When I was in…

Put a group of aid workers in the same room and I guarantee at some point the conversation will run along the lines of: ‘when I was in DRC blah blah blah’ ‘when I was in Goma blaaahhhh’ ‘well when I was in Darfur blah!’ ‘I remember when I was in Sri Lanka and…’ Blah.

Sharing diverse experiences is of course a good thing, especially when it involves experiences of great danger and bravery, killer insects and tropical diseases, the best bars and drunken debauchery, and how fucked up such and such a thing/place is.

Sharing serious experiences is of course a good thing, especially when comparing the education policies in Haiti with those in Somalia. And when the ‘when I was in’ story is used to put oneself above one’s national counterparts who haven’t had the privilege of travelling to such exotic places.

Oh, so I know I exaggerate a little and it’s perfectly harmless and just part of normal conversation and we all do it, but ye gods it can get tedious.

Did I ever tell you about the time when I was working in Khartoum…?

[When I was in Afghanistan, I wrote this fantastic blog that was really interesting and that wasn’t at all a series of ‘when I was in’ stories written in the present tense. Damn.]

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7 Responses to “When I was in…”

  1. ash Says:

    fruitfully revealing…gee thanks. wink

  2. Pete McP Says:

    My Dad was in the merchant navy before I was born, each of his sea stories were repeated so often that they had numbers. Eventually we banned him from any story that began with “When I was in China…”. I feel a little sorry for him now, especially as I keep hearing myself say “When I was in New York…” but I get what you mean.

    A similar problem is “I was listening to radio four and…”.

  3. harryrud Says:

    Ha, that’s brilliant. I can just hear you Pete, ‘Oh Dad, won’t you tell us story # 37 again? I love the part about the giant squid.’

    I’m still waiting for your ‘when I was in New York / Finland stories’. Could you send me the catalogue of them so I can choose which ones to hear?

  4. Pete McP Says:

    No, it was more like. “Oh no not number 25 again…”

  5. Marianne Says:

    And when you go “home” it’s even worse. “When I was in Afghanistan…” becomes like a trump card that you catch yourself playing on the story-stack when you want your point to be taken more seriously. Ah well, it the minstrel in me that makes me do it. So it’s alright, right?

  6. safrang Says:

    spot on!

  7. homeinkabul Says:

    Ah, Ha! I totally do that. I’m particularly obnoxious to Afghan diaspora who haven’t returned…Actually, people in Afg don’t think like that at all…

    Will try to take it down a notch in the future…Good reminder, thank you.

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