GLEN Lagos Nigérie 2010

* * * * * * * * * * * * povídání a fotky z tříměsíční GLEN stáže v Lagosu * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * stories and pictures from a three-month internship in Lagos * * * * * * * *

Dojmy / Impressions

Nigerian Bits and Pieces I.

Little bits and pieces about the things in Nigeria, those keep me wondering every day. Fascinating everyday impressions to think and laugh about. Funny and interesting short stories.

Several people ask me the same question every day. “How was your night?” I know that is just a polite way of saying “Hi, how are you?” a question that nobody really expects you to answer. But it is kind of weird anyway. How interesting could my night possibly be? I went to bed, slept and then woke up in the morning. But since the air condition is not working, the question suddenly seems much more important. The pleasant nights spend in a cool room are long gone. It is hot and everything tends to stick to my body – sheets, mosquito net, wall. But today, they are supposed to fix it. That means I will be again able to simply say “Good.”, when somebody asks how my night was.

My tandem partner Helen has blond hair and my hair is brown. Both of us do have green eyes, but we don't look alike at all. We got quickly used to everybody asking us if we are sisters. It makes sense, we are the only two white girls in the area. But the question if we are twins still makes us laugh. Sure twins, why not?

Since it is quite hot here I usually wear my hair up in some kind of bun. But when the air is colder or when I need my hair to dry, I leave it down in all it's length – halfway down my back. And just this simple gesture gets me admiring looks. “That's really your hair?” everybody asks. “This long? Really? Do you know that if you sold it, you could make big money?” Nigerian girls and women have beautiful hair braided into tiny little braids. But the hair is not theirs. Their natural hair is usually just few centimeters long, the rest is all artificial. „And you really can not let your hair simply grow longer?” I ask one of these girls. “No, it takes too long and they anyway won't grow much longer than they are now. Now I understand the question that everybody asks. “Is this really your hair? And can I touch it?”

I hate having to wash my clothes by hand. I love my washing machine and the easy way of simply throwing things in there and pushing the button. After I take out my clothes and they are clean and smell nicely. Here I have to wash clothes by hand, we don't have a washing machine. I hate the work, it takes forever and I anyway can not make my white things white again and the dust stains would anyway stay all over them. The more I admire my male colleagues. They wash their clothes every day and no matter how dirty the clothes are, when they wash them, they look totally new again. And therefore all our colleges and friends always look as if they just walked out of a fashion store. Maybe I will have to ask one of them to give me a washing by hand course.

„Is there a toilet somewhere?” I ask one day in a pub. „Well I guess, but you know, it won't be very nice. Can't you wait till we get home?” I really can't so he shows me a little shed with a Turkish toilet inside. “Will you really be ok in there?” Ade asks me. “Sure, I've been to much worse,” I laugh. The laughter didn't come last week during holiday program in Agege. “Is there a toilet somewhere?” I ask after two hours of trying to simply hold it. Unfortunately I am not a man so I can't simply go and pee in the closest sewage. „Come her, you can go to this lady's house, she will show you where to go.” The woman leads me to the back of the house and shows me a door. I enter and try to get used to the darkness of the “room”. Walls, muddy floor, that is all there is. I try to look again, but still can't find even just a hole in the floor. What do I do now? This is so embarrassing. Finally I go outside and try to ask if this is really the toilet. The woman nods. “But there is no toilet in there or a hole,” I am so red from embarrassment. “You want a toilet?” the woman laughs. „Go in there,” she shows the next door. Behind the door there is something resembling a toilet. I am so relieved. I thank the nice woman and quickly leave. Soon enough she tells the story to all my colleagues. Everybody laughs about it for several days. Any idea why?
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