Page 31 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2012

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A P R I L 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
31
F
OCUS ON
FS F
AMI LY
M
EMBER
E
MPLOYMENT
HOC R
OCKS
!
ast February a group of
consulate husbands gathered, a bit nervously perhaps,
at a five-star hotel. They were there to unveil a “Hus-
bands of Chennai 2011” calendar before a crowd of In-
dian journalists, consulate staff and onlookers.
The nine men had each posed for photos, which were
compiled into a March-December calendar. One hus-
band coordinated the photo shoots and another orches-
trated the media efforts. The main purpose of the
calendar was to raise money for the local Blue Cross An-
imal Shelter, but it also celebrated the men’s cama-
raderie.
My husband, Rahul, had come to be recognized as
the resident authority for the male spouses of consulate
Foreign Service officers. Though he still had a job in
Calcutta (our previous post) at the time, each weekend
he took the new arrivals under his wing and helped them
acclimate themselves to life in bustling Chennai. He in-
vited them to join the Chennai Runners’ Club, intro-
duced them to his friends and showed them where to
buy beef (yes, even in India).
Slowly the group morphed into Husbands of Chen-
nai, with monthly (when they could remember to sched-
ule something at the last minute) lunches and
pool-shooting sessions. Their bond became so strong
that soon the wives asked to join, too.
Even for husbands intrepid enough to join a Women’s
Club (we’d had a friend in Mexico who delighted in par-
ticipating in the local one while his wife worked), many
expatriate groups — including most in Chennai — re-
main off-limits to husbands. So HOC became a semi-
formal way of forging friendships and building a
community for trailing husbands.
“What Is Your Designation?”
Life as an expatriate is inherently challenging, particu-
larly for those who are new to a post — and still harder for
anyone who is new to the Foreign Service. But trailing
husbands in a conservative society like India run into some
unusual problems. Whenever Rahul and I landed at the
airport in Chennai or Calcutta late at night after a trip
T
HE
“H
USBANDS OF
C
HENNAI
HAS BECOME A WAY TO
FORGE FRIENDSHIPS AND BUILD A COMMUNITY AMONG
TRAILING HUSBANDS OF CONSULATE EMPLOYEES
.
B
Y
A
ILEEN
C
ROWE
N
ANDI
Aileen Crowe Nandi is a Foreign Commercial Service of-
ficer who currently serves in San Jose, Calif., after over-
seas assignments in Chennai, Calcutta and Mexico City.
She would like to thank the colleagues and friends who
have contributed to this article and offered moral support.
She also salutes all trailing spouses who succeed in their
professional endeavors despite frequent moves and many
other challenges.