Tuesday, May 06, 2008

10 Days

I have been in Lagos for exactly 10days now.
I'm BACK!
Yeah!
(P.S. That 'yeah!' is actually waaay overstated. It's actually meant to be a 'Sigh')

A very interesting 10 days, I must say.
My parents and my friends have been housing me all this while.
Will be off to my place in Port Harcourt before the weekend comes.

Somebody fix the AC in the arrivals hall at the Lagos International Airport!
What the heck.
I arrived wearing a jacket.
Ripped that off immediately. Along with my shirt, leaving only my inner t-shirt on.
Was really tempted to remove that too but re-considered. Observing that my bare chest may not elicit the kind of response Timbaland would receive had he bared he's.

No 'sorting' of the Customs people while exiting with my luggage.
Gave them a friendly smile and ignored all the friendly banter "Oga welcome" smile "How that side?" smile "Any better for your boys?" smile

There is no electricity in Nigeria!
Its worse than ever.
I have been here 10 days, there has been power for a total of about 6 hours!
All the electrical power available is self generated. Just have enough money for generator fuel.
NEPA or PHCN (Nigeria's power generating company) has officially shutdown. At least in my area.
I have cried, torn the hair off my head, wailed and finally settled and adjusted into the routine.
We Nigerians are fantastic at just accepting things as they are.
Heard of the food crises world over? And some of the riots?
Well, nothing like that in Naija.
You'd think that the prices of food has remained stable in Nigeria?
Think again..
A quick chat with my mum revealed that a 50kg sack of rice jumped from between N6,000 and N8,000 to between N12,000 and N15,000 in about 3 weeks. That's double!
Same thing with beans, yam and other foodstuff.
What do we do?
Riot and destroy thing like they do in some other countries? Make our voices heard?
Hell no.
We just shrug and continue.
Life continues.
Only the strong survive, only the wise excel.

On the flip side.....
Lagos remains the same crazy, rowdy, rich as well as poor, undiluted and fun loving town.
In 10 days, I have bumped into Pat Utomi (former presidential aspirant), Nduka Obaigbena (chairman, This Day papers) and Tony Elumelu (MD UBA Bank).
They defintely would not recognise me next time though.
Infact, Tony paid a compliment to my wifey to be.
If I felt on top of the world, imagine how she felt :)

There are new restaurants/bars popping up everywhere along with night clubs.
There are now two clearly distinct social scenes in Lagos.
The Mainland groove zone as well as the Island groove zone.
Both of which are mutually exclusive.

Traffic is still bad. I think it has rather improved in some places though.
There are well designed bus stops with turnstiles now on Ikorodu road People actually queue at these bus stops The buses have electronic signages indicating their routes. Damn, I'm impressed. I have to take a ride on them for the experience.

Crime?
I was really afraid of this one, I tell you. After all the stories I had been hearing.
Watching my rear view mirror all the time in the borrowed car I was using.
No incident though. Nor have I heard of anyone so far.
Infact, my friend's here have gone the extra mile in assuring me the town is safer.
I try to be home by midnight at the latest, though.

Police checkpoints?
'Everly.'
How can that not be in Nigeria?
I have been stopped 3 times.
Held once for over 30 minutes at one of the checkpoints after I dropped my wifey a couple night's ago because I had forgotten my driving license at home and refused to 'settle' the guy.
Eventually, he let me go after he saw I was willing to wait it out.
I obey traffic lights now, I don't weave in and out of traffic while blaring my horn anymore, I wear my seat belt all the time (infact, I think drivers wear their seatbelts more in Lagos than anywhere in the world now) and I'm generally a law abiding driver.

One more thing.
Lagos is actually beginning to look lovely.
At least in some parts. There are parks/gardens popping up everywhere. Roads being built.
The lagoon view on the freeway between CMS and Bonny Camp in Victoria Island has been cleared and they are planting palm trees and tiling a walkway along the lagoon with railing to hold and prevent you from falling into the lagoon. Incredible.
I will post some pictures soon of my some of my observations.

As some of you have insinuated, I had a joyful reunion with my wifey.... soupasexy, aijay, smaragd. Be offically warned!
What I do with her is none of your business :P 'ogini? wetin?'
Except you want to buy audio rights. Visual rights are defintely not available.
Oh, and we walk rather well, soupasexy.

About 2 weeks ago, before I returned, she regaled me with this tale of a dashing young man she just met who wants to marry her at all costs. He says she is perfect for him and tried to assure her that I was probably screwing all the chics in Malaysia. So, why wait for me?
But of cause she said she told him off and I believe her.
After recalling another tale that single ladies and guys usually have contingency plans in case boy/girlfriend doesnt work out, I quickly googled his name and found that he was a formidable opposition.
Bottomline, I got back and took her to meet my parents last weekend to do the necessary initial introductions.
Once again, women win. Why? Lord. Why?

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