The Foreign Service Journal, April 2012

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.