This week, Godi Jeffrey shares the experience of a stranger on his first visit to india.
John lives on the mainland in Lagos State and works for an NGO on the Island. One day while he was still at the office waiting for the mad Lagos traffic to cool off before hitting the road for his 2 hour journey home, he decided to check his mail box.
‘Conference Invitation’ caught his attention on opening his email. It was an invitation from the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) to his organization to participate in an international workshop in India. The previous week, he had participated in an OECD survey on behalf of the organization. With excitement John quickly forwarded the mail to his Boss. Almost immediately as though his Boss was expecting his mail, she called instructing him to respond and accept the invitation, then she dropped the bomb; ‘John, prepare, you will be going to India to represent us’. John quickly responded to the mail and called on ‘Mr Google’ for information on the requirements for this task, a valid international passport and visa were the prerequisites to enter India, so said the Indian Consulate website. Three days later John was smiling ear to ear back to the office with a small booklet in his hand from the passport office; his first international passport.
The day was Thursday 10th of July; John was seated for his 10 hour flight to Doha, from where he would connect to India. As he waited for the plane to taxi to the runway, John reflected on his encounter with the airline staff at the booking desk. They had insisted that he had come late. ‘What do you mean I’m late, my flight is for 2:10pm and the time is 1:00pm’ ‘You are supposed to be here two hours before departure time sir,’ the lady had responded. The argument went on and somehow John was on the plane but not before parting with some four ‘Awolowos’.
John arrived Ghandi International airport at 8am, a little exhausted but excited at the same as he pulled himself behind the queue at the bureau de change stand. When it was his turn, John presented his Naira for exchange. ‘Sir we don’t exchange Naira for Rupees’ was the cashier’s response. At the airport in Nigeria, the bureau de change did not have enough Rupees and John thought since India was the owner of Rupees he would definitely find enough to change there. He walked to the taxi stand praying that the 2755 Rupees he was able to obtain at the Nigerian airport would sustain him.
‘Lalit Hotel’, John said, the taxi attendant responded 750 Rupees. John quickly multiplied the figure by 3; one Rupee was exchanged at 3 Naira. N2250 for just a taxi ride he mumbled. ‘Take 500 Rupees’, John bargained. ‘That’s a standard rate sir’, the attendant replied. ‘Is it not Lalit at Connaught Place?; information John got from Google. Sensing that the attendant was not ready to back down, he gave in and paid his fare and was directed to KK the taxi driver.
The heat outside the airport was hell itself; even the AC in KK’s car did not save him. John and KK chatted away with several question and answer sessions between them. After about a two hour drive John was finally at Lalit Hotel, the venue of the conference. He checked into his room after plenty of Agama lizard nodding from the attendants at the hotel and of course the man who carried his bag to the room waited at the door for a tip which never came. Fifteen minutes later, John was seated for the morning session of the conference.
At lunch, John moved round the tables only recognizing rice, salad and chicken or so he had thought. He took a couple of scoops from the rice and moved to the next dish, salad after that John took five scoops of the chicken looking dish and found his way to a seat to devour his catch. After about two spoons of rice, John’s face changed; the chicken looking dish was actually mushrooms.
After the conference John returned home happy that he had travelled to India and survived every good and bad experience.
Are you a writer? Want a chance to be featured on our blog like Godi Jeffrey? Send your poems, short stories, book reviews and NYSC experience to [email protected]
Image Source: www.npr.org