Most people will see the picture above and think very beautiful thoughts about how fine those pieces of fabric look and possibly how fantastic they would look with some fabulous shirt that they have in their closet. But I am not one of those people. When I see a necktie I sort of cringe and recline into my mental shell. The picture above has about the same effect on me as a large red cape would have on a bull at a bullfighting event.
I work in Investment Banking, one of the few careers where a necktie is necessary if not completely mandatory. A necktie can make you look really sharp and smart and project the image of seriousness and immense dignity to an onlooker. But it can also make you look terribly out of place, if worn improperly, and downright uncomfortable.
Before starting this blog post I typed in to the Google search engine “History of tie” and then it corrected me and offered “History of Necktie” as a suggestion, which I took. And immediately I felt this brief familiar sense of being overpowered. Almost like I can’t even be allowed to ask the way I want to ask a question. Like Google had to snatch the question from me and ask it in a more “proper” way. It is this same feeling of being overpowered that I feel when I wear a necktie. I have always been told by a great deal of people that wearing a tie makes you feel confident even when you feel down, and that it exudes a certain level of masculinity that is very essential to a man. Unfortunately I can’t say that I share in these sentiments as detailed above. To be a total anomaly, I find that I work at my utmost best when my tie is off. I feel more at ease and alive.
When I am dressed up in my tie and shirt to work, some people are kind enough to applaud how smart and studious I look. But I don’t feel that way. For one thing when I wear a necktie, I feel like I am being choked by my own self, and there is nothing I can do about it. It’s the reason why my commute to work is one of the most liberating times of the day simply because I hardly, actually never put on my necktie. I don’t even put on my formal shirt; I just wear a casual round neck shirt. I would be happy to tell you of some childhood story of how I was almost choked to death, and how it explains this deep phobia I have for tying tightly a piece of fabric around my neck. I, sadly, have no such story to tell. On more than one occasion I have purposely left my necktie at home, or even in the car, and then pretend to be oblivious to the fact that I did not have it on. One very few occasions, I genuinely forgot to take it along with me from the house.
I so desperately envy my friends who work in IT or Oil companies, not because of the money (sometimes for the money though), but because of the rather casual (and smart) approach to apparel they have going for them. So then I guess my real question is; is a necktie really a fashion accessory, or is it just an uncomfortable addendum to the formal look?
It is said that fashion is an expression of the inner creative mind of an individual, both from a designer and consumer point of view. Fashion is supposed to help us celebrate our individuality and accentuate our eccentricities. I am not much of a “fashionista” in the real material sense of the word. For me comfort is the key thing in consideration. And I hate to wear fashion that topples my personality. I don’t like to wear clothes that scream louder that I can, in fact the quieter the better. So I guess to an extent that might explain why I am so averse to the idea of neckties.
If I were ever lucky enough to own/run a bank, one of my first points of call will be to liberalize the choice of wearing neckties in the office.
I hope my boss doesn’t actually get to ready this. This is one of the many warring thoughts in my head that are too afraid to make their way out of my vocal cavity…lol
September. October. November. December.
To many around the world these months have a religious significance. These months bring forth the spirit of happiness, sharing and celebration. During this segment of the year; from east to west, north to south the world is wrapped in various types of celebratory activities. The Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Fitr, Christians celebrate Christmas, Jews celebrate Chanukah / Hanukkah, African Americans in the U.S celebrate Kwanza and Buddhists celebrate Diwali etc. I have also been told that Atheists, although they don’t have a generally known holiday, spend more time with their friends and families during this period. Although these religions vary in the way they carryout festive rituals, there is a common denominator, a common concept. This common denominator is that spirit of sharing and love. It is during this time of year that you can see people of different faiths let go of their prejudices for each other and just relish in the moment. There is gift sharing, family dinners and parties everywhere. In this period Investment Bankers and the likes, take time off their very busy schedules to just be and relax. There is joy and laughter in the air everywhere you go, it is quite infectious.
Down here in Nigeria things aren’t so different. The people here have the same joyful spirit flowing around but it is tainted with a very dark fear. Fear that is embedded in the minds of people regardless of their social or economic place in the society. A fear that grips everyone from the elderly to the young, no one is immune. This fear stems from the fact that these celebratory months have a history of being ravaged by a huge wave of crimes of various types. Car thefts, burglaries, rapes, ritual killings among other despicable acts, skyrocket to such heights relative to other months. The one that quite baffles me is the issue of ritual killings, given the magnitude of church programs in this country; it is quite ironic to see that there is such a high occurrence of fetish activities. The entire country is held spellbound as scores of social deviants perpetuate incredible horror in the country. Parents inflict greater restriction on the mobility of their children while adults abstain from unnecessary outings and activate self-imposed curfews on themselves. No one can really place the particular date when things went arye, but it is quite a terrible situation.
During this period in Nigeria, especially in the month of December, people begin the annual pilgrimage to their hometowns. In Abuja, Lagos and other urban cities people pack their bags, service their cars or buy plane tickets in anticipation of the trip. This yearly pilgrimage is mostly prevalent among the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria. No matter how rich or poor, young or old an Igbo man or woman is in the city, when the month of December rolls around they do not hesitate to answer that home call. They shop for the best dresses, shoes, cars and other personal and household items which they carry along with them to their hometowns, where they can show off to their rural counterparts how successful they have been in the city. There is this pressure everyone carries around with them during this time to try and outdo the next person. At this time of the year markets are extremely crowded with herds of people seeking to grab first before stocks run out. For many, much of the income saved from January is spent in a space of about one week. The cause of the fear lies in this very pronounced culture of trying to outdo the others and be seen in a particular light.
In the book “Discourse on Inequality”, Jean-Jacques Rousseau makes us see that humans have inadvertently turned themselves into slaves of their own wants and desires. I find his writing quite interesting because, he attempts to buttress the true “nature” of man by peeling away all these layers of lies and facades he has coated himself with to seem superior to others. He highlights the danger of this unnatural tendency that man possess to want to alter his true nature, by deceiving, cheating and killing his fellow man to possess material things. In summary Jean-Jacques Rousseau alludes to the fact that, like a vestigial organ, man has rendered his moral sense of judgment useless so as to achieve his selfish objectives and thus has in effect deviated from his real self. Applying Jean-Jacques Rousseau philosophy to the situation at hand, it is quite obvious that this same tendency is very much at play still. Those who perpetuate these reprehensible acts have a desire to seem “successful” to their peers at home, and thus would go to great lengths (even at the expense of lives) to reach their “unnatural” goals.
This year in Nigeria is no different. On my way to the office today, I heard a rather grueling story of rape and extortion. This horrific act took place in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. I don’t have the full details of the story, but this is what I could gather. The story goes like this:
The woman (name withheld), residing in Gwarinpa, on Monday told the police her ordeal. The lady said she boarded a taxi from Gwarinpa to Wuse.
“The driver sprayed air freshener in the cab. I woke up in an uncompleted building naked and messed up. I received an envelope the next day containing a video disk showing how I was raped. The envelope also contained a demand for me to pay 5 million naira (about $31,000) into an account in one of the new generation banks”. More.
Imagine the height of inhumanity; as if it wasn’t traumatic enough to rape her, they are demanding a ransom. This is just LUDICROUS!!!. As sad as the story is, the real tragedy is that, before the year runs out, we are going to hear more stories of a similar nature. Some more haunting and horrifying than this. The law enforcement in Nigeria is not as efficient and effective as we would like it to be. So if you are in Nigeria right now or scheduled to be here, please take extreme precaution. Regulation is key, try and limit unnecessary movements. These villains have no aorta of human sympathy and should not be toyed with.