It had been 2 years approximately since I moved to Mumbai to study, But my memory was still ever fresh about my arrival.
It was hard moving away from my parents (since my brother and sis were in boarding school or schooled too far away for some time so it didn’t hurt that much for them) but I felt “hey it’s a different place, it must be like England” ……..England???………..far from it, getting into Mumbai I was greeted by a potbellied police officer all he said was “where are going? Where are coming?” (No offence to anyone) I replied “Lagos, Mumbai”……..that was the beginning of a life changing experience for me.
I had always lived under the shelter of my parents, care, attention, love I always got everything, so coming so far away to live?? I wasn’t ready for it but I was willing to give it a shot, little did I know what was in store for me. I had just got out of the airport, looking around, taking in all I could and hoping for the best, did the sign of the cross and walked into the taxi park to get a cab to my new home.
It took almost 1 hour to get through to the guy I had gotten over the internet that was to get me a place to live and since I was really tired from the jet lag, I was losing patience quickly and starting to get annoyed, finally he picked up and told me where to come to, I couldn’t converse with the taxi guy since he was speaking just Hindi, so he gave the directions to him and told me I’d be fine, the taxi guy had dropped me, pointed down the road and said something like “idar se”(that way…”I think”) “I must have missed my way” I presumed, it was a dark road with dimly lit street lights and the rain was really making it hard for me to get across or know where I was headed, finally I called again from a local PCO (a pay phone thingy in India) and he came out and met me, I was really shocked at the state at where I was supposed to live was in, having high expectations about Mumbai I was appalled but then again, Lagos is almost the same, the stairs could barely take me and my luggage and it was a real pain getting upstairs, finally I did, opened the door and to my biggest surprise it was just 1 room, no beds, no fridge, just a TV and a couple of mats, that’s not the worst bit, in a single room were 5 other guys, with whom I was to stay with?? This couldn’t be, but I was way too tired and stressed to argue, I put down my luggage got out my sheets placed it on my luggage and slept off….hoping……praying I’d make it till the next day and hopefully wake up in my bed in nigeria, because to me, this couldn’t be real.
“I have to go to work now” these words woke me up and It took me a while to realize I was in India and not in Lagos anymore, after a while the guy comes back and says, “When will you be paying the rent?” I replied “today, 4000 right??? “ he doesn’t reply he walks away and stands by the door, i paid no attention to him and figured he must have responded with a gesture since i was still half asleep. I’m done having my bath and was about going to school to formally inform them of my arrival, I realize this guy is still standing at the door, I knew something was wrong, I didn’t even need to ask before he says “your money is 5000 rupees” at this point i was in no mood to argue and agreed, and walked out, thinking to myself “i will definitely sort this out, no matter how new i am to this country, this wont work”.
It takes me more than 2 hours and talking about the Mumbai local trains??? That’s a topic for another day, after all the problems faced with school, registering and getting my approvals made, I just had to pamper myself a bit, walked into McDonalds, had a nice “value meal” and was starting to like Mumbai already (either ways there was nothing like McDonalds in Lagos, so that’s a start).
On my way back home I realize that I still had to deal with the issue of the rent and since it was quite obvious I was getting cheated I wasn’t going to let it happen, by hook or by crook I must come away with my bag and belongings without paying a dime. To live with 5 more people in a room, that to without a bed and proper food, I was new in India but certainly not a dummy, This wasnt going to happen. Somehow i was able to find my way down to the nearest police station, and reported the case, after a couple of minutes the police escorted me to my “house”, and informed the guy that he would either let me leave peacefully, or it wouldn’t end well, that was enough and he even brought my things down for me,it was nice to know the police actually run the system here. I had gotten to the highway and sort to hail down the nearest rickshaw(three-wheeler) then I realised, I had been in the same clothes from Nigeria, taking a look at my state, my trouser torn and soaked from trekking, my shirt half tucked in from hustling for a space in the crammed trains and my face straight, too uncomfortable to smile, and too determined not to lose hope, I got into the rick, thinking to myself, “it has to get better……………….it just has to”.