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"I often wonder what would have happened to me if I hadn't made that decision. I suppose I would have sunk. I suppose I would have found some kind of hole and tried to hide or pass. After all, we make ourselves according to the ideas we have of our possibilities. I would have hidden in my hole and been crippled by my sentimentality, doing what I was doing, and doing it well, but always looking for the wailing wall. And I would never have seen the world as the rich place that it is. You wouldn't have seen me here in Africa, doing what I do."

- V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River
Sep. 18th, 2009 @ 04:37 pm Conversation skills
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Current Location: Kinshasa, DR Congo
There is a line in V.S. Naipaul's A Bend in the River that I can't quote because I don't have the book in front of me, but his main character is in Kisangani and meets up with a couple that has been there a long time.  He says something to the effect of, these expats have been here so long that they have forgotten to be curious about others.

They haven't forgotten how to be curious, they just forgot to be curious.

Sometimes I sense this around other expats in Kinshasa, and is this sometimes my problem as well?  For example, I went to someone's farewell party last weekend, and a relatively newly arrived friend of mine said, "Everyone here thinks they're way cooler than they are."  I was doing my best to make conversation with people I don't know very well, and sometimes it worked and sometimes it fell flat, even though we were all smiling.