Sunday, March 15, 2015

A week of work in Lagos, Nigeria

Following the customer meetings on Thursday, we came back and worked in the office until about 7:00 p.m. when we left to go to some sort of music event.  I had no idea what it really was but when we got there, I immediately felt the vibe and was excited about whatever was in store.

We were there early, which turned out well because we were able to get seats and order some food and drinks before the place got crowded.  It turns out that it was an open mic performance where anyone could sign up and play 1-2 songs for the audience.  The last time that I was at an open mic in this style was last summer when I had a good friend sing for me at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, NY!

The place got really crowded and when the house band started off by playing a jazz-y acoustic version of Lorde's Royales, I knew it was going to be an awesome evening of music.  We had some incredible performances from local singers and poets who sang John Legend, John Mayer, and Daughtry.  There were also some original performances and a version of Pharrell's Happy that had the entire audience on their feet dancing - something I have never seen at an open mic performance before!  There was SO much energy in the room it was really incredible.

The pictures unfortunately cannot do it justice!  I took a number of videos that I will upload to YouTube at some point.  I think I got one up, so here it is if you can see:

 I am such a fan of live music, talented people, and sharing that passion with other people.  I've written about this before as I have been spending more time exploring this in Atlanta.  It was just as wonderful an experience in Nigeria, and the funny part is that I really could have taken the whole place and transplanted it to another location.  The room I was in could have been at a club in Atlanta or a club in Lagos.  And the fact that I was in Lagos made me love it even more.

I went with two of my coworkers and we sat around eating chicken wings and drinking beer and watching live music.  The beers were a bit warm, not draft, my coworker mixed his Guinness with Coca Cola, and once during the evening the power went out for a few seconds.  Beyond that, you wouldn't have known where you were in the world.

And the people were SO talented.  I am not a music critic by any means.  In fact, based on my recent experience hanging around The Voice, I am FAR from it.  But there were some really beautiful voices in the room last night!  It was a really nice night and I enjoyed being there so much.

Friday morning I peeled myself out of bed and did a quick workout in the gym before going in to work for the day. It was a pretty typical workday but one of the interesting things I learned and wanted to share is about the dress code on Fridays.  Most offices in the U.S. employ the "casual Friday" work attire code and in the Lagos office of my company, they do "traditional dress" on Fridays.  Everyone, men and women, were wearing beautiful clothing made with traditional fabrics and it was really cool and beautiful to see!  Another notable part of the workday is that at lunch, I had a fun conversation with a number of young coworkers all about dating and relationships and whether or not we stay in touch with our ex's, and things like that.  There was a lot of joking around going back and forth and lots of laughter during the conversation.  Most of the people I had either just met during that conversation or just in the past couple of days, but everyone has been so welcoming and kind, that this conversation, like so many other instances throughout this trip, made me feel like I had known these people forever.

At the end of the day, I left work with one of my coworkers and we headed to a customer's house for dinner.  He had graciously invited us over after one of our meetings and we accepted - I knew it would be an interesting experience!  On the way there, my coworker helped me try and learn some more of the Pidgin language, as well as a few phrases in the Igbo language, which is the tribe that the customer whose home we were going to belongs to.  Within Nigeria, there are three main tribes which are Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba.  Within those tribes there are many languages and dialects and it is very interesting to me how people switch and adapt when speaking and how diverse Nigeria is even within the country!

I also made the first souvenir purchase of my trip in the car ride over to our customers house with a copy of a movie called "30 Days in Atlanta."  We bought it from one of the hawkers on the side of the road who sell things to cars passing by.  He had to jog to keep up with the car once traffic started moving again and it was a really interesting and fun experience. When I saw that there was a movie titled "30 Days in Atlanta" I knew I had to buy it!!  It is apparently a local comedy and everyone that I told I had bought it said it was really funny.  I can't wait to watch this movie featuring my home city!!

The dinner at our customers house was a really fun and interesting experience.  There was a really diverse group of people there including many Nigerians, a couple Americans and a Belgian guy, who had all been living and working in Nigeria for years.  And a Scottish guy who lived in Dubai.  We talked a lot about travel, living abroad, Nigeria, and ate a delicious, delicious meal of pretty much every type of traditional Nigerian food I had had... jollof rice, yams (not sweet potatoes!), fish stew, a potatos, salad, snails, chicken, a pasta dish, pepper sauce, and probably so much more that I am not thinking of!  It was a feast and it was delicious!

At the end of the meal, our host actually had to leave and when he came out in his travel clothes I got so excited because he had on a Boston Red Sox hat!  It was fun to see all the way over in Nigeria.  Granted, he isn't a fan of the team, just likes the hat.  But I enjoyed it anyways :)  I also enjoyed that he was hospitable enough to have us all over for dinner because it was a fun experience.  Our customer also enjoyed when I thanked him in his tribes language at the end of the meal, as I had been practicing it since the car ride!

I'm going to wrap up this post for now, as I am actually at the airport and about to board my flight back to Atlanta!  So this will conclude with the end of my work week and I'll write more to tell you about my weekend in Lagos and some of my reflections next.

I don't want this to be my "goodbye Lagos" post so I will just say that it was an amazing and educational work week and I cannot wait to bring everything I learned back to my team in the U.S.!

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