He crouched behind a barricade in a war-torn, pre-dawn courtyard in Hell’s Kitchen while four heavily armed men in black tactical gear patrolled the apartment complex. The wind whistled, blowing a thick snowfall and causing his eyes to water—a near white out reduced his night visibility to a few feet. The brutal cold snuck like a thief into every crack in his clothing, stealing the warmth from beneath his parka. He waited patiently, silently, his pounding heart drowning out the nearing voices. There was going to be a firefight.
As I wait on beta readers to finish with a book I’m hoping to put to print someday—a process which will yield a fifth round of editing—I find myself in search of a creative, if not slightly narcissistic, outlet. So I’m starting the blog back up. I’m told I need a voice, which I apparently lack. Perhaps a biweekly post will present an opportunity to locate said vocal direction. Welcome back.
The question is so common since our repatriation that we’ve joked about creating business cards summarizing our answers in an easy-to-read bulleted format. It’s the ice breaker du jour—a convenient, six-word sentence uttered by virtually everyone familiar with our recent two-year hiatus from U.S. residency. It’s a crowd-pleasing, comfortable, mildly depressing party question that evokes a fair bit of stammering, questionable statements, and creative explanations on our part. It’s a question you shouldn’t ask lightly—because you might just get an answer that surprises, or delights, or possibly sets one off balance in a way that leaves you wondering why you asked in the first place.
Among domestic help, maids are arguably the second most important member of the expat staff. India is a breeding ground for bacteria, ash, pollution, and dust, all piled atop normal wear and tear like heaping mounds of peanuts on an environmental ice cream sundae that sends Oscar the Grouch cowering in the depths of his garbage can. The best way to keep up with the tidal wave of needed cleaning is to hire the right maid.
A driver is not just a driver, he is an expat’s Indian ambassador. Finding a good driver takes effort and a fair bit of luck, but it’s worth every minute spent preparing, interviewing, evaluating, and praying on the off chance Ganesha will remove any obstacles to hiring the best of the best. Unfortunately, even the most diligent expat can end up with a dud that is far more trouble than he’s worth. But once the right driver is hired, everything India is easier.