Dinner At Kottbusser Tor.

We met one evening a few weeks ago. Me and Ryan.

I was skateboarding along Berlin’s streets, and getting angry at the cobblestones. I had spent the previous year in San Francisco, and Berlin just felt so annoying because there were cobblestones everywhere.

You can’t skateboard on cobblestones, not really. Not with smaller harder wheels, at least.

I think we met at an intersection of two streets.

I’m not quite sure how we started talking. I probably started the conversation because he reminded me of someone else. Someone I met in San Francisco. With his blondish hair and general vibes.

We began to talk.

He was an artist. Had an art studio here in Berlin. He was also an Art teacher at some tertiary institution.

We talked some more. At some point we exchanged contact details.

It’s a few weeks later.

We’re having dinner.

Well it’s not like a full-blown dinner or anything, we’re just having light stuff to eat and it’s dark outside.

I think this restaurant/bar is interesting. It has these fun multicoloured lights over the doorway. I think they’re cool and kinda trippy.

The guy at the bar is stocky-looking, with a blonde beard.

We’re chatting.

A group of people walk into the restaurant. They walk by and sit at a table not far off. They work in the Tech team of the university I study at. It looks like they’re having some sort of Tech team dinner.

I worked on somewhat close terms with one of them last summer in San Francisco. Jason. It was really interesting. I learnt a lot. It was fun getting immediate answers to my questions about code deployment frameworks and opensource communities.

I was very shocked to see him effortlessly bypass a security mechanism on the login page of the bank I use in Nigeria. It was also really interesting to hear he studied EECS at MIT. A few years back I spent some time going through some of their Computer Science course material on MIT’s OpenCourseware.

I think his girlfriend was pregnant then. With like the fourth or the fifth kid. In my head I was thinking, Oh wow that’s a lot. He seemed pretty young to me, and so it felt like they were still going with the kids. He had a picture of she and the kids on his desk.

And then he also described her as his girlfriend.

At the time I thought a couple with that number of kids and such an established, well-defined plan for a joint future would unquestionably be married. My accrued ideas at the time of how adults ideally lived their lives, was along the lines of the “Get married and then have kids” formula.

But apparently people attach different levels of significance to words like “girlfriend” and “wife”. And some people’s notion of a “girlfriend” is about equivalent in meaning to some others’ notion of a “wife” – Something like that.

We met again a few weeks ago at a small restaurant along Adalbertstrasse. It was our first time meeting in Berlin since I moved here for the Berlin semester, and he with the tech team deployed to Berlin.

I talked with him about my challenges with the second-year curriculum. I was taking a Social Sciences course, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through with it. Initially I thought it would provide breadth in combination with the Computational Sciences courses I was taking, but at the time I was thinking of switching it for one in the Natural Sciences.

He talked about his experiences with settling in Berlin with the family, given the work move.

Ryan and I are talking.

He’s talking about a space in Berlin he and a friend jointly got. I think it was a living space, or some art space, something. He and his friend both moved to Berlin from the US.

He feels resentful about how things turned out with the space. I think his “friend” moved to Berlin before him, and for such a reason had more relatively-established relationships with people in the city. Somehow he leveraged that to oust Ryan of his part ownership of the space. Something like that.

He feels bitter and hurt about it. I try to empathise.

We keep talking.

At some point I ask about clubs in Berlin. Where can I find cool clubs. He says Berghain is a very popular one. Tells me a bit about it. I say Hm, sounds interesting. I take note of it.

We keep talking.

At some point dinner is over, and we’re concluding our conversation.

He seems somewhat surprised by the current direction of things. He says he thought this was a date.

Like, a date.

In my head I’m like Wait Hold up. Hold the fuck up.


Wait, is this guy gay?

Is he gay? Oh man, I had absolutely no idea!

I thought this was just two guys hanging out?!

He’s gay?

Wait, I thought I saw a picture of a wife and a kid on his Facebook?

Wait, What the hell is going on?

I say Haha no. The thought that this was some sort of a romantic outing, never even crossed my mind.

I have a girlfriend.

I’m still trying to make sense of all of the homosexual attention I’ve been getting in Berlin- I honestly don’t understand it. Usually there’s a way I make sense of interactions with a biologically male person. This whole sexual thing is adding a dimension to it, which is just very unfamiliar to me.

Especially when it’s like just, everywhere. In Berlin it feels like there’s no specific social context where I should prepare for and expect homosexual inclinations. It’s just everywhere and anywhere.

We finish up dinner.

I like his boots. They’re high-heeled, goth-style boots.

It almost feels like after-the-fact he looks obviously homosexual, but I think that might just be confirmation bias.

We head out of the restaurant. As we walk by the open-air stalls of fruits and vegetables in the farmer’s market at Kottbusser Tor, I mention my struggles with academic coursework. The issues I’m facing with classes, and how I’m beginning to question the fit of the academic programme I’m in.

We walk a bit further until the paths to our apartments diverge.

Image: Somewhere in Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

Musings along Adalbertstrasse.

Girlfriend wants to travel.

She’s talking excitedly about some classmates who recently went to Amsterdam.

I listen only halfheartedly.

I recently decided to keep my bank account at a minimum of two hundred dollars.

It’s a goal I set for myself.

Hopefully my financial rock-bottom will only get higher from there.

She probably has the money to travel. In addition to her internship wages her parents probably send her some pocket money on a periodic basis.

I on the other hand, have just my internship wages. There is no money coming in from Nigeria.

I’m just trying to get by pls

I keep listening to her talking enthusiastically about Amsterdam while we turn a corner at a building with an expansive piece of like purple graffiti.

I am at a restaurant along Adalbertstrasse.

I bought a small pizza.

I’m munching on it while I scroll through my phone, preparing for a class which begins in less than an hour.

It’s an interesting restaurant. Gold-themed. Looks fancy.

I’m the only one here. Munching on my pizza and preparing for class on my phone and feeling cool.

I bought this burger the other day.

From a Burger place. Along Adalbertstrasse.

Chilli pepper burger or something like that.

I was curious what it was going to taste like.

I was heading down the sidewalk, wondering if I should join a fellow classmate in organising computer programming tutorials for students who were having issues.

I did stuff like that in San Francisco. It was pretty cool. People felt it really helped.

San Francisco was good. Come to think of it, San Francisco was actually good. San Francisco was very very good.

This semester has been terrible.

This semester has been extremely terrible.

I feel like an idiot.

Everything has been bad.

Hm, maybe I should organise tutorials in the parts of programming I know I don’t have to study for.

I don’t know. I don’t see how that makes anything better.

It’ll probably make me feel good temporarily.

Make me feel like I’m actually good at something.

Remind some people I’m actually good at something.

But I’m not going to escape feeling like an idiot overall. The academic problems I’m experiencing will still be there.

Plus it’s a completely insensible financial situation. People usually get paid to teach. Why am I paying school fees (however little, given the scholarship, financial aid etc), and then still teaching?

That does not make any sense.

I got back to the apartment and decided to try the Chilli Pepper Burger.

A few bites in and I was like

Oh My God

What did I just do

What did I just buy

How much did I just spend on this thing

What would have happened if I told the sheepily-smiling guy at the Burger place that I wanted the maximum level of Chilli

Oh God

Another time I bought a full chicken.

From another place along Adalbertstrasse.

I think the first time I ever bought a full chicken was in San Francisco.

It was one of these meal delivery companies that had an incredible student discount- something like that.

There was SpoonRocket. And Munchery.

They still send me emails.

I got a whole chicken at a very good price.

When it arrived and I opened the box, I felt bad.

I felt bad eating an entire chicken.

Like, me.

Just me. One person. A whole chicken.

I felt very greedy.

Growing up in Nigeria I was made to feel greedy for wanting more than say, the one piece of chicken I was given. During dinner or like at a party.

Usually we would make surreptitious plans to procure more chicken from wherever it was kept. We used to do it. We felt greedy doing it- for wanting more than we were given, but we used to do it.

Now I’m faced with a whole chicken.

Not one thigh.

Not one thigh plus two stolen wings.

An entire chicken.

I had to implore my American roommate to join in.

I was not going to be the unimaginably rapacious being who consumed an entire chicken by himself.

My roommate found it weird. Apparently, singlehandedly obliterating an entire chicken did not feel absurd to him at all.

I kept imploring him to join me. He kept declining.

In the end I had to go through the immeasurably shameful and deplorable act on my own.

Oh God.

Some (mostly) free food at the San Francisco dorms. From either SpoonRocket or Munchery.

There’s this Turkish place close to Kottbuser Tor.

Before the supermarket next to the Burgermeister.

I went there to get this Döner kebab thing they’ve got. The one wrapped in bread with lines on it, that looks like it has just been Panini’d.

It was at night.

I was just coming from the girlfriend’s place.

The moment I stepped into the restaurant, it felt like the middle-aged Turkish men over the counter had their eyes glued to me.

I was wondering what was happening.

The room was dimly lit, and the walls were like reddish-brown. Reddish-brown but more reddish.

I made my order, got my food, ate and left.

As I walked out the door I could feel their eyes pulled by my strides across the counter.

I couldn’t really make sense of it.

I just thought:

I don’t know. Maybe I smell like sex.

Maybe I’m oozing with some hormone that makes them think of their Turkish wives at home.

I don’t know.

I should read more on the whole pheromone thing.

There’s this Florist place.

Along Adalbertstrasse.

On the ground floor of this building that has scaffolding around it. Like they’re doing some renovation upstairs or something.

The flower shop looks really interesting.

I haven’t gotten the chance to visit.

Not yet.

I mean, I stopped by once.


There’s a manhole in the road- somewhere around the shop.

On the right side of the road if you’re coming from Kottbuser Tor.

I was on my skateboard.

Approaching the manhole cover.

And then I thought oh

Why not carve around the hole?

Head straight towards it, and then cut a curve around it?

The covers are pretty steady, so just skating straight on top of the cover is fine.

I mean, entire cars roll over the covers. I’m just one guy on a skateboard.

But then I thought why not try something different this morning

Why not

I got close to the cover.

Close enough to begin cutting a curve.

Then I began to swerve.

Almost done.

Now curve back into your original path of travel.

The skateboard wheels were sliding out a bit, which was expected- there were like 101a.

But oh

At some point it was evident there wasn’t enough traction to close the curve.

The curve was too tight.

No the curve was not too tight. Did rain just fall?

Is there some water on the ground

These were probably the thoughts forming in my mind as I somersaulted along the road.

I got back to my feet and tried to make sense of reality afresh.

I wasn’t so bothered by falling- with skateboarding you get used to it.

I was just surprised I fell. I didn’t attempt anything so spectacular.

A kind guy helped me fetch the board from the other side of the road.

I smiled and said thank you. He gave an understanding nod.

I collected the board and walked by the manhole cover again, wondering what in the name of God happened to me.

It’s dark.

I’m walking down Adalbertstrasse.

I’m right by this red-brick building that looks like the office of some diplomat. Right before the crossroads. The crossroads where the road on the left passes by a lakefront restaurant on its way.

The lake with swans. And overhanging foliage along the walkways that border it.

Ah, I’ll have to break my $200 minimum account balance resolution.

The girlfriend and I have been having literal arguments over this travelling thing.

We’re going to have to go somewhere.

Oh God.

Rock bottom here I come.

Image: Somewhere in Berlin.

Now Playing: https://open.spotify.com/track/17OHsQ5RBrU6b9lTaPP0vh?si=c6d10db1d29649f0

First-Time Surfing at Pacifica.

I was at this surf shop. That was a number of weeks ago. I’ve had this curiosity about surfing for a while- I think it’s an interesting activity.

I was talking with the guys at the shop. There were interesting-looking boards everywhere. They had a number of overhead television screens where I could see live footage of some surfing locations. I could see the live waves and weather conditions and stuff- it was all very interesting to look at.

The attendant mentioned Pacifica as an interesting surfing location in relatively close proximity. I noted the name. It would be interesting to check it out at some point.

A while before that, I met this couple at an ice-cream shop in the Sunset district in San Francisco. They had a number of surfboards in the cargo bed of their pickup truck. I struck up a conversation with the guy about surfboards and surfing. He mentioned that I could get pretty good surfboards at Costco for a ridiculously cheap price. They were made of a different material, but they were still pretty good. That was interesting to learn. At some point they offered to pay for my ice cream. I didn’t argue. They were nice. Nice people.

I am at Pacifica. I am at the beach. I took a number of subway trains and then some buses to get here.

I’ve started trying the surfing thing. I’m definitely not doing a lot of things right. I’ve just been getting bashed by the waves over and over and over. I actually didn’t even go through any tutorials or watch any surfing videos before coming here. I just felt it wouldn’t be all that much of an issue:

It’s water. And then there’s a board. And you’re moving about on the board. I skateboard already and I’m pretty alright at that, so how difficult could this possibly be.

Bruh, it’s been difficult. I got past the torrent of waves once. Once I got far enough into the water to turn the board around and face land. It was a strange experience- seeing land from the perspective of someone out in the water, with nothing but a surfboard to hold on to. I felt somewhat unanchored and adrift and disoriented.

The next step was to catch a wave. At that time, I didn’t even know what the next step was. From watching everyone around, I just knew I needed to get into the water, past the waves and then surf back somehow.

There was this guy next to me in the water. He was giving me some directions:

Lie straight on the board, grip the edges with your fingers, let your toes be at the the very edge of the tail end.

It felt very strange. Learning to swim during weekend visits to a Staff club swimming pool back in university in Nigeria, the issue with being in the water was learning to be comfortable off your feet. Off your feet and on your stomach or on your back or however- just not in the upright position that an entire life of experience existing as a being on land, has made you an expert at.

Following that guy’s directions, it felt like I was unlearning another sort of comfortable position. Now I wasn’t putting my trust in my hands and my legs to keep me afloat and propel me through the water- no. My feet were to be be stuck together- immobile, at the end of the board- my hands were to grip the board for a while before I began to paddle. Somehow I was supposed to put all of my confidence in this piece of plastic to keep me afloat and balanced astride the pulsing swells of belligerent ocean water. It felt weird.

The guy giving me directions had a very deep and resonant voice. He looked very Chinese, but sounded very American. Exactly like one of the San Francisco college staff. Exactly like Mister Wang. The familiarity actually helped me feel more at ease, out in the water on the surfboard.

I am back on land. I’m jogging along the beach. There’s this very tall bearded guy I saw taking a break from surfing earlier. I thought he looked interesting. He is sitting on the sand with his board and with a group of people.

Somehow we strike up a conversation. I think I start by complimenting his beard. We begin to talk. His name is Simon. He’s German. He’s here with his girlfriend and a number of friends. His friends also happen to be coworkers at a startup he founded based on some work he did for his PhD in Germany. Interesting. The company was recently acquired by Apple and they all moved to the US from Germany. Interesting.

We keep talking. His PhD had something to do with graphical processing and parallel computing. We talk about that a bit. I mention some Machine Learning Consultancy I was engaged in, in Lagos Nigeria- it involved building Computer Vision software to process real-time traffic footage. We keep talking.

At some point they want to go have lunch. I come with. We go return our surfboards and wetsuits. They are all so tall- the guys. They are like six foot seven. One is even taller than Simon. Like six foot nine. I’m like six foot two, and generally that’s considered pretty tall. But hanging out with these guys makes me feel like an insect. Like an excited, chattering insect.

And I actually like it. I like hanging out with very tall people- it makes me feel like a baby who is surrounded by adults capable of handling whatever problem comes along. It makes me feel very safe.

We are having lunch.

I mention that I’ll be spending the next semester of college in Berlin. Ahhh, they say. Berlin will be fun. The Oktoberfest is coming soon. I should make sure to indulge in the vast variety of sausages Germany has to offer. And the beer. I’m going to enjoy the beer.

I actually do indulge in the sausages. In the next few months. Currywurst. Bratwurst. A number of different “wursts”. I’ll take one at a small sausage kiosk after emerging from a quick autumn dip in the chilly water of Krumme Lanke, while contemplating the anxeities involving my college enrolment and the ambiguity surrounding my general future.

We keep discussing over lunch. At some point Simon’s girlfriend makes a comment about Khal Drogo. Something about Khal Drogo having a large penis. Or at least having a larger penis than Simon. He looks hurt. It’s not a lasting impression- it’s just a brief flicker of discernible discomfort/pain on his face. I think that’s very unfair and inconsiderate of his girlfriend. I wonder why she would say that- obviously primarily to spite him. We keep talking.

In about thirty minutes I’ll be in their car- Simon and his girlfriend. It’s a very small car. First I’ll wonder why such a large guy drives such a small car. I’ll also wonder why a considerable number of people I’ve met in Silicon Valley drive such moderate cars. People in Nigeria with much less money drive such extravagant vehicles. The roads can be remarkably terrible, and people spend hours in traffic, but somehow there’s still a lot of prestige associated with the sort of vehicle a person owns.

People are somehow capable of spending so much money on individual luxury, while the communal welfare is generally deplorable. In the most affluent parts of Lagos you’ll see like a $70,000 Porche wading through knee-deep muddy water pooled in cavernous potholes along the road. I don’t understand it. I don’t get how such an aesthetically dissonant experience could still be perceived as luxury- it superlatively bewilders me.

In the car Simon and I will talk about relationships. Relationship issues. I’ll talk about my relationship. The major issue I’m experiencing is maintaining the desired level of intimacy with a partner who is on holidays with her family, on a different continent. Simon’s major issue is that he’s meeting other people he would like to date, but can’t because of his current relationship. I try to empathize, but I cannot completely relate. Simon and his girlfriend have been in a relationship for fifteen years. I have absolutely no idea what that feels like.

And maybe that’s why his girlfriend makes snide remarks about his penis. Possibly to hack at his self-esteem by undermining his sexual capabilities, in a bid to reduce the likelihood of him exiting the relationship to date someone else he’s interested in.

We’ll talk about a number of other things in the car. He’ll describe how he broke a personal speed limit while driving on the Autobahn. Interesting.

We are done with lunch. We head to the counter. They offer to pay for my meal. I do not argue. I am with the super-tall adults who are capable of handling whatever problems come our way. I am the safe and excited chattering insect baby. They pay for our food and we head out to the car.

Image: That afternoon.

Lost at Night in San Francisco.

I am walking by a graveyard.

It is a military graveyard- the people buried here were likely casualties in some war.

I walk amidst the headstones, reading off the names. A lot of these people were young men.

As I walk through this throng of gravesite markers in the dead of the night, I begin to wonder what things were left undone by these people. Just how much was left undone.

Words never said. Ideas never conceived. Aspirations never accomplished. Lovers never met. Lovers never seen again. Children never had.

The graveyard feels loud. It feels loud with voices- voices destructively interfered with, by untimely death.

It’s in the middle of the night here at the Presidio in San Francisco, but strangely I feel somewhat deafened by the riotous voices seeming to bubble to the surface from the graves, and overhang the general area like a dark insidious cloud of suppressive heaviness.

In a few months I’ll be having dinner with a classmate couple in Berlin. One of them’ll mention something about how whatever happens in life is for the best. Even the very negative things, like untimely death. I’ll ask her if she really thinks that perspective is valid, or if it’s just palliative. She’ll say she’s not quite sure.

I keep walking.

At some point I come upon an asphalt road. I put down my skateboard and begin to skate.

I am skateboarding by one of the very interesting Revivalist buildings which populate the Presidio. Some guy walks out of one of these buildings. The room he walks out from, is very brightly lit. I think he’s security.

He asks me what I’m doing here. I describe my night. Went out for a walk, skateboarded a bit, found myself here, skateboarding onwards. He seems satisfied with my explanation, and tells me to go on and be safe.

I keep moving.

I am at the Golden Gate Bridge. I have absolutely no idea how I got here.

I began this night by heading out of the dorms at Nob Hill. I doubt I could find my way to the bridge during the day without a map and without asking for directions. I have no idea how I managed to do it at night.

A few minutes ago I was walking along a footpath bordered by some brush and some short wooden poles which had some sort of rope strung between them. I headed out of the footpath and voila, there was the Golden Gate Bridge right up ahead.

I am at some sort of a car park. I’m trying some ollies on the skateboard. I still haven’t gotten the ollie thing down.

A guy at the Sunset district expressed some humorous scorn when I told him I had been skateboarding for about a year. He was surprised I couldn’t really do any serious tricks.

I was somewhat taken by surprise. I still considered myself a young skateboarder- one who consequently deserved some slack with regard to proficiency at tricks. I was surprised by what he said.

He was an interesting guy. Steven. Steven with a South American last name. Said he was a jeweler. Looked like he was high most of the time. I was curious what his day was like as a jeweler. I wondered what his office/workspace looked like and stuff.

He expressed some sort of disapproval at Nob Hill as a residential location.

“Noise everywhere from the passing vehicles, homeless people…”

At that point I realized how quiet the Sunset District was. I had spent the past few months getting used to, and even coming to enjoy the auditory bustle of Nob Hill, but at that moment I realized there was definitely a point in his perspective.

He was riding this bike. Modified bike. It had large handlebars and a strangely low seat. He looked like he was riding a bike meant for preschoolers, but at the same time it looked cool. He said he built it himself. Said he intended to exhibit it at some event for modified bikes coming up soon.

I am at the Golden Gate Bridge. I have no idea how I got here. But that’s not so much of a problem. The actual problem is that I have no idea how to get back.

I have expended pretty much all of the impatient repressed energy that sent me bursting out of the dorms this night, to the amusing amusement of the Turkish-looking security guard. No way I’m skateboarding back to Nob Hill this night. I don’t even feel it. My body has no such plans right now.

I am in an office. I think it’s an interesting office, because it looks exactly like the movie depiction of American police stations.

I take some time to stare around the room, taking in the very interesting space while feeling like someone just threw me in the middle of a movie scene being filmed.

I walk up to an officer sitting by a window overlooking the bridge. He looks obese, most likely because of the sedentary nature of his job.

I explain my situation to him: Left Nob Hill on a walk, found myself here, don’t know how to get back etc.

He seems very nice and kind. He makes a phone call and tells me not to worry. Says someone is coming to get me. I feel relieved.

I ask him what he is doing by that window. It doesn’t look like he’s taking in a leisurely view of the bridge at night. It looks like he’s doing his job.

He says every once in a while someone comes along with the intention to jump off the bridge. He’s there to prevent that from happening successfully.

Oh wow. That’s pretty intense.

I wonder how computers could possible be equipped to carry out such a task. I don’t know, maybe there’s some sort of a pattern in the gait of suicidal people that computers could learn to pick up on. I don’t know, maybe.

My ride is here. I thank the kind officer at the station, and head into the car.

I’m being driven by a young police officer in his mid-to-late twenties. We’re engaging in conversation. He says he recently got married. Says some people think it’s strange he got married pretty early, but that he’s very happy with it. Happy with his marriage and his wife.

To be honest, I’m in the group that thinks it’s strange. I think he’s a loser for getting married.

Have some woman somewhere with whom you go snuggle every night. What a loser.

In the next few months I’ll find myself in love. And everything he’s saying will make profound sense to me. I don’t know anything now. I don’t know anything.

We’ve reached my stop. I can get a bus to my destination from here. I think the police officer, wish him goodnight and head out of the car.

Image: A different night. With a skateboard borrowed from a Chinese classmate.

Of Summer Rendezvous and Stolen Wine.

Mister Wang is on the balcony.

I’m not quite sure what he’s doing. I think he’s just taking in the view. Or maybe he’s having a phone call- I’m not quite sure.

I am in the kitchen section of the college HQ. There is a stash of wine bottles by my right.

I never really used to pay attention to the wine. In my head, it was in the same category with the like shoulder-high rack of wine bottles in one of the meeting rooms. The one with a table and an iMac and bookshelves and sofas.

I had that room to myself on a recent afternoon. Reclining in the extremely comfortable chair, reading about a newly-popular deep learning library called Keras on the iMac screen. Thinking about neural networks and activation functions and feeling like some grey-haired Stanford professor.

In my head, the assortment of wine bottles to my left were not for consumption by mere mortals like myself. The wine was arranged there for a different species- one I had never encountered before.

In my head, the bottles by my left were not wine, they were art. To be protected from contact with my inquisitive epidermis, lest those invaluable vessels dripping with rich history, instantly crumble into regrettable dust upon contact with my lowly Homo Sapien skin.

But the bottles of wine in the kitchen- the bottles of wine here by my right? These ones are different.

Like a few weeks ago I walked into the HQ kitchen and saw a half-full bottle. I paused mid-stride to make sense of what I was seeing.

Wait, this wine is for drinking? This wine is to be drunk? By human beings?



Okay. Okay. Okay I get it now. I get it now.

I think there had been some sort of a celebration at the HQ a number of hours before. Hence the wine.

Mister Wang is on the balcony.

I intend to transport one of the wine bottles into my backpack.

I do not know if that is stealing. I know chocolates and general snacks are accessible to all, but I just don’t know about the wine.

I don’t know if it’s expensive wine. To be honest I have no idea how to identify expensive wine, either by the bottle or by the taste. I think confirmation bias could make otherwise unremarkable wine taste expensive. To like me the uninitiated, it definitely would. It probably would have much less of an effect on expert tasters and stuff though.

I wonder if Mister Wang on the balcony can hear my thoughts.

I wonder if he has already perceived my intentions. He gave me a brief glance a few seconds ago.

I don’t know. He seems to be very engrossed in whatever he is doing.

I don’t know. Or maybe he is just being disingenuous.

The wine bottle is in my bag.

In my head I am coming up with explanations for my actions. I am advocating my innocence to the skeptical college-faculty superego in my brain. I can see myself in front of a disciplinary council, drawing on ethical frameworks and logical arguments to exonerate my very pitiable self from impending doom and desolation.

The school administration has been expelling people in recent times. I wonder if I could get expelled for stealing wine from the HQ. I don’t know.

But wait, I don’t even know if this is stealing. The wine is definitely accessible to general staff. I think. For students? I don’t know. For a student sneaking a bottle into his bag to drink back at the dorms with his girlfriend? I have no idea.

The wine bottle is in my bag.

My head keeps dancing about in a web of ethical conundrums as I head out to Market Street and begin to skateboard down to Powell.

A Kenyan classmate just helped me with a wine-opener. She says something about having some sort of share in the wine.

I’m not quite sure what she’s talking about. There’s only room for two this night.

I head down the stairs. About ninety percent of the class is home for summer break- and so the building in Nob Hill which functions as our dorms, is largely empty. The girlfriend and I have been making use of a number of different rooms in the building, in addition to our assigned rooms for the summer.

I call one the “flute room”, because during the session one of the occupants used to play the flute.

It was somewhat ticklish for me being in that room with the girlfriend, and thinking about the relatively innocent conversations I had had right there, with the occupants of the room a number of months before.

Hm, if only these people knew what we’re doing in their room now. What we’re doing with their beds.

Today it’s a different room. This one has a view of California street. Like my room.

I’m heading downstairs, wine-opener in hand.

The stolen wine should set a very stimulating mood for the night.

This night should be a very interesting one.

It’s a number of days later.

I am having a conversation with a resident assistant- a classmate from Malaysia. She is telling me about a strange discovery she made while locking up one of the rooms in the building for the summer.

The room was supposed to have already been cleared out, and so she was surprised to find an unempty bottle of wine in the wardrobe. Along with a blanket. And a number of other things which had very tenuous strings to their consequently ambiguous owners.

Hm. I wonder where the wine came from. I wonder how it got there. I wonder how it got opened, and I wonder what activities the beings who drank from the bottle intended to engage in.

Hm. I wonder.

This life is a mystery.

Image: Drinking (unjustifiably?) expensive wine at Shiro- an interesting Pan Asian restaurant in Lagos Nigeria.

Stadtbad Neukölln.

Life is extremely stressful right now.

Life is extremely stressful.

I spent last night communicating via email with the customer service of some telecommunications company in the USA. They have been meticulously effectuating  monthly debits to my Bank of America account.

I have not used their phone in months. But in spite of that, I keep getting their pestilential debits.

There is barely any money in my account. I had to borrow fifty euros from my Argentine flatmate a few weeks ago to get some groceries, while I awaited the arrival of some funds from the HQ in the USA.

Things are tight. Things are pretty tight.

And yet in spite of that, these telecoms people are making unfailing deductions from my already gaunt bank account.

Usually I’m calm and polite when communicating with Customer Service representatives.

I have never used exclamation marks. Or umbrage-inspired pervasive capitalization.

That was until last night.



Life is extremely stressful right now.

Berlin is annoying me. This neighbourhood is so quiet. After a year, I had gotten used to the bustle of Nob Hill. The periodic ringing of the cable cars, and the occasional skateboarder power-sliding down California street. Now the quiet of North-Eastern Kreuzberg feels more like deafness than tranquility.

Some of the roads are also not the best for skateboarding. A guy called out to me at Kottbuser Tor, and expressed his displeasure at this same situation. 

“You’re holding your skateboard in your hand all the time because you can’t really ride it here, its so frustrating”

I definitely saw what he was saying.

A number of major roads are pretty good though- smooth enough. Smooth enough.

I am still trying to get used to this place.

I need to go swimming.

I recently learnt that “swimming pool” in German is “Stadtbad”. I learnt that from looking for proximate swimming pools online.

I found one that seems cool. It’s at Neukölln. Stadtbad Neukölln.

I pick up my swimming trunks which I bought from a roadside trader while in university in Nigeria. I fetch the idle swimming goggles I stole from the poolside at a YMCA in San Francisco.

Time to get to the Stadtbad.

I head out the door while I engage in a cognitive struggle with the worries and pains and anxieties of the romantic relationship I am in, with the perplexities of my current situation and uncertainties of my future in the backdrop.

I am skateboarding down Karl-Marx Straße. I think this is where Google Maps says I need to turn left. I walk up to a woman seated on a chair in a space by the road that looks like an open air cafe with patio umbrellas. I explain that I am trying to get to Stadtbad Neukölln. With a smile, she points me in the right direction. I give her my appreciation.



I am at the pool. It’s an interesting place. Very large hall. The turnstiles at the entrance to the pool almost make me feel like I am at a subway station.

Grey concrete walls. Neoclassical architecture. Extremely interesting environment.

My Chinese GoPro clone is at the end of the hall. I think I’ll do some normal swimming before bringing the camera into the pool.

I swim.

Some weird German guy looks like he’s trying to impress me with his butterfly stroke. He swims over and begins to chat me up, with a sheepish grin on his face. Oh yeah he was definitely trying to impress me with his butterfly.

It was impressive though, it was. It looked really powerful and elegant.

I need to learn that stroke. I have been meaning to learn it for a while. I respond very dismissively to the weird German guy.

I keep swimming.

I’ve brought the “GoPro” into the pool. I am taking underwater pictures and making videos. I am enjoying myself.




I am at the bathroom. Taking a shower. Weird German guy materializes from God-knows-where. Tries fondling my nipples.

I get pissed. I get very pissed, and I express that to him.

I don’t know what’s up with these weird homosexual German guys who keep bothering my life.

I do not know what their problem is.



All in all, it was a good day. It was a very good day at Stadtbad Neukölln.




Now Playing: Di’Ja- Awww.

Two Days in Frankfurt.

Reykjavik Airport. Iceland.

“Hello. Please do you mind not taking off yet? I need to find someone. We came to the airport together, and I need to be sure he is on the plane.”

The air hostess stares at me. I stare back.

I elucidate some more.

“We were sitting together at the boarding gate. I quickly went to get something and by the time I got back everyone was already getting on the plane and I couldn’t find him.”

At some point she gets a clearer picture of my situation and nods in comprehension. She speaks to some other hostesses in what I assume to be Icelandic.

I remember trying to come up with some sort of a rudimentary understanding of the language after a few minutes at the airport. I was studying a large signboard that was placed over the booth of the officer who stamped our passports. I felt like I was beginning to make out a pattern in the sentences- a pattern with the structure of the verbs and their conjugation. Something like that.

I think someone passes a message to the pilot not to begin the takeoff procedure yet.

She gets a hold of the microphone.

“What’s his name please?”

I tell her.

“Hello Mister Soso and So, you have a friend who is looking for you. He wants to know if you boarded the plane successfully. He wants to know if you’re here. Please indicate if you can hear me. Hello?”

We look around the plane. It is a relatively small plane. My Indian classmate and I booked the cheapest flight to Germany we could find from San Francisco.

We keep looking.

I see a hand go up in the air a few rows down.

“Ah haha. There he is! There he is!”

“Haha great! I wave and smile. He successfully got on the plane.

Thank you very very much!”

I make sure to profusely express my appreciation.

I walk back to my seat, half-wondering why I momentarily delayed the plane’s takeoff to check on the welfare of someone who evidently did not care if I successfully boarded the plane or not.

Frankfurt airport.

A few minutes of Google Mapping over the airport Wifi, and I realise I need to get to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof. That’s like “Frankfurt Central Train Station” or something like that.

I head towards the subway.

One of the first things I become aware of after landing in Germany is how much taller the people around me seem to be.

The first two people I talk to are a guy and a lady I believe is his girlfriend. I ask for some directions. They are both smiling and they seem happy to talk to me.

They are both in about the same height range as I am.

“Christ, it feels like everyone is taller in this place.”

It’s a strange feeling. It makes the air feels a bit more choked.

I do not have money to use the subway. I begin to interact with a guy close by. He seems confused. His confusion has something to do with the ticket vending machine. Something about the language and what ticket would take you to the Hauptbahnhof.

We begin to think and talk, trying to figure it out. Eventually we do. I ask if he would not mind buying me a ticket. He doesn’t mind. We head into the subway.

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof.

I’m in a hostel. Well I’m not really in the hostel because I am not checked in. I’m at the reception. I learnt about hostels from an Israeli friend I met in San Francisco.

“Oh waitt, so they’re like hotels but less expensive? Ahhhh. I did not know there was a thing like that.”

It was an interesting day when I learnt about hostels from the very cool Israeli guy.

I am sitting at my computer and reloading my account balance page on my banking portal.

“Fuck, we were supposed to be paid like a few days ago. What sort of undeserved brokeness is this?”

I keep reloading.

The lady with really interesting blue eyes at the reception begins to pass snide looks at me from across the room.

“Yes I know I know. I’ve just been sitting down here and drinking your internet and I’ve still not paid for a room. Yes I know thank you very much, just wait till this money hits my account. It’s coming all the way from the US. It’s probably about halfway across the Atlantic at this point, don’t worry.”

I log on to Netflix. Their internet is good. There is no cash at hand, but there is an existing Netflix subscription. Life isn’t completely terrible.


I am skateboarding around Frankfurt. It seems like a cool place. Some of the roads look strange. Right in front of the hostel it looks like the sidewalks are much wider than the actual road. A few minutes down the road, the sidewalk and the main road are exactly the same thing- completely indistinguishable. The road is the sidewalk, and the sidewalk is the road.

I keep skateboarding.

I stop at an ice cream shop, and get myself some ice cream. I’m giddy from all of the skating adrenaline. I’m giggling as I collect my ice cream. The lady selling has an amused smile on her face.

“Haha, thank you very much.”

My money finally arrived in Frankfurt after its sustained journey over the Atlantic.

I keep skateboarding.

I am at a really picturesque lake. I take the time to lie down in the grass and enjoy the warm sunlight. I would have taken pictures but it seems I lost my phone on the way to Frankfurt. I’m not quite sure where.

Ugh. And it was a new iPhone.


Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof.

I am about to get a train to Berlin. I’m chomping down on a pack of Dunkin Donuts. Each donut has a different flavoured topping. I pick three and take a bite from each one. One after the other. And I keep going round. My mouth tastes like rainbows and good music.

The roof of the train station is largely transparent, and so it lets a lot of sunlight in. The station is airy and bright and smells of fresh coffee and trains and railway metal.

Someone is using my skateboard. Some guy. He is wearing a white T-shirt, jeans and a cool looking beanie.

He effortlessly does a pop-shuvit. Spins the board around 180 degrees with his back foot. Okay this guy can use my skateboard for as long as he wants.

I introduce myself. We begin to talk.

We get on the train. He tells me he is from a small village in the south-western end of the country. Close to the border with France. He says the name means “Water under the bridge”. I think it sounds cool.

I offer him some Dunkin Donuts. He says he’s fine thank you. At the back of my mind I wonder how anyone could refuse these brightly-coloured, extremely cheerful donuts.

We keep talking as the train cruises through the beautiful green plains that stretch out into the horizon.

Somewhere in Germany.

I was on the wrong train. Right now I am about 50 miles in the opposite direction. I’m with my pack of now almost depleted Dunking Donuts, my skateboard and my backpack.

The German skateboarder is beside me. We’re talking with the train operator. Working on how to resolve the issue. He gives us directions. It turns out I do not have to pay any extra money. Good to hear. The train operator has this tired and disapproving look on his face throughout. I think it’s supposed to make me feel bad about having gotten on the wrong train. I don’t really care. Maybe he just needs some Dunkin Donuts to spice up his life.

I get off the train. I part with the skateboarder after adding him up on Facebook.

I ask for directions from another officer at the train station. So I can double-check the information accessible to me. I need to get on the right train this time.


It was a beautiful train ride. Thoroughly enjoyable. I pull my big red travelling box behind me as I step out of the subway at Waschauer Strasse.

Time to locate my new apartment.


Skateboarding Berlin.






One more look around the room.

Duvet rumpled. The mind wonders what the girlfriend is doing. Miles and miles away.

Other than that, things in order.

Toe. Heel. The skateboard finds the hand.

Have to move quickly, there is sun today.

There actually, is sun. Today.


The stairs whizz by.

Whizz, whizz.


Turn. Push. Open air. Ahh.

Plat, four wheels on the ground.

Push push.

The sidewalk is rough. And slightly wet. Golden brown autumn leaves are everywhere.

Push push.

The sidewalk is rough.

The main road is cobblestoned.

I hate the cobblestones. You cannot skate on cobblestones.

Push push.



Push push.

No more cobblestones. On to the main road.

Smooth smooth journey from here.

Push push.

Ah there’s the garden.

Memory takes over:

Flashes of lipstick. Red nail polish, dainty white sandals. Golden brown hair. Red lipstick. Smile. Laugh. Kiss. I love you.

Push push.


Kottbusser Tor.

There’s a drainage cap. Sweeeerve. Nice.



Memory usurps again:

Flowers. I’d like a bouquet please. Wait how much did you say? The mind calculates. I have about five euros in my bank account. But the girlfriend and I just had a fight. They say when you fight with your girlfriend you should procure flowers.

How much did you say again? Ah to hell with it. I’d like four yellow flowers and — Wait what? Oh there’s a bouquet size for funerals and a different size for romance?

Interesting. I did not know that.

Give me one romance bouquet please.

Account probably in the red now. Fool for love. Yeah yeah I’m inundated with awareness thank you very much.


Kottbuser Tor.

Push push.

No one skates on the roads here. I’m not sure why that is.

Push push.

Ah sun.

Sun sun sun sun sun.


Push push. Push harder.


Kottbusser Strasse.

Sidewalk draws the attention.

Memory Again:

The girlfriend wants to go out. Fancy restaurant. You know, because. The remote god-family in Italy demands impression. Proud jacket. Beautiful. Yellow hair. Fancy.

Glass of wine please. The brain pinches me. How much money do you have left again? Ah to hell with that. Outing.

The brain is angry. What are you doing here? All posh and fancy. Indomitable mister glamour. Well done.

Can we please rush through the part where we elegantly sip wine and engage in forcefully spaced template conversation so I can leave this place.

The girlfriend is not pleased. I don’t care. I can’t right now, I can’t care I’m incapable of it. The brain is angry.

Good. Good good let’s go.

Way back.

That was not enjoyable. Yeah. I personally felt it was all too fancy. Contrived in its fanciness. And I found myself being an asshole. Sorry.

Wait. I need to wrap you in your jacket, arms and all.

Hah. You look like a penguin. You look like a penguin in swaddling clothes.

Haah. Haha. Laugh. Kiss. I love you.

Hmm. Interesting. Fancy restaurant is not imperative for couple happiness. Should spend some more time thinking about that.

Push push.


Kottbusser Strasse.

The road slopes upwards.

Ah that was where I had pizza with Ivan. Hah. The yellow hair was fresher then.

Push push.

The skateboarder identity is location-agnostic.

The underpinning physics do not really care where you are- what country- what continent- whether or not school says you’re doing well- whether or not anyone says you’re doing well.

The underpinning physics are concerned one thing primarily- your unwavering acknowledgement of their authority. That— do that, and you’re fine.

Push push.


Mercedes-Benz Arena.

Aesop Rock is saying something.

I do not like this place- I do not like what it makes me think of.

Corporations. All of these annoying mammoth companies.

You have to you know, be good. Play by the rules. Graduate. Get a job somewhere. Daddy will be proud.

Some classmates worked at mammoth companies over the summer. Girlfriend likes that sort of thing. They smell like money. I have a feeling gravity would have pulled her towards one of them if my grip was less firm. Of course it’s not her fault. It’s gravity. I completely understand.

I do not like this place.

I do not like it.


Haha. Ollie over your problems.

Interesting proposal.

Ollie. Ahh. Could have been better.

Push push.



There’s a lot of space here.

Push push.

Take a picture.


Ollie. Ollie. Ollie. You know what, I’ll just stay here and practice.

Ollie. Ollie. Ollie. I don’t care much who is watching.

Memory again:

I’m in a knitting wool shop.

There is so much wool. How is there so much wool. Where do they find all the sheep? Says something about sheep probably. Yeah, probably says something about sheep.

I’d like pink please. Pink wool. And purple. She says she wants to knit me a beanie. I like the idea. And I like pink. I love her.

Wait there are different sizes of knitting needles? How are those ones so large? They look like drumsticks. i had no idea knitting needles could look like drumsticks.


Push push.


Warchauer Strasse.

I need directions.

Hello, where do I find a skatepark around here?

Ah skatepark, I show you.

Conversation ensues with young man from Austria. He talks about nightclubs and custom tobacco rolling techniques and marijuana. I’m interested.

He says Austria is all cows and grass. A part of my mind staunchly disagrees. Is that not where some UN building is located?

Ah there’s the skatepark, thank you very much.

Up, down, up down.

I haven’t tried this curved wall thing before— let’s see what it’s like.

Wait what time is it that I have class again?

Ugh, class.

You should have seen my work on the Bloom Filters assignment. I described them  from an elegant algebraic perspective— verging on abstract algebraic even. I am very well near certain my point of view was novel.

But the scoring scheme is predefined, and rigid. How exactly is novelty to be quantified.




Frankfurt was beautiful. I loved every moment of it. Asides of course when I had no money to pay for accommodation and had to secure myself space in the lounging area on the power of my MacBook Pro.

Welldone. Indomitable Mister Macbook Pro.


Dresden. Ah Dresden. No I can’t think about Dresden now, not yet. The last time we spent time together, alone. My heart is still raw from the absence, I’m not touching that now.

I should go. I have class like soon.

Push push.

I should become a DJ.

Set things up at the Rosenthaler Platz U-bahn station.

I should play anti-music. I should be a Noise Cancellation DJ.

I started writing code for it. Noise cancellation code. I was testing it the other night. How did go again, I don’t seem to remember. I’ll check when I get back.

I’m growing older. I’ve had so many dreams. I have so many dreams. What is to be done with all these dreams. What is to be done with dreams in general.

It’s entirely reasonable to think there are dreams you’ll never know you even had. Dreams you’ll have like once, and never remember. Until maybe their memory was triggered by something. Hm how do you trigger the memory of a dream. How do you trigger the memory of a specific——

Mayowaaaa moove move you have class- It is my father’s voice. Einstein Podolski Rosen paradox and you have not done the readings.

What. What sef.

Mayowa has a class and unlike his more serious colleagues, he has not spent hours preparing beforehand. Wow. That’s new. I’ve never heard that before.

Girlfriend always used that to claw at me. I hated it. It was very effective at spoiling my self-confidence. I did not use to read before I met her. It was not that much of an issue. I did not understand why in the name of God it should be one after becoming a boyfriend.


Push push.

Push push.

Wonderful to have gotten some sun today. The paucity of warmth in this place makes going out a punishment. There’s the default inertia to going out, but this punishment poses an additional cost. Outings have to be promising of proportionally more utility to make acquiescing a reasonable course of action.

I should buy Pepsi. Augmenting class with Pepsi has been considerably pleasurable recently. And pizza. Pizza from the Turkish guy. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make pizza. I saw him making it the other day but——




Push push.