In the age of Social Media and constantly Tweeting political leaders, the art of diplomacy seems like a quaint, bygone craft. The days when ambassadors were truly the only liaison with a foreign country, before technological advancement and the 24/7 news cycle resulted in a hyper connected world of instant communication, seem dinosaur years away. In fact, it wasn’t all that long ago that embassies were the first point of contact between governments.
Yet we seldom know the people who work behind the scenes in far-flung corners of the world, as emissaries of their nations, sometimes in cushy conditions, but more often in challenging ones. Their lives and those of their families are upended every few years as they move from country to country, shifting homes, schools, friends, and cultures. All that is consistent is change.
Ashwini Devare’s engaging memoir, Lost at 15, Found at 50, attempts to make sense of the nomadic, diplomatic life that Indian Foreign Service officers and their kin embrace when they join the service. The daughter of Sudhir Devare, a former ambassador to South Korea, Indonesia, and, in the 1990s, the then newly formed republics of Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia, the author is a Singapore based journalist whose deft prose and gifted memory vividly evoke the peripatetic journey of her diplo-brat childhood and subsequent passage into adulthood.