The power of negotiation ft “You Can Negotiate Anything” book by Herb Cohen

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July 2019 -Maine

In May, I attended the graduation of a family friend and at her graduation party, her uncle gifted her with a book (namely “You Can Negotiate Anything” book by Herb Cohen). When I saw the title of the book, I immediately exclaimed that I needed to read that book as it could be useful in my personal and professional life. Without skipping a beat, her uncle retrieved his personal copy of the book and gave it to me. It turns out that he had bought himself the copy to re-read as he read it many years ago when my father gave him a copy of the book. Therefore, this book is kind of a “boomerang” as it first started with my father in Kenya, then to a family friend, and then back to me in the USA. Who knows where and to who this book will travel next. But in the meantime, let me share the top negotiation strategies I have learned from the book.

  1. Never reveal your deadline to the person you are negotiating with if you can avoid it. For example, do not tell a seller you need a car by next week as that means the seller will know that you probably will not have time to look around for a better deal. The most powerful thing in the world is time. If you have time, use it to your advantage to make sure you get the best deal possible. Also, playing the waiting game makes you look less interested in the other party so they are more willing to work with what you want.
  2. Avoid having an authoritative style. There are many strategies for negotiation. The author calls an authoritarian/unyielding strategy “the Soviet-style” because, during war, the Soviets would low ball you until you yield to their demands while they compromise nothing. This style only works if you never intend on doing business or having relations with that person ever again because the person will not like you for taking advantage of them.
  3. See compromise as an opportunity to make both you and the other person happy. Good negotiators find ways to figure out what really means the most to the other person. For example, if you are the boss and the person you are seeking to hire wants $50,000 while you are only willing to offer $40,000, find ways to make up for the other $10,000. Such examples could be offering more vacation days, season tickets to sports events, or even gym membership. Therefore, when the person looks at the $40,000 they don’t see it as a total loss of $10,000 especially since the $40,000 is taxable by the government while the additional perks are tax-free. So in negotiation, always try to find a way to get as close to what you want while still making the other happy.
  4. Avoid negotiating on the telephone unless you want an easy win or lose situation. This is because whoever imitates the call is usually at an advantage as they think about what they are going to say before they call. On the other hand, the receiver of the phone call is caught off guard and has to scramble to have good debate points in the negotiation. The author’s advice if you are the receiver is simple: make up an excuse to end the call and tell the caller that you will phone them at a later turn. Now you will be the caller and not the receiver which gives you the advantage. For example, if you have applied for a job and the interviewer calls you with a low offer which you were not expecting, simply tell the interviewer that you need time to think about it and you will call them back within 24 to 48 hours. Negotiating in person also allows you to read body language and make a better case for yourself as it is easier for someone to say “No” over the phone. In-person negotiations are more personable. Who would have guessed? haha
  5. Always seek to negotiate with the person who has true negotiating power. For instance, say that you are at an electronics store and you are looking to buy a TV as well as a sound system. Let’s also pretend that there is no sale going on but you think you should get a bundle deal since you are buying two large ticket items. Who do you think you should talk to? the clerk or the manager? If you said manager then you are correct. Usually, a clerk has no real power to give you sales outside of those already presented in the store. Therefore, you should always ask for the manager if you are wanting to negotiate something outside of what is presented. In other words, never accept no for an answer from someone who does not even have the real power to say yes.

In continuing the history of this book, I have to find someone to gift it to. I am thinking of my mother because she is very much a strategic negotiator and has a great interest in human psychology. If you end up reading this book, I hope you do the same as negotiating is a key part of life whether at school, work, or home. The best negotiations in the world get paid millions of dollars to do it so it is quite the skill to have. As you would expect, practice makes perfect and even the author admits that he botched his first negotiation project with a Japanese company because they played the waiting game against him until he only had minutes to present his case. So don’t get discouraged if you fail the first time, learn from it and apply it to your next challenge. All the best in your pursuits. 🙂 ❤

The power of love

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July 2019

This past weekend I had the pleasure of witnessing a beautiful wedding in the breathtaking location of Boothbay Harbor, Maine (Congrats again to the newly wedded couple). It feels like forever since I attended a wedding but it’s only been like 2 years haha. My first career in life was being a flower girl. In fact, some brides were begging my mom for me to be in their wedding but at some point, she had to say no because attending multiple weddings in a year can really deplete your pocket. My cousin tells me that I wasn’t very good at being a flower girl since I did not smile a lot but I guess I was cute enough to be marketable. We were both flower girls at her parents’ wedding and I can tell you she did a way better job than me. There’s photo evidence to prove that I was “stone face” instead of radiating with smiles like she was. Fast forward, years later and I am supposed to be the maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding so I guess that is kind of a promotion. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to smile from ear to ear even if I get lock-jaw.

Smiley or not, witnessing the union of two people is a blessing. Weddings are always a reminder of the power of love. Love is one of the few forces that can transcend race, class, education, and even politics. Also, it is a force that can grow exponentially. At the wedding I attended this weekend, one of the speakers remarked that how greatly the bride loves her groom now will grow even more with time. Often we love someone so much that we cannot imagine loving them more but wait until they are the mother or father to your children. My father spoke at the rehearsal dinner and revisited his tested and true theory that “love is taking care” (now that I think about it, the children’s book Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) also has this central theme). To summarize, don’t just tell someone you love them when showing them love actually means more. Other married couples, came up to my dad to show appreciation for his message so I think my dad is on to something.

To reference Le Petit Prince a little bit, love is like a flower. It is undeniably beautiful but you have to handle it with care. You cannot give it too little or too much water. You have to protect it from the elements such as wind. And people say when you talk to plants, they grow better so communication is key in gardening just like in love. Also if you do your gardening right, one plant can bloom many flowers and even help the ecosystem by helping produce pollen for the bees. Bees then pollinate the world further and increase the number of plants in the world so that we have enough oxygen being released in the air. Similarly, one love story can inspire more love in the world and I think weddings provide a great forum for just that. I am sure every married couple that goes to a wedding gets inspired to love their spouse more while every single person gets inspired to prioritize love in their life. So yes love is truly powerful. May we vow to treat it as the precious force that it has the power to be. 🙂 ❤

Love, success, and the universe

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June 2019

I would like to start this post by questioning what exactly the phrase “hopeless romantic” actually means. I have heard people use it as both as a positive and negative term either meaning that you are stupid for being a hopeless romantic or you are courageous for being one. When I googled “hopeless romantic”, the top definitions were negative such as the following from Dictionary.com: “a hopeless romantic is a person who holds sentimental and idealistic views on love, especially in spite of experience, evidence, or exhortations otherwise.” Surprisingly, Urban Dictionary had a very lengthy and positive write up on hopeless romantics. Here’s my favorite section from the write up: “Hopeless Romantics are NOT Hopeless per-say, but very true, caring, and loving people. They are “NOT MADE FOR TODAY’S STANDARDS”, sadly. They believe in passion, chivalry, and true love.” Based on how I think the universe works, I think the Urban Dictionary definition is more correct.

            I believe in the concept of faith and good effort being rewarded (some people call it karma). So with that positive force of energy of the universe rewarding us, I think truly believing in love makes you a “Hopeful” romantic not a “Hopeless” romantic. Even if the current relationship that you are nurturing does not work, you are preparing your heart for the relationship that will work. Of course, you always need to have your priorities right in life and there are times where you feel like you need a break from relationships (whether due to school, work, or other reasons). However, I think if you find what you are looking for and at an appropriate time in your life then you would probably regret a missed opportunity if you did not pursue it.

           So maybe we should hope more and doubt less. If you’re gonna do something, do it to the fullest. Because when people give us advice for success, they tell us things like “shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land upon the stars.” My home room teacher in 6th grade had that quote on a poster and it always peaked my interest. I think to me in education terms it meant, shoot for an A+ so if you don’t get exactly a 100, you could still have an A or A-. In love terms, I think it means that if you really feel good about a relationship, give it a really good effort and even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be one step closer to finding the person that you’re supposed to be with.

            I hope in 50 years (God willing), I can come back to tell you that this theory worked out for me. A lot of things in life are won by mental and emotional strength, so what you believe can make or break you. I choose to believe that the universe is conspiring for us because it gives me positive energy. And at times it can make you, fearless and full of hope. So with that I choose to be a HOPEful romantic that is fearLESS. May we all extinguish fear from our lives and be one step closer to success. 🙂 ❤

 

Love: is there a formula?

10258Before I start this post, let me give a shout out to my best friend who did this digital sketch of a selfie that I took in 2014. From what I remember, it was during summer classes in June and I had a daily ritual of a mid-day nap so this was either before or after the nap (probably after, because my lips tend to dilate while I sleep).

This post is about love and I think the feeling of love is only seconded by the feeling of a really good nap (in my opinion, both induce rose colored glasses and necessary to life). From talking to several different people (including my parents and married family friends) this past weekend, I started to wonder if there is a formula to love. Well, my friends, I have reached the conclusion that the answer is both yes and no. No because typically in a formula you have an independent (x) and dependent variable (y). So if y=love, then x would have to equal something that we all determine to result in love if there was a direct relationship between x and y. Okay, that is enough math for today but my point is, we have not scientifically determined any one thing that results in love all the time. However, we do know certain factors that may be assist in the process of love. My small interview based research with my parents and family friends yielded common results. Almost everyone will tell you honesty, trust, and patience are important in love. So we can assume that those are probably part of the formula especially in terms of long-lasting love. So in my opinion, the answer is yes and no. For the final math/science reference, if honesty, trust, and patience are part of the formula then they would be referred to as constants since they would be unchanging.  Therefore, maybe we should focus on the constants of love and somewhere we will find the (x- male or female in this case) that makes it work (thereby, turning y to equal love).

Some of the conversations I engaged in also produced some quotes that I would like to share below.

  1. “If your partner/lover/whatever-you-want-to-call-them lies to you about small stuff, run the other way because they will definitely lie to you about bigger stuff.”
  2. “Go with the flow.” When my mom and dad met they both were not trying to force the relationship to work. According to my mother, they both kept talking about breaking up until they both realized that they actually deeply cared about each other. None of them took the relationship that seriously until it actually became serious. Supposedly, there is less chance of heart break this way but keep in mind that there is no true formula to love.
  3. “Do what makes you happy.” Of course, you have to consider long term vs short term happiness but in most cases, you will never regret what made you happy. I recently shared with one of my friends that I do not get scared about a relationship turning bad anymore because if it made me happy for x amount of months or years then it was not a waste of time. I have also been watching a TV show called Billions (thanks to my male best friend that put me on to this really cool show ) which is mainly based on stock investment firms and how they manage their investments. To me love can be an investment because you expect the love to grow/appreciate over the years. Love is more of a long term stock. However, there is an investment strategy known as shorting or short-selling where you borrow a stock at a certain price and quickly return it when the price goes down. So imagine your potential mate is a stock, if their perceived value to you (emotionally and mentally most importantly) goes down then you can feel free to return them to the universe.

I feel like this turned into an extensive thought piece (probably because I am writing this at 1am which is when my mind really peaks haha). I apologize if you have a deep fear of math and this post triggered you. 🙂 ❤

What I’ve learned from celebrity relationships

meghan-markle-prince-harry-parenthood-1024x781.jpgIf celebrity relationships weren’t interesting, then most magazines would cease to exist because that is one of the prime reasons people buy them.  Shout out to our previous house owner who was subscribed to PEOPLE magazine so I get updated on Meghan Markle and Harry’s marriage every week (even though, paper mail gives me anxiety because of a) bills and b) tree deforestation for the purpose of paper). The main thing I learned from Meghan and Harry’s relationship is that if a man wants you, he will break all the rules to have you (i.e. marrying a divorced older woman). So with that, never accept an excuse from a man as to why he cannot be with you because a man will try to move heaven and earth if he really wants to be with you. With this post, I am doing the sandwich method where you present the good first, the bad second, and then finish with good. Therefore, the next two cases are not so romantic.

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Beyoncé & Jay Z. My main take away from their marriage is that Jay Z is likely to have cheated on one of the most beautiful women on this earth. Like that thought still crosses my mind in a while and I am just dumbfounded that this is even possible. But if he did, then she clearly has forgiven him and it is inspiring to know that level of forgiveness exists because clearly, I don’t have that much mercy on people. Especially for a woman who is independently successful to stay with a man that she doesn’t necessarily need, that is on another level for me. But maybe the possible beat down on Jay Z that happened on the elevator by Beyoncé’s sister, Solange, was enough to even the score.

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Khloe Kardashian& anyone. She has married a cocaine addict (Lamar Odom) and has recently been in the news for being cheated on by professional basketball player and maybe professional adulterer Tristan Thompson. In this recent debacle, she blamed the girl, Jordyn Woods, that Tristan supposedly kissed instead of making her man accountable for his actions. Lesson learned here is do not be so desperate that you accept whatever behavior a man throws at you. It is better to be alone than to be a doormat that just says WELCOME to anyone and everyone.

kim-kanye.jpgKim Kardashian & Kanye West. Unlike her sister Khloe, Kim has actually managed to have a seemingly beautiful relationship with Kanye. When the sex tape of Kim came out in 2003, I am pretty sure nobody thought that she would be happily married and with a family of four kids in 2019. But yet here we are and I think that is because Kim has really high self-esteem to the point that she did not let that oops moment define her (If anything, she capitalized on it and made money off it as many people are still Keeping up with the Kardashians). So the lesson here is to not let your last relationship be a setback; keep it moving and focus on your hustle as the rest will follow.

priya and nickPriyanka Chopra & Nick Jonas. What can I say? As someone who has been obsessed with Priyanka Chopra even before she crossed over to America with the show Quantico, I never thought she would end up with a man 10 years her junior. But to be honest, we do not usually find a problem with men dating younger women so I don’t think we should shame women for it either. To me, Priyanka and Nick both seem happy and that is what really matters. I am sure at age 36 and gorgeous, she has been courted by many men and knew what she wanted enough not to just settle for Nick. The main lesson I learned from this experience is not to rush love and jump into a relationship for the sake of it. As they say, good things come to those who wait.

will-smith-jada-pinkett-smith-01.jpgJada Pinkett-Smith & Will Smith. I do not believe in making anyone my role model because like Tupac said: “a role is something people play, a model is something people make, and both of those things are fake”. However, I will say that I admire Jada and Will’s relationship because they both seem like deeply introspective people who seek to understand themselves and each other in order to make their marriage really work. I know there are rumors at there that they have an open relationship but they have not come out to confirm that so I will dismiss that conversation. My favorite statement from Will Smith is from a recent YouTube video stating that he does not hold his wife responsible for his happiness. Happiness is a choice and only you can choose to make yourself happy. A relationship is not a hobby. Whatever made you happy when you were single should not be neglected just because you have a sidekick now. In essence, do not set unrealistic expectations on your partner. He or she cannot be your sun or your moon no matter how hard he or she tries.

I hope you all achieve and maintain happiness within you, with or without a relationship. 🙂 ❤

 

How to ENRICH your LIFE: La Joie de Vivre

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In summer of 2012, I interned at the Institute of Primate Research in Nairobi, Kenya where they conduct very groundbreaking research especially on tropical diseases (and before you ask, yes they conduct ethically sound research that follows World of Health Animal Research Protocols). My favorite part of the internship was the enrichment project where select staff, such as myself, played with the monkeys, chimps, and other primates for at least an hour a day. This enrichment project was created under the reason that the primates should still have a life with some daily fun even though they were being used for research. I was reflecting upon this experience recently and I realized that even humans are primates so we have to remember to always create some joy in our lives. The word enrichment is befitting because it enhances the value and quality of our lives. Another phrase that I love is “la joie de vivre” which is French for “joy of life”.

I personally find my joie de vivre in three things: art, food, and music. I just recently had a quick vacation to Houston that encompassed those three things so let me highlight them below in picture format.

ART (all pictures taken at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX)

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FOOD

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The Savoy Restaurant is definitely a must-visit spot for Indo-Pakistani food. At the bottom left of the photo, you can see green specks in the naan which are cilantro and Jalapeno peppers. As such, this naan is called “the bullet” naan. This was my first time having it and now I am obsessed. Also, tried goat brain masala which was better than one could expect. My favorite, of course, was the goat biryani.

MUSIC

The main person that inspired my recent trip to Houston is Lauryn Hill as she had a concert lined up on Thursday, May the 9th. Despite bad weather and flash flood warning, we showed up and luckily, she did too. Her performance was amazing and she delivered considering 20 plus years have passed since the release of her album, The MisEducation of Lauryn Hill. Her guitarists and backup singers were on point too. Please watch the clip below for a morsel of her performance.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you take time to reflect on how you can or will continue to ENRICH your LIFE. Thanks for reading 🙂 ❤

Guitar cover: Stay a little longer with me

This guitar cover is inspired by a song from a Bollywood movie known as Half-Girlfriend in which a boy agrees to a deal with a popular girl for her to be his half-girlfriend. I’ll stop there since I don’t want to give away the movie. However, I will link down the official music video of the song below:

Thanks to my dad for shooting the video for me and to my older brother for leaving his shoes in the video frame (I think it adds a nice touch lol). 🙂 ❤

Love like a gangsta ft Nipsey and Lauren London

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Photo from GQ-magazine Feb’19. Shot by Awol Erizku

If there is anything I have learned from rap songs, it is that “there’s nothing like hood love”. That Nelly and Kelly Rowland “Dilemma” kind of love. That 50 Cent “21 questions” kind of love. And to throw it way back, that Bonnie and Clyde kind of love. Now to bring it way to the front, that Nipsey Hussle (Ermias Asghedom) and New-New (Lauren London) kind of love.

           At first look, Nipsey was an intimidating looking kind of guy with his tall frame and face tattoos but we now all know, that he had a heart of gold. Lauren London (best known for her performance as New-New in the movie ATL) dated many of the richest rappers in the game such as Lil Wayne and even had his child. However, she found true love with Nipsey. Why? Because like she said in her speech at his funeral, she did not have to wear her “cool girl mask” anymore with Nipsey. Nipsey was her “turn up and her church”. He was not “perfect” and she would never ask him to be.  He was and still is “the coolest guy ever” to her. “His soul was majestic.” He was a “gentle father” and a “patient leader.”  These are all direct quotes from her beautiful speech at his funeral where she shared a text message that she wrote to him during January of this year while she was watching him sleep. Clearly, Lauren knew what she had found with Nipsey was truly special and I am sure Nipsey made her feel special as no woman would talk like that about a man that mistreats her. I repeat her “turn up and her church.” Many guys can fall into that “turn up” category but very few can be your “church.” That is a spiritual connection which is “beyond this earth”.

            Based on her and Nipsey’s spirituality, Lauren is probably better equipped to handle what has happened to her and her family. In her speech, she shared how Nipsey taught her that “you cannot possess people, you experience them.” The few years she got to experience him will last her a lifetime and maybe beyond that. Furthermore, he had told her that “the game is gonna test you, never fold.” “Stay ten toes down.” “It is not on you, it is in you and what is in you, they cannot take away.” I don’t know about y’all, but her speech gave me life and her strength was the real definition of “gangsta.” Even though the perpetrator of his death took Nipsey’s life, the love he shared with Lauren and his family can never be taken away. In fact, she shared that her greatest sadness is realizing that their 2-year-old son is “probably too young to remember how much his dad loved him”.

            I hope we may all experience such “gangsta love”. Not gangsta in regards to being in a gang or involved in crime (in the traditional sense of the word), but gangsta in how fiercely we protect it.  No side chicks have popped up from the woodworks stating that they were with Nipsey because he was all about Lauren. He was faithful, loyal, and most of all, he financially protected his family so that they would not have to starve without him. Instead of flashing his money for all the world to see on cars and other depreciating expenses, he invested in his community and educated people about financial literacy. As Lauren says, “he was brilliant” and the world is at a loss for such a man. One of Nipsey’s face tattoos says “PROLIFIC” and I had to google exactly what that word means: “producing much fruit or foliage or many offspring.” I believe that based on Nipsey’s hustle alone, his investments will continue to bear fruit for his community. His love, on the other hand, is limitless as it has even inspired people like me who are not a part of his direct community. Maybe we all get to experience this gangsta type of love in this lifetime and those to follow. As Lauren said, “the marathon continues.”

Love, Lust, and Obsession

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Mobile, AL carnival cruise port- Apr 2019

A few weeks ago, a Kenyan girl named Ivy Wangechi was murdered by a love/lust-crazed admirer of her. There are a lot of half-baked theories about why the boy murdered her, including some stating that he was her sponsor as she was in medical school. However, her grieving mother has come out to say that Ivy was on a government scholarship and the only balance they paid was about 20,000 shillings (about 200 dollars) which is not a hardship for them. From what I gathered, the girl knew the boy as they grew up together but had made it clear that she was not interested in him. However, the boy continued to pursue her for whatever reason and had even sent her a gift for her recent birthday. I would assume that the boy expected the girl to fall in love with him after such a gesture and became angry after not getting the response he wanted. The part that we do know is that in a rage of anger, he asked his friend to drive him to where the girl was and hacked her to death with a knife and ax.

            When my mom heard about this story, she instantly shared it with me and proposed that I write about it on my blog so shout out to Mamacita as I call her (this is a Spanish nickname by the way, not a Swahili one as she does not have six kids). Anyway, my mom is particularly interested in the psychology of people and love is something that can influence your mental health. For example, the boy in this story was clearly obsessed with Ivy to the point where his mind went to a dark place, premeditated a murder, and committed the act. But before he got to this point, the horror story started with him lusting over Ivy to the point where he believed that he was in love with her. I say “he believed he was in love with her” because I truly believe that anyone who truly loves someone would never kill them (remember that I believe that you can tell love through actions and hacking someone to death clearly is not love). I have also previously confused lust and love in the past so I know how it feels. Lust can drive you crazy because it is a possessive emotion where you want to say that whatever you are so passionately attracted to is yours. Love on the other hand, in my opinion, is a freeing emotion because you want nothing but the best for the person that you care so deeply for. So no matter what the assailant says, I do not believe he loved Ivy.

            The question then becomes, how do we stop ourselves and others from becoming obsessed and confusing love with lust? First of all, you need good friends or family that you feel comfortable enough to discuss your romantic escapades with. For example, my friends would always call me out when I was in lust in the past. And to be honest, there is a time and season for everything so when you are young, you may be looking for lust and not love so that is age-appropriate. However, you should never let lust or “love” turn into obsession. If you cannot even sit still and study or work without stalking your crush on social media, then you need to have a deep look at why you are letting that person have so much power over you and your life. Throughout my romantic experiences, what gives me peace is knowing that I am destined to be with someone and it will happen naturally, not by force. If someone does not reciprocate your energy or level of interest, then cut your losses and move on. You should never have to convince someone to love you; it is either that they do or they do not. It is true that we all love what we cannot have but think about it, once you have that person won’t you get bored because the chase is over? So stop chasing and just look for a real connection. Yes, beauty is captivating but beyond that, you should be able to love that person even if they turned into an ogre at night (like Princess Fiona in the Shrek movie). So, in essence, we have to train our mind to read between the lines of a chiseled man or even the curves of a beautiful woman and focus on the substance of their character instead. I am sorry that Ivy died at the hands of a man who claimed to love her when he clearly he just wanted to possess her. May she rest in peace and may her tragedy be a lesson to us all.

            May we remember the following scripture: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away”. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

Thank you for reading. Feel free to peruse previous blog posts that I have written on the subject of love:
Love and Divine intervention

Don’t settle for less just because it’s available

Self-love: Love is a Verb.

The male perspective on dating ft  5 comments from male readers

On Dating and Modern Day Love

Boston Review: Resident & Tourist view

 

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March 2019

Some of you may know that I spent a little over half a decade (six years) in Boston, Massachusetts. So this is a review where I can delve both into being a resident and a tourist of the city. My first trip to Boston was in 2010 with my mom before the start of my senior year of high school to look at different universities in the area (Harvard, MIT, Boston University, and my alma mater of Northeastern University). The one campus that truly captured my eye and heart was Northeastern’s as it was right in the heart of Boston but still managed to be centralized; so you could feel like you were in your own world and still be in the mix of the city within less than a 5-minute walk.   I liked being in a worldly diverse school with students from all over the map and being in a city where all these cultures participated, especially in food.

Food. My favorite restaurant in Boston is actually a Senegalese restaurant called Teranga. It is a small place with a cozy vibe as the owner is super friendly and makes sure to talk to every table when he is around. One of my favorite quotes of his is “We are all African” which actually describes my experience in Boston because I made friends with Africans from other countries such as Nigeria and Somalia. I also loved the Boston Shawarma restaurant that I was on Huntington Avenue where my alma mater is located. I also loved eating really delicious Vietnamese soup called pho (thanks to my best friend’s mom for introducing this to me as her homemade pho is still the best in my book) at a restaurant called Pho & I which was also down the street from my school. I also loved samosas and biryani from an Indian restaurant called the Dosa Factory (I actually gave them my email one time to be contacted in case they were hiring). The China town in Boston is actually pretty legitimate and has very authentic Chinese food (sometimes so authentic that it doesn’t match your palette depending on which restaurant you frequent). My favorite is Gourmet Dumpling House which has a really nice pancake dish and obviously amazing dumplings. For brunch though, my favorite restaurant is Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen which has a soul/jazzy vibe with live music and a buffet brunch option. On my recent one-day trip to Boston, I actually did not eat out as my friend cooked shrimp & chicken Jollof for me which filled me up for the whole day (see picture below). It was actually the best Jollof I’ve ever had so shout out to Chef Ola.

 

 

Tourist Attractions. A lot of films are actually filmed in Boston so you should already know that it is beautiful (especially in the summer because snow can become a pain after a while). My favorite spot is the Boston Gardens which are right at the end of Newbury St where you can shop from various high-end stores like Gucci and even low-end stores like Forever 21. My friend and I went there to chill before heading to Macy’s which is within walking distance. We actually ended up climbing a tree together (mainly him climbing the tree and helping me up). After Macy’s, we went to the Charles River Esplanade which is another tourist attraction where you can watch sailboat races or just a beautiful sunset. There is also a little park by the banks of the river which I love to visit from time to time mainly for the monkey bars where I like to hang upside down like the primate that I am (every so often I like to do this just to make sure that I haven’t lost this skill yet haha). If you want a great view of Boston (no upside hanging involved), the Top of the Hub Restaurant which is at the top of the Prudential Building (also known as The Pru) is a great place to go especially during a clear day. If you are a museum enthusiast like myself, both the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the Isabella Stewart Gardner (ISG) Museum are a must-see.

Nightlife. One of my favorite places to chill and listen to good music is the W Hotel in Boston. It never disappoints and the African City party this year was held in the hotel so I was excited to attend. My friend and I got there an hour and a half late but the party still had not started. When it did start around an hour later, it was actually a great party with a great DJ playing music from all over Africa (not just Nigerian and Ghanaian music). When he played Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s Umqombothi song that was when I knew he was the real deal. Unfortunately, clubs and bars close at 2am in Boston as it was/still is a Puritan city. This used to really frustrate me when I was in college but now that I am old, sleep is life so I do not mind the 2am curfew at all. Most of the time people have house parties afterward so there are ways to work around it which brings me to my next topic about accommodation.

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Travel & Accommodation. I won’t even try to sugarcoat it; Boston can be a little bit racist (I even talked to a white person who lived in Boston who stated this). I will say that I did experience some racism when trying to secure an Airbnb during my last year of school. For example, some prospective hosts will not even message you back based on skin color or will pretend that the dates are actually booked when they are not. Therefore, a hotel is probably the best option if you have a short stay (I guess unless you get lucky with Airbnb). If you are planning to stay in Boston long term, do bear in mind that rent is pretty expensive. You can live further out of the city for cheaper accommodation but if you do not have a car, the commute can be long by train or bus. I chose to stay close to campus because my major required long nights at the library and I wanted to be safe going home. Also, commuting during the winter can be hell with snow covered streets. In general, buy good shoes because the city of Boston requires a lot of walking and if you are a lady, the cobblestone will most likely ruin your stilettos. But one thing that makes Boston stand out from the rest is that it is a very clean city, your shoes will probably still be squeaky clean at the end of the day.

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