#SoulSearching: Rethink, Relearn, Retain

At my farewell in Nairobi, Kenya – with fellow foreign service spouses of heads of missions (SHOM).

Now in my early 60’s, my 3 R’s for positive thinking are: Rethink, Relearn and Retain your memories of a full life, well-lived. And write. I do.

Thirty years of travelling overseas with a few home-postings.How does a foreign service spouse, having lived overseas for decades due to her husband’s work environment, cope with not having a career? Are there employers who look beyond the 10-15+ years in-a-job tag? Not even a handful will take the ‘risk’! I have often lamented my dismay at ‘rejections’ during home-postings- “..but you will not be able to stay with us over a period of time,” – when I was in my mid-thirties and forties. That was then. I would console myself by saying that I had made a conscious choice to marry my late husband, a career diplomat in the Indian Civil Services and follow him around the world.

Yes, I have indeed, often been disappointed with not having a professional career, but then cheer up with memories of the years of ‘lived experience’ – in diverse cultures, meeting wonderful persons, learning extensively about customs, culture and local cuisine. Of travelling to exotic places, once read about in my childhood.How fortunate I have been all these years and to have had our children with us – until they left for University.

I breathe in deeply – in and out – imbibing the wonders of travel, of making friends, at all ages, in distant lands. My ‘oldest’ friend is from 50 years ago. I first met her at school in London and we have been friends ever since, through snail-mail, her visit to India, telephone calls…….and emails!

Now it is time to reconnect with my diplomatic spouse-friends the world over and discover new ones on social media. We are fortunate to be able to do so instantly – in this wondrous digital age.

Poetry, Tales in Verse for Children with a social message, Narratives, Workshops for teachers – these are my ‘rainbow-colours’, through the passage of time. My ‘career’ is as wife, mother, diplomatic colleague, teacher, writer and enshrines friendships, forged in foreign lands.

Here’s to aging healthily and some reflections in retirement!


Published by Jayshree Misra Tripathi

Jayshree, as the eldest of five daughters, includes her maiden surname 'Misra' in her writing. She lived a nomadic life from 1986 till 2015, as the wife of a career foreign service officer in the Indian Civil Service, and has written from across three continents - as a freelance journalist, teacher and poet. She worked briefly in the print media, in Delhi, during the mid-80s and began again online from 2014. Jayshree followed up her MA in English (Literature) from Delhi University (1978), with a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Rights Law from the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru (Distance Education programme, 2001). She has taught English Language and Literature, been an examiner in English for the Diploma of the International Baccalaureate Organisation and was their trained Consultant for the DP & CP. Jayshree advocates cross cultural conversation with #HarmonyInDiversity, and ways to #HelpHerWalkForward in India.

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