I had no problem at all waking up on time the next morning. I never have such a problem while aiming to catch a morning flight, because I am nearly always sleepless for the anxiety that I might miss my flight. Consequently, I got up and was dressed nearly one hour before the alarm I had set came alive. I met the concierge downstairs in the lobby, and I think he might have forgotten to wake me up but I could be wrong. He called a taxi for me using the hotel phone. In his attempt to help me to the taxi with the larger of my baggage, he broke the handle of the suitcase. He looked very distressed.
“Bad luck…bad luck…bad luck,” he moaned.
“Not for me,” I assured him.
A Toyota wagon pulled up in front of the hotel. We put my baggage in the back cabin while I sat in front with the driver, and off we went to the airport. The truck sped away at breakneck speed. We seemed to be the only ones on the road at this time of the morning, but I nevertheless pleaded with the driver to take it easy on the speed. In response, he just smiled and appeared to go even faster. The concierge’s concern echoed in my thoughts all the way: “Bad luck…bad luck…bad luck…”
We eventually arrived at Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport in one piece, praise God. This was the home terminal of Emirates Airline in this airport. Checking in is a breeze. Emirates Airline has a separate check-in section for First Class and Business Class passengers. These were not mere transient counters like we had back home, but purposefully fitted and entirely secluded halls. And as a member of the latter privileged group, I got a quick usher-in and again in less than ten minutes was done with check-in; no waiting on a long queue, no exact weighing of your luggage. Indeed, I regretted shipping my computer printer by an alternative means because the airline would have taken it for me at no extra charge, since this airline apparently give greater baggage concession over allowable limits to travelers heading for Lagos. A lift and electric train system took me to the Business Class lounge where I sat to enjoy an unneeded breakfast of fruits and cereal bars.
It had been an exciting journey into a sort of Wonderland. It persistently echoed in my mind that quite like the opulent lounge in which I was sitting, I had not been able to find a single structure, building or street decoration in the city center, that had been out of place. All seemed to have been delicately and purposefully arranged to the vision of a very talented artist, or of several of them. Each of those picturesque constructions told you that a great deal of money had gone into making them a reality. Dubai was certainly a place in which you could wander around for several weeks and thereafter still remain in awe of the magnificent edifices. It was indeed a marvelous experience, far removed from the disorder, the dirt and grime of the place I had become used to, and to which I was now waiting to depart. There really didn’t yet exist for me, the words to fairly compare those two worlds – the one I was leaving and the one I was departing to. But, in juxtaposing the final summations, anyone should be inclined to conclude that Dubai was far out of reality. Anyone could actually begin to think that those gorgeous buildings, especially along the highways, were no more than part of an elaborate film set in the desert. Anyone would think that behind those elegant facades would be an elaborate system of scaffolding propping up the two-dimensional hoardings, and thereafter, nothing but empty desert sand stretching for hundreds of miles. Only that this was far from true. There did many times appear though, to be an absence of real life here, at least in the form to which I was accustomed. And this made those beautiful buildings look unreal, uninhabited and much like a plastic dream.
“Goodbye Dubai”; I had signed off on my Facebook page before boarding.
My Emirates Airline flight took off on schedule this time. Looking through the window as the plane soared upward; the elegant skyscrapers of the city gradually dwindled and fell behind as we mounted higher and over the alluring sands of the outlying desert. Finally the fluffy clouds committed even this to a receding memory
I felt very relaxed all the way. A pretty hostess looked amused to find that I wore the headphones all the way. I was indeed in such mood to be listening to music. Nevertheless, I gave her my orders for breakfast and lunch even though I wasn’t hungry. I had slept little last night, but didn’t plan to sleep an extra wink on the eight hours journey. I was excited to be returning home. This time we would be travelling back in time and even though we flight left Dubai at eight in the morning, we would be touching down at Lagos before one this afternoon; merely five hours difference.
The flight path and progress visual display before me soon informed that we had now crossed into Nigeria airspace. On the earlier leg of the journey, I had been worried that our plane had dangerously passed over dangerous parts. This time I could see that the pilot had apparently been wiser, and subsequently we had approached Lagos this time through Cameroon, and over Edo State. I quietly thanked the pilot for being so thoughtful.
We finally landed at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, and again I am one of those privileged to disembark first, thanks to my Business Class ticket.
Lagos! Compared to the place I had just left a few hours ago, the arrival hall of the Lagos International Airport looked like a disorganized warehouse, and this made me feel very sad – the dark lining on a beautiful silver cloud. Nevertheless, it was good to be back home.