Friday, 7 August 2015

Routine? What routine? We’re in the land of the least expected outcome

I live in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, with my husband. As with many expatriates, there’s a long story to how we ended up here; the short version is that we needed more variety in our lives. We were in Singapore previously—a posting I loved and a country I will always love—both working as journalists.

You don’t become a journalist for the money; you become a journalist for the variety, for the adventure, for the feeling of possibility about what might happen that day. For one reason and another, we had both ended up in jobs where those things didn’t feature.  So we moved to Nigeria, or as I call it, The Land Of The Least Expected Outcome.

This is supposed to be a post about routine. I can’t tell you a thing about routine. I don’t have one and I suspect I’d struggle to get one going even if I put my mind to it.

I wake up roughly at the same time every day, but it can depend on how many power cuts there have been during the night. A good night is one power cut, a bad night is six or seven power cuts. A really bad night is no power at all and therefore no air con and no running water, but these are thankfully rare.
I work from home, and my productivity depends entirely on whether my wifi is working or not. If it isn’t then I have a break of anywhere between five minutes and nine hours to read, to write, to exercise or to sit in the garden with a mug of tea watching the lizards fight.

In the evenings we might drive out of town to watch the sun set, assuming there’s enough fuel at the pumps. We might try out a new bar for quiz night, only to discover there’s never been a quiz there and it’s Lebanese evening. We might be at home, assembling a hotchpotch cold supper by candlelight during a power cut or making sorbet from the surprise delivery of 40 mangoes from a friend that arrived on the doorstep that day.

There is always something unexpected happening to change the course of the day. For instance, as I am typing, I can hear cheeping from the five peacock chicks in my garden that arrived earlier on. Some of this afternoon will be spent shooing them out again and trying to find their parents. Where did they come from? They escaped from the nearby zoo, of course.

Are there days where I’d like more predictability? Maybe, but only if there’s a deadline involved and circumstances conspire against me. Otherwise the lack of routine teaches me to be more flexible and more relaxed in a way I never was in London or Singapore.

Do I miss the feeling every day of knowing what will happen almost to the minute, from waking up to going to sleep? Never. This life is not for everyone, but it seems to be for me.


Clementine Wallop is a British writer and researcher living in Abuja. She blogs weekly for The Daily Telegraph, tweets @CWallop and posts pictures of Nigeria on Instagram @clemwallop

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