January 14, 2008
So, how do you find Sudan?
There is a classic conversation that expatriates have whenever they arrive in a new country and start meeting the locals.
Your host sits down, looks you in the eye and says something like, “So, how do you find Sudan/Ethiopia/Lithuania/wherever?”
You then spend the next ten minutes earnestly singing the country's praises – “It's a fascinating place, beautiful countryside, everyone has been so friendly…” If you are in Eastern Europe, you then sit up the rest of the night drinking vodka toasts to “Better understanding between our two countries”.
Yesterday afternoon, I was invited round to a Sudanese family's house to celebrate the arrival of a new granddaughter. About ten minutes into the party, one of the family's sons sat down, looked me in the eye, and asked: “So, how do you find Sudan?”
I launched right in: “It's a fascinating place, wonderful to live so close to the Nile, the people have been so friendly, an endless supply of great stories for a journalist…,” meaning almost all of it.
When I finished, I looked round at the group of 20-somethings I had been speaking to. “You are joking,” said one. “We hate this place. There is nothing to do. Life is very difficult here. All we do is study and watch DVDs.”
“How long are you staying?” asked another. “Two years? Impossible. You won't last two months. My plan is to finish my medical studies and move to Scotland.”
Posted by aheavens at January 14, 2008 5:41 AM