By Osa Amadi
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. Among the challenges I had in Russia, the most critical of all were those relating to the equipment I needed for my work. I had brought everything I needed, not hoping to go looking for where to buy this or that in a country where the population neither speaks nor understands English, my lingua franca.
Unfortunately, the Hp computer notebook I took to Russia refused to connect to the available internet connections at the Moscow hotel where I stayed. Secondly, I discovered that the plug of the charger cable of my notebook did not fit into the electric sockets on the walls. The insults I received in Russia on account of these were inflicted on me by fellow Nigerians who came with me and stayed in the same hotel.
I had to beg fellow Nigerians to allow me use their laptops to send my stories and access my e-mails. Connecting to power source and charging the notebook battery when the power ran down became a big problem due to the plug that did not fit into the sockets. I will remain grateful to Wahab of NCAC and Wale of The Tribune for the help they rendered to me in relation to these problems. But at a point, I became very uneasy to continue to bother them after I was verbally attacked by someone for disturbing his sleep.
One morning, around 3:00 a.m. in the middle of work, the battery of my laptop ran down. I did not want to go and start waking up fellow Nigerians and begging for a plug to charge my laptop.
Restlessly, I walked down to the empty hotel bar and stood there for a long time before a young white man and a lady came in and went to the counter to buy something. I did not know what made me think the man could speak English. I approached him and asked him whether he understands English. He said “small.” I bent down and picked up the end of an unplugged refrigerator cable and raised it up to him and said: “Me, need plug for my laptop, but no enter, wall.” I demonstrated with the cable and plug as if I am pushing it into a socket on the wall, “No enter, my laptop, no charge,” I said to him.
He understood and reached into his bag and brought out exactly what I needed – a plug that could interface with the plug of my notebook cable. But he had another plug on it that had a USB for charging phones. I took the plugs from him and pulled the two apart and raised one up to him: “This is what I need,” I said excitedly to him. He took from me the one with a USB which I did not need and said, “Ok. Two hours. I come,” waving me and the plug I needed away. His girlfriend spoke furiously to him in their language. I guessed she was asking him how he hoped to locate me in that big hotel.
“My room, 24,” I said.
“Ok. Two hours. I back,” he said.
I rushed back to my room and connected my Notebook to the electric with the plug. Exactly two hours later, the intercom in Room 24 rang and I heard “uuuu, ahhhhh, plug, me” and knew it was the Belarusian. I ran down to the bar but I did not see him. I decided to wait for him there. While I was waiting, I showed the plug to the Russian hotel attendant behind the counter and waved a 100 Rubles to her and said, “me, want to buy this plug.”
She looked steadily at me and brought out her phone and pushed it towards me. She wanted me to speak into the phone. It had software that translates English-Russia/Russia-English.
“I want to buy this type of plug,” I spoke into the phone. She took the phone and pressed a key and the phone translated into Russia what I had said in English. She went to a drawer and brought out a similar plug.
“Yes, this is good,” I said to her, offering her the 100 Rubles which is about N600. But she shook her head and waved me away, smiling. That was how I finally got a plug that had almost grounded my work in Russia.
With the two plugs, I jumped out in search of the Belarusian and his girlfriend. I saw the lady first. She rushed and jump into my arms, shouting “good man, good man.”