Conversation on the 172

9 Jan

“Which phone is that?” Funny conversation opener from a complete stranger which opened a range of possibilities depending on who’s being asked or indeed, who’s asking. Natural response would be to smile politely albeit nervously as you press the phone to your ear and pretend someone’s on the other line. I say naturally but that would only apply to your average English commuter, if it were your average Nigerian commuter the response would most likely be “Why do you want to know?”. Five lines in and I’m stereotyping already.
I’m somewhere in between both of those, but that will always get cancelled out by the “geek in me” response.
“It’s a Nokia Lumia 920 Windows phone with a 8.7MP camera sensor size, Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor 16gb memory and Gorilla glass protective screen.” OK I didn’t say that, it was more like “It’s a Windows phone”. Still, it gets the same blank expression as I didn’t say “iPhone” or “Samsung”, but whilst geek answers are designed to elicit awkward silence there was no such luck this time around.
“Okay…” Came the drawn out reply, “Is it good?” Sigh, this is going to take some time.
You’re probably wondering by now if this post is going to be all about my phone. No it’s about the random things that can start up conversations on public transport which always end up with subjects like the weather or politics and the state of the nation. Both being Nigerian we were highly unlikely to be talking about the former.
So after I’d been through why the phone was so great and would beat the crap out of an iPhone any day, the conversation side-winded into the state of telecommunications in Nigeria and why the government wasn’t doing more to improve the infrastructure.
“Na jus’ how to chop dem sabi” my fellow commuter concluded. He was an amiable sort, face creased into what looked like a permanent grin, average height and wrapped up tight in a heavy jacket, scarf and beenie. I made a sympathetic sound as if to say “I hear you my broda” and added my own take on it. “Na lack of governance be di main problem”. Sounds weird when you put words like “governance” in the middle of a pidgin English sentence but we love our ‘big grammar’.
If you’re scratching your head trying to decipher the conversation I’d love to stop and help you out with footnotes and translations but it might just break the flow. It might be quicker to share this article with a Nigerian buddy to break it down for you.
We took a closer look at some of the big industrialists in the country like Dangote and his ‘best friend’ Otedola, looking at the apparent way their companies were run. Did employees get paid on time? Were suppliers paid promptly? Did they look at venturing into new business ideas for profit and to better the lives of others or did they look at stifling innovative business ideas that threatened the bread and butter of their business?
By the time the bus was rolling past Carphone warehouse and approaching my stop outside 805 Restaurant, we’d come to the conclusion that every conversation about the economic and political state of Nigeria ends in – there’s pretty much no hope for the future of the country, unless of course you are an optimist. Lucky I’m an optimist then.
I wonder if he did go out and get a Lumia after all.

One Response to “Conversation on the 172”

  1. Clara March 10, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    Pretty much

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