When you are stepping in through Heathrow to your destination, thank the lord you are not going through Kotoka International, why because it is just so darn easy to check in and go through. You can do everything on line, and even if you don’t check in online you can get your e-ticket number go to one of those machine things, type in the number and then pick your seat, it prints out your boarding pass. The only time you have to go to the check-in point and speak to a human being is when you have to drop your luggage. The only time that you will really have to get involved in any kind of ruckass with anyone, is where your bag is overweight and well really that is your fault and at the discretion of the attendant if they let you off with those few extra pounds or if you have to pay the excess.
I got to the airport underweight and on time. The only thing is, the day before I had been running from meeting to meeting and forgot to follow up with the agent guy for my ticket even though he assured me that he would print it out and put it on my desk. So I grabbed my laptop and the stuff that I needed but it was only at 9.30 pm while I was half way home, I remembered that I didn’t have the ticket, and he wouldn’t have been in the office anyway, and I wasn’t going to go back to the office to print out the e-ticket, I would simply just jot down the number and quote it when I get to the airport. I get there and they say that the ticket should be printed as that is the only way they will know if the seat is confirmed. For real, you can’t just type in the number and the name pop up. Now they do have those check in machines at the airport, but I couldn’t tell you what they are for, they are certainly not to check anything in, and they have assistance at the desk who could probably type the number if they wanted to, but no had to go to the air Nigeria office in the corner and get a printout of the ticket. Thank the lord for the protocol officer at the airport who went and done it all for me because I was quite baffled at the point of having an e-ticket if you have to bring the physical ticket (or should i say printed paper) before you can actually check-in.
So got through immigration ok, plane took off on time (for once) and landed in Lagos at about 9.30, came out, and there was nobody there to greet me. Apparently the protocol officer that was supposed to meet me at the other end didn’t hear to well and thought he was meeting somebody at arrival on a domestic flight and the driver that was supposed to be picking me up was stuck in traffic. So there was I. I turn left and some guy woudl say ‘taxi?’, turn left ‘taxi?’, another one would hold a was of Naira and ask if I needed change. I put on my stern face for them to leave me alone but I was feeling a bit shaky. One guy who appeared from no where stepped in my face, I shouted at him, I don’t need a taxi, or change, I am waiting for my car, could you please leave me alone. He said he only wanted to know if I was ok, and it would be better if I waited just outside the gate so that the driver can see me better. I felt a bit silly but you can’t blame me, all this talk of boko haram and people being kidnapped for human sacrificing, you can’t be too careful. I’d feel the same way if you dropped me in Brixton or Peckham, even when I lived in Camberwell I would not go out after it got dark and even if I was, I was so jittery even my own shadow would scare me.
I went to stand where the gentleman directed me and stood outside which coincidently one policeman stood. You would think that would be a safe bet, but no it wasn’t really. He was too busy with rushing after the lebanese guy who he had seen tip his colleague and wanted his share of the pie. He was also what looked like taking a gate fee from the taxi drivers he would allow to enter (nobody apart from the passengers should be in this particular area I talk about).
Eventually, the protocol guy got the right side of the airport and the driver came. I felt so exhausted and they were full of apologies. I couldn’t even be mad at them because with the nigerian accent and the quaint phrases, you just can’t help but smile. I had a little nap on the hour journey to the factory and here I have been ever since. There are a set of guest houses in the compound so if you live in the factory grounds, this is your village for the duration. There is a bit of life outside but it’s a bit out in the sticks so very few.
One thing about the Nigerians is, they greet a lot, more than Ghanaians. They greet in the morning, afternoon and night. If you are a newcomer or it is first thing in the morning they will also say you’re welcome, pronounced “you are welcorm”. If you see the same person more than once then the standard greeting is “well dorn” (both greetings are said in a very deep voice, I don’t know where the well done comes from but it is a greeting). If you don’t greet, they get offended.
In the mornings after the initial greeting, the second thing they will ask is ‘how was your night?’. This is something that is quite foreign to a Ghanaian. If you asked a Ghanaian how his night was, he would probably ask what it has to do with you, may even say that you are a witch who wonders around at night. But here it is a standard greeting. This morning from the guest house to the factory I must have met about 20 people at least, of which half asked how my night is. But what can you say, when in Rome.
Last night I had point and kill pepper soup. In the guest house the food is very European to please all the different nationalities so my colleague took me out for dinner.
Point and Kill is catfish, pepper soup in a pepper gravy, while Ghanaians use tomatoes for their pepper soup, the Nigerians don’t, they steam the meat or fish , add spices, pepper and the froth of the meat and then add water, then there you have it (in it’s very basic explaination). The catfish is called point and kill because usually it is there in the aquarium and you point to which one you want and it is killed live in front of you and cooked for your culinary pleasure. It was a very local spot that I was in but the food was nice and very filling. My colleague wanted gizzard also. He asked the waiter, he shouts out to the cook ‘you get gizzard’, she shouts back ‘cow head’. Then the waiter says no. This got my colleague very confused, why is it that he asks for gizzard and they shout back cow head, is it some kind of code? Apparently that was the alternative. Cow’s head, African people don’t leave anything to waste. It is not literally the cows head, it is chopped up like any meat would be but it’s quite tough and you could chew for hours. If you are like me and don’t like hard meat, I wouldn’t recommend it.
So today, I was sitting here blogging when my colleague, the Cereals boss, asked his guys one by one what happened last week Thursday where a particular incident occured. It’s amazing how each and everyone of them were no where near the scene of the crime even though that’s where they work, they came in one by one, scratching heads, looking to the sky, visibily thinking ‘Oga, bet me I didn’t see anything oo’, ‘yes normally I am there but this time, I dey….’ anywhere but this particular place. I could stay here another week. I really don’t need to watch any African movies, I have it all live right here on my doorstep.