The Swat Valley

Lisa is on skype, updating her parents as to what’s been going on this week. Chiefly, Mike is leaving for a month in Juba (Sudan) this weekend, and it’s now looking likely that she will go to one or all of Khartoum (Sudan), Kabul (Afghanistan), and Lahore (Pakistan) for work in the next couple of months.

Mum: “I don’t think you should go to Pakistan or Afghanistan.”
Lisa (busy, and a little distracted with an email that’s just come in): “Why not?”
Mum: “It’s dangerous. I just don’t like it. And I don’t say that often – only once or twice in the last six years – which means you should pay attention. Do you have to go?”
Lisa: “No one’s forcing me to go anywhere. Look, I don’t have enough information to make sensible decisions on this right now but luckily, that’s not this week’s problem. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Mum: “I don’t like it.”

This is where Lisa should have acknowledged the parental discontent and exited this particular conversation. She didn’t.

Lisa: “How do you know they’re any more dangerous than Sudan? How do you even start stacking Sudan up against Afghanistan and Pakistan?”
Dad: “Well it depends where you go in all three countries. Juba’s not the Swat valley, for example.”
Lisa: “Exactly. What about Khartoum?”
Dad: “What do you mean?”
Lisa: “Is Khartoum in the Swat valley?”
Dad: “The Swat valley is in Pakistan. So, uh, no.”
Lisa: “Oh.”
Mum: “If you say you don’t have enough information to make a sensible decision then I don’t think you should be going.”
Lisa: “Mum, I don’t think you have to worry. I just forgot where the Swat valley was. I think they take away your humanitarian worker passport when you do that. I likely won’t be going anywhere for a decade.”

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