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The German Experience — Finally, A Taste!

The journey started about a century of hours in my mind before the picture below was taken, as I had a lot to prepare for mentally and very little time to process it all. The request to submit my passport to the visa processing center actually came as a shock to me because I applied for permanent residence many years ago, and by now I had allowed the idea to effervesce from the fore-front of my day-to-day, and even month-to-month planning, to be completely fair.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT by Befibrillator Photography

Notwithstanding, after everything was said and done as regards documentation, visa stamping, and ticketing formalities, the next step for me was to go through the motions one step at a time. These motions, I’ll describe to you in three phases; the first phase was accepting and coming to terms with the fact that I was actually traveling and leaving what had been my home for the last thirty-three or so years. Granted, I lived about eight of those years in Eastern Europe, but Lagos was and still is my true hometown.

The second stage I’ll say was carving out a workable framework or theoretically feasible plan, so to speak; something I could easily recall and relate to, from a cerebral perspective.

And the third step was physically living through and adjusting in real-time to the blueprint I had set for myself.

CONNECTING FLIGHT by Befibrillator Photography

I arrived at the airport after some interfacing with both of my parents… My mum was with me in the hours preceding my voyage and my dad drove me to the airport. After a little parade around the new MMA car park before we got to our ‘improvised parking space, my dad and I wheeled my boxes all the way up to the departure section of the Muritala Muhammed International Airport hall. Here we went through some of the routine procedures — I had done the checking-in at home and was with my boarding pass so we had less walking around to do in the already overly packed airport. I escorted my sister when she traveled to Toronto two weeks prior so I already had a feel of what traveling out of Nigeria was like during this period. At 11 pm GMT+1, we both had night flights. However, even though she arrived much earlier at the airport than I did, she had an extremely strenuous process as she had to re-weigh her check-in baggage several times before they were finally allowed in.

Apparently, both boxes which had been meticulously measured with two weighing scales (digital and mechanical) recorded about ten kilograms more on the airport’s scale. Even her hand baggage pieces had to be relieved of some load. I can not point fingers at anyone because I have no way to prove there was any injustice done. What I can attest to though, is that I used the same home scales to measure my boxes and they were the exact weight when I got to the airport. The only difference was that I flew via Lufthansa while she used Air France. I made sure each of my boxes was about 17kg as opposed to my permitted 23kg, to prevent any embarrassment or unnecessary drama. Curiously, the airport staff who weighed my boxes gave me a knowing look when I mentioned my sister’s incident after she raised her surprise at how light my boxes were; she didn’t seem to be unfamiliar with such discrepant baggage weight complaints.

After I had exchanged pleasantries with my dad at the airport security terminal, I made my way into a lounge inside where I sat till it was time for my plane’s departure. A curious incident unfolded at the screening machine. Firstly, there were some raised voices between the officials and a passenger as regards his e-cigarette; he insisted on carrying it along even though he was told it was prohibited on the aircraft. Shortly after all escalations had been quieted, bizarrely, the screening machine for my line suddenly stopped working. I, while waiting on the receiving end to collect the rest of my items, was told that my shoes were still inside the equipment. About five minutes later after the machine had been restarted, the officer presented me with some footwear that was seemingly identical to mine. For a split second, I was almost fooled, however, on closer inspection, I realized the sneakers were alien to my fusiform cortical area. Mildly confounded, I proceeded to the machine to have a peek for myself and confirm that it was actually empty as the officials claimed before again having a look at the shoes in the tray. My first instinct was to wear them and go on a hunt for my shoe swapper but I had second thoughts about wearing another man’s shoes. It was an unprecedented but interesting scene; laughter spread rapidly as a lot of the people there, particularly the officials found it deeply amusing. Luckily for me, a man in a face cap walked back with my pair of shoes shortly after, saying they felt too large for his feet. The shoes were actually eerily identical but his’ didn’t have any laces on them.

IN MY SHOES by Befibrillator Photography

The flight from Lagos to Frankfurt was also an entertaining one. My seat was 32A — which kind of matched my age and initials; also, it was a window seat so that was a nice touch as well. However, it was particularly entertaining because of my seat partner. My first to final impressions summed up, I’d paint him as a good communicator and an optimistic individual. Even though I could sometimes purposefully be averse to small talk, you see, that wasn’t where our real differences lay. As it so happened, he was of a fairly considerably larger body size than mine if you know what I mean. Immediately he sat down, I knew I was in for it. To put things candidly, I was ‘quite compressed’ for most of the flight. Notwithstanding, he made up for it with his stories and comments. It was an overnight flight so most passengers fell asleep after only a few hours. I had a good sleep and rest myself, I must admit, and the meals were great in that I got my requested vegetarian meal.

FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS by Befibrillator Photography

So, dinner was going smoothly as I utilized some calm instrumental sounds from my latest apple music suggested playlist to aid the peristaltic movements of my busy but ‘never-to-be-found-snoozing’ digestive system. As I gazed with inner satisfaction out of the luxurious window seat and into the cloudless emptiness around the wing of the aircraft, it didn’t take long for me to drift into a delta brain-wave revolutionary state as I dozed off for a couple of minutes after eating. This was all until I heard a splashing sound and felt cold liquid all over my right side. Apparently, Mr. Olakunle (a banker), who was visiting his family in the United States after almost a year and about to see his 9-month-old daughter for the first time, had accidentally spilled his orange juice on me. He apologized non-stop but I found it all quite amusing. I smiled to myself as I walked to the bathroom to dampen my clothes with some water.

The whole ride was memorable and I finally got to Germany for the first time; Frankfurt, to be specific. Most of you who know a bit of my history with Deutschland and the ‘Sprache’ would remember my failed academic exploits to Aachen (see more in AFROLEON), however, that was not the only time. There was also an ESC conference that I missed whilst I lived in Ukraine, but which was due to my visa arriving late; it was so late that at the time my passport was returned to me, the three-day conference had already been concluded.

DAS FAHRZEUG by Befibrillator Photography

Frankfurt was 9*c when I arrived but I didn’t feel it as much since I was indoors. Ironically, it was the air conditioners that disturbed me; hence, I ensured to try out my nostrils at different seats. This was way after I had passed through the gates with my details and documents sorted for the next connecting flight; a process that to my slight displeasure, was a bit too smooth as I did not get to capture all the pictures I wanted. It was whilst deciding where to focus my attention for my next motion picture that one of the IOM (Institute for Migration) staff stopped me in my tracks and asked if my name was Adeboye. I had completely forgotten that I registered with them earlier so as to make my transition more fluid, which it did, as I got to skip virtually all the queues. We had a nice chat in German as we walked and I was able to thank her with the little Arabic I remembered from my university mates in Ukraine many years ago. Shukra, madam!

At the gate for the next flight, I walked around and made some shots after I had charged my phone to 94%; I had to leave because the temperature in the zone around the charging ports was too much for me to handle. On the opposite side were some semi-comfortable chairs surrounded by a satisfying view of the airport ground. I glimpsed through some magazines while seated there.

The Befibrillator

Adeboye Oluwajuyitan. M.D., MSC Cardiology. Author | Artist | Health Coach. I play the piano in my spare time.