THE JOURNEY OF A LAGOS VIRGIN (THE MANUAL)

Published June 2, 2012 by mandi2ude

*Listening to the last chorus of Banky W’s ‘Lagos Party’ as it begins to fade out*
Lasgidi. Eko. Gidis. The big apple. All these names are synonymous with this city in the west. A city where people don’t sleep: a city that houses most of the celebrities in Nigeria, a city where people think their dreams can come true.
When I was growing up, I even heard that the city doesn’t have a ‘welcome’ signpost. The only one that exists doesn’t read WELCOME TO LAGOS; rather it reads THIS IS LAGOS. If you ask me, they should have added ‘you are truly on your own’. Irrespective of the harsh conditions of life for some people it doesn’t deter graduates and those seeking better life and greener pastures from re-locating to this city. There’s a myth surrounding it that all your dreams come true in Lagos. You can also compare it with New York; listen to Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys and Jigga Banks (Jay Z) if you need more insight on New York.
I was a Lagos virgin up until March this year *eyes rolling* (sue me); and I must say that it was a very exciting experience. I got a confirmation letter to attend the auditions for big brother Africa Star Game along with many other Nigerians and I almost went berserk. I read the email and my eyes went to the venue and it read Protea Hotel, Maryland Lagos.
It hit me for the first time that I had to make a trip to Lagos, a city that I’ve never visited. It’s said that first timers are picked out because they stick out like a sore thumb. So, while I got ready for my trip, I was still filled with apprehension; I was nervous and anxious to see this city of dreams. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling that way, but after thinking, I came to a conclusion – I AM GOING TO LAGOS. I called my sisters and I told them about it, they were very supportive and they sent me their address located somewhere around Festac Town. I consulted with friends and they were psyched. A day before my departure I was summoned by them for induction and advice on behavioral pattern, so I won’t ‘fall mugu’ as a JJC.
LAGOS JUMP
My friend Didi told me that my first stop will be Ojota, and that I should hold on to my bag and not talk to strangers. I should stand and wait for a bus with the conductor shouting at the top of his voice Cele/Mile 2! Cele /Mile 2!! And her instruction manual came with detailed visuals because she showed me how they will call and all, and also she told me that I should not pay more than a hundred a fifty naira (150), and if he insists that I should pay more than that, I should decline: and to show my seriousness make ‘I rake am well well’, ‘make I ginger like say I wan slap am; den him go sorji say I no be jjc’. It didn’t end there, Doris my other friend told me that when I hear them saying Mile 2, Mile 2 that I should say ‘OWA!’, that if I don’t say it, I definitely will find myself at the last bus-stop. When I alight, I should board another bus with the bus conductor screaming Agboju/Alakija and that I should board and tell the conductor I’ll dropping off at Maza-Maza. Then I should pick a bike and tell the bike man where I was going to. I thanked them and said to myself that I’ll be there within the blink of an eye.
The next day as early as 3am, I got up, took my bath and headed for Ifesinachi Transport where I boarded the third bus going to Lagos, it was not an easy journey. Halfway into the journey, I was already tired, my bum hurt from sitting, I was getting restless, infact, my whole body was hurting. I cursed in my mind and I felt like crying. I fell asleep out of exhaustion; I woke up some hours later and asked where we were, and was told we were on Lagos/Ibadan expressway. I asked how long until Lagos? My fellow passenger said very soon. Time passed by until… Lagos finally.
There at Ojota, I waited just like my friends had told me and I stood there for some minutes. Lagos conductors are very funny, they have this mastered gait and the way they talk is very funny too. They talk through their nose which makes it hard for JJC’s like me to pick out the right direction. Buses came by and left, I couldn’t make out what the conductors were saying. Their words so slurred and rushed and they, as usual, enjoy shouting so much.
It seems like a fellow commuter who was standing nearby took pity on me and asked where I was going. I told him and he laughed and he said that all the buses that have passed were all heading my way. So, into the next bus I hauled my tired self. The conductor asked and I told him Mile 2, and he said 200 naira. I was shocked and remembered my friend’s advice; I wanted to scream but didn’t want to embarrass myself. So I just took out a crispy 200 naira note out of my wallet and handed it to him, and sat still. When we had driven for a long while I asked if we’d gotten to Mile 2 yet. He said no, but would tell you when we do. I was so relieved.
Finally, we got to Mile 2 and I was astonished by the number of cars on the road. I felt like it was another country. Into another bus I jumped and finally found myself at Maza-Maza. Then the long bike ride which took me straight to my sisters’ doorstep. I got in, took a cold bath and slept till the next morning. *smiling*. Yes it was that bad.
This is like a manual to every Lagos virgin which I once was, keep the faith and hold your head up while you walk.
And that is how Mandy sees it.*winks*

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