I am in Lagos and that my friends is an odd place to be.
I wouldn’t torment you with what moving back to Lagos feels like or how I feel when I realize that I really live in Lagos, but here is a way to look at this part of my life. There are some why did I move back moments and-scarzy (scary and crazy) experiences, which happen only in Lagos.
Still, there are things to appreciate. That rush of cool breeze on a humid day. You stand in the abandoned balcony of a business complex, fleeing the tiny spaces without working air-conditioning that double up as holding cells and offices.
There on the balcony, you reestablish your breathing rhythm, your sense of self, and your favorite things about this scarzy city, Lagos.
…And take pictures with your Nokia Lumia 520.
I know this road like my favorite bag with holes that I try to cover from public view. It is also a favorite because it is familiar.
Here is a zoomed in view of the Lekki Roundabout. It has as clients some of the most impatient drivers you will ever meet in your lifetime. I like the artistic architectural piece in the middle. It holds up a billboard advert. Art is not to be put on display for public pleasure here. It has to make money. The language Lagos speaks is money and if you are not fluent, you will feel like a stranger.
The long red bus in this picture is someone I call a friend. It welcomes me when I visit, offers me comfortable chairs to sit on and doesn’t make me reach out to grip something, anything in fear as if on a Ferris wheel. No one shouts or behaves obnoxiously here. The unspoken code of conduct is complied with and best of all, one is not harangued in a plethora of languages to buy a talisman sort of product that cures diseases ranging from Appendicitis to Zona.
If you live in Paris, there would be that boulangerie, you visit before work for a freshly baked croissant and pre-work banter; A patisserie for a quick afternoon indulgence; And a Gelato stop to pick up something for the way home and catch the day’s gossip. In Lagos, it isn’t that fancy, but these shops that border the wall are life sustaining. Chomp on a cake; Grab a Gala, And Hydrate with cold H2O. The young enterprising ladies that run them can fill you in on where the next flyover on the expressway is going to be built. These are basic necessities for the average working Lagosian.
The tallest building in this picture makes me happy. With a name like Il Bagno, you have to love it. My second home is close-by hidden behind the lush green spot in the middle. Plus it helps that this is a legitimate bus stop where a tuck and roll technique isn’t needed when dropping off. They sell bathroom fittings as seen through the transparent glass in the upper showroom. Since Italy is on my travel wish list, who knows I may make a new amico in Il Bagno 🙂
Driving in Lagos is a nightmare. You share the road with carefree pedestrians, spontaneous bus drivers, demanding tricycle peddlers, and the daredevil motorcyclists more popularly known as okadas. If you thought there were only two types of roads- tarred and not tarred, here is a third; pothole-ridden and bump littered Lagos side streets. Thus, the presence of the lines in this parking lot rekindle my belief in a system with order.
In several parts of the world, people are excited about Spring. It promises new beginnings and ushers out that dreary winter. Summer is synonymous with shorts and wait for the free-falling leaves of Fall. Rain and dry season no longer categorize the Lagos weather. Seasons are tied to events and what is current in this city. Right now, it is election season and banners such as these litter Lagos. Tomorrow it may be fuel scarcity(shortage of gas) season, and the day after, all universities are on strike season.
Here is indisputably the best thing about Lagos and Lagosians, humor. It fuels the city such that no matter how bad things get, people still have a good laugh. Street hawkers are selling alcoholic beverages in traffic. How funny! Two drunk police escort in a van knocked down the street electricity pole. How funny!! When I asked the cashier at the bank for a copy of my last bank statement, he asked what bank do I use. How funny!!! This sign is worth an lol though.
Despite a long wait, I leave the building happy with the pictures and musings that all came together on that windy balcony. I guess Lagos has worked its magic again.