Monday, December 01, 2008

"Joint" Review , Funny Beggars, and Long-Winded Stories

Sunday November 30th was supposed to be a regular day, and it started out being so, but ended up filling me with a lot of hope. I considered going to church but opted out and decided to go to the gym instead. I am able to work out regularly because I adopted the thinking that working out is a long-term investment, so though I don’t see the resulting daily changes in my body, I believe they’re happening. Likewise if I don’t exercise, though the changes are not obvious initially, I’d better believe they’re occurring. When I decided against going to church, I thought that if I was as conscientious with my spiritual search as I am with my pursuit of the ultimate swim-suit bod, I’d have a religion by now. That thought left me horrified but at least I admitted to myself that I’ve been looking for a religion. There’s nothing worse than a person without a belief. At least if I were agnostic or atheist, I could claim to be something. As things stand, I’m just searching, though strongly leaning towards christianity. Even that piece of my identity was challenged this morning when I found out that my father had also embarked on a spiritual search when he was a young adult but had failed to complete it because my mother, strongly against it, had thrown out his Koran, Buddhist bells, and figurines of the Buddha. Typical! Now that I know that, even the spiritual search thing is losing its appeal. I feel that I'm not that special. Here was I thinking I was doing something original, trying to find out things for myself. And my dad basically told me (without knowing that I am on this search) that he's been there and tried to do that. I’m tempted to give it up, think kɔtɔ nwo anoma (tr: a crab does not give birth to a bird), try to get into Christianity and believe with all my might. I’m still waiting for my miracle, so I’ll leave that alone for now.

Allow me to go off on another tangent but after I went off and told a whole story about religion when that wasn’t even the subject of today’s blog entry, it struck me that that is exactly what my mom does. George Gopen, one of the two people (the other is Jim Henle, a math professor) who gave me what little formal training I have in writing says that context defines meaning. In a story, context is everything. If Dr. Gopen ever hears my mother tell a story, he might spout a different philosophy. See my mother is the queen of providing context. When she is telling a story, I always get tired of listening because in her attempt to provide context, she overdoes it and the end never ever satisfies. She keeps you waiting so long that by the time she delivers the whammy, I’m thinking, I had to wait this long to get this queer/chotch (Ghanaian pidgin for little) whammy? Anti-climax. hehee. I’ll give you an example. If she wants to say that the man is sick, she’ll start by saying, the man, whose wife sells nkontomire and whose mother is a hunchback, who, if I remember I met the last time I was home from the US, has the disease that Auntie Anyele’s cousin had last year which prevented him from marrying the girl he was in love with and so ended up marrying that good-for-nothing girl who looks like she bleaches...haha. Maybe I should develop a character based on this peculiar characteristic of my mom just because such a character would be so loveable.

To get to the gym, I used the Agyiringano road that links Ashale-Botwe to East Legon. My stomach started growling about five minutes into the journey but I was already too far gone to use the Madina route. That route would have allowed me to get kube on the IPS road, but I couldn't be bothered to go back so I kept moving. A few minutes later, I spotted the kooko joint on that road which my old friend Elikem had recommended highly the previous week. At the time that Elikem told me about that kooko and bofrot joint, I was not so keen on it because I was thinking of the nutritional value of hausa kooko and bofrot (I've given up on trying to figure out the English name of this one. puff loaves, panets?,). I thought of millet, water, sugar, butter, more sugar, flour, oil, and didn't think I'd ever eat it. But on Sunday, yesterday, I was hungry so I decided to live a little. I parked by the roadside, and was about to get out when the bofrot seller came to ask me how much I wanted to buy. I was quite tickled and even cracked a smile when he referred to me as Madam. The guy was working himself up to bring Madam bofrot. Good thing he didn't know that this madam is not a madam at all but a small girl danger. He brought me my breakfast of 80 pesewas. 3 balls of bofrot for 20 pesewas a piece, making a total of 60 pesewas and hausa kooko sweetened with sugar for 20 pesewas. By the way I also had a kofi brokeman lunch (roasted plantain with roasted groundnuts) for 1 cedi. I drove a little farther, parked again and sat to sip my kooko like children suck nipples from the tip of the plastic bag which held it, from time to time, biting my bofrot like you see in the picture of me from 2006. When I was once more on my way, I thought what a great idea it would be to have a “joint review” website or blog. I bought the hausa kooko from that joint because my friend had recommended it to me. Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone could create a blog which is aimed only at reviewing joints? I got more and more excited as I thought about it. The CPP is talking about bringing change we can feel in our pockets, but now this is something concrete that if it took off, would put money in the kooko seller’s pocket, enabling her to pay her children’s nursery school fees on time so that my mother can get money to cook so I can come home in the evening and chow. This is change we can create ourselves. Maybe a “joint review” site would encourage more people to go to joints. Here is an example of a review blog. Such a blog would also help us know which joints consistently give running tummies, so we can avoid those places. There are a few joints like Auntie Muni and Katawodieso which thrive by word of mouth but there are also joints like Fulera's waakye at Madina taxi rank and the one at my junction that need to be reviewed so that they'll get more business:) I’m tired of talking about great ideas that never take off, so I’m going to have to do this myself as I’m in doing-mode but if anyone wants to take this one up (meaning this will happen this month, preferably this week), then shoot me an email and let me know that you’ve started this so that I can cross it off my to-do list. You can also email me if you would like to be a contributing reviewer. The more the better because obviously I won’t be able to get lots of content on the blog unless we have many people chowing at joints and telling us their experience.

While I was still all excited about the thought of sampling joint food, I had gotten to the Airport intersection, the one close to Walfred Services, and the Airside Hotel. If you take tro-tro from the Shangri-la Hotel to 37, it is the stop before Opeibea House. The traffic light was red, so I stopped. Then I witnessed a fit, attractive young man (a beggar) in a wheelchair wheel up to a Toyota Prado. There was an older portly chinese-looking man in the car. As soon as our disabled guy saw the chinese man, he shouted “nii haw” “nii haw” “nii haw” repeatedly whilst laughing. The windows were up and the chinese man did not hear him or pay him any attention but the beggar's laugh was infectious and it was hilarious to see him making fun of the chinese man, so I started giggling. The light turned green and I sped off to the gym, while thinking that the beggar was a riot and that he seemed like someone I’d like to know. It was just refreshing to see a beggar with a sense of humor and who reminded me that we’re all just ordinary people. It filled me with sense of hope and feeling that right here is Paradise. Where else would you meet a beggar you'd want to hang with? I wish I didn’t keep getting advice to roll up my window and lock the door when in traffic. If I had, I would have missed the fun like the Chinese man did...but that is probably the safe thing to do.


  1. Hei about your joints I have a couple of places for komi, waakye, and beans. As for the beans seller we have going to the place for over 15 years now. From my primary school through secondary, uni and now even whilst working. They are not as famous as Auntie Muni and co but more delicious and good on our pockets. I can give you the places .

  2. Hi Esi,

    I have enjoyed your blog. This is my first time of reading it. What name do we give to our current generation in Ghana? seems the developments/scenes growing up have been mutual. Talk some more- going for a Capoeira class tonite. See yah.

  3. Still loving your great writing and loooong diaries.

  4. Ghanaians are truly some amazing people. Where else can a beggar properly greet a Chinese man in his own language? Globalization is real.

    Esi, keep up the good work and please review some joints before bronya so those of us making the pilgrimage can broaden our enjoyment and spend our money more widely. Thanks!

  5. Aunt, let's talk. Flow me your number! I've been wanting a joint review for the longest time but got no takers!