I am sitting in a wicker chair on a wooden platform jutting out over the lagoon. The DJ is rocking out Tupac’s “Change” on his turntable. There’s some wind so the humidity is not too bad. 

The lights of Ikoyi are visible in the dark across the lagoon.

The fellow on the next table just lost his phone. He got up but was a little tipsy. He tripped and the phone went flying. He scrambled for it but was no where quick enough. There was a soft plunk when the phone hit the water. I only heard it because I was on the next table and watching. 

He signaled to one of the attendants. She told him if he leaves his details they will see if it can be retrieved the next day. She didn’t sound too hopeful. 

I signaled her over and asked if that happens often. She said more often than they care to count. 

Do the phones ever get retrieved and handed to the owner. Her response was a polite version of “ain’t nobody got time for that.”

I smiled. She asked if I needed anything. I said no. She walked away. 

I leaned over the rail and looked into the water. I fancy I can see the phone but it’s just my imagination. There’s no light over the water so it’s just black.

I wonder if there’s “reception” (GSM signal) down there. Something I have to google later.

Do mermaids make calls? Are there even mermaids in lagoons?

The DJ and I are the only people on our own. He has no choice. I guess I do. But the concept of choice is tricky and can be deceptive. For example, should one rather choose the company of someone you find obnoxious rather than be alone?

I stretch my legs. That’s at least one benefit on being on a table that’s supposed to sit four by myself. 

If you think about someone all the time and they in turn think about you all the time, it’s love. If it’s one sided, then it’s infatuation or obsession, what’s up with that? Don’t answer that. Ignore. 

I am not a “drinker”. I don’t know how to “stretch” a drink out. If it’s in my cup, I tend to down it. Then stop. But that’s not social. But I am alone so who cares. But then the eagle eyed attendants is likely to swoop in and ask if I need a fresh bottle. I have learnt to eat ice to fill in the gaps, but I don’t have any. Maybe I should ask for some. I still have an hour to kill. We will see. 

Someone observed that ladies go around in threes. One main beauty and two sidekicks. Not sure it’s always true. What’s the equivalent for men? One dominant and two less aggressive sidekicks? Since I am alone, that makes it me, myself and I. Wonder which one is dominant and which two are the side kicks. That’s a joke, I am not even slightly tipsy. 

“I hope this night lasts forever. … Makes me happy, makes me feel this way. …” 

Note to self, “Keep phone well away from the water.”

The guys on the next table ordered pepper soup. It smells nice. But I am not really hungry. One of them commented that the price of anything you order while seated out here is 50% more than if you were inside. That’s news to me. Makes no difference though. I just imagine that I was going to order two bottles. But still, that’s some expensive breeze.

The phone guy finally leaves. I hope he makes it home. I think people are more dangerous when they are almost completely wasted. They disagree with you on everything and think the little control they still have makes them superman or something. That’s a disaster waiting to happen when they get behind the wheels of a vehicle. At least a completely wasted person who can’t even make it off his seat is likely to be driven home if he’s with company.

Time passes slowly.

I wonder where you are, and who you are with, but that’s infatuation, so I put on a happy face for the attendant who showed up with my bill. Maybe I should have ordered that second bottle. But that would have made me like my “phone friend” who just left, and “I ain’t that guy.”

Time to pack it in and hit the road. There’s church in the morning. 

A sink full of plates

A sink full of plates

I had been eyeing the pile in the kitchen for a number of days. But unfortunately by the time I get home I am too beat to do more than eye it again, take a drink from the fridge, and go lie down on my bed.

But despite the fact that I got home late last night, with my cousin’s visitor in tow, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was tired but I just decided enough was enough.

The title may give you an idea of what I am going on about. When you have three working-class guys in the same apartment, some things are definitely going to slip under the table or remain in the sink until they are well and truly “ripe”.

Once I got on a roll, I couldn’t stop till I had done justice to it. I decided to tackle the plates in the sink and scattered all over the kitchen first. Most of them had little bits of soup, oil and left over food on them. Not too bad, I started throwing stuff in a big black refuse plastic bag: in goes the half-drunk plastic soft drink bottles after emptying their content into the sink. Followed by bits of food scraped off several plates. It was all going relatively well until I got to the bottom of the pile. One plate face-down on another. On opening it, I was faced with a decomposing mixture of cooked yam and fried eggs about 3 or four days old. The smell was something else. I managed and went on. A couple of pots with charcoal in them from someone burning whatever they were used to cook. Those went on the floor with water in them to soften the burnt stuff. Probably half a dozen dirty plastic food containers. Got as much of the content into the waste and stacked on the floor. Washed maybe another half dozen.

Since I had to finish what I had started, I dug around in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator. Electricity is a still a curiosity in Nigeria. I gingerly opened the covered plastic bowl containing what I knew was  catfish pepper-soup. I almost gagged at the smell of rotten fish that had dissolved into something slippery and mushy.

On the gas cooker was a pot I was almost sure had leftover cooked rice in it. I took off the lid and was confronted by a smelly slurry of something – the grains were no longer discernible – just a slowly flowing smelly white mess. Then there was the plastic bowl holding the leftover mixture of garri, milk and groundnut someone had left in the fridge for several days. The milk had of course cuddled, it smelled bad but not as bad as some of the earlier stuff I had encountered. Then there was the egusi soup and a separate bowl of stew that was more or less a waste of money because nobody ate it. They had been OK until the previous day or so when there had been no electricity (as always) and we hadn’t really put on the generator long enough to keep the stuff in the fridge cold. I was loathe to throw them away. I opened the egusi bowl first and sniffed at it. Couldn’t really make out any off smell, but it looked as if some of the fat had congealed unto one side of the bowl and thinking of the fact that it had spent a day or so sitting in a warm fridge, I guess it would be a dodgy affair to eat any of it, so into the waste it went. The soup was next. Still looked OK, but I was almost sure I could perceive from the odour that it was slightly off. So it followed the egusi into the waste as well.

I still cannot understand how people cannot finish a 50CL pure water sachet. That’s the stuff of booby-traps over here. Half sachets litter the whole house and even in the fridge: “keep your laptops and receipts off the tables or they are bound to get a dunking”

I emptied several half sachet of pure water into the pots that needed soaking. Managed to go through the plates, several plastic bowls, practically all the cutlery in the house and most of the cups as well. Well, the kitchen was looking decidedly better. I had offered the cousin’s visitor dinner: “Sorry for keeping you. Work and Lagos traffic. There is egusi soup and maybe you can make eba”. He gratefully agreed (he had been travelling all day and had to then wait for me some ice cream outlet for probably three hours or so). Note that this was freshly made equsi soup (separate from the one I had thrown in the waste) from a nice little homely restaurant in Ikoyi called BC Gardens. In fact, Nneka showed up with who I guess must be the love interest (some other artiste I believe) while I was there with the cousin. The place is in the home of the late Ben Enwonwu (a renowned artist). There is also an arts gallery there that you can peruse before or after your meal. It’s not so large but some interesting artworks were on display. Check out a couple of them below.

IMG_8986 IMG_8987
The picture above reminds me of someone I know very well. Who can guess? 🙂

So now the kitchen was looking somewhat respectable, I thought I had better put some water on to boil for the eba (garri stirred into hot water). Tried all four cooking points a couple of times – nothing. Bent low and sniffed at them with the gas knob turned on, no smell. Hmmn. Went outside and adjusted the control on the top of the gas cylinder thinking OK, maybe just this once, someone had decided to turn it off. Went back in and tried to light the points again. Nothing. Ok. This is getting serious. Went back outside again and lifted the cylinder. It was as light as a feather.

Went back in. To the fellow’s room and told him about my dilemma. “Em. Sorry. There is soup but unfortunately no gas. I have never tried boiling water with a microwave though. Maybe you could soak garri along with the soup?”

The fellow said not to worry. That he would eat the following day. He was almost asleep when I went into the room anyway so I guess he probably was just too tired to bother.

Went back out. Tidied up some more in the kitchen. Went to my room, took a shower, got the last can of malt from the fridge and settled down to watch the last quarter of a movie titled “Coherence.”

Which finally leads me to my encounter with the mouse.

I had almost stepped on the little critter in the dark (note that I had seen him around the house several times). There was some frantic squeaking and so I put on the light in the kitchen.

There he was sitting on his haunches, looking up at me, his mustache quivering violently and his two paws together. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming because he jabbed one finger in my direction and a sequence of squeaks of different length streamed out. Well, I couldn’t help laughing for the life of me. I didn’t speak “mouse” or “rat” but I could picture the thing going on:

“Big bruv. Watch where you place those over-sized feet would ya?”
“How about a little something something for the little fella?”
“Oh? It’s like that eh? It’s like that?”
“There you are throwing good food away and I ask you for just a morsel and you stand there laughing at me huh?”
“You fur-less son of a gun!”
“So that’s how it be? That’s how you wanna play it?”
“You stingy hairless son of a whatever you are!”

After that it turned its back on me, raised up its tail and dropped one solitary scat (dropping). It then turned around again, looked at me balefully and said “Take that you! It’s on bruv! I tell you, it’s really on!”

And since I am not one to back out of a challenge (obviously when size is in my favour), I responded with “Bring it on bruv! Any time, any day!” and with that we both turned our backs and went our different ways.


But I am so gonna get that rat!

16-Oct-2014 (10:34PM)



So I get in a taxi (at the Immigrations office in Ikoyi) bound for the office in Victoria Island. The taxi man proposed N1,500 as the charge. I countered with N1,000. Back and forth and he finally asked me to get in but hoped I would “add” something.

Driving a Taxi must be a lonely job to a large extent. Between clients, you are probably just driving around. Then people come into your live for brief periods of time, most will not leave any last impressions, but some will (including the guy that pulls a stickup on you and robs you of your day’s takings). So generally, taxi drivers are ready to talk. I am usually ready to listen – especially if you don’t expect more from me than the brief responses that indicates I don’t mind you going on or that I am at least listening.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Taxi driver: “You see. It’s the fuel scarcity. If you check in the back of my cab, you will see several jerrycans there. The queues in the petrol stations are horrendous. In addition, they are hoarding the fuel.”

(I looked in the back and only saw a tiny 4-liter oil can so I said jokingly, “I don’t see any jerrycans here.”

“I just dropped them off because I needed to carry some heavy stuff for a client.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“My wife just delivered twins after many years of trying. My family had advised me to send her away. If not that we already had one child from several years before it would have been difficult. But I stuck with her. What’s the alternative? Get a new wife? Besides, you can’t trust most of these young ladies of nowadays. They are prostituting themselves all over the place.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“You see in fact I am fed up. This taxi is not even mine. Though I hope God will bless me this year and I will be able to buy my own. It’s on lease. I came all the way from Sango this morning to pick it up. See (holding up a ticket), this is a railway ticket in my hand. Sometimes, when I drop a client, by the time I drive round and get another one, my fuel is almost gone. If you don’t want to suffer, make sure you are out of this area before 4:30PM.

The petrol stations have fuel. They are just hoarding it. In some stations, they took delivery of 3 huge tanker-load of fuel about two to three weeks ago. We saw them. They locked it up claiming that the federal government wants to hike up the price. What’s their concern with that? This is fuel they took delivery of several weeks ago at the current price!”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“When you are driving, be careful of these Maruwa (commercial tricycles), they can get one in trouble. They behave like chickens on the road.

If you are still in this neighborhood by 4:00PM,  you will know that Jesus is not a Nigerian (referring to the traffic-jam). My body is aching all over. See how dirty I am all over from the oil. But I give thanks to God all the same.

Yesterday when I leased this car. I was fortunate enough to repent quickly (“Olorun lo je kin tete ronu pi wada”). I just parked it. For over an hour and a half, not even one client!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“When they reopen this station (we were passing by the NNPC station under renovation) , it will be very fine. I suspect someone else must have bought it over. I heard they have taken it back from the previous owner. That they owe a lot of money (“won je iya-laya gbese”). But I am sure they have sold it to one of the cabal.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Beans is expensive in my area (I suspect the reference is to the Yoruba association of beans with twins). It’s N200 per Derica (measuring can). I was fortunate last week. While waiting to pick up clients, I went with a friend and found these Hausa traders. They are more reasonable. We got the beans at N160 per Derica.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The traffic in V/I was already bad. At the Sanusi Fafunwa junction, I asked him to pull over. I said I would walk through Sanusi Fafunwa to Karimu Kotun street. He asked if that wasn’t too long a walk but was quite grateful when I insisted. I brought out everything in my pocket (N1,205). Handed over N1,200 for which he was even more grateful.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

He needed to find water to top up his radiator. We parted ways at that point.

Across the Bridge

Across the Bridge

A friend going out of town a couple of days ago had asked me to go get his car from his office (where he had parked it and taken a taxi to the airport). It wasn’t quite convenient for me to do so due to the location of the office. Anyway, I had decided I was going to go pick up the vehicle yesterday night but closed from work quite late (about 10PM). So I made up my mind I was going to go get the car this morning. I had more or less decided I would take a cab to his office though I must confess there was the beginnings of an idea that I might just walk there instead.

So this morning I got up and  hadn’t quite made up my mind which mode of transportation to take to his office (also I had to keep in mind that I had an appointment in a couple of hours). But while Whatsapping as I walked to the main road, I told a “friend” that I had issues with my car and that I was walking on the road and the friend commented that it was good and that I needed the walk since I was lazy (there is a background story to trhat so don’t take it out of context :-). At that moment, I made up my mind to walk to his office. So I walked all the way from a street off Bishop Oluwole in Victoria Island, across the bridge into Ikoyi to the old NNPC Building on Alfred Riwane Road. It took 50 minutes and I usually walk briskly. I guess I could knock off about 5minutes if I hadn’t stop to take pictures and admire the scenery.

I was basically walking on a workday in the opposite direction to the heavy traffic flowing into Victoria Island. I was in a T-shirt and a pair of jeans and I could see that some of the people in the cars looked at me curiously (I suspect some of it had to do with my taking pictures with my phone). There was also the fact that I was walking along the side of the bridge and at some point on the bridge itself since there was really no pedestrian walkway (does that count as jaywalking? I guess so. So is it a misdemeanor or something more serious?).

It also served as my exercise for the day.

Below are some random pictures I took along the way. Makes me wonder during the olden days when people walked from the “interior” of the country to Lagos (the Ocean). Some of the distances were 200Km to 500Km or even more. They were never really in a hurry though. Stopping at villages along the way and were usually received with respect that was typically awarded to strangers or road travelers in those days. They can usually be assured of meals and shelter. So if I covered say a kilometer or two in an hour, I can only estimate how long those trips took. That was the happy scenarios, but I am sure some people didn’t make the journey so willingly because they were freemen (and women and children) who had become slaves by virtue of their villages having been pillaged by stronger neighboring villages and they were on their way to be shipped across the oceans to foreign lands (a lot of them didn’t even survive the inhuman conditions of the journey itself and they ended up as food for the fishes).

Time changes everything.

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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.