Saturday, June 9, 2012

The NEW Bidlist, EERs and a few good parties

And so, the time has come for a new bid list – something we have been expecting with joy and no little amount of trepidation. We got the list last Friday and have been obsessing over it pretty much for the better part of each day, and a good chunk of each night as well. While the list has nice cushy European posts (over which we salivate), the Diplomat and I have had to face the tandem reality – we can only bid on places with at least 2 positions in them. One of which has to be management (the Diplomat is management-coned). And the country should have good afterschool care.  And we wouldn’t need more than 34 weeks of training (obscure FSI rules). And the timing should work. Which certainly narrows it down. To about 3 positions, give or take. Sigh.

The bid list is a nerve racking, harrowing experience. Tandem or not, it causes intermittent and subtle irritation on the FS marriage front for weeks as one of you seems to think that Ouagadougou is just a wonderful career opportunity only to be stared down icily by the other one of you in disagreement. Apply this dynamic to 70% of the bid list and you get the idea of the atmosphere in the bidding home. Of course, both you and your dedicated spouse wholeheartedly agree that no matter what you end up doing in Paris, that is by large a rather pleasant post to serve in. Sadly, this opinion is shared by about 96% of the other bidders so you are painfully aware that your chances to go to that ONE available Paris position are pretty slim. And so it goes.

To add more stress to the moment, we are swiftly approaching the one-year anniversary of our arrival at post, which in the Foreign Service means one and only one unnecessarily unnerving thing – we are about to face our Employee Evaluation Report, infamously known as The EER. Each FSO gets evaluated annually by their direct supervisor and one who is above that supervisor. Each writes a page of informative narrative about your awesomeness (or not) during the past year, and then you add your own page about yourself in what is aptly termed “the suicide box”  - the text literally goes into a text box on the page and has the potential to kill your career should you say something truly stupid in it (which people have apparently done). Once the masterpiece is done, it is off to the promotions boards and other decision-makers and people in the know who make all kinds of interesting decisions about you and your career. The whole thing lasts about a month. And then we do it again next year. Good times!

On a more positive note, our social life in Dhaka has reached new, impossible heights. On May 30, our Embassy hosted our annual July 4th party. Yes, I know the 4th of July is on July 4th, which was more than a month off at that point. But really, what is a month among friends, eh? The reality is that most people from the diplomatic corps and the Bangladesh government tend to leave the city in July, which would make for a very sparsely attended Independence Day party. And so we move it to accommodate our guests. The party was a hoot and a big success. One thing future eager FSOs should know – when you go to similar events at other Embassies, it’s a fabulous party to enjoy. When you are the host, it is a fabulous party where you work. Everyone gets assigned a task. I got the honor of saying goodbye to guests from 7.45 pm till 8.30 pm. So, I spent some quality time chatting up exhausted guests waiting for their limos in the 110 degree humidity. One thing was for sure – they all seemed to have had a great time!

Other parties in the last 2 weeks included an underground club with live music, a reception in honor of the new New Zealand ambassador, a Girls’ Night in, several goodbye parties (‘tis the transfer season), a rather happening Marines’ dance party, a birthday party for one of Son’s girlfriends (which I attended with just the tinsiest bit of a hangover following the previously mentioned Marines’ party), a fabulous rooftop expats party, and an exclusive dinner with two young and upcoming painters in a restaurant that was apparently open only for the four of us that night. My feet hurt.


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  3. Looking forward to hearing where you end up! We're bidding this time around too, not as tandems, but trying to maximize our potential of one day being tandems. We'll see.

  4. Ditto to Alex, exactly. Except our bidding doesn't begin til August 1, assuming the list is out on time.