Till we meet again

Till we meet again

“Afternoon. Are you going to Lagos?” asked the lady waiting her turn after me at the airline’s counter.
I responded with a tentative yes.
“Can you look after my daughter? Her father will come and pick her up at the airport.”
I found out later that she’s 10 year old. Almost 5 feet tall.
I laughed and asked why she was OK asking me to look after her daughter. “Do I look that trustworthy?”
“Don’t worry. It’s Nigeria” she said laughing in return.
Numbers were exchanged and the father called immediately to speak with me.
They said their goodbyes (the mum asking for a hug and then complaining playfully when she got an awkward hug from the girl).
We went through the scanner and sat next to each other in the waiting area. She’s very quiet which was perfectly fine by me.
But since we were going to be there for another 90 minutes or so, and she had nothing visible that might distract her, I thought I better try at least.
First few questions were answered with nods, and side glances. Then I put up a movie on my laptop and asked if she liked 3D movies. She told me she couldn’t quite see what’s on the screen. She’s had glasses for two years. But the glasses were in her checked-in luggage.
Our subsequent discussion covered lots of things. She used several “big” words and some of her ideas were beyond her years. Maybe it’s that 6 months of schooling she had in England when she was much younger …
She doesn’t watch 3D films because they are not realistic.
And no animated kiddie films either. She only watches mature films. She’s seen World War Z, all the Fast and Furious films, several movies that are definitely rated well beyond her age. She says she watches them with her dad.
She hates Sponge Bob with a passion (“how can a sponge ….”) and her school mates think she’s weird. I told her we all have our preferences. No 3D animated talking animals either because animals don’t talk in real life.
She doesn’t like corn flakes. But she likes cereal and oats. She likes golden morn because it’s made of maize. She doesn’t like wheat (meal) either.
She hates eggs, peanut butter, red meat (there are bacteria that can not be killed by heat. I suggested if it’s cooked long enough on high heat, all the bacteria would die. But she responded that the meat would become too soft and she doesn’t like soft meat), pounded yam, yam, broccoli (suggested by me). But she likes Egusi soup. I agree. I like Egusi soup too.

“Everything in this life is boring.
Especially all those Yoruba films! Eeew! All those Yoruba women. That come out in their wrappers. Just because they want to say bye bye to someone.”
She doesn’t like boring people.
Her grandma is boring. Always telling stories of World War I and this or that General.
I suggest those are the best stories. She insisted she has “current affairs” class in school for that.
She doesn’t like several tribes in Nigeria. One tribe is always fighting. Can’t remember the reason she gave for the others.
“Edo people are …” She started.
“Nice?” I attempted to complete the sentence for her.
“Noooo. My granddad is always “if you touch that thing I will flog you alive!”

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We are now on board the plane.
“This plain better not crash.” She says.
“Before I die I will kill the plane.”
“How?” I asked.
“I don’t know” she said. Then added: “I will blow up the engine.”
A child will always be a child (strange logic: blow up the plane before it crashes.)
There were other kids and several were somewhat loud. “That’s how they will be making noise” (she had mentioned much earlier that she didn’t like noise).
“Let me talk like the soldier in my school” (she mimicked the soldier):
“I hate noise. If you make noise, I will show you wetin you be!” (She’s a year one student in an air-force secondary school).
She’s cold. I said I don’t think I have anything that might keep her warm in my bag. Her pair of socks and her better sweater were in her checked in bag. She says she’s different (referring to the fact that she’s cold).
She wondered why I had a bag on-board.
“I didn’t check in any bag” I said.
“Because it’s small enough to put in the overhead compartment.”
“So a smart person can put a bomb in his bag and bring it on-board?”
“They still scan it. Remember when we went through the scanner?”
“Can the scanner see what’s in your body?”
“Yes. It looks like x-ray”
“So what’s private is no longer private” she declared.

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We made it safely to Lagos. We got her luggage off the carousel. I offered to get the bag but she insisted that she can handle her own bag and that she carried even bigger loads). I had to smile at that. Her dad (a friendly Pastor) was waiting at “arrivals” with a lady. I tag along with them to the outskirts of the airport. I drop off because their destination is in the opposite direction to mine. I said goodbye to the dad and the lady that came with him, and as I closed the door, I said a final “Bye Bye, Jessica.”
Maybe we will meet again, maybe not. I had suggested it earlier and she said she didn’t think so. I think the reason she gave was something along the line of not being that regularly in airports or on planes.

I meant to take a cab. But the middle-aged gentleman I asked for directions at the bus-stop turned out to be a military officer (in mufti) whose first retort was “Why waste so much money?! See that pedestrian bridge over there? Walk across it sharply like a strong man. Take a bus going to Oshodi-under-bridge. It’s only 50 Naira. Climb to the top of the Oshodi bridge. You will get another bus going to CMS or Obalende.” I told him I could find my way from any of those two places. Thus my “Ijebu” kicked in and I had another uneventful trip switching buses 4 times before getting to my final stop. The whole trip cost 450 Naira instead of possibly 5,000 Naira or more (if I had taken a cab from the airport). I made a picture I took of both of us while seated in the plane my Whatsapp profile picture. A friend asked if she was my girlfriend. Another suggested she’s my daughter. I kept it up for the night and switched it out the following day.

I wonder if we will ever meet again. Maybe I should call the dad sometime and ask about those vicious German Sherpards (GSD) puppies she said they had. They are about 4 months old. I think I wouldn’t mind one if I got it for free.

I hope she grows up to be successful, and well-adjusted.

I don’t see why not.



I haven’t written anything in a while. Life happens. But that should actually be fodder for articles on this blog?

So my car was sort of acting up. Also there was the issue of the front bumper that had almost fallen off (a couple of accidents – none was my fault I am happy to report) and the big dent in the rear bumper. I also had a close shave a few days prior when my car stopped on the Ikoyi bridge at about 11:30PM at night (below is the mail I sent to the repair shop I assumed was responsible for the issue). The mail prompted a call from the manager. After that I didn’t drive the car for some days until the manager sent a team out to my house 2 days later to check it out and declared it was OK.

Good day Sirs,
I am writing because I believe the issues I faced yesterday is very likely related to the assessment I had done at your workshop a few days ago.

I had no issues with the car apart from the front and rear bumper for which I sent it to your office for an assessment. I had also asked for a “service” assessment and quote.

The same day the car came back, when I left for home, I hadn’t moved about 300feet when the battery and oil indicator lights came on. I stopped and together with a driver that was with me, we looked at the battery terminals and didn’t really see anything that was the matter. Both lights blinked a little and after about a minute or two went off. I thought it might have been something transient especially due to the trip to your office and the assessment. I went out on Tuesday but didn’t go out on Wednesday at all.

I drove the car to the office yesterday morning (V/I to Ikoyi). I was in the office all day. Then yesterday evening I left my office in NNPC building at around 11PM in Ikoyi and just as I crested the bridge to V/I (about 500m from the office) the oil indicator light came on, the car made a very loud metallic rattling noise as if something was loose in the engine and stopped completely.

I opened the bonnet, and I could not believe that not a drop of oil was in the car. It was so dry there was nothing on the rod. I had to walk all the way across the bridge well into V/I before I got a commercial taxi-driver I used sometimes on the phone to come and pick me up.

You can imagine the uphill task I faced. I was finally able to get home, get a gallon of oil and return to the bridge.

Fortunately, the car started and I made it slowly home around 1AM.

I called your line and even sent an SMS and no response. Not even a call today.

I know I asked for a service assessment and a quote. I now wonder if someone drained the oil thinking the car was there for service. As I said, I find it strange that the first indication of trouble happened the same day the car was at your workshop. Prior to that visit I had no issues with the car.

I do not know if the engine has knocked partially now or not.

I have had the car for close to 3 years and have not had any reason to worry about driving it until now. 

The reason I sent the car to your workshop was because of the “xxxxxxxxxx” brand. I think you should investigate and find out what likely happened. 

I used a Taxi today because until I know the state of the car for sure, I do not want to risk being stuck in a strange place with a completely broken down vehicle.

I look forward to your response. Thank you.

Best Regards,

I decided I was going to carry out a full service (which was due anyway) to put my mind at rest as to the state of the car. I kept imagining I was hearing strange noises (some of them were real of course) and the AC basically stopped cooling. A prayer (and sweat under the midday Sun) took it all the way to Ladipo. I got lost several times and finally gave up, called the mechanic and told him exactly where I was around Oshodi and asked him to come get me. Before that he had been trying to give me directions unsuccessfully over the phone (I actually ended up in Ikeja GRA before making a u-turn and heading back to Oshodi)

As to the issues with the car, I have tried a so-called Toyota certified shop and the AC repair was approached almost the same unscientific way as the typical road-side mechanic would have done (“We will change your condenser first. If it still doesn’t fix the issue then we will have to change your compressor”). I allowed them to charge me an arm and a leg for the condenser. “Toyota original” which of course didn’t fix the issue. Also the car drifted to the right. The wheel balancing and alignment they carried out (“suspect” because I was watching the electronic machine along with the chap working it and for a tyre or two I suspected he gave up when he couldn’t get the thing to read zero or was it 10-10 and claimed it was “balanced”) didn’t fix the right-drift either. This was despite the fact that they kept the car for two full days and when I say full, I mean as in retrieving the car around 7PM on the second day (did I mention I was there for both days as well). The blog entry on the “torn jeans” earlier was based on my second trip to the place to get the car.

They told me to bring the car back but I had had enough.

So anyways, same as the Toyota place, this new chap was recommended by another friend/colleague. The mechanic is named Friday. Understood he used to work for Elizade or Briscoe before setting up shop for himself. His workshop was a fenced compound in Ladipo (Okesanya street) with several mechanics working out of the place.

I had a litany of issues I wanted him to take a look at. Actually more like I wanted an overhaul of the car (extensive service). Of course other issues were discovered as the car was being taken apart. The compressor which had started to make noise a while back had to be replaced, the front bumper was replaced (it survived an initial scrape with another car, but gave up after a commercial bike and his passenger had a close encounter of the “thank God you are OK” kind with it). The suspenders were bad, the brake calipers were serviced, the brake pads replaced, and so on. Well I am thinking of getting a front protector for it. Fed up of other people running into me. I think having both a front and rear protector would make the car too “long” especially with the tight spaces we have to park in Lagos (Hey! This is not America where the parking lots are like football fields 🙂

I took the car there on Thursday. But the mechanic was busy with another fellow’s car. Though he told his boys to start working on the car, but I didn’t pressure him too much because I wanted him to keep an eye on things (I decided not to make any issues of the fact that the boys were taking it slow because it may be a sign that they need directions from the boss). I spent the whole of Thursday and Friday there. Had some adventure taking commercial bike rides to Mushin coupled with bus rides from Mushin to CMS to Victoria Island. Something I hadn’t done in ages. Felt strange and alive at the same time. Having to struggle for a seat at CMS got my blood pumping a little faster than usual. Between Mushin and the workshop, I just drifted into the biking thing. The trick is to remain “loose” behind the rider so as he navigated the million potholes and ditches in the road, you just sort of roll (actually go up and down) with the ride. It was fun actually. On Friday, along the way from Mushin to the workshop, the rider stopped where several of his colleagues had gathered and we learnt that the previous area commander (police?) had instructed his men to only arrest riders operating on the expressways. But it seems the powers-that-be had arranged for his quick transfer out. His replacement then allowed the police to catch the riders on even the side roads and residential areas. One of them had been dispossessed of his bike a few hours before. The rider complained to me that riding the bike commercially is not the best business to engage in, and in addition to the daily risk of accidents, now they have to put up with the harassment of the police force.

I didn’t go on Saturday. Went apartment-hunting instead. Found one in particular but the asking price is almost daylight robbery (people say the price of accommodation in Lagos has been too artificially inflated and that it will crash soon – but the soon never seems to arrive eh?). Tiring stuff. By the way, a friend is looking for a housemate to share a 4bedroom apartment close to VGC.

The mechanic called me about 8PM on Saturday to tell me they had finished the repairs. I had been in touch with him during the day, but didn’t hear call back for updates since I assumed correctly I am sure he would call if they had finished earlier. But they don’t work on Sundays so the earliest I could get the car was on Monday. What about the wheel balancing and alignment? To be done on Monday morning. I will go for the car in the afternoon.

Though it’s not like I go to a lot of places everyday, but not having a car discouraged me completely from taking any trips that weren’t absolutely necessary. I sometime wonder how I did it for 10 years in Lagos.

It would be nice to be “mobile” again.