Exactly a year ago, all four of us arrived in Hong Kong on a Cathay Pacific flight armed with just our diplomatic passports and six luggage bags of clothes, diapers and milk. We had no idea as to what size our flat was going to be, so we did not avail of the relocation service and we had no tag-along furnitures nor toys. We landed safely, meaning no throwing up from Little Miss Siu Baau. Well, at least not until we were about to leave our seats. We were the last passengers to exit the tube, where a Protocol Officer was waiting to welcome Mr. Diplomat in particular. We were dressed to impress, although Mr. Diplomat had the smell of chyme up his sleeve. I was thinking then Is this an omen of things to come? Diplomatically speaking, I cannot comment any further wink.
A year at post meant having to cover all the basic events we will be attending year in and year out, bingos, concerts, ribbon cutting ceremonies, oath takings, charity balls, national day celebration and everything else in between. Mr. Diplomat gave a year’s worth of speeches. We had a basic feel of how the rest of our fellow nationals receive Mr. Diplomat and me, individually (The scary part. Made me cry once this year.) and as a couple. We realized even more how much of a family job being in foreign service is. We are being assessed as a family and literally graded as a family every year.
Along with our first year came a list of other firsts.
1. Breezing through airport lines through diplomatic lanes
2. Sitting at the airport while waiting for the Protocol Officer to process our passports through immigration
3. Dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant
4. Getting in Hong Kong Disneyland for free
5. Speaking Cantonese
6. Our private staff flying by herself
7. Meeting the Madam and being called one myself
8. Little Miss Siu Baau joining a playgroup
9. Mr. Diplomat solemnizing a friend’s marriage (Yes, it is part of his job!)
10. Getting pregnant at post (Made in China!)
More than being posted in a First World territory, we are fortunate to have established good rapport with colleagues in the consulate general, as one can be in a good post but not with the best colleagues or worse. Mr. Diplomat survived a year without suffering a major blow from the two newspapers that cater to our nationals here. We are also lucky to have found an apolitical niche where we can just be in old T-shirts (with or without holes) and slippers, drinking and laughing out loud.
Here’s to our relatively successful first year at post. May we not find any reason to request for a cross-posting. Cheers! (Wine for Mr. Diplomat, just water for me.)