Getting off the plane, through to baggage claims and exiting the airport, you can almost cut through the air of aggression as you make your way, with every step. You are being brushed by or bumped into and made to seem like the fault’s yours because the ‘assailant’ has refused to apologise(how can he? he doesn’t even know he’s done wrong!) . He would rather give you ‘the look’ than say sorry. Here, you’ll get to fully understand the saying that ‘little things make a difference’. Your average Naija man is too much engrossed in his world of ‘bigmanism’ (everyone claiming to be somebody- in the real sense of things who isn’t!) to apologise for bumping into you etc. It is almost impossible to imagine he’d stand back for you-a lady to pass through the doorway, talkless, getting the door for you to pass through! Uh uh not your default naija bred man. That’s not to say the Nigerian man is neither courteous nor polite; it’s just that it is not your usual public scene. It is more natural to see them shrug past, walk through a doorway wide enough to admit one leaving the door(s) shut in your face or struggling to get through a narrow entrance/exit with a female etc The instances are endless!
Beyond immigration checks and baggage claims, I am happy to be leaving the airport having successfully gone through customs without any demands to ‘declare’ my goods.
There are a few airport officials just before the main exit whom I greet with a smile (feeling courteous and civilised with my cute self) as I approach the exit. The lady must have misinterepreted the gesture as she replies with “what do you have for us?” I wonder what she thought the response to her question or ‘greeting’ as it were would be. By the way what’s with ‘everyone’ on this side of the planet and that question!
*London: Any location outside your home country (in most cases, Nigeria) that involves arriving in an air plane. Could be UK, Europe, Gambia, Benin etc As long as one is beyond the shores of Nigeria, he is overseas or in ‘London’. London is also synonymous to any location within the UK. So whether Cornwall, Birmingham, Sheffield etc anyone in England/UK atlarge is in ‘London’ (the land where money grows on trees).
After apprx 6 weeks of getting fat, watching TV 24/7 and visiting places, I am offered a role with training sessions holding in Lagos State; Agege, more specifically. “What sort of training’s in Agege?” My family comments. My thoughts are no better as the only synonymous thing to Agege in my mind is bread!
Training Day 1:
It’s a Sunday and luck shines on me as my sis is kind enough to lend me a driver and her car for the length of the day’s training.
Training Day 2:
I arrive at the venue well ahead of time – the other option would have been to find my way if I hadn’t joined my cousin and his chatty SS2 mates on their school rounds. Did I mention I have never lived in Lagos prior to this work experience? Furthermore, neither parents nor immedite siblings live here. So it’s pretty much me, extended family and a handful of friends in this metropolitan city.
Lectures begin and lunch time quickly approaches. By this time my stomach’s aching and I’m cringing with hunger pangs- quite expectedly as I would have had breakfast, brunch and a couple of snacks (at least).
Since it’s unfamiliar territory, I am not as quick as my other colleagues to walk into the canteen or across the road to grab a bite. With no food in sight and the hunger pangs aggravated I place a call to my mother seeking solace and some sort of … to endure the remaining workshop hours till I arrive at my aunt’s in time for dinner. Rather my mother suggests amidst giggles buying a loaf of the widely acclaimed Agege bread and akara. “You are in Agege” she says!
The training’s over. Thank goodness! Though I’m looking to having a large feast for dinner (my six missed meals at once) the excitement quickly fades away and is replaced with hysteria/panic of finding my way to my aunt’s. Where do I start? It’s really rowdy with unpertubed Lagosians; male, female, young, old, small, short, round-all sorts howering up and down the length of the road. Pedestrians tread the streets with rapid, familiar strides (there’s the ever general aura of speed synonymous to this city looming over the corners and streets of Agege, coupled with agberos & co). Having remained on the same spot; staring at the roads for more than one minute, I am quick to assume I am the only person alien to this environment.
However, fortune smiles on me as I’m rescued by a colleague travelling my route. Phew!
With Agege out of my mind all I have to worry about now is the daily travel to and fro Ikoyi once work commences. The thought is headache provoking especially because I do not drive and no thanks to the tales I’ve heard from folk working on the island. It’s absolutely ludacris; leaving your home at 5:30am inorder to beat the famous Island traffic and then returning at 10:00pm! No wonder your average ‘Lagosian’ is aggressive, edgy and quite irritable.
Hitching a ride to work has proven implausible- my work hours are 9am to 5pm (your average driving ‘islander’ leaves for work at 6am and may not close for the day till 8pm!)
Therefore, I begin to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for the challenges that may lie ahead. May be I shouldn’t have bothered preparing as no amount of prior preparation can be adequately commensurate to the experiences of taking to the streets of Lagos State. Some things cannot just be rehearsed, are unimagineable and only peculiar to life in Lagos.
Having been introduced to the public transportation in Lagos State, I soon become accustomed to my home-TBS-Obalende-Ikoyi route.
At my 2nd stop-obalende to get the LAGBUS to Anthony I hear the LAGBUS workers are on strike, so there are no buses available. It’s almost 7pm and I begin to panic as I ponder on alternative routes.
I decide to get to Race Course(where I get off in the mornings) in the hope that the BRT buses fly that route back into town.
Fortunately, they do. But I have to join the seemingly unending queue. After an hour or so, I am seated on the bus, ready to begin the 90-minute ride home (no thanks to the ever popular island traffic).
Not used to this route at this hour, I get off at Anthony, thinking that’s where I need to be. Oops! Wrong stop! I am under the Anthony village at 8:30pm- there is a power cut (nothing suprising) and our beloved ‘agbero’ dudes are not lacking on location.
I start back to the Bus Stop as efforts to get taxi seem futile.
Praise to God! It’s 9pm-ish and I’m just 25 minutes walk away from home.
Thank God I’m home now at 9:30pm-ish.
I’ve just given thanks to God for Wonderful hitch-free transportation within Lagos, and as if to challenge my praise, I run into a series of transportation hitches this morning.
It’s taken longer than norm to get on the bus as the BRT ticket sellers are nowhere on site.
Finally, I get on a bus and head to the bus terminus @ Race Course. As usual, I get a bike; plead the blood of the Lamb before wearing the helmet and murmur my love for Jesus and how I need him to get safely to my destination on this thing.
Well, comme ci comme ca, till dear ‘okada’ rider hits an unrelenting ‘police officer’ (for all we care the ID flashed may have been fake or expired) who threatens hell and brimstone and insists he gets taken to the hospital, at least.
Where is all this happening? Obalende bridge o. About 7:30am. Of course I am overwhelmed at the sequence of events. Funny thing is how I have been excluded from the scenario- the ride wasn’t free, I have to get to work on time etc But, at that point, all that seemed to be important was the officer’s claimed invisible injury.
Finally, an ‘okada brother’ comes into the scene to play hero. Not like I really care about the ‘okada bros’ or his supposed victim, all I’m about at this point is not being delayed and getting to work on time (anywhere away from this location). Hero, ‘settles’ me (not that kin ‘settlement’ abeg) and provides an alternative travel.