Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Postcards... Antananarivo, Madagascar

Got back from Madagascar Monday night... ended up spending upwards of 50 hrs of my life at various airports... the trip was eventful to a certain degree..although at certain points I thought I was jinxed. I misplaced my passport twice, my return tickets once, misplaced my phone at the airport, found my phone at the airport, got my wallet stolen at a night club and last but not the least.. the plastering of the roof in my hotel room collapsed on my bed during my last night ...no I wasn't on the bed at the time it happened.

Antananarivo (Tana) was nice... The capital of Madagascar... a few hours from the beaches and rain forest (I learnt that 80% of fauna and flora in Madagascar is endemic to the island..which supposedly broke away from the rest of Africa about 80 million years ago). I didnt get to see the beaches or the forest of a thousand strange animals.

The people are a curious mix... Polynesian descent mainly, Indian, Chinese, some African etc... They are not very large boned, but they seemed friendly enough, perhaps.. too friendly.

Tana reminded me of home quite a bit...partly because I heard them playing "sweet mother" the french version, on the street in front of my house... partly because of the hustle and bustle of the street trading and the aroma of all sorts of food being fried and sold on the street... driving through some of the streets felt like I was driving through Pen cinema, Agege (on a smaller scale) or any possible number of streets in mainland Lagos. I swear... the shops and stalls were even laid out alike... complete with ajinomoto adverts and small lemon green and orange banners to identify call centres. There was also the aching familiarity of the poverty though... but I digress.

Lest I forget, I must tell you about how a fool and his wallet were soon parted.

It was a spicy evening at a club called Pandora.. We had wandered into the club, my fellows and I... honoring the time worn ritual of sampling the night life in every place we visited... I had wisely left my money and other stuff at my hotel but rather unwisely left my favourite Chelsea wallet and on me ..with some change in the local currency. I am doing my big boy...corner of the dance floor move (hands in pocket, eyes roaming about aimlessly), when one of my friends (an interpreter) drags a couple of the "ahem" local talent towards me. Immediately the talent begins her dance...which consisted largely of feeling me all over or rather...feeling for my wallet all over. She begins... and I think to myself... this girl does not know me o! She thinks I am a mugun like all these oyinbo tourists! I run through my mental check list, my wallet is in a pocket...close to my groin... my phone is in the other pocket...close to the other side of my groin... absolutely safe, I think... my tight jeans... my vault.

To flash my street wise creds, I take a break and go over to my friend and i tell her that his "friend" was trying to steal my wallet, and if it happened, he would compensate him for my loss. He laughs.. he knows that I am a naija omo ita... a sun ma fori le pillow... a jokuta ma mo mi... The girl spots me again and recommences her dance... two minutes later a girl walks up to her and whispers something to her ears... 30 seconds later.. I do my security check for my valuables... my wallet was gone.. I smile, and I politely ask her to return my wallet... her English deteriorates... and she switches to french.. I smile back and ask her... even more politely... to give me back her wallet, the one she gave to her friend... she asked me where i put it, I said it was in my pocket... this one? she asks, pointing to the pocket where I put my wallet... my smile becomes broader... yes, I said, the one I put there... Her friend comes over, i go through her pockets... no wallet. I grab her hand, and drag her to my friend the interpreter... the one I was flashing my street creds to.. I told him to tell her, that I will give her money if she returns the wallet... there were no cards and just about 30 or 40 dollars in the wallet in local change... but it was my favourite Chelsea wallet...and I did not want it lying in some ditch in Madagascar... But alas, it was too late, the denials had become too firm. My friend asks me to give up and take it on the chin... that they might return the wallet, if they discover there was nothing very significant in it... indeed. The rest, as they say is history... My wallet is lying in some ditch in Madagascar, I hope there are Chelsea fans in Madagascar.

Of the stories about the hotel, my passport.. the strange souls that I met while loitering at Johannesburg airport... I will save for another time.

Once again... I apologise for my delayed posting.Special mention goes to Ibilola... for shaming me into putting up this post.