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 Kauno Švara 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?
-
Ačiū

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PS

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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

PS

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.

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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 🙄🙄

Foreword

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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15 December 2018

Hafiz Adewuyi

A good short-term investment that I made in 2018: PayVest by Paylater

In 2018, I invested money in at least, 5 short-term instruments. And of all of them, by all matrices that matter to me, PayVest by Paylater which I only discovered a few weeks to the end of the year is the best of them all. Now, let me support my opinion with some details.

Return on investment

I made an investment with a tenor of 6 months at 14.5% per annum. When you remove the policy-mandated withholding tax of 10%, you end up with a net return of 13.05%. Which is still better than 90% of the discount rates I got on treasury bills all year long.

Before 2018, I'd gotten quite comfortable with keeping my money in treasury bills because the rates throughout 2017 were decent - between 16% and 18% for a really long period. However, in 2018, the rates took a dip to between 10 and 13%, which quickly got me looking out for alternative investment opportunities with better return rates and similarly low-risk.

The best return rate from a similar solution to PayVest that I'd found earlier in the year was 10% per annum so you can appreciate why I'm excited about finding PayVest. 4.5% can be a lot depending on how much we're talking about.

Liquidity of funds

My biggest surprise after securing my fixed deposit with PayVest via the Paylater mobile app was that I could actually undo the transaction anytime I wanted without talking to anyone. On top of that, withdrawing prematurely does not come with any of the penalties you would get with similar short-term investment vehicles. I think that was such an impressive design choice because that degree of freedom just makes me want to leave my money in PayVest for even longer.

PayVest withdrawal before maturity screen

You know, the fact that I don't have to overthink before I make an investment, knowing that if I found a better investment opportunity tomorrow, I could easily pull out my money is something that really works for me. It just means that I'll never leave any significant amount of money in my Nigerian savings account again knowing that I could earn 4 times as much returns on my capital if I moved it to PayVest for any of the available tenors.


Payvest investment periods: 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 1 year

I have just one prayer for the PayVest product team though. Perhaps if I was more knowledgeable in finance, it would be obvious to me how my recommendation is outrightly bad for business. But in my state of ignorance, I would like to recommend that the tenors be modified to allow customers invest their money in increments of one month. One month, two months, three months... up to 12 months.

I can't see why this wouldn't be a win-win for both parties. Repayments for Paylater loans which these investments are used to fund are on a monthly basis anyway. Also, it would be a first of its kind. I don't know of any short-term, low-risk investment vehicle in Nigeria apart from a bank account that gives you interest on a monthly basis. The minimum tenor is usually 90 days. To be able to earn withdrawable interest that is even as low as 8% per annum every month would surely attract more individual investors who can't tie down their money for as long as 90 days.

Ease of investment

I didn't have to add a card to the Paylater app to invest. As soon as I entered the deposit amount that I wanted to invest and confirmed the investment details, an account at One Finance bank was opened in my name - automatically. Next, the app showed me the account number and instructed me to make a transfer/deposit to that account. Once I did a transfer from my Access Bank internet banking, my fixed deposit was automatically booked on PayVest.




It wasn't even 30 seconds after I completed the transfer that I received an app notification + SMS from Paylater, congratulating me for taking one step closer to achieving my financial goals.

You can actually earn some interest before maturity

A few days after my first investment, I noticed that the app shows you the amount of interest you've earned so far. This value grows by a small amount each day. Naturally, I wanted to know whether or not I would get my accumulated interest if I withdrew my investment any day before maturity. Three days after creating the investment, I requested to withdraw it. Much to my disappointment, the money I got in my bank account was just my capital and nothing else.

Three months into the subsequent 6-month investment I booked, I repeated the experiment. This time, to my absolute surprise, I noticed that if I withdrew, I would be credited with the same amount I'd have gotten if I'd originally booked a 3-month investment with the same capital.

22050 is the pro-rated net return over 3 months on 700,000 invested at 14.0% per annum

For me, this was unexpected given the results of my initial experiment. It shows that a lot of thought went into designing the product in a way that favours both the customer and the company. PayVest could easily have implemented such as to pay you zero interest, as long as you didn't wait until your actual maturity date before terminating your investment. However, the design is such that as long as you keep your investment money up to one of the 4 milestones (3, 6, 9 or 12 months), you get the interest due to you, even if your original maturity date milestone has not been reached. 👍👍

A random experiment

Again, out of curiosity, I wanted to know what would happen if I disobeyed a clear rule on the app. The instruction when you are about to make a Payvest investment says to deposit the exact investment amount to the account opened for you in One Finance bank.

PayVest invest exact amount prompt

On this particular day, I was meant to invest 500,000 Naira. I felt like the system should be able to accept multiple transfers to make up the investment amount, as long as they were all done within the same day. Hence, I transferred 250,000 Naira to the stipulated account through my Access Bank internet banking profile.

The transfer failed! But my account was debited and the funds were not reversed instantly. On the PayVest app, there was also no indication that I'd sent any fraction of the money. I got slightly worried because it was someone else's money, but not so worried as to be panicked because I knew for sure that this money was far from being lost; just hung up in limbo for a day or two at worst. I was dealing with two renowned organizations who are also CBN regulated after all.

I placed a call to Paylater customer service to confirm if by any chance they had received the 50% of the investment amount that I sent. Within four minutes of being on the line, they had put any of the fears I had to rest. According to the customer service agent, there is a rule on the automatic One Finance bank investment account which ensures that any deposit to the account which is not exactly the investment amount you specified on PayVest will fail. 

He was sure that although the money had left my account, the money had not left my bank and that the money ideally should already have been reversed. And true to his word, the full amount was refunded to my account a little over 24 hours after I tried to send it. The reason why the funds could not have been reversed instantly is a discussion for another day.
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5 August 2018

Hafiz Adewuyi

Hafiz's Man of the year 2018

I've chosen the man of the year based on how much I've been inspired to become a better version of myself, mainly by observing and interacting with this person. His name is Lukman and he is my colleague at Access Bank. He's been on his annual vacation from work now for two weeks. And for someone that prides himself in not being one to miss people, there's been no working day that has passed in the past two weeks that I've not felt his absence.

I will now go ahead to talk in detail about some of the remarkable ways in which meeting Lukman has helped quicken my steps on the journey of self-growth, even though he's never really advised me.

Lukman gives so freely and says yes every time (well, almost every time)



I had a lot of horrible nicknames back when I was in secondary school. The one we'll be remembering today is "Stingo" (pronounced Stin-Joe). It's derived from the word: "Stingy". Yes, ending any word with the letter 'O' was a mainstream way of deriving nicknames back then. 

Even as I type that name now, I can hear Dolapo Abdul bellowing that name at me. It brings back bitter-sweet memories of that fateful evening in Ijanikin when I was publicly humiliated for refusing to allow a classmate get in-front of me on the queue for dinner - moin-moin and garri.

A classmate, who in my best guess was Dolapo Abdul had arrived at the queue a few minutes later than me. He must have studied the queue for at least, a few seconds before he noticed a familiar face (mine) who could help him shunt the humongous dinner queue. It was a frequent occurrence at the dining hall for food items to get exhausted prematurely and for no alternative arrangements to be made for the people left on the queue. His instinct to shunt the queue was one I could very much relate to.

Dolapo approached me and asked for a spot in front of me on the queue. Without thinking twice - in the manner in which I had become fairly infamous for - I said "No" to Dolapo with a straight face. From experience, he must have known there was little chance of him persuading me to change my mind about letting him into the queue. And so the vengeful kid that he was decided to go for shaming instead. He chanted at the top of his voice: "Stingo, stingo, stingo". And before I could say my name which is not that much of a mouthful, more than a handful of our classmates had joined in this chant.

The chant grew louder and louder and at one point, one of the boys decided to take it a step further. He hit me from behind with his hand, on what part of my body I cannot recall. This was all the encouragement the other kids around needed to teach me a long-overdue lesson. I received slaps and knocks from more directions than I could keep track of. I was massed for saying no. I think I might have cried.

My stinginess was a badge I had worn with honour for quite a while before that massing event. Stinginess was my way of responding to the scarcity of necessities I had to live with at that tender age. I instinctually wanted to have control over the depletion rate of my limited resources and sharing them freely with other people just created a degree of randomness that I either wasn't equipped to or ready to fit into my resource management framework. So, I made a deliberate decision that seemed fair at the time.

I looked to my Danfodio house roommate, Kamji, who never camped (begged for things - mostly food items - from other people) for inspiration. He's one of the earliest personifications of self-sufficiency that I ever encountered in life, if not the first. I decided I was going to be like Kamji, and that from that point on, I would never beg for stuff from any of my classmates ever again.

But no, this was not just about being self-sufficient like Kamji. Not at all. It just happened to be the crutch I would need to have handy when anyone attacks me for always saying no to their camping. After all, if I've never asked you for anything, I don't owe you anything and you can go and hug a transformer if you feel offended when I say no to you. Because I still won't ever need you anyway. My genius resource management masterplan was born.

I've grown several folds in all dimensions since the 15 years ago when I made the decision to be stingy so I could manage my resources effectively. But this well-practised scarcity mindset still has a strong network of roots in my psyche. Till date, it takes little effort for me to come up with a self-satisfying reason for why it's okay for me to say no to someone's request of me. I'm a 15-year request-declining expert, remember? A wariness of being taken advantage of is an ever-present component of my decision-making to this day.

Encountering a man like Lukman has encouraged me to start on a path to recovery from these deep wounds I unwittingly inflicted on my psyche. Almost every Monday morning since I resumed work at Access Bank, Lukman would bring in enough snacks to go round everyone in the office. I've never heard him ask for anything in return. And even though I currently earn significantly more than he does at work, it was a reality I struggled for a while to accept that someone could willingly decide to give this much value away so consistently without ever explicitly asking for it to be returned.

When Lukman is in the office, I always make a small trip to his desk to take a few delightful sips from the bottle of smoothie he brings to work every day. He never as much as flinches when I do this, and I know that I can go for as many sips as I want and he would allow me. I exercise restraint knowing that if I were to be in his shoes, I probably wouldn't allow anyone else a single sip of something I enjoy so much. It's almost as if he doesn't have a sense of possession, something I find it hard to relate to but deeply admire and aspire to.

I've told Lukman quite a number of times that I wish I could be like him. I wonder if he knew I was this serious about it. If I do something especially kind for you that means me parting with some financial value directly or indirectly, there's a good chance that I thought: "If Lukman can, why can't I" before allowing myself go ahead with that action.

Lukman has diverse interests and explores them actively, despite his full-time job

A few weeks after resuming in Access Bank in November 2017, I walked up to Lukman after a high-level meeting that ended at 8pm on a Monday evening. Being the new guy in the office, I was still just getting to know everyone. On reaching him, we exchanged greetings, after which I went ahead to ask him what he does for the bank. His response was pretty vague but being genuinely curious, I probed further. Before the end of our descent down the 16 flights of stairs to the ground floor of the Danmole office building that night, I got to know that he's into graphics, photography, videography, animations and all that jazz and that he's the go-to person for creative design tasks at the division we both work out of.

Over the next couple of weeks, I would come to learn that he's also into farming, writing, script-writing, cuisine, investment, fitness and fine-dining. And those are just the ones I'm aware of. How can one person have all these interests and actively pursue them on a regular basis? Does this dude live in the same world where some people won't stop complaining of boredom and limitations?

When I consider Lukman, I feel quite ashamed of my tendency to let my interests and ideas lie fallow. I see clearly than I ever have that there is still a lot more room to be deliberate about seeing what I can make out of my inclinations and ideas. To give my interests and ideas a better chance at life than I currently do.

Lukman is my non-relenting gym buddy

There's really not much to be said here. Plus I'm also tired of writing. Lukman has been my one and only consistent gym buddy since I returned to Lagos last October. If not for him, I don't think I would be as consistent as I am with my deliberate fitness activities today. Most of the exercises I do in the gym today, I learned them from him. He's like an infinite reservoir of knowledge who helps make working out a little easier for me by researching the exercises beforehand.

When I ask him what his goal is, he tells me he's training to run in the Olympics. Noble, innit? When he says this, I always go ahead to offer him without his asking that I'm only working to earn my invite into the exclusive pepper-dem club of muscle-wielding men. I am, after all, just a simple man.
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