Having earned (if I say so) the right to put my feet up and relax at the end of what has been a particularly hectic year of working, travelling, reading and volunteering, one has the luxury of reflecting on how the year has panned out on a personal note. This time last year I had just packed up my bags, cut my final ties and jumped on the East Coast train service up north to Aberdeen. There was the small matter of needing to restart life on a number of fronts – new job, new city, new house, new friends and all. The first few weeks took getting used to, especially as the job description involved a change of focus – from being the bossy, fastidious-to-a-fault, hard to please client to being part of a service delivery team. January was spent managing the work transition, eased somewhat by having the use of shared company accommodation alongside a colleague with Geordie connections. There were many nights of discussions on a motley of topics well into the night as we both grappled with coming to terms with redemption and second chances – he after invasive heart surgery, me upon returning to daily work after a messy resignation.
Winter was hard and bitter – the coldest temperatures on record in the city for 20 years by some accounts – were the worst sort of welcome. The Siberian air, usually channelled elsewhere in the winter months somehow got thrust upon us – cue travel chaos, unsafe road conditions, messed up bus schedules and all. Those who would know blame it on high-pressure systems and other fancy stuff, those with a political axe to grind blame the chaos on the ill preparedness of government.
I made the trip back to the North East for nostalgia’s sake. The sameness of it all, almost a full year after leaving, was a jolt to my constitution. The continuous struggle for survival amidst job searches, mounting bills, and dreams deferred that confronted me back there etched a reminder to thankfulness on my mind afresh.
On the book front, I managed to complete 20 of the 25 books I planned to read this year. The list got chopped and changed all through the year – a chance re acquaintance with the BBC World Service and Off The Shelf brought a couple of seminal Gabriel Garcia Marquez offerings to the fore. Re-reading ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ and ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ as well as finally reading Gregory David Roberts ‘Shantaram’ ranked up there as highlights of the reading year. On the African reading front, there was Helon Habila’s ‘Measuring Time’ and ‘Oil and Water’ (his 2010 offering), as well as catching up on my Chris Abani backlog. As part of my continuing ‘education’ I saw ‘The Marriage of Figaro‘ at HMT. I ended up at the Music Hall instead of the Theatre and had to make a dash for it. The opera more than made up for the hassles of finally getting there.
On a less self-involved note, I finally fulfilled a ‘life long’ ambition to sponsor a child via World Vision. Early days on that one so far – but the spectre of eating one less Platter to Share at Nandos being a lifesaver for a kid somewhere else is humbling, if not shocking.
All told its been a fun filled year… 2011 can’t come soon enough it seems..