Sunday, October 6, 2013

Up Down all around the town – it is a magical day.

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?”

general

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.

updown

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?

updown2

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