Saturday marked exactly a year since I moved to Berlin, so I figured I should write an update of some sort.
On the 1st of August 2014, I hopped on a one way flight out of Heathrow, and was met in Berlin by two friends of mine, Sandra and Christina. Scared out of my mind and thoroughly excited, we jumped in a taxi, which took me to my new home in Schoneberg. New sights and new experiences awaited.
Having left a job to begin life as a freelance musician, the adventure was twofold. New country, new career direction. A year later and I’m beginning to get a hang of things in this strange new world. The first few months were spent living off my savings. I spent an inordinate amount of time sitting in the local park, reading and soaking up sun. I had no clue as to how to tap into the vast musicians’ network that Berlin is home to. Especially being as horrendous at networking as I am! I went to a few meetup events and attended a particular event at a karaoke place. There I met a young lady who told me of her uncle who is a drummer here, and she could put us together. I chatted with him and he gave me a plethora of names of people to get in contact with. I messaged them all via facebook and a few responded. Once that was done, I joined this vast world of musicians based here. I performed every week at a club that was based in Charlottenburg, Jagger. Said club has since closed down. (Nothing to do with me, I promise!)
As an unknown name, I obviously performed for free. I had to return to the UK in Sept to sell the last of my things. My keyboard being the most precious. I do miss it dearly. Though, I will eventually get myself a new one. I didn’t get my first paid gig till November. Since then, I have been working regularly with a group of people, performing at birthday parties, weddings etc, travelling around Germany. I have also twice performed in St Petersburg, Russia. And now that I seem to be settled with regards to events to pay the bills etc, I can start looking at forming my own band and writing my own material once again. I have thoroughly missed creating and I look forward to getting back to it.
I have since moved from Schoneberg, I now live in Friedrichshain. An area in the east of Berlin, where I find soooooo many internationals, it’s amazing.
I would love to tell you that it’s been all smooth sailing, but it hasn’t. It has been the most challenging time of my life to date. I was unaware of how safe my previous life was until I moved here. i.e knowing that every month I will have an income to pay bills etc. I have in essence, gone off in business by myself. My product, me. It’s a strange new world that I am yet to get a handle of. But if there is anything my life to date has taught me, it’s that I can do whatever it is I wish to do. No matter how strange or beyond me it may seem at first, the instant I decide I want to do it, it becomes possible.
One year done. Let’s see what the next year has in store. I remain scared and excited! 😉
I was looking through my Dropbox folders, and came across this video. It’s one of the last rehearsals of the last song I wrote while still in the UK.
I have been so busy in Berlin with singing at events etc, I’ve not done much by way of writing. Though, if all goes according to plan, I will be able to rectify that within the next few months. Anyway, here’s the most up to date version of ‘On My Mind’
A question I have asked myself a number of times over the last few years.
I’ve had cause to think on it even more of late. Some time in May I returned from a trip to St Petersburg, where I had a number of gigs. I fell ill while still in Russia, and on my return to Berlin was laid up in bed for the best part of the week. My mother, with whom I speak at least once a week, was rather worried. She was concerned by the fact that I currently reside in a strange country where I have no network of people to look in on me while unwell. She requested that I “try to find a girlfriend” to remedy this. I was highly amused by that statement!
Nevertheless, despite this amusement, it did give me cause to think on the whole “love” subject.
Much of my life experiences have meant that I’ve become a tad cynical in my not-so-old age. Somewhere deep inside I still want to believe in the old ‘code’ of love, honour and the like. My mother, who is a lot more perceptive than she admits, always tells me not to look at her marriage as an example, rather to look at the marriage of her parents and from that take solace in the fact that some couples do make it. My grandparents were together for as long as I can remember.
My grandmother passed way before my grandfather. After this, he was never the same. I still remember speaking to him once, some years ago. And he was nothing like I remembered of him. The last time I saw him was at some point in ’93, before I returned to the UK from Nigeria. He was in his 70s at the time. I still remember, he climbed a tree to get me some bananas. This tree had been there since I was young, so it wasn’t a short tree. He was a man full of vitality. So I was indeed shocked at the change in him, his voice was weak and he could hardly speak. My mother told me that after his wife passed away, a part of him was gone. Though, on the day he passed away himself (some 3 or so years after my grandmother), my mother tells me he was singing, dancing and telling all that he was going to see his wife. My forays into the relationship quagmire have been far from wondrous, as a result, I don’t believe much in love stories anymore. Despite that, this story always warms me.
I came across this particular story some years ago and thought it a good ending for this particular blog entry. This story reminds me that some of the old stories still work. And some people still do ‘make it’
I hope to be one of such people.
- Love your partner everyday, appreciate their never-ending commitment (focusstudiofitness.wordpress.com)
So, to combat the fact that I hadn’t written a poem in an age (last was in October), I went to a nearby park to sit, think and see if I can reconnect with myself. In the end, I was able to write:
Letter To A Friend
When I feel down,
As I have for the past few months.
I pick up the pad you gave me,
And I read the words you left me.
You have much faith in me,
These days I can’t see why.
I often feel like a failure to myself
As well as to my loved ones.
Especially around certain times of the year.
I often wish I could see,
What you see, when you look at me.
I would love to draw strength from that
And know that there is much,
Or at least a little to claim pride in.
I look ahead, to see.
To see what lies before me, and the path is not clear.
I feel tis a narrow road and I must clear a path for myself.
I look to my past. To previous thoughts and readings,
I am reminded that David often had cause to encourage himself.
I have trouble trying to draw parallels with him.
Even as I did when I was a man of faith.
I hear words from my favourite tv characters,
The Doctor, Merlin, Sherlock et al
Yet, I could not presume to place myself among such exalted company.
Though, if I would seek greatness, is it not their kin I must look to?
Can I not draw parallels here?
Is it too late to try?
Am I unworthy?
Who is worthy, if I cannot be?
All is in my hands.
But where do I turn?
I feel like a rudderless ship. Adrift in a storm.
With no idea which way is my North.
I look around to seek out answers.
In times gone past, I was told,
Look to the hills, as from there comes my help.
But I am no longer that man.
Those words no longer belong to me.
They belong to another.
I know not who.
Many moons ago, I was told of a destiny that was mine.
Is it no longer for me?
The underlying sadness I felt, even as a man of faith.
Remains, tears and claws at me.
The tenet I hold in hand.
Do what your hands find to do.
This I continue to do.
I am not comfortable.
And this is fine.
If I was, I wouldn’t fight, I wouldn’t try.
But I know not what I am supposed to do.
My strength has never been born of myself.
Ever was it born from others.
As much as I hated it,
It would appear I was never truly independent.
And much have I hated that.
You were the strength I never knew I needed.
In truth, I’m not even sure I wanted.
I fought you.
Because I fear that is all I know.
For good or ill, this has been my help.
Who do I fight?
Where is the iron to sharpen me?
And so I am lost.
I’m sure that in time, I will find my way.
It is me afterall.
In the meantime, I shall wait.
Try to find direction again.
I shall wait.
Unfortunately, it won’t be patiently.
The last few months have been a bit difficult for me. In truth, it’s not completely unexpected. When you branch out to forge a different path for yourself than the one you’re already on, there are bound to be a plethora of difficulties. What makes things sometimes worse is that I haven’t written in an absolute age. So I went looking through some of my older work, in the hopes of maybe finding some inspiration on reconnecting with myself. And I came across this:
Why Must I Write
Why exactly must I write?
Shall I write to show you my very heart?
Or shall I write simply because I can?
In truth I write because I feel I must.
I feel I must catalogue all, before I return to dust.
Yeah, when all is said and done, and everything is gone.
It must be written down.
It must be written down.
The battles that were fought?
They must be written down.
The conquests that we had?
They must be written down.
The hearts that we broke? Yes, they must all be written down.
This, is why I write.
I write to tell you my story.
Now you know, will you share my glory?
At the end of every year I write a new poem to usher in the new year. Last year, for the first time in a number of years, I neglected to do so. I shan’t do the same this year.
2014 has been a year of change for me. In January, I graduated from my Masters degree in Music Performance, with a fairly clear plan for the year. I was going to travel to Italy, as I had done during the summer for a few years. I had planned to spend a few months there, then possibly head to Ankara, Turkey for another few months. Italy fell through, and I had to change my plans. Halfway through the year, I moved to Berlin. I write this on Christmas eve and I’m sitting on my bed (I’ll type it up later)
It’s my first Christmas away from the UK in over two decades. Though I’ve spent the season on my own in years gone by. It feels quite different to be in a new country that I am yet to be able to call home. And as I prepare to celebrate my first Christmas away from home, I gain new respect for the many international students I have known over the years. I don’t know how you did. Though, I’m glad you did, and I am richer for knowing you.
As I sit here, I think on the future. For the last decade, I had followed a plan. I’ve come to the end of that and I have no plan now. And I’m not ashamed to tell you that it’s a scary place for me.
A new year beckons.
A new day begins.
As this new sun rises,
A new season begins with it.
A season of hope.
A season of joy.
A season of fulfilled dreams.
A season of new drive.
A season of new challenges.
Just like any other.
But a season with new determination.
So you need not run for cover.
As we open ours eyes.
To face this new day.
We think new thoughts.
We dream new dreams.
We see new faces.
To guide us on our way.
We step into new phases.
And in joy, our heads we lay.
Purpose must drive you.
And circumstance, not beguile you.
You need to be clear,
on who it is you are.
Be that one,
who believes in dreams.
Be that one,
who knows dreams can come true.
Lean not on excuse.
Don’t let fear stop you.
Negativity, you must refuse.
Else your tears proceed to drown you.
And when dark days come.
As they tend to do.
Reach deep inside,
To the strength in you.
Forget not, who you are.
Neglect not, your distant star.
Rather, stand firm for what you believe.
Reach far and you may yet receive.
Be brave and you’ll achieve.
Be true to you and in yourself believe.
As the new day begins,
see in it, a new hope.
See in it, a new chance.
And don’t be afraid.
Look back, to see where you’ve come from.
Then look forward, see where you’re going.
With a smile on your face, and hope in your heart.
Know that the future is indeed bright!
Happy New Year everyone! Make 2015 amazing! 🙂
Yes, guys, it finally happened – they finally got their hands on Jollof rice!
Some context for those who don’t know what Jollof rice is: Jollof rice is one of the 7 wonders of Africa. The list goes: Nelson Mandela, Cape Town, Jollof Rice, Senegalese Twists, Lupita Nyong’o, Shea Butter, and P Square. People might disagree with this list (feel free to add your own list in the comments section. Don’t curtly state your disagreement and move on, ok? Don’t be rude), but the point is that Jollof rice is a BIG deal.(Horrible) songs have been written about Jollof rice. Case in point: this god-awful song by Fuse ODG:
Jollof rice has even caused a diplomatic tension/Cold War of sorts between Nigeria and Ghana over who actually owns this dish (it actually originated in Senegal, but I’m sleep).
In Nigeria, Jollof rice is sacred. It is not just the…
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