Back when Sara and I first started this international poetry thing we found ourselves in a hotel mini van bouncing across desert roads in Bahrain chasing a herd of camels with a crew of fellow speakers from a literacy conference. One of these colleagues was a Doctor Seif – a specialist in Arabic grammar. While we bounded across the sands laughing and gaining on the humped denizens of the desert Dr. Seif exclaimed, “It is a magical day!”
This has become a catch phrase for me and Sara when something incredible is happening during one of our excursions. Today was a magical day.
I stopped in our little hotel’s restaurant to grab a quick cup of coffee before heading to a pizza reception hosted by our librarian poet wrangler Kay. I poured the packet of instant coffee over three sugar cubes covered that with a layer of condensed milk then drowned this whole oleo with boiling water from a small tin spouted pot. Nigerian coffee.
A big guy sitting at the counter asked me, “Why is it that Americans drink coffee and Brits tea?”
I replied that I had no idea then I complimented him on his Up Down. Earlier in the day I learned that the traditional Nigerian dress of matching top and slacks that the men wore was colloquially know as an Up Down. I said that I might have to get one for myself.
“Wait here.” my new friend replied.
He disappeared for bit then came back and handed me an Up Down. “A gift” he said.
I learned that my benefactor was a retired general, Major General Bashiru Jinadu to be exact. And now I have an Up Down – of course it is going to need a bit of taking in – but it is certainly one of the biggest gifts I have ever received – literally. I humbly reciprocated by giving him a copy of my new book and promised to take him out for dinner if he ever found himself in the Cleveland area.
Thanks general, it is a magical day. How did you know orange is my color?