When you bring together a plush reality that a single percent of a populace live while most others merely dream of, and merge it with a chaos in a form that mirrors its purest, you are then only beginning to describe the area Portuguese explorer Rui de Sequeira named Lagos. Lago de Curamo specifically (Kuramo Lake, if you like).
An enjoyable conundrum that harbours natives as well as immigrants from, pretty much every other state in Nigeria and a good number of countries in and beyond the African continent with their varying ethnicity and levels of ambitions and wishful thinking.
New immigrants settle in quickly (preferably) with the relatively few natives and many more like immigrants who have become so accustomed to the uniquely restless Lagos lifestyle they can claim a form of birthright.
This confluence of different cultural backgrounds into one geographically small region ensures not a day goes by without coming by a handful of dramatic scenes and having one ponder how Lagos could ever be a sane place.
Farida’, a fair skinned, soft-spoken software developer in her late twenties, was jolted rudely from her deep, unconsciously extended sleep by the pow of a neighbour’s generator. She hissed and vented her frustration at being so woken into her unassuming, plainly clothed pillow which served as a non-judgmental listening ear and sob absorber and whatever else Farida’ needed it to be whenever she needed it to be.
Her frustration halted to a sudden silence as she peeked momentarily (and half hoping it was lying) at the Shelby GT500 ream-inspired clock above her mirror, glaring as judgmentally as possibly imaginable at her because she was running late for work that Thursday morning.
Getting to work late was not the real issue actually. She had managed to upload two beta versions of a proposed app as well as a proposed final version for another app onto the company servers few minutes before three in the morning. Those, coupled with the perks of being a high-grossing app developer for the company meant she could afford to be late. Not every day, but that Thursday would be one.
Nonetheless, she had brushed her teeth, had her bathe, and – courtesy of her second-year architecture undergraduate younger sister – had breakfast and light make-up done all in under half an hour. Getting dressed in a rather thick purple turtleneck longsleeve on light grey pants and navy blue plimsolls rounded up the preparation time to half an hour.
Any other normal person at this moment would have driven to work but Farida’ was only ever interested in learning about software. She was a great racing gamer and could configure apps to work with compatible vehicles… actually driving them was just not an interest for her.
Hence, like every other day, she walked past her car – which was driven more by her sister and usually came alive on weekends for one owambe here and outing there – and made the short walking trip out of the street, boarded a tricycle (Keke Napep) to the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) bus-stop and there, waited along with many others for one of the blue buses to stop by.
Now there is the normal queue for those who want a seat on the bus and then there is a second queue for those who would not mind standing; usually those in a hurry to get on the bus, and it was while the normal queue – which she was in – was boarding that something caught her attention. A man in all his corporate glory tried to pull a quick one by getting on the bus from the second queue, defending himself with the “I was here before them” card much to the derision of everyone disturbed.
The unrest was quickly quelled before it could even begin to escalate when one of the BRT staff staunchly refused to allow him in, telling him in Yoruba that he would have to wait his turn or to join the main queue if he wanted a seat. With that, the man squirmed back to the second queue and waited his turn.
Farida’ found a free seat by the window at the front end of the bus and watched as the man from earlier walked in, subtly flustered or maybe it was just her imagination wanting her to see him so; because he also seemed indifferent.
Her thoughts quickly moved on to how organised the queues at the BRT bus-stops always were, even when it meant such queues stretched some 10 meters or more beyond the blue shaded area meant for intending passengers to wait for a bus. It hit her then that she had never seen such queues become rowdy; although she had heard tales of how uneasy it got at the Tafawa Balewa Square bus-stop and considered herself fortunate to have never witnessed it.
As the driver filled a form and returned it to his colleague manning the bus-stop, Farida’ then took one last glance at the bus-stop as the bus set off and her mind wandered off, daydreaming of a city where all citizens did not even need the presence of officials before doing the basics. Then, people would dispose their disposables at appropriate disposal points rather than litter the gutters and consequently cause a flood following a downpour. People would even drive in sane manners rather than beat the traffic lights and make the few obedient drivers look stupid at various junctions.
She slept off as her mind drifted off when the thoughts of a number of needs came in. Needs such as more BRT buses being provided to complement the current fleet of buses; a lot of which could do with new engines and upholstery. The city could also do with more routes to be covered by the buses, that way there would be a reduced number of private vehicles plying the roads and causing nightmarish gridlocks all day. She had set a wake-up alarm for 8:20a.m. on her phone before getting on the bus and now, the low-volume music singing to her through her earphones eased her to a nap.