Last Friday was Flag Day, the ceremony in which every new Foreign Service Officer receives their first post abroad. If anyone here still isn't aware, Anne has been assigned to Hyderabad, India, and what's more, she's being sent with her two best friends in the class! She has language training and consular training in the coming months, and we'll be India-bound next January.
The reactions to finding this out have been interesting. Other FSOs and friends of other FSOs all agree that Hyderabad is "the best post in India." Opinions from other sources have a different opinion, however. We've been told that Hyderabad is boring, that it isn't as dynamic as other cities in India, that it's "not touristy".
That last bit is important, because I've been here before. Let me explain:
Once upon a time, Anne and I (and toddler Elliot and new baby Rhys) were moving from Madison, Wisconsin to Minneapolis, Minnesota, because Anne had received a more lucrative job offer. (Yes, I get that this is a recurring theme in our life!) For reasons that became less important later on, we were looking to avoid living in Minneapolis proper. What we wanted, ultimately, was the Minneapolis equivalent of Middleton: nice community of its own, lots of stuff within walking distance, but still a short drive to the city proper.
We settled on moving to Excelsior. It was a small town/suburb on the south side of Lake Minnetonka, right on the western edge of the greater metro area. It certainly looked good on paper! There was a green space right on the lake, including beaches, playgrounds, and wonderful views of the bay. Water Street, the main road through town, has shops and restaurants in plenty, including an ice-cream shop, French patisserie, and Minnetonka Music, where a buddy of my late father-in-law fixes guitars. Cafe 318, known for its live music, makes the best roast beef sandwich I've ever had. And so on.
The reality, however, stunk. All those restaurants and shops were priced for the tourists (expensive) and compounded with a high sales tax. City services were ludicrous as well. Our water bill cost over $100 a month. In Minnesota. There was a tiny farmers market, but it only ran during regular business hours on Thursday. We had a library within walking distance, but it was a small one housed in a dilapidated building with the surliest librarians I'd ever met. Not to mention that every weekend and every big event, Water Street became so inundated with people that not only could we not go out and enjoy it, but we couldn't get out to enjoy anyplace else, either!
So yes, I've lived in a tourist draw. It was only a local tourist draw, and not a national or international one, but it was possibly the least enjoyable place I've ever lived. I'll take Hyderabad in a heartbeat, and happily so! I can't wait to experience the every day adventures of living in a perfectly normal and boring city. In India.
- Hyderabad and Excelsior