took an unproductive plunge - but I want to sleep. Let's see how early tomorrow morning works. I really need to find a rhythm for my non-work activities again - writing is close to the top - because I feel unsatisfied about the fact that of recent, I tend to spend all my free time only on self-gratifying and consumptive activities.
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2 August 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

Lagos-based Toyota Corrola salon car goes into retirement

Recently, I read a blog post that I wrote in 2013. For me, apart from being a nostalgic and entertaining read, it made me remember the days when my writing was not all serious and targeted. I used to write just because I got a creative impulse and I thought it'd be interesting to put that to use. I was writing for myself and in a sense, the writing was an end in and of itself.

Along the line though, perhaps triggered by the success of some people around me in commercializing blogs, my attention gradually shifted to stuff like page visits and page rank. I became particularly interested in the potential reach of my writings, more than my enjoyment of writing as a hobby. Ever since then, most article ideas that flow through my head get discarded because "this doesn't help anyone else" or "no one is going to be interested in this".

With that mindset, my writing became less and less frequent, because of the sheer stress involved in the filtering process. Most times, by the time I'm done thinking about how to present an idea in the way most beneficial to the supposedly reading public, I've already lost the zeal to write it.

This evening, while I was doing a few dishes, my eyes picked up the sheen of my car under the dim compound lighting through the kitchen window. Seeing the car shine gave me joy in that I can lay total claim to such a beautiful object. I think the reason that I actually took notice was that it had actually been a while since I'd seen the car shine that way. Yes, until this past weekend, the car had not gotten a wash for at least, one month 😳😳😳.

In the few seconds that followed that moment, a few thoughts followed. How happy I was when I first lay my eyes on that car 3 years ago. I also considered how little use the thing now gets used since I moved within 4 miles of my workplace in June. And of course, at that moment, the idea for this article was born. And to my surprise, my helpful article filter allowed it to pass. Surely, the filtration process has relaxed since I read that 2013 article.

I'm excited about this development because it just might mean that I'll be able to achieve better consistency in my writing. I don't know if I've ever said it publicly but I feel a burning desire to blog consistently. To make it clear, this desire does not exist to fulfil an end which consistently blogging is bound to lead me to. No. Blogging, which in the style that I do, generally means documenting my own experiences in a way that is freely and widely accessible to other people is in itself, an end for me.


My Green Toyota Corolla in a fine Lekki house
My car went into retirement in the last week of June 2019. This coincides with my relocating to a house which is 4 kilometres closer to my workplace than my previous place. The location of the new house means that I can get a Keke directly from the front of my house to the front of my workplace for 200 Naira (55 cents). On realizing this, I think it would have been silly for me on many levels to still keep driving my car to work on the regular.

Level 1: Transportation cost

My Toyota Corolla car is fuel economical. Hence, between my old place and my workplace, I used to spend between 500 and 600 Naira on petrol per day, which when you add the benefit of comfort of privacy you get in a car versus a Keke, it can't really be said to be expensive. That is until you remember that every day, yours sincerely had to shell out 360 Naira every day to pass through the Lekki Admiralty toll plaza. That takes my former daily transportation costs up to 900 Naira; more than twice what it now costs me for my daily work commute.

Level 2: Car maintenance

Beyond the running costings for using a car being more on a day-to-day basis, there's also the fact that the more use a car gets, the more frequently it has to be maintained. These days, I drive my car only on Saturdays and Sundays, mostly within my neighbourhood. In numbers, this means that my car now gets 71% more rest than it used to in the days when I drove it to work every day. Now, if that's not retirement, please tell me what is.

In terms of cost, using my car less than one-third the time that I used to means that instead of servicing it three or four times a year, I can now do that just once or if I'm being generous (or paranoid) twice a year. Similarly, the unexpected faults that tend to rear their heads every once in a while, leading to unanticipated spending are less likely to occur due to reduce wear and tear on the car.

Finally, if I was driving to work every day from my current house, I would be driving the car through some not-so-level roads. Every single day! That would take away a few more points from my well-maintained car scorecard.

Level 3: Commuting time

Beyond being a car spoiler, the poor state of the roads in the Lekki-VI alternative route (they're actually not that bad but I hate to drive on anything other than a paved road) between home and work means that a car can't be driven any much faster than a Keke can. The roads are quite bumpy, right from around Newmarket (Akiogun) road in Lekki until you get to Ligali Ayorinde street in VI.

Of course, the commuting time takes a leap at rush hour times. Again, at such times, I'd rather not be stuck in my car wasting away in traffic that I could breeze through using a Keke or Okada. When I used to drive to work every day, I regularly had to wait at the office till at least, 8 PM for rush-hour traffic to ease out enough to be tolerable for me.

However, since I started taking Keke to work with my car parked at home, I've been regularly leaving my work for home between 5 and 6 pm. In the worst traffic situations on my route, Kekes still manage to get through much faster than any car can. Also, if it's a total standstill, I'm free to walk or bike my way out of such before joining a Keke that has gone past the traffic.

Having said all that, I hereby wish my car a happy retirement.


I think this article is lame. But what's wrong with being lame? Whenever I'm hesitant to do something because I might be seen as lame, I like to encourage myself by reminding myself that lameness is actually a positive trait in that it gives other people a reason to laugh. Hence, in as much as I manage to take the mockery light-heartedly, my lameness actually has a net positive effect in the world, so long as it does not involve directly causing damage to someone or something.
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24 June 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

I took a GBoat from Lekki to Victoria Island last Monday. Here's how it went

Shameless admission: I stole the format for the title of this article from the first review of GBoat (at least according to Google). I'm trying to be the second review and also, I hope to have my article appear on the first page when anyone in Nigeria searches for GBoat.


Gossy's giveaway tweet for GBoat Nigeria

After stumbling on a tweet from Gossy that was offering giving a free GBoat ride and drinks on Friday, I decided to be an early adopter by booking a Lekki to Victoria Island (V.I.) trip for the next Monday's work commute. What's the worst that could happen? It costs only 200 Naira. I don't know if I've ever looked forward to Monday morning like I did throughout the ensuing weekend. I shared my excitement via my Whatsapp statuses and before Monday, 4 of my contacts requested that they'd love to know how it goes. So here I am fulfilling that wish for all of them and hopefully, many other people.

My first GBoat booking. 7:00 on a Monday morning

I got to the jetty at 6:55 on Monday, barely five minutes before departure, even though the ticket e-mail had said to be at departure point 15 minutes ahead. I had to take an okada from Ikate roundabout bus-stop in Lekki all the way to the junction of Wole Olateju crescent and Admiralty way after waiting to no avail for a bus that would drop me at Lekki Phase 1 gate for about 5 minutes.

6:49 on Admiralty way; Luka couldn't go fast enough

I paid off the Okada guy (Luka - I know his name because I paid him via bank transfer) and hurried towards Marcopolo restaurant which is right in front of the jetty. Since it was that early, I had to explain to the gateman that I had a ride for 7 a.m. that morning before he allowed me to make my way around to the back. "By this time?", he'd said after I explained to him. Obviously, he was not aware of the arrangement. On getting to the jetty, there was no boat in sight. Also, the only humans in sight were some 'staffs' of Kingfisher restaurant who were fast asleep under the waterfront shed.

Kingfisher restaurant, Lekki

My thinking was that the booking website contained the wrong departure location. I thought that might be the case because in the pulse.ng article, the departure point was Pavilion Jetty, Lekki. So I consulted the ticket email that I got from "Lagos boats" after my booking to see if this might be the case. To my relief, the departure point on the ticket was also Kingfisher, Lekki. This surely was not my mistake.

I waited around for at most, 2 minutes before accepting that alas, I had to follow the boring route to work that morning. As I walked back towards the Marcopolo exit, I couldn't help but stew in anger. Just as I walked through the Marcopolo gate though, I heard my phone ring. It was Gossy, the founder of "Lagos boats". On the call, he confirmed my availability for the trip. I told him I was at the jetty already, after which he let me know the boat would be there shortly.

Back at the jetty, at 7:12, I saw a boat pull into the jetty. As soon as the driver was within earshot, I confirmed from him that it was a GBoat. So, las las, rush-hour traffic is not my portion this morning. He took about 4 minutes to dock the boat at the jetty, right after which he beckoned me to come through. The jetty gate was locked though, so I couldn't go through. Village people

GBoat boat approaching the Kingfisher Lekki Jetty

As soon as I told the GBoat driver about the locked gate, he had a conversation with the gateman guy who had let him in, of which that one just clear him, telling him the person with the jetty keys was not on duty 😱. Next, the driver made a call, after which he told me that feedback was on the way from the person on the other end of the line.

The GBoat driver making a call on my behalf for the gate to be unlocked
Not 5 minutes after that, Gossy arrived. Likely, he's the one the driver had been talking with over the phone. After we exchanged pleasantries, he told me that the person with the key was on the way. By now, it was at least, 7:30 and I feared I'd not make it to my office on time that morning. However, he allayed my fears by sharing the detail that the ride takes between 5 and 8 minutes. While waiting for the key-guy, we talked about different topics like:

  • my price sensitivity and how I might not be able to keep up if the GBoat fare increases
  • how the waterways in Lagos have a mixture of fresh and salt water and how these can be distinguished by the wave pattern on the surface (flat vs. rough)
  • the cost of importing a boat from Dubai and the boat he's building
After waiting for another 8 minutes, Gossy decided that we'd go through the gate. Cool!!! 😄. He led the way, and I followed as soon as he was over the gate. I mounted the boat right after him too and within a minute, off we went. Departure was at 7:42. I know because Gossy asked me to check the time so I'd know how long the trip takes.

What to say now about the ride? It went fast, really faster, faster than I wanted. I also enjoyed the fact that I had enough personal space to myself since it was just me, Gossy and the boat driver on board. During the ride, I busied myself with taking pictures and videos and in hindsight, I think that took away some enjoyment of the experience for me. We arrived at Paradise Jetty in V.I. at 7:50 (8-minutes after departure from Lekki).

I and Gossy; happy about takeoff I guess

The GBoat arrives at the Paradise Jetty, Victoria Island

Something beautiful about how the rays bounce off of these buildings, opposite the Paradise Jetty

The entrance of Paradise Jetty, Victoria Island

The walk from Paradise Jetty to Kofo Abayomi junction where I got a Keke Napep to drop me at work is a short one

Right now, it's 2:38 a.m. on Monday and my next GBoat ride is less than 5 hours away (7:35). Except there's something particularly striking, I'll keep my phone and its accompanying camera in my pocket and just enjoy the ride through my eyes and skin. My body tends to protest and pay deaf ears to alarm clocks when I get less than 5 hours of sleep though. Hopefully, that does not happen today because I don't want to miss my GBoat ride 🙏. That sure won't be a good way to start a week.
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16 June 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

If you hate bank charges in Nigeria, you should know what I do about the Carbon wallet

If you, like me, hate Nigerian bank charges and you regularly pay/make more than two bills/transfers every month, you should definitely read this to the end. It will save you a few dimes every month and above that (if you're anything like me), give you the petty sense of gratification that you've been able to beat the establishment.

First things first, if you don't know about the Carbon wallet, here you go:

Carbon is the product formerly known as Paylater. It was rebranded recently (April 2019).
Asidedon't you just love the colour purple?

Now that you know what the Carbon wallet is, I'll just go right ahead to let you in on the important deets only. My Carbon wallet has become indispensable for my monthly bills - which are usually paid right after I receive that most exciting SMS message for employees the world over. For me, there's simply no better alternative today for my bill payments. Having said that, my only goal for writing this article is to show you how I arrived at that conclusion.

The table below compares the charges I pay when I use my Nigerian bank's mobile or internet banking app versus when I use the Carbon wallet for my monthly bill payments.

Bill name Bill amount Bank surcharge Carbon wallet surcharge
Mum's DSTV bill 4,000 Naira 100 Naira 0 Naira (free)
Lekki Concession company (LCC) toll gate 10,000 Naira 100 Naira 50 Naira
Interbank transfer of monthly allowance to Ms Foo 16,000 Naira 52.5 Naira 10 Naira
Interbank transfer of monthly allowance to Mr Bar 10,000 Naira 52.5 Naira 10 Naira
Total 305 Naira 70 Naira

Apart from being more than 300% cheaper than using my bank's USSD, mobile or internet banking applications, my Carbon wallet also helps me save time on these bill payments. The first time that I made each of these payments via the Carbon app, I had the option to flag each one as a recurring bill. A recurring bill on the Carbon app is automatically replayed on a certain day every month (for me, this is two days after payday, to accommodate any delays 😉😉).

Hence, with my Carbon wallet, instead of doing 4 different transactions one after the other (which on top of costing me more money, used to take me at least 20 minutes to complete), all I need to do on payday now is fund my Carbon wallet with the total of my bills (+ 70 Naira for surcharges) from my salary account and then, I can just go right back to the worthwhile business of earning the next month's pay.

Do you know what else is so cheap, it's free? Moving money from my Nigerian bank account to my Carbon wallet! It's hard to believe, but yes, it's true. Whether I'm funding my wallet with my card or directly with my bank account, the amount that reflects in my Carbon wallet is the exact same amount that left my bank account.

Funding my Carbon wallet is free of charge

Stoked? You can find out more about the Carbon wallet on the Carbon FAQs page. Ready to dive in? All you need to get started is to download the app to your Android phone.

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12 May 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

Bad customer service example in Nigeria: Airpeace or Air Peace 🙄🙄


I used to write a lot of bad reviews about Nigerian businesses in my younger years, on this blog. In my younger years, I had no chill on that matter. You're a business, you cross me, you're ending up in a no details spared rant on my blog. In a power-imbalanced situation like the one I'm in now, this is the easiest way I have to respond to getting bullied.

Over the years though, I started to understand that humans make mistakes and this necessarily extends to the businesses that they create. Also, a respected person in my network expressed their disappointment over an article I'd written about a small business which could potentially hurt its patronage. As a result, I decided that writing factually correct but defaming articles about organizations was not worth my time anymore. Besides, it's not like any of my articles had caused any observable change anyway. My life could do without some negativity.

Today though, I'm compelled to do it again. I can't see any reason why not to. This is more gratifying and easier than spending time trying to get redress from Airpeace for this annoyance.

Timeline of events

  1. Booked return flight ticket (search link here) from Lagos to Abuja with Airpeace (5th May)
  2. Got an email saying the flight time has been shifted by over an hour (6th May)
  3. Sent an email to Airpeace customer care to cancel and refund the Lagos to Abuja flight since the new schedule would not work for me. This was after I'd checked Arik and seen that they actually had a flight whose timing worked for me and at a good price too. (7th May)
  4. Booked Arik one-way ticket to replace the cancelled first leg of my Airpeace flight (7th May)
  5. Had Arik Air leave my Lagos to Abuja ticket open (for a future date) as I decided to backdate my flight by one day and none of their flight times for that day worked for me. I would have asked for a refund but I didn't want to trigger another 4-week long refund process. I also didn't know if I would get a full refund since their website is missing an FAQ page (Hyperlink: https://www.arikair.com/arik-air-faqs)(HTTP 404: NOT FOUND). Also, their terms and conditions page is a pop-up on the home page containing human-unreadable information (8th May)
  6. Booked another Lagos to Abuja one-way ticket with Airpeace with new money, even though I had money with them that I would only see again in 4 weeks' time. "This process cannot be reversed", they said when I reached out via email to ask if they cancel delay their 4-week long refund so I could use the money to buy another ticket, with them! (8th May)
  7. Travelled from Lagos to Abuja with Airpeace (10th May)
  8. Couple of hours to the end of the day before returning to Lagos, I decided to select a seat on my return flight (Abuja to Lagos). Only to discover that even though my instruction to Airpeace on 7th May was specific about which flight leg was to be cancelled and refunded (because they had re-scheduled it), they had also cancelled and 'initiated' refund for the return leg of my trip. They cancelled the entire ticket!

    The possibility of such stupidity didn't even cross my mind for once before that moment and I'd legit have gone to the airport the next day expecting to use a nullified ticket if not that I serendipitously got prompted by my Uber driver to select a seat in advance (11th May)
    Yes sir, we do quick refunds. Only that our own quick refund takes four weeks - Airpeace
  9. After panicking and successfully suppressing my panic, I sent Airpeace an email asking for a redress for their error as I had to be in Lagos 'tomorrow'. Then picked up my phone to call because 'this is urgent'! Was further infuriated by Airpeace's taking the liberty to play me an advert for one full minute before the IVR menu was presented to me. "Why can't this advert be delayed till the waiting period", I thought to myself. (11th May)
  10. Due to a combination of the delays and the wrongly positioned adverts (which I had to hear three times) and getting dropped off the call right after laying my complaint (and not getting a callback; cos who cares right?), I spent 25 minutes of airtime ($1) to get told that nothing could be done to redress their error and that my only option was to pay to book another ticket.  (11th May)
  11. I first tried to book my Abuja to Lagos flight with Arik using my open ticket from 8th May. The customer care agent I spoke to broke my heart by informing me that the only way I could activate my open ticket was to visit one of their offices. That, because I have to pay an administration fee of 2000, and a fare difference and it could not be done except in-person bet I booked this flight online mah!!?. (11th May)
  12. Left with few alternatives and no time to browse, I bought another Abuja to Lagos ticket from Airpeace at the same price as the original ticket, less than 24 hours to the flight time. A ray of light in the overwhelming darkness of the moment (I expected prices to have skyrocketed as usual). (11th May)
  13. I IMed the godsend Uber driver - that took me to the hotel on arrival - of my departure time. He's a godsend because he's the one who prompted me to select a seat early when he asked of my departure time 'tomorrow'. (11th May)

Why Airpeace shoulda coulda done better

  1. I've spent at least 200,000 Naira flying with Airpeace within the past 9 months (8 flights)

  2. This means something right? Wrong!
  3. A human deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This includes trying to compensate to a paying customer when your own shortcoming causes them real negative consequences. Even if they're not relevant.

How Arik with a soul would have done better

This one is very simple. We're in a country where fund transfers are so seamless, they can be done mindlessly. Even if this ticket re-open feature is not built into your online ticketing system (understandable), there could be a process where the balance is paid off, either via online transfer or even at the airport, right before departure. But no, this customer is not relevant, so let him come to our office to activate a ticket he paid for online. I'm tired.

How Airpeace with a soul would have done better

  1. A four-week refund process. Seriously? In the age of Nigerian fintech? Poor people can't fly for sure. Right now, I have over 70k of my money in limbo, not to return to me until at least, 4 weeks' time. I can't see this as any other thing but a way to dissuade customers from asking for a refund. Big bad wolf Airpeace!
    Even the customer service number is a pain in the ass - 15 digits!
  2. Realizing that they made an error in over-executing my cancellation request, they would instantly rebook me on the same flight and put any fare differences on the house. Especially as the refund for the cancelled flight was sent via the Pigeon mobile banking app. Seeing as I've spent 200k patronizing them in less than a year, they would put a little faith in me to send them the balance as soon as the refunded amount reaches me.

    But no, the current Airpeace is a business, not a charity. Also, I am not relevant to have this kind of risky consideration made for me. We Nigerians take all we can get and I'll surely run away with 23k and use it to finalize my grand ploy to fly abroad, slipping masterfully out of their grasp.
  3. They would not have me involuntarily pay to hear an advert for a full minute except it's absolutely unavoidable e.g. no customer service agent to serve me at the moment
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