I recently took two weeks’ vacation away from work. This is the first truly leisure vacation since coming to Lagos in February 2008 and as you can imagine, the experience has been surreal to say the least. In the two weeks which ends today, I have had a taste of a different life in Lagos. If there’s anything I can say I have learnt, it would be that the world keeps moving. I set out at the beginning of the leave period to “see” the things I have been seeing. I intended to immerse myself in my environment. I needed a little perspective. I was getting very rusty in my fellowship with God and I sought for renewal. It became necessary to also shed some pounds (I was getting tired of the many well-meaning ‘Oh you are getting big, you better watch it’ comments). The last thing I achieved on my last day in the office before setting sail was the completion of an E-learning course by The Economist. It felt really great.
Week 1: A time with God
If there was a spy on my trail, such would have been very bored because looking from outside, it was simply uneventful. For the first four days, I remained indoor. I spent a great deal of my time in my bedroom. What was I doing? If I wasn’t sleeping, I was busy feasting on the mountain of books I had acquired overtime. I spent a great deal of time digging deep into the scriptures. I sometimes strummed away on my broken guitar which hitherto had been hung as a decoration in my sitting room. Beware, I cannot strike a single rhythmic chord on it. Not an idea of vacation I know. Did I hear you say ‘Boring’? It probably is. I should have set out right? Go outside Lagos, travel out maybe. Do something different. Going ‘wild’ isn’t particularly a bad way of spending one’s time in this situation.
The most priceless part of the first week was when I finished reading a book by Steven Furtick; Lead Pastor of Elevation Church, USA titled ‘GREATER’. What a profound book to say the least. I bought this cute little book since 2012 but only just got to devour it. Boy! Was I blessed? Absolutely yes! I finished this book in less than 24 hours. I couldn’t just drop it. I cannot even begin to tell you how inspired and fired-up I am. Very few books have ministered to me like this one. The style of writing is simply amazing. Such grace. Such wisdom. I enjoyed the fellowship of the Holy Spirit in a deep way. It was so strong. So real. Nothing else mattered during these moments. I studied the word like I have never before. In this week, with the virtual company of a dear friend Eniola, I unearthed deep insights into the word of God. A lot came to me by revelations. The Holy Spirit was on hand to answer my many questions. The beginning of the week end culminated into a brilliant session at Ikeja City Mall (ICM) where I met with a friend to discuss business. The venue of the meeting was at Melting Moments where I had a magical moment getting lost in passionate business conversation and the Juke Box.
Week 2: Beautiful conversations.
My younger brother and I set out for Ikeja City Mall (ICM) early on Tuesday of this week. The younger man had been on my case for long. He was not going to take a no for answer after my many tricks of fastidiously postponing the outing. Call it Blackmail, this time, a promise to him had to be kept. At a point I felt like unjust ruler who the old lady wouldn’t allow to rest until he fulfilled her desire. My date with this unswerving brother of mine began at the Play Zone where I believed he had ample fun gaming away. While he jollied away, I sat at the Melting Moments. You can say that I am awe struck by this awesome place. I love the ambience of this place. But, it didn’t just happen.
My first time at Melting Moments was almost lackluster. So, not because of them but because I wasn’t going to give them a chance. My meeting in the first week was my maiden visit to the place. At the time, when I got there, activities were just picking up. I was worried why things were as it were slow. I sat down in front of the café waiting for my meeting partner to arrive. Next thing, one of the staff comes to me to handover the product list (that’s a sign language for asking me to buy or bounce). I responded him appropriately ‘I am not ready yet’. He came back after 15 minutes and I guess that got on my nerves. Instead of taking it personal, I decided to engage this young man. ‘Why are customers not here’? I demanded to know. He must have been shocked. The look on his face said it all. He thought for a moment as he responded. ‘They are coming’. I asked further, “what makes this place different from any place else’. He struggled to articulate their point of differentiation. I proceeded with further questions. ‘Why are you here?’ The young man, clearly overwhelmed by my deluge of questions begged to attend to other things. This was 11 o’clock in the morning.
In between the waiting, I continued to paint a set of less interesting set of pictures with my friend Eniola over the phone chat. She is like my sparring partner on everything spiritual and intellectual. I forgot for a moment that the morning hours could be a reason why things appeared slow for the café. Besides, one would wonder what my business is worrying about another man’s business. Shouldn’t I be minding my own business? My only rationale for this seemingly obsessive behavior is that it was my coping mechanism for my meeting partner who by now was one hour, thirty minutes late. Together with Eniola, we dimensioned the Melting Moments business with a view of trying to understand how things can be better for the business. We even daydreamed about writing a book in the future titled: A brand for tomorrow: How to create iconic brands that last. Some dream hey! We came up with a set of questions:
- How can a business truly stand out of the pack?
- How can a business turn lead into Gold like the Alchemist?
- How can a business maximize everything in its path? Create bridges?
- What makes a three year old beam with so much ecstasy when Ben 10 or any of the favorite characters comes up on the screen?
- What makes Southwest Airlines such a delight? What of Starbucks?
- Is there a way to become iconic? Epic?
- How can a business re-invent itself?
I had a chance of meeting with the Operations Manager of the place. Her name is Bisi. A very lovely lady. I shared a few insights with her for which she received in good faith. It was then I shun my native intelligence to ask her what was around the corner of the shop. There was this tall machine I noticed one of the staff was fiddling with. Bisi announced to me that, it was a Juke Box. Yes! I had never until that moment come up close nor operated a Juke Box. I moved closer and I was struck. It was this moment that the magic of that place came alive. Call it a moment of revelation. Over the course of my conversation with her, she informed me that they were just two months old. I also had a tall glass of low fat ice cream. It was a delight to say the least. By the end of my stay there, Melting Moments had successfully converted me to an Evangelist. All my criticism of the place melted on the altar of the Juke Box with the very warm reception of the good people at Melting Moments. I kinda like the name too. It rolls off the tongue. I saw a movie with my brother and Eniola who later joined us. With that, the day came to an end. I will be back sooner than soon.
Another highlight of my two weeks’ vacation was the visit to the National Museum. It was a day with history. So many things that we take for granted indeed. I have spent not less than six years in Lagos and until two days ago had never stopped for a moment to visit this place of rich history. I have been to City Mall which is just adjacent to the Museum countless number of times but never have I considered dropping by to have a conversation with the past. Nostalgia is what you get visiting the Museum. Pictures of long times and evidential relic from different times. I saw a 1947 image of Ikorodu Road when it was just a path in a thick bush. Today, civilization has taken over. The vulnerable nature of the past make you wonder just how many things in the name of growth and development we have sacrificed for today. I saw the pictures of the highly revered sanitary inspectors of the early 60s. The fear of these mortals was the beginning of wisdom. The journey of the Nigerian currency dates back to the establishment of the West African Currency Board. I saw samples of the 1914 money and many other items there commanded value in the yester years. I saw the Mercedes in which the late Head of State General Murtala Ramat Mohammed was assassinated. The inner section of the Museum holds wisdom. You have to salute the curators of the National Museum and how they ordered the Museum. Truth be told, there is a lot of improvement that the place needs especially when compared to other global art venues like the Louvre in Paris. I believe that the National Museum in Lagos can become a magical place that pulls people to it. All you need is a little tenderness. You call it innovation. Nevertheless, I didn’t enjoy these alone. I was blessed with the company of the amazing and equally mysterious Eniola. #smiles.
In the last few days, I have enjoyed the awesome joy of true fellowship with the Holy Spirit and a priceless renewal of my Spirit man. I have enjoyed rest on every side. Life is sweeter away from the mad traffic of the Lagos metropolis. Feeding off the thoughts of many authors have expanded the frontiers of my soul. Opening myself to the warmth of the Melting Moments and their delightful dessert is boundless. The joy of sharing my time with others and the beauty of the moments are to be nurtured. I flunked my insanity work outs. I wrote and published a few “controversial” posts. But, I am ready for the next set of challenges that Lagos holds for me. It’s back to work. Let’ go there!