The other day, out of the blue, I received a call from an old buddy of mine and while playing catch up, we remembered some events from our earlier days that had us in stitches. Only by looking back do we realise how far we have come and how much we have grown. I will attempt to share some of them with you. Let me be the first to admit that for all our forming and swag, man bin mumu sha!
Lost in London
My ab initio training was my first time leaving Nigeria. Okay, so I had been to Cotonou before, but surely that didn’t count.
We arrived at the end of summer going into autumn, and my first thought on the bus ride to the hotel was OJORO! My wristwatch said 9pm, so how come it was still bright outside? Surely my watch was not broken.
By the second week I was feeling at home. There was always power so I didn’t have to iron all my clothes at once. The buses ran to a timetable so one could plan trips properly. Plus there were no conductors shouting destinations or stops. All one had to do was look for the bus number, pay the driver, get onboard and, at your destination, push a button to alert the driver. Fantastic!
As part of a group of 20 people, with training consisting of daily exams, we had to device a means of getting meals from the Town Centre. After breakfast of sandwiches, and lunch of jacket potatoes and baked beans, dinner was the meal we all really looked forward to. We had discovered a Chinese restaurant in town and their noodles and rice meals were the closest to home cooking we could get in Crawley.
On this day, I had dinner duties with a buddy of mine. After buying dinner, because it was so cold we decided to take the bus 10 instead of the bus 100. The bus 10 was set to depart, while the bus 100 was not due for another 15 minutes. I suggested the bus 10 because I had seen it pass the training school countless times, and the training school was six minutes walk to the hotel.
Long story short, at the stop after the training school I asked my buddy to push the button – do not ask me why I did not push it myself – but he would not do it. We argued for a bit and when I eventually pushed the button three stops later, we did not recognise where we were. We asked three different people for directions to the hotel, and they gave us three different directions. And I thought Nigerians held the monopoly on mis-direction!
After crossing the road twice, I lost my sense of direction – bear in mind they drive on the wrong side of the road in this town. We decided to walk, my buddy and I, reading road signs as we went and following landmarks we thought we recognised. When we finally arrived at the hotel over an hour later, the meals were cold; I could not feel my face, ears or fingers; and some people had gone to bed hungry.
A year later I found out that all three people had been correct. All we had to do was get on a bus 100 on either side of the road, and since we were close to the last stop, we would have been back at the hotel in less than 15 minutes!