Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NYSC Orientation Camp - Updates and Random Thoughts

I have been away from here for so long, and there is so much to talk about... I will build it up slowly, a little here and a little there... I will use sections to arrange my thoughts... I will paint a mosaic, and hopefully convey meaning... It might be quite long, but I wrote this for you - as much as it is for me - please read on.

I have spent the past 15 days (give or take one or two days) in the NYSC camp, and no two days have been entirely the same. I have met foreign-trained Corps members who share an undying love for the Fatherland and domestic-trained Corps members who couldn't be bothered to build Nigeria; I have met Corps members who would engage Soyinka in conversation and not miss a beat and I have met Corps members who cannot speak a sentence in complete English.

I fear for Nigerian education, but then I get ahead of myself.

******

My arguments about the relevance of the NYSC scheme have varied in the past. I have gone from supporting the scheme and propounding its merits to condemning it and arguing that it be scraped. On many of these occasions, critics of my thoughts and writing have argued that I should go through the scheme before setting forth such arguments... Enter this section:

While it may be too early to form definitive opinions, and conscious as I am that a great deal of money is spent on the NYSC under its present form - sitting on the parade ground right now with my new Moslem acquaintance from Gombe and an avowed Sango worshiper from Oyo - I would shoot anyone who suggests that the NYSC be scrapped.

Did I feel that way when I spent 13 hours on a queue trying to complete my registration? No. Did I feel that way when I received my Kit and experienced firsthand its poor quality? No. Do I feel that way in the mornings when I brave the filth of the bathrooms to scrub my body? No. Do I feel that way when I skip meals and make up my energy requirements from Energy drinks in order to avoid using the toilets? No.

Will I still feel this way about the NYSC in another 11 months? I don't know.

What I know is that the Camp Officials here have been nice and friendly. In many ways, they have proved themselves different from your average Nigerian Civil Servant. The State Coordinator of the NYSC has proved to be a natural leader, an imposing figure, a larger-than-life madam... She inspires even me.

It is difficult to impress me.

I have been impressed.

******

"Eh eh eh eh, yahwa go gas (2ce), if allawee no dey, yahwa go gas; if allawee no dey, yahwa go gas"...

I enjoy the morning drills. While I have temporarily ceased to wake at 2am, my ears have become finely attuned to the sound of the bugle. The sleep clears from my eyes and my heart thumps as I make my way to the grounds. Unlike my friends in other camps, our morning drills are done in step to music blasting from loudspeakers. I have discovered new music such as "Ihe Neme" by Tu Face, "Your Waist" by Iyanya, etc etc... I have found a new and fun way to exercise.

I participate in ALL the drills, savoring the almost-taste of being in the military. I love the military. I love my RSM. I love the 21 year old female soldier attached to my platoon. In the past few days, I have asked myself severally what would change about my life if I chose a career in the army. I like order and regimentation, but then at this stage - the price to pay would be too great. I'll pass on that choice...

I enjoy the Man-O-War gyrations. Blood races through my body when I hear the sounds of their songs, and my limbs move of their own accord...

"Hold something, hold something... Grab something, grab something".

******

Temilolu Kumapayi once told me point-blank that she reckons relationships somewhat more serious after the concerned parties have survived NYSC postings to separate states.

I have always wondered what exactly about the 3 weeks of camp turns peoples' heads and triggers break-ups and make-ups. I have always wondered how guys can fall head-over-heels in love with a girl they have spent only 21 days with. Now I no longer wonder; I know.

I am tempted to expound on my findings, but I will not. I have decided it is best expressed in a fictional account, and I will get to work on that when I leave camp. I am excited about that story already. Be sure to read it when I post it. :)

******

Nigerian graduates are an interesting sort. One of my primary objectives when coming into camp was to meet new people, and I have made lots of friends. Enter Lola who studied Human Resource Management at Manchester, Omolayo from Redeemers, Vicar from Imo State University, Barrister Bukola from OOU, Fisayo and Ronke from Babcock, Zulfah from some Moslem University in Ilorin, Ibrahim and Sarah from Gombe State University, Lekan Adebesin from UNAAB, Ore from Imperial College... The list could go on for pages.

These are all people that I would never have met in my day-day life... People that ordinarily do not run in the same social circles as I do... All of us brought together under the same roof, wearing the same clothes, and eating the same food - thanks to the NYSC.

It is just 15 days gone, but there is a lot more diversity in my life, thinking, and appreciation of Nigeria's varied cultures than there was before I stepped into this camp. If nothing else, the NYSC does very well at this!

******

Did I mention that I can now roll perfect spring-rolls and make Samosa? Oooo yes! I was told the lectures were boring, which has been largely true - but I totally enjoy the Skill Acquisition Program powered by SAED. I don't know if it is a Lagos thing (Corps members in other camps can jump in here), but mehn - it works!

I look forward to feeding my daughters fat on small chops when their mother goes for a night with the "girls"... *doing asko*

******

Is this all? No. Will I continue in a separate post? Yes. Is this representative of my writing? I leave you to judge. Was it worth your time? Well, yes.

******

Thank you for stopping by. You make it a joy to type out such long articles on my tiny phone keyboard. I love you, yes you.

Koye.

Friday, November 09, 2012

NYSC Day Three - Random Thoughts

Today was the longest day of my life.

I slept for three hours nine minutes, exactly a minute less than I slept the previous night (Tuesday - Wednesday), and went through the entire day in a half-daze.

Eager to march, but kit-less, I donned my white/white and participated in morning drills - but found my way off the parade ground once rehearsals for the Swearing-In parade began.

I then returned to my platoon's registration tent, and in Ife style - took total responsibility for starting and maintaining the queue. I arranged the table, got the Inspector a chair, carried her stuff - all in a bid to complete my registration. Of course, it paid off. It always works. Finally that phase is done and I can focus on something else. Problem is I am not sure what the something else is.

Kits are finished, and that is awesome news! Swearing-In was a lot more fun as I relaxed under the tent (in my Kit-less state) while the early-birds/original Otondos paraded for about three hours. I hope we don't get the kits till next week! *straight face*

I discovered awesome white rubber shoes that are very low maintenance, and I advise that all intending Corps members buy these jor. The shoes don't stain, don't retain water, and are ANNOYINGLY easy to clean. Now I am no longer afraid of people stepping on me, water spilling on my shoes etc... Off with my "tush" sneakers!

I don't know what I was thinking at the moment, but today I volunteered to work on the Maintenance & Utilities committee. I'm still amazed. I really wanted to do something, and OBS insisted on auditioning me - a total no-go area as I don't "act" well... This is practically the first time since Ife that I will do anything related to Engineering, and I sure look forward to the experience. I should also mention that every time I mention I studied Mechanical Engineering from "Ife", I get the respect I deserve... Even the Imperial College grads respect us!

I had a long and emotional call with my manager today...and I realize that I have been so busy that I have not missed my life at P&G - at least, not very much. Now that I think of it, I really miss Carole, 'Nosen & Grace - and I hope I see them really soon :) I miss my triple Managers!

This is becoming too long (hopefully not so difficult to read), so lemme provide teasers:

1. Today, I discovered the fun side of the Mammy market :)... This is very long already and I want to make sure you come back tomorrow, so I'll tell you about my Mammy market foray in my next post. In advance, just know I was there for hours!

2. Girls... Of course there's an update, but I hear the bugle already... I'll talk this in the next post also.

Onto the parade ground... *wipes sweat*

Koye.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

NYSC Day Two - Random Thoughts

If there was an award for "Most Disorganized Platoon in NYSC Batch C, 2012", my Platoon would easily win it. Other than that, I don't see us winning anything. We can't form and maintain a queue, we have the highest allocation of pregnant women in this camp, and the few guys we have are more interested in chasing girls and talking football. :D

This morning/afternoon/evening, about fifty of us have spent well over 11 hours TRYING to get our kits. Except for pregnant women (of whom there seems to be no end) - and of whom I have no count, only about TEN of us have actually gotten any kits here. Crazy, isn't it?

In typical Koye fashion, I got angry after (wait for this) about 4 hours and took a 1 hour break to cool off... Of course, I came back to meet them on the queue - in the same exact spot I left!

Separately, before I go on speaking my mind in various posts - I need to understand if any laws guide what I am allowed to say as a serving Corps member. The last thing I would want is to have my "stay" extended because I pulled no punches in a blog entry. If you're aware of any such restrictions, please holla ASAP!

In other news, I saw today what it meant to "serve" under the sun and in the rain. While we waited on the queue for our kits, the early-birds marched UNDER the most scorching sun I have experienced in a couple of years. It was so scorching, I still feel pain on my neck from exposure to the sun rays. Amazingly, fast-forward a few minutes, and it was raining cats & dogs!

It is well o. I was not going to do a count-down before, but now I must. It helps my spirit to remember that I won't be here forever...that when I wake up tomorrow, there will be only 19 days to go.

Also, I repent of laughing at Busola for using Sunscreen, and I swear I must get me some ASAP!

LASTLY, couple of guys who know Busola and are looking out for us have been asking me about the girls... So lemme share my two favorite stories so far:

1. I met Ada (not real name), whose idea of a conversation was to talk non-stop for 13 minutes (I used a stop-watch after a couple of minutes were past) - and who was completely insensitive to every "I'm not listening" sign under the sun. Of course, I'm gonna avoid her like the plague!

2. I met Yemi (not real name) who fawned over me from the exact moment when she helped gather my spilled wallet and happened on my P&G Call Card. She volunteered to wait with me for three hours (after getting her own stuff) - and disappeared a few minutes after scoping my Date of Birth from my Biodata form. :D

Gotta run now... Be right back ;)

Koye.

PS: Apologies for the quality of this work. Typing long notes on my BB isn't so easy. Mwah!

NYSC Day One - Random Thoughts

Wow.

I wish I could show you how many thoughts and emotions are represented in that one word - "wow".

Before coming into the Iyana Ipaja camp of the NYSC yesterday - I had read lots and lots of blogs, but nothing prepared me for the magnitude of the filth, disorderliness, and desperation I have observed and experienced between yesterday and today.

Is it the fact that young Nigerian graduates from all Universities cannot form and maintain an orderly queue - even when it is plainly the only way for anybody to get anything done? Is it the fact that Corps members that "know" people walked right through the gates & headed for registration centers while the rest of us sat under the scorching sun for hours? I could go on and on, but then...

Having realized the only way to get anything done is to blatantly disregard the rules (and queues) - I decided to play the Game the Health Sciences way (holla if you went to Ife and you know what I mean) - and actually got some stuff done.

Now it's 4am, and I'm back on a queue to continue (and hopefully finish my registration).

A couple of other random thoughts I'd like to mention:

1. If you're a prospective Corps member reading this, don't bother packing so many books to camp. I did, and now I'm actively looking for someone to visit me on Sunday and pack them back.

2. I totally hate the fact that I can see bathing ladies from my bathroom (and vice-versa). I have to scout the other bathrooms later today for a 'solution' to this problem.

3. Camp is a lot more fun when you're with friends (from University). Yesterday was dreary, long and boring until I met up with Wale and Atiku (classmates from OAU Mech). Of course I plan to make friends later on, but old faces are always good for comfort & reassurance.

4. Camp is even more fun when you're bunking with friends. I got bounced from my original bunk by 4 friends from the same University, but that's a story for another day. I moved in with Wale & Atiku - and so far it's total bliss.

5. Having discovered "Iya Anambra" yesterday, I now see why I should not have bothered to pack a cooler. Whoever visits me on Sunday will take that back also. Saves me the stress of having to wash plates etc.

6. Thanks to Ayt (Ilesanmi) for the heads up - it's a lot more convenient to charge my phone with the Mammy guys than in my room. Plus a lil BB advert - I have the new Curve 9320 & while the battery is not as good as they say - it manages to last about 18 hours on one charge.

I gotta focus on hustling to complete my registration now, and I'll be back (hopefully) later... These blog posts are an attempt to document my experiences - largely for myself, & largely for my many friends that want to know "how it's going"... Saves me from many BB chats :)

Talk to y'all later!

Koye.