Monday, March 23, 2009

Heading home

I really have to get used to the drip, drip exposition of life as a blogger. In the good old days, the discipline and schedule of a weekly deadline as a newspaper columnist meant that I had to concentrate my thoughts to write on schedule. Now I oftentimes plain forget that like a chia pet, I have to feed and water my blog. Anyhow, where was I? Ah yes, my last blog was about re-entering the reality distortion field that is Lagos and by extension Nigeria. Right now, I am preparing to head back to the US, in its own way also a reality distortion field. My time spent here in Lagos has had its moments. One highlight was the visit of my intrepid friend Tom Lansner who came for a quick visit at the end of February and into very early March. After years of mutually threatening to pull off the trip, Tom finally made it to Lagos from Amsterdam. Now Tom is an old "Africa hand" as we say in the business, having been a war correspondent in the eighties, traversing and reporting on some of the most misbegotten episodes in Africa's recent history, and recently was in Nigeria to monitor our last elections in 2007. So, it was nice to see him very shortly after his plane touched down, outside the airport terminal, dressed in a light khaki pants, a summer jacket and a fedora arched jauntily on his head looking like the intrepid traveller that he was. Surprisingly and in my own experience, he was out of the airport, perhaps 15 min after the plane landed. I also arrived "just in time" like needed automotive part in a high efficiency Japanese car factory. It was all pretty amazing that things could co so smoothly in Lagos, well, perhaps not so, if you consider the drama I encountered on the way to the airport. At one of the many congested junctions on the way to the airport, I was "arrested" for running a red light. Never mind that I did not actually run the light, because I stopped immediately the oddly placed lights changed. I managed to argue my way out of a possible trip to the "station" by forcefully arguing that I did not in fact run the light! Anyhow, the point to this anecdote is that we must hold faith that things in will ultimately work out; Tom arrived and I was there to pick him up. Needless to say, we had a blast as two old friends would. It was a daily schedule of visits to friends and my family, meetings with interesting people at Bogobiri his hotel and artsy chick watering hole. It was during his visit and through his eyes that I saw what actually made Lagos, "Lagos" for me. Certainly not the beauty of the city, but the energy and complex beauty of the people. By his own admission, he met more interesting people during his short visit than he had met in the couple of years he had spent so far in Amsterdam. After he left, I fell back into the usual grind of problem solving and a series of enervating business trips to Abuja. I think right about now, I am ready to come up for air.

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