My second tour has officially begun! I arrived in Mumbai on Tuesday morning via Paris. Entering India on my diplomatic passport was about as easy as it gets; I was the only person in the diplomatic line and admitted after a question or two, with the quiet support of an embassy expeditor by my side. All my luggage arrived and an embassy driver promptly took me to my new apartment.
Spending five days in Mumbai hasn’t been enough to form any kind of opinion, or even an impression of what it’s like to live here. I spent the first day inside, mostly sleeping. The apartment is amazing—lots of space, marble floors, huge closets, an open floor plan and a modern kitchen. The building comes with a glass-walled gym overlooking a massive pool. And to top it off, we have a full-time employee who cleans, minds the children after school, and cooks dinner. I have a strong suspicion I’m going to like my home life here!
The consulate was another pleasant surprise. The compound is big, but the office part feels small—cozy, almost. There are two floors, with a bright cafeteria and a little library in the middle. Everything is close together and I met most of my American colleagues in the first few days. The consular section itself is enormous and looks a bit like a newsroom, with low-wall cubicles and teeming with activity. It’s easy to see where everyone is and what they’re doing, which is extremely useful when you’re new and figuring out how things work. Everyone is welcoming, so I’m looking forward to working here very much.
Still, it’s not easy being launched into a whole new life. I can’t really blame the jetlag, which has been mild despite the 9-hour time change. The social life has been great so far too. I’ve already been to a happy hour and a brunch where I met even more colleagues and their family members. It’s just a lot to process, I guess, because I feel highly reluctant to venture anywhere beyond my sheltered little world right now. I’m smack in the middle of a 22-million-person city full of restaurants and culture, but I can’t bring myself to look beyond what I’m doing today. I guess it’s a luxury problem; I’m in a comfortable environment and I don’t have to deal with the real world besides getting up to speed on my work portfolio.
I guess that’s all for now! I feel like I used to have much funnier stories to share when arriving in a new country in the past, when I had to make my own way because I wasn’t with the embassy or didn’t have a job. Now everything is taken care of and there aren’t any mishaps worth elaborating on. Sure, my new SIM card broke after a few days, one of the humidifiers flooded our bedroom and the local food is making us all feel a bit queasy, but nothing shocking or LOL funny has happened so far. For the better I suppose! Hopefully I'll be ready for some adventure soon, which is likely because I'll go stir crazy in our near-empty apartment any day now!