I lug my knapsack, and join the queue at the bus stop. It is one of those really cold days, made worse because the day before was on the other side of warm and I am not properly dressed for the weather – that, and the howling wind. There is a little queue building up – roadworks have meant that the bus is operating a slightly lighter schedule. A man walks up to me wearing a kilt and holding bag pipes. He seems to be in his late thirties or early forties and there is the ubiquitous whiff of alcohol on his breath – and a few weeks old stubble on his chin with a smattering of grey. I increase the volume a little more on my iPod to stave off the inevitable inane banter. He doesn’t seem impressed. He shifts from one foot to the other making wheezing noises all the time.
– Its cold today, he says. I mumble something about it being typical for March.
– Are you Nigerian? he asks. Yes, I reply – attempting to keep my engagement to an absolute minimum.
– Aha, he says. You look like a Nigerian.
I wonder if it is my rather large forehead, or the week old stubble on my chin that convinces him of my ‘Nigerianess’.
– I am Scottish, he continues. Originally from Scotland but my family migrated to Georgia in the 19th century. I mumble something along the lines of how cool it is to be tracing his roots down.
– I’m spending a year out here, travelling in Scotland, learning about my family roots.
With the way he brings it up, you would think it is the culmination of his life’s essence to rediscover his roots. There is a lull of a couple of minutes where we do not speak, and other fellow commuters cast furtive glances in his direction.
– What other coloured peoples are there in this city? he asks. I reply that I do not know. I know a few Kenyas, met a couple of Ghanaians a few days back and all I say.
– Aye, he says. Most of the Nigerians I’ve met haven’t been very friendly people he adds, right out of the blue but in keeping with the ad-lib nature of our discussion so far.
Maybe it is the disinterested look I show to this last comment but he quickly adds that I’ve been quite engaging. I really am not in the mood to engage a total stranger on the dangers of steretyping, or how I think his attempt to relearn Scottishness is dumb. All I want to do is get home and sleep, a discussion on Scottishness isn’t up my alley at that time. 8.30pm on a Friday Night is the wrong time to attempt to strike up a conversation with a bloke who’s just left work.