Detomo's Abroad

Detomos Abroad

Archive for February, 2009

Burn’s Night Ball

February 4, 2009 12:14 pm

After we returned from the new year, we were invited by a Scottish Expat couple who are friends of ours to a ball on Saturday, January 24th – something called “Burn’s Night”.  Now we had never heard of “Burn’s Night” before, and it was subsequently explained to us that the occasion was being celebrated all over the world, (locally sponsored by The Caledonia Society), in honor of Scottish history and Robert Burn’s, (his birthday is January 25th), the most famous author/poet in Scottish history, who wrote passionately of Scottish independence, and his love of women, whiskey and song.  The party was a very formal affair, with traditional Scottish kilts, formal tuxedos and ball gowns.  The ballroom was decorated in purple and red sashes with Scottish Coats-of-Arms displayed everywhere.  Approximately 300 people attended from every nationality, race and religion, and it was a very scripted affair.

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The night began with a formal Receiving Line of the Society’s Officers, from which we were steered directly to your choice of Champagne or Scotch Whiskey as the warm-up.  After ~30 minutes of arrivals and social meandering, everyone took their seats and the program began with a procession of bagpipes and officers.  We listened to welcoming addresses, and stood for the Scottish National Anthem, The Nigerian National Anthem, and a round of “God Save the Queen”, at which point we got down to business with a couple of traditional Scottish dances to which everyone was expected to participate in, (kind of a combination of square dances and line dances).

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This then led to the most important procession and the occasion for the President of the Society to “Address the Haggis”!  Again, a bagpipe-led line paraded, with a matron carrying the ceremonial “haggis” on a silver tray, being honored by all.  A few rounds of Robert Burn’s poetry, honors to the ideals of the Scots, numerous rounds of toasts, and it was then time for dinner – for starters haggis, taters, and carrots; main dish of beef, chicken or veggie; a sweet puddin dessert; lots of wine & whiskey. 

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After dinner, it was time for the address of the “Laddie’s”, where a learned male scholar discusses & exposes the great virtues and strengths of the stronger sex.  This is then followed by the reply from the “Lassie’s”, who led a stirring exposé on the historic shortcomings of men, both in competence and anatomically.  Finally, the speeches being complete, it’s just the tea, coffee, and Baileys along with 12 participant Scottish dances by a traditional Scottish folk-band, flown in for the occasion from the U.K.  It being past midnight already, we decided our night was calling for an end, but we expected the party would continue long without us into the wee hours of the night.

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Coffee at the Flowerstalk Tea Room

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The Flowerstalk Tea room is in the Flowerstalk Florist Shop.  Tuesday I attend an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony there.  The American Women’s Club has monthly coffee meetings and today was not the usual coffee meeting. Instead it was a sharing of hospitality. 

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The Ethiopian coffee ceremony is a part of the social and cultural life in Ethiopia.  The young lady roasted coffee beans over a very small charcoal pit.  She then moved around the room letting us smell the beans…. very nice aroma.  Next she put the beans in the most beautiful coffee pot with a long neck and then simmered the pot over the small charcoal pit. 

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The coffee was served in very small cups with no sugar or cream and was delicious.  It was not strong or weak but very pleasant.  The coffee was served with bowls of popcorn and roasted grain.  NO individual dishes but everyone sharing from the same bowl.  This is considered a way of sharing and a mark of friendship or respect.  There is no hurry and it is definitely ceremonial.  Thus far probably the most relaxing and interesting coffee I have attended!

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How To Assemble A Pool Table

11:41 am

Where would we be without friends?  Strong friends when it comes to a pool table.  When the pool table was unassembled and crated in the USA, we were under the impression that there would be an assembly group here in Nigeria.  Having had repair men come to change a ceiling light bulb without a ladder and the plumber come to fix plumbing with only a screw driver, it became clear to us that we would be assembling the pool table ourselves.  The frame was intact but having been stood on end it had one broken board. 

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 The furniture carver that has made us a new top for our bar came to the rescue and made us a replacement for the broken board. 

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Then with the help of 5 strong neighbor men we uncrated the 3 slates, (~300 lbs each), and placed them in position.  I was no help as my leg still did not bend from my knee surgery, and I really can’t walk like one should. 

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We brought a new felt with us from the USA, and we then began to level and re-surface the table in preparation of stretching the new felt over it. 

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The men were all promised game-time at the table once it was complete.  It takes a small village to assemble a pool table.  Rocky spent the next week plastering and sanding the seams and imperfections in the slate, and then stretching the new felt over it and tacking the edges. 

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 The more difficult part was cutting and stretching the felt over the pocket cutouts, especially on the sides.  Once the felt was on, holes were cut on it to match the slate holes where the rails assemble on top of it.  The rails themselves were interesting to assemble!  The entire rail assembly must be done at one time, upside-down, and then flipped over to bolt unto the table.  This is because, once assembled, the slate hides the screw holes for the pocket-rods.  Once the rails are bolted on, then the leather pocket baskets must be tacked to the table to complete the job.  The only problem was the disassembler in Houston had simply pulled the pockets off, damaging a number of the leather ends, requiring a lot of detailed, custom assembly adjustments.  By mid-January, however, the Pool Table was assembled – and it plays fantastic!! 

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