You can keep your Jand!

share on:

Is the grass really greener on the other side?

“Andrew no check out o.” “Say what?!” If you grew up in the 80s, ‘Nigeria go Survive’ will pop into your head.

In my line of work I have met a lot of ‘Andrews’ – usually getting deported. I have never understood my people’s desire to emigrate when all we need to make life what we want is right here with us. Right here in us.

I recently visited the UK and I wondered if I was going to catch the ‘check out’ bug.

At the airport I was immediately struck by the number of people leaving the country, especially since it was a few days before our Independence day. I checked in, ran over to the UBA to get FOREX – I was not going to change my Naira until

I was sure I would be leaving on the flight. Then I ran to clear immigration where a few words in Hausa helped me get through without much hassle. I have learnt about Nigerians that if one spoke a certain language certain courtesies will be extended you – unless the person is Ibo!

Next was screening where I had to strip. Somehow I did not mind that because the alternative was the full body scanner, and I have MEGA issues with that. I hear it ‘undresses’ you and the picture is relayed to a control room where your wares are on display for some stranger. Knowing how we are, chances are there will be only one person viewing everybody coming through! Now that is a job I will love.

I finally made it on board and settled down to enjoy six hours on a plane not working. We arrived Heathrow Airport where it is usually like a cattle market clearing immigration. I did not have to go through that though, I had a fast track voucher. I cleared immigration, and with nothing to declare, I had arrived. And then things quickly changed.

First, the very long trek to the Underground; next, two tube changes to Victoria station; then the blast of icy cold air as I walked up to the surface to catch the train to Sutton. Outside the station all the cars drove on the wrong side of the road. But oyibo get sense sha. At the pedestrian crossing, written on the ground, is the direction of travel of the cars – usually “look right” on one side, “look left” on the other. Problem was, I look left first, start crossing then remember the directions on the ground, at that time all I see is the one on the other side. That I did not get knocked down is still a mystery to me.

The next morning I was to see my niece and I got another shock. I woke up at 5:30am, Naija style, bathed and dressed. My friend I was staying with did not come out of her room till 7:15am – and she had to be at work by 8:30! She took her time getting ready and at 8:13 she was running down the street towards the station to catch the 8:17 train, or else it would be another twenty minutes till the next train and then she would be late for work. According to her, that run to the station helps her come fully awake!

Meanwhile, I had gone through the gate with her without checking for my train time. It was only on the platform that I realised my train ran hourly and I had just missed it. I decided to take in the sights of Sutton. Big mistake. I had an Oyster card which I had validated by ‘touching in’,and when I ‘touched out’ I got charged for a full trip for visiting a platform – during peak period at that!

I was meeting my niece at Westfield shopping centre, and when I got there I thought I had died and gone to Window Shoppers’ Heaven! There were so many stores, I spent five hours browsing!

Then there is the English weather – or not. It was supposed to be Summer turning to Autumn, but it might as well have been Winter with a touch of rain. Sunny one moment, cloudy or drizzling the next. And through all of this, the cold.
I had only packed a cardigan so I needed warmer clothing.  I walked into a store, selected a jacket and scarf I liked and when I got to the counter to pay, I got another shock.

I handed the cashier my money and next thing I knew, he pushed a buzzer under his desk. I froze. I felt like I was in a bad black and white B movie. The one where a poor innocent gets arrested and deported because he was unfortunate to be handling marked bills from a kidnap ransom.

The store manager came, looked at the note – not a glance in my direction – nodded and walked away. The cashier put the money in the till and handed me my change and receipt with a smile. Only then did I realise I had been holding my breath. I later found out all that drama was because I dared pay with a fifty pound note!

On my last day, I was walking to the train station when I saw a cab. I flagged the cab down and as it was empty. The first thing the driver said to me was “Did you call a cab Guv’nor?” “Errm.. No, but…” “Then call for one.” He said, and drove off. I just respected myself and took a train, two tubes and was at Heathrow terminal 3 two hours later.
I slept through the flight home. As I stepped off the aircraft, the heat that slapped me confirmed that I was in Lagos, and I realised I had missed the heat.

So back to the question about grasses:
I complain about NEPA, I complain about the transport system, I complain about the heat, I even complain about the complaints. But give me a choice between Nigeria and the UK, and my answer will be “You can keep your Jand jor.”

Franque

Franque

"Franque is in aviation, which by the way is not his job, just a lifestyle. If he ever kept a diary it would read like his articles will. Unfortunately he doesn't. Scratch that. He didn't.AIRtiquette is a walk in his shoes. Since regular isn't in his vocabulary, brace yourself for a bit of airwalking!" Follow @franque_521 on twitter.

8 comments

  1. Bloody hilarious guvnor… U forgot to write about their football teams n their ridiculously xpensive match tickets…I fink you should write like a collection of short stories..

  2. LOL…..

    Same Darn experience ALL THE TIME!

    I don’t get it!

    A store manager has to checkout your money every time you pay with a 50 pound note!!

    The trains and buses have time schedule.
    It’s tfl website before I leave the house for the day.

    And Like you said, It IS a Miracle I’ve never been hit by a car or bus, because I always look left 1st.

    It’s shoppers heaven for me, and that’s all it is.

  3. Hahahhahaha,
    That was just funny honestly…
    Love your writing, I second ‘the Manager’ u should publish a collection of your stories..

  4. Again, thanx guys. Glad y’all liked it.
    A coupla Qs: Dhame n Diva, if I do as u suggest, una go buy?
    2, Dhame u go review am?

  5. Every single thing you’ve mentioned is all in a day’s experience for me here. I cant wait to come back home. The frustration I go thru sometimes drives me crazy. How about going to London with two massive and heavy suitcases, no money to cab it, strike on the underground and no help whatsoever. On those kind of days I always ask myself, who sent you to come here? lol at the fifty pound note experience. its a combo btw the fact that some people have never seen one and apparently its usually used for illegal activities.

  6. LOL! They can keep their jand indeed. To answer the question you started with, depending on your views and the location, the grass can indeed be greener, but what people fail to realize is that wherever the grass is greener, the electricity bill is a lot higher so it’s up to each person to pick what they prefer.

    Great write-up coz.

  7. It’s amazing how many great write-ups by Nigerians I’ve found in the past month. And I agree, let them keep their jand; while I have no issues with the bus schedules, I personally find the weather unbearable, the native food inedible, and the shopping unimpressive. But that’s just me.

Leave a Reply