CONDOMS ARE CHEAPER THAN PAMPERS!

I don’t know why that title feels somehow offensive to me and yet it is so true. I come from an African background where the pressure to have kids is astronomical. Questions are asked when a woman of a certain age (unmarried or single) has no children.

“Why won´t you have kids?”

“She could at least have one.”

“Is she barren?” they ask behind your back.

“Just two kids? Have another?”

When you are brave enough to say that it is not financially viable, the answer is quick to be delivered.

“God feeds kids, you just have a baby and God will do the rest.”

If you are dumb enough to listen to all those relatives and friends, you go on to have number 3. And yes, as promised, everybody comes in the first month. They bring gifts of pampers, clothes, money and many many congratulations and of course the inevitable question.

“3 girls? Your job is not done here. You need to have a boy.”

And on and on and on until the gifts stop in a month or 2 and THEN YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. Yes, on your own with 3 mouths you can hardly feed while contemplating number 4. And that is what boggles the mind.

Is life just about keeping children alive or should we stop and think about the quality of life?

When I was pregnant, I was so sure that I wanted only one child but as my bump grew, I found myself think more and more about my own childhood. We were 10 kids and I was number 9. I don´t remember ever being lonely and I always had someone to complain to and give me a sympathetic ear when I felt my parents were being unfair. So what would become of my child? I quickly changed my tune and 8 months after my daughter was born I started trying for number 2.

2 years later nothing had happened, I was still not pregnant. I consulted a doctor and started taking fertility medication. Given my age, (early 40s) this was not going to be easy.  When my daughter was 3 years, I gave up on getting pregnant and decided for adoption.  My husband and I were in a good financial position, my daughter was in a private kindergarten that cost a small fortune and the future looked bright.  We would soon adopt a 3-year old girl.

And then Shit!!!! Our financial situation changed overnight. While the future was not so bleak, it became obvious that to support 2 kids, we would have downgrade our entire life. My daughter would have to go to a government school with standards that were not desirable, at least to me. She would learn in a language I did not understand and pick up values that I neither supported nor understood. Our cushy life would now be just above the breadline. Is that what I wanted?

The answer was a clear no. I wanted quality of life for all my family.  I wanted my kid to stay in private school, I wanted to have enough for simple holidays, I wanted Christmas to be magic without choosing between good food and good presents. In fact, I wanted every day to be Christmas. I did not want magic in 20 years, I wanted it now and I had it. My small family was living the dream and we were not going to change that so we could increase the number. While I grew up in a big family, my husband was an only child as was his daddy before and I can honestly say, there is nothing wrong with my man… I did after all, marry him.  Today, thanks to a difficult but wise decision, we are where we should be. Our kid is happy, she has friends, she has us and most importantly she has quality of life.

On the other side of the world is a relative who sometimes asked me for money to feed his family of 3 kids and a wife. Last year that family was struggling so much that when one child got sick, they had to sell household items to cover hospital bills. They were just above the water and the next meal was a challenge. So can you imagine my shock when he called with me with the good news. “My wife is pregnant he said happily”

This is where I say, feel free to call me a bastard but I had to ask something.

With all the diplomacy I could gather I said, “Congratulations.”  And after a decent pause I continued.  “I hate to rain on your parade but…  are condoms not cheaper than pampers?

He was upset to say the least but that did not stop him from calling me God. That is right. He said God would provide… however, I am the person he calls to say “we have no food, please help us” so I can only imagine that I am God. It was on that day that I decided to stop being God and to revert to my human role. I stopped sending money to him.

So here is what I do not understand. Why do people have kids that they know they cannot afford? Just because you are married does not mean that you are ready to have kids. Kids are not teddy bears and they are not pets. While pets need to be fed, you can always take them to the animal shelters. Kids, not so easy. They need you for the 1st , 18 and sometimes to 25 years.  They not only need you financially but they need you emotionally.  I came from a big family and yes I had the best of everything that money could buy but I never had my mum.

10 kids, she worked like a donkey to give me and my siblings the good life. But she did not know me. She never knew my favourite colour or if I had a boyfriend or what made me happy etc.  And how could she? I was one of many.

She worked day and night with little support from her solala husband, my father, so that I could have the best of what money could buy.

As kids, we had chefs, babysitters and cleaners but our parents were visibly absent. So even with a lot of money you still have to question the quality of life you can give to a bunch of kids. Will you have time for each and every child?

My conclusion is that with or without money, when it comes to kids, less is more. If you cannot afford kids don’t have them. And just because you can afford kids does not mean you should have 10. Kids need so much more than just staying alive.

 

DID I FORGET YOUR BIRTHDAY? Oops, sorry.

My birthday is coming soon and I am looking forward to it. Another year brings more knowledge and maturity. What do I want for my Birthday? Truthfully, this year I have no idea.  Perhaps life has been good to me in as I do not have a long list of wishes. But I do have some advice.

I have often heard of couples having a screaming march because one or the other has forgotten a birthday or an anniversary. But why do people make such a big deal out of it. Why does “Sorry I forgot” translate into “I do not care or I do not love you enough”.  In relationships should we not allow for human error? Or are we just egoist?

Yes, I get it that we all want someone to remember our birthday and I for one want my partner to remember my birthday and guess what, in 22 years that we have been together he has never forgotten my birthday. So, does he love me more than your partner loves you? I doubt it.

The simple truth is he has more chance of flying to the moon than he has of forgetting my birthday and not because his ex-wife has the same birthday and neither do I have my birth date tattooed on his forehead.

I simply remind him. It is important for me that he remembers, so, I make sure he does. I remind him a month before, a week before and a day before. And guess what, if he still does not remember, I ask for a birthday kiss on the morning of my birthday. I leave no stone unturned.

“Honey my birthday is next month, do you think we should do something?”

“My birthday is next week, do I need to arrange a baby sitter or maybe we can have a special dinner with our daughter at home”

“What a lovely morning, where is my birthday kiss?”

The point is, it is better to remind him or her, than to wait for the inevitable screaming march, bad mood or whatever when you discover there is no surprise birthday party. Some arguments are avoidable and I find that it is in my best interest to keep harmony in my home. Your partner is not you and that means that he/she might be going through shit that you know nothing about or it can be a more simple explanation, he/she simply forgot. Why is that a crime?  If he/ she forgot, then why not pick a date and celebrate on that day? We are adults and birthday celebrations should not define our relationships. I mean, if you have had wonderful times with your partner for some months or years, why blow it because of ONE DAY?

Is that so difficult? If my partner chose to ignore my not so subtle hints, even after all my efforts, I would let it slide and accord him the same courtesy on his birthday. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Who the hell is Albania

Great Christmas gift for your friends

Soni Says

EVEN WITH ZERO INTEREST IN ALBANIA YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK

Even if you have no interest in Albania, you will love this book. The short and  funny stories will keep you laughing through- out no matter which country you come from. And do not let the sub-title fool you because although Mother Teresa and Skanderberg are mentioned, this book is about present day Albania from the eyes of a foreigner.

The choice of the narrator is A BIG SURPRISE and yet it fits. It tells of a people for whom generosity is way of life. Where in the world can a woman walk around at 2AM in a dark  alley and feel safe? Tirana  is such place. Of course, anything can happen but it is highly unlikely.

This book is not a travel guide because it goes many steps further. Even if you never set foot in Albania, you…

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Homosexuals, are they for real?

Soni Says

I have lost count of the number of times I have spoken to people who really believe that homosexuality is an invention of the modern world that is normalized by press.

So is this our invention? Apart from the fact that if the bible is to be believed, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah dates back at least 2000 years, and the ancient Greek depiction of same sex relationships go back to 600BC, I had the good fortune to meet a gay man called John, so I asked him “Did you decide to become gay?”

Needless to say John was shocked by my ignorance but he kindly explained that being gay is not a choice. According to him, he was a happy little boy who played football like all the boys his age; that is until he reached puberty and started to find his male playmates attractive. He knew this…

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SCHATTEN Des SCHWURS

Dieses Buch bietet fast für jeden etwas.

Sie interessieren sich für die Geheimnisse der Schwarzen Magie, Voodoo und der Kraft unseres Geistes?

Oder lesen einfach gerne Geschichten aus der Zeit der Kolonisation und Unterdrückung der Schwarzen in Afrika?

Oder suchen einfach einen Roman, der so spannend ist, dass Sie morgens mit Rändern um den Augen aufwachen?

Als eine Afrikanerin kann ich Ihnen versichern, dass Voodoo so sicher existiert wie Tag und Nacht. E.L. Bono, der Autor des Buchs begeistert nicht nur indem er eine Geschichte, die das Leben schrieb, in einem spannenden Thriller wiedergibt, sondern führt leicht verstaendlichleichtverständlich wissenschaftliche Fakten an, die uns verstehen lassen wie und warum die Kraft unseres Geistes so mächtig ist, dass sie Schicksale entscheiden kann.

SCHATTEN Des SCHWURS

Dieses Buch bietet fast für jeden etwas.

Sie interessieren sich für die Geheimnisse der Schwarzen Magie, Voodoo und der Kraft unseres Geistes?

Oder lesen einfach gerne Geschichten aus der Zeit der Kolonisation und Unterdrückung der Schwarzen in Afrika?

Oder suchen einfach einen Roman, der so spannend ist, dass Sie morgens mit Rändern um den Augen aufwachen?

Als eine Afrikanerin kann ich Ihnen versichern, dass Voodoo so sicher existiert wie Tag und Nacht. E.L. Bono, der Autor des Buchs begeistert nicht nur indem er eine Geschichte, die das Leben schrieb, in einem spannenden Thriller wiedergibt, sondern führt leicht verstaendlichleichtverständlich wissenschaftliche Fakten an, die uns verstehen lassen wie und warum die Kraft unseres Geistes so mächtig ist, dass sie Schicksale entscheiden kann.

The Controversy of job seekers in Albania

What would you do to be employed?

According to the BBC this is what one man did to make it to his first day at work.

 A US company owner gave an employee a new car after he went the extra mile – 20 miles (32km) in fact, walking all night to make his first day at work.

After his own car broke down, Walter Carr made the long commute by foot through the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama, to his new job in removals.

A police officer spoke to Mr Carr en route and, impressed by his grit, took him to get some breakfast.

 

I put an advert in an Albanian newspaper looking for a babysitter and cleaner. The non- negotiable qualities were

“MUST SPEAK ENGLISH AND KNOW HOW TO SWIM.”

I got a few calls from people who could do neither and was impressed by their dedication to find employment regardless of lack of the main qualities defined in the advert.

Then there were the ones who got their brothers, cousins and friends to make the enquiry.

And then there was the most interesting group. These were the ones who claimed to have both requirements and experience for the job requirements so I made appointments for interviews and then waited.

THEY DID NOT COME OR CALL OR TEXT

Because I urgently needed an employee, I followed up with phone calls. To my astonishment, these were some of the responses that I got.

“It was raining so I could not come for the interview.”

So would this person only work in the dry season?

“It was too hot, can I come when it is cooler”

Would this person only work in the spring and autumn?

“I forgot that I had to meet my cousin for a coffee”

So will your cousin give you a job?

I forgot to set my alarm, I overslept.”

While that is plausible,  please…..

“I went to the beach can I come in two days?”

To the beach and you need a job? Why not go to the beach when you are earning money to pay your way?

“I have exams, can I come another time”

Why would you not mention that on the first phone call?

“I am so sorry I was a little sick, can we meet for a coffee”

No I do not want to me for a coffee I want to interview you for a job.

And then the most SHOCKING

“You place is a little far, can you meet me in the center?

Seriously, you want me to meet you somewhere at your convenience so I can offer you a job that you claim to want?

That way made me speechless.

Okay, eventually I did get a small number who had no excuses and actually came to the interviews some accompanied by mummy, sister, friends cousin etc.

I try to go out once a week with my husband and this job would require that when I go out, the baby sitter spends the night in my place with my 7yr old daughter. One lady said “No problem but only if I bring my 18 year old son because I would be scared to stay alone.  Really, you want your 18 year old son to spend the night in my 7 year old daughter’s bedroom?

One girl said “I can stay the night but only if I bring my mum”

Then there is the one who came for a trial day two hours late and left two hours early while telling me that she was desperate for a job but forgot to give her brother the house key and needed to leave.

One said she could look after my 7 year old but would clean nothing.

So do these people really want jobs?

Yes they do.

Do they want money? Yes they do.

But do they need money?

NO THEY DO NOT.

There is a very big difference between what people WANT and what people NEED.

I want a brand new Mercedes sports car, but what I really need is any kind transport.

I want a mansion but what I need is a roof over my head.

I want an I-phone but what I need is just a phone.

Truth be told, I have everything that I need but not everything that I want.

In my opinion the basic human needs are, shelter, clothing, food, water, oxygen and fuel.

I come from a continent where people literally die from thirst because they cannot get a glass of water. While I commend the American guy who walked 32 kilometers to work, for some in Africa, walking 20 kilometers a day every day to make life possible is an everyday reality.

If your next meal is only possible if you go to work, there is no way in hell that you would say “ooops it was raining I could not make it to the interview.”

The truth is many young people in Tirana have all their needs taken care of. eg mummy and daddy sending food and money from the village, rich uncle in the USA sending money and clothes, a sister in France etc

Given my country of origin, I find it difficult to comprehend that rain can stop someone attending an interview. I guess there are different definitions of poverty and not being able to afford the latest I-phone is not one them.

FREE ADVICE

Only call if you really need a job.

Do not let someone else do your job interview.

If you have no time to attend an interview, do not call.

If you do not speak the required language, do not call.

Do not be late for a job interview.

If you are over 18, do not bring your friends and relatives to interviews.

If you have too much money, go on vacation and stop wasting my time.

Is that too much to ask?

 

Any thoughts on the subject are welcome.

 

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