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That says it all!

We’ve moved to our Dream Home!

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Come hang out at:
www.pawpawandmango.com
There’s room for you. ūüėÄ

A Culture shift

Following CNN’s award of the 5th sexiest accent to Nigerians, I suspect change will be coming our way very soon.

Here’s the tongue-in-cheek comment;

Famous tongues: King Sunny Adé, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde
Dignified, with just a hint of willful naivet√©, the deep, rich ‚Äúoh‚Äôs‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúeh‚Äôs‚ÄĚ of Naija bend the English language without breaking it, arousing tremors in places other languages can‚Äôt reach. Kinda makes the occasional phone scam worth the swindle.

Don’t mind them, we are not phone-scammers.

Do you think we may at last start to feel comfortable with our accent? I watched a Nigerian movie at a friend’s barbecue a couple of weeks ago. It was a¬†Yoruba¬†movie with subtitles in English. The entire movie was cringe-worthy especially when they kept spelling many English words with an “l” inserted in it. Dealth. Belthday. A guest explained to me it was the “aso” way of speaking. Dealth. Okay o!

I attended my friends baby dedication on Sunday. It was a proper naija affair, packed with hundreds of people with aso-ebi to go. You see, the fan-fare was necessary as the twins were waited for for 16 long years. An awesome, emotional testimony indeed. I noticed quite a few of us had on English dresses topped with burgundy¬†gele. I’m so loving it and have started to¬†acquire a collection of geles for future events.

The boys are back at school, yes school runs have begun. Child #2 will be going camping next week for 5 days. To remind you, child#2 is the fashion conscious, it-boy. I have threatened to pack up some eba and banga soup to take with him.

You should see his face, I keep a straight face whenever the conversation comes up.

So mum what am I taking to camp?

Sweets, biscuits and of course Eba and banga soup.

Mum! I can’t take Eba to camp!

Why? Are you ashamed of your culture?

No, of course not. It’s just that I’ll look¬†weird.¬†

Do you look weird when you eat sandwiches?

No, but it’s..

Ehen! Nothing weird about eba and banga soup. You love it abi? Or do you want me to stop making it?

No, but…

That settles it then. Eba to camp!

It is very hard to keep a straight face but I’m able to pull it off every time! He believes me. I hear him mumbling to his brothers about it. A few minutes later he comes back.

How am I going to warm it?

That’s true, I didn’t think of that. You can eat it o the coach on the way to camp.

Horrified look!

Yep! I’m on a mission to increase cultural awareness, what better place to start than at home?

Thanks so much for reading!

Glossary:

aso: Westernised Nigerian, usually used as a form of ridicule

gele: African head-gear- quite sizeable

aso-ebi: Outfits made from matching fabric to be worn by a group of people to an event

Eba: Staple food eaten in parts of west Africa, sticky, heavy and very filling

Banga: Nigerian soup made from palm kernels. Whatever you do don’t get some on your clothes while you eat!

Business News Today…

It’s my 100th post!!!!!

I am very thrilled to post my 100th blog post on Pawpaw and Mango. I am even more pleased that you have stuck with my sporadic, random ramblings, your interest means so much to me and I thank you most sincerely.

So what do I write about? I want to share a part of my journey that I mention quite often, my business.

I don’t know if they are made or born but I know for sure running a business didn’t come naturally to me. I can tell you about a good number of my weaknesses- reasons I should not be doing what I do. Rather I want to share some of my challenges and how they have evolved over the years.

Emails.

Emails should never have been a challenge in the first place (except with their unlimited storage, the guys at Gmail have made me averse to deleting emails hence my 17,506 unread emails in my inbox. Yeah.) So my first emails when I started out in business went something like this:

Dear Mrs Blah,

Thank you for your order. Our customer service line is open from 9- 5:30pm should you have any queries, have a good day.

Yours sincerely

Kelly

Customer Services representative

Name of Company.

Then I came to understand that I needed to differentiate my emails from the perfunctory ones sent by department stores in Bond Street, like John Lewis. I was told people like to hear the sound of their names and have a more personal interaction. So email format changed to:

Dear Mrs Blah,

We are so glad you ordered your baby’s cot from us. We trust that little Miss blah is sleeping comfortably in it. Mrs Blah, we would love to assist you again in the¬† future Mrs Blah and hope you shop with us again, Mrs Blah. Thanks so much Mrs Blah, have a nice day Mrs Blah.

Kindest regards,

Kelly

I needed no one to tell me it was overkill. And then with the recession and businesses closing down, more and more people started to shop online. Not only was competition becoming rather stiff but consumers yearned for the personal contact once enjoyed. Consequently emails changed to:

Dear Mrs Blah,

Thank you for shopping with us. We are working hard to fulfil your needs beyond your expectations and would like you to send us your comments on our products or services. Also, we’ll send you a free gift voucher if you suggest us to your friends. They will get a voucher too. Please join our Facebook page on … and we invite you to follow us on twitter. Have you signed up for our newsletter? If not you can do so on our homepage (link). Finally please let us know if … And on and on I went.

I have since shortened my emails considerably; they are relevant, friendly and to the point. Plus this new-found confidence in who I am allows me to use my real name and not Kelly. Or Zara. Or Joelle or any of those names I wish my mother had named me.

Refunds

I hate refunds- I don’t like requesting them because it means I am unhappy about my purchase. Worse than that though is issuing refunds. I really, really hate that. I would much rather not have sold the goods in the first place. I detest it so much that I don’t let it linger. If a customer purchases an item that is out of stock or damaged or unsuitable for any reason, I give a refund within minutes of the request. Why let the pain drag on?

At the store we don’t give refunds for custom-made items and our terms and conditions clearly state that. So when Mrs Pain* returned item number 1 because she didn’t “quite like it”, I wasn’t perturbed. After all it wasn’t made just for her. I suggested some other alternatives as I always do but no, she wasn’t happy. I didn’t give a refund immediately this time because her second custom-made item was on its way to her. You see I had a bad feeling right from the start. I wish I had gone with my instincts and not offered to customise her second item for her. Needless to say it arrived over the weekend and she wasn’t happy either. I wasn’t surprised. So it was with a bitter-sweet feeling that I processed her refund a few minutes later. It’s not so bad these days as I rarely get complaints about the quality of products, I take the view that my items are great but just not right for that person at that particular time.

Shipping

This one has¬† the potential to cripple my day- if and when it goes wrong. What hasn’t gone wrong with our shipping? Missing items, check. Damaged items, check. Items damaged on purpose with a hammer, check. Illiterate drivers that don’t understand English and therefore cannot tell left from right on their sat nav, check. Items turning up more than a month after it was mailed, check. I could go on but I won’t. The thing about shipping is that a good shipper is hard to find, but once you find one, hold on tight and never, ever let go.

Social Media

This one is new. Yes I created a twitter account back in 2008 but didn’t do anything with it. Facebook was courtesy of Suzy. Linkedin, I don‚Äôt even know how I got on but somehow I ended up there. Thanks to my business mentor you can find me (with my picture!!!) on twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. The twitter one was rough going, I still struggle to understand why we are limited to 140 characters. Plus I had and still have a couple of pychos following me. Once psychotic behaviour is exhibited, I click the block button. Simple.

Marketing

I have written about my feelings towards sales and advertising here and here. My marketing used to be limited to placing a few leaflets in shops. I hated doing that at the beginning because I don’t like rejection. Maybe mum and dad spoiled me and gave me everything, but I don’t quite know how to handle rejection. So when I ask very nicely if I can place my flyers in your store for your customers as they would find it relevant, and you say “NO!”, I tend to run and hide. I am a lot better now thankfully. My marketing these days consists of- but not limited to- running away from advertisers and magazines. Yes they call me every day! I Thank God for caller display. I don’t mind advertising when budget allows it, and in fact I need to but I hate being sold to.

Competition

One of them left a bad taste in my mind as she stole images and text off my website, which was my introduction to “the competition”. I have since forgiven her (I hope) and have even added some (other) competitors to my network on LinkedIn. I tell them I admire their work and have sent some of my customers to them if I’m out of stock on a particular item. I learned that from Tony Heisch, The oh-so-cool Zazzle CEO.

That’s all for now folks!

Thanks so much again for reading, I am so glad to be back to blogsville! Missed y’all!

Bus 227

I’m on the bus on my way to work. I love going to work, I have to peel myself away from my desk each evening and the only reason I leave is because my beautiful family is at home waiting for me. Most days during my bus ride I busy myself building and connecting with my¬†LinkedIn¬†network or attempting to tweet something short and sensible. ¬†Twitter is still a struggle because I’m not a woman of¬†abbreviated¬†words or¬†sentences. Facebook, I have been running away from since I shouted from the rooftops that the new site was going to be launched today so I’ve chosen to bury my head in the sand and pretend I am not even aware that I uttered those words.

I sit at the back today as I must sleep. I haven’t had more than 6 hours sleep in total over the last 48hours, and I don’t function well in a sleep-deprived state. I have taken to drinking cold coffee- Espresso is too bitter to gulp down so I end up letting it sit. I have also cut down on my sugar intake thanks to Akunna, so the coffee tastes horrible. I can’t sleep because the engine is vibrating rather noisily, particularly when it stops and starts to move again. So I toy with the idea of moving to another seat but can’t be bothered to. A well-dressed lady gets on the bus with her pushchair. She rummages through her bag and finds her bus ticket, but it isn’t valid. She reaches for her purse and hasn’t got enough change. She then has to walk the length of the bus to exit with her pushchair. ¬†don’t have any cash on me so I can’t help her. I wonder what sort of life she has. Is she broke? Does she have money problems or is it just one of those days?

The fat lady in the green, floral dress is on her mobile ¬†phone chatting¬†excitedly. I can’t hear the gist besides “you must tell him!” and I really can’t be bothered to today. ¬†Two teenage boys come on the bus and take their place next to me. They are in uniform but I don’t want to ask why they are not at school during school hours, who wants to be stabbed? I¬†realize¬†my presumption of these two boys whom I know nothing about is rather negative. My thoughts go to my dear, dear friends who lost their 14-year-old son 2 weeks ago. I won’t go into that. I drag my thoughts back to the 2 boys and wonder if they are good boys like my friend’s late son. I decide to listen in on their¬†conversation, they don’t swear or talk about sex, neither do they brag about how good they are compared to some other boy in their class. I think I really must sleep as Helen is coming around to help me with my marketing- I need to be on full alert as she is full of ideas.

I decide that if I get up only to sit somewhere else the boys might think I was running away from them. I keep eyeing the empty seat two rows ahead and decide to make my move, who cares what they think? Silly me, someone else grabs it. There is another in front of one of the boys. But what if ¬†he stabs me from behind? While I’m sleeping? I finally make my move for a different seat when an older gentleman gets of the bus. At last. But wait, someone else comes on and stats to walk towards me. He looks a hot mess! He cannot possibly be normal I tell myself. He stinks andI pray silently that he doesn’t sit next to me. He sits behind me instead. Now I really can’t sleep because what if he pulls my hair? I mean what if he pulls my hair very tightly after winding the braids around my neck twice?¬† Didn’t he have a crazed look in his eyes as he walked past me? I know I must share the gospel with him but I quietly decline.

I start to plan my day, although it is only 10 in the morning, I might only be able to function for 2 hours. You wouldn’t know that to look at me. It’s one of those days where I look good and I’ll be happy to meet John Legend, my crush on him hasn’t ended. I look up the thesaurus for a new word that describes the sharp taste of coffee and I come across Piquancy. I like the way the word sounds so I use it in a facebook status update.

Finally the bus comes to my stop. I start to work slowly up the hill as I don’t want to use up any more energy than I need to. Today will be ¬†good day, I just know it. The website isn’t up but it will be good.

And it was good! No website yet, nearly there but it was hugely productive and fun. Especially when Helen and I sat in the park under the sun and devoured a loaf of yummy coconut cake. I feel blessed.

Please like our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/thepunkinpatch so you can be alerted when we arrive at Nirvana.

Thank you for reading. Thanks to the lovely Myne who unwittingly dragged me back to blogsville, and to the sweet,  health-conscious Akunna who has made me aware of what I consume. Thanks too to the glamorous Helen, my sister-friend for a great day yesterday!

Have a blessed day!

Steps

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao Tsu

Last week was a rather overwhelming one, physically. It all started when I decided to spend 11 uninterrupted hours last Saturday working on our new website- it looks simply amazing if I can say that myself! We are moving onto a new super- duper platform and iits like going to school allover again. I have been going to bed with html codes and various image editing softwares swiming in my head. Anyway, after my stint I was surprised at not feeling a huge sense of accomplishment, you know the way you’re supposd to after you have done a lot of productive work. That feeling was carried into Monday, the start of the week. At the time I thought perhaps it was because I did just one task. It was unbroken and unvaried, maybe that’s why it didn’t feel like I had done much. Nonetheless I still felt burdened as the week wore on.

On Wednesday the Lord gave me a vision. A simple picture of a person (me) walking on a mapped out path with round stone slabs. It is a winding road and there’s nothing but fresh green grass on either side. The yellow daffodils swaying in the gentle breeze are a sight to behold, ¬†pretty. In the distance the path leads to a beautiful house on the hill, the only possible destination. I keep stopping and looking up to see how much further I need to go. That was when it hit me. Rather than taking one step at a time, I look ahead and see the seemingly insurmountable task ahead. I keep looking at the big picture and feeling discouraged because although I have come a long way- evidenced by the long path behind me- I am impatient and want to get to my destination, like right now!
Yesterday, following my boycott of the suddenly expensive Tesco, my quest led me to Lewisham in south London. Here you can get fresh vegetables and meat at much lower prices. I parked the car a distance from the shops and did quite a bit of shopping. As I walked back to the car with my purchases I longed for one of those trolleys the senior folks use. It was the bags holding yams in my right hand for the week’s planned yam peppersoup, the plantains that will go nicely with rice and stew, the pounded yam meant for monday’s efo riro and the large bag of onions. My left hand held my bags of meat- neck of lamb, goat, chicken and kidney, coconut milk, okro and spices. I looked in the distance and saw the car park so far away. I decided to look down and keep walking knowing I will eventually arrive- that’s just my coping mechanism folks. I don’t like pain or discomfort! I took my mind off the journey and planned out the rest of the day- doing my hair and eyebrows and suddenly I had arrived!
I learned some valuable lessons;

I have learned to stop to appreciate the journey. It is not a race to get ‘there’ the fastest. There is so much beauty on either side of our lives that we need to be thankful for. Yes pollen may bring you hayfever but if that’s all you choose to see, that’s all you’ll be ‘enjoying’.

Take one step at a time. There is no other way to arrive than to take it step by step. Place your vision in front of you but you have to focus on taking the next step.

Stop and relax. Yes I am a busy mum/wife/business woman but that doesn’t mean my life has to mirror a¬†roller-coaster¬†ride- which I think may be part of the problem- I love excitement, but it is necessary to stop to recharge, take a breath, and energize myself. Life is what happens when you are busy making plans. I certainly don’t want my life “happening away”.

So as I look forward to the start of a new week, I do so with the knowledge that I will arrive at my destination. All I need to know is what step I’ll be taking tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that…

Have a blessed week, thank you for reading!

 

Inspire Me!

I finally started the new blog I’ve been going on about. It is called InspireMe as I hope it will be an inspiration to all who visit. Please visit and subscribe here: http://wp.me/1ePG6

I hope your Sunday is going beautifully well. Mine is. Except that I am in such a lazy mood and can’t believe Monday is here already! The boys break up from school this week, I haven’t planned anything fun for them, we’ll be going to see some family movies and might make it to Lapland. Last year we went to winter wonderland and I was certain I had frost-bite and my entire being would become gangrenous. Thank God we survived. We did spot one man jogging in a T shirt and shorts in a sub-zero temperature. Some people are just mad. I don’t like the cold-at all. I don’t visit friends without my socks in case their home is cold. As a matter of fact I would rather go hungry than cold. How do I deal with winter? Well you know how some gurus offer these classes where they have their students walk on hot coals to overcome their fears? They get across the coals by chanting; “cold wet grass, cold wet grass!” Well I chant “hot red sun, hot red sun”! If I can make it to March I’ll be fine. And if I can get past December so that in January I can say next month winter ends….

Have a blessed week!

Today

Today will be a good day. I will return from church and kick my shoes off, having been in pumps for all of 3 hours. I will walk barefoot to the kitchen with confidence as dear hubby cleaned it before we left. I will light my kiwi scented candle and proceed to make dinner, it will be Jollof¬†Rice, Fried Plantain and Roast Duck. As I bend down to pull out the pot, The 10-year-old will walk in and rubbing my shoulders affectionately will ask “What’s for dinner mum? I’m hungry”.

The 9-year-old¬†will come in almost immediately and ask “Mum when will you sort out my PSP?”¬† This question will coincide with¬†the 10 year old’s¬†repeat of his question.

I will make a concerted effort to answer both children at the same time while closing my ears to number’s 4’s screams in the sitting room as number 3 and he compete¬†to see¬†who can do the flip the fastest. Number¬†4 doesn’t realise he’s only 2, he thinks he is 4 or 5. I will wash my rice to the background sounds of the 9-year-old telling me about the Charles Dickens’s movie he watched yesterday. His narrative¬†will be regularly punctuated with “guess what happened next mum?” To which I must reply “What?”

He will call my attention to look at the way the child’s leg was bent, he shows when he tells. I will then comment on his narrative, and give him a life lesson or two from the gory tales.

I will beg the two boys to give me a minute so I can type something on the laptop. I will go to Pawpaw and Mango to attempt to finish updating today’s post. Child number 4, the 2-year-old¬†will then rush in¬†gleefully to¬†switch my laptop off. I will clench my jaw and thank God for His gifts to me. I will decide to wait until he falls asleep. In the meantime I’ll go and watch Colombo with the older boys. Hubby will be somewhere in the house, perhaps on the phone to his buddy discussing the upcoming match between Arsenal and whoever, while eating a bowl of cereal. Hubby likes his cereals.

He will ask me if he can quickly check on an update on a sports station, it won’t be more than 2 minutes. I will get up to check on my Duck sizzling away in its own oil in the hot oven. I will forget about Colombo and go to the room to go back on the laptop since number 4 seems engrossed in his play. At that point he will start screaming “Stinky, Stinkyyyyy!” He needs a nappy change or needs to use the potty. The 6-year-old¬†will remind me about the adaptor for his keyboard, I was supposed to have replaced it by now. He will tell me all about Sunday school and how well-behaved¬†he was and that he answered all questions correctly. Chances are that it would lead to¬†an account on how he answers questions in class at school, but Todd doesn’t. He will tell me Emilia is very annoying and his best friend is now Tristan. This in turn will lead to what Tristan loves to eat at lunch. I will at this point stop him from talking too much.

I will call my friend Justjoxy¬†to get an update on her day and to update her on mine. I will call Kenny in Minnesota (like I mean to do every Sunday). I will call Tolu as well as Shade and Lara. I will not be calling Bukky¬†because she’ll be busy, we’ll catch up in the week. I hope to catch up with Tola too.

Our dinner will be like no other, very lovingly prepared and so tasty too. While having dinner I will regret not buying coke when I went shopping yesterday. I will lie down to read Rich Minds, Rich Rewards-¬†again. After that I’ll grab my planner, pic shown below and plan my day tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be busy. I have to attend to two enquiries from the UAE, the customer whose custom-made¬†valance did not fit her daughter’s bed and is now worried that¬†said child’s¬†bedroom will not be ready for the¬†her 4th¬†birthday, ¬†I will chase up a missing chandelier as well as an old invoice payment that has gone AWOL, I will send a gift voucher to the customer whose stepstool¬†arrived broken-twice -yet sent us a nice comment,¬†that makes me smile ūüôā I will update the PP Blogs and prepare Tuesday’s newsletters.
 

But that’s tomorrow. Today, I will enjoy and rejoice in; it is the day the Lord has made.

I hope your Sunday is restful and filled with all the goodness God has in store for you!