Guess Who Went to Dinner?

By Rajitha

Being a new member of the club, I have been looking forward to each possible event I could attend. The name “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” appealed to my curious nature. It was a very simple and interestingly described event addressing the reason and rationale to support a charity organisation in its name. Groups of up to four could reserve their place by paying a very reasonable amount for a surprise dinner, and all with the privilege of having our dietary preferences catered for. The feeling that the money I pay is directly supporting a charity itself was the big incentive for me to go ahead and book this event. You can guess, then, that I wanted to share this enjoyment with three of the dearest people in my life.

Guess Who 2The game of guessing started right from the hour of reservation. The four of us had our minds wandering in four different directions. What if a celebrity is joining the event? Oh no…we are not aware of any famous names in Dutch television or film industry. Let’s Google them! Who is the mayor of Breda and surrounding places? Who is the best Dutch culinary chef? Is someone coming from a paparazzi or art background? Our minds only became still when we finally arrived on D-Day at hostess Angela’s beautiful home in Bavel.

It was an evening where ten people came together to get to know each other, share laughter and fun. We learnt a lot about how the charity works and how the money raised through these dinners help make the lives of others stronger. There was a four course menu, with four rich complementary wines, involving eight hours of preparation and five hours of celebrations that ended at midnight. Our menu and dietary preferences were smoothly taken care of with a personal touch.

Guess Who 3Being from India I went with my partner who also from India. We were joined by two best buddies, one from Nepal and her spouse, a pure Dutchman. We enjoy Bollywood (Indian film industry with dances and dramas) music a lot.To our surprise, Angela’s spouse was very familiar with Bollywood music and needless to say it was a BINGO moment☺. After the last course of dinner the room slowly transformed from dining hall into dance floor where Angela showed us traditional dance from Scottish culture. Another group who had been enjoying a similar event at a neighbour’s house joined us for drinks and then began the Bollywood music with booty shakes banging the floor with super fun and joy.

You may be wondering who had stolen the show. Who was the icon of the guessing game after all? It was Mr. Mathijs Eggli – the Chef from Vis restaurant Ginneken. Mathijs Guess Who 1dedicated his whole day to preparing a delicious menu with carefully picked fish, vegetables, fruits, wines including all the small details. Angela was the sous-chef, pouring all her energy to mobilise the cooking and make our moments memorable. I hope this event raised a fair amount for the charity after the initial outlay for the dinner itself. Special thanks to Kriss who moderated the event.

All my best feelings and warm greetings to each one (including the people behind the scenes) who were involved in this event to make it wonderful. Wishing your selfless efforts to flourish in this world and help mankind.

If You Want Something Done, Ask an International Woman

Group 1

This piece was first given as a speech at the International Women’s Club of Breda’s 45 year anniversary dinner on 11 April 2015 by club member Erica. You can read more about life in the Netherlands on her blog English Mum Abroad.

We can get hung up on the labels we give people – what’s the difference between an expat, an immigrant, an émigré or an international after all? We are all people who left the land of our upbringing and travelled around for love, work, education, family or economics. Or even just for the adventure.

We have often left loved ones, friends and family, behind. We may have stopped several times along our journey before putting down roots or may still be wandering. But one thing I’ve found when talking to women who’ve made the bold, brave and often necessary decision to shift their life to another country: there is much common ground.

This common ground is a solid place, where pragmatism, necessity and circumstance meet to create a rock hard foundation from which creativity, versatility, improvisation and sheer bloody genius can emerge. By simply stepping away from a ‘former life’ and stepping into a new environment the international women I know have blossomed in ways they never knew they might.

It is not without cost – blood, sweat and many tears. We’re human and often have to learn the hard, frustrating, experiential way.  But the costs deliver an amazing result – phenomenal levels of self-reliance, capacity to cope with change and total, bloody-minded determination. For ourselves, our partners and our kids (and even our pets!) we consistently go the extra mile and prove ourselves extra-human.

The ability to cope with strange cultures, languages, landscapes and weather (the latter more important than many give credit) leads to a gradual, but fundamental, shift in outlook, approach and expectation. Once you’ve mastered the ability to negotiate bureaucracy in multiple languages, face a room full of people with a totally different set of cultural reference points and laugh with your neighbours about the local cuisine, you never un-learn those skills.

The planning, organisation, initiative and generosity of the international sisterhood shines through everything we do as a group of women. We have re-invented ourselves, supported our loved ones and each other, created a new community and shared some of our old community in the process.  This care, love and ability to nurture, even under difficult circumstances, is part of the amazing package of qualities you find when talking to an international woman.

These qualities manifest themselves in different ways in different people but there’s one thing you can be certain of. If you want to get something done, ask an international woman.