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Follow me on my new journey from being an ex-Londoner to a Lagosian!
‘Hey you stop there’ an angry Hausa looking man is shouting furiously with a seemly loaded rifle. What’s going on there I wonder; well that’s their business nothing to do with me obviously! I approach nearer and this Hausa man is almost cheek-to-cheek with me. ‘Are you travelling today?’
Wait, he’s referring to me! Oh how did I miss that? ‘No, I’m escorting my aunty to the airport’ I respond
‘Well, as you can see she’s inside and you are not needed’ He retorts
Flabbergasted by this…I continue to head towards the door.
Another man intercepts. ‘Young lady, step back now’ to hear him is to think that a criminal is on the loose being warned for the last time to step back before fire is opened.
‘But I want to see my aunty off’’
‘If you‘re not flying today you cannot enter the airport. Sorry no ticket no entry’
Since when are airports strictly for flying passengers, (well wait that sounds about right when said out loud)! But do they make no provision for family and friends who want to see their beloved ones off. And wish them IJEOMA?
‘Then why the hell, is that man being allowed in without you even stopping him?’ I don’t care if he looks more English than the Queen herself! Embarrassed by his blatant favouritism against the man; he reassessed and stopped the Oyibo ‘Your boarding pass please?’
The man looking slightly put out, merely flashed his red passport. And he was inside the airport.
Light bulb moment!
So all it takes to enter this Murtala Muhammed International Airport is to flash a European or I’m guessing North American passport. No problems?
My brother is travelling the next day; so I’d obviously need to think of a way to get into this Alcatraz!
But before that I still need entry to say bye to Aunty Amara; okay in life when one door closes, there will surely be another door to try!
I not so quietly walked away from entry door one looking back once or twice; and headed towards entry door three. Let me not tempt door two. Three is one of my lucky numbers.
These men seem more polite ‘sister you dey travel today?’
‘My aunt dey inside, we suppose collect something from her’. my broken is a little shaky but it gets the job done.
‘So you want go inside abi’ another is attempting to be playful. But obviously is looking for some small change! My brother hands over
N1,000 which I thought was too steep. Surely the man looked like he would have settled for less. Next thing you know we’re in. As we walked back from Ariks’ entrance to BA; we made sure the Hausa man by door number one saw us! They should wonder how we made our way inside.
The mystery of how we got inside still baffled my aunty; and my sister who was still outside call to find us. She thought it was more hassle than it was worth!
A few hours later; my aunt has boarded and we make our way out of the airport using door number ONE of course.
‘BYE BYE’ I greet the Hausa security guards. They flinch in alarm. And at the corner of one eye I see them giving me very ungracious looks.
There that’d teach them!
The next day we arrive again at the airport to drop my brother off. But now I’m prepared for these Hausa looking men! They clearly remember me; how can you miss this wild curly fro I’m rocking!
With my brother’s hand-luggage in one hand; my passport in another; I’d like to see them try and refuse me entry now!
Obviously today I look the part, they didn’t even bother ask me any questions. And to think I made all this preparations!
Question; why is there so much protocol with seemly normal activities n Lagos? When has it become the norm to add additional layer of nonsense to visiting an airport. Hundreds of airports have all been surviving without such harassments!
So here are my REDUNDANT tips to enter Lagos International Airport: when you are not travelling!
- Have a hand-luggage in one hand
- Ensure your passport is visible in the other hand
- For additional conviction – create a pseudo e-ticket print out!
How to conduct yourself in Lagos…(A-M)
Attitude: you must show confidence at all times, ready for any situation. Do not let anyone see you with your guard down. They’ll pounce or see you as incompetent; Lagos is about putting on a good show. So whilst in Rome…..
Beauty: make the most of what the good Lord gave you, appearance does matter. You look the part you make the cash. Okay…don’t take this phrase literally. Put it this way, if there were a contract to gain, and one lady looked fashionable put together and the other.. well resembles a ‘Lagos big girl’. Then I leave you to come to your own conclusions…..
Career oriented: Lagos is a city where dreams can come true, it’s not only reserved for ‘The Big Apple’. Here you have an idea that works, it works almost too well. And before you know it life can take a 180 turn!
Daring: Take risks with new ideas; be it business, looks, or way of living. Only those that dare survive. Lagos is not for the meek!
Eloquent: Lagos is full of crazy accents and various inflections you’d think you were in another country all together. One girl will sound like she’s a croaked American cat; the other is an over-weight English horse. But to truly stand out in Lagos, be eloquent in your natural accent. Do not force a new weird intonation to fit in. It just makes you sound daft!
Friendly: you have to be friendly, but not too much as you still need to maintain a certain mystic about yourself. You do not want to be an open book. This can be misconstrued (especially for ladies)
God fearing: this is a nation full of believers in a higher being, so to fit into the city. You have to have a strong belief system in God. Or at least be a regular church goer. But sometimes the hypocrisy is just too much. Lagosians feel superior if there are deep rooted into the church systems (Forget being a nice person and doing going things!).
Humour: the amount of things that do not make sense in Lagos, is enough to make you turn crazy. But to survive, you need to see the funny side in things like the broken down buses, the pot-hole filled roads or the fact that Lagosians do not have grasp the concept of ‘personal space’.
Invest: If you have the cash now, then invest in land. The speed of appreciation can be quite surprising within 2-3years even you can make a hefty profit. If not land, then look into buying shares. Consult with a knowledgeable finance person that can point you in the right directions of what to buy.
Just be respectful: No matter the surrounding, respect has to play a part. I’m not a fan of calling your bosses ‘uncle’ or ‘aunty’ but you can use their titles instead Mrs Bimpe rather than aunty Bimpe. It makes the whole working environment seem unprofessional. But in social gatherings be aware of the age gap. But then again I have the 15year age gap rule. If you are not at least 15years older than me; then I will cease from using the almost obligatory ‘uncle’ / ‘aunty’ title.
Kind: Offer a helping hand whenever you can, because those people may be able to help you again in future. But in Lagos there’s a clear demarcation between rich and poor. So if the rich never reach out to the less privileged then the social ladder would stay the same (this would suit some) but if you are in a position, then it’s a beautiful thing to do.
Location: Location Location Location is not just a popular TV series, but in Lagos this is the only way to be (so it seems), live on the wrong side of 3rd mainland bridge and your so called status is slightly diminished. Musts live quarters on the Island are it seems Ikoyi, VI and Lekki
Marriage: If you are within the marrying ages of 25-35 and are still un-hooked, you will be seen as a pariah. As your elders would say ‘why aren’t you married?’ You live in the country with the right ratio of black men (be that your preference) and you are still single? Be prepared for constant prayer marches on your behalf!
When new in Lagos, food can be a big issue if you’re not in the know!
Here are my top 7 places to eat; thank me later:-)
For Sunday Brunch: Wheat-baker
My first experience at Wheat-baker was peaceful. Peaceful is not a phrase you would normally use when dining. But that’s what happened, the moment I walked into this beautiful boutique hotel. The polite doorman opens the door and you are greeted with a nice open plan reception area with beautiful coaches.
The dining area is quaint enough to seat a small army.
At Wheat-baker there is a selection of Nigerian and Continental dishes. The selection may not be as extensive as other hotels. But what makes this place stand out is the quality of food. The effort put into each meal is evident on the palate.
MUST HAVE DISH: Salmon
MENU PRICE-RANGE: Buffet at N9,500
For Saturday Lunch: Yellow Chilli
Yellow Chilli is my most go to place for authentic Nigerian food presented in a non-traditional form. The eba is wrapped in a cone formation, the yam porridge almost like paella with the yam diced into small pieces.
MUST HAVE: Yam Porridge with snails, dried fish and pieces of beef
MENU PRICE-RANGE: N3,000-4,500
For Friday dinner: Spice route
If you’re looking for tasty Indian cuisine, then Spice Route is the best stop for you! It’s a one-stop dining experience that transitions from afternoon to night time vibes!
As you walk through the door of the restaurant on the 1st floor; you are greeted with a large open space ideal for a nice photo session. The restaurant is then sectioned into corners using bell curtains, and the use of lighting adds a little more mystic. The table on the right of the space is an object of art; turmeric, peppers and other spices are encased in a glass table.
MUST HAVES: Bhuna Gosht (Lamb curry)
MENU PRICE-RANGE: N2,500-5,500
For Thursday lunch: Ice Cream Factory & Chinese
A playful, relaxed and family friendly environment fully describes the newly opened Ice Cream Factory in Lekki Phase One. With a range of ice-creams and dessert selection, you’d be lost for choice. But they are best known for their apple crumble and ice-cream, or waffles and ice-cream.
MUST HAVES: Cookies n Cream ice-cream and Madeira cake
MENU PRICE RANGE: N200 per scoop (OR Apple crumble & ice-cream: N1,500)
…And you don’t have to travel far if your sweet tooth is at bay and you’re ready for a sit-down meal. Then simply make your way upstairs for their contemporary Chinese restaurant.
MUST HAVE: Sweet & Sour Chicken or Singapore Noodles
MENU PRICE RANGE: N2,000-N3,000
For Wednesday dinner: Pattaya
This nice Thai restaurant situated in VI is sure to satisfy your cravings; whether it’s a green or red curry. You’re sure to plead ‘please sir I want some more!’
MUST HAVES: Poo Ja (crab mixed with chicken) OR Yam Pla Foo (crispy fried fish)
MENU PRICE RANGE: N8,000 upwards
For Tuesday Lunch: BUKKAH HUT
For a nice traditional lunch-time fix, Bukka-Hut is the place to go. Be sure to not sleep at your desk as the full portions are generous. Don’t bother with the half portions as it will not satisfy you.
MUST HAVES: Bokoto (cowleg) OR Smoked Cat Fish
MENU PRICE RANGE: N450-N1,500
For Monday Breakfast: Step-inn
An authentic English style pub located in the heart of VI. Ideal for all lovers of full-English breakfast!
MUST HAVES: Full-English
MENU PRICE-RANGE: N2,000 upwards
Bon appetite on this 7day food options!