Schipol International Airport, Amsterdam .
From above, the large sprawling expanse looked like a small city. A song by the popular rock band U2 came to mind as I looked out through the window; City of Blinding Lights. This seemed to fit the description of what I was seeing. The whole airport appeared to be the size of two, three or more airports from back home combined. It looked so beautiful from the skies. So many lights stringed together in the darkness…
My flight up until this moment had been unevenful but not unremarkable, at least for me. Talk about a learning process. After my brief encounter with ESO (remember her, the silent girl who decided to help me), I’d settled down to watch Marmaduke. My snacks were tied in a waterproof bag at my feet; a plastic bottle of Sprite, a pack of Shortbread biscuits, some chocolate bars I think, unless I’d already eaten those back at the airport. Anyway, I was to find out that I would not need them, at least not on the plane. A quarter of the way into the movie, the stewardesses served us our first course, and I was brought face to face with what I was gonna be facing for the next one year.
I think the only thing I recognized was the rice and diced plantains in the stew. The rest, well, all I know is that I was served some food. I know I was given bread to. It set me thinking. What did they want me to do, eat bread with rice?
Talk about a fish out of water.
The pinkish thing in a cup turned out to be yogurt.
Oh yes, I forgot. We’d been given a drink earlier on. Well whadaya know; KLM sure knew how to treat a passenger.
So yeah, back to the yogurt.
I eyed this pinkish goo in my cup, not trusting it one bit. Then I looked around at my fellow passengers. Thankfully, no one was paying me any sort of attention.
I decided to learn from ESO. I watched her as she peeled open the different food packs. I waited. I looked at the man on my left, two seats away from me. He was already eating like he did this sort of thing everyday. Maybe he did, who knew?
Having decided that I’d learned enough, I opened up my own packs. I tasted the yogurt.
Now in the past, I’ve had bad experiences with yogurt, with the last one being a couple of weeks ago in Abuja. My elder brother had gotten me a bottle of yogurt which turned out to be unsweetened. Despite all attempts to sweeten it up-I even added sugar in copious amounts-the blasted thing seemed determined to live up to its unsweetened billing!
This one, while slightly better-tasting, was no consolation. However, I decided to tough it out, have some. I didn’t want to come across as wasteful.
I looked at the bread. I think I remember butter and cheese. Now, being a stranger to cheese, I let it be. I know there were one or two more unrecognizable food items in the tray there, but what I enjoyed most was the rice and stew with plantain and chicken.
My mouth is even watering now, thinking about it. You can imagine.
I contemplated eating the bread with the stew, like a true 9ja guy, but I decided to use the butter instead. I told myself that I was going to have a little bit of everything…minus the cheese, that is.
About twenty-five minutes later (I am a horribly slow eater), I set the tray down on the floor, satisfied. I began to wonder if I would ever have the chance to have my snacks, as I was already full. I was not about to let it go to waste after paying unthinkable amounts for them.
I settled down with a full stomach to finish my movie. Looked to my right. ESO had gone back to sleep. So had the man on my left. I continued the movie and soon, a stewardess came round to take the trash. When the movie was finished, I started to listen to music. Muse. John Mayer. I scrolled through artist after artist. Tried John Mayer, but I didn’t find the song I was looking for. Then I saw Green Day. Deliberated, then passed. I had all their songs. I needed something new. Nickelback. I found their last album, Dark Horse, that I’d been looking for in its entirety since it had been released. I selected it, and closed my eyes.
I don’t know if I was scared of leaving home. To tell you the truth I didn’t think much of it. All I could think about was the future. I think I was more excited to be afraid, but I also left my home with an open mind. My experiences in life have taught me that things are not always what they seem, and that just because someone says something is one way doesn’t mean it is true. So cleared my mind of all worry. I just prayed to God for strength.
About an hour or so later, the stewardesses came round again with another round of food again. Now I was seriously picturing myself throwing away my snacks, and I was seething inside. When would I get to eat it? However, I think I was also thinking about what the other passengers would think if they saw me eating Shortbread biscuits and Sprite.
Well, let them think. What business of mine was theirs?
I can barely remember what we were served the second time around, but it was lighter than the first. I think they meant for it to be breakfast or something. I ate what I could, then dropped it on the ground again. Fifteen minutes later or so, it was taken away again.
Then the speakers chimed , and the captain informed us that we were descending into Amsterdam.
The first part of my journey was over…