City palaver- My reflections about how overrated city life can be.


Wow…Posh…Affluent…Excellent…Beautiful…in short effizy1 (as my fellow naija2 people will say)

Those were my exact thoughts as I walked into this room. It was the destination for an event I had been invited to. I am not normally blown away by interiors but this one certainly stood out to me. Its beauty seemed all the more glaring because some moments earlier as I journeyed here, I was quite sceptical about what to expect. I am definitely convinced that there can be some organisation to the chaos of city life. If I had (by some work of magic) appeared inside this room, I would have died of fright if I looked out of the window. There was so much hustle, bustle and chaos outside these sound proofed walls that made the sight before me so unreal. As I write this piece I am what the English man calls “mesmerized”. It is not every day you walk into a place and feel so overwhelmed.

City palaver

You see, I am a suburban chic, just what you will call a country girl. Well, country to me but without the horses and farms if you catch my drift. I live in a regular town with a post office, shops within walking distance and church not too far away. Nearly everywhere I need to go to is either a walk or bus stop away. I love the simplicity of my life. It is devoid of any extra stress or what you might call hustle and bustle.

I once hailed from a city different from the one you see around here. Over there, people crowded the streets and corners while going about their business in search of their daily bread. Morning alarms were irrelevant. I remember being jolted back to reality daily by the sounds emanating from gigantic loud speakers permanently positioned within earshot where possible. In reality, the main noise culprits were far away- they only let the public address systems take all the blame for the incessant noise! The ever familiar “call to worship” was sang so loudly, it banged your head early in the morning zapping you back to reality cutting through the serenity of your peaceful sleep.

That was a city where people groomed themselves painstakingly daily while harbouring thoughts about how to get from their places of rest to their various destinations. The awareness of the task ahead left each person strong-willed and as determined as a soldier. There, going from place to place was not a task to be undertaken by the fainthearted. When some distance and commuting was involved, more skills were needed. Smartness and sharpness was required to negotiate which okada3 or keke 4 to jump on. The decision about putting on the helmet provided by the okada-rider5 was based more on sanitary rather than safety concerns. While one decided whether or not to use the rather stinky and mostly flimsy helmets provided, the okada zoomed off anyway. The bus alternative although safer, did not appeal to most since it meant being stuck in traffic. Agility was also needed to jump in and out of the bus. Not forgetting the eagle eyes needed to see your bus stop before bellowing at the conductor to stop!

Well, this gives you just a glimpse into my supposed city travel arrangements- of old. Yet, here I am thousands of miles away in yet another city equally filled with hustle and bustle. Definitely more organised but yet not devoid of stress. I have reached the conclusion that stress is synonymous with city existence. I cannot still understand why some choose to afflict themselves with city living. I know it is a hub of opportunities, jobs and amenities. But give me slow paced any day.

As my bus travelled by, I could not help but notice how little the houses were. All cramped up, stylishly erected side by side mind you, with no more than a sideways arm stretch between them. I heard the costs were high here too. Community and togetherness were usually lost as people here worked around the clock to keep up with their responsibilities especially financial.

So while contemplating all these, I arrived at my destination. I was greeted by a smartly dressed lady. After exchanging pleasantries, she directed me to the precise hall. One look around it from where I was standing and I was blown away. I was not sure if it was the long journey or my over-excitement that set my thoughts towards another room where I hoped to relieve myself. I let my eyes follow the signs.

On my way out, I stepped back onto the corridor with a red carpet entrance. There were also lovely silver banisters with thick ropes joining one banister to the other. Honestly resembling the celebrity star-studded entrances to events we see on the television. I found the door I was looking for. It was marked “ladies”. As I get in to do my business, I wondered how the rest of the day was going to unfold.

 

Photo credit: Pixabay

 

Footnotes

  1. Efizzy – Nigerian pidgin slang describing show off or proud display
  2. Naija – colloquial word used to refer to Nigeria as a country
  3. Okada – Motorcycle
  4. Keke – Motor tricycle
  5. Okada rider – Motorcyclist

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