This summer just flew by. Before we knew it, Labor Day came and I realized, I have hardly blogged at all this summer. So I thought, I’d do a little recap.
One of the first things which happened this summer was that I got my next assignment. I was assigned to (drum roll please) Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My position is General Services Officer (a.k.a GSO), which means I will be dealing with things like buildings, vehicles, housing, furniture etc. It is in my cone (Management), so I am happy but my happiness is not complete because we still don’t know where Paul will be posted next. Second tour bidding is tricky no matter what but add to that tandemhood and you have a real pickle. I am the more junior between the two of us, so I had to bid first. In order to increase our chances of being posted together, we perused something called the projected vacancies list, according to which there was no more/no less than one place in the entire world where we could be together and each of us in our cones, ha! We somehow thought that between large posts and countries with multiple posts like China and Brazil we will have multiple options of being together and in our cones but we were wrong. Addis was it this time around. Everywhere else, if one of us was in cone, the other one wasn’t. So while my assignment to Addis is very good news, the drama continues as Paul is now in the middle of bidding and there are exactly two positions he can bid on in Addis, which work for us timing-wise. One is in his cone (Public Diplomacy) but is a double stretch (two levels above his current grade), so it will be very hard to get. The second one is an international organizations position with our African Union mission in Addis (at his grade). Both positions seem neat and we would be happy with either. Anything else would mean separation or breaking my assignment (which seems to be frowned upon in State) and starting from scratch (which may be a blessing or a curse). We are trying not to think about those possibilities right now. We’ll cross those bridges if/when we have to…
Otherwise, our summer wasn’t bad. It started out crazy busy and stressful but got a lot better by the end. We had a couple of high profile visits to Delhi (Secretary Kerry and VP Biden), which made our already short-staffed section even more people-strapped but we survived and learned a thing or two in the process, so we can chalk it up to experience now. I have to admit I was a little bit in the doldrums in late June, early July. For a while it felt like we had more work to do than we had live bodies or hours in the day and there seemed to be no end in sight. We tried to take our R&R (Rest & Recuperation) trip in June but were unable to due to the Secretary’s visit and the high season for consular. So we didn’t leave Delhi for about 4 months, which was hard because traveling outside of your post is how many of us keep our sanity in this lifestyle.
We finally took our R&R in late July. It was a very short one for me because I hadn’t been with State a full year yet plus, I had to go to D.C. for training for a week. I switched jobs (which is another way to keep your sanity) and my new position could benefit from a training class. When I say switched jobs, I mean I am in a different position within Consular. Delhi is a large and busy post and one thing that’s nice about it is that we get to rotate between several functions within Consular. After 8 months on the non-immigrant visa line, I am now in the fraud prevention unit, which is different and very interesting. The training in D.C. was very useful but it was also awesome to be back in the US even for a week – I ate and shopped myself silly, I hung out with friends and just enjoyed all the things people in the US take for granted like drinkable tap water, produce that you don’t have to bleach before eating, driving without pulling your hair out and the likes. While I was in D.C., Paul took the kids to Chicago to visit his parents and sister. They too had a wonderful week, although one of the main reasons for their visit to Chicago was Paul’s Mom’s deteriorating health, which saddens all of us.
On the way back from the US, we stopped in Bulgaria for 6 days, which was entirely not enough time but such is life. We didn’t do anything special really – just hung out with my parents, relatives and friends, took a couple of day-trips and ate as much Bulgarian food as our tummies could fit. We thoroughly enjoyed fresh fruit and veggies from my parent’s garden as well as unlimited quantities of meat, which can be tricky to find here in India. The kids loved running around the yard and splashing in the inflatable pool.
We came home the first week of August and things picked up again. Nia’s back in school. She’s a 5th grader – can you believe it??!!! Max is also in school – he goes to daycare on the Embassy compound and seems to enjoy it a lot. The weather is starting to cool off a little bit as the rainy season is coming to an end.
I am leaving you with a few pictures from our summer but will be back soon with more pictures and posts about our trips to Thailand and Udaipur, so stay tuned.