By Alexandra Paucescu.
When you see any of her cakes, you instantly believe they are the grand art work of an international top chef. Believe me, I know what I’m saying, because I’ve always liked fine pastry.
She amazes everyone with her attention to details, studied composition and refined presentation of her sweet delights.
‘It started as a hobby and I just kept improving over the years’, she confesses with delightful modesty. ‘I learnt how to bake from my mother, who used to make beautiful cakes, at home, for our birthdays. Later, I wanted to do the same for my kids. I also baked cakes for tea parties, dinners & other occasions. I started baking also for my diplomatic friends during quarantine 2020 and have received a wonderful response’.
Of course, she did. It takes just a look at the master pieces that she does, to spot her talent and passion.
Sonia Shehryar is wife to a career diplomat from Pakistan, who travelled the world with her husband and lives now in Serbia.
She says that ‘home is always where you come from, where you belong, it is your identity’, so for her is Pakistan that she carries deep inside her soul, no matter where she lives. But the years spent in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, were also unforgettable, because of the numerous visits to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina and the rare opportunity to enter and pray inside the holy Kaaba.
Being a diplomatic spouse offers you, no doubt, a life of privilege, with numerous experiences that will enrich your knowledge and widen your prospective about life. You live in a protected world, often unknown to the public, with sparks of glamour and taste of champagne.
But behind the scene, the reality is slightly different. All these cultivated and highly educated women, that follow and support their husband’s careers, often have untold stories, unfulfilled dreams or careers left behind for the sake of love and family. They are not just diplomatic spouses.
Sonia is in fact a professional dentist. With each new move, she equated her studies and tried to continue her much dreamed career, only to find out that soon she would have to move again and start it all over from scratch, as in a perpetual repetition of the legend of Sisyphus.
I talked to her about our diplomatic life:
Alexandra: Which do you think are the most common misconceptions people have about us, the wives of diplomats?
Sonia: People often think we live ‘aristocratic’ lives, that we are perfection personified and that our lives are limited to posh dinners & receptions only…
Alexandra: As diplomatic spouses, what do you think we should and should not do?
Sonia: We must educate ourselves on diplomatic protocol first, as disregarding it may cause embarrassment to spouse, embassy or country, we must learn to adapt, adjust, accept, compromise and sometimes even sacrifice, in order to integrate within the host country.
We must also not lose our own identity and keep our children attached to their homeland, teach them their own language and religion, while learning new ones. We must not forget to share our own culture, food, traditional costumes with our host country, whilst learning about theirs. But, I think that most important advice is: Do not become arrogant, just because you have diplomatic immunity!
Alexandra: What is your life motto, Sonia?
Sonia: ‘Live and let live!’
Indeed, she keeps her smile and optimism, and continues to bake… wonderful, divine cakes, to sweeten her life and others’ around her. A hobby for a lifetime that could transform from passion to a new career opportunity. After all, the ability to constantly reinvent ourselves is one of those ‘must have’ qualities for us, diplomatic spouses…
About the author:
Alexandra Paucescu- Romanian, Management graduate with a Master in Business, studied Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations.
She speaks Romanian, English, French, German and Italian. Turned diplomatic spouse by the age of 30, she published a book about diplomatic life, writes articles and also gives lectures on intercultural communication.