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Bharat Joshi

British Deputy High Commissioner, Chennai

Part of UK in India

20th February 2014 Chennai, India

Moving on up. Moving on in.

It’s been a long silence, for which apologies. That’s at least partly down to the fact that I’ve joined the fantastical world of 140 character messages, hashtags and retweeting (@DHC_Chennai if you’re interested). I’ve managed to get up to 44 followers in 2 weeks (it was 45, but a management consultant from Nebraska gave up on me after just 14 hours!), and feel as if it’s starting to make sense. Which means it probably isn’t.

There are 2 questions I’ve heard almost since I arrived in Chennai. The first is: “How do you like Chennai?”, often with a slightly plaintive lilt, as if the interrogator is worried that we’ll refer to

(i) the weather (hot, but not yet unbearable and we did do 2 years in Qatar!),

(ii) the traffic (can be grim, but much less anarchic than Cameroon and less tiresome than Mumbai which has traditionally been our Indian home)

(iii) or the food (amazingly good, especially for vegetarians);

We’ve answered that question with total honesty: we love Chennai and there’s nowhere else that we would rather be right now. And the approaching elections make it more exciting still.

The second is “How are you settling?”

In the last few weeks I’ve realised that I’ve been – unintentionally – misleading people. While I thought we’d settled in fairly well, it’s begun to dawn on me that living in transit accommodation out of a few suitcases for 4 months has been wearing us down. It’s hard to identify a particular issue – more that we just missed our ‘stuff’.

The kids were yearning for everything from the Wii to the cuddly toys that didn’t make the cut for hand baggage. Bhakti missed her books, photos and artwork that reminds her of all the great places we’ve been and the wonderful people we’ve met. I missed my music, tennis racquet and cricket whites, the latter which got limited use in Cameroon but which I’ve already worn in battle, albeit with limited honour.

As always, the unpacking was a chore. Packing and unpacking every few years – unbelievably, we’ve done it eight times in as many years – is our pet hate. After 5 months in storage everything smells musty and there was water damage to two crates, one of which – heart-breakingly – contained Bhakti’s silk wedding saris. But we’re pretty philosophical: even the best job in the world has its downsides.

So it’s great to finally move into rather grand old Cottingley, even if we still don’t have a functional kitchen. It’s a beautiful old house that will soon start getting a good work-out, receiving guests who will contribute to delivery of our wide-ranging objectives here. That starts with our first QBP in just two weeks.

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About Bharat Joshi

Bharat was brought up in Kent. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1995 from the hotel industry and has had diplomatic postings to the Gambia, Dhaka and…

Bharat was brought up in Kent. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1995 from the hotel industry and has
had diplomatic postings to the Gambia, Dhaka and Qatar. He was most
recently British High Commissioner to Cameroon, and non-Resident Ambassador to Gabon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Central African Republic.
Before that he worked as a Private Secretary to two British Ministers, as well as in various Departments of the FCO including the European Union Department and Press Office.
Bharat has experience of crisis management and has been deployed to the scenes of major incidents involving British nationals, including after the tragic bombing of the British Consulate-General in Istanbul in 2003.
Bharat’s varied career has been spent dealing with a full range of
HMG objectives, including promoting political and economic reform and
improved human rights; improved UK prosperity through trade; climate
change and UN policy issues. A major part of his portfolio in Chennai is supporting mutual prosperity between the UK and India, transforming lives through jobs, entrepreneurship and skills partnerships.
Bharat has been very happily married (at least forhim) to Bhakti for 18 years and they have two
wonderful daughters. His interests are cricket, badminton, history, reading and travelling.
Bharat speaks English, French, Gujarati and Hindi and Spanish, and is desperate to learn Tamil.